I’m obsessed with earning things, even to the point of avoiding help sometimes (I’m trying to change that). I just never wanted to be the guy who “made it” because someone gave it to me.
I want to earn my dreams.
Just watch the average Christmas or birthday gift opening session and you’ll see what I’m talking about. While there will always be some exciting gifts, most gifts I’ve seen (or given) have been set aside with a brief “thanks” and fail to make an impact.
That’s how life works too. Earning something matters:
Students who pay for their own college usually don’t get drunk every night.
Business owners who build their companies typically lead them better than those who inherit them.
Employees that earn promotions usually care more about their work than those who get promoted due to nepotism, intra-office relationships, blackmail, etc.
Nearly 100% of people who win the lottery blow it all and end up poor.
In nearly every case that I’ve seen, the people who earn something always cherish it more than those who are given it.
I want to cherish my life.
Reality Meets Ideology
In reality, rarely does anyone accomplish anything 100% on their own. Believe me. I learned this the hard way trying to do too much alone.
In almost every case we are in our current situation because of others.
However, this fact doesn’t mean a collaborative life has to be meaningless and empty because we didn’t “earn it” every inch of the way. The above principle still applies. The way we feel a sense of accomplishment is when we effectively use what we’ve been given to accomplish more, push further, and find a way to slice the daily bread that’s been given to us.
In this metaphor, we may not earn “the bread”, but we do earn what happens when we slice it, cook with it, and use it to do something amazing. In other words, just because someone gave us the bread doesn’t mean we didn’t earn the french toast, bread pudding, or club sandwich we just made.
Earning is a mindset.
If you care about your employees, family members, or friends…help them earn something. Don’t just give it to them. That’s the best gift you can give.
I want my children to live a fulfilling life of meaningful achievements and I think it starts when they’re young. Today, my wife and I gave our 4 year old daughter her first bike.
However, she had to “earn it.”
She did extra chores, weeded the garden, hauled hedge clippings, and helped dad with a commercial (below). When she saw the bike that she earned, it may have been the sweetest moment in her entire life!
Success! Accomplishment! Earning!
Her hard work paid off. Now she’s got a taste for hard work, winning, and her shiny new bike.
Tonight my friends, I urge you to keep slicing your own bread, make those around you earn it, and cherish your life.
Before I share my own ultimate goal in life, let me explain my “Go Big or Go Home” goal setting logic.
Small, vague goals don’t work for me. I’ve watched what happens when organizations or people set specific goals that are bold and it does something special to them. When JFK declared to the world that we would land a man on the moon, it captured the attention and imagination of billions of people.
With focus, pride, and hope, a nation poured its passion into a project that just a few years before would have been seemingly impossible. In doing so, we not only inspired generations of young children, but also invented many things we use today.
By setting the bar so high, we became better for it. It defined us as leaders, inventors, and pioneers.
When challenging NASA to land a person on Mars, President Obama called the moon landing “…an endeavor that pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, of our technological prowess, of our very capacity as human beings to solve problems.”
I only get one life, so for my one goal, I needed to choose something big…something that would inspire me, push my boundaries, and lift me up to be a better person.
Here goes nothing…
My ultimate goal in life is to give away a billion dollars.
I have this deep desire to use my life to make a big difference for other people and I think a billion dollars put towards some amazing causes ought to do it.
Some of my closest advisers think I’m losing it. They gently remind me that a billion dollars is a LOT of money since I started from nothing and just took a beating in this economy. It’s hard to disagree with them, but after wrestling with this one I just can’t shoot any lower or I’ll lose my inspiration.
Since I hear some snickers from the back of the room, let me explain. Here are five reasons why I choose the “Go Big or Go Home” goal setting approach and this goal in particular:
1) It explains who I am
My ultimate goal serves as a personal brand promise. It says that I believe in something bigger than myself and that I like an epic challenge (also that I’m a little nuts).
It’s clear that I like to dream big dreams and chase them down. When partnering with me, I’d like people to know that I’m chasing something bigger than myself.
I’m not driven out of selfish ambition. I’m giving my life for others.
2) It’s big enough to capture my imagination and dedicate my entire life to it
I need a big enough challenge to keep my attention and drive me forward. This goal will most likely be the thing I chase until my last breath, giving me plenty of time to focus, strategize, and build towards it. No changing gears, message, or personal brand. This goal keeps it simple and focused. This is it. My whole life is on the line.
Will I fail?
3) If I fail, I will still make a difference
I believe that life is about the journey, not just the destination. If I’m going on a journey, I want to be traveling towards something amazing. It makes the hard parts easier.
Also, I don’t like to fail, but if I only give away $700 Million there will still be lots to celebrate. One cannot have a focused ultimate life goal like this and not have other achievements along the way. When people are pushed to be their best, good things happen well before the final goal is reached.
