Words Matter. Act Like It.

In early 335 B.C., Alexander the Great began his quest for world domination.  No other ruler had the 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 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 those who go the envy of those who stay.”

The right words make a big difference.

The king’s speech inspired his men to push into India, wrestling control of a country that no other ruler had been able to master

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, and 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 fight, you find yourself trying to hurt the other person.

That’s because words are effective weapons.

What is especially interesting about those angry 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. Bottled up for good reason too.

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.

You don’t need to act fearfully. Or even carefully. You need to use words purposefully.

Here are a few things to remember :

  1. Any word spoken angrily is an angry word, even even if you can use it peacefully in another setting.
  2. Whining words create irritation, anger, and fear — not sympathy. Check your tone of voice.
  3. Passive aggressive words are confusing for everyone listening. Especially you.
  4. If you want people to take action, then use action words. And speak to them using second person.
  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. Use words that make the mission personal for the other person.
  7. There is nothing you can say to be interesting when you’ve talked too long. Fewer words make for more interesting conversation.
  8. Good conversations require words that inspire trust, confidence, and intrigue.
  9. Ask smart questions and people will believe you’re a smart person.
  10. Grateful and thankful words work better then abusive words.

The wrong words can make your life miserable

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 idiot 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. Take responsibility for results of the words that you use. Be powerful.

Words matter. So act like it.

Trying Is The Best Option You Have.

“Trying” gets a bad rap.  Unfairly so. You can’t venture far into a motivational or business seminar and not hear some reference to Yoda’s : “Do. Or do not. There is no try” thoughts on the subject of getting things done.
After the audience titters and you stop squirming uncomfortably in your seat, the speaker tells you to “Go out there and make it happen…” — as if through sheer will you can bend the cosmos to your bidding.  You end up frustrated and confused, angry and panicked.  Too late you realize an important lesson.

Doing is impossible without trying.

They are inextricably connected.  There is no “do” without a lot of “try’s”.  It is impossible to do anything without first trying out options for what to do.  Doing is a product of trying, not a replacement for it.

That’s not just wordplay.  It’s an important lesson in getting started on achieving the results that you want for you.  Your mission isn’t to do anything.  It’s simply to try something.  And then try something else.  And keep trying until what you want to achieve is what you are currently doing.

Sometimes that process takes years.

As a 16 year old boy, Jadav watched as a torrential flood ripped through his home in Assam, India.  The powerful currents in that 1979 storm smashed through the city destroying homes, leveling trees, and washing away most of the forest.  The devastation was horrific.

Without the necessary shade from the forest, wildlife began to die — washing up onto shore in the unfiltered heat of the hot sun.  Jadav was moved to tears by what he saw.  Those tears quickly turned into ideas and effort.  He would regrow the forest.

But when he contacted the national forestry service he was told that his idea wouldn’t work.  “Nothing will grow in the sand except maybe bamboo,” they told him.  And so that is where he started.  By planting bamboo shoots one by one by one in the sandy soil that once was a forest.

And he didn’t stop there.  Each day he would bring red ants from his home village to the sand bar where he was planting bamboo.  Morning after morning.  Day after day.  He dedicated himself to planting bamboo and tending his forest.

One year turned into two years.  And two years turned into a decade.  And that decade turned into two more.  Each day, Jadav tending his bamboo.   Over thirty year ,he had cultivated an ecosystem of more that 1,360 acres of vibrant wildlife.

That forest became a shelter to elephants and apes, birds and deer.  Some of India’s rarest animals, including tigers and the rhinoceros, live in Jadav’s forest, where he has lived himself in a simple hut for the past 10,974 days.

Jadav Payeng is nicknamed “Molai” by those who know him best.  The miles of forest he transformed are called the Molai Woods.  Aptly so, “Molai” simply means: “to get started”.

That’s what he did.  He started planting one bamboo shoot at a time.  And he did it for thirty years.

Along the way he tried to introduce different trees and wildlife to his man-made forest.  Some flourished.  Others didn’t.

