Just Tweak It

“I can’t believe it! Just a couple of tweaks to my resume and marketing materials and, all of a sudden, I am getting dozens of interviews. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing!”

As Gretchen’s coach, I shared in her excitement and joy. But I wasn’t at all surprised. Gretchen’s got the goods: she’s bright, energetic, articulate, and personable. And she’d been doing the work: stepping up, asking the right questions, listening deeply, and taking action. SONY DSC

Making small changes. Tweaking.

You know, water is just water at 211º F. But at 212º it can power a locomotive.

A degree of difference.

And a lot of times, that’s all that’s necessary. Just a degree of difference, just a tweak, just a small shift, can turbo-charge your success and land you at the top of your game.

Think about the recent Winter Olympics at Sochi. The winner of the gold medal in the men’s 500 m had a time of 69.312; the winner of the silver, 69.324.

Tenths of seconds made the difference.

Top golfers like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson spend huge amounts of time making minute changes to their strokes. Tennis players too like Serena Williams. Top executives, advertisers and marketers split-test their efforts continuously to assess what the nuances are that will impact their sales.

Because nuances matter. Often more than wholesale change.

Sometimes, we look at the road ahead and get overwhelmed about what we think remains to be done to achieve our goals. We can only imagine the road as linear. We can’t see that, by just staying the course a little bit longer, or that by making the tiniest of course adjustments, everything will change in our favor. We can’t see that the finish line is just around the corner or that all of our efforts will suddenly coalesce into that powerful result we’ve been working toward. And we’re sorely tempted to give up.

Even when the tweaks are simple or obvious, we can’t see them. Because we’re just too damn close to see them.

So we need to have faith. And we need to surround ourselves with mentors and coaches and accountability partners who will support us along the way.

Because the truth is that often, with just a few tweaks, we can close the gaps and achieve our most cherished dreams.

So don’t despair. Don’t give up.

Keep tweaking.

Your Feelings Don’t Really Matter

I had just finished speaking to a university audience on leadership and goal achievement, and had stayed on afterwards to chat with the students. lagwagon-let-s-talk-about-feelings-cd

“I know exactly what I want,” my young listener proclaimed.

Looking earnest, he furled his brow. “It’s just that I don’t always feel very motivated.”

“I don’t really give a fuck what you feel,” I replied with an equal amount of furling and earnestness.

“If you know exactly what you want… and you want it badly enough, then you’ll show up every day and do what needs to be done whether you feel like it or not.

He flinched, only slightly, as I jabbed my finger in the air for extra dramatic import: “Motivation is vastly overrated.

And it is.

I rarely feel motivated to run, or go the the gym, or put on over mitts to go out into the arctic cold to climb. There’s not a whole lot of motivation going on when I think about driving three hours to a ski area or hoisting the kayaks onto the roof of a car. I almost never feel motivated to write. In fact, I’ve put off writing this blog until the very last moment possible, perhaps just to dramatically punctuate my own perpetual lack of motivation!

You see, motivation is flighty.  It’s not dependable. It comes… and it goes. Sometimes it shows up; more often than not, it doesn’t. Even when it comes to stuff we like or want.

What’s important is the knowing. Knowing what you want. Knowing what you like. Knowing where it is you want to go. And why.

When you’re clear about your destination, when you know your outcome, then all you need to do is act. You’re pulled forward by the vision of what you will achieve. How you feel from moment to moment is irrelevant. In fact, your transitory ‘feelings’ usually just end up getting in the way.

I know how much I value my fitness and vitality over time when I run. And so I run. Whether I feel like it or not.

I know how much I love the creative process of writing and the sense of satisfaction I have when the words I have written have an impact on someone I have never even met. So I write. Whether I feel like it or not.

Get clear on what you really, really want.

Then get going. And stay at it.

In the meantime, it doesn’t really much matter how you feel.



WHERE Are The Exits?

I sat in the aisle seat and watched as the flight attendant regurgitated the safety brief I’d heard hundreds (thousands?) of times before.

As a professional speaker, I fly quite a bit for business, and I make a point to tune in to each safety brief. You just never know if it might be necessary.

“This Boeing 737-800 is equipped with eight emergency exits, located…”

As I listened to the safety brief, I noticed the blissful ignorance of the people around me. The sporting goods sales rep from Dallas studied the sports section of USA Today. The retired couple from Sacramento had their noses buried in the public library loaners of Louis L’Amour and Daniel Steele. The college dorm mates scarfed Egg McMuffins and nodded their heads to the tunes pouring from the earbuds of their phones. A newlywed couple gazed longingly at each other, whispering playfully their plans for the honeymoon suite in Aruba that awaited them just hours away.

And all the while, not one of them had a clue where the emergency exits were relative to their seats. They had no exit strategy.

Perhaps, like most people, they were hoping for—no, counting on—someone else to guide them to safety “in the unlikely event of an emergency”. And at the conclusion of an uneventful flight, most would likely stand up, faces fixated on their smartphones, and blindly follow one another out the same door through which they entered the plane in the first place.

