Category Archives: Advice for the Manic Impressive

Time To Forget Politics And Find Your Magnificent Obsession

Magnificent ObsessionIt’s over. The longest and nastiest presidential election in American history. We’ve all been in a state of anxiety caused by our unhealthy obsession with Trump vs Clinton. But now you know who your next president will be, which party will  control the Senate, and that it’s legal to smoke pot in California. So it’s time for you to stop obsessing over politics and develop a Magnificent Obsession.

What is a Magnificent Obsession?

Google the phrase Magnificent Obsession and you’ll find a bunch of Jesus quotes, a book by Lloyd C. Douglas, a cheesy film made from the book, and some nonsense about waking up everyday at 5 in the morning spouting affirmations.

That’s all great, but I’m not talking about any of that.

I’m talking about an extreme focus on something that’s important to you. Something you’re passionate about that you want to manifest in the world. It’s that thing inside you that wants to leap out and change your life and the world.

You may be afraid or embarrassed to commit to it. But it’s what your deepest, darkest desires say you were put on this earth to do.

It’s time for you to obsess over that thing. Continue reading Time To Forget Politics And Find Your Magnificent Obsession

How To Build Confidence With Foundational Wins

Foundational Wins
The Proof of my Foundational Wins

Self confidence is something we all need to compete in the world. One of the best ways to build your confidence is through what I call Foundational Wins. The type of success that lays the foundation for confident feelings throughout your life.

Foundational Wins often come in early school years, when we achieve something in academics, sports or music, and receive accolades from our teachers and peers.

How does this help? Throughout our lives we’re going to face challenges, tough times, tough competition. At these times we need to reach back into our memories and find a time when we were strong. Without this turbo boost of confidence, we’re likely to give in to self-doubt at the worst possible times. When we most need to believe in our abilities. When something’s on the line and we need to perform.

Like in job interviews and auditions. Or when your job interview is an audition.

If you work in training as I do, you often have to audition for a job. I’ve auditioned at least a dozen times, and each time, while I was prepping and just before I went on, I was able to reach back to that reservoir of personal strength that came from Foundational Wins.

My first one came in 4th grade. I was brought up in front of the entire school at an assembly to receive a blue ribbon. My first chess tournament win. Again in 5th grade and 6th grade I stood in front of the entire school and received a blue ribbon. School Chess Champ.

The entire school clapped and cheered for me.

Sure, it was a geeky award. But it was also respect. I was the best. I’d beaten all comers and came out on top. Even the jocks and the cool kids had to admit that in that one little area, I was a badass. Continue reading How To Build Confidence With Foundational Wins

5 Mistakes You Should Make While You’re Young

800px-spruce_trees_covered_in_heavy_snowGeorge and Jacob were successful men looking for a little adventure in retirement. They’d done well in business and decided to relocate their families to sunny California. They packed up their possessions and savings and prepared to head west.

They chose to travel overland, and built themselves the biggest, most luxurious vehicles money could buy. They outfitted them with expensive furnishings, the best gear available, and hired a team of professionals to handle the driving.

They were going to arrive in style and bring their high standard of living with them.

450 miles into the trip, things were going great. George’s wife wrote this to a friend back home:

“The trouble is all in getting started.” 

But in fact, the trouble was just getting started. George and Jacob’s success in business made them overconfident. They failed their due diligence, assumed they knew more than they did, and made rookie mistakes. They packed way too much stuff and put their faith in all the wrong people.

And too late in their lives they made a mistake from which they could not recover. Somewhere in southwestern Wyoming they decided to take a shortcut. This is where all the trouble started for George & Jacob Donner. Continue reading 5 Mistakes You Should Make While You’re Young

Why It’s Better to Fail Outloud

trumpet-2Mrs. Caldwell was my elementary school music teacher. She had the  quintessential look of a spinster school marm. Long black wool skirt, white blouse, black cardigan sweater, long braided hair coiled on top of her head, pinned in place with a sharp pointy thing.

Reading glasses perched at the end of her nose, held by a chain around her neck, Mrs. Caldwell had a stern look and an air of prim authority.  She was intimidating.