He didn’t “do” much of anything.

Not when he first got started.  Thirty years later, what Jadav accomplished is impossibly impressive.  One man.  Planting 1,360 acres.

What came from his “try” was unimaginable at the time.  The only reason why it worked was because he never stopped trying.

There’s a lesson there for you.  A reminder that how hard you try matters.  That “if” you try matters.  That what you do today and tomorrow and next week — it all matters.

And if you keep trying, you’ll eventually end up doing something pretty incredible.

Like Jadav.

You Don’t Need Permission To Be Awesome.

Sometimes you just need to go do something awesome.  You need to burn the ships.  Puff your chest out against an angry enemy.
You don’t need an excuse, an explanation, or permission.  You just need to go do it.

If you’re waiting on a spreadsheet to make the case for you, or logic or peer pressure or precedent, you’re destined to living a life that is insignificant.  Life sometimes demands that you throw caution to the wind and go do something unreasonably remarkable.

The truth is that anyone can almost make it.  You can go a little bit down the path towards triumph.  You can fake the right determination, repeat the same motivational “mumbo-jumbo”, and pretend like they’re trying harder than you really are.

But there’s a difference.

You know it.  And history remembers it.

History remembers your weakness, your mediocrity — what you could have done with the heart of a champion.

Maybe it’s time we go back to being primal.  Maybe it’s time to pick up a club and fight for duty and honor and a future worth living in.

Maybe it’s time to be a bad-ass.  Like Tlahuicole.

Tlahuicole was born in 1497 in one  of the northern towns of Tlaxcala, Mexico in the days when the Aztecs laid claim to most of that corner of the world — before Hernando Cortez conquered them.

He was born to a royal family at the peak of the dominance of the Tlaxcala.  Under the influence and leadership of his family they now controlled a confederacy of 21 small city-states.

Because he was part of nobility, he was sent to the Calmecac where he was put through rigorous battle training and taught to endure pain. As part of his ritualistic training, he was trained to endure torture without whimper or cry.  Part priest, part warrior — he emerged from the academy as a zealous Aztec leader.  Fearsome in battle, he as known for fighting with heavy clay clubs that he would bash into the heads of his opponents.

When Montezuma, the Aztec king, wanted to kill Tlahuicole’s people as a sacrifice to the sun god, he found himself fighting for his life.   The war between the Aztecs and the out-matched Tlaxcans lasted for twenty long days — with Tlahuicole killing Montezuma’s son in combat and hundreds of elite warriors sent  to kill him.  The Aztec warriors finally captured Tlahuicole only after mortally wounding all of his soldiers and overpowering him in brute force.

Montezuma was so impressed by the carnage done by Tlahuicole that he pardoned him — offering him women and treasures to lead his Aztec army.  But Tlahuicole refused.  And demanded that he be sacrificed in combat like the other captives.

They led Tlahuicole to the gladiator arena and chained him by the foot to the Stone of Combat. He was stripped naked and handed an stone-studded war club.  As we custom, the greatest Aztec warriors in the nation, called the Jaguar Knights, were given the honor of slaying him.  As they set upon him from all sides, Tlahuicole fought with the vengeance of a man possessed.

Over a hour of hand-to-hand combat, Tlahuicole killed 8 of the knights and wounded 21 more that were sent into the arena after him.  Even as he sank to his knees fatigued and wounded to the point of death, those who watched described him as a “mad man”.

An Aztec priest pushed aside the warriors waiting to execute him and ceremonially exalted the name of Tlahuicole: “From this day forward he shall be remembered as ‘tlahiloquichtli’.  (The “rabid warrior”)

Forever history remembers the unconquerable spirit of a unrelenting warrior.  One man willing to lay it all on the line.

Your mission isn’t to grab sword and spear and club and lunge mightily with gladiatorial rage at the oncoming hoard.  It’s smaller than that.  Less life-threatening.  More refined.

It’s just to fight for your dreams.

To stand up for you.  To believe that you are worth fighting for.  To work a little bit harder.

