Life’s Cloudy Skies

cloudy skies

Over the past few days, as I watch the Oklahoma weather do what it famously does, I’m reminded of an eternal truth.  Even on the cloudiest, stormiest days, the sky remains above as blue as ever.  Even when our human sight can’t see the promise of blue sky and sunshine, nothing can change the fact that it remains there.

Too often we allow the clouds and storms of life to affect us.  That’s normal.  But what we can’t let loose of is that the clouds will part, the sun will break through and the slightest hint of a magnificent rainbow is seen on the horizon.

Lest we ever forget, we’re provided these eternal words:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

Clouds are temporary; the blue skies are forever!

What Are You Thinking About?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…

–Proverbs 23:7

We are what we think about most of the time.

–Napoleon Hill

Seeds of GreatnessPierre Teilhard de Chardin writes, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  We are full of potential and have been, as Zig Ziglar famously has said, “endowed with the seeds of greatness.”  To live and operate at any level less than this is to forfeit our birthright.

So what are you thinking?  What are you focusing on?  If you find yourself consistently focusing on perceived limitations, perceived lack of knowledge or lack of experience, you diminish the greatness within you.  If you focus on perceived lack, lack is what you will continue to create.

If, on the other hand, we recognize the greatness within us and begin to focus on the enormous potential we each have, our lives will begin to take on the vision we see within our minds.

Solomon, the wisest of men throughout history, writes, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  What we think about most of the time is what we will become, what will begin to transform into reality.  If we have thoughts of lack, of weakness, of insufficiency, we plant the seeds that will blossom into what we’ve been thinking.  Seeds of lack grow into greater lack.  Seeds of unconfidence sprout into fear.  Seeds of weakness grow into intimidation and more weakness.

Change what you’re focusing on and, instead, focus on the greatness within you.  Faith is believing in what you can’t see, believing in what your five senses don’t experience in the moment.  It’s belief that you already have what you desire, you have what you are focusing on.  You may not be able to see it yet; you may not be able to experience yet, but that doesn’t diminish the simple fact that you already have it deep down within you.

Let the seeds of greatness begin to take root and grow within you.  You are destined to achieve great things.  You have been implanted with the ability to transform the world around you.  You just need to let go of your doubt, have faith and let the seeds of greatness germinate.

What are You Tolerating?

“You can’t change what you tolerate.”

–Craig Groeschel

In my master bath, above the bathtub, is a flood light.  The bulb went out several weeks ago and has yet to be changed.  Whether it’s because I prefer the shower over the bath or simply because I don’t care, it doesn’t matter.  The bulb remains dead.

In a recent leadership podcast from Craig Groeschel, the founding pastor of Life Church, he made a statement that really resonated with me.  He stated, “You can’t change what you tolerate.”  Think about that statement.  Mull it over for a few minutes in your mind.

If you are like me, and I suspect many of you are, there are elements in our lives as well as our professions that we allow to exist.  They are elements, activities, habits – whatever — that we tolerate.  Deep down, we know we can’t continue this way, but we tolerate them.  We allow them to continue to exist.  And, as a result, we become an enabler — we empower and embolden their continued existence.

And what does that mean for you and me?  What does that do within us?  For me, it begins to create an irritation.  This leads to frustration.  And, eventually, anger that they have the gall to continue when it’s just plain wrong.  “How dare they?”, I yell.

And yet I continue to tolerate the areas that miss the mark.  I’m more inclined to let it continue rather than confront the situation and make a change.

In the 70s, the movie “Network” make famous the phrase, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  It’s at this point that we decide to – even refuse to – accept this pattern of behavior any further.  It has had its way far too long and now we’re mad as hell and we, too, just aren’t going to take it anymore!

But seriously, do we have to get to the point where we’re mad as hell?  Can’t we establish clear and straightforward standards that we won’t accept or tolerate?

Another statement Craig made is this:  “Our natural mode is not urgency; our natural mode is complacency.”  In other words, it’s natural to operate within the confines of safety and security rather than take a risk.  It’s easier to keep things the way they are than to stir the pot and stretch ourselves.  In doing so, we begin to tolerate bad behavior.  We begin to let things slide.  And then, seemingly out of the blue, we’re mad and we’re not going to take it anymore!

What are you tolerating?  What are you empowering to let slide by and do nothing to address it?

What areas of your personal life are you “accepting” rather than taking action?

In your professional life, whether it’s regarding you personally or a member or members of your team — what are you tolerating that shouldn’t be the “norm?”

That light bulb?  Well, it’s still out.  After getting on the ladder and fussing and cussing with it, I can’t get it out of the socket.  Oh, wait, there’s another point!  When we tolerate something long enough, it isn’t going to change easily.  There will be resistance to change.  They will fight you on it, arguing, “Why change now?”

