On Being Extraordinary

What Are You Chasing In Your Small Business? Part 3 #4065

What Are You Chasing In Your Small Business? Part 3 #4065

What Are You Chasing In Your Small Business? Part 3 #4065

In episode 4063, part 1 of this little series, we talked about pursuing confidence. Then in part 2, episode 4064, we talked about chasing delusions. Today, I want to wrap up this series with a conversation about chasing the things that will propel you forward while simultaneously ditching the things that will drag you down.

• Pursue optimism over pessimism
• Pursue collaboration over autocracy
• Pursue humility over hubris
• Pursue learning over having the answers
• Pursue growth over stagnation/loss
• Pursue accountability over never answering for your choices/performance

WARNING: It’s more difficult to choose what’s profitable. That’s why you’ll be in select company should you make that choice. The majority of the world takes that path of least resistance where things are easier, but where success can never be found.

The formula is lots of hard work plus leveraging your strengths/skills plus embracing the need to make adjustments all along the way equals your best shot. You need patience while you also elevate your expectations that success and growth can happen today. The paradox of it is intentional. You need to succeed today and you want to succeed even more tomorrow.

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Bula! Life Is Good (Why Optimism Is Your Best Choice) - GROW GREAT

Bula! Life Is Good (Why Optimism Is Your Best Choice) #4059

Bula! Life Is Good (Why Optimism Is Your Best Choice) - GROW GREAT

Over 30 years ago I ran across the term – Bula. I don’t remember where. I do remember instant fondness for the term because it carried the connotation that “life is good.” How can you not like that?

I was so smitten with the term that I began to use it as the greeting on internal memos in the company I was operating. Bula!

A single explanation took care of it. After that, everybody instantly remembered the meaning of the word.

Fast forward and here we are about to enter May 2017. I’ve devoted my professional career to selling, marketing, building organizations, creating processes/workflows and leading people in the quest for us all to grow, individually and collectively. There’s been a crazy amount of change through the years as I’ve chased those pursuits. But one thing has remained a constant – people do make all the difference! Well, something else has remained –

the outlook with which we view ourselves and the world serve to largely determine our destiny

High performers are not only driven, but they’re optimistic. Hopeful. Always chasing a better outcome, an improved version of themselves and a place of higher accomplish. In short, the best performers know that growth and improvement are possible, even probable.

They all have another common trait: willingness. They’re willing to do the work. Willing to do what’s necessary to make it happen. Willing to be responsible and practical. Willing to be patient, realizing that growth takes time. Willing to acknowledge the power of compounding, in everything.

But there’s a contradiction because they’re also unwilling. Unwilling to pursue something they don’t believe in. Unwilling to follow every rule. Unwilling to sacrifice their strengths in order to pursue some weakness. Unwilling to let their lives be ruled by dread. Unwilling to let a single day go by without finding reasons to be optimistic.

For over 2 years I’ve been holding out optimism as I noodled with an idea of serving just a few small business owners. Optimistic that I could make a meaningful impact on the lives of perhaps a few dozen small business owners. Not by holding forth, or being the answer-man to all their problems, but knowing — and believing — in the collective power of small groups of peers (other small business owners) who together could wrestle down problems, more closely exam opportunities and enjoy a depth of relationship designed at learning, growth and improvement.

Magical things happen when you put yourself around optimistic people. The reason is simple: optimism is rare. Negativity is the order of the day. Slamming politicians, blaming the government, finger pointing, shouting — those are the habits most often displayed. They wear on us. In time, we join in. Sometimes not even realizing it’s happening. We moan and complain. We find excuses for our failures instead of celebrating them as efforts in an attempt to find out way, and figure it out. It’s wearisome, robbing us of life, much less a good life.

The losers around us don’t help. They quickly provide ample reasons why our optimism is unfounded. Even foolish.