You don’t need anyone else’s permission to do that.  You can be awesome all by yourself.

So stop waiting for your sign or your calling or even one more degree.  Just be incredible.

Live a life that challenges what you think is possible.

It won’t be easy and a lot of times it won’t be fun.

But it’s worth doing.

So why ask permission to get started?

The Magic Of Believing That You Can Make It.

If you are struggling right now to lead your business to growth then you are probably concerned that you don’t have the right business plan, the right sales people, or enough marketing.  But the reality is that you need something else.
You probably don’t need a better business plan.  The one you have works well enough already.

You don’t need better sales people or more savvy email marketers.  Your public relations is adequate.  You accounting works well enough.  What you need is hope. Lots of it.

It will change everything that you do.

It could save your life. It could turn around your business forever.

And it’s probably the one thing you’re missing right now.

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

A flash snow storm 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.  At 11,000 feet in blizzard conditions, 29 survivors huddled around a makeshift shelter sharing a can of sardines, a few chocolate bars, and a couple 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.  A few days later, an avalanche fell from the top of the steep mountains peaks above them.  As the snow swept around them, several of the group were snatched from their 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.

For days they waited.  No food.  Harsh conditions.  The odds against them.  And then to stay alive they resorted to the unthinkable.  The survivors began to eat the frozen bodies of their 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.

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 Parrado 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.  If anyone was going to live, it was going to be because of him.

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-days 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 team 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 traveled 40 miles and were now in Chile.

Too exhausted to go any further, they collapsed on the side of a river bank. A Chilean rancher found them and brought back the military and a medical support team.  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.

Chances are your business isn’t exploding against the side of a South American mountain pass like Flight 571 did 40 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’re still solved the same way: “You need hope.”

You need to believe that you can make it.

You need to believe that no matter how tough things are right now that you can do what success requires.  You can make it out alive.

That’s what your business needs.  That’s what your life needs.

More hope.

The Secret To Achieving Greatness When You’re Just A Nobody.

You make the decision to keep trying no matter how hard it gets along the way.
That’s the secret to greatness.  Even if you feel like a nobody.

You never stop trying.  No matter how painful it feels or unpopular you become, you just put one foot in front of the other until you get to where you want to be.

Along the way you’ll be laughed at.  Your intentions will be second-guessed.  You’ll be told you’re fighting for something that doesn’t really matter.

You’ll even start to doubt that you’re the right person.

What started out as a glorious endeavor now feels like a miserable exercise of pain and suffering.  There’s no grandor where you’re standing.  No appreciation or sympathy from those around you.

All you see are obstacles.  All you feel is pain.  All you think about is giving up.

That’s where John found himself one late evening in the summer of 1968.  It was the Olympics in sunny Mexico City.  Except by now the sun was almost setting and the Olympics were over.  The closing ceremony had finished.  All the medals had been handed out.  The music had finished playing. It was time to go.

As the competitors gathered their belongings and attendees started to make their way out of the stadium, the Olympic announcer made a strange announcement over the loudspeaker: “Please remain in your seats”.

Confused, the crowd looked around, wondering what new event was planned.  Was there a last-minute celebrity appearance?  A surprise concert?  What was going on?

Through the evening light, the attendees could see the spinning blue lights from police motorcycles still somewhat far off from the stadium.  The lights moved slowly down the road — as if they were waiting for someone.  And they were.  The announcer explained to the crowd that a final marathon runner was entering the stadium.

Even more confused, the crowd buzzed with questions that no one could answer.  Wasn’t that event over a few hours ago?  Hadn’t the medals been handed out already?  They had seen Mamo Wolde from Ethiopia win the gold medal, becoming only the second person in Olympic history to medal in successive Olympic marathons.

They had cheered for Mamo and marveled at his courage.  And now they buzzed with anticipation.

As the motorcycles got closer to the stadium you could hear the whine of police sirens.  The blue lights cast an odd glow on a runner who was making his way into the arena and towards the finish line.

