How to get inspired when you are running behind.

Do you ever feel like you are running behind? I do. All the time. I have high expectations. Which means that I also have goals, lists and timelines. But I find myself running behind my established deadlines all the time. Which means I would probably fit right in at United Airlines.

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!

I am frequently behind on both my long-term and short-term goals. I am often behind on my daily to-do list as well. I can’t tell you how many times I have approached the last hour or two of my day at work or home, looked at the list of things I wanted to accomplish that day, and been shocked at how little I had crossed off.

Don’t Give Up

I don’t let myself get discouraged in those moments. In fact, I am thankful to recognize how little I have achieved while there is still time to do something about it. Because in those moments I am always reminded of my 9 years as a track and field athlete.

Life is like a track race.

Over the course of my track career at Hanover High School and the University of Wisconsin I saw amazing things happen at the end of races. I saw runners who looked as if they were destined for last place do amazing things. They didn’t give up. Instead, they kicked.

The Kick

In track and field The Kick is the late race attempt to shift to a higher speed than you were running the rest of the race. The Kick is used to finish strong. It is used to overcome the slower pace you had run to that point that put you behind. In full disclosure, I never had a track kick. I had more of a wave goodbye as other runners left me behind to contemplate my dietary choices.

Inspiration

I saw hundreds of inspiring Kicks in person during my track career. I saw hundreds more as a lifelong fan of the sport. I am always amazed to see how a strong, short, focused effort can completely change the outcome of a race.

Kicking At Work

Today, when I find myself behind late in the day, or late in a timeline, I don’t throw in the towel. I kick. I look at what I can still accomplish. I push distractions aside. I focus. And I sprint.

I have found that these late in the race sprints have the same ability to change outcomes in business and life as they do on the track. A concentrated effort over a short time often produces an entire day’s worth of productivity and progress in just an hour or two. Even better, I have had days where I crossed more off my daily to-do list in the last 20 minutes than I did in the previous 8 hours.

Key Takeaway

It is never too late to Kick. Whether you are talking about daily goals or lifetime goals, career or personal aspirations, your Kick can change everything. When you find yourself behind, use the time you have, to give everything you’ve got, to accomplish as much as you can. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes in the final outcome. And at the end of the day, the end is all that matters.

Here is a great collection of finishing kicks to inspire you today.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

** The cover image for this post is of Sarah Disanza, who has joined me and my team at The Weaponry. She knows a thing or two about kicking too.

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Great advice for people who are soaring.

My life is great right now. Not Instagram great. But a solid, off-camera kind of great. Of course what actually constitutes a great life is totally subjective. So perhaps my life is just great in my own head. But at a minimum I have the right mindset. Because we see what we want to see, and feel what we want to feel.

The Facts

Today, my family and I are healthy. I feel as if I have friends. I am living in a place I enjoy. I am doing work that I am excited to do. Better yet, I am making significant progress towards my most important life goals. I’m having fun. I still think everything is funny. And perhaps best of all, I still don’t need adult diapers.

Getting Sunday Schooled

This past Sunday my family and I had a very busy day scheduled. Our morning got off to a slow start and my wife, Dawn and I had some tense moments about whether or not we could get to the 9am church service as we had planned. We knew we would be late, but we went anyway. Because even though we were running behind I imagined God would still high five me when I walked in the door.

We arrived 10 minutes late. The sanctuary was packed. The narthex, was packed as well. (Look at me using Jesusy words like narthex.) Luckily, after the children left for Sunday School we found just enough seats in the balcony and sat down.

Feeling Grateful

I am really happy we made it to church that morning. Because during the sermon Pastor Bill Knapp shared a really important message. The message felt tailor-made for me, as so many good messages do when you listen with receptive ears (and when you are a raging narcissist.)

The Message:

If you are soaring, use the view up there to see others who could use your help.  – Pastor Bill Knapp  

That’s Me!

I certainly feel like I am soaring. And it does provide a better view of the world.

Helping Others Soar

From my soaring position I am trying to share as much as I can about how I got up here. I share the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn with my 3 kids. I share them with the students I guest lecture to several times a year. I share with my teammates at work. I share with friends and family who are at a crossroads in their careers and lives. I share what I am learning with other entrepreneurs. And with others who are trying to get their own businesses off the ground.