They reason with us about the latest legislation that will certainly be bad for our business. Or the looming disruptive technologies sure to hurt our company. They yearn for how things once were and cheer us on to join their chorus. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we romanticize the past glory we may have once enjoyed. And get lost in our daydreaming of wondering what happened.

Rubbish. It’s all rubbish.

Life is good. Worth celebrating, and even more worth being thankful for.

Add to this list. Go ahead. I know you’ll be able to do it. And quickly, I’ll bet.

Here are just a few things I’m thankful for:

  • Living in the U.S. where we’re free to pursue our dreams with enormous opportunities
  • Living in this era where we have the Internet and all that it affords
  • Health (whatever measure of it you’ve got, but thankful)
  • Family (I’ve got a wife of almost 40 years, 2 grown kids, 2 kids-in-law, 5 grandkids – don’t tell me life ain’t good)
  • Friends (I more than ever value the really close friends who deeply influence my life)
  • Experiences – the work ones and the personal ones (life has afforded me many lessons, some that were painful but priceless)

You get the drift. We’d be here all day and all night if I merely listed them all. The same goes for you. I don’t care how bad you think things are, or how good. We’re all ridiculously blessed. 

Life isn’t fair or equal. It just IS. Build your bridge and get over it.

That doesn’t mean we accept our current state as being our “fate.” Hogwash. No such thing. Fate is what we make it. Henry Ford was right in that notion about whether we think we can, or we think we can’t – either way, we’re right. We don’t like to think that’s so when we’re down and out. We want to think it’s somebody else’s fault. Surely it’s not on us! Yes, it is.

Own It

If one little phrase has permeated my life over the last decade, it’s this one: own it! Not that I’ve always done it, but that I know I need to always do more of it. Optimism helps.

Fact is, optimism helps EVERYTHING. That’s that why I want to focus your attention on it today. And I’m doing it with a purpose…primarily to show you that it may be time to get out of your own head and into a room where you can share experiences, stories, concerns, worries, opportunities and celebrations with others. People who committed to their own quest for optimism. People determined to not stop growing, learning or caring. People who understand they need people.

When I was a boy Barbra Streisand hit the world by storm. In 1964 she performed a monster hit song, People.

It was true in 1964. It’s true in 2017. And if the world stands, it’ll be true 100 years or 1000 years from now. Our lives are made better by people.

We all know this is true yet we somehow remain isolated with our own thoughts and demons. We go it alone when we could so much more easily go it with others. When we do, our optimism soars and it changes everything. Because we surround ourselves with others who believe we feed our own optimism, which in turn feeds the optimism of those we’re hanging with…and together we all find new heights for ourselves.

Have you ever been fascinated by the stories of actors, singers or comedians who talk about their early years? Those years of toil, struggle and hardship. Do you think it’s coincidental that some of the biggest names you’ve heard of in those arenas are people who “came up together” with other big names? No. There’s a method to that madness. For starters, they all had some degree of talent for the game, whichever game it may have been – acting, musicianship, comedy. Secondly, they all were committed to make it. They worked hard, put in long hours, did whatever they could to survive while they were making it. Thirdly, they all endured the grind because they loved what they were doing. Success takes however long it takes. Some took longer than others. That’s life. Fourthly, they maintained the belief – and determination – that they’d make it. Optimistic that eventually, it would be reality.

Barbra Streisand left home before her 18th birthday. She lived like a gypsy and her mother would lament how she was choosing to live. Her mom’s disbelief fueled Barbra’s belief. As the universe grew pessimistic, she grew more optimistic displaying an “I’ll show you” attitude. Her enormous talent wasn’t going to be enough – it never is. It would require people in her life propping her up, encouraging her, helping her. That combination made her a star. And even then it took time. But had she gone it all alone, it may have never happened.

This isn’t restricted to creative endeavors like acting, music or comedy. It’s universal. You’ve seen it in your life and in the lives of people you know.

