Friday, June 27, 2008

Finding the keys to life

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The other day I got out my keys to unlock the door at my office. While looking for the key to the door, I noticed an old GM car key.

I don't remember where I got that key. I suppose it went to one of our old cars. I have no idea which one.

Why is it still on my key ring?

Don't know.

Perhaps at some time it held some special meaning to me. But if it did, I don't have a clue what it was.

Or maybe I just forgot to give it to whoever bought one of our old cars. If so, I expect the person just paid a buck or so and got another key made. They had to have at least one key to the car or they wouldn't have been able to drive the car.

Seeing the unknown key, made me take a closer look at the keys on my key ring. On my key ring are nine keys and one of those keyless entry things.

Of the nine keys, I know I need four — one to my car, one to my wife's car, one to my house and one to my office.

One of the keys is to an old briefcase that I don't use anymore and is never locked anyway.

I don't know what four of the keys fit. The above mentioned car key and three keys that look like they might be house keys.

One of them might go to my parents' house, but the other two probably go to one of the places where we once lived. But I'm pretty sure they don't go to the house from where we just moved and we lived there about 14 years. In other words, I probably haven't needed those keys in at least 15 years or so.

The keyless entry deal doesn't work anymore. Don't know why it's still there.

So, of all the junk on my key ring, I could get by at most just five keys. About half the stuff can be removed without harm.

All of this got me to thinking about my life. How much useless junk am I carrying around for no good reason? How much stuff in my life serves no good purpose?

From time to time, we need to take a look at all the baggage in our life. Perhaps a good chunk of it is doing nothing but slowing us down.

How many keys in your life no longer fit? Perhaps you've long since unlocked those doors and need to move on.

Steve DeVane
This free mentoring program is a key part of my business and my life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning along the journey

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I'm leaving soon for a mission trip with my church. We're going to another country to help build a room for a church and lead a Vacation Bible school for the children.

In preparation for the trip, one of our leaders talked about some ways we could make the trip a success. It occurred to me that her suggestions also made good advice for life.

First, we're supposed to realize that we're the outsiders. We'll be in a different culture. We shouldn't expect the people there to be just like us. Instead, we should get to know the people, love them and listen to them.

In our everyday lives, we might not be visiting a separate culture, but we still need to understand that other people are not just like us. Other people come at life from a different perspective. Try to look at things from their point of view and you'll understand them better and have a much better relationship.

Taking the time to get to know people is always worth the effort. Listening to their stories is a good start on learning to love them.

Another suggestion for our trip was think about what we can learn in every situation.

In life, we should seek to be constantly learning. Every experience is a teacher. We need to only look for the lesson.

We were also told to think about how best we can serve other people, how best we can help them succeed.

Serving other people is always a good strategy. When we help other people, we're always the better for it. Helping them succeed moves us forward on our journey to success.

Steve DeVane
When I need to move forward, I read Success in 10 Steps.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Putting words into action

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Recently a friend of mine showed me a list of famous Napoleon Hill quotes. Since Hill is the author of "Think and Grow Rich," one of my favorite motivational books, I read the quotes closely. Here are a few that have helped me in life and in business.

"Don't wait. The time will never be just right."

Often we find ourselves overanalyzing our situation in life. We think of something we want to do, then we try to come up with a plan to do it. The plan isn't quite right, so we plan some more. We plan and plan and plan and plan some more.

I've come to realize that planning is one way of not taking the action we need to take. When we put effort into doing instead of planning, we get much more accomplished.

"Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything."

Too often, we spend energy on things that are not that important. We don't take time to think about what we really desire. Sometimes we know what we desire, but we get distracted from the actions that will move us toward those desires.

When deciding what to do, we should always ask ourselves if that action will move us toward our desires. If it does, we should do it. If not, we shouldn't.

"Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit."

Many times we give up on our desires too easily. We hit an obstacle and abandon our dreams. How many times were we close to reaching our goal when we threw in the towel?