Blogging

I also share the lessons I am learning here on The Perfect Agency Project blog. What’s even better, is that my blog posts often lead to more significant conversations, both online and in person.  In a fun turn of events, people are also turning to me to understand how to start and maintain a blog. Two of my posts: What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts. and  12 things I’ve learned from writing 300 blog posts. have generated a lot of interest, thank you’s and positive feedback from bloggers and want-to-be bloggers around the world.

Soaring Higher

The funny thing about this is that the more I share with others the more I feel like I am learning, connecting, enjoying, and yes, soaring. Best of all, the higher I soar, the better the view to see more ways to help others.

Key Takeaway

If you are going places, help others get there too. Flying in a flock is more fun than flying alone. So teach others. Share what you know. You won’t realize how valuable your knowledge, perspective and experience is until you start to give it away. Plus, it feels great to share. And when you help others fly, they will never forget it. I know. Because I have received a lot of help myself.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them. If you would like to learn more of what I am learning, consider subscribing to this blog.

Why September 3rd is the real New Year’s Day.

Happy New Year! That’s right, Tuesday September 3, 2019 is the real New Year’s Day. I know you’re wondering, what the Dick Clark is this guy talking about!?!

Allow me to explain.

January Ain’t Even Right

Americans traditionally celebrate the new year at the worst possible time. In January you are stumbling out of the most hectic and stressful time of the year. Which makes it a poor time to set new goals, quit bad habits and reinvent yourself.

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New Year’s is a great time for drinking. Not for resolving.

Think Fall Once And For All

The simple fact is that the fall, not spring, and certainly not January 1, is the best time for new beginnings.

It’s Grow Time!

If you were a tree, today is when your next ring would start to grow. Preschool starts in the fall. So does kindergarten, middle school, high school and college. Which means fall is the start of the next chapter for kids, parents and teachers alike. In fact, the day after Labor Day is the first day schools everywhere are back in session and fully engaged.

photo of four girls wearing school uniform doing hand signs
We’re all back to school now like Rodney Dangerfield.

Back To Full Strength

When summer break is over for kids, summer vacations are over for adults. Which means that starting today, we are all back to work. Our businesses are operating at full strength for the first time in 3 months. Factories are humming. Offices are buzzing. And farms are farmy.

white laptop
Let’s do it, do it, do it.

Can I get An Amen?

Churches now begin their regularly scheduled programs. So if you see a church, and see a steeple, open it up and you’ll see all the people.

altar arches architecture art
Take me to church.

The new television season starts now. (Remember television?)

Both NCAA and NFL football kickoff now too.

This is a great time of year.

100% Battery Life

For those of you who used your summer vacation days well, you are hitting September 3rd fully recharged. Not only did you take the last three months to fill up on Vitamin D, travel, relaxation and inspiration, you got a three-day weekend to top it all off. #noexcuses

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This is where we are right now.

Go Team Go!

At The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, we are fully engaged. We’re all primed, rested and ready. Your team should be too. Let’s push hard. Have fun. And make this the best year ever. And here you thought today was just another Tuesday.

Key Takeaway

Fall is the very best time of year for growth and development. Now that your tanks are full and you are refocused, it is time to treat this like the new beginning you almost missed. Set new goals. Drop a bad habit. Pick a new challenge. Plan your next chapter. Grab that next rung. Or build your own ladder.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why you need to think bigger thoughts.

How much time do you spend thinking about your thinking? I know that’s like, totally meta. But your thinking is the most important of all subjects to evaluate. Because your thinking determines your outcomes. That’s cause and effect. You learned about it in science class. In case you were at the orthodontist that day, here’s a recap.

How it works:

Your thinking drives your actions. Your actions drive your results.

Pretty simple, right?  It’s about to get even simpler.

Thinking –>  Actions –>  Results    (sorry my arrows are totes lame)

What This Means

Small thinking drives small actions, which lead to small results. 

And the flip side…

Big thinking drives big actions, which lead to big results.

What Are You Thinking?