4) It is motivating
I used to be the development director of an inner city school in Milwaukee and we were able to raise about $2 Million and build a school that changed the world for hundreds of kids. Some of those kids are headed to college now. That experience changed me. It feels good to give, and it feels great to make a difference in the lives of others. It gives profit a new meaning.
5) I’m able to include others
I cannot do it alone. I will need others to join me, so I’m going to start a foundation and gifts from others will count towards my goal. My wife, kids, family, friends, and others who care about this goal will be able to take part in changing tens of thousands of lives. If I achieve my goal, it means others have too. I’ve always believed in teamwork and I can’t wait to travel down this road with others.
It begins now.
Let me know if you have any suggestions. I’m going to need all the help I can get.
In this tough global recession, many talented 8pm Warriors around the world are struggling with very difficult battles. Dreams shattered. Relationships broken. Visions fading.
I have my struggles and I’m not alone.
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
It’s interesting that thousands of years ago, Plato understood a fact of life that is forgotten by many today. Even the most successful among us are fighting hard battles, yet sometimes social media and shallow modern communication methods make us feel alone on the battlefield.
We only share the good things.
After all, how many successful people do you know checking into a bankruptcy attorney’s office on foursquare, tweeting about their marriage counseling, or posting screen shots of their empty bank accounts on Facebook? When people only share the bright side, it makes it easy to forget the battles we’re all facing simultaneously.
But let us not forget! Let’s be kind, pick each other up, and make a difference in the lives of those around us. Now’s the time to build character and relationships for the future. Good times are ahead!
Let me know if I can help. 8pm Warriors have to stick together.
Today, someone with 260,000 followers retweeted my post about the Menards Website Hacking fiasco I discovered. Very kind of Dave. One of my other friends Jeremy Holmes thought it was too bad that he didn’t offer the mention with the retweet, so I messaged Dave to ask about it. After all, he had already found it interesting enough to retweet once and it couldn’t hurt to ask if he’d help out.
“Apologies, can’t do it. Have to be consistent. We get a TON of special requests, can’t show favoritism. Sorry.”
I didn’t get how someone could call giving credit on a retweet a “special request.” I thought that was just the courteous thing to do.
The warrior side of me came out and I got irritated. Some good friends jumped in to defend the concept of giving credit and what proceeded was an hour long public debate as he lectured me on the standards of giving credit and everyone ganged up on the poor guy. Now we’re both writing blogs about our experience and what we learned.
Here’s my general take on the topic. For me, a simple “No” would have been fine. I understand how valuable time is, especially to someone who has that many followers. I can only imagine how much contact he has to deal with. However, what I didn’t understand was saying no to someone in order to save time and then wasting the extra time lecturing them. It’s so much easier just to help people, at least in my smaller world.
It only makes sense.
People still matter. Even though he has a Klout score of 84 and 260,000 followers, people still matter. Great things happen when you help people.
Time matters. If you don’t have time to help someone, don’t lecture them. It is disengenuous. In the time it takes to argue, you could seriously make someone’s day.
Content matters. If you like the content enough to share it, make sure you help people find the author in a helpful way. A simple @mention takes 3 seconds.
At the end of the day, social media is still about people. Sometimes we forget that. I know I do.
Some of the best relationships I have through social media are with regular people that have fewer than 5,000 connections. I have laughed with them, learned from them, and even cried with them. Yet I’ve never met them.
To make a difference with our lives we’ll need to give until it hurts. Sadly, the hurt happens all too often when a recipient doesn’t seem to care, respond, or offer thanks. It’s painful!
Everyone is thankful at some point in their lives, even your grumpy mother-in-law or former boss. So why does it seem like some people are never grateful, no matter what we do for them?
People are always thankful to some degree. Maybe not as much as we’d expect or in the way that we’d expect, but they are grateful. It’s human nature.
However, most of us expect people to show gratitude in a familiar way. Otherwise, we feel they aren’t grateful and it hurts our ability to keep on giving.
It’s important to remember that everyone thanks in different ways.
The world is changing, cultures are mixing, and several generations are sharing the workplace. Thanks can be found in a look, a tone, or a simple smile. Maybe it’s a text message instead of a phone call or a tweet instead of a card. It’s more difficult, but we need to be prepared to notice it, understand it, and appreciate it enough to keep on giving.
Sometimes in bad situations thanks may show up as a lack of something. One less argument. One less roadblock. Not everyone writes a note, makes a phone call , or sends a card to someone they’ve had difficulty with in the past.
If we want to be happy with our family, colleagues, or neighbors, we need to be prepared for a different vision of gratitude.
The world is changing.
