Lion Hunting in background with "The Lion and The Mouse" text overlay

In a telling story of our priorities, James Carville and Paul Begala share the story about the lion and the mouse.

As the story goes, the lion is more than capable of hunting the mouse. He possesses the required strength, agility, and intelligence. In fact, it requires very little effort on the part of the lion. The problem is that the energy received back from eating the mouse is not worth the lion’s effort.

This is why the lion hunts the zebra, antelope, and gazelle. Though it requires significantly more strength, agility, and cunning intelligence to do so, the energy the lion receives back is well worth the investment. Lion Hunting in background with "The Lion and The Mouse" text overlay

The story of the lion and the mouse reminds us to stay focused on chasing big goals.

The BIG Goals

One of the questions I ask myself every day is, “What can I do today that makes the biggest difference?”

  • When I’m feeling overwhelmed, that focuses my attention on the single biggest task that needs to be done.
  • Whenever I’m tired, this question reminds me that the best thing I can do might just be to take a nap or practice some extraself-care.
  • In those moments where I’m conflicted about how to invest my time, asking about difference-making forces me to look at my calendar. Typically what I find is that I’ve been too work-focused and not enough family focus.
  • When my anxiety creeps up, I can remind myself that doing one thing today to make progress on a goal of significance and meaning helps to lower it.

Then, I invest my energy into the needed area. That frees me up to then say, “What’s next.”

The story of the lion and the mouse reminds me to invest my energy in things that really make a difference. My focus and attention go to things that only I can do for myself and my business.

Business and Life in Balance

What about you? Have you asked those questions in your life?

As a business owner, do you work intently on areas that only you can invest in?

With your spouse and your kids, do you focus on being fully present and turning off your “work brain” or do you only give them the nutritional equivalent of a mouse?

As a leader or community member, do you invest in your projects with the same intensity and vigor you do in your sales and marketing?

One of the first things we do in coaching is to give your calendar a time analysis. We make sure that you spend your time hunting antelopes, not mice.

Far too often, what I see with leaders is that they spend time on the unimportant. The temptation is to become distracted by the urgent instead of the significant.

To counteract this, we work through a priority matrix to make sure you get the most return on your time, your energy, and your passion.

Right now, make sure you’re invested in the right areas. Ask yourself the above questions and spend time on the right priorities. Invest in areas that give you the greatest return on your investment. Ask questions. Quit bad habits. Keep growing. Seek help.

If you need anything, I’m here for you.

 

General Rosecrans portrait with overlay text "The Rosecrans Principle

One of the greatest contributing factors to unmet goals and failure is what I call, “The Rosecrans Principle.”

William S. Rosecrans

William S. Rosecrans was a major general during the American Civil War. A highly decorated strategist, he often failed to translate an idea into action.

He’s the one that gave me the idea for The Rosecrans Principle.

His superior, Ulysses S. Grant, when writing in his personal memoirs after the war, summed up one meeting this way:

We held a brief interview, in which he described very clearly the situation at Chattanooga, and made some excellent suggestions as to what should be done. My only wonder was that he had not carried them out. (emphasis mine)

What was Rosecrans’ problem? He had a lot of great ideas but failed to take the appropriate action. General Rosecrans portrait with overlay text "The Rosecrans Principle

As an entrepreneur, business owner, high-achiever, parent, spouse, child, community member, or any other title you carry …. can you relate?

We know we should get out that marketing email, but it’s getting late, we’re a little tired, and it’s easy to push it to another day.

Another scenario: It’s time for some sales calls…except the kids kept you up, you’re hungry, and don’t feel like being rejected should someone say ‘no.’ What do you do? Will you push through anyway, or suffer from The Rosecrans Principle?

Throughout our day, we are confronted with a variety of scenarios, and our outlook determines our destination.

Do we see obstacles or opportunities?

Avoiding the Pitfall

Avoiding the pitfall of The Rosecrans Principle is obvious: take action.

MASSIVE ACTION.

But you knew that, didn’t you?

The problem is not that we don’t know to take action, it’s that we’re scared to.

General Rosecrans himself knew this.

We know this. 

So, how do we do it?

In order to push through fear, take massive action, and avoid The Rosecrans Principle, only one thing is required.

Answer “why” not just “how.”

Often, our problem lies with only trying to answer the ‘how’ based questions.

How will we get it all done? What’s next? How will we proceed? 

The problem, is that we never answer the ‘why’ based questions?

Why is this important? What’s at stake if I don’t succeed? 

As high-achievers, we care a lot about the ‘how.’ We want to know what’s next, and how we can squeeze more productivity out of our time.

But with time, that breeds fear. We fail behind, fail to meet a key metric, become fearful, and everything snowballs out of control.

We have great ideas and can spend a lot of time, like General Rosecrans, coming up with the brilliant plan of attack that will help us.

But then, like Rosecrans himself, see the list of to-do items and feel overwhelmed. Fearful. Burdened.

To counter this, take massive action now just on the how but the why.

That’s where Rosecrans failed. He came up with plans, but without knowing why they were important, he never had the courage to act.

