51 Days : No Excuses

 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Arnold Sports Festival here in Columbus, OH.  Previously named the Arnold Classic, the event is home to one of bodybuilding’s biggest competitions.

I had the privilege of talking with the very first Arnold Classic winner, Rich Gaspari.  Rich has won numerous bodybuilding awards including the Classic, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and three time runner up Mr. Olympia.  He is also the CEO of a multi-million dollar supplement company, Gaspari Nutriton.

 

“Make sure your words are planting seeds of success and greatness in your life.” Rich Gaspari

 

No Excuses

9781939447135Rich recently wrote a book, 51 Days: No Excuses.  As you may expect, it is complete with a diet and exercise program designed to transform your body.  But it is much more than a book about the physical body.  It is full of stories about overcoming obstacles and staying motivated.

Rich’s personal story is compelling as he overcame numerous obstacles to win competitions and then overcame different obstacles to form a success business.

‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.’ –Ben Franklin

Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

His story is for you if:

  • You have ever been told, “You can’t do that.”
  • You are looking to change yourself in 51 days.
  • You have experienced rock bottom.
  • You have felt disgust, anger or frustration.
  • You have a dream and need a shot in the arm.

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‘No one ever excused his way to success.’ Dave Del Dotto

 

Success Begins on the Inside

One of my favorite quotes from his book:

“I still believe one of the most important choices is how we treat others. What good does it do you to build a huge muscular, impressive body if you are small and underdeveloped on the inside?  I’ve always felt that success begins on the inside and reaching our true potential gets blocked when we are small-spirited.” –Rich Gaspari

 

‘Don’t make excuses and don’t talk about it. Do it.’ -Melvyn Douglas

 

“Do not make excuses whether it’s your fault or not.” -General Patton

 

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” Edward R. Murrow

 

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave nor took any excuse.” -Florence Nightingale

 

“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” Don Wilder

 

3 Toxic Habits That Will Cripple Your Productivity

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Thai Nguyen is a professional chef, international athlete, writer, and speaker. Listen to him share his personal journey. He is passionate about sparking personal revolutions in others. He blogs about breaking free from the mundane at wantrepreneurjourney.

More often than not, productivity is synonymous with success. The more quality content you are able to produce, the higher your conversion rate will be. Even talent is no match for productivity. The ever-entertaining Will Smith, with his numerous successes covering television, music, and cinema, was quick to respond when asked what his key to success was:

“I’ve never really viewed myself as talented, where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. When the other guy is sleeping, I’m working. When the other guy is eating, I’m working.”

It is a sentiment echoed by many great figures: If you just keep showing up and doing the work, results will come. When considering what stands against being productive, the usual suspects are procrastination, distraction, lack of self-discipline, and lack of willpower. However, there are three toxic habits that eat these culprits for breakfast:

1. Perfectionism

Striving to be perfect is not a bad thing. As long as you see perfection as the ideal and not the real. The reality is that everything can be improved. That is why you see new iPhones and iPads continually being churned out. That is why records are continually broken in every sport. Perfection is a unicorn that keeps running away.

 

Contentment is the enemy of improvement. -Thai Nguyen

 

Perfection cripples productivity when you spend far too much time working on the product rather than getting it out there. The inevitable question of, “What is the ideal amount of time?” is indeed a tricky one. The resolution is to be clear about your desired outcome as you are working on the project. What is it that you want your customers to experience once they are exposed to your product? If you are able to meet that level of expectation, then you have done your job. If you are able to exceed it, even better. But do not try to go beyond that and revolutionize the world. Not yet, anyway. That will happen when you least expect it.

2. Contentment

Being happy with your current state of being, your achievements and quality of relationships, is certainly a desirable goal—as long as it has a “best by” date on it. Contentment is the enemy of improvement. It is what keeps good from becoming great. You should always be seeking to set the bar higher and improving in all aspects of life. Snow is beautiful until you have to live with it daily.

 

Talent is no match for productivity. -Thai Nguyen

 

You are probably screaming, “What on earth is wrong with being happy with a situation?” That adage, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” may be ringing in your head right now. The reason contentment should only be a spring break is because change is inevitable. Everything is temporal. Change is the very fabric of the universe, and as much as you may strive to stay stationary, the tide will move you. We grow older, and we mature; technology continues to make groundbreaking changes; culture and society will ebb and flow. Thus, change and improvement, not contentment, goes hand in hand with personal development and productivity.

