Professional Writing and Editing

Business Non-Fiction/Motivation

Sample One:

Commit to Constant Improvement

In 1953, Norm Larsen was working on a formula that would prevent corrosion.  He tried unsuccessfully 39 times.  If most of us had failed to achieve a desired result that many times, we would have given up. But Larsen didn’t.  He kept refining his formula, constantly trying to improve the formula to produce the desired product.  His perseverance paid off, and it was on the 40th attempt that he invented the common household lubricant and product we know as WD-40™.

Leonardo da Vinci started many paintings, leaving them unfinished because he constantly tried to improve both his technique and the paint he used.  Often unhappy with the results, da Vinci would scrap one project and start another.  However, painting was a painstaking process for the gifted artist because he refused to paint without performing extensive research.  He spent an impressive amount of time intricately studying the human anatomy and skeletal system in order to accurately reproduce his subjects.  When commissioned to paint The Last Supper, da Vinci did so much research that he was only left with two hours a day to devote to the actual painting.  Without his commitment to improving his technique and the tools of his trade, the world would have never been graced with the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, both masterpieces which to this day still mystify those who study his work.

Like these gentlemen, we should all strive for improvement in every area of our life.  Whether we’re working to improve the results of our efforts or the efficiency of our minds, there is always room for more.  What would life be like if everyone stopped trying to improve? If we accepted the status quo, how many inventions, ideas and concepts would the world have missed?  How many masterpieces would remain unpainted, cures would have remained unfound, or records would have remained unbroken?

Inspiration and motivational speaker Brian Tracy knows the importance of learning.  In his books and his speeches, Tracy encourages his students and readers to pursue a lifetime of learning, saying, “Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”  Tracy does more than talk; he’s followed his own advice for more than 30 years, studying economics, history, business, philosophy and psychology.  As a result of his continual quest for knowledge, he has become an international speaker and author, sharing his philosophies with millions of people across the globe.

Winston Churchill put it this way:  “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey.” 

The mind is a sponge which has an unquenchable thirst.  It is capable of learning something new every minute of the day.  While our bodies may quit growing, the mind never quits changing. The changes our bodies make over time are miniscule compared to the massive growth and change the human mind is capable of, regardless of our age. In fact, it’s been said that the day we stop growing and learning is the day we die.

No matter what our level of education is, we can learn more. Even if we’re a Mozart or a da Vinci, we must have new experiences, teaching, and knowledge in order to produce something different than what we’ve done before.  If we don’t, we’ll stay exactly where we are for the remainder of our days.

Competition feeds the body, soul, and the mind.  Perhaps, though, the greatest competition is that which is within ourselves.  The quest to become better than we were yesterday, stronger than last year, or wiser than ever before in our lives is a lifelong journey.  Self improvement is a process, not a destination.  There is no beginning and there is no end.  It is an integral part of our growth, and when growth ends, the process of death begins.

The mind must be sustained just like the body. If we feed the body today, it isn’t enough to keep it performing for years.  So, too, is the mind. It should be fed with knowledge, words, and experiences to keep it functioning at its optimal level.  If we don’t, the potential masterpiece within us will never be revealed.

Committing to constant improvement is a commitment to living a life as full and rich as possible.  Every book we read, every seminar we attend, and every attempt we make to be better, perform at a higher level, or to seek answers to that which we don’t know is a key which can open new and exciting doors.  Accepting ourselves as we are limits us to the experiences and amount of success we presently know.  Without improvement, we’re stuck right where we’re at.

Self improvement comes in many forms. It can be a process of trial and error, experimenting with our talents and our theories until we perfect them, much the same as Larsen did when he invented WD-40™.  It requires commitment and persistence, as giving up is certain failure.

Self improvement is also the product of learning. By increasing our knowledge, we provide our mind with unlimited sources for innovation and ideas. We learn techniques and strategies which will broaden our horizons and open our eyes. No one knows which morsel of information will unleash their greatness until they’ve obtained it.

So, how can we improve? The greatest knowledge often comes from those who are more experienced than we.  Reading books from those who already have knowledge and experience in the area you want to improve is a great start. Listening to audio tapes and attending seminars and workshops are other ways to capitalize on their lessons. 

