Taking a Day Off

For the last 2,114 days, I’ve run every single day. For the last 350 days, I’ve run at least a 5K each day. It’s not in my DNA to take a day off.

Since it’s December 14th and I have 3 weeks of vacation time left that I can’t take with me, I’m taking today off from work. It’s hard for me to take time off. There’s always more that can be done, but there is value in stepping away.

As I take a vacation day today, I realize that if I don’t have a plan, this day will slip away and I’ll look back this evening wondering where it went. If I don’t have a clearly defined plan of action, I’ll end up drifting through the day without making the day count.

My “To-Day List” drives what I do when I’m working. It’s easy to define what’s most important and what needs to be done. When I take a day off from work, I’ve learned that that list is even more important.

Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time,” so the most important thing about a day off is to have a goal. If the goal is to rest, then say it. If it’s to binge-watch a series on Netflix, then write it down.

For me, I’m going to write a blog post, prepare for Christmas, and spend time with my oldest daughter. My goal is to spend each day intentionally, and it starts with having a plan, working that plan, and minimizing distractions.

In 2019, I’m going to write more. Some days will be better than others. I’m also going to accomplish other goals that I’ll write out in the next 2 weeks.

Seth Godin has taught me that sometimes you just have to ship it, and good enough beats perfect every time. So I’m going to hit “Publish” on this rambling post, knowing that you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to START to be GREAT.

 

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If you truly understand, don’t say this…

Last month I was working with a sales rep when he said to a potential customer, “I understand, but…”

My heart sank, and I had to bite my tongue. Do you really understand the person’s concerns if you say “but”? That word invalidates everything you said before it.

“I was going to clean my room, but…”

“I like your outfit, but…”

“Your cooking was excellent, but…”

If I say “but”, I haven’t really heard your concern. All I’m trying to do is to overcome your objection, quickly close the sale, and move on.

How much more powerful would it be to say, “I understand, AND…” If I truly understand where you’re coming from and want to help you, changing one word can open the door to a conversation. The word “and” lets us get on the same side of the issue and start to work together collaboratively.

Just last week I was giving a presentation when one of the attendees asked a good question about the product. Instead of reverting back to the standard overcoming objections (I understand, but…), I realized I had an opportunity to show empathy and make a connection.

“I understand your concern, and that is exactly the same thing question that ‘Jane’ at ‘University X’ had. In working with their team, we were able to address the issue by…”

If we truly understand, then we can put real people in a real story that empowers prospects and makes them the hero and us the guide.

In my presentation, instead of simply overcoming an objection, we opened a dialogue and started a collaborative conversation.

Changing the word from “but” to “and” helps us transition from just another salesperson to a trusted consultant and guide. Although it may not win every deal, it’s a step in the right direction. And once we build trust, we move closer to helping our customers with a product or service that advances their mission.

Milestones and Memories – Runstreak Day 1800

1800 Days of Running

This past Saturday marked 1,800 straight days of running. Wilbur and I celebrated the milestone with a 6.2 mile early morning run. As we finished, I could hear the dribbling of a basketball up the street, and I knew right away that it was my 8-year old daughter getting ready for her game. I thought this run would be significant because it was a milestone day, but the sound of a girl and her basketball practicing before the sun comes up will be what I remember most.

After 257 weeks of running, it’s easy for the days to run together, so milestone days provide an opportunity to look back over the last 3+ months. Some of my most memorable runs involve…

  • Running at 3:30 a.m. before catching a flight.
  • 37 laps around a parking garage in 0-degree weather in Winter Park, Colorado. The 2nd day I braved the icy roads and managed to stay on my feet.
  • Eight gorgeous morning miles in Phoenix, Arizona, during our National Sales Meeting.
  • And running alongside my 8-year old and 5-year old daughters as they rode their bikes through the neighborhood.

In almost 5 years of running daily, most of my runs are far from memorable. I’ve learned more about myself from running than anything else I’ve done. Almost all of my runs are solo and early. No one cares if I’m selfish with my time at 5 a.m.

Some days I run for clarity.

Some days I run to make a decision.

Some days are focused on getting faster.

Some days I plug into a podcast.

And some days I run because I’m afraid not to.

When I first started running, I set a goal of running every day for a week…then a month…then a year. Over the years, I’ve realized that a running streak is not a goal to accomplish, rather a milestone to celebrate.