One person makes an impact. One person willing to be candid with us because they’re helping us – not because they’re judging us. One person willing to encourage us because they believe in us, not in what we’re doing! And if we’re very lucky, more than one person comes along in our life willing to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

It’s that belief that has driven me for two years to reach this point – a point where I’m pushing all the chips into the middle of the table to bet my professional future on a belief that I can help put people in a virtual room together so they can find new levels of achievement they’ve not yet experienced. In business. In life. Financial. Emotional. Across all spectrums of our lives because we’re not singularly-focused people. We’re complex and our lives often times seem even more so.

It’s about YOU. Your life. At work. At home. When you goof around, or when you’re at your soberest.

It’s about YOUR BUSINESS. The daily challenges. The special challenges. The constraints and the opportunities.

It’s about belief. Confidence.

Optimism. 

It’s fueled by one foundational idea – that no matter how things are right now, they can be improved. That with the help of others we can reach summits we may have doubted even existed.

Fun. Let’s not overlook a major benefit of optimism. It’s just more fun than being negative. It’s more fun to consider how great things will turn out, than to fret about how awful it may be if they don’t.

I’m currently looking for 14 small business owners who share my beliefs. Fourteen people who know they can grow, learn and achieve more than they’ve ever achieved if only they could be surrounded by 7 other people who were like-minded and willing to put in the work that optimistic people know is required. Fourteen people who aren’t satisfied with being surrounded by people more interested in finding excuses than opportunities to learn and improve. Fourteen courageous people willing to step forward with a commitment to grow their business and to grow their own leadership so they can be a more positive influence in the lives of others.

It’s why I’m basically shutting the doors on all other professional activities – all the coaching and consulting – to go all in on this one big idea I call the Bula Network Owners’ Alliance. At long last the term “network” has found it’s true meaning. What started out as a “network” of professional services, and morphed a bit into a podcast has come around to what it was always intended to be – a network of people helping each other. It’s why you may have noticed the tagline appear some months ago…

leveraging connection & collaboration for improved performance

Believe.

Be optimistic.

What have you got to lose? Nothing but your negativity and those things holding you back from soaring as high as you can.

Bula Network Card

People In Your Life Matter: The Difference Maker

You see it in all sorts of places and spaces. I’m a hockey fan. I’ve seen it prominently in the last week or so.

The Dallas Stars re-hired head coach Ken Hitchcock, their 1999 Stanley Cup winning coach. Hitch was most recently fired from the St. Louis Blues in a move he said was very emotional for him. He left St. Louis feeling burned out, thinking he’d never coach again. He lived just minutes away from a local golf course where he’d sometimes go hit balls. During that 10-minute drive he’d get multiple phone calls from coaches around the country wanting his help. Some wanted technical help, others needed emotional support. By the time Hitch got off the phone he was so fueled by the conversations that he said he no longer wanted to hit a golf ball.

Then a 3-day trip to a leadership symposium in New York City added more fuel to the fire Hitch was beginning to feel to go back into coaching. Armed with new and fresh ideas, all the connecting with people who needed his help added value to his life. He confessed that he gained more from these conversations than any of the people who called him. Hitch seemed somewhat surprised by how quickly his fire to coach had been rekindled by people he was serving — who in turn had served him.

Last night the Boston Bruins won game 5 of a “must win” game against the Ottawa Senators. Rookie Bruins’ player, Sean Kuraly stepped up last night scoring twice to bring home the win. In a post game interview he gave credit to his teammates, particularly the veteran players who were “chirping” in his ear during the entire game (which went into double overtime) giving him encouragement. His performance was their performance. Their performance was his performance.

People matter. Particularly the people you allow into your life, and the people who allow you into theirs. Be mindful of your own life and performance by being mindful of who you surround yourself with. This podcast – and my work – is focused on higher human performance, yours! It’s not so much about tactics or techniques. It’s about all of us being human and helping each other while we allow ourselves to be helped by others.

It’s good enough for a Stanley Cup winning hockey coach. It’s good enough for an NHL rookie who can score 2 goals in a clutch game. It’s good enough for YOU.

