The Power of Having Trusted Critics in Your Life

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It’s so easy for us as busy leaders and entrepreneurs to get caught up in the swing of things that the result is our vision and decision-making ability becomes extremely cloudy. I can almost guarantee that at some point throughout your life, when you were either going through a difficult time, lacked direction or felt confused about something, one of the first things you did was seek counsel from someone you trusted.

This person could have been your spouse, mother, father, sibling, grandparents or a best friend.

Then, after you got done explaining your situation or whatever was on your mind, chances are, this person chimed in with his or her take on that situation.

And, even if you didn’t necessarily agree 100 percent, you felt better than you had before. That’s because of the incredible power you gain having a panel of trusted critics in your life. These are the people that can be completely honest with you while having your best interests at heart — people whom you fully trust.

How the “panel” idea materialized.

I learned the tremendous power of having a panel of trusted critics one afternoon after delivering a keynote presentation to a group of 700 sales professionals. One thing I absolutely love about traveling all over the world and speaking to groups from different industries is the time I get to spend with leaders and high achievers before and after I take the stage.

I love to hear their stories and what makes them tick. But that one afternoon was different. And I say “different” because I wasn’t expecting to hear a method that totally revolutionized how I view the opinions of those I trust.

In fact, the managing director of a medical device company began to explain that a major thing that had helped him get to where he is today was his panel of trusted critics. He went on to say, “You know what, Matt? When you were speaking about the impact that having mentors and studying the lives of other great men and women had had on your life, I was reminded of my own little practice involving others that has, without a doubt, been the main reason why I am in the position I am, earn the amount of money I do and have the family life I have.

“I have a panel of selected critics I go to whenever I need a second voice, opinion or advice on something. But the one area that they help me the most with are those times of uncertainty and adversity. I can always count on them to tell me what I need to hear in that exact moment.”

What he said to me really hit home. I started to look back at some of the darkest times of my life, some of the biggest failures of my life, and to notice a pattern. I sought counsel from outside resources. Whether it was someone that I loved more than this world, such as God and my parents, or a good friend whom I knew I could count on: Their advice and opinions always seemed to bring me comfort even in the most uncertain times of my life.

Make your own list.

That night, after the event, on the plane back to Chicago, I took out a sheet of paper and put together a list of five trusted critics. Fast-forward to the present, and I can see how this special group of trusted critics have played an enormous role in my life, and ultimately helped me get to where I am today. Sometimes, we need someone else to chime in and tell us how it is, especially during the troubling times.

I encourage you to take some time right now to take out a sheet of paper and write down at least five people who could serve as a trusted critic in your life. Think of them as your own special advisory board. These people will always tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. They will consistently challenge you to be better, and you can always count on them when you need an honest voice or opinion.

It doesn’t matter if each of these people is a family member, colleague or spouse. All that matters is that you fully trust them and that they have your best interest at heart. Ideally, you want to enlist someone who is further ahead in life than you, someone who can basically serve as a mentor.

Here are two key benefits that you will experience when you take the time to form your own panel of trusted critics.

You’ll get out of your comfort zone more often.

One of the biggest benefits of having a panel of trusted critics in your life is that you will step out of your comfort zone more often. There have been plenty of times in my life where I wanted to seek comfort instead of growth, but the people that I had in my inner circle were there to help keep me on track.

They were able to help me get out of my own way and see things for what they really were. Constantly getting out of your comfort zone is absolutely imperative if you want to achieve greatness; and when you have the right people in your life that you can count on, they will help you do just that.

You’ll become more successful.

Having the right men and women on your panel of trusted critics will drastically help you become more successful. You will be motivated to get big things done instead of just going through the motions. You’ll learn from adversity instead of running away from it, and be forced to face reality instead of living in the land of make believe.

I am naturally very motivated; I have always been that way for the most part. However, motivation can only get you so far. The number of lessons that I have learned, the wisdom that I have gained and the breakthroughs I have experienced from having the right people by my side are endless in number.

