Martial Arts Ann Arbor - Jujutsu | Jujitsu | Jiu-Jitsu

The Success Triangle - Skills, Attitude, Effort

Today a client asked me, “how can you run a law practice and an SEO business, teach at your martial arts dojo, consult for businesses, write for several blogs, and still get any sleep?” My answer? I don’t get any sleep!

But seriously, doing that many things without a coherent system would be exhausting. Trying to do that many things well without organizing principles would be insane. So what I want to share with you today is the common vision that helps organize my approach to business. Hopefully you’ll find that this idea helps you carry out your personal mission or missions more effectively.

The vision is this – to be successful at just about anything, you have to have all three corners of what I call the “Triangle of Success” – skills, effort, and attitude. If you’re missing any one of these, it can be a lot harder to reach your goals.

Skills are the special products or services that you offer the world. If you’re a doctor – a spine surgeon for example – your skills are the abilities to diagnose and surgically treat problems with the spine. In my SEO business, my skills include the ability to diagnose websites, blogs, and social media for their effectiveness, and to recommend or take actions to make them more effective.

Effort is how hard you try to when you provide your skill to other people. Over the years, I’ve learned to be really good at looking at businesses and finding the things that are holding them back, but if I never tell anybody I can do it, I’m not making much effort. If I were to just look at a few aspects of a business that hired me and mumble some suggestions, I’d be making more effort, but nowhere near enough to be great at it.

Attitude is your belief that you can succeed and how well you can instill that belief in others. Being able to get a class of martial artists energized and sweating is not too hard. On the other hand, it takes strong conviction to convince groups of people, day in and day out, that what they are sweating for will truly change their lives for the better.

I believe three things are true about the Triangle of Success: (1) each corner is connected to the other two; (2) an equilateral triangle is the best recipe for success; and (3) taking a “learning” approach to building your triangle will really help you succeed!

When I say that each corner is connected to the other two, I mean it’s almost impossible to maintain or improve one aspect of success without employing the other two. Your skills will only improve if you make an effort to improve them, and you’ll have a lot more energy to make that effort if you believe success is both possible and desirable. Your efforts to bring your product or service to other people will be a lot more effective if your skills are obviously good and if your positive attitude shows. Your attitude will be better if you feel good about your skills and your efforts yield results.

When I say that an equilateral triangle is best, I mean your best results will come when you give similar amounts of attention to all three corners. A highly skilled salesman who is lazy and negative will never prosper. A tireless carpenter who can’t make a square joint and who swears at his customers won’t build many houses. The most positive motivational speaker in the world who goes mute in front of a crowd and doesn’t learn to control her stage fright is unlikely to reach many people. On the other hand, a slightly skilled person who gives 100% effort and has a great attitude will usually become very successful.

And finally, when I say that taking a learning approach will get you far, I’m talking about using each corner of the triangle to help improve the other corners. When you make the effort to provide the best possible service (business analysis, for example), it will become obvious when you’re lacking a skill that you need to get the job done. Use the information to go out and improve your skills, or hire someone who knows how to do the thing you don’t. Ask yourself if you have any beliefs that could hinder your ability to build business relationships, and if you do, find a way to discard them and your efforts will be far more efficient. Keep your mind open to learning and positive change, and your triangle will grow in height, width, and weight.

Now remember, don’t just go out and do something, DO SOMETHING!

You Don't Drown by Falling in the Water, You Drown by Not Learning To Swim!

Have you ever heard the saying: “You don’t drown by falling in water, you only drown if you stay there.” As far as I can figure out, it was first coined by Edwin Louis Cole, founder of the Christian Men’s Network. By the way, if you like sayings that can amuse or motivate you, check out the Ed Cole Video Library. Even if you’re not into religion, I’m sure you’ll find a few lines that’ll put a smile on your face.

People all over the world have picked up on Cole’s saying. It’s the title of a lot of blogs and personal development talks. Zig Ziglar used the saying in his motivational speeches, and you can find it in his books. One I think you ought to read, if you’re into personal development, is Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life’s Terms. The point of the saying is that, when life gets you down, you shouldn’t stay down. You’ve probably heard, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” In the martial arts world we say, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Anyway, with all due respect to these very accomplished guys, I don’t think the saying goes far enough. If you’ve spent as much time as I have studying the science of self-improvement, you probably realize that learning to recover from adversity is only the first step. If you want to become truly outstanding, you’ve got find a way to build personal evolution into your DNA.

So I’d change the saying to: “You don’t drown by falling in water, you drown by not getting out and learning to swim!”

Ups and downs are not just part of life, they are life. Once you’ve figured out a mindset or strategy for moving through adversity, like picking yourself up after you get by hard times, then you can start working on real accomplishment. And you don’t get it by doing the same things over and over. Like falling in the water and pulling yourself out! If you do, you’ll find yourself in the same situations over and over, and I don’t think that’s the formula for real personal achievement.