One of my favorite sports figures when I was growing up was Jim Valvano, the late coach of the N.C. State basketball team. Even as he was dying from cancer he urged people to "never give up."

In 1983, Valvano's team won the NCAA basketball tournament despite being heavy underdogs. Several times in the tournament the team was behind late in the game, but the players never gave up and won the championship.

"The world has the habit of making room for the man whose actions show that he knows where he is going."

Consider the three parts to this quote in reverse order.

First, we must know where we're going. We'll never get to where we want if we don't first decide on the destination. It has been said that someone who doesn't know where they're going will surely get there.

Second, we must take the action necessary to get there. Once we know where we're going, we have to take the steps to get there. Action is the key.

Finally, then and only then will the world make room for us to accomplish our desires. When we know our desires and do what we know we need to reach them, the path to success becomes clearer and easier.

Steve DeVane
This free e-book helped me discover the steps to success.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Now is the time

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When I was young, I loved to play sports. Basketball was my favorite, but I liked other games, too.

Most of the games I played were pick-up games in the backyard or in the street. One of my friends even painted yard lines on our street so we could play football.

But I also played some organized sports. Some of my favorite memories came from playing church-league basketball and softball games.

One year, my cousin's father, Jack Llull, said that he'd coach our softball team. Now, most of the guys on the team were pretty decent athletes, but I didn't think we were going to be that great.

That year I found out how much difference a coach can make. Mr. Llull knew softball (and I found out later most every sport) like no one I'd ever known.

He'd pay attention to the smallest details. When a player on the other team hit the ball we always had them played perfectly. It seemed like they'd always hit the ball right where we were playing.

When we were at bat, Mr. Llull had a rule. We could never hit until we had a strike and we could never hit if we had three balls and only one strike.

There was only one exception to the rule. We could hit away when Mr. Llull, who always coached third base, would say, "Now's the time."

I loved it when I'd come up to hit and I'd look down at Mr. Llull and he'd say, "Now's the time, Steve."

I'd almost always get a great pitch to hit. I was so excited, I usually knocked the tar out of the ball. I think I hit better that year than ever.

One day I asked Mr. Llull why he only let us hit like that in certain situations. When he explained it, I understood it immediately.

When he was coaching third base, Mr. Llull was studying the pitcher. He first determined whether or not the pitcher could control where he pitched it.

If the pitcher didn't have much control, we had to keep waiting until we got a strike to hit it. We usually walked a lot, which helped us score runs.

But sometimes, the pitcher was pretty good and could pitch strikes and balls whenever he wanted. After a while the pitcher would start figuring out that we were never swinging until we got a strike. So he'd start grooving the first pitch down the middle trying to get ahead in the count.

That was when we'd hear Mr. Llull say, "Now's the time."

I didn't realize it at the time, but Mr. Llull taught me about more than just softball.

First I learned to be observant.

I had played a lot of softball and had never paid much attention to what the pitcher was doing until I got up to bat. It didn't occur to me that what happened to the batter before me or even several batters before me might impact what the pitcher pitches to me.

In life, opportunities sometimes come along in unexpected ways. If we're not paying attention, we might miss them. We can learn from our mistakes, but we can also learn from our successes. And we can learn from the experiences of others.

Next, I learned that there are times to be patient and there are times to act.

We were always excited to hear the words that meant we could swing, but often it was just as important that the batters before us had walked because they didn't swing when they shouldn't have.

There are times in life when planning and analysis are needed. But there are also times to act, times to move forward and do what needs to be done.

Finally, I learned how everything fits together in softball and in life. That year, we won the regular season softball championship. We didn't have the best players, but we were the best team.

In life, we often get too focused on ourselves and our situations. To be successful, it takes a team. As we help others, we often help ourselves.

After that year, I was a better softball player and a better person.

Coach Llull, I never told you that, and now it seems like I might not get that chance. I've got a feeling you knew anyway.