If you’re giving, watch for gratitude with a wider lens. Find it and keep moving forward. If you’re on the receiving end, thank bigger, never leave doubt, take some time. It’s too important.
PS. If you’re looking for someone who is generous, successful and deserving of my thanks, check out Rich Quigley on twitter. He spent 2 hours with me on the phone this weekend sharing insights on one of my newest projects. It was an unbelievable gift from one of the sharpest guys in LA to someone he only knew from the twitter/blogosphere. I’m dedicating this post to him, hoping that I continue to find ways to show gratitude to those who are helping me along the road of life.
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Do you ever find something special that needs to be shared? Here’s one for all the amazing under-appreciated bloggers out there.
“A rising tide raises all boats”
The other day a friendly fellow 8pm Warrior (Andrew Syiek) told me that I needed to get the 8pm Warrior community involved with Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo and their new Triberr project. (It’s hard not to believe in Twitter when you see how it brings people/ideas together)
It’s only available by invitation (see below), but Dino was kind enough to invite me into his tribe. Thanks to Dino, this 8pm Warrior blog now goes out to more than 2,900,000 other people who follow my fellow tribe members. 2,900,000!
Triberr creates close knit groups that “automagically” retweet each other’s blogs at staggered regular intervals (not all at once).
Here’s what that does for a blogger:
Increases exposure to each post. My readership is up 200% since joining Triberr earlier this week.
Provides more value to your followers. Since it provides excellent content from your tribe, your followers get even more good stuff coming from you.
Increases your Klout influence score. Everyone in your tribe mentions you each time you post. This means major Klout points. I’m also getting a lot of retweets of the automagic posts (see #2). More engagement = higher Klout score.
More feedback. Your fellow tribe members will become built-in blog buddies. My comments are up 300%. (Thanks for all the discussion!)
Dino was nice enough to let me start a tribe for 8pm Warriors and I wanted to invite my fellow blogging warriors to join me. If you consider yourself an 8pm Warrior and write great content, check out our new tribe and fill out the “Contact the Chief” form to get an invite.
Here are some other tribes that may be interesting to you as well:
Here is just one 8pm Warrior’s simplified plan to succeed in the “New World” we all face:
1) Commit to something bigger than yourself.
It’s harder to quit on something more important than yourself. Have a goal. Be on a mission. Change the world. Save a life.
If you want to succeed, you must commit yourself to doing something big. Go big or go home.
2) Figure out what you love to do.
I guarantee you will not succeed doing anything you don’t love. It’s just too hard these days to conquer the challenges you will face if you don’t love your work.
I am convinced that no matter what, if you do what you love, you will find a way to make money. The internet allows passionate people to make money on niches.
3) Start doing it. Now.
If you don’t love what you’re doing, make a change. Don’t put it into your 5 year plan. Start today. Even if you have to get/keep your day job, get an 8pm Warrior job and then listen, learn, and begin tonight.
4) Meet others who love what you love.
Few people can win alone anymore. The world is too complex and we need people to pick us up when we’re tired, broken, and failing. It’s a war out there, and you will fail, fall, and need help. Find others, learn from them and win. Together you are stronger.
5) Be different.
There is too much in this world: too much information, too many things, too many messages, and too many people. If you’re a “One in a Million” type of person, that isn’t good enough anymore. That means there are 6,800 other people just like you out there, and they are all connected on the internet.
You need to stand out, find a niche, and be unique. You need to be the lone zebra in a stable of horses at the dude ranch. Guess which one everyone will want to ride. Be the zebra.
6) Make long-term plans, not short-term ones.
If you’ve committed yourself to something special, keep your eye on it. Make short-term adjustments, but focus on the big picture. It’s too easy to get distracted these days, so you need to be working towards long-term goals. Don’t waste energy on achieving short term goals. Everything should lead toward the end goal.
7) Work until you drop.
Once you’ve got a focus, a method, and a plan, you need to work it until you pass out. Don’t forget about your family, but do forget about long vacations, spa days, and “hanging around the house”. Tick, tock, tick, tock. You are getting older, the world is moving forward. Rest when you make it or you die.
8 ) Don’t be selfish.
You will need to give things, thoughts, and time away before you get anything in return. I’m not sure exactly why, other than people like nice people and are willing to help them in return.
Give, give, give.
9) Take your magic step.
If you will succeed, there will be one magic step only you will discover. The very nature of our world is that we cannot all have the same path, the same steps towards our dreams. You will need to take a unique step along the way, and it will be something that only you will find.
Call it magic or whatever you’d like, but you’ll need it and I can’t tell you what to look for.
It might be like the moment Bill Gates quit college to start Microsoft or when Mark Zuckerberg pushed send to share Facebook for the first time. We all have a step in life that we will need to take to achieve our dreams.