Self Improvement

Need a Breakthrough? Try Working the Impossible...

For the longest time, I couldn’t squat more than 200 pounds. Though training 5 days a week had quickly pushed me from squatting zero to 195 pounds, adding five extra pounds to the bar felt like adding 1000.

I knew this limit was artificial, manufactured in my brain that tried as best as it could to preserve itself by not taking risks. Regardless, I couldn’t break through. So I looked to a friend and fitness coach for some expert advice:

“Throw 300 pounds on the bar,” he said. “Don’t try to squat it, just put it on your shoulders. Feel the weight, hold it, then re-rack it. Do this a few times, then drop back to 200 lbs and try squatting again.”

It worked.

In theory, nothing had changed. I hadn’t gotten any stronger. I hadn’t learned a new technique or used some new device to artificial increase my lift. I had simply forced my mind to believe that it was possible to hold more weight. And after holding 300 lbs, squatting 200 felt much, much lighter.

What seemingly impossible task are you dealing with right now? What is holding you back from taking that next step towards your goals?

Acknowledge it, but move quickly to build tasks that challenge you. If someone has achieved what you are trying to achieve before, study them. Open your mind to the possibility that, if they can do it, so can you. Push yourself to operate at a new level, even if only briefly. When you come back to your work, what seemed impossible before may be that much easier.

Sometimes, when you get stuck and can’t seem to break through to the next level—when you hit a plateau that prevents you from furthering your goals—showing yourself the impossible is possible can be the breakthrough you need.


About the Author

Mike Mehlberg

In Search of Breakthroughs

Mike is constantly searching for breakthroughs for high-achieving entrepreneurs. Contact him to find out how you can get more productive, align your passion with your vision and purpose, and crush your goals with a balanced, achievable plan for success. 

When the Struggle Gets Real, Remember to Have Fun

Baseball is a game of failure.

Failure to hit the ball. Failure to get on base. Failure to push a runner home. Over and over, play by play, someone, somewhere on the field is failing.

It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just the nature of the game. And, of course, there’s the flip side...

Some games see big hits, great plays, and few failures. Those games you usually win. Other games though, the failures accumulate and you wind up with a loss. Every once in a while, a real struggle sets in where every play seems to end up in error. Small failures build on each other until you see no chance to recover. Deep in your mind, you believe you are going to lose. And so, against all your beliefs and training, you stop trying; you just go through the motions until it’s game over.

Why the monologue on baseball? Because baseball (like any sport) is in microcosm of life.

You’ve faced failure countless times. Maybe you’ve swung at an opportunity and missed. Maybe you ran hard toward your goal, but just couldn’t reach it. Or, maybe you put all your effort into throwing a competitor out, but they somehow managed to slide under your tag and score.

Those are the times you feel the struggle; the times when winning feels too painful too bother trying. But you know you have to... try, that is. The question is, how?

Remember to Have Fun

Yes, have fun. This isn’t empty advice aimed at taking your mind off your problems, though it does help.

No, having fun is a call to action. A call to remember why you are playing the game in the first place. Having fun is actionable advice, reminding you not to take the game you play too seriously. It’s pain medicine administered to

  • prevent burnout,
  • spark creativity, and
  • avoid giving up.

So the next time struggle hits you hard, step back and remember why you started. Remember what made your game fun in the beginning, then go do that.

If you’re a photographer struggling to capture the perfect pic, take some silly photos of your kids, weird looking bird, or whatever. If you are an entrepreneur struggling to capture the next big idea that will skyrocket your company to success, draw some wacky doodles on a whiteboard and brainstorm how you can build and sell whatever you’ve created.

Then, when your mind is at ease and your smile returns, gently guide your mind back to the problem at hand. Transform the fun you had into a renewed energy and focus, leveraging the childlike sense of wonder that first captured your imagination, long ago, before the stakes got too real and everyone started taking themselves too seriously.

Remember to have fun.

About the Author

IMAGE.JPG

Mike Mehlberg

Chief Child in Charge

Mike loves having fun, but often forgets because he’s “too busy” helping entrepreneurs get productive and turn their ideas into reality. Come to think of it, he should probably go have some fun right now. That way, next time you contact him, he’ll be fresh, energized, and ready to rock and roll.