John limped his way into the outer reaches of the stadium lights.  He was covered with blood. His right leg bandaged. Every step painful.  His breath ragged.  The crowd quickly quieted in stunned silence.  How could this man keep running let alone stand on his feet at all?

Unused to running in such high altitude, John had begun to suffer cramps early in the race.  But he continued to run with the leaders.  And then 11 miles into the race, disaster struck.  As he was jockeying with the other runners for position, he was tripped and landed violently.  His head smashed into the pavement, gushing blood.  His knee was dislocated from the socket, tendons torn.  His shoulder was fractured.  As a final disgrace, he had been trampled by the runners behind him who were unable to stop.

That man was the man who ran bravely into the stadium in front of them.  The hushed silence of the crowd turned into a thunderous boom as they watched John fight his way slowly towards the finish line.  Ever step was a feat of super-human courage.

The applause was deafening as John took his final step past where Mamo Wolde had set a new Olympic record hours earlier.  Medics raced to pick him up from where lay collapsed on the track.  He was taken by that same police escort to the Emergency Room at the hospital.

The next day sports journalists from all over the world rushed to John’s side, all asked the same question: “Why, after sustaining the kinds of injuries you did, would you ever get up and proceed to the finish line, when there was no way you could possibly place in the race?”

To John it was simple: “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”  

He was the last of the 57 finishers of the 1968 Olympic Marathon.  In all, 75 runners started a race that day.  For whatever reason, 18 of those runners dropped out of the race altogether.  Only 3 runners got awards.  But one man created a story that will never be forgotten.

That man was John Stephen Akhwari.

He started out the race as a nobody.

The truth is that John was from a dirty farm in Tanzania.  Back home he had a wife and 6 children to support.  They spent their days working in the fields to grow enough crops to survive.  It was a hard life.

All that changed by the time he crossed the finish line.

Not the dusty fields in Africa.  Not the family depending on him.  Not the hard life working to survive.  All that would still be the same when he went home after the Olympics.

But for the rest of time, John Stephen Akhwari will be remembered as a nobody who achieved greatness.  A man who refused to quit long after it was the sensible thing to do.

That’s the same challenge you face today.

Whether you keep moving towards where you want to be or if you decide to make excuses and drop out of the race.

Today might be your day to achieve greatness.

Are you ready to try?

Why Life Needs To Be Tough Before You Can Be Amazing.

Life is hard and then you die.  If you’re successful that is.
That’s what Olympians believe.  They know that “things getting tough” means that they are in rare territory.  They are in the company of champions.  Competitors.  Game on.

They welcome tough.  It drives them to be successful.

And it’s a lesson to remember if you plan on being amazing. You should expect things to be hard.  You should plan for a struggle.  A fight.  A conquest.

That’s the cost of achieving impossibly hard, amazing things.

It’s hard.  And stays hard.

You have to be harder. Tougher. More determined.

What you shouldn’t start talking about is “working smarter” or “taking a break”.  You shouldn’t start rationalizing your weaknesses.  Or pretending like it’s the right move to give up.

Tough is what’s right.  Not what’s wrong.

Ask Kerri Strugg about how tough you have to be to be a champion.

She anchored the women’s gymnastics team.  The strongest member of the 1996 American Olympic team she was the “secret weapon.”  An accomplished vaulter she was often called on to close a match for the team, winning back points lost by other members of the team.

As the American team entered the final stage of the competition everyone was looking at Kerri to seal the deal for the team.  She just had to score higher than 9.3 on her vault and the American team would take home the gold medal.  And she had two attempts to get it right.

But her first try ended horribly.

Kerri landed awkwardly, leaving her with a nasty ankle sprain and a score of only 9.1.  The crowd gasped and her coaches rushed to the mat and helped her up.  The commentators on television started talking about the wasted opportunity for the American team.  In her injured state, she would have to leave the event unfinished.

But while the commentators were talking, Kerri did something different.

She took a deep breath, slowly blew it out, and sprinted straight back at the vault.  Gritting her teeth against the pain she flung herself violently into her routine — landing on one foot.