Improvement and change are not easy – for anyone.  But if we continue to tolerate mediocrity, you continue to get mediocre results.

By the way, anyone know a good way to loosen a flood light?


Sales champions recognize that their solution is not a proper fit for everyone. There will be those who are either a bad fit or the timing is simply not right for them. Either way, sales champions understand that rejection is going to happen. Regardless, they know they must be fearless in spite of the rejection.

Fearless sales pros understand that rejection simply is not personal. In spite of what you think, feel or tell yourself: Everyone is not out to get you! In fact, it’s not about you period. Rejection is prevalent and normal.

Think about it this way: 80% to 90% of all prospecting calls are rejected. Out of 100 calls you may make this week, ten to twenty of them will potentially agree to meet with you and have a conversation about their business and your solutions. That’s a lot of rejection!

Fearlessness is about accepting the reality and working in spite of it. It means acknowledging that it’s just not the right time for this prospect, but not fearing the response. It means making the next phone call, knocking on the next door, in spite of the odds not being in your favor. It means breaking down the barriers in your own mind and continuously moving forward.

What’s Your Number?

In his book, The Winner Within, Pat Riley details the principles behind the Los Angeles Lakers famous Three-Peat that occurred between 1986 and 1988. Knowing that getting one championship is tough, but going for two in a row and then a third, even some of the greatest teams in the NBA would have difficulty maintaining their focus. So he issued a challenge to his players to improve their results in five key areas by just 1%. By constantly looking for ways to improve in each of these areas, he believed the team would develop and experience exponential growth.

Reflecting back on it in his book, he writes, “As we saw it, one percent improvement, a one percent improvement in five areas for twelve players gave us a 60 percent increment.” His players bought into it and, as a result, his team experienced success at a level that hadn’t happened in a very long time in the NBA.

What’s Your Number?

Sales champions understand their numbers. They regularly track the number of prospecting calls they make on a daily and weekly basis. They know how many prospecting calls they need to make to set a meeting with a potential prospect. From there, they understand how many meetings turn into presentations. And, of course, they know how many presentations convert into orders.

Knowing your number is critical to your success. When you know your number, sales forecasting becomes a very predictive process. You know that continuing to perform at a certain level will help you achieve a certain result.

When you know your number, it also provides you with the ability to created improved performance. When Pat Riley was preparing to introduce his idea to the team, he first identified the five critical areas that lead to success and then measured every single player on his roster based on the previous season’s results. Having a starting point focused on important areas provides a way to create and generate improved outcomes.

If you know that you want to earn $100,000 this year and you know that your average sale equals $1,500 in commission, you have some of the starting data you need to create a roadmap for success.

What are some of the other information you would need to know?

  • How many orders do you sell each month to earn the average $1,500 per order commission?
  • How many presentations do you need to make to get each sale?
  • How many appointments will you need to get to that presentation goal?
  • How many prospecting calls will you need to make to schedule the number of required meetings?

When you know your number, you are able to design a roadmap to achieve virtually everything you want to accomplish. What would the outcome be if you simply make a 1% improvement in your closing rate? What about your meeting-to-presentation rate? Individually, each makes a difference in your outcome. Cumulatively, it dramatically improves your month-over-month success.

What is a Legacy?

Leave-The-Legacy-76A legacy is defined as something that is handed down and left for the next and future generations.  A legacy can be an inheritance, such as money and land.  A legacy can also be something much more significant, such as a positive impact on society that leads to a more successful and rewarding one.  It can also be something more tragic, such as debt and slavery that continues to shackle those left behind with the consequences of those who went before.

Throughout history, legacies have been left.  Some for good; others for worse.  The men who fought for and led in the rise of what is the United States of America left an indelible imprint on the future that we experience today.  The democratic experience was new when the United States was founded and it continues to be a grand experiment when compared to the thousands of years of history found in other nations around the globe.  And yet, in our infancy, the legacy of this country continues to leave a lasting imprint worldwide.

The question, then, is:  What kind of legacy are we now leaving?  As a nation, are we leaving a legacy of hope and inspiration?  Are we crafting a future that will continue to inspire and embolden society to seek the greater good and make a difference in the world?  These are questions that remain and the fact that the questions even have to be asked should terrify each one of us.

A Legacy of Doubt

At the time of this writing, we seem to be crafting a legacy of doubt.  We live in desperate times and in people are hurting, seeking resolution to their pain.

Government has failed us.  We have leaders who are locked in financial arrangements with individual and corporate donors that shape political decisions, not often for the greater good.  We have a political system that is devolving into political strife, inaction and negativity.  While words are spoken that indicate a commitment to seeking real solutions, the actions of those leaders speak volumes that indicate otherwise.