A formal education is another great way to accomplish the improvements you seek.  If you’re unhappy in your career, it’s never too late to learn a new trade or obtain a degree in a field which stimulates your mind. Some might reject the idea, thinking they’ll be too old when they’re done; but you’re going to be that old anyway. Remember, the pursuit of happiness and success is a lifelong journey.  The only one who determines just how far you can go is you.

If you want to seek improvement in your present field, a mentor is an excellent way to improve your skills and their results.  A mentor will work with you, providing you with his or her years of experiences, advice, and education in an effort to help you improve and even excel in your career. Often, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is the key to accomplishing goals and avoiding mistakes.

But, perhaps, the greatest improvement tool known to man is his own drive and initiative to push himself harder.  How many professional athletes or Olympic medalists have broken their own records? They are competing with themselves, continually striving for greater endurance, strength, willpower, and mental conditioning.  The quest for improvement is what keeps them going as they raise the bar as soon as they clear it. 

Think about it.  If we didn’t strive to be better, smarter and stronger, time would stand still. We wouldn’t know that man could run a four-minute mile.  We would still have to crank our automobiles to get them started. Computers would still be massive, taking up an entire room while only being able to compute numbers.  We would still think the world was flat. We would spin our wheels, while the movers and shakers sped past us, leaving us stuck forever on our journey to nowhere.

Are you happy where you’re at right now?  Is there anything you would change if you could?  Or, do you ever wonder what life would be like if…If you had more money…If you had a better job…If you could only… There are thousands of ways to finish that sentence. Your job is to finish it, then begin your journey to learn and improve your skills and knowledge so you can change that “if” to “when.” As soon as you know that the things you want to do and the person you want to be are within your reach, you’ll have the motivation and the determination to make it happen.

The destination is often anti-climactic. It’s the journey itself which provides the excitement, the thrill, and the passion which makes life so great.  We must never give up in fulfilling our potential.  Until we’ve become the very best that we can be, we’re still a work in progress.  Committing yourself to constant improvement is the only way you’ll create the masterpiece that you can be.  Until then, you’ll always be a brushstroke shy of the magnificence that is within your reach.  

Sample Two:

Legends—we all know at least one. Our legends come with many faces and from as many diverse fields. Michael Jordan is a basketball legend; Tiger Woods is his counterpart in golf. Mother Teresa was known across the globe for her work and dedication to the poor, sick, and helpless. Almost overnight, Princess Diana became a royal legend and spokesperson for charities and humanitarian issues. And, undoubtedly, Michael Jackson achieved legendary status as a pop star.

            How does one become a legend? Do you have to set world records or gain international notoriety to be a legend? No, you don’t. In fact, becoming a legend is easier than you might think once you know what a legend really is. You become a legend when you do something—anything—so well that people remember you and what you did. When your actions or achievements resonate with others so much that they impact their life, as well as yours, you are a legend. You can be a legend in your own time, with your family, your friends, your coworkers, and peers, or you can even be a legend to people you don’t know. As a parent, you’re already a legend to your children; you’ve done or said something that has created a lifelong impact on them. In many ways, they look up to you and aspire to be like you, just like you once did with your parents.

            Perhaps one of the greatest stories of the journey to becoming a legend is that of Roger Bannister, an athlete whose remarkable achievements proved that we can all exceed our limits. Roger Bannister became a legend when he became the first person to run a four-minute mile. It had never been done before, and physicians even claimed that the human body was incapable of such a feat. But Bannister’s determination proved that the limits imposed upon us by ourselves or others are surmountable. Since then, Bannister’s record has been broken 200 times. It only took one person to prove that the impossible was indeed possible for the four-minute limit to vanish.

            Like Bannister, one of the greatest things about becoming a legend is that your accomplishments inspire others, making them want to replicate your success. And believe me, when you become a legend, you have mastered an impressive level of success. You don’t have to be a Michael Jordan or a Roger Bannister to be a legend, though, and that’s a good thing. Maybe you’ve been acknowledged for consistently meeting your sales goals every quarter over a period of time. You might have won an Employee of the Year, most improved, or top salesperson of the year award. If so, somebody somewhere noted your accomplishment and will remember it for some time to come.

