The victorious life begins with successful attitude

I came across three rules today that provide effective guidance for a productive life:

Rule #1: Success is an option.

Rule #2: Failure to accomplish a goal is a last resort.

Rule #3: Failure to give your very best is never an option.

Countless human beings have lived out their lives never believing that success was an option for them. What about you? Do you make room for the possibility of success at the onset of every new undertaking or do you find yourself planning an exit strategy before you take the first step?

The victorious life begins with successful attitude. The starting point for cultivating a resilient successful attitude is found in the statement: “Life will never give me anything that is larger than my ability to handle it successfully.” Put this one on your bathroom mirror and take it with you in your heart so that when the time comes, you can prove it.

When you come to the point that you realize you are not powerless in relation to the world you center, you have taken the first step to a victorious life. You may have some catching up to do, as an accumulation of failures does tend to make for a lumpy rug under what could have been solid footing, but you can only start where you are.

The refusal to start where you are causes many failures and delayed starts. Faced with an opportunity or a challenge you might say “I wish things were a little different” or “If only I had such-and-such this I could get started,” but so doing will cause unnecessary and unhelpful delays, putting you immediately behind the eight ball.

Start with what you have, exercise your imagination regularly and be creative in your use of resources. The first step to using resources wisely is identifying what resources are available to you. I enjoy watching survival shows like Man vs. Wild and Dual Survival as they demonstrate how to identify – especially in dangerous and restrictive circumstances – the resources available to you.

Check out this link for a quick idea of how to assess your resources:

Now that works in the aftermath of a hurricane, but how do you do this in your personal or professional life? It’s easy. Follow these steps:

1. Get your resources “out on the table.” Make a mental list, compose a written inventory or spread your resources out on a table if you can, without initially making value judgments. Take time to deliberately enumerate the resources – both tangible and intangible – that you presently have at your disposal.

2. Consider the big picture. What is the framework of the challenge or opportunity you’re considering? What are you trying to accomplish? What are the basic parameters?

3. Identify and discard limiting assumptions. Brainstorm on limiting assumptions you or the others you’re involved with on a project may hold that are preventing forward movement. Discard them permanently. Don’t look back.

4. Ask yourself “How would this look were I to rearrange the resources available to me in relation to this goal?” Be creative. Don’t discard any ideas at this point.

5. Test you ideas. Pick what appear to be the best ideas on the surface and test them. Elicit peer reviews. Get feedback from clients, family or friends. Pick the ideas apart. Refine them in the refiner’s fire.

6. Implement. If you’ve moved through the creative process outlined here you will known when the time is right to put your ideas into action.

7. Review. Don’t forget to analyze how effective your ideas were. Gather data over time, don’t jump to conclusions, but don’t also let things drag on. Cut your losses if necessary. Invest further if that appears the prudent course.

A Breath of Fresh Air

A friend and I were walking around Mackinac Island in northern Michigan yesterday morning and we both noticed something worth repeating. The island, if you’ve never been, is free of motor vehicles. To move about the island you have three choices: (1) walk, (2) bicycle and (3) horse drawn carriage. It is a piece of heaven, geographically speaking, that is populated mostly by tourists in the summer months.

As we walked along the many roads that weave their way through the island we noticed that the people who were on bicycle or on foot all said hello with a smile, while none in the carriages smiled or said hello. How interesting! There is something to be said for participating in regular physical work and or exercise. According to this set of observations, one hundred percent of the people on foot or on bikes looked, sounded and seemed happier than those who travelled more lazily.

There is so much to be done, physically-speaking, and the idea that you have to purchase a special outfit to work on specialized equipment to get exercise is a limited view at best. There is so much that you can do to stay active, no matter what your age or physical disposition. One of the first challenges to overcome when embarking on a new regimen of activity is that of feeling that you must have everything just right to begin. If you wait for that moment, you will never begin. Start where you are.

If you will allow me a broad generalization, I was thinking about music the other day and it seems to me that much of the music generated in the 50s, 60s and 70s is feel-good, good for outdoor enjoyment type. The 80s represented something of a transition while the 90s turned inward. The music of the 90s and of the next decade is music largely to be enjoyed indoors, in a closed room, by a person encased with headphones. American society, for reasons of security perhaps, is in many ways trending toward isolationism versus inclusiveness. Why is that? Is it healthy?

Good health depends in part on maintaining a vigorous lifestyle. The mechanization of transportation has had an enormous impact on the activity levels of most people in our great nation and it can be difficult to get enough exercise as a result. Statistics show the devastating impact of this lack of activity, especially when coupled with a diet that can be best described as over-consumptive malnutrition.

What can you do to reverse that trend? As I mentioned above, everyone, no matter what your age, physical disposition or present level of exercise, has the opportunity to improve. Our country, to be vital well into the next century, must be composed of citizens who are healthy, vigorous and motivated to continual improvement. While both carrots and sticks may be necessary to get people started, they are not sufficient. The drive must be kindled within the individual.

Health begets health. The tide must be turned and we cannot afford to wait for another generation to make the changes necessary in this critical area of individual and collective function.