To find out more about the Bula Network Owners’ Alliance – an exclusive peer advisory group for small business owners – click here.

Subscribe to the podcast

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Thank you!

4 Quadrants Of Growing Great Businesses & Careers #4039 - GROW GREAT Podcast with Randy Cantrell

4 Quadrants Of Growing Great Businesses & Careers #4039

4 Quadrants Of Growing Great Businesses & Careers #4039 - GROW GREAT Podcast with Randy Cantrell

Today’s show is about the four quadrants of how I approach serving people to grow their businesses and careers. They’re quadrants, not in the mathematical sense, but only in the sense that there are four of them and I don’t prioritize them. Well, that’s not actually true because I do intensely focus on quadrant 1 and all the work I do stems from that one. But my approach is quite holistic. I work on all of these simultaneously with clients.

Quadrant 1 is the trifecta of business building: getting new customers, serving existing clients better and not going crazy in the process. The business world has labels for each of these. Getting new clients is sales and marketing. Serving existing customers is work flow, systems and processes. Not going crazy in the process is about leadership and management. We lead people. We manage the work.

Quadrant 2 is about relationships and results. Sometimes I find that we have to first address the issue of capacity. If a team member lacks the skills to get the job done well, then results aren’t going to happen no matter how much work we put into the relationship. However, if people have the capacity to do the job (and presumably to do it well), then we should expect good results. Our relationship has a direct impact on that. If you don’t think so, then you don’t pay attention to college or professional football (the North American kind) and the hiring or firing of coaches. Sometimes talented teams don’t perform up to expectations because the coach is doing a poor job relating to or training the team.

Quadrant 3 is activity and variety. The adage is, “Give it to a busy man if you want it done.” That’s because we know that the person who appears to have enough margin in life to devote to something…well, they often don’t get around to it because they’re mostly in the habit of not doing anything. Instead, we give it to the person who is already busy and it gets done because that person has formed the good habit of doing thing. As for variety, well, I think that counts for quite a lot. Putting ourselves in positions of expanded opportunity and relationships is the way to greater growth. That’s important since the podcast is called GROW GREAT.

Quadrant 3 is repentance. Yes, that’s a spiritual term and don’t everybody likes it. That’s fine. Call it correction is you please. Same thing. We need to face up to our transgressions, own then, then fix them while turning the page.

In some upcoming shows we’ll dive more deeply into each of these, but for today we’re taking a drone’s view of all four. I hope you find it profitable for growing your business and your career.

Randy

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bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

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Do The Work: Influencing Your Destiny #4029- GROW GREAT Podcast with Randy Cantrell

Do The Work: Influencing Your Destiny #4029

Do The Work: Influencing Your Destiny #4029- GROW GREAT Podcast with Randy Cantrell

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.   – Jim Rohn

Truth is, you still need wind. Fuel of some kind. Every engine – your career, your business – needs to be fed. Now before we get too deep in allegories let’s narrow things down just a bit. And let’s try to get specific enough so it can help us. There’s internal fuel and external fuel. We need both. I’m no sailor, but if we stick with that imagery, a sail boat won’t sail itself. There have to be people who operate it. Somebody has to set the sails, navigate and guide it. That’s the internal power. The wind is the external. Without wind you’ve just got a bunch of people sitting around on a boat going nowhere. Some call it a party barge! As fun as it may sound, you don’t want your career or business to resemble a party barge.

What’s Your Inner Fuel?

It’s more than desire. It encompasses things we don’t want, things we want to avoid — but mostly it includes the actions that energize us. Actions over results is really tough because we romanticize results. We envy the big house, the nice cars, the scenic vacation sites. Results, results, results. It’s what everybody wants. Unfortunately, no matter how badly you want more money, or the things more money will bring – that doesn’t address actions.