Most people spend far too much time on small thoughts. If you think about your basic needs, your thinking will lead to very basic actions, and basic results.

However…

Thinking about your biggest goals and biggest dreams leads to your biggest actions. Which naturally leads to your biggest possible results. This is a big deal. Like a-little-boy- trapped-in-Tom Hanks-body big.

The Price Tag

Big thinking and small thinking cost you the same amount. Which is nothing. Think about that for a moment. The difference is that the return on small thinking is very small. While the return on large thinking is virtually limitless.

Key Takeaway

Think bigger thoughts. They lead to bigger actions. Which lead to bigger outcomes.

  • Think about changing the world for the better.
  • Think about changing your community for the better.
  • Think about changing an organization for the better.
  • Think about changing your family for the better.
  • Think about changing yourself for the better.
  • Think about doing more of what you love.
  • Think about making more money.
  • Think about solving problems.
  • Think about creating value.

You’ll find that bigger, better things will come your way. And in a big country, dreams stay with you. #ILearnedThatInThe80s

*If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please share it with them.

Is your work preventing you from feeling joy?

There is a unique word that popped up in my news feed twice this week: The word was Joy. It appeared as a key reason that 2 high profile Americans quit their jobs. What was even more unique is that both of these Americans played a game for a living. And if anyone should be experiencing on-the-job-joy it should be people playing a game for money.

Work Takes A Toll

But Andrew Luck, the recently retired 29-year-old quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League, and 30-year-old tight end Rob ‘Gronk’ Gronkowski, who recently retired from the New England Patriots, the best football team in the history of history, both stated this week that their jobs had actually taken their joy from them.

Whoa…

If you had heard that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble quit their jobs because it was stealing their joy you would understand. After all, those dudes worked in a rock mine, operating dinosaurs. So if they told you they didn’t want to yabba-dabba-do it any more you would get it.

Money Isn’t Everything

But we are talking about 2 guys whose jobs have brought them fortune and fame. Luck earned over $100 million dollars. Gronkowski made $53 million by the time he turned 30, while winning 3 Super Bowls.

AP COLTS LUCK FOOTBALL S FBN USA IN
Andrew Luck announced his retirement at 29, saying that football has taken his joy. Then he Eskimo kissed the mic.

Yet the work robbed them of their joy. The pain, the grind, the mental and physical fatigue, the injuries, surgeries and stress that came with it all negated the benefits of the handsome compensation.

The Reminder

This is a reminder to that money and fame are no fair trade for our joy. Because without joy, a delicious cocktail of pleasure and happiness, it’s hard to find value in our work and our careers.

The Question

This raises an important question for us all.

Is your work adding joy to your life or taking it from you? 

For some people that answer is easy. A quick check of the ole joy-meter may show that your joy is at maximum levels. Others will find their work is more or less joy-neutral. Which is fine. But just fine. However, if your work is exporting your joy like Art Vandelay, you need a new job. Or a new career.

Search Yourself

A little self evaluation will tell you whether you need a new environment, new boss, new challenge, or new career. This may be the right time to focus on an old life goal that has gathered dust, moss or rust. Because by making a career change or launching a new business you may experience a flood of joy and excitement that will make you wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. That’s exactly what happened to me when I started my entrepreneurial adventure. And 3 years after starting my own company I am shocked that more people don’t do it.

Key Takeaway

If your work is depleting your personal joy you have to make a change. Life is too short not to enjoy your work and the people you work with. Money is not the most important contributor to a joyful life. So make sure you are not trading money for happiness. Make joy your number one goal. And everything else will fall into place.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

I have found something I am terrible at. Now what do I do?

I love a good challenge. I like testing myself to see what I am capable of. Never was that more clear than when I decided to launch my own advertising agency in 2016.

Suddenly I wan’t just responsible for my own work, or for the creative department that I oversaw.  I was responsible for absolutely everything that happens at The Weaponry, my advertising and ideas agency.

Jumping In The Deep End

I quickly had to learn if I was capable of running operations, business development, customer service, human resources, production, accounting and the creative department at the same time. Which is a bit like walking and whistling and juggling gum on spinning plates at the same time.

