How To Get Back to Winning After Life Comes Crashing Down Around You.

red and yellow car toy

Alex Zanardi woke up. He couldn’t move. Machines were hooked up to every part of his body. His whole body was in pain. Raw agony.

A week earlier, Alex could see his competition ahead of him from the seat of his Formula 1 car, but not for long. Soon he was ahead of everybody.

His car had been the fastest in practice at the American Memorial 500 CART race in Germany. And with 13 laps to go, he was telling himself, “I’ve won!” 

He was on top of the world. He just had to make a stop in the pits before making the final turns to victory. It was quick, like any other pit stop in this race. He was in. He was out. 

Alex was barely on the track when he heard the sound of carbon fiber being ripped apart from lightweight metal alloy. It was his supercar. Being torn into bits.

He had just been hit by another Formula 1 driver. At 190 miles per hour.

Alex heard an explosion. And then he heard nothing. 

Waking up a week later in the hospital all he felt was pain. It washed over him like a wave of cold. Biting deeply into his nervous system.

He didn’t even know his legs were missing until his wife told him.

Alex always thought he’d rather die than live with any type of disability. Especially having both of his legs amputated.

But a funny thing happened.

After he was told his legs were gone, he felt something different. Surprisingly so. He felt thankful. Thrilled, even.

He was alive. Because he shouldn’t have been. 

Alex had been in numerous wrecks before. He had broken more bones than he cared to count. But he had never been soaked in agony and pain like he was that day.

And for the next year as he recovered. 

But every day, Alex woke up with the intention of getting his life back and with the intention of being positive.

He was bombarded by questions of what he would do next and whether he would race again.

Some days, all Alex really wanted, though, was to use the bathroom on his own — without having to rely on anybody else.

So he worked. And worked. And worked.

“You get the chance to take every day as a new opportunity to add something to your life,” Alex said.

He worked every single day. He went to rehabilitation. It was brutal — demanding massive focus, sweat, and pain to learn how to move the parts of his legs he still had. 

Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left…

He figured out that he had to strengthen the rest of his body — because now, he would have to use those muscles to compensate for his missing pieces. 

But Alex didn’t mind.

Instead of allowing himself to feel like he had lost something, he forced himself to see it as a new opportunity.

A new challenge. 

So he set out to prove “that there are no obstacles for the disabled.” 

Within a year, Alex was fit for two prosthetic legs that he helped design.

He had always loved the design side of things, so it only made sense he would have some input on his new appendages. They were lightweight and as comfortable as a prosthetic could be. 

Alex continued with therapy each day, always with a light heart and a good attitude.

He didn’t let himself stay depressed like everyone expected him to. Instead, he adopted a new mindset. 

He was determined to be grateful for the life he still had. And he decided that he would live it to the fullest. 

And that’s exactly what he did. Day by day. Step by step. Piece by piece. Until the day he could get back on his feet.

And that day came. Alex Zanardi, took the first steps on his new legs. All by himself.

He was shaky. It was difficult. There was pain. And fear.

But still he smiled. And worked. 

Less than two years after his wreck, Alex found himself in the driver’s seat of a custom-made BMW with gas and brake controls mounted on the steering wheel.

He looked at the same race track that almost took his life.

He wasn’t there to make a ceremonial round of the track. He wasn’t there for the applause or the pity. He wasn’t there as a publicity stunt.

Alex Zanardi was there to race. 

Even when people questioned his mental state and his physical abilities, he insisted he was not at a disadvantage.

After all, his head had stayed the same. The only thing missing was a few feet.

Alex was back in the race. He didn’t win that day. It took two more years of trying. But in 2005, Alex Zanardi won his first race after returning from his crash. 

But curiosity got the best of him. What else could he do now? 

He decided cycling might be fun. 

Alex started para-cycling — or hand cycling. He would use his arms to pedal and steer his bicycle. It was a great way for him to relieve his stress and to workout. It also happened that he was pretty damn good at it. 

Alex had been racing almost his whole life — he started racing go-karts at 13. He had also been designing and building things his whole life.

Just as he helped with the design of his previous race cars and helped design his own legs, he helped design and build his own para-cycle.

He understood aerodynamics. And that gave him a competitive edge. 
The first race he ever competed in, was the New York Marathon in 2007.  He didn’t win. He did come in 4th. Not too shabby for a guy who just started training four months prior to his first race. 

He was quickly asked to compete in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, but he had to decline. He had already committed to the World Touring Car Championship for that year. 

And when he found himself distracted moving between racing cars and racing para-cycles, he decided to retire from racing cars.

As he stepped down from one seat, he found himself comfortably seated in another one. The hand-cycle. His new passion.

Alex loved training on the cycle. Aside from being a great workout, it made him feel alive, which was all he really strived for every day — to be happy and thankful and alive. 

That singular purpose paid off. 

By 2011, Alex had won the New York marathon — the same one he had come in fourth place in just a few years earlier.

He also came in second at the World Championships. There was only one place left for him to go. The 2012 London Paralympics.

Alex trained tirelessly. When asked how he prepared himself, he said, “I put more effort in avoiding all distractions in my life.” 

And it worked. Alex came away with 2 individual gold medals for Italy and was appointed as BMW’s global brand ambassador.  

It would have been easy for Alex to hang up his cycling helmet and sit back and enjoy his accomplishments.

But that’s not his style.

Again, his curiosity got the best of him. He started wondering if he could be an IRONMAN. 

An IRONMAN race consists of 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles on a bike, and 26.2 miles running. Alex would have to use only his arms for all three events. 

For the bike portion, he used his hand-cycle. For the running portion, he had to use his wheelchair. The swimming portion he was on level playing waters, except for the missing lower half of his body. 

His arms felt like overcooked pasta. But they were the only things he had to rely on for 140 miles. 

But Alex finished the IRONMAN World Championship. He came in 272nd.  At 47 years old, he was nineteenth in his age bracket. 

Neither age nor disability was enough to slow Alex Zanardi down. He just kept pushing. Literally. 

He pushed his para-cycling talents all the way to the 2016 Paralympics.  

Alex Zanardi won another gold medal in Rio De Janeiro — on the 15 year anniversary of the day he lost his legs. 

Alex is still racing. He competed in the IRONMAN 70.3 in Pula, Croatia less than two months ago. He came in first in his division and finished in less than four hours. 

His life is an inspiration for anyone who has experienced the agony of losing.

Here are a few of those lessons:

  1. No matter how bad things look right now, you can turn them around. It requires daily progress and constant focus on getting to where you want to be.
  2. Massive change in your circumstances demands pain, sweat, and focus. You have to work hard to be successful.
  3. Being positive is a choice that you get to make for yourself. Even when things looked ugly you are in control of your mindset.
  4. Tough goals demand that you do hard things. So stop expecting that life will play fair and that people will do the right thing.
  5. The harder you fall, the more reason you have to get up and keep working. Make the choice to crawl your way forward — no matter how slow it seems.
  6. Anything is possible if you are willing to do whatever it takes. You can do anything. You can be anything. Everything is an option.

The hard truth is that winners don’t get a shortcut around tragedy.

They just go into it with the expectation that they have the power to change their personal circumstances. No matter how bad things can get.

They work and try and fight and scrap. Never throwing in the towel or expecting a break.

No matter where you are right now in life. No matter what you are going through right now. No matter how much your world feels out of control right now.

All that matters is that you are willing to get back up and try again.

That’s what winners do.

You don’t get a magic bypass around frustration and pain simply because you have big dreams.

Just go be awesome.

By the way, this story is ever so timely.

He lost his legs almost 20 years ago; but just a few days ago, Alex Zanardi, was moved from intensive care to a neuro-rehabilitation center in Milan after suffering a horrific hand-cycling crash in June, as he was training for this year’s Tokyo Paralympics before it was postponed due to COVID-19

Earlier this month, Pope Francis wrote him a letter, praising him for “living life to the fullest and for providing a lesson in humanity.”

Having A Dream Doesn’t Make You Special. Doing Something About It Does.

Did you think that achieving success was going to be easy? That you were going to get the lucky break that no one else in your position will get?

Come on now. Stop being delusional.

You have a dream — but so do a lot of other people. Look around you.

The world is full of people with dreams.

Having a dream doesn’t make you special. It just makes you a person — a person just like everyone else around you.

It’s not your dream that determines your greatness. It’s your resolve. It’s your ability to put in the unrelenting effort that progress demands.

Tom’s story illustrates this like no other.

Tom Molineaux stood in a makeshift 24 square foot boxing ring. In England. Ankle deep in mud and blood.

His own blood ran from his head and down his face. The blood of his opponent, Tom Cribb, stained his bare knuckles and naked chest.  He didn’t pay attention to the cold December rain falling on his beaten body. Nor did he pay attention to the wind threatening to turn that rain to ice on his skin.

All he saw was the bloody and beaten man falling in front of him. And all he felt was victory.

Just years earlier, Tom Molineaux had been living his life as an American slave in Virginia. He was born into slavery in 1784.

Before he was ten years old, Tom was working from early morning light until dark on the plantation.

His body was blackened from days in the sun, but he learned to endure the elements at a young age. And he was no stranger to physical abuse. It was a regular thing on plantations for children to carry more than their little arms should be able to hold — working alongside grown men. He was expected to do the same amount of work. With the same intensity. And beaten when he fell short.

Tom Molineaux learned how to handle pain.

And every day he became stronger — mentally and physically.  

When Tom’s father died, he took over the job as the plantation handyman. Which meant that he spent a lot of time fixing things around the main house — and spent even more time with the plantation owner’s son, Algernon.

Algernon was a wild child with an extreme affection for, drinking, prizefighting, and gambling.  

At a party one night, Algernon had a few too many drinks. When one of his rich friend bragged that his slave was unbeatable in bare-knuckle fighting, Algernon drunkenly countered that Tom was bigger and better and would beat his man to a pulp. He was so sure about it that he was willing to bet the plantation on it. Literally.

Algernon woke up the next day with a terrible headache and the faint memory of the terrible bet he had made the night before.

There would be a fight.  

Algernon knew that Tom could fight, but the fight he had signed him up for was too important to just throw him in the ring and wing it. Algernon needed help. Tom needed training.

England had perfected the sport of boxing. And it just so happened that a Brit with experience in boxing had landed nearby in Virginia.

Algernon hired him to train Tom.

Tom was not as excited about the upcoming fight as Algernon. After all, he had nothing to gain or lose by fighting. It wasn’t his plantation on the line. When Algernon found out that Tom refused to listen to his new trainer or fully participate in any training that would benefit him in the upcoming fight, Algernon was furious.

He threatened Tom with a beating if he didn’t do what he was told. Which did little good. Tom had endured plenty of beatings. He didn’t see what one more could hurt. He was a slave. His life was not his own anyway. If he died, so be it. 

Day after day, Tom went to training. Day after day, Algernon got word that Tom wouldn’t train. Finally, Algernon decided to make Tom a deal.

Algernon already stood to lose everything. If he lost the plantation, he would lose Tom too. Instead of taking the chance of losing his family fortune, he told Tom that if he won the fight, he would get $100. Plus his freedom.

That was all Tom needed to hear. From that moment forward Tom trained for his fight. For his freedom. For his life.

He did everything he was told. He listened attentively. He struck hard and fast. Tom had never wanted anything more in his life than he did in all the moments leading up to that fight.

So he trained. And trained. And trained some more.

The day he waited on finally came. People traveled from hundreds of miles away to see which family would walk away with the other’s fortune.

Tom walked into the ring with his mind made up. That day would be the last day he was a slave.

The crowd waited anxiously for the fight to start. The onlookers placed bets and collected monies.

All eyes were on Tom and his opponent, Abe, as they entered the ring from opposite ends of the ropes. Thrown together like two dogs trained to kill.

The rules of fighting were new. And simple.

There were no bells or whistles. When one man fell, the round ended. When he fell for good or stayed down for longer than 30 seconds, the other man was declared the winner.

Tom struck. And he struck again. Abe fought back, but he could not overpower Tom and his lightning speed.

Tom defeated his opponent in five short rounds.

The crowd went wild at the display of blood and savagery. Algernon went wild when he found out how much he had won.

True to his word, Algernon gave Tom his freedom. And because Tom had won him so much money, Algernon gave Tom an additional $400 to take with him.

So with nothing but $500 and the clothes on his back, Tom left Virginia and never looked back.

You have to train for greatness. You have to prepare for greatness. You have to be willing to put in the time.

When you finally get your opportunity, be ready. Be all in. Don’t hold back. 

You have to be so obsessed about building momentum that it is all you can think about. You don’t have space in your brain for anything else besides getting to where you want to be.

It’s not going to happen for you if you’re not entirely consumed. It’s just not.

You’re not a bad person. The truth is that you just don’t want it bad enough. And that’s why you are not where you want to be.

That’s tough to hear — but it’s the truth. If you wanted it bad enough, you would be acting differently. Wouldn’t you?

You wouldn’t be looking for shortcuts or trying to duck doing the hard things. You would be “head down” pursuing your dream with every fiber of your being. You would be reading different books. Books that help you realize progress towards your dream.

You would be spending your money differently. You would magically find that money you never seem to have when it comes to paying for a coach or a mentor or a digital course that accelerates you closer to your dream.

You would be spending your time differently.

After winning his freedom, Tom Molineaux fought his way through New York. Making a name for himself. He was a fighter to be reckoned with. But he knew that his dreams were bigger than the place he lived/

In his travels, he had heard of the fame and glory of the prizefighters of England. That was the place he needed to be.  After a final bloody bout that garnered him the title of “American Champion,” Tom headed to England confident he could outfight any boxer.

And he did. Tom Molineaux never lost a fight in England.

Meanwhile, he was trying to bait the English Champion, Tom Cribb, into fighting him. But Cribb refused. He said Molineaux wasn’t good enough to fight him.

But with each new victory, England rallied around Tom Molineaux more and more.  They wanted to see the bold American fight the hometown hero.

Eventually, Tom Molineaux said that if the Champion refused to fight him, then, perhaps, Tom Molineaux himself should be named the new Champion of English fighting.

That got Tom Cribb’s attention. He would not be bested by an American. Especially not a black American.

So Tom Cribb agreed to fight Molineaux.

It was a fight that would go down in history. The bout lasted 40 rounds — almost an hour on a cold December day in 1809.

It wasn’t a fair fight. The crowd that had ravenously hyped the fight turned against him when they saw their hometown hero begin to falter.

In the 14th round, the crowd rushed the ring in order to stall the fight so that Tom Cribb could catch his breath. 

In the 28th round, Tom Cribb lay unconscious in mud. Down for longer than the standard 30 seconds. But the umpire changed the rules to please the crowd. Stating that Tom Cribb was still in the fight. 

As the wind continued to whip his blood splattered body, Tom Molineaux wouldn’t give up.

And the crowd wouldn’t accept that he was the winner. bSo round after round. After round. After round. They fought.

Every time Tom Cribb came at him with a blow, Molineaux would greet it with a blow of his own. The two men had beaten each other so badly, it was hard for the crowd to tell the black fighter from the white one. Everything was brown and red.  Mud and blood.

After 40 rounds of combat, Tom Molineaux walked away from the fight holding his head up high. His opponent was unconscious. He himself was barely coherent.  But he was free.

At the time, most people like him weren’t lucky enough to be free. He had made it. He took his opportunity and ran with it. The moment presented itself and he was all in. Ready. And committed.

He fought his way to freedom. And never looked back.

Today, we consider Tom Molineaux the first super-star prizefighter in the history of boxing. All from a life of nothing. He was a slave. Another person’s property. 

From that place, he had brought himself so far. He had literally fought his way to freedom.

Make no mistake. Your fight for progress is just that. A fight. An opportunity for greatness. A chance to set yourself free.

You might have become good at the wrong skills. You can make great excuses. You know how to sound sophisticated while blaming other people. You can chill out like a champion. Taking a break is your thing.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you were burning with passion.

Imagine the possibilities that would emerge for you if you were obsessed entirely with turning your dream into reality.

You’re not guaranteed that life will be fair to you. You’re not promised another day.

Easy is the result of first doing what is hard.

Stop looking for luck, and simply use the moments you have to create results. Today is that second chance you’ve been asking for.

This moment is an opportunity for you to change your future. It’s the same moment everyone else around you has.

So quit bragging about dreams you will never accomplish and put in the work and humility to make progress. Painfully. Slowly. Purposefully. Through the blood and sweat and mud.

Where you are right now is the result of what you did in the past.

Where you go next is a result of what you do now.

Nothing Can Replace Effort.

Nothing replaces effort. 

Not working smarter. Not working faster. Not influence, money, or education. 

Effort is the oxygen of your dreams. Without it, you suffocate. Everything you care about dies.

It has become trendy over the last decade to talk about work as if sophistication allows you to skip it. 

That if you know more or have more, then you get to work less. You don’t have to struggle or fight or sweat if you have enough education or a pedigree that says you’re somebody. 

And although at the back of your brain you know that such thinking is ludicrous, there is a part of you that thinks you might be missing out on something. Especially in the heat of the battle. Especially when it feels like the world is caving in around you. 

In those moments of stress and chaos, you look around and ask yourself why you’re in this situation — what you could have done wrong and why you are where you are.

And right behind that thought you start to question what you don’t know. 

Maybe if you buy that course you see advertised on Facebook making money would be a lot easier for you. 