Corporate America has taken advantage of men and women in too many ways.  At a time when profits are at an all-time high among the Fortune 500 and Wall Street continues it climb to all new heights, the American worker struggles to survive financially.  The Middle Class, as we’ve traditionally known it, no longer exists for all practical purposes.  Incomes are stagnant and wages that are paid are paid not paid fairly.  When a woman works for seventy-three cents compared to that of her male counter-part, something is wrong.  When individuals struggle financially and are forced to work two and sometimes three jobs to meet their budget demands, something doesn’t feel right.

Racial division and strife are rampant in our world.  When those in authority, such as the police, abdicate their role as peace keepers and, instead racially profile and abuse their roles, something is dreadfully wrong.  When individuals, although not provoked, seek to question and challenge simple requests simply out of arrogance, tensions rise and spill over to greater, more deadly consequences.

Individual accountability is lacking, leading to a dissatisfied community.  Rather than accept personal responsibility to live and operate, too many put their future in the hands of others.  As a result, we are developing a legacy of disarray and hopelessness.  The cries of our future children and grand-children can already be heard.

Something must be done.

It Doesn’t have to be This Way!

In spite of the negative climate, there is hope.  Within each individual, including you and me, lie the seeds of greatness.  In spite of the challenges we face, each one of us have a unique opportunity to make a difference.

When we leave our future and our hope in the hands of others, we empower them to do as they will.  But the human design is not created that way.  We’ve been endowed with purpose and intention.  We contain the resources to choose a better, more empowering way.

But it begins with individual accountability and responsibility.

It begins with you and me.

We must resolve to craft our own legacy that we will hand down to future generations.  It must be a legacy that tells our future selves that we matter, that they matter.  Hopelessness and helplessness is not the norm.  There is a great hope for the future if we allow it to shine brightly and boldly.  But it begins with the only legacy that matters.

Choose to be Phenomenal

btpjovaccaa7m3mI am phenomenal

With every ounce of my blood

With every breath in my lungs

Won’t stop until I’m phe-no-menal

I am phenomenal

However long that it takes

I’ll go to whatever lengths

It’s gonna make me a monster though

I am phenomenal

But I would never say, ‘Oh, it’s impossible’

Cause I’m born to be phenomenal


Written by Mario Resto, Luis Resto & Eminem


We’ve been endowed with the seeds of greatness and designed to be absolutely phenomenal.  But are you?  Are you living the dream?  Are you striving for greatness or continuing to live a life of mediocrity?

As we wrap up the first month of the year and reflect on the New Year resolutions that died two weeks ago, let’s talk about the seeds of greatness that reside within you.  Every morning you wake to a new day and the opportunity to develop your phenomenal nature.  But it’s not happening?  Why?


You’re afraid of what will happen when you do, in fact, become phenomenal.  You’re afraid of what others will say.  As you improve and leave friends, family and co-workers behind breathing the decayed dust in your wake, what will you say?  What will they say?  How will they respond?

Perhaps you’re afraid of the harsh reality that it takes work.  And what takes work is often painful as we’re forced to stretch beyond our capabilities.  While the pain is momentary, it’s easier to set aside the dreams of greatness in exchange for the present comfort of mediocrity.

If you’re tired of being stuck and not achieving the reality of the greatness within you, let me share with you three key steps to take to shift from the slacker you are to the phenomenal greatness you’re intended to be.

  1. Allow yourself to dream and dream big.  Dream the dreams only winners can dream.  Expand your horizon from the limits of who you have been to the dreams of who you can and will be.  Put your dreams down on paper and reflect on them.  And them write them down again, writing them down as if the dreams are already a reality.  This isn’t a time to question your sanity.  You should have questioning your sanity all along as you let yourself drift along.  Write your dreams down each and every day and reflect on who you are becoming as your dreams, your goals, begin to take shape.
  2. Take action! As you write down your dreams, ask yourself this: “What is one thing I can do today to move towards making my dreams a reality?”  For far too many there is a significant gap between talking and doing, between dreams and reality.  What separates the phenomenal and the average, mediocre individual is action.  Each and every day, no matter how small, you must take action.  Ask yourself, as you rewrite your goals down every day, “What can I do TODAY to move closer to achieving each of these goals?
  3. Silence the bullies! We talk to children a lot these days about how to deal with the bullies in their lives and yet we live every day allowing bullies to encourage us to abandon our dreams.  In my book, Roar Like You Mean It! I write about the necessity of eliminating the hyenas from our lives.  Bullies, hyenas – they’re all the same.  They whisper how unachievable our dreams are.  They snicker when you stumble or take a misstep.  They can be recognized by their inability to encourage and support.  They tear you down because of their own inability to chase their dreams.  Bullies, whether at work, at home, or in other areas of your life, must be dealt with.  There cannot be any grey area when it comes to those in your life and the dreams you seek to make a reality.  If they can’t get on board with who you desire to achieve, they need to be shut up.  You need to put distance between you and them.  You need to keep them out of your head.

