Enjoy the Process

writingDo you want success in life? Of course you do. Do you desire failure? Obviously not. Have you always succeeded in every endeavor you’ve undertaken? Of course not. Have you ever tasted failure on your way to success? Absolutely.

Why is it that, while we definitely want success in our lives, we inevitably expect it to happen without any failures along the way?

Maybe it’s because success makes us feel like we’re on top of the world, whereas failure makes us feel depressed and demotivated. Have you ever wondered why we’re so uncomfortable with failure? The answer is pretty simple: we are results oriented. We always expect a predetermined outcome for our work. If we get that outcome, we are happy; otherwise, we get disappointed, depressed, and discouraged.

Nine hundred days ago, I became a self-proclaimed blogger and published my first post. For the most part since then, I’ve written one post per week—124 posts, to be exact. Friends, acquaintances, and colleagues have often asked how I enjoy writing, especially since I barely got a “C” in English, my least favorite subject in college. I typically respond by saying that I really don’t like writing—but I enjoy having written. I go on to describe the difficult and somewhat boring process of dedicating about two hours each week to research and write my 800 – 1000 words for each post. But then I talk about how wonderful it feels to finish something that will be read by others, something that will live on to be picked up by any person, anywhere, at any point in the future. There’s only one problem with my response: it focuses on the joy of the outcome rather than on any joy found in the journey. This response finds fulfillment in the product but not in the process.

As a new Territory Manager with ConMed several years ago, I lost a large capital sale to my competitor. I remember receiving the call from the customer, who told me the company had decided to purchase my competitor’s device. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I had dedicated so much time and energy to securing my first significant deal. I proceeded to feel sorry for myself and moped around for several days. The real loss in that situation was wrapped up in the fact that I temporarily became completely disconnected from the people who cared the most about me, and I failed to enjoy the days following that phone call—days that included my son’s taking his first steps. Those lost hours will never be recovered, and, looking back, I see that I learned a lot from losing that sale. The approach of finding joy solely in the outcome robs us of countless moments along the way. When joy is only found in the final product, we tend to avoid, endure, or suffer through the other parts of our lives.

Can you relate? We long to be physically fit but hate the steps to get there. We look forward to reaching a desired weight but suffer through diets and/or exercise. We want the college degree but despise the homework assignments along the way. We aspire to make President’s Club but dread the consistent daily behaviors needed to reach the top of the sales rankings. We live for the weekend when our work will be done and complain about Monday’s arrival.

Refusing to find joy in the process has other negative effects as well. This approach causes us to:

  • Diminish the role and importance of hard work and effort,
  • Miss opportunities to celebrate small wins we achieve along the way,
  • Neglect the value of discipline, and
  • Ignore the fact that discomfort can aid our growth.

There is a better way, and it’s called mindfulness.

Someone who is mindful maintains a constant awareness of his or her thoughts, feelings, and surrounding environment.

A mindful attitude does not delay joy until the finish line! Instead, it seeks meaning throughout each step of the process.

When we look around us, we see people always in a hurry to get somewhere—so much so that they forget to enjoy the ride. Ironically, the more you enjoy the journey, the faster it will go. The more excited you are about the process, the more pleasurable will be the accomplishment of the goal itself. Live each moment to the fullest, enthusiastic about each step you take.

In these final days before my big race, I’m really enjoying the last parts of my training. As I rode my bike into work today, I reflected on this journey I started 10 months ago. I remember attending my first spin class, where the instructor showed a documentary about the Leadville 100. I had this crazy thought: I can do that.

Here’s the thing: race day is merely one day out of the entire journey. Throughout the past 300+ days, there has been no fast forward button. I was forced to be patient and build my fitness level week in and week out. Instead of asking, “How quickly can I get through this?” I was forced to ask, “How can I make the most of every single day and become as strong as I can get?”

This approach has enabled me to gain so many other things on this journey that were not part of my goal: I am in the best shape of my life; I’ve achieved new athletic milestones I never thought possible; I’ve made some fantastic new friends; I’ve learned so much about physical fitness; and I’ve come to realize how much we can really accomplish when we put our minds to it.

The journey is where we learn, grow, mature, and become stronger, more awesome versions of ourselves.