Maybe if you bought that book or seminar or coaching program you would unlock some special essence of empowerment that would allow you to catapult past the stress of uncertainty and the fear of feeling like you’re not going to make it. 

So let me save you time and money with a simple observation. 

Nothing replaces effort. Nothing. Effort is the great equalizer of the universe. 

The smartest, most educated person on the planet looks like a fool without the effort to use that education. On the other hand, we all know more than quite a few rich, successful people who seem like outcasts. 

What makes each of us what we are is our perspective on effort. 

When you embrace effort as your superpower, you automatically expect that your dream is going to require it.

You understand completely that a destiny worth achieving demands massive amounts of effort. 

You aren’t surprised or shocked. You don’t stop and question the universe about why life is so hard. 

You don’t expect anything. Not a break. Not even a fair chance. 

You don’t need any of that when you have effort. Because it’s what separates you from everyone else. 

While they’re stumbling around looking for clarity, you’re putting in the effort to find it. 

See, that’s the thing about clarity. That’s the quirky gamesmanship of finding your way. You’ve been taught that if you only know the right plan and match it with effort, you can accomplish all your dreams. 

And, certainly that is not a bad way to live your life — with clear thinking and unbridled passion. 

But where things get confusing is when you stop knowing what to do. When you don’t have the plan. When you don’t see the path. 

Effort doesn’t spring from clarity. It’s the other way around. 

Clarity bursts forth from the fertilization of effort.

You move and grow and grind. Stumbling towards where you think you want to be. Facing the unknown with courage — not unnecessarily fearless or invulnerable — knowing that doing nothing can’t be the answer.  Waiting can’t be the answer. Hoping things magically turn out okay can’t be the answer. 

No. Effort is the answer. You pushing forward with every ounce of your being — minute by minute, day after day. 

Not because you’re not smart enough to know what else to do. But very much because you know that nothing replaces effort. 

So, as you rise to meet the days in front of you know that your destiny is not to be won with small gestures or painless agitation. 

To get to where you want to be, no matter where that might be, you will have to strain your back against the tides of resistance and pull yourself forward — piece by piece, step by step — until you stand upon the mountain top of your dreams. 

Climb on, my friend. Climb on.

The Only Chance You Have Is The One You Give Yourself.

A man with his hands covered with mud

Being successful comes down to how hard you are willing to work. That’s it.

There are always new skills you need to learn. There are new technology that will save you heartache and pain. Gurus, consultants, and mentors can guide you past the obvious obstacles standing in your way.

But none of that matters more than how hard you’re willing to work.

Nothing works if you don’t work. Most things won’t work unless you work hard.

The harder you work, the more successful you will be.

It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter how big your goals are. If you work hard enough for long enough you can have it all.

Money, fame, trophies, records — they are owned by the person working harder than you right now. That person that is doing what you make excuses for not doing.

Born in the heart of Switzerland surrounded by the Swiss Alps, Dick Williams knew what it meant to live the “good life”. He never had to worry about how he’d pay for his education: his parents paid for a private tutor at a Swiss boarding school, teaching him to speak fluent French & German.

He never had to worry about “getting his name out there”. He was born to Charles Duane Williams, a founding member of the International Tennis Federation — and direct descendent of Benjamin Franklin. His dad was massively successful, and he wanted his son to be the same way.

At 12, his parents stuck a tennis racket in his hand and started teaching him to play the sport his dad loved so much.

And he started to love it too.

With the help of some of the best teachers money could by, he became one of the best in the game—at 20—winning the 1911 Swiss Championship.

It was no surprise, given their wealth and prestige, that this father/son duo decided to cruise in first class on the maiden voyage of the most opulent ocean liner to date, owned and operated by the White Star Line.

They lived on the luxurious C Deck with the majority of the other First Class passengers, enjoying incredible amenities: a smoking room, reading and writing rooms, and an exclusive cafe.

It was a voyage they were going to remember for a lifetime.

But not for the reasons they expected.

“Iceberg!” The lookout cried out the warning in the late night hours of April 14th.

If they smashed into the iceberg, it would be disastrous. The ocean liner, known around the world as “unsinkable,” could sink. The ship’s captain, recognizing the danger, swerved the massive ship to the left, narrowing avoiding the iceberg. Or so he thought.

The ship’s clock read 11:40 pm.


The iceberg was larger than they thought underneath the surface, ripping a gash in the starboard plates of the RMS Titanic.

Water flooded into the special compartments built to contain flooding in the event of a disaster. But the engineers never anticipated a gash running nearly half the length of the ship.

Those compartments were quickly overwhelmed and water spilled over into the engine room, leaving the ship dead in the water.

And if they didn’t escape, the passengers would be dead too.

The crew, knowing the worst was imminent, desperately lowered life boats into the water. Who cared if they were only half-full? They needed to save as many as possible.

Meanwhile, Dick & his father raced out of their cabins to see what had caused the noise.

“HELP!” Dick heard the frantic screams of a nearby passenger, who was stuck behind their door.

So he jiggled the doorknob.


It wouldn’t budge.

Taking a few steps back, he threw all of his weight into his shoulder—and through the door.

A steward, seeing the damage he caused, threatened to report him to the ship’s owners. But that would be the least of all three of their problems.

He and his dad ran up to Deck A, where they huddled in fear with other passengers in the gymnasium, clueless. They were trapped in the middle of the ocean. In the middle of nowhere. Nobody could save them.

So they decided to save others. Racing out of Deck A, they helped load women & children into lifeboats.

Passenger after passenger, lifeboat after lifeboat, they saved others when they could’ve saved themselves.

The ice-cold water was no respecter of persons.

It snatched the life out of anyone who couldn’t escape it, regardless of their political status, socioeconomic status, or prior success.

With the last boat lowered, trapping themselves, they headed up to the captain’s bridge to get as far away as possible from the water.


At 2:20 am, the steel could no longer withstand the stress caused by the water flooding the ship. The Titanic broke apart.


Floating nearly upright in the frigid North Atlantic waters, one of the four smoke stacks broke and tumbled directly towards Charles and his son, two of the wealthiest passengers on the Titanic.

Dick jumped out of the way—and right into the nearly frozen, pitch-black waters.

He looked around, desperate to find his dad in the waters next to him.His dad hadn’t been so lucky. Instead, he saw a lifeboat.

He pulled himself in, not caring that it hadn’t been fully assembled. He just wanted to survive. He sat huddled with other passengers—rich, poor, and everywhere in between, in the frozen darkness.

The only lights came from the ship, the stars, and the distress flares still being fired from the Titanic, as the crew desperately tried to hail a nearby ship.

The minutes continued to tick by.

At some point, he lost feeling in his legs, the same legs that carried him to the Swiss Championship and the same legs he thought would continue to propel him to the top of the tennis world.

Instead, he sat shivering in the dark, wanting nothing more than to survive this nightmare.

Finally, around 4 a.m. on April 15, the RMS Carpathia arrived to rescue the remnants of the unsinkable ship.

As the doctor examined the tennis great’s legs, he came to an unavoidable conclusion: Dick’s legs would have to be amputated.

There was a big chance Dick could develop gangrene from the frostbite.

If he wanted to survive, the doctor said, he had no choice but to lose his legs.

But Dick disagreed. He refused to let his tennis career—and his legs—be cut short.

So every day he would pull himself from the hospital bed and start to hobble, willing his legs to move.

Shuffle. Drag. Shuffle. Pull. Shuffle.

He was obsessed. This was his mission now.

His wealthy background didn’t matter anymore. He needed to survive.

Every waking moment found Dick shuffling, willing his legs to move.

Even at night, he woke up every two hours to hobble along.

He worried that if he slept too much, his legs —and his dreams —would die.

And step by step, his gait started to return.

When he arrived stateside, he decided to stay and accomplish his plan to graduate college and play professional tennis.

A year after the disaster, Dick stood again —this time at the top of the tennis world, winning the intercollegiate singles championship for Harvard.

A year after that, in 1914, he won the intercollegiate doubles championship.

In 1915, he took home both the intercollegiate singles and doubles championships.

He made a name for himself in America, just like he had in Europe —despite his legs continuing to cause him pain.

The longer a tennis match went, the more painful his legs felt from the frostbite.

He compensated for his physical disability with mental and emotional ferocity.

Historian Bud Collins said of Williams, “On his best days, when he had the feel and touch and his breathtaking strokes were flashing on the lines, [he] was unbeatable.”

In March 1916, the tennis community ranked him #2 in the world.

He was unbeatable.

The German Army couldn’t stop him during World War I as he fought alongside other Americans in the deadliest American battle of the war. The US government, recognizing his bravery and tenacity, awarded him the Legion of Honor. The French government also recognized his bravery and awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

He was unbeatable.

After the war, tournament after tournament engraved his name on their championship trophy.

Wimbledon emblazoned his name alongside Chuck Garland’s when they won the doubles championship in 1920.

He helped his team win the Davis Cup in both 1925 and 1926.

A year before his back-to-back Davis Cup victories, he partnered with Hazel Wightman to win the mixed doubles gold at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games—a few short miles from where he fought off entrenched German forces during World War I.

He laid down his tennis racket when he was 44, and retired into a lucrative career as a Philadelphia banker.

On June 2, 1968, fifty years and a day after he fought in the infamous Battle of Belleau Wood, he passed away.

And as they prepared him for the funeral, they realized there was a bulk in the jacket he died in. In the midst of the chaos of April 14, 1912, Dick’s father handed him the flask he had always carried.

And Dick continued to carry it. Never forgetting that night. Never forgetting his dad. Never forgetting that every step mattered.

The size of your bank account doesn’t matter. Not degrees. Not certifications. Not the people you know or the knowledge you have.

You still have to put in the work.

Here’s the truth about hard work:

  1. You’re going to have to suffer because of how hard you need to work.
  2. You’re going to be tired because of how hard you need to work.
  3. You’re going to lose friends because of how hard you need to work.

Working hard isn’t easy, fun, friendly, or free.

You’re going to have to spend your last dollar on working hard. You’re going to have to spend your last belief believing in you — in what you’re doing.

You’re not going to be able to hold back anything. Not pride. Not dignity. Not the embarrassment of failing.

The only chance you have is the one you give yourself. And that chance comes from working hard.

That’s the path to where you want to be. It runs through the valley of exhaustion. Through the brambles of agony and frustration.

But you can have it all. You just have to give all you have. Every day. From now until when you get to where you wanna be.

Why Tough Times Build Tough People.

two men same standing near green leaf plant

It’s easy for you to stay positive when things are looking good. You can quickly smile and stay focused when there are no problems. No frustrations in your life.

But it’s harder to do what needs to be done when the pressure of problems is weighing you down. When all you can think about is finding a way out.

It’s hard to smile when all you think about is finding a way up out of the hole you find yourself in at the moment.

When you are beaten down, it’s hard to stay focused and positive and motivated. But that’s exactly the time when you need most to stay motivated. That’s exactly when you do need to stay working. To stay focused.

You’ll learn some of the best lessons of your life when everything seems to be melting down around you.

It’s the tough times that makes you better. That build your character. That define you. It’s the tough times that make you amazing.

Not the easy ones. Not the times when everyone is smiling at you and reminding you how good you are.

It’s the times when the critics treat you unfairly. When the support around you is lean. When the people you think you can count on let you down.

And to be amazing, you have to leverage the tough times. The ugly times. The uncertain, chaotic times.

Maggy opened the door of the bishop’s palace and stepped out. Just outside the front door were her family. and friends. Members of her village and tribe.

Inside that palace, in the village of Ruyigi, her seven adopted children huddled in fear. They were joined by six dozen adults who had fled there out of panic. They were Hutu people. Surrounded by Tutsis, who were out for blood.

There was a bloodbath in Burundi. Unlike any other massacre in Africa. It was personal this time. Tribe against tribe. Sect versus sect.

When Maggy Barankitse opened the palace door that morning and locked it behind her as she stepped out, she could feel the fear in the air. The silent panic. The underlying cry for blood. She recognized the faces looking back at her.

They were her family members.

Family who disagreed with Maggy’s belief that everybody should be able to live together peacefully.

She had been dreading this moment. Refusing to come out of the palace where she had been protecting her adopted children and the Hutu refugees. But her family and the other Tutsis outside began to douse the palace with gasoline. They would burn it to the ground. With Maggy and her children inside. As well as her friends and their children.

They beat Maggy. And stripped her naked in front of the gathering mob. Then they tied her to a chair. And made her watch the sadistic madness that was to follow.

One at a time, her family brutally murdered the Hutu refugees she had been hiding inside the palace.

Maggy watched all 72 of her friends and coworkers die that day.

One by one. Maggie watched. Unable to move. Maggie watched. Unable to help. Maggie watched.

It took almost six full hours to kill those 72 friends of hers. From 9am to 3pm to be exact. Almost a full day’s work.

The children were next.

As Maggie Barankitse sat naked in that chair on October 24, 1993, she prayed for the safety of the children.

And her prayers were answered. The Tutsi accepted a ransom for her 7 adopted children and 18 others who were orphaned by the brutal massacre of their parents.

Done with their thirst for blood. They left Maggie there with her dead. Naked. And in shock.

Freeing herself from her ties, she went to the chapel to pray.

She didn’t know how to go on without them.

“Dear God” she prayed. “Show me how I can continue to live after this.”

Maggy’s children made their way to her as she prayed. She watched the children of those 72 butchered friends come out of hiding. They were now orphans.

Maggie had a choice to make. Would she be the victim? Would she let hate win? Could she make a difference?

She had been raised to love. She had been raised to persevere. She had been raised to teach.

And so she made up her mind. She would go on.

She would attempt to change her corner of the world.

In truth, Maggy didn’t have time to mourn those she lost. She didn’t have time to cry over what had happened to her. She had 7 children of her own and 25 children with dead parents looking to her for answers.

So she did the only thing she knew how to do.

She held each of them in her loving arms. She told them she was their mother now. She promised to make tomorrow brighter for each and every one of them.

Knowing that she needed a safer place to raise your burgeoning family, she fled to the house of a German humanitarian worker in the area, named Mr. Martin. She begged him to let her stay there with all of the kids.

Without hesitation, he agreed.

And it was just one day after the most horrific day of her young life that Maggy Barankitse started Maison Shalom, House of Peace, on the property of her new German hero.

News began to spread rapidly about “the crazy lady of Ruyigi” who was taking in orphans. And the orphans came. One by one. Ten by ten. Every day more children knocked on the door of Mr. Martin’s house, the temporary home of Maison Shalom.

And they kept knocking. As the violence grew worse, more children made their way to their new mother.

They finally outgrew their quarters and needed more space. The Diocese of Ruyigi gave Maggy some property to use.

The civil war continued. The genocide continued. And the children continued to knock on Maggy’s door. And she never turned any of them down.

It didn’t matter if they were Hutu, or Tutsi, or Twa. It didn’t matter.

Maggy took them all in without question and without fear for her life.

A life that could be taken at any moment because of her refusal to be loyal to her Tutsi roots.

From her dangerous corner of Africa, Maggy Barankitse’s story spread around the world. Groups, associations, even governments sent her humanitarian aid, allowing her to continue her work and to grow.

And grow she did.

She grew Maison Shalom into a community. She built homes for the children. Not just an orphanage. She built dorms and paired older children with younger children. She fostered the idea of togetherness. Community. Family. Hutu and Tutsi were now brother and sister.

Since its inception, Maggy has built a hospital, a movie theater, a mechanic shop, a hair salon, a school, and her prized possession, a pool. Not only as a place for the children to swim, but also as a reminder of the blood that was shed and the baptism into a new life for the children.

Since 1993, Maggie has taken in more than 20,000 children.

They call her “The Angel of Burundi” and “The Mother Teresa of Africa.” Often compared to Nelson Mandela in her passion to make the world better, Maggie insists there is nothing special or extraordinary about herself.

“I know I can never stop the war, but I can stop it in my heart and in the hearts of the children.”

After 20 years, peace finally settled in Burundi. But it would not last.

In 2015, unrest resurfaced again. Maggy was forced to go into hiding and flee to Rwanda after threats from her own government.

Maison Shalom in Burundi was shut down. The children who were living there were relocated to Rwanda to be with her.

As she waited for the current president’s term to end, she got news that one of the men she had raised from a boy was killed.

She had to plan his funeral from a different country.

“He will be buried without me or his brothers and sisters of Maison Shalom. It is a very hard time for us all. That is what war does. I am only a mother who wanted to educate generations of young people to break this cycle of violence. I will carry on, no one can stop love.”

And Maggy has carried on.

On April 24, 2016, Maggy was awarded the $1.1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity — an award given to humanitarians in memory of the Armenian Genocide.

She will use that money to continue to educate her growing community of children now living in her temporary Maison Shalom camps in Rwanda.

Even though Maggy is still living in exile, she is preparing her adopted Burundi children for the peace that she is sure will come.

“I want them to come back to Burundi as engineers and scientists — not as rebels bearing arms.”

And that is exactly what is happening. 

One woman. She was stripped naked. And ashamed. Humiliated by her friends and family and loved ones.

In the middle of a troubled continent. Captive inside a country that was embroiled in a civil war of heartbreaking proportions. 100,000 Burundi citizens murdered.

And she saved over 20,000 orphans. Single-handedly.

It’s almost incomprehensible that she was able to stop a massacre that had enraged the entire country for so long. One woman.