I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Eleven hours up the highway is Nashville. If I’m chasing a result of being in Nashville, I’ve first got to decide what actions will get me there. Supposing I prefer driving over flying, then I’m going to lean toward driving if time will permit. Why drive when you can fly? Because I may prefer to drive. Driving may be action I love while flying may be action I hate. I’ll do what I hate if I have to, but left to my own devices — I’ll always do what I love over what I hate. You will, too.

The result is getting to Nashville from DFW. How to get there is answered by an inner fuel. Or indifference. Maybe I just don’t care. A bus. A car. A plane. Hitch hiking. Motorcycle. Bicycle. I don’t care. Just get me to Nashville. That’s how some of us are with our careers and businesses. That’s a tough row to hoe.

I’ve long been fascinated with creative spaces, especially musicians. Speaking of Nashville, thousands of people move their annually looking for stardom. Some just want to be a music star. Maybe they don’t care how they get there. “Just get me there.” Others go there because they’re in love with an action – songwriting, playing or performing. Or all three. I’m not saying you can’t be successful by merely focusing on the result, but it’s MUCH bigger grind than getting up each day loving what you do.

People call it passion. That’s too cliché for me. And it’s too shallow, if not limiting. We’ve got to have some kind of aptitude for what we love. Remember, we’re focusing on actions, not dreams. What do you love to DO? What do you love to do that you do reasonably well?

This is about the spot where some people would urge you to answer, “Why?” Purpose is important. So is significance. Sometimes though, we love what we love. And we hate what we hate. If I’m given the option (and the time required) to drive to Nashville versus flying — I’m driving because that’s my preference. Why? I don’t know. I hate the hassles of flying, but sometimes we just like (or love) what we love. Like cheese. I love cheese. I don’t know why. I just do. I know people who hate cheese. I really don’t know why…or how that’s even possible. 😉

Some things just are. And it can be unexplainable. Just like natural ability, or aptitude.

This inner fuel can be difficult to figure out because it hinges on self-awareness. Mostly, it hinges on knowing what your super powers are. Yes, you have them. Their degree of super-ness might not be spectacular, but they’re your strengths. It’s what you’re best at – and it’s what gives you energy. You love it. You enjoy talking about it. Thinking about it. Planning it. Practicing it. Doing it.

Here’s where it gets cumbersome. Is it something you can translate into a career or business? 

I’m a practical guy so I’m going to go ahead and answer the question. “Yes!”

Throw me a curve ball if you want. I’ll hit it. I may not hit it out of the park, but I’ll make solid contact. I’ve never sat down to examine what somebody gets excited and energized about and been stumped at how to help them translate that into their business or career. More often than not, it’s not that hard either. Sometimes we just have to make a minor adjustment in our perspective.

I’m a rock solid behind the scenes guy. Some people are “front of the camera” people while others of us are “behind the camera.” I’m behind. That’s where I’m more comfortable. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy public speaking, or being in front of people. My “behind the camera” wiring is slightly different than that. I love helping other people climb higher. My fuel gauge moves closer to FULL when I’m helping somebody figure out something that will move the needle on their business or career. That self-awareness helps me go all in on one of my super-powers. I don’t worry about trying to be something I’m not. I’m way too happy to shove my chips into the middle of the table to help somebody reach the next rung on the ladder. The real heart of it is the depth of the service though. It’s a lot less about being behind the camera and it’s more about going deep with people. It’s not even a conscious thing. It’s one of “how it is” kind of things.

So my career has pretty much mirrored that because to go any other way is more draining on me. Fly-by service frustrates me. Well, that’s an understatement. It drives me nuts. I sit down with somebody and they confess some struggle…I have to help if I’m able. I can’t just sit there passively, listen, then get up and say, “Well, good luck. I hope it all works out.” No, I’ve got to get involved.

Years ago during a period of reflection – especially on my youth – I realized I did it as a kid in grade school. I’ve always been a person who got involved. If friends got into conflict, I stepped in to make peace. If a classmate was crossing the line that might get them in trouble with a teacher, I’d urge them to stop before they got in trouble. Look closely enough and you’ll see things in your own life (and childhood) that indicate where you get an energy boost.

