There Is No Template

When we bother to read them, instructions are often very handy.  We can save a lot of time and frustration by reading instructions that come with a new TV, furniture that requires assembly, fixtures, faucets, or a number of other items and gizmos we purchases.  It’s funny how when we have instruction available we tend to ignore them, or use them only as a last resort.  Their simple purpose is to tell us how a specific task should be completed.  They provide a template for how to perform the task for which they were designed.

What about big tasks in life?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a template to follow during challenging events?  Something we could read that would take us quickly and efficiently from Point A to Point B, with a guarantee that if we just followed the steps, we’d be successful?  The truth is there is no a template for major events or challenges in our life.

There isn’t a template with a guarantee on how to open a business, or make a career change.  Sure there are best practices.  However, there usually aren’t specific instructions for your exact scenario.  Nor is there a template for how to move forward after a divorce, or the death of a loved one. As much as we’d like it, a template does not exist.

So how do we move forward?  How do we make the next step when we don’t know what that next step is?  The best way is to simply make the next step, no matter how small or difficult it may seem.  Research your topic.  Ask the advice of others who have been where you’re currently traveling.  Pray.

No matter what you’re facing, cause something to happen by taking the next step.  And after you’ve done that, take another step.  In doing so, you are creating your own template.  You are literally building your road as you travel it.

What’s your next step?  What “template” do you need to begin creating?

Start today.  You can do it!

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Feelings Follow Action

Don’t you love the feeling you get when a major goal or task has been accomplished?  You’ve repeatedly caused something to happen, and finished something you’ve set out to do.  There’s a certain degree of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from bringing a task to closure.

What’s probably more familiar, at least for me, is knowing what action I need to take, but just not feeling like it.  Have you been there too?  I find it frustrating because of the internal conflict it creates.  I know I should do “specific tasks, but I don’t feel like it, so I don’t.  The next day, I still don’t feel like taking action because I didn’t do anything the day prior.  If I’m not mindful, this cycle can go on for days, weeks, or even years!  So how do we combat this lack of feeling, this lack of motivation, or lack of a “want to”?  The best solution I have found… is to take action anyway, regardless of how you feel.

When we wait for feelings to arrive before taking action, we put ourselves at a huge disadvantage, because the majority of the time we don’t feel like doing the hard work it takes to be successful.  As a result, we wind up waiting to be motivated by feelings that never show up.

I’ve often heard feelings and actions compared with an engine and a caboose on a train.  The feelings are represented by the caboose and the actions by the engine.  So what does this mean for those of us who are trying to take actions when we don’t feel like it?  Well, it means that we start doing the actions, regardless of how we feel.  Once the actions are started, the feelings will follow.  Feelings follow actions.

One of my favorite authors is John Maxwell.  He’s written several dozen books on leadership, personal development, and growth.  He’s stated that aspiring authors often tell him that they’d like to write a book, to which he always replies, “What have you written so far?”  By far the answer he says he gets most often is, “Well, nothing yet.”  Then they ask him how he got to be a successful writer, to which he replies, “I started writing.”

I love his reply, because it’s so simple and straightforward.  It doesn’t say you have to learn all you can about writing first or that you have to spend years studying.  He doesn’t even say that you need to feel like writing first.  It simply states that you must begin, regardless of feelings.  You just have to take action.

I’m amazed how many authors have confided in pod casts that they don’t necessarily enjoy writing, but they like the outcome (finished books) so they commit disciplined effort to the act of writing.  This thought make me think how easy it can be to get ahead for people who are willing to take the actions necessary to be successful, regardless of how the feel.  This is true for writing as it is for any other endeavor we eagerly want to pursue.

What’s that area in your life where you know you need to take action, but often don’t feel like it?  Challenge yourself this week by committing to take action in this area, regardless of how you feel.  Then note if your feelings haven’t changed as a result.

Death, Taxes, and Compounding

It is, indeed, a powerful force!  In the previous blog, we talked about the magic and the power of compounding and saw how compounding can have a significant positive effect in our lives.  Compounding is a great thing, right?  Well, it depends.

The principal of compounding will occur in our lives when we choose to apply it to something positive.  Here’s the alarming aspect about compounding that we may not be aware of:  compounding will occur in our lives whether we actively peruse it or not.  The choice we are responsible for is whether we will shape and direct the compounding in our lives, or whether we’ll allow negative compounding to occur, yielding results we may not want or desire.