In truth, you are no different than her. Same flesh-and-blood. Same fears and failure. Same dreams, hope, and ambition.

You are going to face hardship. Today. Tomorrow. And every year for the rest of your life. You are going to be tested by people and situations who hate what you do and who you are. 

Don’t forget how powerful you really are. Don’t forget that tough times build tough people.

Believe that your dream is possible. Have faith in your ability to figure it out. Love what you do. Serve others. Get busy working.

Change the world.

Movement, Momentum, And 29 Questions To Get You Focused On Getting To Where You Want To Be.

woman in black sweater with a black microsoft surface laptop on a table

It’s been said by Tony Robbins and other smart leaders that “the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself.”


Questions lead to answers.

Answers generate emotions and drive movement.

Movement determines momentum.

Without momentum, you will always struggle to get to where you want to be.

And without movement, you can’t build momentum.

When you stop and start continuously — chasing quick fixes and easy options to hard solutions — you make your journey to success exponentially more difficult. Almost impossible.

You find yourself taking two steps forward and forty steps backward.

Without momentum, you lurch between doing what is right and what is easy to do right now.

Momentum is the result of you doing small things with discipline and militant focus, regardless of how you feel at the time.

That matters, because over time, doing the right thing leads to success.

Here are a few of those quality questions to ask yourself when you are looking for more momentum in your life.

  1. What are the top three things you know you need to do right away that you been avoiding up to now?
  2. What two good things do you need to cut from your life right now so that you are no longer distracted from pursuing your goal of being awesome?
  3. Who is that one person in your life you need to build a better relationship with starting right now?
  4. How much money do you need to set aside right now for your safety net so that you can live the life of your dreams without chasing “get rich quick” schemes?
  5. What’s been keeping you up at night over the last few months that you need to take care of right away?
  6. Who do you need to hire (or fire) right now to help you get a little bit closer to where you want to be?
  7. What are you afraid of happening right now that you’re too embarrassed to even say out loud?
  8. Are you as financially fit as you need to be right now or are you just hoping things stay lucky for you forever?
  9. Are you using the right tools to guarantee that you follow up and follow through on a consistent basis?
  10. Do you find yourself gravitating towards the fast and easy solution or are you willing to work hard right now?
  11. How often do the opinions and criticism of others cause you to throw away the ideas you’re working on right now?
  12. Would you be doing what you’re doing right now if you knew you only had a few days left to live?
  13. To whom do you need to say “Thank you” or “I’m sorry” for something that has happened recently?
  14. Who do you need to become to be more candid right now with the people that are relying on you for direction?
  15. What personal health habits do you need to improve right now in order to get to your full potential?
  16. How often do you try things before you decide that your idea isn’t going to go anywhere right now?
  17. Right now do you actively seek out time for meditation or personal exercise on a daily basis?
  18. How much time do you spend watching television, movies, or playing video games each day right now?
  19. How often do you set aside time right now to nurture your soul and dig into the pain and fear that tries to control you?
  20. Are you mentally strong enough right now to ignore your critics even when they claim to have your best interests at heart?
  21. What would you do if you lost everything right now?
  22. Who are the 5 people you admire most right now that you need to start associating with?
  23. Who do you blame right now when you don’t like the results you been getting?
  24. What would others say about you right now if they were asked if you were a person of integrity?
  25. How often do you allow yourself to dream big dreams without talking yourself out of getting started right now?
  26. What is that one thing that others would say is your super power right now?
  27. Do you treat others as compassionately right now as you like to be treated when everything goes wrong for you?
  28. What would you be doing right now if you weren’t afraid that you couldn’t do it?
  29. Are you actively looking right now for opportunities where you can give value to those who need it most?

Remember, you can’t build momentum without first moving. Movement builds momentum. Not the other way around.

Success isn’t about feeling like being successful. If that were the case, no one would do the uncomfortable, painfully disciplined hard work that is required.

What you feel doesn’t matter. What you end up doing does matter.

Never forget that. It’s time to ask yourself the hard questions about why you are where you are and what it is going to take to get you to where you want to be.

On those days when you’re wishing you had the energy or inspiration to do what success demands, ask yourself how you’ll feel looking back on your life wishing you wouldn’t have wasted your opportunity at greatness.

And then get moving. Because your success matters.

301 Rules For Living A Successful Life In The Middle of Troubling Times.

I often joke from the stage that my mom used to tell me “If you can’t do something brilliant, just don’t do something stupid.”

By this time in my life and after hundreds of keynotes I’m not actually sure if it was my mom or someone else that told me that. Maybe it was a book. Who knows?

The reason why that quote has so much impact for me — and why it’s incredibly sticky once you hear it — is that it rings true for each of us.

No matter how many good decisions you make in your life, your results will always be limited but the scale and scope of your bad decisions.

In other words, no matter how good you are, you’re never better than your worst decision. In that moment at least.

In truth, living a successful life isn’t about being perfect. That’s impossible. It is about, however, about stopping from time to time to make sure your rulebook for success is up to date.

Here are a few important rules to consider:

  1. Accept responsibility for your actions, attitude, and influence.
  2. Care about others, yourself, and big dreams.
  3. Enjoy the journey. Make sure each step matters.
  4. Lead by example. Lead when no one is following.
  5. Open your mind to the possibility that there is an option you haven’t considered.
  6. Reduce the amount of time you spend “thinking about doing” instead of doing.
  7. Settle your differences with class, maturity, and dignity.
  8. Teach those who want to learn.
  9. Account for how you spend your money, your time, and your passion.
  10. Carry your emotions on your sleeve and the burdens of those weaker than you on your back.
  11. Count the number of times you keep trying as the measure of your success.
  12. Examine your motives, your bank account balance, and the direction you’re headed — every day.
  13. Learn a little bit each day from something that goes horribly wrong and frightfully right.
  14. Order your relationships, your priorities, your beliefs, and your daily schedule.
  15. Refer to women as ladies and to men as a gentleman. A little respect goes a long way.
  16. Shake hands firmly. Look the person you’re speaking with in the eye.
  17. Tell the truth, but be kind about it. Especially when it’s hard to hear.
  18. Achieve big goals by working hard — not by looking for shortcuts.
  19. Catch a case of gratitude. Let it infect everything that you do.
  20. Cover up your weaknesses by focusing on your strengths.
  21. Exist for a reason. Live with purpose.
  22. Have a kind word ready for anyone you meet.
  23. Leave your negative thoughts in bed when you get up in the morning.
  24. Reflect often on the difference you can make in the world around you.
  25. Tend your relationships like a garden. Plant seeds, nurture often, and reap bountifully.
  26. Act like a hero every day of your life.
  27. Cause ordinary people to achieve outrageous success because of your encouragement.
  28. Create a legacy of helping other people reach the finish line with you.
  29. Expect life to treat you unfairly (often).
  30. Head towards where you want to be. Don’t waste time looking back.
  31. Lend a hand, a dollar, or a bit of advice — as often as you can.
  32. Own your results. Jump to your own conclusions.
  33. Refuse to believe that anything is impossible for you to achieve.
  34. Share the spotlight with those who helped you get there in the first place.
  35. Test your limits. Don’t ever be satisfied by what you did yesterday.
  36. Add people to your cause by the example that you lead each day.
  37. Change the conversation. Own the thoughts you have. Choose to be positive.
  38. Cross off tasks on your “getting things done” list. Be proactive.
  39. Experience the quiet moments that are happening around you each day.
  40. Hear the silent cry for help coming from those in need around you.
  41. Let criticism drive you to work harder, be more focused, and live more boldly.
  42. Pass the time living life on your own terms.
  43. Regard fools and idiots like the nonsense they really are. Ignore them.
  44. Shoot for the moon. Work hard enough to actually get there.
  45. Thank the people around you who help you get to where you want to be.
  46. Admit when you are wrong. Say “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry” a little bit more often.
  47. Charge ahead with your big idea. The only thing standing in your way is “you”.
  48. Cry when you get hurt. Then heal. And get back in the fight.
  49. Explain your intentions often and early. Don’t expect people to just “get it”.
  50. Help make the world a better place. You’ll benefit forever from the good you leave behind.
  51. Lie to others (when you have to) — but never lie to yourself.
  52. Pay more for the people you hire to help you get to where you want to be.
  53. Relate to other people. Work at it. It’s a skill worth investing in.
  54. Think about how you would feel in a particular situation. Don’t be a jerk on purpose.
  55. Affect other for the better by being who you are.
  56. Check your ego from time to time. Arrogance can bury you all too easily.
  57. Cut back on what you spend money on. Big dreams need a big budget.
  58. Express kindness and gratitude a little more often than you do now.
  59. Hide your fear behind activity.
  60. Like yourself enough to keep trying even when you screw up.
  61. Perform like the world is watching even when no seems to notice that you exist.
  62. Release your inhibitions. Dream like anything is possible.
  63. Shout. Scream. Fight. Lead. Live. Love. Never stop trying.
  64. Throw your worries on the altar of activity. Keep working towards where you want to be.
  65. Afford to invest in yourself.
  66. Choose the high road — and the long road. There are no shortcuts to success.
  67. Damage the bridges you use a little bit less. You never know when you need a better route.
  68. Extend your experience by taking risks and venturing boldly into areas that scare you.
  69. Hit the ground running each morning. Start by getting things done. That will continue.
  70. Limit the excuses that you make. More responsibility never hurt anyone.
  71. Pick your friends wisely. You’ll become a lot like the people you hang around.
  72. Remain open to learning new things. The moment you stop learning, you start dying.
  73. Show your critics you’re serious by working hard each time you take the field.
  74. Touch those around you with your generosity and gratitude.
  75. “Agree to disagree” instead of holding a grudge. Move on.
  76. Claim the high ground with your attitudes and actions.
  77. Dance when you’re happy. Cry when you’re sad.
  78. Face the fact that you’re not going to get it right the first time around.
  79. Hold onto inspirational words, big dreams, and winning moments. Let them empower you.
  80. Link your life to good people and good things around you.
  81. Place yourself in the scary position where success is hard to achieve. It will make you tougher.
  82. Remember the hard-working people around you who help you get to where you want to be.
  83. Shut your mouth on angry words, unnecessary criticism, or passive aggression.
  84. Train yourself to stop thinking negative thoughts. Be deliberate about protecting your thoughts.
  85. Aim for perfection. Keep working until you get there.
  86. Clean up after yourself. No wants to have to deal with your baggage (or your dishes).
  87. Deal with the facts in front of you. Don’t guess or worry about things that aren’t there.
  88. Fail with grace. Don’t blame other people for your own unsuccessful attempts at greatness.
  89. Hope big. Dream big. Try big.
  90. Listen for what isn’t being said. Be emotionally intelligent. It’s a skill that makes a big difference.
  91. Plan to get knocked down in life and you’ll find yourself better at getting back up.
  92. Remove your ego from judging critical feedback. Just be awesome. Ignore the “nuttiness”.
  93. Sing when you’re happy. Cry when you’re sad. Live with your emotions under control — but on your sleeve.
  94. Travel more. Use virtual meeting tools less. Serious business people shake hands and talk face-to-face.
  95. Allow yourself to be convinced of other options and possibilities that are out there.
  96. Clear your mind of doubts and just press on — even when you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing.
  97. Decide to keep moving forward regardless of the cost or effort required. Make up your mind to be badass.
  98. Fall for love. Fall for the opportunity to matter. Fall forward into something that matters.
  99. Hurt your critics most by just ignoring them.
  100. Live every day like it matters — because it does.
  101. Play with competitors who are better than you. You’ll take your game to the next level that way.
  102. Repeat what works. Repeat what isn’t working yet but truly matters.
  103. Sit down and enjoy the sunset from time to time. You’re never too busy to be a bit more inspired.
  104. Treat your enemies like people. They are, after all, human.
  105. Answer hard questions with a question. You deserve to know “why”
  106. Climb the corporate ladder without stepping on the people around you.
  107. Deliver results — even when it’s hard (and especially then).
  108. Fasten your seatbelt. You never know when life will throw you a curveball.
  109. Identify your weaknesses. Work to improve them.
  110. Look at your situation from another perspective. You can always benefit from being more emotionally intelligent.
  111. Point out the ways you plan to improve. Be clear with your intentions when you want to do better.
  112. Replace worry with action. Now.
  113. Sleep when you’re tired. Work until you drop. Make achieving your goal a life long passion.
  114. Try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try again.
  115. Appear when there is a problem. Not showing up makes you seem like you don’t care.
  116. Close your ears to criticism, unfair comments, and other people’s opinions on what you should be doing.
  117. Demand excellence from yourself even when no one else cares.
  118. Feed your brain, your soul, and your body with the best fuel.
  119. Imagine success. Dream success. Plan for success. Let it consume you.
  120. Lose your doubts, your expectations for safety, and your plan for getting it right the first time around.
  121. Prefer to lose hard than to win easy. You’ll win more in the long run.
  122. Reply with a kind word — or no word at all — even when you don’t like it.
  123. Smile more. It makes you awesome.
  124. Turn negative life moments into learning opportunities.
  125. Apply what you’ve learned from life to your goals and ambitions for you now.
  126. Collect great friends, great ideas, and great motivation. They will keep you going for a long time.
  127. Deny yourself the opportunity to quit, feel sorry for yourself, or pout.
  128. Feel deeply about what you do. Let the emotions of your life drive you to better results.
  129. Improve. Don’t stay stagnant. If you aren’t winning, keep learning.
  130. Love what you do, who you are, and the dreams that propel you forward.
  131. Prepare to be weak and you’ll make yourself stronger.
  132. Report. Track. Measure. Improve. Take stock of where you want to be.
  133. “Sorta” or “Kinda” or “Maybe” — They aren’t strategies for success. Ever.
  134. Understand what makes you tick. Use your “secret sauce” when you need to blow away the competition.
  135. Argue for yourself when it matters. (That usually isn’t most of the time)
  136. Come to play.  Stop playing it cool. Sweat. Bleed. Fight. Triumph.
  137. Depend on others. Be vulnerable enough to ask others for help.
  138. Fight for yourself. No one else cares for your dream like you do.
  139. Include others in your dream. Make it a movement — not an individual effort.
  140. Make waves. Stir up trouble. Aim for impossible. Do what “can’t be done”.
  141. Present problems as opportunities for growth. Your brain works better that way.
  142. Represent yourself like you’re more confident that you feel on the inside.
  143. Sound like you know what you’re talking about. Spend time practicing what you want to say.
  144. Use every moment to get a little bit closer to where you want to be.
  145. Arrange with thoughtful care your finances, your reputation, and your goals.
  146. Commit to be amazing. Don’t try to hedge your bets. Jump in with both feet.
  147. Describe in living color the dream you have for you. Make it personal. Live religiously.
  148. Fill your life with meaningful moments.
  149. Increase the number of times you say “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry” each day.
  150. Manage the details. Big problems always start as small issues that are easy to ignore.
  151. Press forward even when it seems like there’s no easy way to go.
  152. Require the best of those working for you. Don’t let the mistakes of others bring you down.
  153. Speak clearly and plainly. Double-talk is frustrating for everyone involved.
  154. Arrive on time. Plan ahead. Communicate early and often.
  155. Compare your best against someone who is better. Take your game to the next level.
  156. Design the future that you want to live in — not one you have to “deal with”.
  157. Find ways to make other people smile throughout the day. It’s contagious.
  158. Indicate the ways you plan to be better by writing out your goals and expectations.
  159. Mark your friends, your enemies, and the people you want with you when things get tough.
  160. Prevent whiners and wimps from bringing you down — avoid them at all costs.
  161. Rest. Your brain and body function best when you take time to recharge.
  162. Stand up for your friends, your beliefs, and those who can’t stand up for themselves.
  163. Visit the places that remind you of your journey. Make it a pilgrimage. Get religious about you.
  164. Ask for help when you need it. There is no glory in being ignorant.
  165. Complain less. Work more. Replace worry with action.
  166. Destroy the nonsense around you that distracts you from being amazing.
  167. Finish what you start. Get in the habit of developing new disciplines.
  168. Influence others around you with your enthusiasm.
  169. Matter. Do what matters. Be what matters. Create change that matters.
  170. Produce results. Talk. Dream. Share. But work. Nothing works if you don’t.
  171. Start doing what you’ve been scared to do up until now.
  172. Vote for you. Work for you. Fight for you. Be all in on you.
  173. Attack bullies and their behavior. Stand up for those who can’t up for themselves.
  174. Complete what you begin. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
  175. Develop new skills. Be open to new thinking. Push your personal limits.
  176. Fit into public settings without always being the person who needs all the attention.
  177. Inform more. Communicate better. Be candid. Be thorough.
  178. Promise only what you plan to deliver.
  179. Return the money you borrow. Be extra careful with other people’s money.
  180. State the truth. Be kind about it. But don’t back down from candor.
  181. Wait for karma to take care of bad people. Don’t let them be a distraction to you.
  182. Avoid whining. Avoid making excuses. Avoid negative people.
  183. Concern yourself with doing the things that really matter.
  184. Die to your ego. Look past your feelings and make better decisions.
  185. Fly above the chaos and fear and pettiness that try to hold you down.
  186. Intend to be amazing. Intend to work passionately. Intend to keep going.
  187. Mean what you say. Do what you mean.
  188. Protect your dreams from the critics around you.
  189. Reveal your insecurities. You make them less powerful with your openness.
  190. Stay the course. Keep moving towards where you want to be.
  191. Walk the talk. Be the person you advertise you are.
  192. Base your decisions on where you want to be in the future — not tomorrow.
  193. Confirm what you hear. Ask if what you think you heard is accurate.
  194. Disappear when you’re not needed. Stop hogging the spotlight.
  195. Fold when you don’t have the cards. You can’t always bluff your way to success.
  196. Introduce smart people to each other.
  197. Measure greatness by the number of times you keep trying.
  198. Prove yourself by working tirelessly toward achieving your goals.
  199. Stick to your core. Don’t be led astray by what seems easy, quick, or cheap.
  200. Want more for yourself. Don’t apologize for having big dreams.
  201. Be a better person. Don’t just do better things from time to time.
  202. Connect with people who can help you get to where you want to be.
  203. Discover new limits by putting yourself in situations where you have to be better.
  204. Follow the best lessons of those around you. Learn from everything that happens.
  205. Invite challenges. Be bigger than the problems in your way.
  206. Meet fear head-on with massive amounts of activity.
  207. Provide a safe landing zone for those around you who want to soar.
  208. Rise to the occasion. Seize the opportunities around you.
  209. Stop complaining. Stop whining. Stop wasting your time with things that don’t matter.
  210. Warn those (who want to listen) about the pitfalls ahead of them.
  211. Beat the odds. Be the one that does “what’ll never work”.
  212. Consider your options for lashing out angrily. You can get wound up another time.
  213. Discuss obstacles with inspiration in mind. Problems are often opportunities to grow.
  214. Force yourself to stop being negative. Flush fearful thinking while you’re thinking it.
  215. Involve those around you in your success. Don’t be a mooch. Be an inspiration.
  216. Mention to those around you their best traits. Encourage deliberately.
  217. Publish good news boldly. Even if it’s not yours. Be the guy who has something awesome to say.
  218. Roll your eyes. Be a skeptic. Don’t believe everything you hear (or don’t hear).
  219. Study the best habits of good people (and bad ones). You can learn from everyone. Do it.
  220. Wash your hands of other people’s nonsense. Don’t automatically adopt other people’s problems.
  221. Become a better person instead of just doing better things.
  222. Divide your enemies. Take them on 1-by-1. Force them to fight each other.
  223. Forget the past. Move forward. There is always more to achieve.
  224. Join with people who can make you better. Hire a coach. Get a mentor.
  225. Pull out all the stops. Don’t hold back. Be powerful and deliberate and determined.
  226. Run towards where you want to be. Don’t procrastinate.  Get there.
  227. Succeed even when people tell you you won’t. Be the rule breaker. Be the exception.
  228. Watch out for negative people. Avoid them at all costs.
  229. Begin each day with a clear set of goals and a renewed sense of purpose.
  230. Contact someone today and tell them that you were “thinking about them.” Smile.
  231. Do what needs to be done. Do it each day. Until you’re done.
  232. Forgive those who do you wrong. Don’t let negativity cripple your ability to be amazing.
  233. Jump into achieving your goals with both feet. Don’t hold back.
  234. Mind your manners. No one likes to be around a slob.
  235. Push past the pain you feel. You’ll feel better when you get to where you want to be.
  236. Suffer silently. You don’t get extra awards for being dramatic.
  237. Wear your emotions on your sleeve. Be passionate. Live courageously.
  238. Believe that what you are trying to achieve matters.
  239. Draw a line in the sand and don’t let the enemy cross it.
  240. Form your own opinions. Don’t let other people force their bias on you.
  241. Keep your head in the game. What you think about you become.
  242. Put your priorities in order. Don’t let the small details fall through the cracks
  243. Say what’s on your mind, but mind what you say. Kindness is a virtue.
  244. Suggest good ideas when you’re asked. Don’t hold back for later.
  245. Will yourself to win. Will yourself to figure it out. Tough it out.
  246. Belong to something that matters. Invest in others. Give to great causes.
  247. Continue doing what you’re doing now. It takes time to deliver big results.
  248. Dress for success. More importantly — live like you want to be successful.
  249. Kick your plans into gear. Don’t wait to get started. Move now.
  250. Move to the next level. Don’t stay complacent. Push past the obstacles in your way.
  251. Raise the bar. Do better tomorrow than you did yesterday.
  252. See the powerful, positive side of any situation.
  253. Win big. Lose big. Try big. Don’t error on playing it safe.
  254. Break the bonds of debt. Spend small now. Live big later.
  255. Contribute to the success of others. Don’t be selfish.
  256. Drink less. Exercise more. Develop better life skills.
  257. Gain benefit from the stories and experiences of others.
  258. Kill fear with kindness. Kill cynicism with results.
  259. Reach the point in your life where you care less about the opinions of others.
  260. Supply the world with inspiration by how you live your life.
  261. Wish your way to a better life. Work your way to actually getting there.
  262. Build the environment you want to live in. Don’t live in someone else’s world.
  263. Control the words you say and thoughts you allow yourself to have.
  264. Drive hard. No need to hold back. Have some urgency.
  265. Get passionate about your goals. Let that passion consume you — and transform you.
  266. Knock out tasks every time you have a free moment. Waste less time watching television.
  267. Need to be better. Don’t just try to be better, ache because you’re not better already.
  268. Read great books. Readers are leaders. People who don’t read are idiots.
  269. Sell better. All of life is a sales pitch. Get better at the craft of influencing other people.
  270. Wonder at all the amazing things happening around you. Let that magic inspire you.
  271. Cook up your own recipe for success. Might take longer to make but you’ll enjoy the meal better.
  272. Drop anything (or anyone) who is holding you back from where you want to be.
  273. Give your time and attention to people who want to better their lives.
  274. Know the difference between patience and laziness. You need the former — not the latter.
  275. Notice the difference that effort makes over time. You can achieve anything if you work hard enough.
  276. Realize your full potential by working tirelessly to be the best version of you each day.
  277. Send flowers when you do something wrong. A proper apology goes a long way.
  278. Suppose you were in their position. How would you feel then? What would you do?
  279. Work as hard as you can. And then keep working. Don’t expect that working smarter will help you be amazing.
  280. Buy books. Buy a great coach. Invest in a great team to help you get to where you want to be.
  281. Copy the best attitudes and intentions of high performers around you.
  282. Go further than you did before. Each day push yourself into situations where you can emerge as a champion.
  283. Last longer. You can’t be a champion if you aren’t able to stand the test of time.
  284. Obtain good information before making important decisions. Invest in better intelligence.
  285. Receive criticism for what it is — the opinions of other people. Use what helps you best.
  286. Separate facts from fear. Don’t make decisions based on how things “might go”. Live inspired.
  287. Survive the day-to-day grind. Don’t let life beat you down. Stand back up and keep fighting.
  288. Worry less about what other people think about you and more about how you are working.
  289. Call it as you see it. Don’t be unkind and don’t be passive-aggressive.  Just be candid.
  290. Correct yourself when you could be doing better. Get serious about being the best version of you possible.
  291. Enable those around you to reach their full potential.  Be a friend, a mentor, and a shoulder to lean on.
  292. Laugh at yourself. Learn to be humble. Love the opportunity to be better today than you were yesterday.
  293. Recognize talent, great advice, and helpful mentors. Make your team better each day.
  294. Serve those around you. Make it less about you getting what you want and more about helping others get what they need.
  295. Take time to enjoy the journey. It might be rough but it’s your moment in the sun. Savor each second.
  296. Encourage greatness in those around you. Be the fuel others need to be amazing.
  297. Handle bad news with dignity. Handle good news with humility.
  298. Offer to help whenever you can — even when you feel like you need help.
  299. Talk less than you listen. Think more than you do either of those.
  300. Write down your goals. Make them an indelible part of your daily motivation.
  301. End the nonsense that saps your budget, your motivation, and your free time.