Is it the work or is it the results?

Destiny usually denotes results. Of course, without the work there are no results. As for ownership, it’s easy to own the results if they’re positive. Less so if they’re not.

What about all the days, hours and minutes we spend doing the work? That’s the real focus of today’s show – the work. The things you do every single day. The stuff that consumes your time, your energy and your mindspace.

The painter paints. The writer writes. The singer sings.

The painting, the writing and the song all matter – but every single day, the art is found in the work, not the object created. Destiny is influenced not by what we dream about, but by what we do. It’s in the actual work!

What do you love to do? What actions (and thoughts) give you energy? That’s where you should focus more attention. 

Too many business owners and executives devote themselves (or they devote too much time) to areas too far from their strengths. Sometimes they think it’s required…that if they don’t, their teams will see them as weaker. Sometimes they lack self-awareness to know their true strengths and how to best leverage those. And sometimes it’s completely different — we’ve all got stuff that gets in our way.

Stop being something you’re not. Stop trying to be somebody you don’t want to be.

There are 2 fundamentals I commonly see that prompt people to devote too much time and effort to be somebody other than who they most should be:

  1. They listen too much to other people who don’t have their best interest at heart.
  2. They compare themselves with others.

Quite often, it’s both.

When you think about the actual work you do – ask yourself what impact these two things have on your work. Who are you listening to? What are they telling you?

Think about things from their perspective. What considerations are important to them? It doesn’t make them wrong, or bad. You just need to understand. We all have wants and desires. We approach situations with a viewpoint that most often strongly considers what’s ideal for us. That doesn’t make us selfish. It makes us human. Even so, it’s possible for a person to fail to consider the outcome for others. It’s also possible for a person to strongly consider the outcome for others. There are no truly objective perspectives. We all have viewpoints that enter our judgments.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is to accurately identify them. Let me confess my viewpoint and my bias. As a servant to top leaders and business owners, I want my service to be highly valuable. I want my clients to not only sense value in my work, but I want it to make a meaningful improvement in their career and work. While I’d like to work with them for some length of time, I’m not working to make them dependent on me. I’m working to make them better and hoping that ongoing improvement prolongs my opportunity. But it’s very individual in my work. For some, the objective is navigating through some present distress. When that distress is passed, I feel like my work is done and I’m like a proud parent ready to see a grown up child go make his own mark on the world. It’s not hard to walk away knowing I’ve served well.

I’m a mature, seasoned business guy though. And that plays a major role. All my work – ALL of it – is currently legacy work. Yes, I want to earn money. I want to provide for my family a comfortable lifestyle, but that’s not the driver. The driver is to pass on what I’ve learned. To help. To serve. To teach. To train. To provoke. I’m never shy about my end game. It’s neither right, nor wrong. It just IS. But I’m honest and candid about what it is. No client ever has to wonder where I’m coming from. Most appreciate it. On very rare occasions, some don’t. That’s fine. I make no apologies and I maintain complete candor. The rest is up to the client.

Problems enter when people behave or act as though they don’t have an agenda. We all have an agenda. I’ve just confessed mine. When a CEO has board members who encourage a decision, saying they just have the company’s best interest at heart – maybe they do, maybe they don’t. The CEO has to figure that out. You’re not shocked to know that not every board member has the best interest of the company in mind 100% of the time. CEO’s can be pressured or swayed into actions – work – by well-intended board members who have an agenda that may not be congruent with the agenda of the CEO. That doesn’t mean the relationship has to be adversarial. It just means the CEO better have a a good understanding of what’s really going on, or he’ll find himself doing work that isn’t in his best interest, or the company’s. He may end up trying to be something he’s not. The corporate landfill is heaped high with CEO’s who surrendered their strongest skill set (and love) with things others thought was best.