The seconds seemed like an eternity.  Unable to hold herself up any longer, Kerri fell over onto the mat.  The cheers from the crowd were deafening.  As she wiped the tears from her eyes she saw the scoreboard — a 9.7.

She had won the American Women’s Gymnastics Team the gold medal.

What can you learn?  “It being easy” isn’t a sign that you’re getting results or doing anything that matters.

Many times it means you aren’t doing anything new.  That you might not be pushing as hard as you need to be.  That you are just going through the motions.  That you aren’t going to be amazing.

Don’t expect it to get any easier.

Not next year.  Not after that next big deal. Not ever.

You’re expecting the wrong thing.

For more than 2,000 years, Olympic athletes have entered the arena hearing the following words:

Ask not alone for victory, ask for courage

For if you can endure, you bring honor to yourself.

Even more you bring honor to us all.”

The same applies to you today.

Life needs to be tough.  Or you won’t be in a position to push yourself to be amazing.

You need to hurt.  You need to cry.  You need to wish that the pain would stop.

And then you need to push through the chaos, find your purpose for fighting, and create a legendary example  of “being amazing”.

Time forgets most of us.  We are lost in the passing of memorable moments of others.

Perhaps it’s time to change that.

Perhaps it’s time to embrace the toughness of life.  To push past the hardness. To fight through the loneliness and fear.

Go be amazing.

How To Get Twice As Much From Your Team.

Success isn’t reasonable.  Why should your quest for it attempt to be so?
All across America as millions of business people head back to the office for another week of the “the grind”, leaders are faced with a universal question: “How much should they expect from their people?”  How much is enough?”

Conventional wisdom say that if you push employees too hard that they burn out or leave, creating a business momentum problem.  The problem goes deeper than that too.

High turn-over creates a toxic work environment, which in turn makes it harder for you to hire away amazing executives from competitors.  Your industry knows that you run a “sweat factory” and tend to avoid you.

As well perceptive clients in your indutry know that something is off with your business.  They keep getting new people to work with.  Each time they have to start over building a relationship with the person who translates their concerns back to the rest of your organization.  That easily becomes annoying.  And makes it natural for them to jump to your competitor at the first chance possible.

But that doesn’t make you wrong.

It’s not unreasonable  for you to ask your employees to act heroically on a daily basis.

After all, success isn’t reasonable.  Why should your quest for it attempt to be so?

Push your team to do the impossible.  To be relentlessly amazing.  Day after day after day….. after day.  You too, right there beside them.  Attempting the impossible.

The secret to getting better results instead of burnout is simple, yet often overlooked — communication.

In early 335 B.C., Alexander the Great began his quest for world domination.  No other ruler had the 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.

On the eve of battle, 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 that go, the envy of those who stay…”

The king’s speech inspired his men to push into India, wrestling control of a country that no other ruler had been able to master.

Without communicating the cause, Alexander’s army was burned out — tired, fatigued, emotionally weak.

It was the words of a leader with sword drawn that enabled them to do what no army in the world had ever been able to do yet.

It’s a lesson worth remembering.  If you want twice as much from your team, you have to communicate twice as much.

Daily. Hourly. Sometimes every few minutes.

And a lot of leaders don’t see that as a good use of their time.  You might not either.

So you’ll just complain about your team not achieving and hire another soldier, who is even less likely to put up with your emotional shenanigans.

Speak up general. If your cause is worth the conquest, your team will fight for you.

And the victory will be glorious.

It’s your words they wait for.


One Way To Guarantee That Your Life Makes a Difference.

We all want to know that we matter.
That what we do makes an impact on the world around us.  That’s a driving force that we all too often ignore.

It impacts how you look for a job, try to grow your business, or look for a soul-mate. It’s a hidden motivation that directly impacts every decision you make.

You are wired to want to feel valued.  To know that you matter.

That your life makes a difference.

Do you really want to make a difference?

That was the challenge facing Wayne Elsey.