We all love a comeback story.

You can always change where you are in life.

You can always level up. Getting better as an option for anyone at any time.

Just know that your decisions have consequences, for good or bad. And know that all the incredible decisions you make on a daily basis — even a minute-by-minute basis — can be easily negated by a thoughtless, harmful decision.

So slow down. Think. Don’t let how you feel right now create a mess for yourself down the road.

You’re Going To Hurt. What You Do About It Determines How Far You Get.

On his ascent up Mount Kilimanjaro, Spencer West looked down at his dirt-stained hands and fingernails. He didn’t know how long it would take before they would be clean again. He had been walking for days.

He was tired. He was hungry. He was ready to move on. But he waited patiently and empathetically as his two traveling companions vomited uncontrollably onto the side of the mountain. The altitude sickness that crippled so many climbers had skipped him and gotten to them.

Spencer wanted to lift them up and carry them. He wanted to help his friends the way they had helped him during this trip. But he couldn’t.

It was the only time in Spencer’s life that he wished he had legs. 

Spencer West was born with a rare bone disorder in his legs. From the moment he was born, doctors told Spencer and his family that he would not have any quality of life. He wouldn’t be able to enjoy or participate in any of the things “regular” kids did. They also didn’t believe he would live through his teen years. 

Spencer and his family chose to believe otherwise.   

Time and time again, Spencer West did things that his doctors would have never dreamed he could do. He learned to skateboard. He danced. He sang. He drove a car. He worked a retail job.

And he was able to do all those things because he never felt like he shouldn’t be able to .

Spencer enjoyed childhood just like any other kid.

Except for two times in his life where he was keenly aware that he was different. 

Once when he had to have both of his legs cut off right above the knee when he was three. 

And a second time when he had to have the remainder of his legs cut off right below his pelvis when he was five. 

Other than that, Spencer got to be a regular kid. Spencer’s mom didn’t believe in babying him because he was different. She wanted to make sure he was responsible for his actions just like any other child his age. 

Because of his mother’s unwillingness to coddle him, Spencer never accepted that he should be limited just because he was a little different than his peers. When he was a toddler, he dragged his dead legs behind him to get wherever he needed to go.

As he got older, his arms got stronger and Spencer made sure to get on with his life just like everyone else. 

He went outside and got into mischief like other little boys do.

He played too close to the street and rode his skateboard too fast down hills. He didn’t worry about getting hurt any more than the other boys in the neighborhood who had legs to carry them. 

But Spencer wasn’t under any impression that he was the same as everyone else. He was acutely aware of the way people looked at him when he came walking in on his hands or rolling in with his wheelchair.

And he didn’t care. 

In elementary school, Spencer decided he would never, ever use the prosthetics that had been made for him. It was the prosthetic limbs that made Spencer feel like he was different. Like he was an outcast. They were awkward, gawky, and not natural looking at all. 

Plus, Spencer got around just fine on his hands. Spencer navigated his way through middle and high school the same way his friends did.

At times it was great.

Other times, when he was being pushed out of his wheelchair onto the floor by the captain of the football team, it wasn’t so great. When everybody walked by him to go their classes instead of stopping to help Spencer back into his wheelchair, it wasn’t so great, but high school eventually ended. And so did the bullying. 

Spencer applied to Westminster and got accepted. An hour from where he grew up, Spencer studied computer science. 

His first year of college brought with it a storm of depression that even the strongest umbrella couldn’t withstand. Spencer was ready to quit and go home before Christmas break. He hated his computer class. He realized computers were not what he wanted to do. He spent a lot of his time alone. Sulking. 

When he went home on Christmas break, he told his mother how he was feeling. His mother had always been very caring and loving toward him so he was sure that she was going to tell him that everything was going to be OK and that he could come home. 

He was wrong. 

Spencer’s mom told him the exact opposite. She told him he needed to quit sulking. She told him that anybody would be miserable if they sat around all day thinking about how miserable they were.

Instead of telling him to come home, she told him to come home less.  To make some friends. To be a college student. 

Spencer went back to college broken and just as depressed as before.

But it didn’t take long before he realized she was right. Spencer was making himself miserable. He wouldn’t allow himself to be happy. Until the day he woke up and looked outside and saw three fellow students throwing snowballs at each other. 

Spencer sat at the window and watched for a long time. Taking in the sounds of their voices. Watching their breath as it escaped from their warm laughs. He wanted to join them. He wanted to be outside playing in the snow. 

Why wasn’t he outside playing in the snow like he wanted?

And then it dawned on him. Nobody was stopping him from going outside. Nobody was forcing him to take the computer class. Nobody was causing his misery. Spencer realized that he was the one in his own way. He couldn’t get out of his head long enough to see his options.

He just kept spiraling down into the abyss of self-pity and aloneness. 

In that moment, Spencer had to make a choice. He could choose to continue on his road of misery or he could change directions. 

Spencer chose to change his direction. To change his mindset. 

By his second year in college, Spencer had changed his major and chosen a communications path. He was able to take music classes, drama classes, broadcasting classes. All the things he loved and was missing by taking computer science.

He was back on the stage acting. He was back on the field cheering. He had made friends with similar interests. He had a job. He had a life.

He wasn’t missing out anymore. 

But he still felt like he was missing something. Spencer felt like he had a calling. He just didn’t know what it was. 

Spencer was offered an opportunity to go to Africa to help build a school the following summer. He didn’t think he would be able to afford it, so he declined. 

But every night, when he was supposed to be sleeping, Spencer kept thinking about the trip. Every day that passed, the feeling just got stronger that he should go. Finally, he made up his mind. He would go. 

When he got to Kenya, he was the talk of the village. The kids wanted to meet him. They wanted to see how he got around. They enjoyed watching him walk on his hands. They really enjoyed watching him do wheelies in his wheelchair.

Then a young girl said something to Spencer that change his life forever: “I didn’t think this happened to white people.”

In that moment, Spencer understood the powerful secret that had been driving him all these years.

Great tragedy unifies people. It drives focus. It accelerates progress.

It eliminates distractions. It enables massive change by bringing people together around a common cause.

But tragedy hurts.

It hurts to attempt a big dream and fail miserably.

It hurts to invest in new relationships that don’t work out.

It hurts to lose weight, save money, quit your job, ask for help, or do countless other things that would lead to breakthrough in your life right now.

It hurts to hurt. And so you avoid it.

Thinking that if you don’t hurt, your life will be a lot more fulfilled.

But you find out all too assuredly that “not hurting” isn’t as safe and rewarding as you thought it might be.

Your willingness to hurt in order to achieve your goals is directly related to how far you get from where you are to where you want to be.

The suffering in your life right now is there to accelerate your progress — not to hold you back.

It can make you better. But you have to let the lessons you learn make you better. Stronger. More resilient and committed.

Since that moment in Africa, Spencer West has done what many people with two legs wouldn’t even attempt. He helped build a school in Africa.  He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro — 80% of that climb was on his hands. He raised millions of dollars for clean water in Kenya. 

What’s the lesson? Be willing to do the things that hurt until you get to the place where you can celebrate.

Why Arnold Broke Into His Home Town Gym And The Secret To Getting Back Up When Things Go Wrong.

You’re not going to make the journey to success without getting knocked down.

You’re going to make mistakes.  You’re going to do things that end up costing you money, time, and friendships with people you love.

Sometimes. you are going to do everything right and still have life go horribly wrong.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are in your journey to be successful or how much money you have while you’re journeying, you’re going to make mistakes in the pursuit of your goals.

You’re going to try things and realize too late that it was just a waste of your time. And the only remedy for failure is to get back on your feet. To try again.

But that’s not easy to do. Especially when you feel ridiculous. And scared. Completely freaked out. And lost.

No one knows that better than Arnold.

When he got to the gym, shivering from the freezing bike ride there, he walked to the door and pulled. It was locked.

This couldn’t be happening. Especially after he had committed himself to working out. How could this be fair?

And so Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the age of 15, four miles from his home in Thal, Austria did the only logical thing.

He broke into the gym. Just so he could keep a promise to himself.

He had resolved to become great. He could taste it. He could feel it. He could also feel the cold making its way deep into his bones.

Because the gym was closed, there was no heat that day.

But Arnold wouldn’t let that stop him though. He had, years earlier, dedicated himself to becoming a weightlifting champ. He had envisioned it.  Obsessed about it.

And so, with the towels laying around in the gym, he wrapped up his hands in makeshift gloves, and started his daily workout. Lifting steel bars with hundreds of pounds of weight on them in the freezing cold concrete gym. 

Exercise had always been a part of Arnold’s life. His father was ex-military and a civil police officer. He believed in structure and he believed in discipline.

Every morning before breakfast, Arnold and his brother were forced to do sit-ups and push-ups before they would be allowed to eat.

Arnold didn’t mind. He loved physical activity. He didn’t even mind that his father would make him and his brother practice soccer every single day after school. That is, until Arnold decided that soccer was not the sport he was going to excel in.

That sport would be weightlifting. 

When Arnold was fourteen, he met the current Mr. Austria. His name was Kurt Marnal. Arnold was in awe of the physique of the man. He would watch him swim in the pool and wondered what he did to get that built. Then one day, he decided he would never find out if he didn’t ask. 

From that day on, Kurt took Arnold under his wing.

They would meet daily at the gym. The same gym that Arnold would later break into. Kurt would show him what exercises to do. He would tell him how many reps.

When Arnold first started working out, Kurt pushed him so hard Arnold couldn’t even get on his bike to pedal home. His legs were like Jell-O and his arms felt like rubber bands. He tried numerous times to pedal and steer his bike, but he kept falling over. His balance was off and his limbs wouldn’t work.

