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.

 

Starting Over

downloadLast week I got to start a new chapter of my own personal Do Over. Starting over is seldom easy, and beginning a new job brings excitement, doubt, and fear.

The excitement of learning new things and meeting new people can be suffocated by the doubt that says, “you’ll never be able to be as successful as you were at your last job.” And doubt brings his cousin fear alongside to cause you to forget that you were capable before and you can win again.

When I left my last job, I knew the ins and outs. I understood process and challenges. I knew what it took to be successful, and often I could coast threw the day in the hammock of comfort. Starting a new job comes to your hammock and cuts the cords, knocking you to the ground.

Whether you step out of the hammock on your own or you or dumped to the ground, the only way to grow is to leave the comfort of the net and do things that make you uncomfortable.

So as you leave your hammock or climb to your feet after falling out, it’s important to dust yourself off and prepare to start again. As I’ve started over recently, I’ve learned 4 important lessons.

  1. Be Willing To Learn – Regardless of what you knew or didn’t know at your last gig, come into your new job with humility and a willingness to learn new processes and meet new people. If you unconscionably competent at your last job, be prepared to live in the land of conscious incompetence for a season.
  2. Be Coachable – Ask for feedback, especially from your leader. Find out what he or she wants, and work hard to deliver. There will be time for you to adapt and modify, but focus on making your leader successful. This is especially good advice if your leader has been in your position in the past. Listen to their advice, and find out what’s worked in the past.
  3. Be Hungry – Start early. Work late. Focus on the work and do everything you can add value  – to your leader and your team. The ability to win can only be accomplished if there is a willingness to prepare. Learn. Take notes. Ask questions. Be willing to pay your dues.
  4. Be Patient – This is extremely difficult when you want to hit the ground running. Understand that it takes time. You may not have the same success that you had before, at least at first. It takes time to learn the who’s and what’s of an organization, and often times things don’t move as quickly as you’d like. Give yourself permission to be patient, but be ready when it’s your turn.

Starting over is seldom easy. However, I am grateful for the opportunity that starting over brings. I’m thankful that failure is never final, and there are others that have walked this road before me. I was fortunate enough to get to read Jon Acuff’s book, Do Over, and the encouragement and hope that I gained from that book has been key in recovering from the shock of an unexpected career bump. Having a testimony is a great thing – getting one is a pain in the rear.

 

This post is dedicated to Jon Acuff, author of Do Over and other great books (www.JonAcuff.me). I highly recommend this book as you prepare for or go through an experience where you get a chance to start over.