The journey is the most important part.

Recognize the importance of and the joy in your present activity. Be mindful in every moment and in each step of the journey. There is indeed great joy to be found in the process, not just in the outcome.

And that feels good to have written.

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Practice the Art of Adherence

shutterstock_200354111Let’s talk about Indian thorny bamboo. You may never have heard of this plant species native to Asia. Like many types of bamboo, this kind, when planted, requires the right amount of watering, sunlight, and care. It takes up to two full years of careful attention for the bamboo to build a strong root structure, which is not visible aboveground. However, once a sprout finally breaks through the earth, Indian thorny bamboo can grow up to 100 feet per month!


As I near my 100-mile mountain bike race set for August 9, I’ve been reflecting on the life lessons learned during my training. I suspect these lessons can be applied across the board to our businesses, careers, athletic endeavors—and to our lives in general. To be honest, the last few weeks have been difficult as I’ve struggled to balance family, work, and my training program. Working 60 hours a week plus travel requirements, meeting family commitments, and training upward of 20 hours per week is taxing. However, I’m in the home stretch, and I know it will all be worth it.


So what do Indian thorny bamboo and mountain bike racing have to do with each other?

In business and in life, the game is usually won by those who can consistently execute a well-thought-out strategy.

In other words, winners stick with it.

Winning requires adherence. Adherence is the critical link between strategy/vision (knowing) and results (doing), and adherence can be defined as “a commitment to consistent execution over time.”

Although your plans may change, adherence to your plan, whatever that plan may be, is your key to success. John Maxwell states it perfectly: “Failed plans should not be interpreted as a failed vision. Visions don’t change, they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.”

The principle of adherence to your vision holds true for growing bamboo and for mountain bike racing—and for a whole lot of other things too. We must practice the art of adherence.


Three things will determine how well I do in the Leadville 100 on August 9: my preparation, my focus, and my discipline throughout my training. I like to call this approach the PFD. You can apply the PFD strategy to your own challenges: prepping to launch a new business, pushing hard to the end of the year to make President’s Club, going back to school to obtain a degree, or training for an athletic event.

Here’s how to work the PFD and give it your all:

Preparation. This is your plan, your blueprint. It’s how you’ll get from here to there. This is when you get help from coaches, managers, and mentors to set the course ahead. Being flexible with a plan does not mean winging it; it means taking a serious look at where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

Your plan doesn’t have to be a formal five-page document. It can be as simple as a checklist or an outline. Here at ConMed, our sales force refers to this plan as the “Standard/Model Day.” Sales reps who have committed to this plan have seen the results firsthand—perhaps not at first, but, like the bamboo, daily adherence eventually yields tremendous results!

Focus. This is your filter. A sense of focus keeps your attention directed on executing the daily plan. If you find yourself distracted by something, ask yourself whether or not the distraction is moving you toward your goal. If it is not, put it aside and get back to your plan.

Kinda-sorta working your plan will get you kinda-sorta results. Hold yourself to a higher standard, asking what you need to do to execute your strategy today.

Discipline. This is your power. The power of discipline is what makes your goal, your plan, come alive. Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. Discipline is hard, hard, hard, but it is necessary. It keeps you working the steps of your plan and is fueled by your desire to reach your goal.

Remember, pain is temporary, but memories are forever! Success doesn’t come from wanting or wishing; it comes from doing—over and over and over again. How badly do you want it?

I would like to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Zig Ziglar. Remember this as you go into your next professional or personal challenge: “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

Whether it’s mountain biking, growing bamboo, or any other adventure in life, practice the art of adherence every day. I’ll see you at the finish line!

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Make Fear Your Ally

shutterstock_166081772I’d like to start this week’s post with a question:

What if fear didn’t exist?

Take just a moment to think about this.

What do you think? Would anything ever get done if we didn’t face some fears in our lives? I don’t think so. I believe any worthwhile goal must be hard and must generate some level of fear—otherwise, why would we set huge goals (business strategist Jim Collins calls them big, hairy, audacious goals) for ourselves?