So he had to walk the bike home. 

But Arnold loved the pain. He knew without the pain, there would be no rewards. So he continued to work out. He visualized himself becoming Mr. Austria one day. 

That all changed when he saw a magazine from the United States.

The magazine had a picture of a greased-up buff man, flexing on the front cover. It was Reg Park, the current Mr. Universe. 

From that moment on, Arnold saw things much clearer. He expanded his vision.

He would still be Mr. Austria — but he wouldn’t stop there.

He wanted to be Mr. Universe. He wanted to get invited to the United States. He wanted to work out on Muscle Beach. He wanted to break records in powerlifting.

So he worked day in and day out. Before school. After school. Before work. After work. He hung posters of other powerlifting heroes on his wall to motivate himself.

Which his mom had a problem with.

She even went as far as to question the neighborhood doctor. All the other boys were out trying to score a home run with girls. All the other boys had posters of bikini models on their walls. Arnold had posters of really buff men in speedos. She was quite alarmed.

The doctor assured her that it was perfectly normal, healthy even to have male role models. She accepted his opinion and let him have his posters.  

But his success wasn’t easy or automatic.

Every boy in Austria was required to join the army when they became of age. Arnold was no exception. He enlisted and went to basic training.

It wouldn’t have been a problem, but by the time he was 18, he was fairly successful in local lifting arenas. He had even managed to place 3rd in the Mr. Austria contest.

And prior to basic training. He had signed up to compete in the Mr. Europe contest. 

His army sergeant knew the competition was coming up, because Arnold begged and pleaded with him to get a leave of absence to go. But base rules were put in place for a reason and he was denied any sort of leave. Arnold hadn’t worked this hard and this long for the military to tell him what he could and couldn’t do.

So he followed his heart, left camp and took the 7-hour train ride to Stuttgart, Germany where the competition was being held. 

He oiled up and walked out on stage in his tiny borrowed trunks and flexed for all the audience to see. The biggest audience he had ever had before.

And he won Best Built Junior Athlete of Europe. 

When he got back to base, his sergeant was not happy about his leaving.

Especially after being denied permission. Arnold was sentenced to solitary confinement.

He was only there for twenty-four hours, though. When the military found out he had actually won the contest, they freed him. He didn’t sneak out anymore during his training. 

When training camp was over, Arnold was able to set up a weight room on base and was able to work out for four hours a day. And he was served meat every day — which never happened in the civilian world.

With the mixture of weight training and protein, Arnold got bigger and bigger and bigger. He outgrew a uniform every few months. 

After a rocky ride in the army, Arnold was offered a job running a gym in Germany. He didn’t want to pass it up so he applied for an early discharge from the army and was miraculously granted it.

Arnold saw this as just another part of his vision to get to the Mr. Universe title and ultimately to the United States. 

He knew what he wanted and was working to turn his vision into reality.

As he would teach others later: “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be and then live that picture as if it were already true.”

And that’s exactly what he did from his humble beginnings. He envisioned himself in America. He envisioned himself as a bodybuilding champ. He envisioned himself as a leader. 

Because of that, he became a seven-time Mr. Olympia. Winning it six times back to back. Then he made an unexpected comeback when he entered the competition years later at the last minute. He scoped out the competition. He thought he could win. And so he did. 

He made it to America and became one of the highest-paid actors of his time. His movies became cult classics. His name recognizable around the world. 

And finally, he seized the moment when Gray Davis got recalled and became the Governor of California. 

He had a simple secret — visualize your success, make up your mind to be great, and then do it. 

It’s not easy. But it’s what is required.

We all talk a lot about being willing to do whatever it takes. About going that extra mile. About working while everyone else is sleeping.

But besides all the inspirational stories and feel-good mantras, what do you do when you have a vision, but don’t know what to do next.

How do you get back up? How do you know when you should break the rules or follow them? Getting good at getting back up is a skill you’re going to need to master — no matter what you are trying to achieve or how big your goal might be.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Realize that your failure isn’t the end of the world. You’re just like every other amazing person who accomplished something of note.
  2. Spend some time with a notepad and pen digging into why you think you failed. Don’t play nice with yourself. Dig into the cause of why things didn’t work out.
  3. Take time to blow off some steam. Physical exercise sharpens your mind and forces you to step back and think a bit more honestly about what just happened.
  4. Put together a shortlist of people who could help you avoid failure in the future. They could be an expert in your craft or just inspiring people who keep you grounded and excited.
  5. Plan out your next attempt towards success using your new knowledge of what won’t work. Dive into the details and challenge yourself to give everything you have to this next go-around.
  6. Allocate time each day to learning, reading, and growing. You need to refill all of the emotional fuel that you are burning in your pursuit of greatness. That’s where a good book comes in
  7. Hire a great coach or find an accountability partner. It’s easier to spot problems in someone else’s life than it is to uncover weaknesses in your own.
  8. Do one small thing each day that you can call a success. It might be calling a friend or researching a new idea or just heading back into the office for a few extra hours of effort.
  9. Make time each day for introspection, meditation, or quietness. Often your hustle masks the real problems. When you stop and think, your dream becomes an obsession and you automatically figure out where is to get closer to where you want to be.

There’s no easy pathway to success. Not for Arnold. Not for you. There is no easy, automatic plan that will help you feel better when you’ve experienced epic failure. 

It’s never going to feel good to lose. And you’re never going to be completely comfortable being uncomfortable. 

If you’re not going to give up, then the only other thing you can do is press forward. You don’t have to stay beaten. You don’t need to let the brokenness of your current situation become your life-long story. 

Love yourself enough to keep trying. Believe in yourself enough to do what it takes. 

There is no substitute for heart and determination and will.

You’ve Been Training Your Whole Life For This Moment.

The big day finally arrived,

Dan was fueled with excess energy. He was nervous. More restless than anything.

Just hours before his race, Dan rode the stationary bike at an alarming speed and then jumped off it to go outside and take a brisk run in the below-freezing temperatures outside.

When it was finally time for him to line up for his 1000 meter race, Dan still felt “off.” It wasn’t until he heard, “Go!” that he felt like he was good.

He skated. And skated. And skated. As he passed his coach on each round, he looked for his time. He could quickly do the math and see that he was ahead of his own record. He was feeling good.

Then he slipped again. 

Like so many times before, his dream of any Olympic medal came crashing down around him.

It was a continuation of his twisted record of high expectations meeting disappointing results.

Dan Jansen grew up in a big Wisconsin family. Not just big. Huge. He was the youngest of 9 children. They did everything together growing up, including ice skating.

All of the Jansen kids ice skated at one time or another. They trained rigorously in the wind and snow during the winter. And played various other sports during every other season.

But it was Dan who was obsessed.

All he could think about was skating. 

At 16, Dan set a Junior World Record in the 500m and came in 16th in the 1000 meter. His next stop was the Olympics.

Dan gave up the “other sports” and made up his mind to be an Olympian. 

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Far from it. For every up in Dan Jansen’s life, there was a down, it seemed.

When he was just finally ready to compete, he sliced a tendon on a skate in a freak accident in his hotel room.

He would have to take six weeks off from training. 

After that, he trained and trained and trained for the World Cup in Holland.

And just when he thought he was ready to win, he lost his strength.

His legs would barely carry him around the ice. In despair, he watched his competitors glide past him. 

He had mononucleosis — a virus that drains your energy and enlarges your spleen. It would be life-threatening if not treated.

It was clear. He had to rest. 

It took more rest than he expected, but Dan was finally healed.

And so he returned to training. He was determined to make the best of his situation and qualified for the 1988 Olympic trials. He was ready to compete again. He was ready to win.  

But nothing would be easy in his world.

Just eleven months earlier, his baby sister, Jane, had been diagnosed with leukemia.

She had been in and out of treatment and remission for the year leading up to Dan’s Olympic Games, and the two laughed and talked of Dan’s gold medal.

But when it came time for Dan to leave to go to Calgary, where he would compete, he was torn.

Jane had recently been re-admitted to the hospital. Her health was deteriorating. But it had deteriorated before and she bounced back.

Jane told Danto go. She would bounce back again.  

Dan believed her. His sister wanted him to go.

He kissed Jane and told her he’d see her when he got back — with a medal. 

But that wasn’t to be.

His goodbye would be the last time Dan saw Jane. 

It was six in the morning when Dan got a phone call from home. Less than 12 hours before he would compete in his event.

It was his mother on the phone: “Jane died, DJ. She was just too weak to make it.” 

Dan cried. He cried on the way back to his room. He cried when he told his roommate, who also knew Jane. Then they cried together. 

But deep down, Dan knew he had to go on.

So when it was his turn, he lined up at the start for the 500-meter speedskate. Pale-faced. Zoned out. Heartbroken.

And then he jumped. It was a false start. Dan had never had a false start in his career.

He lined up again. Waiting. Thinking of Jane. His sister. His best friend. 

He mindlessly started the race of his life. Jane’s race.

But his loss was too heavy. He tried to give it his all, but something inside of him told him he didn’t deserve to win.

And then it was like death just sneaked up behind him and kicked his left skate out from under him. Dan went down, taking his opponent with him.

They both quickly got back up, but Dan’s Olympic medal was gone. 

When the race was over, Dan beat himself up. First for not winning. Then for worrying about not winning when his sister just died.

He was sad. He was confused. He felt defeated. Mentally and physically. 

But he still had the 1000 meter event.

On the outside, Dan had it all together. He looked confident. And ready.

He started the race confidently. He made all the hardest turns expertly.

But on the last 200 meters, on a straightaway, Dan rolled over too far on the outer edge of his skate and hit the ice. He was down.

Dan Jansen’s 1988 Olympic Games were over. The easiest part of the race became his undoing. Another devastating “down” moment.

Dan flew home with his family to bury Jane. He justified his Olympic loss by telling others that, “It wasn’t right that I should win a medal when my sister was not yet buried.” 

He grieved — but he continued to train. For the next 50 months.

He made it to the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. But he only finished 4th in the 500 and finished 26th in the 1000. Again, he went home without a medal. 

After six months of intense work, Dan felt as if he was able to do what had been impossible for him to this point.

It was time to win an Olympic gold. 

Between 1992 and 1994, Dan skated the 500 in less than 36 seconds. Four times.

He was the only skater to ever do that.

He was finally ready for the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer.  The best speed skater in the world.

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Dan would win this event. But if history was an indicator of nothing else in Dan’s life, it certainly indicated that he would go down.

And that’s exactly what happened.

The ice was brittle. Dan’s skates wouldn’t grip just right. The ice chipped away.

He wobbled. Lost speed. And didn’t place in his best event. 

Dan was mentally broken again. He felt like a failure.

Worse, he was surrounded by hundreds of supporters who expected him to blow away the competition.

But it was the words of his therapist, Dr. Loehr, that were top of mind for him: “You can go down, but just make sure you come back up.” 

That’s exactly where Dan found himself in this 1000 meter race. He had slipped again. At another Olympic event. 

Remembering the words of Dr. Loehr, he refused to let it get in his head.

It was a slip. Not a fall.

He recovered and kept on moving. Lap after lap after lap.

He entered the last 50 meters, no knowing what his time was, but the crowd was deafening. Their cheers were outrageous, so he knew it must be good.

He crossed the finish line. In first place.  

Behind his name on the leaderboard were two letters: WR.

Not only did Dan Jansen win a gold medal. He broke the World Record in 1000 meter speed skating by .11 seconds.

He took his victory lap with his 8-month-old daughter who he named after his sister, Jane. He finally won Jane’s gold. 

You won’t understand the joy of winning until you’ve failed along the way.

That’s the uncomfortable truth about success.

You’re going to get hurt. You’re going endure falls, slips, setbacks, and pain. People you love are going to experience hardship — and you’re going to have to watch, knowing you can’t do anything about it.

Ordinary people give up. They look at the consequences of trying and decide that they aren’t willing to face the battle another day. They make excuses for quitting. They chase another tactic that seems less painful.

But champions know that on the other side of heartbreak is everlasting glory.

That world record, that multi-million dollar payday, that romance of a lifetime, that business you’ve always wanted to start, that bold move you’ve been waiting an entire lifetime to make — that only happens once you face the demons of failure, pain, and emotional tragedy.

If you’re in a “down” moment right now, get back up. Your world isn’t over. The prize you wish to win isn’t gone. You’re not dead. You’ve just been bloodied and bruised.  

So stand back up. Get back to work. Train. Work. Push. Grind. Fight.

Your best is yet to come.

You Get To Choose If (But Not When) You Are Successful.

Success isn’t automatic; but it is guaranteed.

Just like the laws of nature and science, success is an exact and very consistent outcome.

What you do turns into the results that you experience. That much is guaranteed. What’s not easily known is when that’s going to happen.

It’s been said by many philosophers that as humans we dramatically overestimate what we can do in a given day but underestimate our ability to achieve seemingly impossible things over a lifetime.

That is all too true. In truth, you’re not wired to be good at predicting when your awesome actions are going to lead to epic results.

The problem is that your brain is smarter than you think it is. And not in a good way.

It’s ready with excuses and plausible explanations about why the laws of success aren’t meant for you. Why you’re different. Why you should give up and quit because nothing is working.

You might not want to hear it, but success isn’t measured on your timeline.

You don’t get to determine when the boomerang you’ve thrown reaches your hand again.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot you can do to influence success.

You can try harder or work longer. You can leverage the influence of others, borrow money to move faster, and enroll mentors to help you avoid costly mistakes.

What you do and who you are have a direct impact on your success. But you don’t get to decide the exact day and time for your success.

You don’t even get to decide what your success exactly looks like.

What you want and what you get always end up being a little bit different. And usually in ways that are more magical than you can imagine.

Take wealth for example. It is wildly appealing to dream about building the next Facebook app — where as a 20-something-year-old you can put together a platform that turns you into one of the world’s richest people.

That sounds awesome. It’s just not realistic. It’s not logical. And it is directly in contrast with how success works.

You’re not going to be a millionaire in your 20’s. Or your 30’s. Or for most of your 40’s. Did you know that the average age of a millionaire in the developed world right now is almost 50 years old?

Why? It takes time to get the experience you need and to find the purpose you have to have in order to achieve epic results.

And more importantly, the timing of success is something that you don’t get to control.

And the more you try to control it, the less successful you will become.

When you try to force success on your own terms you find yourself chasing scams and shortcuts and activities that might have worked for somebody else but are completely ridiculous for you to pursue.

Success is guaranteed. Remember that.

Doing the right thing matters. Just be patient while it’s happening.

But how can you be patient? Especially when the world feels like it is crumbling in pieces all around you. When you can’t see the next move. Or even the next few steps.

But that’s a bit of frustration and chaos that you can fix. You just have to move to a better spot. A higher spot.

See, the higher you are, the further you can see.

I am reminded of this every time I go trail running. During a long ultra marathon, you find yourself twisting and turning through the trails to make it to your destination. Sometimes stumbling. Falling over rocks and sticks.

You can’t run too quickly because what you’re stepping on is uneven and sometimes unsteady. More importantly, you usually can’t see too far in front of you.

Sometimes just a few feet is all you get.

And then as the trail bends and climbs, you see a little bit more. But every once in awhile you make your way to the summit of a mountain ridge.

And looking out between the gaps in the trees you can see for miles. And it’s beautiful. Especially if the sun is just right as it hits the trees.

It takes your breath away. And not just because of how it looks — but because of how far you can see.

There is freedom in a bigger vision. You don’t have to guess. You don’t have to twist and turn.

You can see the path ahead of you. And sometimes even the finish line. Success.

Now, if you’re running a race, you still need to make it to the finish line. But knowing where that is and how far you have to go gives you the confidence to put in the effort.

That’s true for running. That’s true for relationships. That’s true for building wealth, raising kids, developing confidence, or for achieving any other goal that matters to you.

That is true for success. No matter you think of it. The higher your perspective, the further you can see.

When you’re running through life kicking rocks and looking at your shoes, you’re find yourself discouraged and frustrated. Feeling helpless and discouraged.

But when you get vertical, everything changes. So how do you get vertical?

  • Hire a coach or therapist
  • Read a book or take a course
  • Put in some exercise
  • Surround yourself with new people who inspire you
  • Spend 5 minutes to meditate

In truth, it’s probably not any one of these things.

It’s a bit of all of them.

And together, they give you the vertical you need to see more of the path in front of you. To see success.

So when you find yourself tripping over rocks, discouraged by your path through life, take a moment to ask yourself a simple question: “How would this look from above?”

Know that success is guaranteed.

But plan your life for a long journey. Not a short one. Stay fit so that you can weather the storms that come your way.

There isn’t anything you can’t do if you persist. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking you get to choose when success happens.

How To Find A Way Or Make One.

“Inveniam viam aut faciam.”

That was supposedly Hannibal’s response to his generals’ advice that crossing the Alps by elephants is impossible. It means: “I shall find a way or I shall make one.”

Call it hustle or the grind or doing whatever needs to be done — it’s up to you to figure things out. Rarely does life bring you a rescuer.

Great athletes train their muscles to respond with extreme precision even when the rest of their body is fatigued. A great golfer will often practice a particular swing hundreds of times per day and thousands of times over a year to create a memory for the muscles that make that swing work.

As the golfer perfects the tiniest of details that allow him to place a golf ball wherever he chooses, the muscles that flex and twitch in that process are strengthened.

