Be Wrong To Be Right

It wasn’t going to work out well. They had it completely wrong. We could see it as plain as day.

The narrow runnel of ice they’d chosen went nowhere. A blind alley. A dead end.

But they were in it; and couldn’t see.

Through the Nikon spotting scope, we watched. Scott Backes and Mark Twight, climbers on the cutting edge, pushing a steep new route up the sheer northwest face of Mt. Hunter. They’d swung their climbing axes in that runnel for nearly the entire day in the arctic cold, finally to discover their error; an error all of us had seen in the light of dawn from miles away.

They re-traced their steps to their tiny bivouac ledge 2000′ above the glacier. It hadn’t been their first dead end. Or their last.

But with a new dawn, they started out again.

They persisted; and they succeeded.

You see, it’s by starting out that you finally discover what works well; and what doesn’t.

You can study books and maps and photographs. You can look through spotting scopes. You can talk to the gurus; and take lots of courses. You can plot and plan and think.

(And, of course, all of this is helpful.)

But there comes a time when you must start.

The book, the speech, the product launch, the career, the relationship, the business.

You must start.

And sometimes it works; and sometimes it will be a dead end.

But you’ll never know. Unless you start.

Ultimately, you find your voice by speaking.  You discover your message by sharing. You discover your purpose by working. You find your tribe by serving.

“Many people die with their music still in them,” wrote Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr. “Why is this so? Too often it’s because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

Too many entrepreneurs and professionals spend their time getting ready. They wait to have their logos right, their copy flawless, their websites optimized, their PowerPoints elegant, their pitches perfect.

They wait… and they wait… until the time is ‘right.’ quotescover-JPG-52

Except that it’s never right.

And the work never gets done.

Remember this: There are no failures. Only lessons.

Be relentless. Accumulate lessons.

It is out in the mess of it all that you’ll get clear; that you’ll come upon the answers; that you’ll find the success that is your own.

So start. There is magic in the starting.

 

 

 

 

How To Avoid Going Over The Cliff

In life itself, there is a time to seek inner peace, a time to rid oneself of tension and anxiety. The moment comes when the striving must let up, when wisdom says, “Be quiet.” You’ll be surprised how the world keeps on revolving without your pushing it. And you’ll be surprised how much stronger you are the next time you decide to push.”

— John Gardner

I pushed the throttle forward and hurtled even faster toward the cliff.

Then I stopped.

Not because I really wanted to. But because I had promised myself I would.

I returned, once again, to the monastery nestled on a remote hilltop. To rest; to re-create; to renew. (I set as my intention to do this four times a year; I don’t always do very well.)

Going completely off the grid to a monastery, especially at this time of year, can be tough duty for an achievement and adrenaline junkie like me.

But what I know for sure is that the stopping is essential to the going.

We – all of us – are bombarded by inputs, and demands and expectations. We’re inundated with voice mails and text messages, emails and faxes. Everyone and everything competes for our attention. And with our “smart” phones, we’re always “on.”

One day melds into the next as we labor under our self-imposed illusions that if we can but accomplish just a little bit more, pack in just a little bit more, respond to just one more request, satisfy just one more customer, cart the child just one more place, buy just one more gift, send just one more card, then we’ll be able to rest.

Culturally – and individually – we’re weary. Add in the holidays – and societal tragedies – and, at the end of the day, most of us feel worn pretty thin.

We forget how important – how essential – renewal is.

Rest days are a key component of high-altitude mountaineering. Recovery is a critical piece of athletic training.

Bears hibernate; trees go dormant. The natural world knows how to rest. The seasons have a rhythm to them. We not so much.

We keep on pushing on.

One of my favorite books is Life Entrepreneurs by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek. It resonates so profoundly with the work I do: empowering extraordinary living. Its essential message: “We can fashion a life that is purposeful, self-directed and aligned with who we truly are – providing us with opportunities for challenge, contribution, and fulfillment.” We get to design our lives. We get to choose.

It’s a hard-driving book filled with fascinating profiles of highly successful, remarkably creative leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. It explores all of the nuances of extraordinary lives. And it captures a core component of success, one overlooked by nearly all gurus, coaches, and achievement “experts:” the need to stop; to renew; to re-create.

Speed kills. “We ignore the basics of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being at our own peril.” Make renewal “a cherished habit,” the authors say.

Not all of us need to go off the grid to a monastery for four days at a time (although I highly recommend it!). But there are practices and “habits” that you could explore that might allow for some breathing room. Here are some things that you might want to try: Screenshot 2015-12-23 13.56.15

  • Turn off your electronics for a day (or even just an hour!)
  • Explore a regular meditation practice
  • Take a yoga class
  • Do some aerobic exercise every day
  • Walk in the woods or along the shore
  • Avoid your email in-box in the morning
  • Work in block time to avoid the interruptions
  • Don’t multi-task (it doesn’t really work anyway)
  • Take regular vacations, long weekends, and mental health days
  • Learn to say ‘no’ more often

Even though this time of year often feels frantic and out of control, even though we’re fond of telling ourselves that we’ll get to the important stuff after the holidays, there really is no better time to pull back to nurture yourself. No one else will do it for you. (Check out the recent talk I gave on this.)

The authors of Life Entrepreneurs remind us what John Muir once said: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

When you go in, you’ll find how much more there is of you to step out with – to share with the world.

You can avoid the cliff.

All you need to do is stop.

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Are you ready for the next step? Would you like to take your business and your life to the next level? I’ll have one rare opening in my Inner Circle Coaching program beginning in January. Email today me if you’d like to explore whether that spot might be right for you: walt@walthampton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The great “cliff” face of Mt. Hunter in the Alaska Range.