Wayne sat on the edge his couch in early 2004 watching the breaking news of a tsunami crashing into Indonesia. Destroying miles of land. Ripping homes off their foundations. Crushing town after town in a torrent of twisted metal and anything else that the raging water swept up in its path. Utter destruction.

What caught Wayne’s attention was footage of a single shoe drifting slowing along the shoreline. It made him sick to his stomach.

Wayne had spent almost his entire life in the shoe business. He started stocking shelves for a local shoe company in Northern Virgina when he was 15. He was working full time for them when he graduated from High School.

A few later at 22, he would become the youngest Vice President for Stride Rite. Leaving some time later to become CEO of a new shoe venture where he grew the show business 400%. Wayne knew the business of shoes.

As he sat on his couch with a sinking feeling in his stomach, he had the feeling that this time he had to do more than “cut a check” to someone else. He needed to get involved. To figure out a way to make a difference.

And so he started by doing what he had spent most of his life doing — moving shoes. This time he wasn’t selling them. He was going to donate them. And ask anyone he knew to donate them.

Wayne got to work with a passion. It was times like this that his years of selling shoes would be invaluable. Wayne called dozens of executives he had made friendships with over the years. He shared his idea. And asked for help.

Over 250,000 pairs of new shoes were given to people in Indonesia. People who had lost everything now had something of their own. A gift. Not just shoes. But hope. And what a difference hope made.

A year later, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coast of Louisiana and Texas. And Wayne got back on the phone, asking the same people to do something bigger. To give more. This time Wayne sent over one million pairs of new shoes to people in need.

That’s when Wayne realized that this needed to be something bigger. So he started Soles4Souls. A nonprofit that puts shoes on feets and hope in hearts all over the world.

Almost eight years later, Wayne has given almost 12 million pairs of shoes to needy people. Sending shoes to almost 130 different countries around the world.  Every 7 seconds someone around the world in need is handed a pair of shoes from Soles4Souls.

Did he make a difference?

Wayne will tell you that “he’s just getting started”.  It’s hard to doubt him.

Giving made the difference.

Not making more money. Not closing more deals.  Not bigger homes.  Faster cars or longer vacations.

If you want to make a difference with your life then you need to rethink giving.

It’s not just a mantra for holidays or a nice sermon topic for religion.  It’s a way of life.

Looking for ways solve the pain in the lives around you.

It’s not all about you.

When you realize that, your life, your career, your relationship — they will all start making a difference.

That’s what you have been wanting any way.  Right?

One Thing You Can Do To Change The Rest Of Your Life.

We all like to think that we would do anything, no matter how hard, if it could change the rest of our life.
By doing something breathtakingly bold, we could tip luck in our favor.  Irrevocably shift the cosmos toward our beleaguered position.

You can do that.  Despite what you might think of as “wishful thinking”, you are in control of your future.

Of how things turn out.

You can change the rest of your life with one choice.

It just might not be the decision that you thought it was.

Michael Chase was at the end of his rope. A retired paramedic, he was now homeless. Living out his van. Moving from city to city. Making money from the odd job that he could hustle.

That’s when he met her. Michael was on the street when he saw a woman having a seizure. She fell to the ground. Convulsing. Busy morning commuters barely stopped to move around her. Most not even looking at her as she lie there barely moaning.

Michael sprang into action. He had no money. No home. Not even enough gas in his beat-up van to drive the women to the hospital. But he gave what he had. Himself.

Pushing through the crowd, Michael cleared a space around the women and began to stabilize her. Looking up, he told a man walking by on his phone to call 911. And he got back to work performing CPR on her. Holding her hand until the ambulance arrived.

When the woman was able to get out of the hospital, she asked Michael to come spend the afternoon with her and her family. They walked outside the house, along a river in Georgia, talking. That’s when she found out that Michael was homeless. His gift of kindness seemed all the more special given his own problems at the time.

She rented Michael a hotel room for the week. A better place for him to sleep at night. And when the week was over, Michael packed up his van and started to head out to find another day job. That’s when she asked him for his disposable cell phone number. A long chance that they could stay in touch.

