Choosing to be great is just that, a choice. That means that we are in control of our lives which seems evident but is certainly worth some thought.
You see, some choices we make in life are harder than others because the consequences of our actions can determine the direction of our lives and the lives of others in our world. And that becomes a much more profound position to find yourself in.
Before we tackle choices and their impact on our lives and the lives of those in our circle, let’s examine the word “great.”
It’s not easy to be great at something. Whether that something is basketball, poetry, surgery or LIFE. Every Pro athlete put in thousands of hours of practice to be great. Every published poet has written hundreds of poems. And we all know that a surgeon spends a minimum of 12 years in medical school before actually opening live people up.
GREAT-ness, then, comes at a price. The price of time, energy and lots and lots of effort.
Another thing about greatness is that it can exist in all walks of life. Some great people are more easily spotted and get far more attention while others are less obvious which requires some investigating.
But what connects these great people is how they execute the game plan for their life.
Now, not all game plans are foolproof. There are still going to be failures, mistakes and unforeseen events that can derail our efforts. It is those challenges we face that prepares us, makes us stronger and fortifies our character.
And character alone is clear to everyone around you. Character is the essence of someone. It defines their actions in all that they do. Someone with character makes the right decisions when others are watching AND especially when they aren’t.
The career garbage man, corporate executive and high school football coach can all have character. They can all be hard workers. Many of them wake up each day with the same mindset albeit very different responsibilities.
Now, back to the choices we make.
These men can CHOOSE to just show up and go through their day with mediocre results or they can DECIDE to dominate and be the best at their job.
We hear stories all the time about the extraordinary high school coach who’s been at the same school for 25 years and has become a legendary person in the community. We hear about the corporate executive who has to make the tough decisions for his company but puts his people first and is extremely charitable. We also hear about the passionate garbage man who supports his family of 5 on his meager salary and goes to work every day with a smile on his face and pride in his work.
How did these men end up doing what they do the way they do it?
They all had a plan, stuck to it in good times and bad and remained who they were regardless of outside pressures. Life can throw us curve balls and present us with unthinkable challenges but those with character remain rooted to their ways.
So the question for you then becomes, “Will your values, morals, integrity and character hold up as you experience all that life has in store for you?”
For those that don’t give in or deny themselves their most sacred beliefs, the answer seems easy. It’s YES every time.
Most highly successful men and women will be the first ones to share with you their failures, struggles and missteps. And without those miscues, we wouldn’t be reminded just how important it is to remain rooted to who we truly are. When times are toughest and decisions aren’t easy, what choices will we make? This is something you must know for yourself.
How will the garbage man respond to broken down equipment, heavy traffic, or irresponsible co-workers? How will the head football coach react to his high school’s losing season? How will the executive act in response to the board calling for layoffs and reductions in pay?
These are all very difficult scenarios for all men but they will face them head on and make the tough decisions based on their value system and character. The choice to be great in life will guide them to do what’s best for those in their care. Their actions will be thoughtful, careful and deliberate.
And in the end, these men will take a moment to evaluate their response to these challenges. They will grade themselves and always attempt to do it even better the next time hard choices come their way.
Stop hitting the RESET button each year and start living each year WITHOUT a plan B.
When 01/01 arrives, many of us are optimistic. We are on point and ready. For the first time in a long time we feel motivated and focused on ourselves. We feel an extra boost of endorphins and dopamine (the feel good hormones).
We are finally READY TO TAKE ACTION but by January 20th, we’ve already come back down to Earth, lost our action taking passion and gotten back to life as usual.
Is this rejuvenated sensation to improve your life just because of the date?
For some, it is. If the previous year was tough and you had to struggle your way through it, having a ‘fresh start’ feels pretty darn good.
But for most of us, it’s simply the start of a new chapter. Our lives read very much like a long novel. Each chapter represents the years of our lives. Some of those chapters can be short and eventful while some feel immensely long just like some years seem to just fly by with you on auto-pilot while other years t-a-k-e f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
Typically when things are going well and you’re just plugging away, the days and weeks go by at record pace. When our minds are occupied and we’re keeping busy, we don’t seem to take the time to reflect and evaluate what direction we’re headed in. We just keep on keeping on going along for the ride.
But when we have too much time on our hands to think about where we’re headed, the feelings can be overwhelming and often times scary. Instead of using this down time to our advantage, we waste it with “stuff” that doesn’t make us better. We just fill it with activities, gadgets, and laziness. Facing reality for many of us is frightening so we occupy our time with nonsense.
This brings us to a very common expression about success in life. “Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Let’s remember that planning to fail and failing to plan are two VERY different things.
Here’s the difference: One is done intentionally while the other is simply poor use of our valuable time.
Some of us just need a jab in the ribs from someone that deeply cares about us, knows who we are and what motivates us. As annoying as that person may be at the time, we should thank them for their concern and interest in our lives. Without support from those we know, like and trust, getting things done would be near impossible.
The guy that plans to fail makes decisions every day that he knows can be toxic to him and those in his life. The guy who fails to plan just isn’t organized and either doesn’t have the means to take the next step or is afraid to do so.
I know it’s not that black and white but it’s close. You either get up each day staying busy without much thought about your future and the direction of your life OR you get up and KNOW that what you’re doing is damaging your chance at attaining success.
To be successful at life, you need to have a plan. And, you need to execute that plan without hesitation.
One thing is certain, success comes at a heavy price. WORK.
Work (considered to be unsavory for many of us) is at the center of this discussion. This is where we separate the doers from the thinkers.
We can dive into that work willingly each day and get stuff done OR we can tip toe around it avoiding the really hard stuff while we spend the majority of our time on the easier stuff. Sound familiar?
Most of us find ourselves in this situation all the time. Big projects that require tons of hard work and demand our very best get pushed off while we essentially waste time on smaller tasks. I too find myself in this situation more than I care to acknowledge.
It’s the guy that will choose to chip away at his number one priority (goal) each day that finds success down the road. The old adage of “hard work always pays off” is true today and it will be true 100 years from now. If success was easy, we would all have nothing to really work for in life.
The recipe for success is simple, it’s just not easy.
3 Keys to Executing Your Game Plan
• Decide on a specific GOAL that improves the quality of your life
• Create a PLAN with precise action steps to track your progress
• Select 1-3 people very important to you Hold You Accountable
Yes, it’s that simple but you may have to work like hell to stay on track and reach your goal. Taking action in life requires some level of faith and confidence in yourself (and in others). We need to feel that if we fail, someone else we trust will be there to help pick us up. It’s those who believe in us most that will rally together and come to our aid to keep our minds in the game.
It’s just like the parent that sees his son or daughter fall at the playground. They must walk over with conviction, help their child up, dust them off and give them a pat on the head or look of approval as if to say, “It’s going to happen, you’re strong, you got this!”
Be prepared to get some bumps, bruises and scars in life. You can’t live with the brakes on. Take necessary chances where the benefits outweigh the risks and bust your butt every day to improve your livelihood.
The difference between triumph and defeat can be so slight but if you have a plan with a clearly defined goal combined with your inner strength and a strong supporting cast, you will accomplish your objective.