We can find lots of reasons to be fearful these days. From what is going on in the world around us to problems at work and/or home, sources of fear abound. You’ve probably been told throughout your life not to be afraid of anything. Fear is often associated with weakness. Fear is for cowards, we’re told.

But, sometimes, fear is good.

One of my favorite subjects to write about is fear. Lots of other people write about fear too. You could find hundreds of self-improvement blogs that tell you fear is a bad thing. Others might say that fear stops people from pursuing their passions, so you must eliminate your fear in order to live your dream life. I could go on and on with what others say about fear, but that’s not the point of this post. I am here to tell you today that everyone who has ever told you not to be afraid of anything…is mistaken.

As many of you know, I’m training for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race—a race appropriately named “the race across the sky.” Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never participated in any bike race, let alone a mountain bike race at 10,000 feet. My first dip into the world of mountain bike racing came when I participated in the Leadville Silver Rush 50. You can read about my experience here. Driving home from that race, I could almost taste the fear I felt. Though I finished the Silver Rush, it was certainly not what I expected, and the whole experience made me realize just what a big deal the Leadville 100 is going to be—especially if I want to achieve my goal and finish it in under 12 hours.

You see, the Leadville 100 is a bit different from other races. Not everyone who finishes gets an award. In order to snag the prestigious, sought-after silver belt buckle, racers must finish the race in less than 12 hours. That’s my goal, and it was in the forefront of my mind as I drove away from the Silver Rush a few weeks ago.

After collecting myself and having a good night’s sleep, I got up the next day and continued on with my training plan.

But I could tell something was different. I could feel a new level of awareness. Guess where that came from? You got it—a healthy sense of fear.

Being a little afraid of my next race caused me to look ahead at the next four weeks of training with a new sense of urgency. I’m now pushing myself harder in my workouts, researching and experimenting with nutrition, practicing aerodynamics on my descents, and fine-tuning my bike and backpack to minimize weight and maximize efficiency.

My fear is pushing me to work harder, be better prepared, and have a stronger mindset for race day.

I want to encourage you to look at your own life and see if you can use some healthy fear to propel yourself forward to the achievement of your goals. Here are four things you can tell yourself to make fear your ally rather than your enemy:

1) Fear is a sign that I am doing something amazing!

Do you have a bucket list? If you do, I bet you’ve put some scary things on it. Why would we attempt to do scary things? It’s because we know these things will make our lives feel richer. When you feel afraid of your goals, remind yourself that you’re in pursuit of something amazing, something that will live far beyond the temporary pain you might experience along the way. Keep the amazing in sight.

2) Fear generates new possibilities for me!

When you feel afraid of something but then take that fear by the horns and conquer it, one step at a time, you lay the foundation for new possibilities. Courage begets courage. Whether it is starting a new job, running your first marathon, or some other challenge, the fear you feel can actually be the first inkling of some new—and pretty awesome—possibilities. Look for them, embrace them.

3) Fear gets me started!

What would motivate you to act during a frightening scenario? That’s right—fear. When we or those we love are threatened, we launch into action, our fear driving us forward. This drive, fueled by fear, can help any goal you have. We often forget that we have control over our own lives, over our choices each day. Let your fear push you forward to get started.

4) Fear promotes my freedom!

Fear ensures that you stay in the moment and allows you to capitalize on the excitement and power of this very minute. Even if you jump from your comfort zone for just a few seconds, embracing your fear, you will discover a new sense of freedom in your world. Jump.

Fear can be very powerful if used in the right way. So, what are you afraid of today?

Take a look at one of my favorite videos about fear:


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What to Do When the Race Gets Tough

Blog Silver PicMy family, friends, and acquaintances know that, over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten into participating in endurance events. Note that I describe myself as “participating” rather than as “competing.” I am not now, nor have I ever been, an elite athlete. I am a mediocre athlete at best. Any of my athletic achievements stem from a determined and dogged refusal to accept my stunning lack of talent as a limiting factor. This inherent trait has served me well in the different endurance events I’ve tackled.