            There are legends in every field, and I want to focus on legends in sales persuasion and influence. I’ve been on a 20-year quest to find the best of the best in those fields, and there are plenty. I’ve studied the teachings and successes of some of the greatest names in the business: Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Chet Holmes and Og Mandino. As a hunter of excellence, I’ve sought to learn from them and have taken their wisdom and joined it with my own experience and knowledge to create a step-by-step process that will take your results from average to amazing. The legends in my lifetime influenced me throughout my life—in the jewelry business, when I worked at Gateway in the computer business, and when I learned from the infamous Tony Robbins and my peers and members of the sales forces I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. You might not hear all of their names on a stage, but they all did something that was memorable and I can say that I remember them and their achievements.

             There are mavericks in sales and in life who know the secrets to using persuasion and influence to create the results they desire. They’ve broken new ground and set the standards higher, proving to all of us that limits are imaginary. We call them the four-minute-milers. Those who achieved such phenomenal success in sales have five common characteristics, and once you master them, you, too, can become the best of the best and be a legend in your own time.

Legends Switch Themselves On Every Day

            Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of not giving it our all from time to time. Whether it’s because we’re bored, disillusioned, or dispassionate, there have been times when we did only what we had to do and nothing more.  By doing so, we create an effort that produces like results.  To achieve impressive or even exceptional results, though, you have to find a way to push yourself to do what others aren’t willing to do. You have to switch yourself to on.

            Switching yourself on is the psychology and internal belief that you’re going to achieve what you set out to do. You’re going to make the sale—you know it and you can feel it. It’s going one step further, taking action, and pursuing your sales and follow-ups with more vigor than the next guy. The great thing is that you already know the basics of selling, unfortunately, the difficult part is getting yourself to do the things that you already know you have to do.

            Legends take action every day to create the results they want. One of the key components of their success is that they know their outcome before they begin. Some people might refer to those outcomes as goals, but I’m going to introduce you to the psychology of having an outcome instead of a goal. Sometimes the words we use to create success serve as a deterrent to our success. It is a fact that language produces emotion, and the word “goal” has historically produced negative emotions. Think about the goals you’ve set in life—whether they were to increase sales, lose weight, or to buy your first house. You probably set that goal with the greatest intentions, but rarely achieved it. Why? Because the word “goal” has a negative connotation which produces feelings of inadequacy, failure, or even unnecessary pressure. However, the word “outcome” is productive and positive. It’s a predetermination that every time you take action, you’ll produce a result or an outcome based on that action. Now, that’s constructive and it produces immediate results, unlike goals where the action you take today might not produce results for quite some time. Because you achieve real, measurable results instantly, you can determine if you’re on the right path or if you need to do something different before you become discouraged.

            Your outcome should be more than a sentence. It should be more than “I want to triple my sales in the next year.” Ask yourself, “What do I want to do today, right now, and what outcome do I expect?” Be specific. See the outcome, picture it in your mind in vivid detail. Feel it and experience the happiness and reward of achieving your outcome. That’s what legends do—they know the outcome before they start and suddenly, they find ways to accomplish it.

            Legendary persuaders and salespeople always know specifically what they want to achieve before they begin. That allows them to know the things to look for in order to produce their desired outcome. This isn’t a new concept; in fact, it’s one that’s scientific and has proven itself countless times in our lives. There’s a part of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS) that teaches your brain what to think about and notice.

            For instance, there are many things going on around you as you’re reading this book. You’re holding it, but you might not be aware of the texture of the paper, even though your fingers are touching the pages. Your feet might be on the floor, but you’re really not aware of that, either. That’s because your brain spends more time scanning information to determine what it doesn’t need, instead of seeking and noticing information that it can use.

            That’s not surprising since we are continually inundated with information. Our five senses constantly feed our brain with the things we see, hear, taste, touch and smell. It’s understandable that we cannot process all of it at one given time. Our reticular activating system is the part of our brain that teaches us what to notice. For example, have you noticed that when you are aware of something, it becomes more frequent in your life? Let’s say you’re thinking about starting a family—suddenly, you see expecting mothers everywhere you go. Or, maybe you want to buy a new car. You go to the dealer and pick out the car of your dreams, and in the next few days, you notice cars of the same model or color on the freeway and in every parking lot. That’s RAS working—those things were always there. You just didn’t notice them until your brain was trained to do so. This process is a fundamental part of the success of legendary salespeople.  They know precisely what they’re seeking because they know their outcome.