In that moment, it hit me; that is the default posture most people take in life.

Everyday, we hustle from one commitment to the next, oblivious to what goes on around us. We detach as often as we can, soothed by our Facebook feeds or the latest episode of reality TV, anything to distract us from the true realities of life. We operate as if tomorrow will surely come, and when it does, the exits will be clearly marked for our smooth transition to the next stage of life.

I find this alarming in many ways. How often do we consider our own exit strategies, especially from the parts of life we just kind of…tolerate? What would we do in the ‘unlikely event of a (life/career) emergency’?

Now, this is not meant as a trip down Doom and Gloom Lane, simply a wake up call to those of us who consider ourselves the architects of our own life masterpiece. And as any good architect will tell you, as important as beauty and style is to the design of an elegant building, the fire exits and egress points are just as essential.

It’s easy to wrap our heads around the necessity of sitting down with a financial planner to map out the road to retirement, or an estate planner to draft the instructions of how to allocate all our stuff after we pass on.

But what can we do if we look around at the life we are living and don’t exactly love what we see? Should we ‘hang in there’ or should we start looking for over-wing exits? To gain clarity on this, consider the following questions:

What if ‘this’ disappeared tomorrow and I had what I truly wanted? By ‘this’ I mean a career, business, relationship or habit pattern or anything else that no longer serves us or fuels our passion. All too often we fall asleep at metaphorical wheel because we take for granted the fragility of life. What would your life look like if that low-performance career suddenly got a turbo-boost? What if you fell in love with your business again? What if that nagging relationship either turned around or ended forever? What if you finally—courageously—stepped away from the habits and beliefs that hold you back from your factory-installed awesomeness? Perhaps it’s time to envision your life full of the things and people you adore, as opposed to the crap you tolerate and abhor.

What would my hero do? It is easy to look to others for inspiration, but what about being your own hero? In his recent Academy Awards acceptance speech for Best Actor, Matthew Macconaughey described how, in order to give his best each day, he needs “someone to chase”. For Macconaughey, that person is himself in 10 years. He idolizes nobody; instead, he draws inspiration from the idea that he is growing and refining into the best version of himself each day. Ask yourself what that person would do today to become the person you intend to become tomorrow. Screenshot 2014-03-12 15.41.36

Where do I really want to be? Ah, now this is the question of the millennium. So often, we either focus on what we don’t want or expend so much time and energy ignoring the pain of that stuff that we never get around to truly living. My intent is to illuminate for you the possibilities of living a life well-lived now, rather than “someday”. Life is way too short to tolerate anything less, my friend.

It’s rare that we consider an exit strategy from the draining parts of life that we barely turn a distracted eye to. If you are tolerating anything that doesn’t serve your higher purpose or isn’t steering you down the path you were called to walk, start orienting yourself to the emergency exits now. The Captain has turned on the ‘fasten seat belts’ sign, and you are cleared for takeoff.

Fly High, Fly Fast, Fly Far.

JT DeBolt is an international keynote speaker, executive success coach, and the award-winning author of Flight Plan To Success: Seal the Win Before You Begin And Accomplish Any Goal. A veteran of the US Navy, JT served 12 years on active duty, working his way from enlisted aircraft mechanic to combat decorated Naval Aviator. Learn more at www.FlightPlanToSuccess.com.

Success. It’s Just Not Worth It.

So why do you want success? Why do you want to achieve your goals? What’s in it for you?

There’s a new Cadillac ad. It’s really troubling. It suggests that success is about working hard so that we can get expensive toys… but that there’s really no time to enjoy them… because we need to work hard to get expensive toys.

Buckle up and take a ride:

This is a sad reflection of our weary, hollow culture. Success measured by how busy we are… how many hours we work… how hard we labor… how few days off we take… how little time we spend in joy… .

Success measured by the number of victims we leave on the battlefield of achievement, as collateral damage; by the sacrifices we make of our very selves.

Is this really what success is all about?

Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, says that “[S]uccess as we’ve defined it is no longer sustainable. It’s not sustainable for human beings; it’s not sustainable for the planet.”

Success is not just money and power, Huffington suggests. There is, she says, a ‘third metric,’ of success; one comprised of ‘well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back.’

One that honors spaciousness, mindfulness, reflection, relationship and joy.

Huffington’s commencement address at Smith College was a call to arms:

If we ‘succeed’ at the expense of our families, our friends, our emotional health, our physical health, our spiritual health and our environment, what have we succeeded at?

Success, at it’s core, is the highest and best expression of our selves in the world.  It is reflected in the way in which we share our unique gifts; the lives we touch, the hearts we heal, the impact we make, and the legacy we leave behind.

It is living fully and loving deeply. With purpose and passion. It is measured not by what we hold back, not be what we accumulate, but by what we give.

It is showing up every day with a servant’s heart. Playing full out. Holding nothing back. Leaving it all on the field.

It is about reveling in the joy of Creation and an abundant Universe.

Success by any other definition is just not worth it.

N’est-ce pas?