The Good

I discovered, that like you, I am capable of a lot more than I had been doing. I discovered new strengths. I found that I enjoy addressing late payments, shopping for business insurance, and establishing leases in multiple states. Those broad new tasks have tested me in new and dynamic ways. Better yet, I have passed those test with at least satisfactory grades. And I am proud of that. Because low expectations lead to high satisfaction. 

The Bad And The Ugly

But lately I have discovered something I am terrible at. It’s relatively small. But my challenge with it seems worthy of sharing.

I am terrible at calling people when they say call me anytime!

I have at least 6 people to call who have invited me to call them without stating a specific time slot. And I can’t seem to get traction on these action items.

These are all big dogs. People who I really want to talk to. The list includes 2 company CEOs, 2 company Presidents, and a cheese broker. (I live in Wisconsin, and I have cheese needs).

Here’s what happens:

  1. I put a tentative time for a phone call on my calendar.
  2. My day gets hectic (Every day gets hectic).
  3. I move the call off my calendar to focus on more pressing issues.
  4. I get a lot accomplished by utilizing that free time.
  5. The important but not urgent calls slip into the future with Steve Miller.

Important But Not Urgent

I am a huge proponent of the Important But Not Urgent activities. I was first introduced to these activities through Stephen R Covey’s classic book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. (If you haven’t read this it should be your next book. Unless you have to retake your drivers test soon. Then read that little book on driving in your state next.)

Important But Not Urgent activities include the things you don’t have to do today but really should. These are investments in a better life, and greater success. Things like networking, relationship maintenance, exercise, planning for the future and applying deodorant.

So Now What?

I know having these invited but unscheduled calls are important. But I haven’t developed the proper skill, habit or muscle to get it done. That being said, I am looking forward to figuring this one out. Because it means I will be turning an area of weakness into an area of strength. Which is the kind of growth I was seeking when I decided to try my hand at entrepreneurship.

Key Takeaway

No one is good at everything. We all have areas of weakness, ignorance or immaturity. If you want to accomplish great things you have to be okay with that. Your deficiencies can be improved or avoided through hiring and delegation. Which means that your most valuable skill is problem solving. Because problem solving provides the answers to every test. Just ask Felicity Huffman.

When you develop a new business you develop new hope.

I expected that starting my own advertising agency would be hard. I expected long days and late nights. I expected endless challenges. I expected to make mistakes. I expected to forgive myself for not knowing all the things a business owner really should know. I expected to learn and grow along the way. And I expected to use the word expected more than usual in this opening paragraph.

Hard Things Are The Best Things.

I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, in 2016. And all of the things I expected ahead of time have come true. I have no complaints. Because doing great things should be hard. I am not afraid of hard things. They make me feel alive. Where others get anxious, intimidated or nervous, I get excited. It’s a gift. Or maybe there is something wrong with me. Or both.

The Unexpected

But more and more I am noticing something I didn’t anticipate during the pre-launch phase. I am surprised by the number of former coworkers, clients, friends and acquaintances that have come to me hoping, urging, expecting me to build something great that they could be part of too.

There are a significant number of very talented people who have gotten very close to The Weaponry, and put their names on our wait list, preparing for the next opening or opportunity to develop.

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Sarah Disanza created her own opportunity at The Weaponry, worthy of a whole other post. #Prequel

These are smart people with jobs, and freelancers. Recent graduates and pre-retirees. People who are burned out with their current situation, and fed up with their boss. People who want to feel like they are part of a winning and growing team. People who want a little more excitement in their workday. People who believe that The Weaponry offers the type of work experience they are hungry like the wolf for. And I would like to have all of them on our team.

Under Pressure

So the pressure is on to grow this business. To find out just how many people we can accommodate. We need to see how much demand can we generate. While keeping this business as attractive at scale as it is in miniature, and in the collective minds of both our current team members and those who hope to join us next. That’s a good pressure. Like the pressure Queen and David Bowie were under.

Key Takeaway

When you start something new, anything new, you are creating new hope. Hope for a better job, a better experience, a better resource, and ultimately better products and services. All of which ladder up to hope for a better life. If you can make that happen you have done something really special. That’s exactly why I started the The Perfect Agency Project in the first place.