            There are things you can do to spur your outcome and bring it to fruition even more quickly. Visualization is one process that reinforces your outcome, and many legends use a vision board for this purpose. A vision board is a bulletin board or a poster that displays photographs and pictures of the things you want, whether it’s that shiny new car or a million dollar bank balance. Your vision board might include the house of your dreams, a vacation on a tropical island or even a life free of debt. If so, find a picture of that house, the sunset over the beach, or a zero-balance credit card statement and prominently display it where you’ll see it often. The stimuli will remind you of the outcomes you want and keep you on focused and on track as you pursue them. Let it be your magnet, inspiring you to switch yourself to on every day until you get the outcome you desire.

            But legends know more than their anticipated outcome—they know why their outcomes are important.  As Jim Rohn states, “When your “why” is clear, your “how” gets easy.”  When your “why” is strong, it compels the emotion you need to make it happen. Without a strong “why,” it’s too easy to throw in the towel. It’s too easy to give up after you’ve been turned down.

            Let’s face it, a sales career is a competitive business. Every day, we’re subjected to rejection. We compete with the economy and competing companies. That’s part of the territory. We have to learn how to conquer those stumbling blocks when they arise and find the fuel to rise above them. Sure, it would be easy to quit trying, complain, or to put the phone back in its cradle, but legends don’t. Their ‘why’ motivates them to keep trying and find a way to overcome the obstacles that are between them and their outcome.

            What’s your “why”? Is it to bring happiness to others? If so, that’s great. Is your ‘why’ to give your children a top-notch education? Is your why for status or material goods? It doesn’t matter, as long as you know what your why is and that it’s strong enough to create the emotion, energy, and drive to make it happen. Figure out what will you compel you to try harder, sell more, do more and contribute more than anyone else.  Think about it every day, put it on your vision board, display your why on post-it notes in your car and office. Let your why be the emotional burst you need to keep on going during challenging times.

            Your peer group is another very effective component you can use to switch yourself on. Who do you surround yourself with on a regular basis? Are they people who support you and the things you want to achieve? Do they play an active role in helping you get the results you want?

            This is so important that Charlie “Tremendous” Jones claims that the people in your life directly impact your financial status. In the movie “Pass It On,” he said, “You are a reflection of your peer group. In fact, your income will be the average of the five people you hang out with most.”

            Too often, we work on our own skills without giving much weight to those around us. The people we associate with have the ability to raise us up or bring us down. Are you socializing or networking with people who will benefit you and your outcomes? Do you have common interests? If you associate with people who are driven, you’ll be motivated. However, if your peer group consists of pessimists, you’ll become discouraged. If you spend time with people who procrastinate, they’ll encourage you to put off what you have to do until tomorrow. You tend to become like the people you hang around with the most.

            Does your peer group include people who can teach, inspire, and propel you to the next level? As a coach, I know the benefits of learning from others. For example, if you want to be a professional tennis player, would you practice with amateurs all of the time? No, you want to challenge yourself, play harder, and learn from people who are at or above your skill level. They’re the ones who will help you achieve your outcomes and who can teach you what you don’t already know. Make sure your peer group includes members who are already where you want to be—they are irreplaceable mentors on your journey.

            Stop everything right now and think about the five people you associate with the most. Are they helping you get to your outcomes, or are they pushing you away from them? I’m not talking about your family—you can’t choose them. I tell my clients to love their family, but pick their peer group. Carefully select them, choosing members who will help you create the disciplines necessary to be excellent, even legendary. Discipline is vital. Don’t think of it as punishment—think of it as a conditioned habit. It’s the repetition you follow every day that is capable of propelling you toward success or delaying it. Make part of that discipline following these key components to switching yourself on, every day, all day.


1 Comment »

  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

    Comment by Vincent Miner — September 22, 2011 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

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