How long will you continue to sit on the sidelines and fail to become the phenomenal person you can become?  How long will you dream big dreams and choose, through your inaction, to let them die?  Why do you continue to let the bullies in your life have a presence in your life and affect how and if you pursue your dreams?

You are phenomenal!  It’s time to show it.  It’s time to shine!

Be So Relentless You’re Unstoppable

RelentlessTim Grover, along with Shari Wenk, has written a great book entitled, “Relentless:  From Good to Great to Unstoppable.”  If you haven’t read it, just take my advice and get this book.

In his book, Tim introduces us to the three different types of competitors.  He has provided them with his own special names:  Coolers, Closers and Cleaners.  In short, they represent the good, the great and the unstoppable competitors.

Here is a summary comparison of the three; which one are you?


Good Competitors


Great Competitors


The Unstoppable Competitors
Can have an amazing game Can have an amazing season Have amazing careers
Worry about the competition and how they measure up Study the competition and plan their attack based on the opponent Make the competition study them; they don’t care whom they’re facing, they know they can handle anyone
Avoid taking the winning shot Take the shot if they know they have a good chance of making it Trust their gut and shoot; they don’t have to think about it
Won’t offer to take on a role they’re not comfortable with Will take the role if you ask them and they’ll do it well, if they have enough time to prepare and study the situation They don’t wait to be asked; they just do it!
Let others decide whether they’re successful; they do the job and wait to see if you approve Feel successful when they get the job done They never feel as if they’ve achieved success because there’s always more to do
They don’t want to carry the team, but they’re the first to slap you on the back when you do a good job They want the credit for getting the job done and love being congratulated for what they did They rarely congratulate you for doing your job; they simply expect you to do it
Think they want the spotlight, but when they get it, they usually handle it badly Stand in front because they need to show who’s in charge Don’t have to show who’s in charge — everyone already knows
They will eat whatever you feed them Will order what they want and be satisfied with a great meal It doesn’t matter what he eats, he’ll still be hongry again in an hour
Always needs a kick in the ass Occasionally needs a kick in the ass Never needs a kick in the ass

If you’re a “Cooler,” stay home and don’t bother me.  If you’re a “Closer,” we have a lot in common.  But my aim is to be the ultimate cleaner – an unstoppable force to be reckoned with!

Are You a Holiday Slacker

Jeb Blount, of Sales Gravy, has written a well-timed blog post that everyone in sales needs to read.  Here’s part of it…

Are You a Holiday Slacker?

For the next month much of the western world will be in full holiday mode and salespeople will be met with this constant and frustrating refrain from prospects – “we’re just going to hold off on doing anything until after the holidays.”

You’ll also be tugged away from sales activity by many pleasing distractions – the perfect excuse to let your guard down and slack off. From now until the first week in January everything in sales tends to get turned upside down.

It’s critical for salespeople to properly manage holidays. Consider that in the U.S., when we include the period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day with Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, and the handful of other national celebrations, roughly 20% of the year is impacted by holidays. That is a huge chunk of prime selling time that can only be ignored at your peril.

It’s Harder to Sell During the Holidays

When managed poorly Holidays wreck sales productivity. Customers are on vacation, some businesses shut down completely, prospects put off decisions, and in many cases, with all of the distractions, your head isn’t in the game.  During the holidays, more than ever, you must have a concrete plan for sales activity.

The brutal fact is it is harder to sell during the holidays and you basically have two choices: give up and give in or get focused.

In sales, like it or not, activity is everything. If you are not prospecting, questioning, presenting, closing, and taking the actions that move deals through your pipeline you will fail no matter what time of year it is. The challenge you face during the holidays is there is a much higher probability that deals in your pipe will stall and die because your prospects have an easy excuse to procrastinate. Because of this you must be even more focused and on top of your sales pipeline. You’ve got to work harder to keep every deal moving forward. You also need prospect even harder to ensure that your pipe is full of qualified opportunities going into January.

Maintain Activity or Pay the Consequences

During the holidays it is so easy to allow your self-discipline to slip and relax. It’s easy to drift away from your daily sales routine. When you allow this to happen you face peril as your pipeline velocity slows, your closing ratio drops off a cliff, and many of your prospects disappear into a black hole.

Read the rest of Jeb’s blog post here…