The better the practice, the better the performance.

Over time, the same muscles are exercised and strengthened. And the golfer develops a subconscious superpower.

Even when tired and stressed, his muscles take over automatically and do what they have been trained to do. He doesn’t need to think about it. He doesn’t need to obsess about it.

He doesn’t need to wonder what’s going to happen. It is almost automatic.

The same is true for the Olympic pole vaulter, a seasoned Southern Baptist preacher, the right forward on a championship soccer team, an elite sales professional, and an amateur runner. 

Deliberate practice creates a subconscious superpower. When things get tough, the body puts on auto-pilot what it has trained and prepared and planned to do.

Which is why it is so important that you develop the right muscles. The right automatic response.

How you practice and what you practice becomes your go-to move when you’re under extreme pressure. 

When things get tough, and you’re backed into a corner, you’re going to respond automatically. 

Despite how self-aware you think you are or how intellectually agile you might be, when things get tough enough you will automatically revert back to muscle memory. 

One of those muscles needs to be hustle.

Fred Smith, a brilliant business thinker, was given a failing grade by his Yale professor because his idea for FedEx “wasn’t feasible”. Today that idea has become a massive corporation that employs 400,000 employees and generates $50 billion per year in revenue.

R.H. Macy, who had a dream to “Be everywhere, do everything, and never forget to astonish the customer”, went broke seven times trying to make that a reality. His department store would be a permanent fixture in New York City.

Robert Goddard, perhaps the smartest astrophysicist in the world, engineered two hundred failing ideas for rockets before he got one to fly into space. His mistakes cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Henry Ford, who transformed business innovation, went bankrupt five times before his automobile manufacturing idea started working. His creditors took everything from him along the way.

J.K. Rowling, the highest-selling author of modern time, shopped her book thirteen times before a publisher would take a look at the first Harry Potter book. That series of books would end up selling 450 million copies.

Hard work. Tenacity. Determination. Resolve. Sweat. Blood. And tears.

You won’t make it if you don’t know how to grind. You won’t come out a winner if you don’t know how to hustle. If you aren’t committed to doing whatever it takes to achieving greatness.

  • When you face repeated failure, you have to hustle.
  • When you get told “NO”, you have to hustle.
  • When you face financial ruin, you have to hustle.
  • When success is unforeseeable, you have to hustle.
  • When conventional wisdom says “it would never work”, you have to hustle.
  • When you are tired and beat down, you have to hustle.
  • When no one believes in you, you have to hustle.
  • When you have nothing else to give, you have to hustle.

Like an elite performer, your default decision in the middle of trouble to hustle and grind is what determines your ultimate destiny.

“Inveniam viam aut faciam.”

“I shall find a way or I shall make one.”

For Robert Peary, it was his life motto. And the words inscribed on his tombstone.

In 1881, he joined the US Navy Civil Engineers Corps, a job that sent him to Key West, Florida on one of his first assignments to do the impossible — build a new Navy Pier that other smarter, more experienced engineers said couldn’t be done.

Most would’ve balked at the request, citing other engineers’ experience or environmental conditions.

For Peary, it was a chance to prove himself and launch his career.

With a bit of ingenuity and hard work, he pulled off the impossible—and saved the US Navy over $675,000. He found the way.

After that, they sent him down to Nicaragua to serve as the chief assistant on a surveying expedition — where he became obsessed with the idea of becoming the first man to reach the North Pole.

But he realized that to be the first, he would have to be different. Radically different.

So in 1886, he convinces his superiors to let him take an extended leave of absence to journey into Greenland to prove America’s superiority on the global stage.

On his first trip across the tundra, he broke every rule in the book.

Peary studied the ways of the native people at a time when experts were convinced that the Inuits lacked any practical Arctic know-how, despite having lived there for generations.

He learned to hunt for food while traveling, instead of ignoring the local animals.

He understood the value of animal skin clothing, wearing deerskin parkas, bearskin pants, and sealskin boots.

He would make a way on his own terms.

He and his team built igloos as they went, instead of carrying tents, to reduce the cargo weight they’d have to transport.

He formed an elite dog team to pull the team’s sleds, instead of having his own men pull them like every other explorer.

He walked in front of his team, charting the path forward instead of driving the team from behind.

And his radical plan led him to be the 2nd man to cross the entirety of Greenland.

But in the late summer of 1891, an accident almost ended his life as he ventured further north. An ice block wedged under the rudder, lurching the ship to one side, pinning down Peary–and snapping both of his shin bones in his right leg.

The doctor said to pack it up. His exploring days were over.

They turned the ship around and headed home to let him find time to heal.

A few months later, he decided to compete against both his own men and Eskimos in a snowshoe race. He won.

Robert Peary would not go down without a fight. “Inveniam viam aut faciam.”

After six more years of exploring and preparing and planning, he gathered a team to help him claim the North Pole for the United States.

This time, he’d attack the North Pole by an entirely different means.

He would sail as far north as he could, trek to an abandoned outpost in northern Canada called Fort Conger, and then make their final push for the North Pole across the ice covering the Arctic sea.

His right-hand man Matthew Henson knew it was a risky plan, but Peary, racing against a Norwegian competitor with the same plan, pressed on regardless.

He and the team finally stumbled into the dilapidated wooden shack that is Fort Conger.

They were so close to success they could practically taste victory.

Sitting next to the warmth of the fire, he had, as he described it, “a suspicious wooden feeling in the right foot,” so he pulled off his boots.

Eight toes had developed frostbite. His legs were dead white from the knees down.

His toes needed to be amputated. Soon.

As he lay in a cot just a few hundred miles away from the North Pole with his dream and his toes gone, he scratched a phrase into the wooden wall: “Inveniam viam aut faciam.”

It was his lifeline to the North Pole. The one thing he could cling to. It was the fire that burned in his soul and kept him alive in the frigid Arctic.

After a month stuck at Fort Conger, the weather finally cleared and Henson led the team south — back to the ship with Peary strapped to a sled. He had crippled himself.

Again, the doctor told him his adventure days were over. 

But he wasn’t accepting that.

In May of the following year, he went further north than anyone else ever. And he did it on frostbitten, toeless feet.

He had to turn back though. It was another failure.

Five years later, he made his seventh trip to the Arctic circle with state-of-the-art transportation, an all-new strategy, and an all-new crew.

The Roosevelt, designed by Peary for this journey, could cut through ice with a 30” steel hull–the first in the world to do so.

He sailed the Roosevelt up to Ellesmere Island, putting him 300 miles closer to glory than any of his previous trips. He only had 450 miles to go.

He planned to cover those miles over the frozen Artice ice with a radically new system: 6 teams with right-hand men, 5 sleds, and more than 15 dogs per team would leapfrog each other and build igloos and set up supply outposts.

The plan involved each team dropping out one by one to make way for the 6th team, Peary’s team, to dash to the North Pole.

It was a genius plan. But nothing went right.

Temperatures regularly stayed in the -50F range. Sheets of frozen Artic water smashed together creating 50 ft high walls of sheer ice that Peary’s men had to hoist their massive 500lb sleds over.

But when the blocks of ice didn’t smash together, currents ripped them apart — stranding Peary from the rest of his team.

They were forced to turn back. Without supplies and their support crew.

They only made it back to the ship by eating their sled dogs, forcing the men to haul the sleds themselves.

It was disastrous. Peary was done. He quit.

He returned home to his family. The dream was over. For years, he would be a professor. His adventures were behind him.

Until he heard of others planning to make it to the North Pole.

He decided that he wasn’t going to let anyone else take what was his.

So in August of 1908, at 52, Peary made what he called his “last and supreme effort.” He determined he would get there or die trying.

So he loaded up the Roosevelt once more and set sail for Ellesmere Island.

The first day after they arrived, as they set out on the frozen Artic blocks, the sled broke down for Peary’s right-hand man Matthew Henson.

After spending a day fixing Henson’s sled, they noticed a dark cloud on the horizon — there was a huge gap in the ice ahead.

Overnight, the gap closed enough for Peary and his crew to navigate from massive ice block to ice block to get across the Artice water before they could continue.

Just days later, another huge gap opened up in the ice. This time, it was a quarter-mile wide and extending as far as they could see.

There was no crossing this one.

So they waited. And waited. And waited. For days, they encamped by the break, able to see the other side, but unable to get to their goal.

After days of waiting, the ice blocks closed enough for them to cross.

On April 1, 1909, Peary took  Henson and four of his best Inuit drivers and 40 of his fittest dogs in a mad, last-ditch sprint for the North Pole.

Five days later and a quarter-century after his first attempt, Robert Peary set foot on the North Pole. He had made a way.

After his death in 1920, the US Congress posthumously awarded him official congressional thanks, an honor once formerly reserved only for war heroes.

Teddy Roosevelt Jr, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt in whose honor Peary named his famous ship, said of the great explorer, “To me, Admiral Peary’s life is epitomized in the splendid lines from Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses: ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’”.

He was a man wholly consumed by a mission. His purpose was unwavering.

He got knocked down. He lost friends in pursuit of his goal. He was critically wounded and suffered staggering hardship. He went broke trying to figure it out.

Yet he continued.  Unwilling to sacrifice his goal.

That could be you today.

You’ve been knocked down. You’ve been hurt. You’ve lost things that matter dearly to you — friends, health, money, and respect.

“Inveniam viam aut faciam.”  That’s your mission. Find a way. Or make one.

You Will Change. How You Do Is Up To You.

The world has changed. Your work has changed. Your life has changed. You are going to change.

Have you ever noticed how your rate of change is directly related to your level of urgency and intensity?

We often talk about changes as being hard. We often comment that success is difficult.

But success isn’t as challenging as we make it. It directly matches your level of intensity. Your degree of urgency.

If you need to change bad enough, you will. Almost automatically. Instantaneously. Overnight. Without question, excuse, or impediment.

If you have to change, you will.

It’s that gray area of life where you know that you need to change that you find so difficult to navigate.

Those areas where you know you need improvement but just aren’t motivated enough to take the steps necessary to achieve that improvement.

You talk about success as if it is something you actually plan to achieve. But then you act as if your life doesn’t need the change in order to get different results.

You’re happy to do things differently as long as you don’t have to go too far out of your way to achieve that change.

As long as you don’t need to do hard things.

If you can keep doing what you’re doing and only take a minor step to the left, all the while achieving breakout, life-changing, multimillion-dollar success, you’re willing to do that.

But if you have to shut things down and turn things off — that’s a bridge too far. That’s too extreme. That’s going too far off the reservation.

Which is the irony of the situation entirely.

If you don’t change when you can, you will be forced to change when you must.

You will have to change when you don’t have the resources and time to do it right.

And you’ll miss out on the magic of progress.

You will change on your own terms or you will wait until life forces you to change and that’s never pretty. Or comfortable. Or fair.

It’s sheer survival. Animalistic intensity for another breath.

All along the way you’ve had the intensity you’ve always needed. You just have to use it when you don’t need it.

You have to change even when life isn’t forcing you to change. You have to grow and evolve and be better even when you cannot change and still be okay for a while.

Change now, while you’re in control of your destiny.

Don’t force life to kick you in the gut before you wake up and take notice.

Speaking of changing, have you ever noticed how easy it is to change when you need to change?

You might spend 50 years screaming ‘bloody murder’ about how you’ll never eat green leafy vegetables, but once you’ve had a heart attack and the doctor tells you that you’re at high risk to have another one, it’s pretty amazing how quickly you decide you want to change.

Cold turkey. Overnight. It happens instantly.

Because it’s a mindset change.

The vegetables didn’t change their taste, and your taste buds didn’t magically evolve to appreciate the uninspiring taste of healthy food.

The only thing that changed was your desire to live. Your ambition to hold back the looming consequences of your actions.

Changing isn’t hard. Needing to change is very hard.

And then some days it’s not hard at all. It’s the only option in front of you. Like right now.

But there is a difference between making a change and changing.

To make a change, you just need to alter what you do one time or another.  In one instance — at one moment in time — you trade what you are used to doing with something different.  

That’s how you “make a change”.  You do it each day without thinking much about it.

Sometimes, you don’t even need to demand change of yourself in order to do something different.  Circumstances can force you to change.  Lack of money, a need for acceptance, or a new belief system can influence you to make a change.

Changing, on the other hand, is an internal process that you control entirely. It’s a new set of attitudes, intentions, and motivations that you deliberately cultivate.

You can make a change without changing.

You could do something different on the outside and still be the same person that you used to be on the inside. You can change the tactics that others see, but still be the same short-sighted person in your mind.

The truth is that each of us want to change in some way.

You want to be better at something. You want to be a better person. Each of us. At one thing or another, you want to change.

But changing is hard because it demands a new mindset, more courage, and new opportunities for you to fail. And you don’t want to fail.

And since changing feels a lot like failure most of the time, it’s easy to decide to make a change here or there and hope desperately that it turns into changing.

Changing is deeply emotional and so very hard to do.

That’s the secret to change. And changing.

You know that it’s time to take life seriously right now.

Starting right now, use each moment you have as an opportunity to be a better version of you. Push the limits of what you think it’s possible.

Change. Be changing.

The Courage To Continue When You Feel Cold and Dead Inside.

He was alive. Or at least it was a dream. A good one to have.

Beck Weathers peeled his face off the frozen ground. He painfully blinked the ice out of his eyes. He couldn’t feel his hands. They were frozen.  He couldn’t feel his feet. They were frozen, too. 

The only warmth he felt was from the urine filling his snowsuit. And that was only temporary. Soon, it would be frozen too. 

As he put one foot in front of the other, Beck didn’t know he would lose both hands. He didn’t know he would lose his nose.

All he knew was that he had come back from the dead.

And he needed to get off this mountain and back to his family. It was his driving obsession.

Beck spent most of his adult life battling depression. It was his dirty little secret. When he met his wife, Peaches, he didn’t even share it with her — and she was supposed to be the one he shared everything with.

In college, when the darkness would set in, Beck would just keep to himself. Or he would ride his motorcycle way too fast around curves in the dark. The rush of adrenaline would stir something deep in his soul.

Then he found the gym.

He could exert all his frustrations and doubts into lifting weights. He never considered himself an athlete, but he liked the way weightlifting made him feel. 

After college, when he was a doctor, he traded the weights for running. He didn’t need any equipment — just a pair of shoes and some empty road.

It soon became an obsession.

When he wasn’t working, he was running. Or he was boating. Or he was reading up on some other “thing” he could do to get his mind away from his life. Away from the darkness he felt all around him.

Beck went to work every day with a smile on his face. He pretended like everything was OK. But for long periods of time, it was never OK. His depression made everything hurt.

One day on a trip with friends, he got introduced to hiking. He and a few of his friends were supposed to wake up early and attack the mountain. But they all awoke to find the day cold and wet.

Everyone else decided to skip the hike — but Beck found it exhilarating. 

Soon, his hikes became longer. And more difficult. Before long they turned into full-blown climbing adventures. Ascending the peaks of the tallest and most treacherous mountains in the world. 

Beck’s life became a torrid rush of adrenaline. Work. Workout. Go on a climbing adventure. Work. Work out. Go on a climbing adventure. Work. Work out. Go on a climbing adventure…

Little did he know that his life was about to change.

He found himself at the base of Everest. Surrounded by other extreme mountain climbers. Despite all of his training, Beck considered himself an amateur next to the company he would keep for the next few months.

Even though he had been working out rigorously for the five months, he still felt inferior to the others.  Would this would too much of a challenge for him?

Climbers navigated from camp base one, to camp base two, to camp base three, to the death zone, to the summit. They had to get down from the summit as fast as they could and beneath the death zone because the human body was not meant to withstand that high of an altitude — and it would start dying. Literally. The lack of oxygen would begin to shut down the human body.  

The hike up Everest was littered with the bodies of people who had tried to reach the summit and failed. Due to the altitude and the danger of staying there too long, and since it’s so cold, they are just preserved on the mountain.

Beck and the other climbers walked by them. Which, by the time they reached the Death Zone, had become an everyday sight. He would never forget the sight.

But right now he had more important things to think about.

The wind had started blowing and snow was raging up the mountain, causing whiteout conditions that trapped Beck and dozens of other climbers inside the Death Zone of the mountain. 

They were stuck right below the summit. Hour after hour they waited.

At midnight they got a break. Miraculously, the storm cleared up. Their guide, Rob Hall, woke him up from his tent and told him it was time to go.

They would climb while it was clear and reach the summit by 2pm.

It was May 10, 1996.

Beck would never forget. His life was about to change. Forever. 

Beck got up and got ready and left with his group. But it was dark and he had been suffering from night blindness for years.

Add to it the freezing cold temperatures and Beck had to take it slow.

As the sun rose, Beck’s vision gradually cleared and he could see. That is until he wiped his eye with his ice-laden glove and accidentally lacerated his cornea. 

Beck’s common sense kicked in and he decided the climb was over for him. He told the guide to go ahead without him. If he felt like he could catch up he would.

Rob told him he had thirty minutes to figure it out.

If he didn’t start hiking in thirty minutes he needed to stay put — so that Rob would know where to find him on the way down back to camp. 

As nightfall came, climber after climber passed Beck on the way down. Some even offered to help him off the mountain. But he had promised Rob he would stay put and wait for him. And so he waited. And waited. Without shelter. As another storm ravaged the mountain. 