As part of my training for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in August, I entered the Leadville Silver Rush 50. To summarize the experience: it was eight hot, lung-exploding, leg-burning hours of hell. It was painful! I know that sounds like a given for an ultra-distance race. But the Silver Rush is different. Locals refer to this race as the Leadville 100 with all the fun parts removed. Unlike the 100, the course for the Silver Rush never dips below 10,000 feet—and there are no flat sections, only climbs and descents along with miles of rocky terrain too steep to even ride. On the Silver Rush course, the hike-a-bike sections seem endless.

I’ve been training for the Leadville 100 since last October and am now just four weeks out from the big race. Though my ride this past weekend at the Silver Rush was not all that fun, I believe the experience will help me complete (in less than 12 hours!) one of the most difficult ultra long-distance mountain bike races in the country.

I learned two main things as I pounded out the course: never quit and never lose focus. I think these strategies can be applied to any endeavor in my life—and in yours too.

1) Never, never, never give up!

When you find yourself in a difficult situation and it seems that everything is stacked against you—that moment when you feel you just cannot hang on any longer—never give up, for that may be just the place and time the tide will turn.

I was about four hours into my race last weekend and had almost reached the halfway point. I spotted my awesome crew: my wife and kids. They restocked my water and nutrition, and I jumped back on my bike and then started cycling up a 100-yard hill. About halfway up this incline, I experienced some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt—my legs were severely cramping, the muscles in my calves and quads contracted tightly into knots.

I was barely able to get off my bike and could not get any relief, no matter what I tried. I knew there was no way I could continue—I still had another 25 miles to go! I could hardly stand up, let alone ride.

I made a decision: I would pull myself out of the race.

Mind made up, I turned around to go back and saw my family in the distance looking very concerned. At that moment, I realized that I absolutely could not quit in front of my kids. What type of message would I be sending them? What kind of example would I be?

Painfully, I turned back around and hobbled my bike up the remainder of the hill to the aid station. One of the medics saw that I was in trouble and correctly diagnosed my problem: I wasn’t getting enough salt. He proceeded to dump salt into my hand and directed me to ingest it with electrolytes. In about five minutes, the pain became manageable.

I got back on my bike with an even greater determination to finish the race and a tremendous amount of relief that I had not pulled myself out. I know I would have regretted that decision.

During the various journeys that comprise our lives, we all get to a point where we feel like giving up. Sometimes we give up before we even start, and, other times, we give up on the cusp of a big breakthrough.

It’s not so much what happens to us that makes a difference; rather, it is what we do with what happens to us that determines where we will end up, what we will have, and how we will change. I learned from last week’s race to always believe that victory is just around the corner.

Never give up! And, I mean never!!

2) Never lose focus.

What does focus mean to you? The Silver Rush 50 made me think a whole lot about focus and what it means.

Throughout the race last weekend, I found myself thinking about what the others around me were doing. How many were behind me? How many would pass me? How far back was I? How far did I still have to go?

What is the common theme in all these thoughts? They all revolve around external focus points, centering on things I cannot control. When I was consumed with these questions, I stopped thinking about the things I could control. I was no longer racing my best race.

Here is an example of how losing focus can derail us:

My personal goal was to finish the Silver Rush 50 in under eight hours. After completing my last climb, I had only eight miles left to the finish line—most of it downhill. I realized that I was on target to come in under eight hours, and I was ecstatic.

I started thinking about my next goal—the Leadville 100—and wondering how I would perform during that grueling race. Big mistake! I got distracted, end up taking a wrong turn, got off the trail, and descended three miles off course! It cost me 40 minutes and my goal of finishing under eight hours. I made the mistake of losing focus.

We can all do many different things in life, but that doesn’t mean we should do them all at the same time. We must truly embrace the moment, focusing on the task in front of us, in order to put forth our best effort. Whether achievement of your goal requires steady forward movement or a huge quantum leap, a laser-like focus on what is right in front of you is absolutely needed. Any distractions, unclear intentions, or breaks in concentration can cause your momentum to come crashing down around you, just like it did for me last weekend. As Bruce Lee said, “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

I’m happy I finished this challenging race. And, although I didn’t achieve my goal of finishing in under eight hours, I did learn some valuable racing and life lessons. Come August 9, when I take on the big 100-mile race across the sky, I believe these lessons learned will help me finish in less than 12 hours.

Never give up. Never lose focus.

