In this Wisdom Note, let us consider this thought, “When we are hiking and in our daily lives, it is imperative that we enhance our power of observation. The more we increase our ability to observe, learn, and understand, the wiser we will become.”
In this note, we will expand on the trail of opportunity that we began last week and observe the 11 mile markers that will teach us some life-changing lessons. Once we have mastered these lessons, we will be able to more effectively impact the lives of others, which will allow us to create a living legacy that ripples through our world and through generations to come. I have gleaned these lessons from one of my virtual mentors Zig Ziglar, who has impacted millions throughout the world.
The trail will be a little longer this week, but it is a beautiful time of year to take our trek. Visualize in your mind as we meander down the trail, we are looking for the mile markers that should be along the path. We must use our keen sense of observation, otherwise we may miss the markers, which at times are hidden in the underbrush. In the same way, many important markers in our lives become hidden with all the stuff that we buy or the activities we do, and we miss very important lessons.
Finally, the first of 11 mile markers comes into view.
Mile-Marker #1 – First help others.
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
It’s possible to get ahead in life by taking advantage of other people. But it’s far better (and easier) to get ahead by understanding what people want and then helping them get it. Once you’ve gone out of your way to solve somebody’s problem, they’ll go out of their way to help you achieve your goals. The goal of every successful person is to help as many people as possible as much as possible. When you create something that’s of great value to many people, your life or business is assured of success.
Mile Marker #2 – Success is lived.
“Success is in the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph.”
Seeing success as an end goal is one of the biggest misconceptions of success. Success is actually an ongoing journey, more about enjoying the trail than the destination. According to Zig, the most rewarding part of becoming a successful person is the actual becoming. He said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Mile Marker #3 – Keep moving.
“Remember there is plenty of room at the top — but not enough to sit down.”
To be a difference maker in this world, you must continue moving forward until the very end. A strong work ethic is a key to success. “Get rich quick” schemes will never work. “The elevator to success is broken, but the stairs to success are always available.” Many people have negative associations with hard work. But just as climbing the stairs can be more satisfying than riding the elevator, the work of success doesn’t have to feel hard at all. Zig put it this way, “You don’t pay the price for success. You enjoy the price for success.” Proverbs 13:11 puts it this way, “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”
Mile Marker #4 – Actually, you do have time.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
One excuse that I don’t have much patience for is “I don’t have enough time.” Every person that’s ever lived has had the same number of hours in a day, week, or year. The difference between people who achieve their ambitious goals and those who don’t is the ability to harness those hours purposefully and efficiently.
Next time you feel like you don’t have enough time to do what you want to do, think about somebody you admire who’s accomplished that and more. If they could find the time, then so can you. Learn to use your time wisely. As Zig said, “You can earn more money, but when time is spent it’s gone forever.”
Mile Marker #5 – Make motivation a habit.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Self-motivation needs to be part of your daily routine. No person or external force can motivate you. It must come from within. Learn and practice daily habits that will motivate you.
Mile Marker #6 – Find good everywhere.
“The healthiest of all human emotions is gratitude.”
Zig has always emphasized the importance of your attitude (“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”) And, he’s called gratitude “the most important and by far the most life-changing attitude.”
No matter how bad you think your situation is, you can still be thankful for what you have – whether that’s your health, your family, or simply the fact that you’re alive on this amazing planet. Appreciating what you have can help set in motion events that will give you more to be thankful for…“The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more you will have to express gratitude for.”
You can learn to love just about any situation in life if you remind yourself every morning and every night of everything that you do like about that situation, even small things.
Mile Marker #7 – Over-deliver.
“When we do more than we are paid to do, eventually we will be paid more for what we do.”
This is a principle that will eventually pay rewards. “Over-deliver in all you do, and soon you will be rewarded for the extra effort.”
Mile Marker #8 – Delay gratification.
With fast-food restaurants on every corner and high-speed Internet in the palm of our hands, we live in a world of instant gratification. But instant gratification disappears as quickly as it comes, and it often does little to advance your long-term goals. “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.” If you always succumb to immediate desires, then you’re always going to be living from one fleeting pleasure to the next. Instead, take action in the present based on what you want most in the long-term.
“Discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and the day will come when you will be able to do the things you want to when you want do them!” And, “Learn to live a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
Mile Marker #9 – Focus on Inward Change
“You are the only one who can use your ability. It is an awesome responsibility.”
If you have problems with other people, realize that “You’re not going to change anybody else, so focus on what you need to change within yourself.” People do what they want, whether you like it or not. Exerting your energy to try to force someone to do something they won’t or be something they aren’t is frustrating to both parties. With that said, people may choose to treat you differently when you behave differently. “When you choose to be pleasant and positive in the way you treat others, you have also chosen, in most cases, how you are going to be treated by others.”
Mile Marker #10 – Just start.
“People who won’t take step number one never take step number two.”
Sometimes beginning is the most difficult part of a task or project, especially when we get wrapped up thinking about all of the potential complexities and challenges. If you’ve been procrastinating on something important, commit to taking five minutes and completing the first step. You may be surprised how much more doable the project seems after you simply start it.
Mile Marker #11 – Character is everything.
“Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life.”
You must be a person of values. Always conduct yourself with honesty and integrity because that is the right thing to do morally — but it is also a good life practice. “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. But if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”
You might benefit in the short-term by deceiving and short-changing people. But it’s a losing game in the end. Realize “You can get everything money will buy without a lick of character. But you can’t get any of the things money won’t buy: happiness, joy, peace of mind, and winning relationships.”
As we come to the end of our lessons for today, even if it has been a difficult day, always remember that “Yesterday ended last night. Today is a brand-new day and it’s yours.”