Steve DeVane

Monday, June 9, 2008

Where there's a wheel, there's a way

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Every once in a while it's good to sit back and take a good, long look at life. Here's a simple, easy way to think about where you are. It's called the wheel of life.

First, draw a circle. Make it plenty big enough to write in.

Now divide the circle into eight pieces. You do that by drawing a line straight up and down, then one side by side. That makes four pieces. Then draw two more lines diagonally each way to divide the four into eight.

Now write these in the eight sections:

Career

Family and friends

Significant other/ romance

Fun and recreation

Health

Money

Personal growth

Physical environment

Now, take several minutes and think about how your life is going in each area. After you've given it some thought, rate it on a scale of 1-10.

Then think of the center of the circle as zero and the outside of the circle as 10. Draw a line in each area where you rated.

Now take a look at the circle. That's your wheel of life.

Notice if it's uneven or pretty round.

See which areas you make you feel good and which areas need some work. Perhaps you need some coaching to help your wheel ride a little smoother.

Steve DeVane
This free mentoring system helped me in several areas of my life.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Marketing with no agenda

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Is it possible to be a marketer and have no agenda?

That question has been on my mind lately.

At first it seems the answer is no. After all, isn't a marketer's agenda always to market his product or service Doesn't marketing something mean you're trying to sell it? And if you're trying to sell something, that's an agenda, right?

Dictionary.com defines marketing as "the act of buying or selling in a market" or as "the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling."

How can someone involved in that have no agenda? Is it possible? If it is possible, wouldn't it be futile. How could someone with no agenda market anything.

In the midst of my contemplation, I read a definition of marketing by Joe Vitale. "Marketing is sharing your love for what you do with the people who will most celebrate hearing about it," he said on his blog.

That's a great perspective on marketing. Let's take a closer look at it in light of whether or not it's possible to market with no agenda.

First, Vitale says marketing is sharing your love for what you do. Is it possible to do that with no agenda? Absolutely.

Sharing is not selling. When you share something, you don't need an agenda. The focus is on helping another person.

Furthermore, you're sharing the love you have for what you do. You share because of your love, not because of greed or other negative motivations.

Vitale further says that you share with "the people who will most celebrate hearing about it." That's the key. You're not sharing with anyone and everyone. You're not hitting people over the head with your products or trying to cram your services down someone's throat.

If you're sharing what you love with people who want to hear about it, there's no need for an agenda.

So find what you love and share it with people who will love you for sharing it with them. No agenda needed.

Steve DeVane
This marketing system taught me the value of having no agenda.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Use whatever life gives you

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A friend of mine is a huge Tony Robbins fan. He told me the other day that Robbins says that one of the most important decisions you can make to ensure you long-term happiness is to decide to use whatever life gives you in the moment.

According to my friend, Robbins says there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if:

1. You clearly decide what it is that you’re absolutely committed to achieving,

2. You are willing to take massive action,

3. You notice what’s working or not, and

4. You continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way.

I think Robbins provides an excellent blueprint for living and for life.

First, decide where you want to go. I've come to see one of my purposes in life is to help people decide where they should go and how best to get there. Don't just take off without deciding where to go. If you don't you might be headed in the wrong direction.

Next, take action. The best plans aren't worth squat if you don't do what it takes to carry them out. Robbins takes it a step further, suggesting "massive action." If you want to live your dreams and own your life, you have to go after it in a big way.

Then, assess the situation as you go. Notice what's working and what isn't, Robbins says. When you start taking massive action, invariably some things will work and some won't. Keep doing the things that work, but jettison the ones that don't.

Finally, continue to adjust until you're getting the results you want. Think of it like taking a trip in your car. You never go in a straight line from your house to your destination. That would take you through houses and trees and all kinds of things.

Instead, you make turns and take curves, constantly adjusting your path, but staying on course throughout the journey.

For more thoughts on Tony Robbins and his philosophy, check out this thread at Your World Your Life, a personal development forum.

Steve DeVane
This free e-book helped get my business and my life headed in the right direction.