So, will having a panel of trusted critics and special mentors in your life automatically make you a major success? Of course not. But what it will do is serve as a catalyst for massive growth and help you become the best version of yourself.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Why It’s Vital That You Plan Your Life

20150413124745-dont-let-fear-conquer-your-greatness-man-seriously-thinking-worried-sunset-sittingImage credit: Pixabay

Most people would rather plan their next vacation destination or what they are going to buy during their next trip to the mall rather than their own lives. Many executives, entrepreneurs and business owners would rather build their businesses than devote time and energy into planning their lives.

Planning your life must happen if you want to win at the long game, 20 or 50 years from now. Planning your life is all about finding out who you are as a person, what makes you tick, what your values are and what deeply satisfies your soul.

After my keynote presentation a few weeks back for a sales organization, I had a lengthy conversation with one of the national sales leaders and he expressed his sincere gratitude for the wake-up call I had given him when I was on stage. At first I was unsure what he was referring to, but then he went on to say, “I have worked and planned 30 years to get where I am now and not one hour went towards planning my own life. Everyone from the outside views me as a major success, but something deep inside feels missing.”

This happens because what we think will give us instant gratification, things such as making more money, landing the big promotion, purchasing our dream cars or where we are going to go for the next big vacation means absolutely nothing if we don’t know who we are as a person, what we really want out of life and what our values and priorities are.

The belief that taking the time to plan life and get serious about what’s meaningful is a waste of time will eventually eat you alive and leave you unhappy. You have to get your inner life right before your outer life is right.

Just because you may make a lot of money, have an excellent career or drive a nice car doesn’t mean anything in the long term. It may temporarily put a smile on your face and make you feel good, but without planning your own life first, it will leave you empty and searching for the meaning that has been missing for so long as life continually goes on and the older you get.

Every single one of us needs meaning. Plan your life and then translate that over to building your career. Don’t let life pass you by.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

20 Ways to Make Today Amazing

Make today amazing

As entrepreneurs and business owners, it can be very easy at times to fall into a rut and get in the habit of having just average days where we seem to not get much of anything done. Here are 20 ways that will hopefully rekindle that passion of yours and help make today ridiculously amazing.

1. Engage in consistent action.

2. Constantly picture yourself beyond your current circumstances. Dream enormously big and hold that dream deep within your mind, body and spirit.

3. Spend time in solitude to just think and visualize.

4. Write your most important goal on a note card and look at it five times a day. Say it out loud and believe with a deep conviction that it will become a reality.

5. Drink tons of water. It’s impossible to operate to the best of your ability and tap into your full potential if you are dehydrated. Our minds and bodies need water in order to perform at an extremely high-level.

6. Eat to win. If you don’t want junk results stay away from junk food. The bottom line is that we are what we eat.

7. Get your sweat on. One of the best productivity tools that you can utilize is to get a workout in at some point throughout your day. Whether you go to the gym or at home, make the time.

8. Pick up a book for 15-20 minutes and get lost in it. Just as our bodies need physical exercise, our minds need to stay mentally fit.

9. Spend your time around those who lift you up and encourage your vision, not belittle it. We are the average of the five people we hang out with the most. Pick your company wisely.

10. Make time to grow. Carve out 30 min to an hour and find ways to personally and professionally grow.

11. Turn off the music in your car and listen to an audiobook. Most of us spend hours in a car daily, utilize that time to better yourself and learn.

12. Keep a journal. Record your thoughts, ideas and strategies. We have roughly 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Don’t let an idea or strategy go to waste. Never rely solely on your memory.

13. Think of five things you are grateful for right this second. It can be something as simple as how beautiful is mother nature or how wonderful your family is. Be grateful for what you have and you will eventually end up having more.

14. Snack on almonds. Great source of protein and other minerals and vitamins that will increase your energy levels and keep performance in peak state.