On Systems for Continuous Business Improvement

On Systems for Continuous Business Improvement

I remember the pain of losing my first sale.

I’d spent nearly $1500 on flights and hotels, taken two days out for travel, and spent another two days preparing for what I thought was going to be a slamdunk meeting.

As it turns out, if you want to slam dunk, you have to clear a path to the basket before you jump.

The funny thing was, my meeting went exceptionally well. I had my talking points, I answered all their questions, I was friendly, funny, and otherwise firing on all cylinders.

But in sales, that’s not always enough...

How to Stay on Track (and Massively Productive) Every Day

How to Stay on Track (and Massively Productive) Every Day

You know what's coming... 

At the end of today, you'll either feel a sense of accomplishment, or like you've wasted another day. 

It's not that you didn't work hard. 

You answered emails. You took phone calls. You attended meetings. You made decisions. 

But for some reason you got nothing done. 

Well, that's not true. You got a lot of other people's work done, just not your own. 

You've made little progress toward your goals. You've been running around solving other people's problems. You've been answering other people's questions, and spending time in other people's meetings.

In other words, you've been working on urgent, but not important tasks. 

There's a solution to this problem. A way to move closer to your goals every day. 

All Great People Fail - So Should You

In this video, we look at a specific example of failure and discuss how we used this framework to deal with negative emotions and turn this failure into a learning lesson and ultimate success.

What do historical legends such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Abraham Lincoln have in common with modern day magnates Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, and J.K. Rowling? The obvious answers are fame and success. But there is a more powerful answer that might surprise you.

They all experienced painful, demoralizing failure on their journeys to the top.

The kind of failure that would derail many people from going forward and pursuing their goals and dreams. Had they succumbed to these failures, they easily could have faded into anonymity. Their incredible contributions to science, history, sports, business, and literature may have been lost.

Edison was deemed "difficult" by a teacher and lasted a total of 12 weeks in school. Einstein dropped out of school at 15 and then failed his first university entrance exam. Lincoln lost eight elections, failed in two businesses, and suffered a nervous breakdown. Jordan was famously relegated to his high school's junior varsity team. Oprah was publicly fired from her first television job. J.K. Rowling, a single mother living off of welfare when she started her first Harry Potter novel, once described herself as "the biggest failure I knew."

This raises in an important question - what is it that fuels people who are wildly successful and separates them from others? Are they ultra-talented? Do they have access to special resources that the rest of us don’t have? Are they just lucky?

Sometimes it is easy to feel this way. After all, when we look at successful people, we see where they are today. We don’t see the difficult circumstances, the embarrassing mistakes, and the crushing disappointment that they have overcome.

But the truth is that these people earned their success in spite of failure, and they did it through effort, persistence, and resilience.

The Reality of Failure

Failure is an ugly word. No one likes failing and no one wants to be known as a failure. And yet, as these and many other examples reveal, failure is inevitable if you want to accomplish anything of note.

The reality is, you can be certain that you will experience failure in one way or another. So, you have a choice. You can:

  1. avoid trying anything new or difficult to prevent failure from occurring,

  2. experience failure and be crushed by it, or

  3. embrace failure for what it is – unavoidable, necessary, and a chance to learn and grow.

This post is for people who are ready to step up to option 3. If you’re someone who already has a healthy tolerance of failure, this post can help you influence others to adopt a similar mindset. And while some people will have an easier time with this than others, we know with certainty that anyone can build the capacity and fortitude to overcome failures and achieve their goals.

Let’s look at why failure feels so bad, why we’re afraid of it, and strategies for turning failure into a catalyst for success.

Why Does Failure Feel So Bad? Why Are We So Afraid of It?

The answers may seem obvious. But it’s worthwhile to dig a little deeper to understand what informs our views on failure.

1. We Like to Look Smart and in Control

We admire people who appear to have all the answers and everything under control. We want to be the same way and we worry about what other people think of us.

Failure is not a good look when you prioritize how others perceive you. It feels embarrassing and shameful. If you see failure as humiliating, you’ll avoid sticking your neck out in fear of scorn and judgment by others.

