Monday, March 30, 2009

Surfing toward success

While taking a walk along the beach the other day with my wife and son, we noticed a fellow surfing in the Atlantic Ocean.

I spent the first few minutes watching the guy thinking about how cold he must have been. Water temperature in the area averages about 55 degrees in March.

But the more I watched, I noticed the way the surfer would time his attempts to ride waves. As a suitable wave approached, he’d paddle with the wave before standing up and trying to ride it.

Of course, this didn’t happen often. The waves weren’t very large. He had to wait several minutes just to find one large enough to try to ride. We watched him for about 15 to 20 minutes. He only tried to ride five or six waves and only managed to stand up on his board two or three times.

The surfer reminded me of a couple of good lessons for life and business.

First, you have to recognize when the time is right. If you’re thinking about starting a home-based business, now is a great time. When economic woes hit, home-based businesses often thrive.

Second, you have to realize when the right business comes along. If you’re ready to start a business, find an opportunity and company that gives you the best chance of success.

Remember these tips and you’ll be riding the wave of success.

Steve DeVane

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Walking with a new perspective

I recently spent a weekend in North Myrtle Beach with my family. One morning, I went for a walk on the beach with my wife and son. We walked to the Cherry Grove pier.

The walk was pleasant even though it was a cloudy day. We made it to the pier and turned back toward the resort where we were staying.

About halfway back, it occurred to me that the walk going to the pier seemed much shorter than the return trip. It made me realize the importance of perspective.

When we were walking toward the pier, we had a fixed goal in mind. Walking back, our goal was not as visible. Moreover, we realized that we had walked a long way to the pier and now faced a long walk back.

I learned was re-reminded of a couple of good lessons for life and business.

First, always set clear goals. Write them down and celebrate when you reach them.

Second, if you don’t like the way things are looking, it will probably help if you change the way you’re looking at them.

Steve DeVane

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Create success by staying calm

I was thinking earlier tonight about a seminar I went to several years ago that included a session on the way families work. One of the things I learned is the importance of being what the teachers called a “non-anxious presence.”

It seems that often issues that arise within families can be handled if one of those involved can keep his or her anxiety level down. That “non-anxious presence” can serve as a calming agent of sorts.

I often thought of that when uneasy situations arise in my life. I try to stay calm, and I’ve found that helps me deal with whatever I’m facing.

What’s more, I’ve discovered that the peaceful attitude often spreads to those around me.

When the military is choosing its most elite teams, it chooses those who demonstrate the ability to stay calm in chaotic situations. Those making the selections know the importance of staying focused no matter what’s going on around you.

As I was thinking of all this, it occurred to me that business people can also benefit from being a non-anxious presence. For those in network marketing, the opposite often happens. This comes across in two forms.

First, we know we have such a great product that we anxiously share it with anyone and everyone, even if they don’t need it.

Second, we’re often taught “closing” techniques that don’t fit our personalities. Moreover, we know that such strategies are likely to turn off the person to whom we’re talking.

Here’s how you solve both issues: don’t mention your product unless the person gives you a reason to think they might need it, and forget every pressure tactic you’ve learned.

Anyone who buys your product if they don’t need it will never buy it again, and those who are pressured into joining your business will never stay. Both situations waste time and effort and make our profession look bad.

Some of the best advice to help your business can be summed up in two words: stay calm.

Steve DeVane

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting in tune with a lack of stress

Sometimes I get too stressed over stuff that’s not worth it.

Last week, our band was supposed to play during a church service. We had all the songs picked out except the one that would be played right before the sermon.

Of course, that’s considered the most important song of the service. We try hard to make it fit with what the pastor’s going to say in the sermon.

Usually, the bandleader’s pretty good about finding a song that goes with the sermon. He has a knack for such things. Many times after a service, I’ve told him that the music was perfect.

But this particular week, we couldn’t find the right song. At rehearsal, we thought about a couple of different songs, but none were right. We finally decided that we’d have to practice the song on Sunday morning before the service.

Our thinking was that we’d come up with a song during the week. The bandleader and I e-mailed back and forth several times, but nothing clicked. Finally, he decided we’d do a song that wasn’t a great fit for the sermon, but would generally go along with the theme of the service.

At the rehearsal just before the service, we discovered that our children’s choir was also going to sing. After some discussion we decided that they would sing just before the sermon.

Issue settled.

All that worrying for nothing.