15. Say “I love you” more often. Don’t let a day go by where you don’t tell those you love how much they truly mean to you. Life is short and by simply saying the words “I love you” will bring you an immense sense of satisfaction.

16. Treat others how you want to be treated. In business and in the game of life, people matter. If you want to truly win in both, make every person you come in contact with feel important.

17. Have a green smoothie. Instead of turning to caffeine turn to the power of mother nature and blend yourself up a delicious, energizing and healthy green smoothie. One of my favorites is two handfuls of organic spinach, one apple, juice of one lemon, three stalks of celery, and ginger root. There are plenty of recipes available to you online.

18. Take a post-it-note or note-card and write down some quotes that move, inspire and empower you. There will be times throughout the day that might upset you or discourage you. Constantly feeding your mind with words that inspire and empower you will instantly get you back on your feet ready to hit the ground running.

19. Cut off all distractions. When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to relax, relax. Discipline yourself to stay off Facebook and other social media sites when you are working on a computer. If you are in an office, hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign if possible. Focus completely on the task at hand.

20. Take full and complete responsibility for your life. Own up to your mistakes and never fall into the trap of playing the ever-so-popular blame game.

Adopting winning habits is one of the surest ways to get to where you want to go. What we do on a daily basis determines the results that we end up with. If you don’t like what you have been producing up to this point, then change what you do daily. It’s my hope that this list of 20 ideas is of extreme value to help make today utterly amazing for you.

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com

This Is Your Time To Shine

This is your time to shine

This is your time to shine!  You are equipped and empowered with everything you need to make your life meaningful.  Please understand that the only limitations you have are the limitations you place on yourself.  You have the ability to rise higher, overcome every obstacle, and experience greatness!

Instead of looking far ahead into the future, learn to love your life right now, right where you are.  No one ever said you wouldn’t experience storms, but you do have the power to find peace in the midst of storms.  Today, trust that everything is working in your favor.

Don’t try and cheat looking for shortcuts in life.  Regret eats millions of people up every single day.  Don’t let today come to an end with you having regret about anything you did or didn’t do.  If there is something you want to do, do it!

If there is someone who means the world to you, tell them!  If there is a dream you have been putting off, pursue it wholeheartedly!

This is your time to shine.  Let your life and actions speak so loud in such a beautiful and special way that people can’t help but want to take their life to the next level when they see you. You are special. You are powerful.

Are You Willing To Pay The Price?

One of the major differences that separates the average from the great is their willingness to sacrifice. The average person who has achieved just average results will complain about not being satisfied with where they are in life. They will keep telling you over and over again about all of the reasons as to why they aren’t where they think they should be in life.

On the other hand, the greats make no complaints at all. They know that when you put in the work every day, you don’t have to worry about the results. They fully understand that their willingness to pay the price and sacrifice greatly will lead them to the results they were looking for.

Every day an ordinary person is achieving extraordinary success because of their willingness to sacrifice and outwork everyone else.

Everything worthwhile in life has a price tag, and that goes for  your biggest goals and dreams in life as well. Are you willing to pay the price?

When I was a junior in high school, I made a decision and declared that I wanted to get a division one scholarship. Mind you, I was coming off a very mediocre junior season with no collegiate teams taking notice. The first thing I did was ask myself if I was willing to pay the price.

Instead of enjoying myself on the weekends with friends, going to parties, or taking time off, I devoted seven days a week towards training and refining my craft as a football player. Before the start of my senior season my sacrifice and willingness to pay the price started to pay off. When it was all said and done, I earned nineteen division one scholarships.

Even though athletics is what introduced me to the importance of making sacrifices for worthwhile goals, the same goes for every area of our lives. I’m sure the goals and dreams you have for your life are enormous and very worthwhile to you, which means you have to ask yourself if you are willing to pay the price.

Everything worthwhile in life doesn’t come easily. Financial independence, losing a certain amount of weight, starting your own business, or even having a successful marriage. It all comes with a price that you have to be willing to pay in order for it to become a reality.