2. We Judge on Outcomes, Not Process 

From a young age, we are taught to judge ourselves and others on outcomes. Getting an A on a test, winning a game, getting accepted to a prestigious school, these are defined as measures of success. But we often forget to acknowledge and praise the effort that it takes to achieve these.

Focusing only on outcomes, and not the process of success, makes us vulnerable to quitting and acquiescing to defeat when the going suddenly gets tough. It makes us question ourselves and withdraw the first time we get a “C,” have a bad game, or receive tough feedback.  

3. We Overstate Risks

When we look at a new challenge or opportunity, we may obsess over the downside. We are prone to hyper-focus on what might go wrong. When we do this, we paint an unbalanced picture of negativity that prevents us from moving forward. We will say “it’s not worth it.” 

4. We Are Impatient   

Everyone likes instant gratification. It feels good to achieve immediate results. And even though we know that there are few overnight successes, we set our expectations unrealistically high.

The problem with this is that we will be easily disappointed and discouraged at the first sign of difficulty. If things don’t go well right away, we may be inclined to give up and jump ship.

Together, these factors may cause you to be paralyzed by the idea of failure and to develop a closed mindset about what is possible and worth trying. This fearful mindset can become worse if you do gather the courage to try something and it goes poorly. Instead of seeing the failure as an event, you may begin to think of yourself as a failure. This line of thinking can have disastrous consequences.

It’s Time to Rewrite Our Story on Failure

Anyone can build the capacity and fortitude to overcome failure and achieve their goals.

Anyone can build the capacity and fortitude to overcome failure and achieve their goals.

There are plenty of reasons to fear failure, to avoid taking risks, to quit when things get hard, and to assume that successful people made it using some special abilities or powers that you don’t have. However, if you accept this as your reality, you’re also accepting that you aren’t going to go very far in your personal and professional endeavors, at least in terms of fulfilling your full potential.  

If you don’t like the way that sounds (and you shouldn’t), then it’s time to re-write the script on what failure is.

Failure is healthy. It is a sign that you are trying new things and pushing your limits. It’s an invaluable learning experience. It sends a message to others that you aren’t afraid to take on something difficult. It’s a challenge to be embraced. It’s worth experiencing failure because it puts us on the path to accomplishing more than we could have before.  

Theodore Roosevelt once said,

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

5 Steps to Overcoming Failure

Hopefully by now you are convinced that you don’t have to be one of those “poor spirits in the gray twilight.”  If so, here are five steps you can take to make sure that you are ready to take on failure without looking back.

1. Acknowledge That Failure is Inevitable

You need to accept now that things won’t always work out. You’re going to have ideas that go nowhere. You’re going to be rejected by others. You’ll be told that what you are trying to do is impossible. You’re going to try something new and find it to be much harder than you thought.

Knowing that these experiences are coming will help you to stay committed and not be deterred when things go sour.    

2. Stop Caring About What Others Think 

Yes, we all want to be liked. But it’s a real problem if you make your decisions and choices based on a desire to appease others.  It’s time to put that concern at the bottom of the priority list.  

You’re not going to convince other people to like you – so worry about achieving your goals and let the rest work itself out. Know what is most important to you and seek the company of those who will support you and offer positive, forward-looking feedback.  

3. Recognize That It’s Going to Hurt

Up to this point, we’ve talked about the need to embrace failure. This does not mean that failure is ever going to be fun. Even the most optimistic people among us are going to hurt when the bottom drops out on an idea or venture, especially if a lot is at stake.

It’s ok so spend some time with those emotions and to feel the frustration, anger, and disappointment. The key here is to not let these feelings linger in an unhelpful way. Let them go and see if you can channel them into motivation for whatever you pursue next.

4. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get to Work

You can only control one thing when trying something new, whether it’s as simple as a new hobby or as complex as a new business venture:

Effort.

Keep grinding away and relentlessly pursue your goal. Having to work hard at something is not a sign of weakness. Effort is a hallmark of those who succeed.

5. Take a Step Back. Look at The Journey

When something goes wrong, it’s easy to lose perspective. Take a big picture view of your goals and progress and make an honest assessment of where you are.