You see, every challenge has built into it the germ or seed of its own solution. “Hey,” you say, “last time I fell in the water I got out, and here I am, doing great!” But there’s an aspect of dealing with challenges that’s even more important, more profound, and probably far more life changing than just figuring out how to solve life’s immediate problems. If we think about it, each challenge can teach us the lessons we need for real, meaningful, lasting personal change.

The truth is, most of us ignore these lessons. It’s like we deliberately tune out the most profound lessons that life teaches us, virtually all the time. We suffer through some crisis, get our lives more or less back to normal, sit back and say, “whew, I’m glad that’s over,” and forget to change the fundamental behaviors or attitudes that got us into the crisis in the first place.

Now, that might be because taking the action called for by lesson is difficult, or involves some sacrifice, hard work, or change in our thinking, but it’s almost never impossible. I know this because there are always people out there who have learned the lesson we were supposed to learn. Let me give you an example.

After you fall into the water and pull yourself out a few times, even if you’re darn proud of figuring out how not to drown, you’re probably thinking, “darn it, isn’t there some other way to handle this?” And that little voice in your head might say, “hey, dummy! Stay out of the water.” And if you do that, you’re not going to fall in anymore.

But what if the water is where you really need to be? Maybe all the most exciting things are happening in the water. That’s where you learn the most, get the biggest reward, meet the coolest people. So you have a lot of motivation to get back in the water, you’re just tired of hauling yourself out. And if you look around next time you fall in, just before you pull yourself out, you pay attention to what all the other people are doing in there. They seem to be having a good time, you know, getting a lot done, making friends, learning a ton by staying in there for so long. So, you ask yourself, “what are they doing that I’m not doing?” And darn it, that voice in your head answers you again. “Hey slowpoke, they’re swimming!”

So, the point is, don’t just keep pulling yourself out, learn to swim! If you find something you absolutely, positively need to do, but you keep doing belly flops when you try it, don’t you think it’s time to do more than just pull yourself out? Look around and figure out what the really successful people are doing. Learn to do what they’re doing. And the surprising thing is, most of them are happy to give you some tips. And when you get good at swimming, you can go in the water anytime you want, and get all kinds of work done there.

Visualize your goal, plan your mission, and don’t just do something, DO SOMETHING!

Friends of JMAC!

We've heard that a friend will lend you their pickup truck, but a real friend will show up to help you move. If that's true, JMAC has some OUTSTANDING friends! Thank you! For effort above and beyond the call of duty, special shout out to The Carbon Unit, Spengular, Mike K., Pat G., and Kerns, the guys who have been there day in and day out and who really made our move possible. That's budo spirit at work.

Everything DOESN'T Happen for a Reason!

Hi, Suino Sensei here! I want to talk to you for a few minutes about a saying I’m sure you’ve heard many times. Maybe you even use it yourself from time to time. I just heard a guy say it in an interview on NPR, and it struck me that what you think when you say it can make a huge difference in your approach to life.

The saying is “everything happens for a reason.”

People say it when something bad happens to them. Keith Miller was the guy being interviewed on NPR. He’d been a professional football player, and he’s now actually a very successful opera singer! That’s an extreme change, right? He had played for five years in the European and the Arena Football leagues, both of which no longer exist. When the leagues went out of business, he found himself without a job. He was a fan of opera, and he went on to study it and is now one of most celebrated bass-baritones on stage. He’s singing Madame Butterfly with the Washington National Opera.

When he said “everything happens for a reason,” he meant basically the same thing we mean when we say “when one door closes, another opens.” If we’re wired for success, we should re-write both of these phrases to get them out of the passive voice. We should say them this way:

“Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, I choose the reason.”

and:

“When one door closes, I open another.”

If we’re really going to excel in life, we need to stop thinking in terms of when something is going to happen to us, and start thinking in terms of making things happen. Which mindset you choose can make a gigantic difference to what you get in life. It made a difference of epic proportions in Keith Miller’s life, and that’s because he chose to make things happen. Here’s what he said, and if you get chance to read the whole interview, I recommend it, because he’s a very articulate guy and his story is a fascinating one. The show is in the NPR archives for March 2, 2011. Anyway, here’s what he said:

“It’s the one thing I’ve learned, is everything always happens for a reason You know, the biggest losses that we’ve suffered, I mean, in personal life, professional football, you know, when you lose something, you have to go back and diagnose. You’re more apt to go back and diagnose the things that you did wrong, what you can improve upon. And when things go well, you don’t really at the end of the night you know, you just say, oh well, you know, thanks, that was great. You don’t take the time to really evaluate.

“So you really need to have speed bumps in your life to kind of say, hey, what – you know, make some adjustments, fine tune things or just, you know, change the transmission completely.”