For the goals and dreams that you are currently working towards, ask yourself every day if you are willing to pay the price. Think of all the amazing benefits that you would experience if you were to achieve your goal or dream. When you start imagining and visualizing in clear detail what it would be like to make your dream a reality, you will develop a deep desire to willingly pay whatever price.

Leave the excuses aside. When you are willing to pay the price and sacrifice greatly, you will never finish second to anyone and be well on your way to live a life of greatness!

You Are Powerful!

You have to understand  that you, yes you, are far greater than any problem or disappointment that may be present in your life.

I don’t care who you are or what you have accomplished, we all go through disappointments in life and struggle from time to time with coming to the realization just how special we truly are.  Think about it, let’s say you have a goal that you want to achieve so badly in life, but three months down the road  you come to find out that you didn’t reach your mark.

What happens?  You quickly rush to start blaming yourself and question your abilities and talents.  You start to listen to the negative voices that keep rolling in and out of your head.  Feeling powerless.  Feeling like a victim instead of a victor.

What you have to understand and never lose sight of is that you have more power and control inside of you than you think you do.  Some people get hit so hard from the outcomes of life that they lose complete sight of their uniqueness and wonderful talents they have been blessed with.

Failures and disappointments aren’t present to degrade our confidence and love for ourselves.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in life.  Learning how to make it “ok” to fail and mess up every now and then.

Understanding that it all is apart of the process to reach and achieve my goals and dreams in life.  To become the best version of myself.  You can experience so much more in life when you don’t look at disappointments and failures as some terrible mishap in life.

Just for a second, look at Abraham Lincoln.  How many times did he fail over and over again before he actually was elected President Of The United States?  Look at Steve Jobs.  A remarkable man who went through disappointment after disappointment before he actually achieved success.  And then when he achieved success, he was hit again with being fired from the company he founded!

Look at Albert Einstein.  How many times did he fail over and over again before once and for all breaking through?  These are three remarkable men who achieved remarkable success who all went through very difficult and tough times.  What they didn’t do though is let the hits they took from life keep them down.  When things went wrong, they didn’t go with them!

They never forgot how powerful and special they truly were.  If you make the decision to tell yourself daily how special you are, start listing all of your unique qualities, no setback or failure will ever be able to hold you back.

Here are five ways you can start to remind yourself daily on how powerful you really are.

1.)  Get in the habit of writing in a gratitude journal. When things go wrong in life and being able to sit down and start listing all you are thankful for, your happiness will be rekindled and you soon will feel a sense of accomplishment.  Even small successes will keep you reminded that you have been successful in the past and that you will be successful in the present and future.

2.)  Continually review and look at your long term goals. Short term disappointments are less likely to derail your well being when you pay mind to all you wish to accomplish in the future.

3.) Striving and working to dig deeper in your spirituality journey. We all have different beliefs, but working to strengthen your spirit will help reinforce how powerful you are.  Whether that is going to church every Sunday, reading scripture throughout your day, or tapping into the power of meditation can help paint the positive picture of yourself.

4.) Find time to read 10-15 pages of something motivational, inspirational, or uplifting to help renew your mind and enlighten your day.  Just spending 10-15 minutes a day reading uplifting material can alone take your life to the next level.

5.) A habit that has positively impacted my life is keeping a notecard filled with powerful and moving quotes to help pick me up throughout the day.  Whenever I felt down or upset about something, I would take my notecard out and repeat over and over to myself the positive quotes that were written down.  This habit helps to interrupt all of the negative thoughts that are trying to take control of your thinking.

You are powerful.  Don’t ever lose sight of how powerful you really are.  Life will knock you down and derail your path, but you don’t have to give in!  Don’t let the tough times demoralize your beauty.  You have a unique skill set that no one else possesses.

You are here to make a difference and make this world a better place.  Just remember, you are far greater than any problem or circumstance that stands in your way!