What could we accomplish if we applied these two principles to all of our goals?

SILVER 50 Pics

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What You “R” Is Not Who You “I”

I vs RLast week we discussed how criticism can affect every part of our lives and how, if we don’t handle it well, negative feedback can ultimately derail our careers. We can’t prevent being criticized, but we can control how we react, thus turning a negative situation into a positive one.

And guess who the biggest critic in your life usually is? You got it—you. Though criticism can come from others, it is often the strongest and most frequent inside your head. It’s much easier to point fingers at outside critics, but you must recognize that your fiercest critic usually lives between your own two ears. Working up the courage to move past your own vulnerability and uncertainty might be the greatest challenge you’ll face on the way to achieving your professional goals.

Every day we face challenges in our careers. Some are big, and some are small. People don’t fail in sales because of the economy, bad prospects, bad products, or bad markets. Those reasons are just excuses.

People fail in sales because they stop believing in themselves.

The most important thing you need in order to be successful in sales is a strong self-image. Each day in sales can bring rejection, humiliation, failure, and uncertainty, which can all wreak havoc on an already weak self-image. Many salespeople have problems in this area because they confuse their self-images with their roles in life. In order to separate the two, let’s define them both.

Let’s first talk about your role—your “R.” Roles are the labels we put on ourselves; they are what we do. Examples might include: salesperson, engineer, wife, father, manager, trainer, or business owner. Stop for a moment and think of five roles you fulfill in your day-to-day life.

As an exercise, close your eyes and imagine yourself on a beautiful deserted island where all of these roles are taken away from you. You now have no roles, no labels—it’s just you. How do you feel about yourself? With no roles attached, rate your self-worth on a scale of 1 to 10. How did you do? I bet you rated yourself close to a 10!

Now consider your “I,” your self-image. Your self-image is comprised of your values, principles, and beliefs. Examples could be: honesty, faithfulness, reliability, integrity, compassion, etc. Make a list of five values and principles that best describe you. Which of these characteristics can be taken away from you? Of course, the answer is that none of these can be taken away from you by anyone except you. Your “I” is the inner you, your castle, and nobody gets in there unless you let them. So, in the deserted island exercise, the true answer is that you are a 10 with or without your roles.

Your worth as a person is completely independent of your role performance.

Let me say that again:

Your worth as a person is completely independent of your role performance.

The problem is that, for our entire lives, we’ve been evaluated based on our roles and our performance in them. We’ve been conditioned to base our self-esteem on a good record of role performance. Unfortunately, there’s nothing like a year in the sales profession to make us all realize that we’re not as good at what we do as we thought we were. You might make two tough sales in one day, catapulting your “R” to a 10, but the very next day you might blow an easy close, causing your “R” to dive down to a two. You make 15 cold calls, and everyone blows you off; the series of disappointments causes the rejection factor to build, and you really start to doubt yourself. This is when many salespeople give up on sales or try to find greener pastures that don’t really exist.

In the tough times, remember that, no matter how you perform in your sales role, at the end of the day, your “I” is a 10 because the principles, values, and beliefs that make up the inner you have not changed.

Learn to separate your role performance from your self-image. Learn to remain emotionally detached in the selling process. Then you will be better equipped to tackle the difficult daily activities that are required to be successful—and you’ll be able to deal with the emotional roller coaster ride that sales puts us all through.

David Sandler, found of Sandler Training, proposed an enlightening way to address challenges. He simply said, “What you ‘R’ is not who you ‘I.’” Sandler believed we all enter the world with an “I” of 10—we each arrive with built-in good qualities that can lead to high self-esteem. He also believed that, along the way, through the trials and tribulations of life, we may begin to forget that we’re a 10, allowing life’s experiences and our roles—our “R”—to negatively impact our self-images. His message? Separate your “I” from your “R.”

In other words, you are who you are—not what you do for a living.

Remember this: selling is no place to get your emotional needs met! The purpose of selling is to earn a living. You’ll achieve that purpose when you realize that, regardless of how your prospects treat you and what results you get, your “I” is always, always a 10. And if you truly believe that no one gets into your castle unless you let them, you’ll live in such a way that will bring you success in sales over the long haul.

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