I don’t know if he’s studied success systems, but that’s a great way to explain the benefit of adversity in our lives. When bad things happen, we should reflect on what happened, consider whether we could have done something better or could do something better in the future, and then make adjustments to our actions. The adjustments may just be fine tuning, or we may need to completely change the transmission! It’s as though he’s been reading my journals. Look at steps three through seven from my last talk “Don’t Just Do Something, DO SOMETHING!”

3. Do something!

4. Pay attention to your results

5. Multiply your successes

6. Modify or discard your failures

7. Do something else!

The people who fail, who don’t grow, are often people who, when they experience a failure, either keep doing the same things that caused the failure or simply stop trying. That leads to paralysis. Soon they feel like they can’t do anything, and that can lead to a pretty miserable life.

The people who succeed recognize that, as Zig Ziglar says, “failure is an event, not a person.” And how they think about that event makes all the difference in the world. They recognize that they can learn from failures.

When you try to do something great – that’s step three: Do something! – and you don’t succeed, you can “go back and diagnose the things you did wrong” – that’s step four: Pay attention to your results. Steps five and six are what Keith called making “some adjustments, fine tune things or just …. change the transmission completely.”

What a great lesson! No wonder people who do really well say that it’s not about winning and losing. It’s about doing! If you DO SOMETHING with your goal clearly in mind, then the failures will be lessons clearly written out for you to modify your actions in the future. If we could go through life enthusiastically doing things without worrying about whether we instantly succeed or fail, think how much we could learn! What a great mindset to teach our children. “When one door closes, I open another.”

You know what, I’m going to go share this idea with my daughter right now. Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, you choose the reason. And if the reason is to teach you what you need to do to succeed, you can be as wildly successful as any human being can ever hope to be.

Don't Just Do Something, DO SOMETHING!

The other day I was having coffee with my friend Ian, and we were talking about what each of us could do to help people become more effective. I was telling him that one thing I can do is help people get in the right state of mind to take action. That’s something I’d love to talk more about, but he pressed me to list some of the key principles of achievement.

Now, before I share my ideas of how you can achieve success, I want to tell you a little about Ian. He’s a true friend of mine, and we’ve known each other for over 30 years. I get a little emotional talking about it, because we’ve been through some extraordinary experiences together. At one point, we formed a band together and wrote some really amazing songs. I remember getting some real interest from recording agencies. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look how our futures developed, Ian and I and the other members of the band had a lot of growing to do at that time, and the band basically self-destructed.

Anyway, the reason I’m going on about Ian is that he’s one of greatest facilitators I know. What I mean is that he has a gift for bringing out the most creative, powerful parts of your personality. This gift comes from a life lived through a lot of adversity. He’s got a profound energy that has to be experienced to be appreciated, and if you ever get a chance to talk with him, I encourage you to do it!

So, back to our conversation about the key principles of achievement. I was very inspired by Ian’s leading questions, so I rattled off seven of them. Here’s what they were:

1. Clearly identify your goal

2. Learn the path others have taken to reach similar goals

3. Do something!

4. Pay attention to your results

5. Multiply your successes

6. Modify or discard your failures

7. Do something else!

If you follow success systems at all, you’re going to hear a lot of echoes in my talks of the big players in success coaching, like Napoleon Hill, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Deepak Chopra, and others like them. That’s because over the past ten years, I’ve consumed their writings and teachings. I’ve compared them to the wisdom of the ancient teachers of Asia, and found that they have a LOT in common. If you can afford it, I encourage you to go to seminars taught by these great motivators. If you can’t afford it, go anyway!

So, after that long digression, let me get back to the one thing I really want to share with you today. I’m sure you’ve heard to the old expression, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” If you study leadership at all, you’ve probably heard of the book by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff called Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! My suggestion to you is a little different. If you want to real a goal, don’t just do something, DO SOMETHING! What I mean by that is that when you have a powerful idea, the most effective way to bring it into existence in the real world is to take action, take big action, and take it now!

Small results are hard to measure. If you do something right, but it’s very, very small, you may need a microscope to figure out if it helped you get closer to your goal. But if you do something big, you’re going to know if it worked or not. And if it didn’t, you’ll be able to see what didn’t work about it.

Now, I’m not saying you should just willy nilly do something huge and crazy just to be doing something! You have to clearly identify your goal and learn what the path is that will take you there. I’ll share a lot more about these two steps in the future. But the point I want you to take away from today is that if you’ve clearly identified your goal and figured out the major steps needed to get there, you can work out some action to take to get you started. That’s the “something big” I encourage you to take on.

And, finally, do it now! Ideas have a shelf life, and you don’t want yours to spoil because they’ve festered too long! Take the first opportunity to act, before doubts creep in, before technology leaves your idea behind, or before you get too caught up in your everyday life to work hard on the one thing that is really important to you.

So, don’t just do something, get out there and DO SOMETHING!