Beck was wearing three pairs of gloves — which was par for the course.

They had all been instructed to remove two pairs of gloves and place their single gloved hand inside their coat to warm it up in the event it was terribly cold.

So Beck tried that. 

He got two of the three pairs of gloves off his hand — but before he could get his hand inside his coat to warm up, a gust of wind violently blasted as his hand, freezing it, and blowing both pairs of gloves out of his other hand.

His hand immediately started burning. 

Beck knew what frostbite felt like. He had felt it before. And this was nothing like it. It didn’t hurt at all. But maybe he was too cold to tell.

He laid down to wait for Rob.

Little did he know that Rob was never going to show up. He died on the top of the mountain trying to help another climber. 

As he waited not knowing Rob’s fate, Beck started to freeze to death. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling. It was warm even. He had a sense of floating and then gently fell asleep.  

His face froze to the cold ground below him. 

Other climbers stepped over him, leaving him for dead, even though he was still technically breathing.

His eyes were glazed over. His hands were grey and black with frostbite as were his nose and a couple places on his cheeks. 

Nobody tried to save him. On Everest, a man in his condition might as well be dead already.

And so Beck lay on Mt. Everest one more night as his wife was being told her husband was dead. Even Beck thought of himself as a dead man. 

It was the sun that brought him back to life. Woke him up. Literally. Sunlight flooded his face.

In the glow of the sun as Beck slowly opened his eyes, he saw Peaches. He saw his daughter. He saw his son. He saw his purpose. And he stood up. Or at least he tried to.

Every time he tried to stand, he would fall. Pain would sear through every inch of his body.  But he knew he was only an hour hike from the camp. He had to try.

The ground was uneven. And slippery.

Making every step a possibly fatal one.

But he persisted — step by step by step, hour after hour after hour. And he made it to camp. Trudging in like the walking dead.

The others looked at him as if they were looking at a ghost. It was impossible that he was still alive.

Beck was carried into a tent and warmed up. No one could believe he was still alive. Even when they called Peaches to tell her, they didn’t expect him to live much longer.

Peaches hoped for the best. And when hope wouldn’t do, she sprung into action. She began calling every politician and government official she could think of. Working together they orchestrated a nearly impossible rescue for her husband.

It took Beck over a year and 11 surgeries to heal from that trip to Mt. Everest. He lost one hand at the wrist. Four fingers on his other hand and had to have his thumb recreated with bones and skin from other parts of his body.

There has never been another story like his.

In all the conquests of the world’s most formidable mountain, no one else has survived the onslaught of blizzard conditions overnight, all alone — without gloves or a guide.

He shouldn’t have made. His body was well beyond the point of failure. His legs were frozen. His face and hands were frostbitten. He didn’t have the calories inside his body to create enough energy to take the first few steps.

And yet, despite all the logic of what should have happened, he decided to get up and start moving towards where he wanted to be. And therein lies the secret to all great stories like this.

You will only go as far as you’re willing to take the next step.

That’s the secret to all great comebacks — moving forward just a little bit more. Every day. In every way. Just another step.

That next step is all that matters.

The hard truth is that no audacious challenge is accomplished quickly, easily, or without setbacks.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is figuring out where to get started. What to do. Where to go. What you actually want.

Unless you’re deliberate about forward progress you’ll find yourself spinning in circles. Doing enough to appear like you’re living a meaningful existence, but doing absolutely nothing that truly matters.

Which is a shame because if you’re going to be tired and frustrated, confused, annoyed, and thoroughly beaten down at the end of the day it might as well be because you’re doing something that matters magnificently.

But taking the next step isn’t as simple as it sounds. You might not know the exact next step to take. So here is what to do when you aren’t sure what you should be doing.

Do the thing that scares you most. That hurts the most. That you think is crazy and unnatural and ridiculously impossible.

That’s the step that will likely impact your chances of success greater than anything else.

You’ll stay stuck as long as you’re not moving in the right direction.

It’s a choice. A simple decision actually. One that you could make today. Right now.

So get started. Take one step today towards what matters.

You might be banged up and feeling cold and half-dead inside. But getting to where you want to be is worth every bit of the fight. 

You’re not dead. It’s just time to start moving.

39 Choices You Are Making That Prove You Are Already In Control Of Your Life.

It can seem like a lot of life is outside your control. Most of the time — no matter what you do — you can’t force other people to do what you want them to do.

You can’t instantaneously impact nature or economic trends. You can’t control the weather or the decisions that are made by other people in authority over you. You can’t force life to give you what you want.

And if you think about that for too long, you’ll find yourself perfectly convinced that you don’t control your life.

But that’s a lie. A dangerous lie

The longer you focus on things that are outside of your control, the more depressed and hopeless you’re going to feel.

It’s inevitable that you’re going to give up. Quit. Decide that life is too unfair for someone like you.

But the truth is that for everything in life you can’t fix, there’s another bigger part of life that you can fix.

Which makes you almost infinitely powerful, if you believe it.

Look around you. Those fixes to your problems everywhere:

  • You can’t control the weather, but you can control that you live in a place where you mostly enjoy the weather.
  • You can’t control the decisions that you’re boss makes, but you can control how long you work for that boss.
  • You can’t control how much you weigh right now, but you can control what you eat and how you exercise from this moment forward.

What you focus on most determines how successful you become.

Your thoughts and dreams and aspirations are a direct result of what you spend your time obsessing about. And the truth is that you are already in control.

Don’t waste the power you have.

You are already in control of your mind

  1. You get to choose how you talk to yourself
  2. You get to choose how you talk about yourself to others
  3. You get to choose if you give someone else the benefit of the doubt
  4. You get to choose whether you think positive or negative thoughts
  5. You get to choose how often you replay the bad things that have happened in your past.

You are already in control of your body

  1. You get to choose when you choose to compete
  2. You get to choose where you channel your emotions
  3. You get to choose how much you exercise
  4. You get to choose how much effort you put into the work you do
  5. You get to choose if you make getting sleep a priority or not

You are already in control of your career

  1. You get to choose what you say “YES” to
  2. You get to choose what you say “NO” to
  3. You get to choose how well you prepare
  4. You get to choose how much information you get before you make a decision
  5. You get to choose how you structure your day
  6. You get to choose who your friends are

You are already in control of your wealth

  1. You get to choose when you walk away from a goal.
  2. You get to choose the expectations you put on your life
  3. You get to choose how much you enjoy the good things you have in your life right now
  4. You get to choose if you allow negative things into your life
  5. You get to choose what you learn from your mistakes

You are already in control of your emotions

  1. You get to choose how you react to others
  2. You get to choose what you do with envy, anger, anxiety, and sadness
  3. You get to choose how kind you are to others
  4. You get to choose how much time you spend trying to convince people you’re right.
  5. You get to choose what you do with your regrets
  6. You get to choose if you put yourself in someone else’s position before reacting

You are already in control of your actions

  1. You get to choose where you live
  2. You get to choose how much attention you give to others
  3. You get to choose which commitments you keep and cancel
  4. You get to choose if you try something new
  5. You get to choose if you are honest or not
  6. You get to choose when or if you decide to quit

You are already in control of your growth

  1. You get to choose what books you read
  2. You get to choose when to ask for help
  3. You get to choose when you learn something new
  4. You get to choose how quickly you try again after you fall
  5. You get to choose when you choose to judge other people
  6. You get to choose if you say what is on your mind

And millions of other choices you get to make each day. Each minute. Each second.

No one can stop you if you don’t want to be stopped.

So don’t be stopped.

Change up things. Do something different. Choose better.

The truth is that you will still have the same annoying problems you had the day before, but you’ll have a valuable new perspective. New creativity.

The reality of life is that what you expect from it is up to you.

It’s natural to feel disappointed and discouraged at times by what’s going on around you.

If you have half a heart at all you’re going to be bothered when nice, kind people suffer.

Don’t let your experiences break your expectations.

Don’t let bitterness turn you into a skeptic. Don’t let depression immobilize your ability to change the world for the better. Don’t be naive, simplistic, or willfully ignorant.

Expect less of life to happen to you. Work on making life happen for you.

Remember that you are already in control.

What do you want to do about it?

The Magic Of Knowing That You’ll Make It Out Alive.

There is nothing more powerful than believing that you are going to make it. Not just believing. Knowing.

Knowing that no matter how bad you feel right now that you are tough enough to make it through to the other side. To survive. And thrive.

If you are struggling right now, you know the sense of dread that accompanies problems. You know the panic that creeps up the bottom of your throat. The hopelessness and fear.

You aren’t sure if this is the struggle that finally breaks you. You don’t know if you are going to be able to make it this time around.

What you need is to know that you will indeed make it out alive.

That you are strong enough to do what it takes to realize your dreams.

No matter how bad things look, you need to know. Like “Nando” did.

It was October 13th in 1972.  Flight 571 from the Uruguayan Air Force was flying over the Andes Mountains.  Onboard were 45 people, the entire Uruguayan rugby team and their friends and family.

It was a time of celebration and joy as they enjoyed each other’s company and the time they had together.

And then, that all changed in an instant.

A flash snowstorm high above the mountains caused the aircraft, a twin-turboprop Fairchild FH-227, to crash.  As the plane exploded against the side of the mountain more than a dozen of the passengers were killed instantly.  

The rest were left scrambling. In a wild panic.

Wondering how long they would make it.

At 11,000 feet in blizzard conditions, the 29 remaining survivors huddled around a makeshift shelter sharing a can of sardines, a few chocolate bars, and a couple of bottles of wine that they found in the wreckage of the plane.  

That was all they had.

They waited for rescuers to find them in temperatures that plunged to -30°F.  The first night 5 more survivors died.  Frozen solid in the unforgiving conditions.

A few days later, an avalanche fell from the top of the steep mountains peaks above them.  As the snow swept furiously around them, several of the group were snatched from their flimsy shelter and swept over the side of the mountain to their death.

Little did they know that the search-and-rescue effort for them had been called off days ago.  The best search teams in the world couldn’t make it to them.  

They were doomed to certain death.

Stuck impossibly high in one of the most inhospitable locations anywhere in the world.

For days they waited to be found by people who weren’t actually looking for them.  

No food.  Harsh conditions.  The odds against them.  

But then – things were about to get worse. Much worse.

To stay alive they resorted to the unthinkable.  The only thing left to eat were the frozen bodies of the family and friends who had died in the plane crash.  

They couldn’t build a fire in the swirling winds of the mountain top so they ate the frozen body organs raw.

Sickened by their state. Weak. And broken. They waited to die.

Hours turned into days.  Days turned into weeks.  Weeks turned into a month.  One month turned into two.  

That’s when hope began to die.  

They had survived an unimaginable tragedy.  They had stayed alive for 60 days by resorting to cannibalism.

And despite it all, they were still going to die.  Only 16 of them were left.

That’s when Nando knew he had to make a difference.  

A poor child from a poor section of Uruguay, Fernando Parrado, was a knock-out: a rugby player and captain of a popular team.  

His mother and sister had died in the crash.   He was all alone now.  If anyone was going to live, it was going to be because of him. He would go find help and bring them back to rescue the remaining survivors.

To begin their escape, he made snowshoes out of seat cushions and seat belt straps.  Using an old sleeping bag he put together a three-day ration of human flesh as food for their journey.  

Nando asked two other survivors, Roberto Canessa and Antonio Vizintín to go with him.  

They left the crash site and headed west.

To get out of the mountains, Nando led his small group up the mountain pass directly to their west.  The peak of the mountain was over 14,447 feet high.

From the top of the mountain they could see the faint outlines of a road and the Pacific Ocean far away.  They knew they had a longer trip than 3 days.  

They started walking.

For 10 days they walked up and over mountains until they finally saw signs of civilization — green grass, a farm, and a river.  

They had walked 40 miles and were now in Chile.

Too exhausted to go any further, they collapsed on the side of a riverbank. They had given all they had. They were finished.

A short while later, a Chilean rancher found them and brought back the military and a medical support team, who were shocked at the men they saw.

It had been 71 days since their plane hit the side of the mountain.

The next day, Nando led helicopter pilots to the crash site where 14 of the survivors waited to be rescued. They had lived through the most horrifically improbable tragedy in history.  

Weeks later as the dead were buried atop the mountain, the rescue workers marked the grave with an iron cross on top of a pile of stones.  

That still stands today as a monument to the tragedy and a memorial to the miracle of hope.

Hope led by one man.

A man who knew that he was going to make it.

Chances are your life isn’t exploding against the side of a South American mountain pass like Flight 571 did 47 years ago.

You won’t have to eat the dead bodies of your friends and family to survive.  You have food in the pantry, a roof over your head, and 300 channels on cable TV.

But your problems might seem just as horrific.  And they’ve still solved the same way: “You need hope.”

You need to believe that you can make it. To know that “you’ve got this.”

You need to know that no matter how tough things are right now that you can do what success requires.  You can make it out alive.

You are tough enough to do what it takes to realize your dreams.

Shuffle. Stumble. Crawl. Move. Do whatever it takes to make forward progress.

You go this.

1 Epic Victory And 10 Lessons Learned About The Power Of Words From The Greatest King Who Ever Lived.

It’s not good enough to be right. Or to do what you think is right. The hard truth about leadership is that to be effective you have to master the power of words. You have to master delivering those words in the right tone.  

A good example of this comes from perhaps the greatest ruler who ever lived. 

In early 335 B.C., Alexander the Great began his quest for world domination.  No other ruler had a passion for conquest like Alexander.  

Not even his father, Philip II of Macedon, who had expanded the Greek empire further than any king before him.

After ten years of fighting, Alexander arrived at the edge of India without having lost a single battle.  His army controlled most of the known world at that time — Greece, Egypt, and what had been the Persian empire.   But Alexander wanted more.

The problem was that his men were tired.  

They had followed him for ten years — fighting thousands of miles across lower Europe, into Africa, and to the edge of the Middle East.    Far away from families and wives, they languished in fatigue, without the rage to conquer another empire.

Alexander gathered his men together and delivered an impassioned speech: “I observe, gentlemen, that when I would lead you on a new venture you no longer follow me with your old spirit.

I have asked you to meet me that we may come to a decision together: are we, upon my advice, to go forward, or, upon yours, to turn back?

I will make those who go the envy of those who stay.”

Those words made a big difference.

You don’t have to be in too many shouting matches to figure that when things get heated it’s very easy to say things that are cruel. Things that are unfair or highly manipulative, hurtful, or mean.

These sort of words rise quickly to the top of an angry argument especially when you feel like you are losing the fight.

And then, instead of arguing about the original reason for your discussion, you find yourself simply trying to hurt the other person. Trying to win at all costs.

That’s because words are effective weapons.

What is especially interesting about those moments where you say hurtful things is that those cruel words didn’t just magically come out of your mouth. They were words shaped by thoughts that you had been doing a good job keeping bottled up inside you.

But once you say the words out loud, you can’t take them back. The words are out there. The emotions they create. The way they make people feel.  You can’t take that back.

So it’s important to act like words matter.

It’s important to know that your tone delivering those words matters.

You don’t need to act fearfully. Or without candor. You need to use words purposefully.

Here are a few lessons to learn about words and leading with tone:

  1. Ask smart questions and people will believe you’re a smart person. Challenge yourself to ask more questions than making statements.
  2. If you want people to take action, then be specific about the results that you expect and a timeline that is acceptable.
  3. Words spoken angrily are ineffective in the long run — even if they contain something truthful. Give yourself 3-seconds of quiet before you answer.
  4. Don’t be unclear. It makes you untrustworthy. Effective conversations require words that inspire trust, confidence, and intrigue.
  5. If everything you talk about is “I’s” and “Me’s” then don’t be confused when you don’t get a lot of help.
  6. Whining creates massive amounts of irritation, anger, and fear — not positive progress or constructive growth. Ruthlessly eliminate it.
  7. Choose words that make the mission personal for the other person. It’s not about what you want, it’s how they hear you.
  8. Passive-aggression is confusing (and annoying) for anyone listening and the least effective way to get what you want from others.
  9. There is nothing you can say to be interesting when you’ve talked for too long. Fewer words make for an effective conversation.
  10. Grateful and thankful words are the best way to motivate people to accomplish results over the long run.

The wrong words can make your life miserable

They can make it take longer accomplish your goals. And impossible.

Just because you need to say “what’s on your mind” doesn’t give you permission to be a jerk. You don’t get a chance to take things back, hurt people, or re-explain bad behavior.  

Words matters.  Act like it.

Actions might speak louder than words, but words are the best way to drive better actions.

That’s important to remember when you need to get things done. 

Say what’s important. Be purposeful. Ask questions. Take responsibility for the results of the words that you use. 

It didn’t make sense.

King Porus had hundreds of elephants. The Persians had none.

But that simple speech Alexander the Great delivered to his tired army had an incredible impact.

It inspired his men to dig a little bit deeper and push into India — adding another victory and more territory to the largest kingdom of all time.

It took actions. But behind it all was the artful delivery of words.

Speak to inspire.

Finding Your Greatness, Abandoning Glory, And The Grit You’ll Need To Do Both.

You can choose greatness or glory. You can’t have both at the same time. That’s the hard truth of doing something that matters.

Getting started, it feels like you need glory to propel you towards greatness.

If you just have enough attention. If more people just knew about what you are doing. If you had more time, money and notoriety, you would be so much more ahead in your conquest for getting to that next level.