I’m thankful that God has allowed me to stay relatively healthy and injury free. And I’m thankful for the quiet mornings when I can pray and listen while running.

The streak turns 5 years old in February, and I look forward to 2,000 days later this year. Too often I take it for granted, but I’m thankful to get to run each and every day.

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Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly…

 

woody-guthrie-resolutions
Woody Guthrie’s goals from 1943

 

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly…until you learn how to do it correctly. When I first started teaching a little over 10 years ago, I made mistakes, but I got better. In February 2013 I started running every day, I was a poor runner. While I’m still slow and lumbering, I’m more efficient and I’ve improved. When my first child was born 8 years ago, I was not the same parent that I am now. In all aspects of life, I’ve improved by investing time and being intentional.

That brings me to my neglected blog. In order to be a better writer, I have to be willing to create something that is not perfect. As with anything, the only way to get better is to practice, refine, edit, and learn.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” I do know if I’ll ever be great, but I do know that I will get better than I am right now. And the only way to do that is to put in the time and do the difficult work.

Knowing that the only way to be a better writer is to write, one of my goals for 2018 is to publish a blog post each week. As I sit in a hotel in Denton, TX, I realize that publishing a post from each week from February through December will only happen if I have a plan in place. Without a framework, I’ll be in the same place this time next year. I realize now that I need to focus each week on a specific topic. In mapping this out, over the next 11 months, this blog will be a collection of posts on running, parenting/marriage, sales/leadership, and education.

It’s taken me the first 23 days of 2018 to put this together. While it may not always be pretty or refined, I will be a better writer/blogger by the end of 2018.

Stay tuned…

Two Words that Change Everything

Running ShoesLast week my life flashed before my eyes. After 1500 straight days of running, I almost had to stop because of an injury. I hurt my hip lifting weights, and I found myself struggling just to roll out of bed. For 3 long days, I slowly laced up my running shoes and headed out the door for the slowest of runs. Somewhere in the middle of my 11-minute miles, I realized that my outlook for the last 4+ years has been entirely wrong.

Most days, as I head out the door at 5 a.m. or 5 p.m., my wife hears me say, “I’ll be back in a bit – I have to go run.” It took an injury for me to realize that I don’t have to run, rather I get to run. I’ve been very fortunate to avoid injury over the last few years, with only minor aches and pains, and I’ve been guilty of a lack of gratitude for the opportunity to run each day.

Whether it’s exercise or life, the moment we replace “I have to” with “I get to“, we unlock gratitude and start to see challenges as opportunities.

There are many things that we dread doing. As I look at my office window, I know I need to mow the lawn, and it’s not something that excites me. But the moment I realize that I get to mow the lawn, I’m able to be thankful for the house where we live and the yard where my kids can play.

It’s exhausting to consider the demands of things we have to do. However, the moment I say, “I get to ______”, my outlook and attitude changes.

  • I get to make another sales call
  • I get to put together another report for my manager
  • I get to clean the house
  • I get to clean up after the kids (we may just leave this one in the “have to” category)

When we start to see things we have to do as things we get to do, our gratitude allows us to approach them with enthusiasm and excellence.

Thankfully, it only took a few days for my hip to recover. But my hope is that I remember what it was like to be injured so I appreciate every opportunity I get to run in the future.

By changing our words, we change our outlook, and only then can we change our lives.

 

3 Life Lessons from the Basketball Court

This weekend’s NCAA Final Four brings out the best that college athletics has to offer.

It’s been almost 15 years since my last college basketball game, and the lessons I learned in college sports have helped me in life and in sales.

In August of 1999, I stepped on campus with the goal of making a college basketball team. Leaving a small west Texas town, I came to a school hundreds of miles from home as a walk-on with only the promise from the head coach of a chance to tryout to make the team.

We started with 20 walk-ons, all with a single goal — making the team. We went through tryouts, practices, weight training, and conditioning sessions. In the end, there were 2 of us that made the roster.

msu-roster

Over the course of the next 3 years, I went from walk-on to scholarship athlete. But the lessons I learned playing have stuck with me and prepared me for new challenges. Looking back, the 3 reasons I made the team are the same qualities that lead to success in sales, in business, and in life.