Michael wasn’t even sure he would have enough money to keep the number live. But he shared it anyway. No expecting to hear from her again.

The days turned into months. And the months turned into a friendship. A friendship between a man who gave what he had and a woman who needed that gift.

A few months later she got sick again and Michael didn’t stop to think twice. He begged and borrowed the 250 miles worth of gas money he needed to drive to her. That was the last time they were apart. Michael married that woman. And together they opened a successful painting company outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Michael’s gift transformed his life. He met his soulmate. He found the courage to get back on his feet. To find love and success and inspiration.

That’s a gift that he hopes keeps transforming other lives.

Each Christmas, Michael and his wife find three or four homeless, out-of-luck people and pay for them to stay in a hotel through the holiday season. Each night, they bring these families home-cooked meals, warm clothing, and help them reconnect with lost family and other friends they once knew.

Four of these people Michael has helped are now off the streets, working jobs, and back in touch with their family. One of the people now follows Michael’s example and helps several more homeless people every year around Christmas.

One gift. From a man who had nothing to give. And it transformed the rest of his life. He found love. He lost his fear. He inspires us to do the same.

You might call it luck.  Or chance.  Or good timing.

But those are just excuses.

Petty explanations for the difference you can make when you give what you have to others.

When you stop believing the worst about you and start sharing the best you have to offer.

Would you do anything to change your life for the better?

Then start giving.

The Secret Attitude of Super-Stars.

Giving buyers more value than they pay for is the most effective way to create a delightfully memorable buying experience.
To illustrate this point more clearly, think about the opposite of this. Think about the last time you felt ripped off.

No one wants to be taken advantage of.

It’s a bad feeling. Even if you might be wrong about what is going on.

Chances are you might have received a perfectly logical explanation from the person you were doing business with about why you shouldn’t be unhappy.

Heck, even the fine print might show that you got everything you paid for — and more. But you aren’t feeling happy. You aren’t delighted.

You feel cheated. And that feeling– regardless of how logical it might not be — is how you will remember doing business with that company.

The exact opposite is also true.

When you deliver more value than people pay for it seems to defy logic. Especially for the consumer.

It can be something as simple as paying for one item and getting another for free. Maybe it’s a surprise discount you only find out about at the cash register.

But giving doesn’t just have to be discounts and money.

The most powerful forms of giving have nothing to do with money at all. They have to do with the deeply personal emotional aspects of human nature — dignity, belief, moral support, a kind word unexpected.

Giving is easy when all you need to do is pull out your checkbook and sign your name. But giving gets a little more sticky when you have to stop and invest emotion and time into someone else. When you have to love somebody who might not deserve it at the time.

But that emotional investment is what giving is all about. It’s why giving is so difficult.

Giving requires an attitude shift.

It’s not something you do. It’s how you see the world around you.

And it means you’re grateful.

Gratitude is the foundation for having a giving mindset.

We struggle with giving because we don’t take the time to think about how much we really have.

It takes startling reminders from those around us to help us appreciate how much we have to give.

Almost since the day he was born there was nothing that Clay wanted to do more than to become a professional fisherman.

From the time he was five years, he would spend hours each day with a rod and reel practicing the perfect cast. Fishing was Clay’s world. After school. On the weekend. Anytime he could get away, he was in the water trying to catch something.

And his practice seemed to pay off. He could cast with pinpoint accuracy. He could do it all — overhanded, sidearm, even flip-and-pitch. Those who knew Clay best would brag that he could cast a 1/4-ounce metal fishing lure into Styrofoam coffee cup from 50 feet away. His skills were impressive.

And at the age of 15, Clay started entering professional fishing tournaments. He quickly became known for his fiercely competitive nature. Over the next 9 years, he would fish in more than 200 bass tournaments. He would win 25 of those events and was close to winning several dozen more.

Which is a staggering win percentage. Especially considering how Clay was born.

Clay Dyer was born on a Tuesday in late May of 1978. The doctors weren’t sure if he would live long. He was born without any legs, no left arm, and only a partial arm attached to his right shoulder.