Failure Is Not Defeat

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This is a guest post by Tom Panaggio,
 Author of The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge. Tom is an entrepreneur who spends his time advising companies, speaking and spending time on the racetrack.

Vince Lombardi never admitted to failure. He always said that he never lost a game, he just ran out of time. To Lombardi, failure was not fatal; it did not mean that hope was lost. He simply refocused his team and made the necessary game strategy alterations. In his mind, he never lost or failed because he always made the necessary changes going forward.

There is a difference between failure and defeat. Failure is temporary, but defeat is permanent. I’d love to see the statistics for how many entrepreneurs mistook a failure as defeat and gave up. For anyone who accepts defeat, there is no hope, only regret.

 

Failure is temporary, but defeat is permanent. -Tom Panaggio

 

Today, I am an amateur race car driver. That obsession began in 1983 after I attended a sports car race at Daytona International Speedway. My background was in traditional athletics, and I knew nothing about racing or how to even begin to get involved. All I knew was that I wanted to do it. After conducting some research, I found that I needed to go to two accredited racing schools to qualify for a license, with the caveat that school number two must be a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) sanctioned school. If I didn’t pass this second school, there would be no racing for me.

9781938416446The first school I attended, Skip Barber Racing School, supplied everything needed, including a real race car and all the safety equipment. The second SCCA school supplied only the racetrack and instructors; I needed to provide my own race car. By luck, I knew someone who owned a race car and was retired from driving. He was gracious enough to let me borrow his car if I paid to get it track ready. That turned out to be a mistake on his part.

I failed at the second racing school. Twice. In consecutive weekends, I failed due to mistakes. (Okay, I crashed both times.) The second failure caused the untimely death of the borrowed race car in a spectacular crash at over a hundred miles an hour. I can still see the track workers leaping from their protective bunker moments before I plowed into it.

Everyone told me to quit, to give up. They said that I didn’t have what it takes to be a race car driver. Even I had doubts, but my desire to race had not lessened. In fact, everyone else’s doubts made me want to prove that I could do it. I was determined, and I wouldn’t let failure defeat me.

Embrace the Chaos

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Are you overworked?  Stressed?  Worried about money, health, family, your job?

Instead of running from the chaos, what if the answer was to embrace it?

Bob Miglani is a senior director at a Fortune 50 company in New York City. He came to the US from India in 1979, and grew up running his family’s Dairy Queen business. He is the author of two books: Embrace The Chaos and Treat Your Customers.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to him about his journey from “overwhelmed” to “embracing the chaos.”

You cannot control the chaos.  You can control you. -Bob Miglani

 

The very first chapter of your new book starts with a powerful statement:  “You cannot control the chaos.  You can control you.”  A business trip back to India taught you this in a fresh way.  What’s the story of how chaos in India influenced this book?

There was a period of my life where I was stuck.  With so much uncertainty in my job, career, unpredictability of life and the speed of it all made me freeze.  I looked to the future, and every path in front of me looked worse than the other.

9781609948252It was a chance invitation to India that led me to rediscover how to move forward when we’re faced with so much uncertainty.

India is full of uncertainty and unpredictability.  Go to a business meeting, travel on the dilapidated roads or visit a tourist destination and things have a way of going wrong.  It’s easy to find yourself in a place where you have no control and everything seems to be falling apart.

There were a few times that this occurred to me, which I talk about in my book.  It was after these events that I came to this profound realization that so much of our stress and anxiety about the future rests on this perceived notion that we have control over everything.  But the truth is that we don’t.  We can’t control our customers, our bosses or our colleagues.  I have a tough enough time trying to control my kids; so to think that I can possibly control all these other aspects of life is fruitless.

We should stop trying to control those things because that’s what causes us stress and worry about the future. Instead, we should try to control ourselves – our thoughts and our actions. Taking action and moving forward in life gives us that certainty.  That’s what I learned from India, where I met so many others who were working, engaging and living fully.

Bob Miglani

Usually we do everything in our power to create a planned, organized life.  And yet life doesn’t work that way.  Accepting and adapting to circumstances beyond our control is another area you explore in your book.  How do you develop that mindset?

When things don’t go according to plan is often the time when we grow the most because we rediscover the resiliency that we have deep inside of ourselves.  Understanding that for true growth to happen in our business, in our relationships and in our lives, we have to let go of our notion of a perfect plan.  We have to shift our thinking and our own skills rather than direct attention to the problem that might have occurred.