Greatness comes without glory.

It has to because what you need to do to become great isn’t glorious. It’s gory. And gritty And flat out hard work.

Remember that moment in the valley of Thermopylae when 300 Spartans stood against the powerful army of Xerxes? That moment when 2 million soldiers decided that the few hundred soldiers fighting for King Leonidas were too much for them.?

That moment wasn’t the result of more social media attention. It didn’t come about because people all over the world were cheering for the Spartans.

It was simply because of the decades of training those soldiers had endured.

It was about the way of life their parents had instilled within them.

The Spartans of old spent years developing skills for combat that many of those warriors would never actually use in a real battle. They trained, prepared, ate right, and sacrificed entertainment in pursuit of their ideals. 

According to historians of the day, their focus and hard work seemed like overkill to the rest of the Grecian Empire who openly mocked them: “Why put in so much work when life is so good?”

  • While everyone else in the world was getting drunk, they were getting strong.
  • While everyone else was goofing around, they were getting smart.

It sounded cruel to rest of the world when they would send a 12-year-old boy out in the wild on his own. Some of them never came home.

But in that valley — on that day — those 300 men who had been battle-tested every day of their life thus far created a story so great we tell it thousands of years later.

Their greatness did not come from glory.

It came from intentional activity and a daily routine that was focused on building the strengths and courage it would take to win — despite the number of opponents against them.

But it wasn’t just the spirit of hard work and discipline that made the Spartans great. It was their mindset. It was how they viewed the world around them.

We see that illustrated clearly almost 130 years after the Battle of Thermopylae and those 3 days of epic conquest.

It was 346 B.C. and Philip II of Macedon, better known as the father of Alexander the Great, invaded Greece with a powerful army. Dozens of key city-states immediately submitted to his conquest without putting up a fight — knowing that the Macedonian army would destroy their lands, kill their sons and their women if they didn’t surrender before the fight began.

And that strategy worked perfectly.

They were promised life and peace if they submitted and sent yearly tribute to the empire. To spare their people destruction, the leaders wisely pledged their loyalty to the invading king.

All of them except Sparta. Sparta refused to submit.

There was no discussion. No persuading. No compromise. No nothing.

They simply refused to be ruled by anyone else. And it was about to turn into a potentially epic mistake.

The enraged invaders sent a warning to the Spartan leaders: “Surrender. If I conquer your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.”

It was a clear message: “We are going to crush you like we have crushed everyone else.”

Except the Spartans didn’t read the message that way. They didn’t see the same threat that had stopped every other leader in Greece in their tracks.

The Spartans replied with a single word.

They didn’t overthink it. They didn’t stammer. They weren’t confused or frightened.

They said: “If’.

The “IF” in their reply was the result of the greatness in their mind and discipline of their lifestyle.

It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Philip of Macedon with his much larger army would actually win. And so they asked back to him a serious question: “Are you sure that you can actually beat us?

  • Are you willing to lose everything to try to beat us?
  • How much are you willing to do to try to win?
  • What happens if you try and fail?
  • Who else will rebel against you?
  • What if you end up with nothing?

Their message was clear. And the outcome proved it.

Neither Philip II nor his son Alexander the Great ever attempted to capture the city. Sparta remained the only spot int he known world that was not crushed under the dynasty of Philip and his son.

They didn’t chase glory. They were mocked. They were scolded.

They looked foolish and overly obsessive.

But when trouble came — and it always does — they were the only ones left standing.

Maybe that sort of living is good enough for you too.

3 Rules High Performers Live By That Are Hard To Achieve But Surprisingly Simple.

Success is frustrating. The advice you get from people trying to help you is often conflicting and seemingly impossible.

Your own pathway is confusing. At times it’s hard to make sense of the feedback you’re getting from your actions.

Failure one day can often look like success the next. What used to work doesn’t work anymore — and the changes you’ll need to make to fully appreciate that are often the most frustrating part of your journey to success.

This raw, human element to navigating the twisting pathway of success is often the part that undoes you. It’s often the obstacle you can’t get around.

That’s because what’s missing from your struggle — and the entire conversation about success — is simplicity. You need less to do. Less to manage, monitor, and obsess about. Inside the giant cornucopia of rules that make up success, you need a few, simple ride-or-die beliefs that you can hold on to. Philosophies and rules and edicts that guide your daily existence.

Over time, those will change as your goals change and as your skills and your expectations change. It’s not for me to tell you what your rules for you should be.

I’ve focused on many different ones for the years. Tried some. Abandoned many. I’ve also read the rules that other successful people put in place for themselves, sometimes even speaking and interviewing them. Digging deep into what works. Building relationships with those I share the most in common.

Despite how you word them, here are the three simple rules that successful people live by.

1. Be Honest

This is a hard one. A really hard one at times. You will feel the impact intensely before, during, and after your exercise this behavior.

Most often when you hear someone talking about “being honest” the discussion involves the word “liar”, but honesty is a lot more complex than that.

It’s about candor and kindness and believing that you can help others level up when you encourage them with your clear, illuminating insight.

Before that happens with others, you have to experience the discomfort that creates by practicing honesty with yourself.

It’s impossible to practice radical candor with others when you haven’t first done the same for yourself.

  • What was the last time you took a few minutes to examine your motives and intentions?
  • When was the last time you had an honest conversation about your results, your effort, and your attitude?

It’s easy to look around and blame all of your problems on other people and their bad behavior. To blame bad luck. To pretend like none of the reasons why you are where you are right now have nothing to do with you.

But that’s not being honest. Not in the least bit.

Nothing in life is an accident. Your results, your predicament, your income, your obstacles — they are all there for one reason or another.

Be honest with you. It’s an emotional investment you won’t ever regret

As for being honest with others — you already know that it’s the right thing to do. But somehow — and when it matters most — you don’t do it. You hold back. You equivocate. Pause. And obfuscate.

You aren’t honest. And it’s not because you’re a stone-cold, manipulator. Or a con man. Or a liar.

It’s most likely because being honest is hard work. It’s a huge emotional investment.

By being honest with others you have to care about them. A lot.

It’s easy to tell others what you know they want to hear. It doesn’t hurt their feelings and you don’t have to invest in a tough conversation where you tell them that they can achieve more if they’re willing to put in the time and effort to improve.

Which is why being honest is such an important rule.

The fact that it’s hard to do already puts you in an elite category of performers. To do it consistently will make you a superstar.

By the way, being honest with others isn’t a license to be a jerk. Kindness always trumps candor. In fact, candor is kindness. You don’t have to be loud or obnoxious, or the least bit insulting, to give feedback that is honest and hopeful.

The reason you’re doing this in the first place is to help them. So, help them.

To get started you might need to premise your insight with a quick question or two: “Would you like my feedback?” or “Can I be honest with you?”

Once you have permission, you now have a duty to be honest. And remember, you want that same candor from others — especially when you are desperate to level up. Extend the same honesty to others.

2. Ask Questions

You see the world through your own perspective — which is great until you expect that others share that same outlook. Which they likely won’t.

You see what you see based on years of your own life experience and struggle. And that’s different for all of us.

The only way to get the perspective of others is to ask them for it. Asking questions. Probing. Digging into the reason behind the explanation.

Asking questions will help you increase the growth of your business. It’s a skill that will help you build better relationships and avoid unnecessary conflict — and solve just about any other sticky situation where other people are involved.

The simplest question is “why”. It’s somewhat crude and often misunderstood to be offensive if delivered with the wrong tone, but it is at the core of all questions.

Why does it matter? Why are you doing that? Why do you think what you think?

But beyond “why”, there are many other important questions that will get you the answers you need.

Questions to help you level up in business and in your relationships — but also to help you dig a bit deeper into your own psyche. To hope you get clear on the baggage in your mind that can often be debilitating.

Here are a few of those questions you’ll want to practice asking yourself:

  1. Would I be embarrassed if other people were to know that I was making this decision?
  2. What advice would I give someone else if they were in my position?
  3. Is this a legitimate step towards getting closer to where I want to be or am I chasing a shortcut?
  4. When I look back at this decision, how will I feel?
  5. What else haven’t I considered that might help me make a better decision?
  6. Am I making this decision based on fear?
  7. Can I deal with the consequences that will come from making this decision, this way?

Ask yourself the hard questions. Be clear about your intentions, even if it isn’t something you want to share with anyone else.

And then practice the art of asking questions.

Most conversations would be more productive if the first words said came in the form of a question.

Try it. You’ll find it uncomfortable at first. But like any important skill, if you deliberately stick with it, you will find yourself spending less time on hurt feelings and misunderstood intentions.

3. Do Things That Matter

It seems obvious that high performers do things that matter.

However, it’s not that simple. High performers don’t start doing things that matter actors after they are high performers, it’s what makes them high performers in the first place.

Doing what matters is the playbook. The road map.

The answer is actually quite simple. You only have so much time in a day.

You’re going to spend half the day working — or working to get to work. You’ll spend another 8 hours sleeping — or getting ready for or out of bed.

After you factor in eating, reading, working out, and personal entertainment, you probably only have a few hours (if any at all) that are all yours.

What you do with your time ultimately determines your destiny.

Doing things that matter is your shortcut to consistent and reliable progress.

The faster you focus on what matters, the more quickly you’ll move around obstacles and the less frustrated you’ll feel by failure.

But it’s not always easy to see what matters.

Priorities change. So does your environment. And the world around you is constantly changing. All of that comes straight at you — at a torrid pace that is confusing and overwhelming.

The only way out is to stop and live in quietness. Even if only temporarily.

That quietness is your compass, pointing you towards greatness. In the direction of what really matters.

But sometimes, even that doesn’t work. You can’t find quietness because of the chaos and noise inside your head.

And so you have to fall back on timeless activities that are proven to propel you towards progress, regardless of your goals or the obstacles in your way.

Here are a few of them:

  1. Make time to improve your “mind game”. — Everything you ever do — or don’t do — is a direct result of how you think — and what you allow yourself to keep thinking about. Be aware of which thoughts make you act which way. By the way, meditation is a great exercise to figure this all out. Try using Calm or Headspace or Omvana if you want to master this skill.
  2. Take time to get physical. — Instead of eliminating regular exercise from your schedule, protect the time you work up a sweat. Run. Punch. Kick. Cycle. Just move fast. You’ll find yourself thinking of ideas you wouldn’t have considered. You’ll return to your work focused. And — you’ll eliminate a bunch of the frustration and pettiness you would otherwise direct at those around you.
  3. Stop wasting time on regrets or worries. — It’s easy to spin out of control when you think about what you could have done or should have done. Replace those negative thoughts with specific thoughts for moving towards where you want to be. Again, this about you being aware of what you are thinking. When you recognize negative thoughts you pause and switch them to thoughts that help you get closer to where you want to be.
  4. Reduce the time you spend on entertainment. — It’s amazing how distracting a binge-watch session on Netflix can be. Instead of working toward success, your brain goes to mush when you call up the latest episode instead of working on the things that matter most. Sometimes, you need to take a break and reboot. But that shouldn’t be a “most of the time” thing.
  5. Get more sleep. — Most human beings need 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night to operate at optimum performance. Your brain reboots. Your immune system recharges. Your body gets a bit more resilient. The more sleep you can get, the more likely you are to stay strong and healthy — and clear-minded. When you do more, you need more sleep. Don’t overdo the sleeping part and don’t think you can cheat time by sleeping less. It’s guaranteed to backfire on you.
  6. Pay attention to the details. — Getting things done isn’t the same as getting things done well. Don’t just check things off your list. Make sure you’ve done the best that you can do. Take the time to reflect on what you can do better the next time. Dig deep into the success you want for yourself. Hone in on what other people who have achieved the success you want for yourself are doing. Always be learning and growing.
  7. Avoid everyone and anything who takes you off your game. — It doesn’t really matter why or when or who — negativity and fear and worry and confusion will crush your ability to get to where you want to be. So avoid it. Don’t try to contain it. Or tolerate it. Get as far away from it, as you can. It might not be forever, but for now, you need to anything that is negative completely behind you.

More importantly, this is a mindset. A deliberate way of spending your time.

Make no mistake, three simple rules won’t fix everything. They aren’t the perfect formula for every obstacle standing in your way.

But they do give you a foundation to stand on. A platform to launch from.

And when life is hard and your dreams are big, sometimes it’s important to know that you have a few simple rules guiding your pathway to success.

The Hard Truth No One Told You About Doing Whatever It Takes.

I can’t help but look down at my running watch.

My heart feels like it is about to explode out of my chest. The pain in my lungs is now in my neck. Pounding through my cheekbones.

I am literally moments away from a heart attack.

It all started with a simple phone call from one of my long-time ultra running buddies: “Let’s go to Pisgah and attack some mountains. It will be fun”

I should have known from the drive that this run was about to be a lot different than any of us expected.

We decided to park at the top of the mountain, run to the bottom, and then run back up. Up and up and up and up we drove.

When we got to the top, we checked our gear to make sure we had enough water and food in case it took us longer than we expected.

Finding the nearest trailhead, we started our descent to the bottom. The trail obviously hadn’t been used much because there were rocks and roots and large overgrown spots along the path.

The path itself seemed to descend straight down. At times, the only way to stop was to run into a tree. Or you could try to grab the side of one as you ran by, flinging yourself around the tree in a circular motion to slow yourself down.

If that seems absolutely insane, it is.

The only thing more insane is getting to the bottom of the mountain and realizing that you have to run back up.

Instantly, your brain starts to make excuses.

  • Maybe there is a way to drive the car down here and pick us up?
  • Are you sure there isn’t an easier way to get back home?
  • Why did we decide to do this anyway?

We took a minute to collect ourselves. Checking the map to see exactly where we were in the trail system. And then, the inevitable became reality.

“Ready to go?”

Those three simple words were really an unspoken paragraph about the pain each of us knew we were about to endure. Little did we know what that would actually be.

So back we went. Up. And up. And up. And up.

At first, it didn’t seem like that hard of a climb. But I could tell it was starting to get in my head when I noticed how often I was checking my watch.

The miles accumulate quickly when you’re running downhill. Not so much when you’re running back up.

Slowly but surely, the path became more difficult and our breathing louder. My watch appeared to show that we were close to being at the summit. But the path seemed to go on endlessly.

And despite the water and food we had brought with us, neither of us felt as prepared as we should be.

I felt a slight buzz on my left wrist. It was a notification that we had run another mile.

When I looked down at my running watch I was horrified by what I saw.

My heart was beating at close to 200 beats per minute. And the time for my last mile was a grizzly 29:32. Almost 30 minutes.

Impossible — it seemed. For the amount of effort my body was expending I should have been running a lot faster. A whole lot faster.

But there I was, in the middle of the trail with my body exploding in pain, exhausted by the journey, and completely disillusioned by how much effort and pain it was going to take to get to where I wanted to be.

I wish I could say this was the only time I have been in this precarious position. But it isn’t. And it won’t be.

The hard truth I have come to realize about accomplishing dreams is that it always costs you more then you think it will.

It’s easy to tell other people that you’re willing to do what it takes. It’s a cool phrase to put on a t-shirt. And empowering to believe in. But living your life that way requires next-level focus and a radical commitment that most people consider to be overly obsessive and a bit wacky.

But if you’re not committed to doing what it takes you’ll find yourself giving up too early and only coming close to achieving your goals. You’ll never quite get there.

So what does it take? And why are you going to have to try so hard?

We all agree that you won’t get far in life doing the bare minimum.

To be candid, you won’t get much farther doing a little bit more.

It’s a dangerous trap to think that because you are doing more than those around you that you’re doing what it takes to accomplish your goals.

The truth is that you have to do a “lot a bit” more than everyone else around you to have a chance at accomplishing great things.

That’s nothing new. That’s always how it has been. You just haven’t noticed until now. maybe this goal is a little more important than the ones you’ve had in the past. Maybe the stakes are higher for you accomplishing breakthrough right now.

Maybe you just want it more.

The truth is that doing what it takes is what success requires. You have to lay it all on the line. No matter where you are trying to go or what you’re trying to do. You won’t make it happen by hedging your bets or holding back.

You have to be all in with every fiber of your emotions, every bit of your financial resources, every ounce of will in your body — and a bit more you don’t believe is possible right now.

What does that really mean?

  • You have to work tirelessly.
  • You have to focus on the details.
  • You can’t play it safe.
  • You can’t pretend like doing what’s easy is really going to work.
  • You have to be vulnerable enough to try and fail and try again. Until you get it right.

Even when you don’t feel like it.

Even when it feels like you don’t have enough strength and courage to get back to the starting line again.

You have to get back up and keep moving.

Because doing what it takes is always what it takes to achieve big dreams. And if that’s what you have, then that’s what you have to give. Anything. And everything. And sometimes both at the same time.

So when you find yourself panting for air and wondering why you set out to conquer the mountain in the first place, know that in this moment by taking the next step you are one of the very few who are actually doing whatever it takes.

From the time that I looked at my watch and realized how incredibly slow I was running up a very steep hill, I ended up only being about 45 minutes away from my car. And the top of the mountain. And a moment when I could sit down and breathe a bit more slowly.

I’ve not been back to that mountain since, but I’ve run other mountains — emotionally and literally.

There is always a crest. Always a finish line. It might feel like forever, but it never is.

It can’t be, especially if you refuse to stop moving forward.