But while others considered him severely handicapped, Clay thought he had a pretty good life.

“I knew I had a heart, a soul, and a mind, which is what really makes a human being,” Dyer remarked. “Anything else you have is a bonus.”

That attitude was what enabled Clay to be a high performer. And fishing wasn’t the only competitive sport that he tried to master.

Growing up, Clay would play baseball with his neighborhood friends. All the way up through junior high school, he would play first base and swing a bat. He would use a designated runner to help run the bases. Though needing someone to run for him meant that he could never play baseball professionally.

As a professional bass fisherman, his physical limitations seemed to pose less of a challenge. Even though he weighs just under 90 pounds and is just about 40 inches tall, he can drive a boat, cast out a pinpoint fishing line, bait a hook, tie knots, and wrangle a fighting bass into the boat. And be a winner doing it.

“God wanted me to be successful at fishing,” he tells audiences who come to hear him speak. “I’m glad I was made this way. I was born to be a superstar.”

Sure he had a relentless determination to compete. And he put in the outrageous amounts of effort that it took to be a super-star.

Gratitude enabled him to give more.

Being grateful for what he could do enabled him to maximize his capabilities. Instead of sulking and complaining, he was thankful for what he could do. For the opportunities that he did have.

And that focus allowed him to be incredibly successful. The same exact principle applies to you and your situation

Gratefulness isn’t just something you practice each year while holding hands with family members around a carved turkey and cranberry dish.

It’s an attitude that you can develop into a super-star mentality. Here are a few ways to get better at being grateful.

  • Look for the positive aspects to any situation. — It is hard to be thankful when all you see is misery and sadness. To start being grateful, start forcing yourself to look for the happy moments in life — to look for what is good and noble and inspiring. What you set out to find, you’ll usually end up discovering. Imagine how easy it is to be grateful when everything around you is good.
  • Stop running around. Slow it down. — The busyness of life has us so worried and frantic that we rarely pause long enough to see things as they really are — to see how good we really have it. You need to start stopping. Whether it is meditation or physical exercise or just time alone reading a book, you have to slow down long enough to let life emerge clearly.
  • Make yourself be thoughtful until it’s natural. — When being selfish comes automatically, you have to force yourself to do good things for other people. Send a handwritten note to someone else. Set a daily reminder to say one nice thing to someone around you. Create a calendar event that reminds you to think before you speak. You’ve already trained yourself to think of “me first”. Now it’s time to change that.
  • Listen to what other people are going through. — It only takes a story or two to start to realize that you aren’t the only one with problems. In fact, you probably have it pretty darn good compared to what other people are going through. You might be late to work, but you probably have clean water and a belly full of food. And you aren’t dying of an incurable disease. It’s OK to be glad you’re doing alright.
  • Say “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry” more often. — Saying “Thank You” is mental — in the good way. Just saying the words put you in a better mood. It’s the same way when you apologize. Your brain kicks into grateful mode and starts noticing all the good things going on that align with you achieving your goal. Teach yourself to say the words. It’s a “gateway drug” to the real thing.
  • Laugh at yourself. — Taking life too seriously is a big reason why we aren’t more grateful. Sometimes just laughing at our own silliness is the breakthrough perspective that enables us to find a new way to be successful. You can be agressive all you want, but seeing the absurdity of what happens to you is a powerful way to put yourself in a position to take advantage of each opportunity.
  • Write it all down. Read it back. — There is something about putting awesome things on paper. It kind of makes the experience official. At least that is how our brains work. And what better way to stay motivated than to reread previous triumphs. By writing it down you provide a buffer between your fear and reality. It’s all there on paper.

It’s not activity that comes naturally. You don’t magically become grateful.

Maybe that’s why we don’t understand how giving can make our personal interactions more inspired.

Gratitude is the key to giving more than people deserve.

It’s not you going through the motions. It’s an attitude.

An attitude that will leave those who do business with you breathless.

Startled at your audacity for exceeding expectations.