Learning to develop that mindset isn’t easy, but it is possible. One way to cultivate acceptance is to put ourselves in challenging situations, either by setting hard-to-reach goals or taking on tough assignments or projects.  What this does is force us to realize that our actions are what matters, what we did when we faced uncertainty, not that we fought the change but how we adapted to the change.

Would you share one of the stories from your book?  I immediately think about you catching the bus with your cousin, Vivek.  What did that teach you?

I was in India with my cousin Vivek, and I had asked him to take me on a typical bus that he takes to work because I wanted to do what the locals do: take a bus to work.  On my insistence, he agreed.

While we were waiting for the bus, I heard him say, ”OK. Start running.”  I looked over to my right and saw this completely full bus barreling down the dirt road.  Passengers were hanging to the sides of the bus using their fingernails and sometimes parts of the arms inside the window.  The bus driver had no intention of stopping as there was simply no room.  So what people do is to run along and somehow wedge themselves into the huge pile on the bus.

There’s no way I was getting on that bus, I thought.  It was just too full.  There had to be a bus that was less full; so I’d wait for the next one.

Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed

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Mark Divine retired as a commander in the US Navy where he had served as a SEAL for 20 years. He holds an MBA from NYU and is the founder of SEALTFIT, NavySeals.com, and U.S. CrossFit.  You can follow him on Twitter. His latest book is The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed.

Mark, it’s great to have a chance to talk with you as everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions: how to make them, but more importantly, how to keep them. Your book is a blueprint for success and is packed with principles, ideas, methods, and specific actions all designed to change your life. We can’t cover even a fraction of them, but I want to ask you about just a few.

The best leaders keep their minds positively focused. –Mark Divine

 

Let’s start with visualization. You put it this way: “Visualize Powerfully.” How do you personally visualize your goals and your success?

I learned in the SEALs the importance of winning the mission (goal) in my mind before stepping off the ramp into the dark of the night.

What this means for me is a three step process:

Go after well defined targets

First, I ensure that the targets I go after are the right targets and are super well defined so I don’t waste valuable time and energy chasing impossible dreams or improbable projects. In the past I often had poorly defined new year goals that quickly fell by the wayside. That happened because they were the wrong targets, or poorly defined to begin with. I outline a powerful process for preventing this and selecting the right targets in my book.

Imagine what victory looks like

Second, I imagine what victory looks like for my target / goal. I see it as clearly and with as much detail as possible in my mind’s eye. In fact I have built an imaginary training space I call my ‘Mind Gym’ where I do this inner work. In the gym I see the outcomes of the goal, see myself achieving it and what my life is like after. I see myself as the type of person who CAN achieve the goal and possessing all the skills and knowledge necessary to crush it.

Review your goals daily

Third, I visit my mind gym daily to review the visualization while tackling the tasks and preliminary steps toward accomplishing the goal. This strengthens the image and eventually leads to greater confidence and certainty of mission success.

 

Decisiveness is a must for anyone seeking to gain momentum toward their critical targets. –Mark Divine

 

You talk about the importance of breathing in your book. Why is it so important and would you share one of your breathing exercises?

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

In a firefight or any intense situation, I learned to perform better by controlling my physiology and psychology. The key was learning how to breathe more powerfully. It is the first and most important of what I call the ‘big four of mental toughness’ skills. Deep diaphragmatic breathing, through the nose, brings two immediate and critical benefits for mission success:wayofseal_cov

First, It is a stress release mechanism because it stimulates the automatic nervous system’s calming function. We are riddled with stressors coming at us from all angles, many self-imposed, and this breathing technique slows down our heart rate, calms our body and allows us to get back in control of our physiology so we can direct it towards performance.

Second, it centers us by narrowing the range of our critical mind’s thought patterns. The concentration required to breathe deeply means you are now focusing on health and stress release. This triggers positive feelings and thoughts, and the mind slows down so we can direct it towards the important tasks leading to success.

The training technique is simple, called the ‘Three part breath.’ Begin by exhaling all the air from your lungs, then inhale deep into your belly . . . your belly will move out. When the lower part of your lungs are full (your belly is ‘full’), then activate your diaphragm to fill the middle of your lungs. When that is full, then use your upper chest to fill the top of the lungs. The exhale is then done in reverse order, and the whole breath cycle should be a five count inhale and five count exhale. Over time you will do this naturally and unconsciously in one step, versus three steps. It will help you stay positively focused on your important goals in 2014 AND have great benefit for your overall health and peace of mind.