Made me realize that I can probably relax about a great many other concerns. Next time I’m stressing about something, I think I'll sing a different tune.

Steve DeVane

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The quick fix can be a good thing

I finally got a new car. Well, it’s not a new car. It’s actually a kind of old car — a 1995 Volkswagen Jetta — but it’s new to me and has a lot less miles than you'd think.

It’s not my dream car, but I got a good deal on it. As a matter of fact, I got a real good deal.

Unfortunately in this case, the deal wasn’t quite as good as it seemed. The car actually broke down on me on the way home after I bought it. I had to get it towed to my mechanic’s shop.

First, he fixed a small oil leak. Then he cleaned out a clogged screen that was keeping oil from getting to the engine. Thankfully, it wasn’t near as expensive as I feared.

My mechanic tried, but couldn’t fix the transmission that was slipping a little. He suggested another mechanic who worked on transmissions.

I took the car to him and initially got good news. A broken part was keeping a filter from doing its job.

He fixed that, but unfortunately, it didn’t correct the problem. He told me the repair would cost more than I paid for the car.

But he also told me a way to work around the problem by starting off in low gear. When I do that, the transmission shifts much better.

The mechanic told me there’s no telling how long the transmission will last. So far, I’ve driven the car more than 500 miles with no issues. I expect I either keep driving it like that or just sell to someone who’s willing to get it fixed.

When I picked the car up, he mechanic told me something that struck me. He said that more than likely the transmission is in such bad shape because the person who owned the car before me didn’t fix the smaller issue.

In other words, if that person would have paid less than $150 to get it fixed then, it wouldn’t be needing a repair costing nearly 10 times that much now.

At first it frustrated me a little, but then I realized that there’s nothing I can do about it now. Moreover, if I’m smart, I can learn something from that person’s mistake.

I thought of all those things in my life that need fixing. I can ignore them and let them get worse, or I can work on making them better now.

It’s the same way in business. The key is finding the right path to success and staying on it. When we see we’re off track, the sooner we get back on the right road the better off we are.

Steve DeVane

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lessons from Larry Legend

I was reading an article the other day on the Sports Illustrated web site about Larry Bird.

The article was an excerpt from “When March went Mad: The Game that Transformed Basketball,” a book about the 1979 NCAA basketball championship between Bird’s Indiana State team and the Michigan State team lead by Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

The article focuses on Bird and how he came to play basketball for Indiana State. He had originally signed and attended Indiana University, but went back home to French Lick, Indiana, after having a bad experience at the school.

Later, Bill Hodges, an assistant coach at Indiana State, went to Bird’s town to talk to him about coming to that school, according to the article. Hodges was talking to Bird about needing good players when Bird suggested a player from French Lick who had graduated from high school a few years earlier.

"He would have been a really good player if he had gone to college," Bird told the coach.

Hodges replied, "You know, Larry, someday they're gonna say the same thing about you if you don't go to school."

The article said that for the first time that day, Bird looked Hodges straight in the eye. He said nothing.

As you probably know, Bird went on to play for Indiana State where in 1979 he led them to the championship game that is the focus of the book. He went on to become one of the great NBA players of all-time.

Later, I couldn’t quit thinking about the comment the coach made to Bird. I thought of all the people who go through life in their own personal French Lick. They realize later they should have taken some chance in life to become who they were meant to be.

If that thought hits you, consider these questions:

• How are you still holding yourself back? Loosen up on the reins a little.

• What kept you from doing what you think you should have done? Make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.

• What feelings arise when you think about missed opportunities? If you feel bad, realize that it’s never too late to do what you should do.

Get in touch with your dreams, then focus on reaching them. Start today.

Steve DeVane

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Success from the inside out

I was in a study group the other night when the leader pointed out that the spiritual life is a paradox, requiring both solitude and contact with others. He was, in effect, encouraging us to spend some time in quiet meditation between our weekly sessions as a group.

Good advice. Every once in a while everyone needs to get away from the chaos of daily life. I think burnout is in large part caused by the way we keep our engines revved way too high for much too long.

Of course we can’t stay shut off from the world for too long, either. We need to stay connected to other people. The relationships we form with other people enhance our lives.

Business can work much the same way. We must look inwardly and become comfortable with ourselves. As one of my mentors likes to say, “You do not have to change who you are to have success in your life or business.”

At the same time, we need a team of people behind us and around us. When a group of people works together for a common purpose, great things happen.

One key to success in life is finding a balance between introspection and interaction.

Steve DeVane