Effort is a hallmark of those who succeed.
— Seth Sinclair

If you are only three months through a project that you knew would take a year, don’t panic. When you hit a setback, pull yourself out of the moment and try to be objective about what you are experiencing. It’s possible that all is not lost.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it never would have amounted to much if everyone gave up at the first sign of trouble. As Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

The Entrepreneurs Guide to New Year's Resolutions

The Entrepreneurs Guide to New Year's Resolutions

I'm going to do something that scares the hell out of me. I'm going to share something very personal. Something that took me hours of reflection to create. Something I hesitate to share with friends and family. I'm going to share my new year’s resolution. 

To be clear, you shouldn't care about my new year’s resolution. Sure, it's deeply personal so may be interesting in much the same way secrets and rumors are interesting. But beyond that, it's not the resolution that's important; it's the process by which this resolution is created that will affect your year for the better. 

Every successful entrepreneur I know is out there working hard, working long, and trying to work smart. They are thinking and creating and building. They are searching for a meaningful solution to their customer’s problems and purpose in their lives. Every entrepreneur I know has goals, lists, objectives, and to-do’s. But not many have created a yearly resolution for their business. Not one like this at least.

The new year’s resolution I'm recommending isn't your typical one. It's less of a goal and more of a statement... a guide of sorts. A word or two to live by. Something that, if you get it right, will change yourself and your business for the better in the coming 365 days. 

Learn How to Learn. Yes, There's a Best Way

Learn How to Learn. Yes, There's a Best Way

"Take the controls," she said. She didn't blink, didn't smirk, and didn't waiver. I glanced at her quickly, then again as her words sunk in. Two thoughts flew through my mind:

  1. Was she joking?
  2. Was she serious?!

Our Cessna 172 engine drowned what once was an otherwise quiet airfield. After cranking the engine, the propeller came to life with such force it felt as if the entire aircraft would shake itself apart. The plane rattled uncomfortably on the runway, wanting desperately to fly.

My instructor chattered instructions through the headset for the next 45 minutes, all of which she left me in control of the airplane. From taxi to takeoff, flying to the landing approach, I was in full control (she didn't let me land, it was my first flight after all). 

And through the sweat of this first-time, hands-on experience, I learned more practical information about flying than all the previous books I'd read on the subject combined

Defining Your Renaissance with 27th Renaissance and Modern da Vinci

Defining Your Renaissance with 27th Renaissance and Modern da Vinci

What goals drive your behavior? Which challenges excite your passions? Can you name a few activities that renew and revive you? 

With a little thought, these answers will come. We all have driving goals, exciting challenges, and reviving activities. Whether we consciously know what these goals, challenges, and activities are, they motivate us. But until we make them conscious, they are nothing more than motivators.  By forcing them to be a part of our daily routine, we can turn them into a personal renaissance.

With Brendan McCaughey from 27th Renaissance, we discuss our own renaissance and aim to inspire you to create yours as well.

How Creating a New Daily Habit is the Answer to a Better Self

How Creating a New Daily Habit is the Answer to a Better Self

Since birth, we have been constantly learning. Though it is not something we "feel", we assimilate knowledge and build habits from new experiences daily. In the beginning, learning was effortless. As we grew into adulthood, the roots of our knowledge spread deeper becoming ingrained in us and making it more difficult to pick up new concepts.

This has nothing to do with our intelligence, we are simply creatures of habit... and not just those hard-to-break habits like nail biting. We unknowingly create habits for nearly everything. It's a matter of efficiency. 

Of course, we all wish to break ourselves of those unappealing habits. We design clever tricks to catch ourselves in the act--strings around fingers, random chimes every few minutes, etc. But building a better self is more than eliminating bad habits; it's about creating new, positive, fulfilling ones.

Four Lessons Motorcycles Taught Me About Focus

Four Lessons Motorcycles Taught Me About Focus

Focus is that state of being we desire when solving challenging problems. Focus is the awareness we need when cramming for a final exam. Focus is the differentiator between the most successful entrepreneurs and those that struggle on. As important as it is and try as we might, achieving focus can be one of the most demanding and frustrating areas in our lives.