Last post we talked about the compounding that occurs from lifting weight on a consistent basis day after day, for several years.  Let’s take an opposite scenario.  Say a person isn’t pursuing a healthy lifestyle.  Suppose they eat their favorite fast foods for lunch every day, and drink large quantities of unhealthy, high sugar or high calorie beverages.  Let’s also imagine that at the end of every day our “compounding unaware” example plops down in front of the TV for several hours until they drift off to sleep.  What effect will this have on a person after 1 day?  I’d say very little to none.  What happens when we add compounding into the equation?  What happens when our example strings several weeks of this consistent behavior together?  Let’s carry the equation out even further and say this behavior continues consistently for 5 to 10 years.  My guess is that these results are far different from the person who started lifting the 10lb weight 5 to 10 years ago.

Here’s the truth about compounding that is so important to grasp:  compounding will occur in our lives whether we actively choose to harness its power or not.  Our consistent actions, whether positive or negative, will yield significant results in our lives.  It doesn’t matter if we’re aware of the principal or not.  Compounding will occur regardless.

This principal gives us tremendous opportunity, but I also think it comes with tremendous responsibility.  Knowing that compounding will occur, we should cause something to happen that will allow compounding’s power to move us in a positive direction, toward the goals and dreams we have to change our lives for the better.  Why waste this principal’s precious power on results that don’t enhance our lives?

If you’re interested in learning more about compounding and how it can be applied in your own life, I highly recommend Darren Hardy’s excellent book, “The Compound Effect”.  Check it out and learn more about this under-utilized principle and begin applying its power in your life.  It will motivate you to stay consistent and encourage you to be committed to positive compounding for the long haul.

The Magic of Compounding — It’s Not Just for Dollars!

How in the world does lifting a 10lb weight turn a person into a body builder?  Likewise, how does one shovel full of dirt turn a city block into a massive sky scraper?  The truth is… it doesn’t.  Picking up and lifting a 10lb weight will no more turn a person into a body builder than will one scoop of earth struck by a shovel create a skyscraper.  Each of these single acts is too insignificant to yield impressive results.

However, suppose a person were to lift that same 10lb weight several times a day, day after day for a month.  It would soon become too light as the weightlifter grew stronger from continually lifting the 10lb weight.  They would soon need to begin lifting 15, or 20lbs several times a day, day after day, until this weight also became too light. Now suppose our weight lifter repeated this process day after day, month after month and year after year.  What would the result be after 1, 5, or 10 years? They would be far stronger, and more muscular, than they were when they first started lifting the 10lb weight.

Here’s the question:  Which day of weight lifting was the one that made them strong and improved their physique?  What is the very first day they began lifting the 10lb weight? Was it their most recent day in the gym?  The obvious answer is:  it was every day!   Every seemingly insignificant day spent lifting weights.  Every day of not seeing results, yet pushing forward (or up in the case of weightlifting).  Every day’s commitment to staying focused on the goal and giving consistent effort.

By themselves, each day’s effort doesn’t amount to much.  But when coupled with the effort of the days before, and the days that follow, they collectively become a powerful force.  This force, this magic, is called compounding.

We often hear of compounding in the context of investing or saving money.  We’re told to put a little money away each month and over the years the “magic of compounding will cause the amount to grow to an incredibly large sum.   It’s no different with our effort in other life endeavors.  If you want  something different in your life, cause something to happen daily to move you closer to your desired outcome.  It doesn’t have to be an extraordinary effort.  All we need is small, incremental progress done on a daily basis over an extended period of time.

This is an incredibly encouraging concept to me.  It reminds me that regardless of my endeavor, I don’t need to have all the answers before I can get started.  I don’t need to have my plan all filled out and perfect first.  I just need to take the next step today and each subsequent day.  These small steps will carry me toward my goal.  I just need to provide consistent effort over an extended period.  The magic of compounding will take care of the rest.

Share your comments:  Have you had an experience with the power of compounding?  Were in your life do you need to provide the seeds of consistency to all allow compounding to take root?

Let the power of compounding encourage you to cause something to happen… starting today!