Despite all that,  I liked her. She was a great music teacher.

Though I come from a family of musicians and teachers, it was Mrs. Caldwell that taught me to read music. She patiently and clearly explained music theory, how to subdivide measures, to read key signatures, and to play scales. I use what she taught me to this day and I’m a darn good sight-reader because of her.

Sure, I was embarrassed the day she pulled a nail clipper out of her purse and forcibly trimmed my fingernails in front of my classmates. But she was right, my nails were interfering with my violin playing.

So when she told us things I listened. She urged us to work on our tone. To make a pleasing sound with our instruments was the whole point of music.

She often told us this – “Play loudly so I can hear your mistakes. If I can’t hear them,  I can’t help you correct them.”

I took her advice, graduated to trumpet, worked on my tone and developed a good sound. Over time I got pretty good, good enough to win a spot in a college jazz ensemble, then be recruited away to another school.

I arrived  a week before their spring concert. I learned the charts and was ready for my debut. Halfway through that first program it happened. My test of Mrs. Caldwell’s theory on mistakes. Continue reading Why It’s Better to Fail Outloud

3 Things You HATE Yet Desperately Need

KeysWalletPhoneCropped

People like us avoid routines. We’re naturally spontaneous and revel in the little surprises we get from not knowing what’s coming next. It’s our makeup to feel life is an adventure and around every corner is a new best friend or an invite to the White House.

This need for freedom comes with serious disadvantages. We know the Grinders in life achieve success with discipline. Tortoises grind it out every day, doing the same things over and over, leading them to wealth and success. We Hares are quick and talented, but prone to napping while Tortoises steadily make their way past us.

We need to leverage our strengths and keep our weaknesses at bay. If we putter or socialize when we should be working, our creativity will never see the light of day. Not in any significant way.

So routines are our friends. Or at least our frenemies. We may not always like them, but we need them. They  keep us from distraction and free up time for what we’re meant to do with our talent.

The more Manic Impressive you are, the more you’ll struggle to build and maintain routines. Here are 3 key areas where you need rigid routines: Continue reading 3 Things You HATE Yet Desperately Need

The Importance of Picking The Right Arena

AKEBONO1

Chad Rowan was going to be a basketball star. An All Star high school center and a native Hawaiian, he won a full-ride basketball scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University. Chad and everyone around him had high expectations for his basketball career.

But fortunately for him it did not turn out that way. Chad Rowan flamed out as a collegiate cager. He rode the bench his freshman year then quit the team and dropped out of college. He didn’t even last a year. Though he was 6’8” and very strong, he was competing in the wrong sport.

Five years later, Chad Rowan was crowned the first non-Japanese champion of the sport of Sumo. Under his wrestling name, Akebono, he achieved Yokozuno status, the highest level in the sport, just a few years after his professional debut. From there, Akebono dominated his competition for eight years.

But starting out, Akebono was not expected to succeed in Sumo. His height and slim lower body were considered disadvantages. In a sport where the goal is to knock your opponent down, Akebono was too top-heavy. He would be easy to topple by the shorter, stockier Japanese wrestlers who would have the advantage of leverage. Continue reading The Importance of Picking The Right Arena

How Symbolic Change Can Help You When You’re Stuck

ChangeI want to tell you how, in a Kentucky hotel bathroom in 1982 , I made a symbolic change that completely changed my luck.

Yes, there is a back story here.  Halfway through a 5-week sales trip, I was stuck in a very big way. After getting off to a great start in Illinois, I bottomed out in Kentucky. I couldn’t sell a damn thing. Everything that had worked for me in the Mid West was hurting me in the South. I couldn’t close a door let alone a sale.

My boss had warned me that people where I was headed were conservative compared to folks in California. He urged me to adjust my look and tempo before I left. “Folks won’t trust a slick sounding guy from L.A. with a beard . Shave that thing!”, he said.

I didn’t listen. “Hey, I gotta be me. I got this, don’t worry” I said.

I proved him wrong for two straight weeks in the Mid West. Overcoming obstacles, setting records and crushing my closings. My numbers were great and I was on fire.