As a result, he fell out of favor with Grant and the Union and slowly faded to obscurity.

Don’t be like Rosecrans.

Focus on the how and the why.

Make lofty plans.

Set enormous goals.

Take massive action.

 

 

 

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Blog Post Cover - Week in weak out text over car on road.

Now that we’re through Christmas, and with 2021 firmly in our sights, I wanted to reveal my guiding phrase for the new year: Week In, Weak Out.

A Quick Year in Review

For many of us, 2020 has provided some tremendous growth opportunities. The changing world of remote work has given us commute time back while adding the stress of working around children.

The political discord in our country has given us the opportunity to listen and empathize with others.

The ongoing quarantine has revealed just how much we were wired for community, social gatherings, and physical contact.

Along the way of each of these national and global issues, have been the individual issues of our own stories.

Some of my personal notes from this year include:

  • Helping business owners transition to the quickly changing world of HR needs in the midst of a pandemic and forced shutdowns.
  • The selling of one house and the purchase of another.
  • Home renovation projects (here’s looking at you broken water pipes!).
  • Cancelled vacations, family visits, and social gatherings.
  • Kids entering puberty and leaving toddlerhood.
  • Elise starting a new job and her master’s program

All of this has revealed to me some of my next growth opportunities. As a success-oriented high achiever, I need my life to be at peak performance.

My guiding phrase for 2021 to help me achieve that is to get better: Day In, Day Out, Week, Weak Out. Blog Post Cover - Week in weak out text over car on road.

Future Growth Opportunities

2021 presents the next great growth opportunity.

Already, my coaching schedule is filling up. The new year always brings new challenges, HR laws, marketing campaigns, and growth strategies. Business owners are looking to turn the page on 2020 and start fresh in 2021. To help them (and all success-oriented leaders) I need to be at my best.

Leaders are hurting. Many are hurting. Most are facing burnout. All are tired.

Helping leaders stay healthy is why I started coaching in the first place, for me to do that well, I need to be healthy myself.

Here are some of my next growth opportunities in the new year:

  • Read and implement the knowledge from 100 books.
  • Take an extended work-free family vacation.
  • Help 100 business owners grow and expand their businesses.
  • Take Elise on a date at least once a month.

Some of these goals are continued extensions of daily habits, some are drastic increases in my thinking and mindset.

One personal project, however, is consuming a large portion of my time and mental space. It is the main thrust of my idea to grow Week In and Weak Out.

Parenting Well

One of the biggest failures American society has done for men is to provide significant and meaningful markers for manhood. We’ve largely left our boys to figure out puberty, manhood, emotional maturity, and personal development to themselves.

I decided to do something about it, starting with my own kids.

Starting at age 8, and continuing every three years until age 21, each of my boys will take a trip with me where we talk about growing into responsible manhood.

For my oldest son, that starts this year. We’re taking a trip to talk about his coming puberty, self-care and hygiene, service towards others, mindset, and selfless love.

Each and every trip will build on the last. We will spend time in the wilderness, examining what it means to be a well-rounded man.

The only way I can help him do that (and any others that join our journey) is to first work on myself.

Habits, routines, and discipline are built in the daily execution of small, repeatable, success steps.

Day In. Day Out. Week In. Weak out.

That’s how we grow. Every day, do something to get better. The next day, repeat that task and do something else. Next week, you’ll notice a small improvement. Soon, you’ll notice your weaknesses leaving.

Mindset improves.

Grit is stronger.

Compassion is amplified.

Love fostered.

Maturity achieved.

But only through consistent and deliberate attention. Done every day.

Day In. Day Out. Weak In. Weak Out.

 

I’ll be posting about this journey constantly. To keep up to date, find out more, and be a part of the journey, click any of the links below.

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a FREE 5-day course on productivity: 

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Blog Post Cover Picture with lightbulb, day planner, and a team at work.

If I ever find my eyes wandering aimlessly over my computer for more than five minutes, I know something is wrong. That’s when I tell myself: create, define, act.

Deeper Magic

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who wanted to know how I fit so much in. A partial answer is that I use the Full Focus Planner. Over the last several years of use, that continues to be a big reason. I schedule everything meticulously. 

(If you want to see exactly how I use the planner,  I walk you through every page right here).

But there’s another truth at work. Deeper magic, if you will. I mean deeper magic much in the same way C.S. Lewis does in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the book, after Aslan’s death and resurrection, the lion is explaining to Susan and Lucy how he was able to come back to life. He explains that in many ways, the witch was right. The circumstances dictated that a sacrifice be made. The witch, operating under the belief of how ‘magic’ works in the world knew that the laws had to be accounted for.

But, Aslan explains, there is deeper magic at work. Something that the witch knows nothing about. She doesn’t know about it, because it was created before her. The laws of deeper magic were in place long before the witch arrived on the scene. The magic that the witch knew about (the laws of the universe) were satisfied and yet, a deeper magic freed Aslan from the curse of death.

The Full Focus Planner is great. There’s a reason I’ve used it for the last three years and will continue to use it, but tools are only as good as those using them.

If all I own is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Blog Post Cover Picture with lightbulb, day planner, and a team at work.