Comparing ourselves with others is a hazard we’re all prone to step into. Sometimes it’s a shallow puddle. Other times it’s quicksand that we can’t find our way out of.

This is your life. Nobody else’s.

When I was growing up there was a popular TV show called, This Is Your Life. It was hosted by Ralph Edwards and somebody famous would be fooled into coming on set, thinking they were going to a party or something. The show would chronicle the person’s life, going back to childhood and a number of important people from the person’s past would appear, surprising the show’s guest. It was live TV’s version of a biography of a living person, with that person sitting on the sofa on set. It indeed was THEIR life.

Your life may not be the subject of a live TV show, but it may as well be. What if you thought of it that way? What if starting right now – at this very moment – you considered your life as being on that old TV show?

I’ve watched many episodes of that show and never was the focus on the guest’s life compared to somebody else’s. What a boring show that would have been! No, it was always about their life – warts and all. It was a story of what went right, what went wrong, what they learned, who was important, what role they played and what the guest had accomplished. It was their story…uniquely their own. And so we watched, because their story was different from others.

Stop trying to copy others.

It won’t work anyway. Except to frustrate you, make you feel inferior and fuel your discontentment.

I know CEO’s and business owners who don’t crack 6-figures in annual income. I know others who make millions every year in personal income. What difference does it make? Should the $90K CEO pay closer attention to the $40M CEO? If they should, why? What is there to be gained other than jealousy or envy?

That brings me back to the work. Are there things Jeff Bezos is doing at Amazon that fascinate me? Absolutely. I pay attention to his work and his genius. I’m not him and I’m not going to waste a second trying to be. But his work is interesting. His personal fortune has no impact on my life. Or yours. My life, my family’s life, your life and your family’s life is not influenced by the personal wealth of Jeff Bezos.

But I know CEO’s and business owners who grow fixated on the new house or new car of a rival, an acquaintance or somebody else they know (or know of). I saw the other say an article on Matt Lauer’s new place in the Hamptons, a mere $33M estate. That news didn’t impact my life or my family’s life one whit. Nor does the fact that Mr. Lauer earns $20M a year. Or the rumors that he may not be renewed when his present contract expires. That’s his life and it’s important to HIM. To HIS family. His public celebrity aside, I don’t much care. And since I don’t watch his morning TV show, it really hasn’t got anything to do with me.

But there are other people who do have an influence on me. I catch myself falling into the trap of comparing myself with them. And they’re not so unlike Matt Lauer to me. They don’t have an impact on my life…except I let them. People can hold themselves up as the bastion of success and I can fall into the trap of looking more closely than I should at who they are, what they’re doing — and I can briefly (I try to snap out of it as quickly as I can once I see what I’m doing) succumb to changing my actions. No, it never works out well for me. It’s always a set back. And I have to work twice as hard to regain the ground I lost with the distraction. You’d think I’d learn to stop doing it altogether, but I’m not that strong. Sometimes the siren call of somebody’s success catches my attention and like the rubberneckers peering at a traffic accident, I have to look. And I have to keep looking. Until I realize what a stupid mistake I’m making.

You can’t completely avoid these two pitfalls, but you can manage them. Be aware. Find out what’s really going on and ask yourself, “What really matters here?”

It boils down to your work. Like the old TV show, this is YOUR life. The stuff you fill your days with is going to determine the outcome. What you do, what choices you make, who you let into your life…all these things matter. It doesn’t matter how big your house is. Matt Lauer’s place in the Hamptons once belonged to Richard Gere. Richard has moved on. One day Matt will, too. Their lives aren’t where they live. Yours isn’t either.

You have to live with yourself and your own choices. Own it. Do the work you most want to do. Say “no” to the things that rob you of your energy to be your best. Avoid the distractions other throw in your path, intentionally or not. You may not be able to control your destiny, but by becoming more devoted to the work that matters most to you – and by doing it the way you most want to do it – could be your best bet to influence your destiny.

Randy

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