Then for two days I bombed. No problem, it happens. I was adjusting, finding my way. But after a third soul-crushing day in Kentucky I was lost. Swagger gone, I was ready to listen. In our nightly call I relayed my numbers to the boss and they stunk. He started in with the ‘I told you so’ speech, and though I was pissed, I let his words sink in.

Thursday got a little better, Friday even more, and by Saturday I was almost back to my usual high-percentage closing ratio.

I went on to North Carolina and Pennsylvania in the last two weeks and finished strong. REAL strong. Big numbers for the company and big dollars for me.

Did I change my presentation? Did I rearrange my feature and benefit statements? Did I drop my price? No. None of these things. Continue reading How Symbolic Change Can Help You When You’re Stuck

3 Crucial Stages to a Successful Launch

takeoff2

My favorite part of flying lasts about 2 seconds. It comes after the worst part of the flight, when we’re strapped into our full upright positions without our electronics or air conditioning. Then the engines fire, noise fills the cabin, and we’re barreling down the runway as the whole craft bumps and shakes.

At about 180 mph, the nose of the plane points up, the rear wheels leave the ground, and there is a moment where we physically break Earth’s gravitational force.

This is my favorite part. My stomach gets queasy from the torque of breaking Earth’s grip. But in less than 2 seconds the queasy fades and I feel joy  – we’re up, we’re free. Then we climb, level off, seats and tray tables recline, the AC kicks in, and we’re in that effortless place of just maintaining altitude. Continue reading 3 Crucial Stages to a Successful Launch

Why You Should Stop Specializing and Become a Jack of All Trades

vitruvian man

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  Robert Heinlen

In olden times people were encouraged to produce creative work in their daily lives. A man would build his house, plant his garden, paint landscapes, write sonnets, perform music, and make all types of household goods like furniture, belts and brandy. The world was full of people with interesting skills, and they were celebrated for their wide-ranging talents. 

A Renaissance Man, as he would be called, could do it all, and with flair. A Renaissance Man was an artist, athlete, carpenter, mechanic, medic, musician, poet, philosopher and writer. Depending on the situation, he could also be a gentleman, a rascal, a fighter or an imp.

But he was never just one thing. He was all things (*She was too, but for the sake of brevity I’m using the masculine form. Ladies, you can be a Renaissance woMan too).

Then along came the 80’s and everything changed. You had to specialize. Nobody was interested in you being “well rounded”. No one wanted you to look “distinctive”. You could have a mustache but no beard, and short hair wasn’t allowed. You had to choose between a feathered wave parted down the middle, or a mullet (business up front, party in the back). Big hair was mandatory (*ladies, you had big hair too, but please substitute panty hose for Mullet).

This era brought in the idea that creative men (*yeah, yeah, you get the drill) were focused. They specialized so they could become expert in one area. You needed to know a lot about a very few things to be useful. If you knew a little about a lot of things, you were a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. Very bad thing. Not the path to success. Continue reading Why You Should Stop Specializing and Become a Jack of All Trades

Brain Wash

Brain Wash
Brain Wash

Brainwashed. The term we use when someone manipulates us, convinces us that something false is real, steals our identity and self-esteem. Something bad.

Brain Wash. The term I use when I need to manipulate myself, convince myself that something I think is real is actually false, saving my identity and self-esteem. Something good.

I know, you’ve never heard of this because it’s not a thing yet. I just made it up. But it’s based on something real that’s happened to me many times before.

The first time was in a hotel in New Orleans. I was there to deliver a seminar and I was feeling good. I stepped onto the elevator, one of those fancy glass ones with a view of the atrium lobby. A window washer had been working on the windows but hadn’t finished. One side was cloudy, spotted and smudged. The other was beautifully clear.

There was no actual difference in the view, but as I rode up to my room, looking through the clean glass made me feel good. The lobby, the plants, the people, all looked good. Clear and clean. I was happy to be there.

The side that hadn’t been cleaned yielded a different scene. The lobby looked dingy, the plants dirty, the people shady. There was no difference in reality, but my view of things was dirty. I didn’t feel as good about the place. It changed how I felt. Continue reading Brain Wash