  • Grit
  • Resilience
  • Coachability

GRIT

Grit involves staying determined and persisting when faced with rejection or lack of progress. As a walk-on college basketball player, you have to develop a sense of grit to believe that the time and energy your putting in will eventually lead to results. Ultimately, the sacrifice I made – putting in the work and staying focused on the goal of playing a college sport – paid off and I made the men’s basketball team at Midwestern State University.

In life and especially in sales, you have to know that you’ll face rejection and discomfort. The ability to stay determined and focus on the goal allows us to keep moving forward, even in the face of discouragement. It can be easy to get down and lose hope, however having experienced success because of grit in the past reminds us of what is possible, even when the odds are not in our favor.

Resilience

Resilience and grit go hand in hand. When you get knocked down, do you stay there, or do you scrape yourself off the floor and go at it again? Getting knocked down is inevitable, but getting back up is a choice. And getting up with the right attitude is even more important.

In sales, we face ups and downs. The market changes. Our product has technical issues. Potential customers show us the door. Resilience is getting up again each time we experience a setback and giving it another shot. When you fail and when you fall, can you regroup and bounce back with the same attitude and enthusiasm you had when you began?

Getting up when you get knocked down is possible. Regaining the courage and enthusiasm to go at it again is what takes resilience to the next level.

Coachability

As a walk-on, you have to be coachable – willing to listen, to learn, to adapt, and to do whatever is asked, without questioning or complaining. The ability to take positive and negative feedback and make the changes is one of the quickest ways to earn credibility and respect.

To be successful in your job, you have to be coachable. Listen to those who have been successful and emulate what they do. Whether it’s a manager, a leader, or a colleague, when you step into a role for the first time, you have to do so with gratitude and the willingness to learn.

When you combine coachability with gratitude and humility, you have the opportunity to improve and make a difference.

Developing the walk-on mindset

Trying to make a team by walking on is not an easy thing to do. You have got to show up early and stay late and improve every day. You have to do the little things while showing grit, perseverance, and resilience. Learn to lead up and influence those around you with your example and enthusiasm. Figure out how to add value to those around you by your actions and attitudes.

As we watch the Final Four this weekend, I hope we see the best that college athletics has to offer.  The games are fun to watch. The stories are captivating. And the lessons we learn last long after the final horn sounds.

Develop a sense of grit, bounce back when you fall, and be coachable. Use the mindset of a walk-on to make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

 

The Power of Reflection

It was Monday, January 2nd, and my daughter in my office asking me to print off another coloring page. With it being the start of a new year, I wanted my 7-year-old to set her goals for a new year and think about what she wanted to accomplish. So before I printed off another Christmas Puppy coloring page, I did a quick Google search for “Kids Goals Worksheets”. She was not as excited as I was when I handed her the page, but she headed over to the table and started to write.

kids-goals
Link

Of the 3 kids goal sheets that I printed off, one of them caught my attention. This page caught my attention. In the past, I simply move from Dec. 31st to Jan. 1st and start to think about the coming year without reflecting on the last 365 days. As I tried to help my daughter think through the questions, it hit me that I should be doing the same thing.

As we think about the year that just concluded, this exercise requires us to take inventory and assess where we’ve been before we think about where we want to go. I decided that if this is good enough for my 7-year-old, then it’s good enough for me.

OUT WITH THE OLD (2016)

2 Favorite Memories 

3 Things I’m Grateful For

1 Hard Lesson I Learned

1 Thing I Did This Year That I’m Proud Of

IN WITH THE NEW (2017)

3 Places I Want to Go

2 Ways I Can Help Others

1 Thing I Want to Get Better At

3 New Things I Want to Try

As we get older, the comes a day when we quit dreaming. We quit asking ourselves, “Where do we want to go?” or “What is something new I want to try?”. Goals are important, and looking back allows us to formulate a vision for the future. If we allow ourselves to dream, it gives our goals meaning and purpose.

So this January, as I start planning for 2017 and put my goals down in writing, I wanted to take a moment to reflect. By asking these simple questions, I’m able to reflect on the good, the bad, the challenges, the lessons, and the opportunities from the last year. We don’t drive looking out our rearview mirror, and in the same way, we shouldn’t all our energy dwelling on the past. However, the past gives us perspective and helps look ahead if we understand where we’ve been.

In the end, my daughter put down her answers and earned another coloring page. She may forget coloring another My Little Pony page, but I hope she sees the value of reflection and the power of goals.

I hope we all live intentionally with vision and purpose in 2017!