If I have a security system but never turn it on, it will fail to protect my home and family when it’s needed.

Having a planner and failing to use it isn’t any better than not having a planner at all.

Wandering Aimlessly

Over the last several years of using the planner, I’ve noticed that I’m still ineffective at times. To remedy this, I had to set up a new ritual that helped me get back on track.

I noticed that at certain moments of the day, I’d lose efficiency and productivity. This wasn’t failure based on exhaustion or overwork. Instead, it was because I lacked a proper plan. I knew I had things to do, but didn’t know how to go about doing them. Instead, I’d spend time looking at social media, scouring the depths of YouTube, or looking for new dad jokes.

None of which will help me reach my goals.

To change the drift, I created the ritual to create, define, act whenever I feel myself veering off course.

That mantra has helped me get back on track with my goals, accomplish meaningful and significant tasks, and free my mind to focus on my work.

Now, telling myself to create, define, act is more than a mantra, it is a call to arms. A battle cry that gets my body moving. It breaks me free from the monotony of mindless action and issues a challenge to my mind. It is a call to greatness.

I drift when I fail to have a plan. As has often been said, I was then planning on failing.

Whether you use the Full Focus Planner or some other calendar management system, the idea behind create, plan, act can help you too.

Create. Plan. Act.

Create

The first idea is to create. Create a goal. Vision. System. Plan. For me, this means to actually get into the planner and start to outline tasks. I drift when I don’t open my planner and put things into timeslots. My life drifts off course when I don’t intentionally plan my steps. Work fails to get done when I fail to put significance on my time.

Step one is always to create the plan. If you notice that you are having trouble focusing, begin to ask questions of insight: Do I know what I’m working on? What’s next? Who do I need to connect with? What is most important to me? How can I make progress?

Creating your plan of action is what breaks you free from drift. By creating a plan you free your mind up to focus on what it sees in front of you. When you create your goals, you connect the logic of your brain with the emotions of your heart and are inspired to take action.

Plan

Once your goals are created, write down the steps to the plan. This can honestly be as simple as first I will…, then I will… For me, it follows this system of progression:

1.) What are my larger goals for the quarter?

2.) What steps did I take to accomplish those goals last week?

3.) As a follow-up, what goals do I need to accomplish this week?

4.) Which of those goals can I accomplish (or make progress on) today?

First, you create your system and belief for success. Write down your goals and visualize your success. Then, write down the plan to accomplish those goals.

Only one step left!

Act

The final step is to act. I’ve discovered that this usually ends up being the easiest step. The irony is that before I began this planning phase, that was the one thing I couldn’t do. The acting was hard because I didn’t have a plan. By creating the vision and building the plan, I gave myself the freedom to act appropriately.

I can cure my aimlessly drifting in just a few minutes by following the simple plan to create, plan, and act. By following this formula, I bring clarity to my projects and eliminate brain fog, confusion, and misguided wastes of time that prohibit me from reaching my goals. Wherever you’re and, and whatever you’re working on, just remember to create your goals, make your plan, and then act with intention.

Need help? Reach out and see if coaching is right for you.

Blog Post Title: Clarity Breeds Confidence

Recently, I had to engage in a bit of self-talk. Long hours. Early mornings. Late nights. A move to a new city. It was catching up with me. I was e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d.

That meant the minor task I had to accomplish was becoming a major headache. With all the finesse and grace of an accomplished dancer, I spun around that task and successfully avoided it for hours.

Eventually, as I was sitting on the couch looking for yet another distraction, I finally came to my senses.

Justin!?! What are you thinking? You know you need to do this. If you lack motivation, you lack the vision. Why does this matter to you so much?

Clarity Breeds Confidence

At that moment, I acknowledged I lacked the clear motivation of why this task mattered. I verbally began to recite whatever came to mind as to why the task mattered.

  • Your family is counting on you.
    Blog Post Title: Clarity Breeds Confidence
  • Accomplishing this will provide income to your family.
  • It builds trust and respect.
  • I want to provide for those I love.

On and on the list grew. Before I knew it, I had expressed over twenty different reasons I needed to complete the task.

What happened?

It was done in less than an hour.

Clarity breeds confidence. If we lack the motivation to complete something, it’s often because we lack the vision of why it matters in the first place.

When we remind ourselves what makes a task important, we harness the motivation (and more importantly, discipline) to get it done.

Pulled 1,000 Different Directions

Many of us are pulled in a thousand different directions every day. Our spouse needs affection. The kids want our attention. Our boss wants a report. A parent needs our perspective. Our friend needs advice. The side-hustle needs grinding.

Whatever it is, you know what it’s like to be pulled in a thousand different directions.

When struggling, recite: Confidence breeds clarity. The more clear our goals, the more action we are willing (and able to take). 

By gaining clarity on why something matters, you’ll breed the confidence to figure out how.

That’s one big difference between high-achievers and regular performers. High-achievers spend a significant amount of time engaging in the end vision of their journey and then plan intentionally.

Because clarity breeds confidence. Struggling like I was? Spend time there and experience a breakthrough.