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This is an encore of a post first published on December 27, 2012. With thanks and gratitude for the wonderful words of wisdom from by friend Gregg Vanourek.

 

 

 

 

 

A Fork For You

In the crazy busyness of the holiday season, it is easy to lose touch with the natural rhythm of things.

December 22 marks the Winter Solstice.

One of the most poignant moments in Paul Winter’s annual Consort, by which he celebrates the Solstice, is his soaring piece, The Turning Point Suite. Begun in a darkened cathedral with a solo clarinet in a far-removed loft, it culminates in a full symphonic cacophony of sound and light… marking that moment when the earth seemingly pauses, then turns once again toward the sun with its promise of renewal and new life. Screenshot 2015-10-31 08.03.53

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere stand on the threshold of that Solstice moment.

Will you mark it as your turning point? Your defining moment? The moment when you say “yes” to the full expression of your life? Are you ready to embrace a new standard for your career; for your business and your finances; for your relationships and your health and wellness? Are you ready to step up your game? Are you ready to commit to a life that is extraordinary? That leaves a legacy for generations?

Or will you let it slide by lost in the holiday noise?

We can make our lives soaring symphonies… or not.

We get to choose.

It is the turning point. Will it be yours?

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A Solstice invitation: Join a community of like-minded people who want more. Coaching, mentorship, resources to take you the distance. The Summit Mastermind. Check it out HERE!

Are Your Naughy or Nice?

Make your list; and check it twice.

Decide what’s naughty… and what’s nice. Screenshot 2014-12-08 19.29.57

I’m not talking about your Christmas list or your holiday card list or your To-Do list.

No, I’m talking about your most important list of all: your Stop Doing List.

We get caught up in the myriad tasks we have; we lose ourselves in the vortex. We forget that, as Mark Devine, author of The Way of the Seal, says, there are really only a few “high value” targets.

Think Pareto. Old Vilfredo was an economist. He was also a gardener. One day, Pareto looked out at his peas and made a stunning discovery: 20% of his peapods had 80% of the peas. Well Pareto, being the intellectual that he was, decided to explore whether this ratio could be found in areas other than his garden. And lo, the Pareto Principle, also know as the 80/20 rule, was born.

Here’s what’s true: 20% of your clients lead to 80% of your profits; 20% of your products are responsible for 80% of your revenues; 20% of your team is responsible for 80% of sales; 20% of your efforts yield 80% of your outcomes. (And, oh, by the way: 20% of your customers cause 80% of your headaches!)

So why not focus on that significant 20%… and chuck the rest?

Think back over the last year. There are certain efforts that didn’t yield any measurable results. Stop doing them. There were certain networking functions that didn’t yield any real viable leads. Stop going to them. There were certain customers that were way too high maintenance (or dangerous) to work with. Stop working with them.

Now think back to the last holiday season: There were certain gatherings you went to that left you wondering why you ever went. Don’t go back this year. There were certain functions that left you feeling drained and down. Don’t do them again. There were certain toxic, soul-sucking people that were just unpleasant to be around. Stay away from them!

Just because you’ve done something before doesn’t mean that you should keep on doing it.

Stop running around giving everything the same level of import.

Focus on what matters most. Focus on what’s high value.

Apply Pareto. Ruthlessly.

Make your Stop Doing List. Today.

I’d hate to have to send you coal.

Why A BJ Might Be Good For Your Biz

Occasionally entrepreneurs and professionals will seek me out for coaching after a year or two of struggle. They’re down, depressed, and despondent. Despairing even. And often broke.

They’ve quit their previous jobs believing the e-myth, as Michael Gerber calls it: that,just because they were great at their professions, (coaching, lawyering, accounting, consulting) they would be wildly successful business owners. Or believing Kevin Costner:  that just because they built it, clients and customers would magically appear. Or believing Martha Sinetar: that if they did what they loved, the money would follow. Or believing John Burroughs: that if they jumped, the net would appear.

Well, guess what?  They jumped; the net didn’t appear.

And the law of gravity is always unforgiving.

In situations such as this, I often recommend a BJ.

A bridge job.

Something to tide them over; something to pay the bills.

Not something complicated like rocket surgery; not something that requires a lot of emotional fortitude or intellectual heavy lifting. Something simple. Like loading boxes for UPS; parking cars; waiting tables; or driving for Uber. Something that gets the money flowing while allowing the head space – and the time – to push forward with the new biz.

(Often a BJ can be fashioned from the day job you want to leave.)

You see, a new business is like a small plant… let’s say a tomato plant. You start it off in the spring in a little container, watering it, fertilizing it, and giving it lots of light. When the weather gets warm (and all danger frost has passed!), you take it outside and plant it in the garden… nurturing it through the summer months. And in the early fall, voila, beautiful, ripe tomatoes!

But, if you were to move the tiny seedling outside too early, you put way too much strain on it. And the frost kills it. quotescover-JPG-46

In the same way, when you quit your day job, and suddenly put all of the responsibility on your new business to support and sustain you,  all too often it strains the system. You begin to operate out of fear (and desperation). You panic. You make poor decisions. You don’t seek out the mentorship and support you need. And you end up killing they very thing you wanted most of all.

A good BJ is the answer.

A good BJ will give you and your new business the protection you deserve; the ability to think creatively, the freedom to make better choices, and the resources to seek our wise counsel. It will allow the business to become hardy.

In time, with care, it will stands on its own. Strong. Secure. Yielding abundant fruit.

And, then, from that place of strength, you will never look back.

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Is it time for you to create the business and the life you really want? I can show you how. I coach the fastest, easiest & most reliable system for getting more clients and customers than you can handle… even if you hate marketing and selling. Let’s talk. Email me today: walt@walthampton.com