Are we facing some challenging times? Yes, of course. Are they impossible? No. I recently listened to a short video done by Kara Lawson, the Duke University Women’s Basketball Coach, during which she talked about handling the challenges of life. It’s entitled “Handle Hard Better” and does a great job of outlining what we must do to overcome the hurdles of life & business.

I believed she played for the late Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee during their long period of outstanding runs at the National Championship level. She understands the challenges of being a success. One approach she pointed out was that when obstacles arise, we can wait for things to just get easier. The problem is that they never get easier.

Often people will say, “If I can just get through this problem, everything will get easier.” However, as she explains, it doesn’t typically get easier, so a better approach will be for us to “handle hard better.”

In business, I hear people claim that after this economic downturn, this price adjustment or this bout of high inflation, life will get easier. No. What happens is that you learn to handle hard better through experience, training and hard work!

In her presentation, Lawson points out that we must complete several tasks:

  • We must make a “Mental Shift” and get past hard challenges. They are simply part of the game. Welcome to life!
  • As far as preparing for the future, she stated, “Any meaningful pursuit in life goes to people who handle hard well.”
  • A lot of people who want things to be less challenging can be seen waiting at the “Bus Stop for the Easy Bus to come.” The problem, as she points out, is that the “Easy Bus never comes!”
  • Finally, she encourages us to not get discouraged. Instead, accept the challenge of life success and “Handle Hard Better.” Great advice for all of us today & for the long term.

I hope you find this helpful and encouraging. If you want to listen to Kara Lawson’s three minute video, you can find it at:  

Handle Hard Better:

I think you’ll be glad you did. Also, be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I understand that these are tough times in our economy currently. This is characterized by high inflation, high interest rates, ridiculous costs of repairs and, in fact, almost all of your inputs.

People are stressed. Someone recently asked me if I worry. Overall, I am optimistic, but today I am cautiously optimistic. Even my confidence has been shaken by stupid moves by the federal government & the Fed.

However, I’m doing my best to “bring the joy.” I would add that author Tim Ferriss offered a Chinese proverb that says, “If you must play, decide on three things at the start; the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.”

Sounds like good advice, but let’s look at an application for using these guidelines in your business.

First, the rules of the game: Make certain you understand your finances, as well as what the parameters are for your banking relationships. In challenging times, this becomes paramount to your success.

Next, know what the stakes are in the game. In Taekwondo, when you perform a board break, it is crucial that you set your target to go through the board. I can attest that falling short of that can be painful.

Finally, know when the game ends. I have had very few Clients leave their businesses over the past 25 years, except for those who wanted to retire. So, the thought you need to entertain is whether you want to continue, as most of my Clients are, or build a plan to exit at the most optimal time.

Studying these three steps can pay huge dividends, especially in tough economic times, so be sure to know the rules of the game and watch for opportunities to, as former Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers said, “Head for daylight!” Stay focused and you’ll be fine, for these times, too, shall pass.

Be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

As we look around our society today and review our economy, with its rising interest rates and higher inflation, a lot of people are caught in a trap – one known as FEAR. Actually, it is an acronym for – False Expectations Appearing Real!

I’m sure you can relate, whether it’s the potential threat of your business partner wanting to be bought out during these challenging economic times, your vendors putting extra pressure on you to stay current or your banker commenting that his or her auditors are really scrutinizing their bank advance rates on lines of credit…

We probably all tend to overreact to these types of thoughts or comments, but I believe Author Marilyn Ferguson summed it up best when she stated:

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.”

So, what can we do when we run into fear? Realize, as my Business Coach Dan Sullivan, co-founder of the Strategic Coach organization, stated, “Obstacles are the raw material for your success.” Instead of running from these items that you fear, do the following:

First, Set Your Objective. Then, define your Why, the reason you absolutely must achieve this goal. Once you know your Why, as I’ve said previously, your How becomes much easier to identify. You can then list all the obstacles and determine ways to overcome them. This process will keep you moving forward toward your ultimate objective.

Please allow me to provide you with my own business start-up as an example. I didn’t make this change just for more money. That was simply one of the rewards for doing a good job with Clients.

I started by asking myself the question, “How can I do this?” Asking that question made the process more difficult. However, when I started focusing on my Why, positive things started to happen. I started by asking Why, and then realized that I wanted to run my own business. I was fatigued with the demands of Corporate America, and realized that if I didn’t start to set my own course, I’d be stranded on someone else’s agenda. I wanted the freedom to travel with my Family.

When I actually identified my Why, positive things started to happen. I landed Clients, found plenty of long, enjoyable work hours (which never hurt anyone), and discovered plenty of new opportunities to consult, speak and write about. Did I have any fears at the beginning? Of course, I did, but overcoming them by realizing that those fears, while possible, didn’t necessarily have to happen.

By identifying my Why, those fears got lost in the “rear view mirror,” and you can do the same exact thing with your fears, too!

Can I assist you with this process? Be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops in the Fall.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

My Business Coach Dan Sullivan, Co-Founder of the Strategic Coach organization stated, “Your eyes only see, and your ears only hear what your brain is looking for.”

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? I have a client who regularly reminds me that, just like Johnny Cash, “He is a worried man…” He is usually joking when he says this, but what are the implications of this type of thinking?

If all our thinking is negative, focusing on the potential pitfalls of our every move, guess what? Your brain will definitely find them. Why subject yourself to this junk? It will be much better to recognize the challenges at hand, look for potential solutions to those problems, and then focus on the implementation of them.

If you focus on the positive outcomes that are possible, you can begin to set some challenging, yet attainable, goals. As I have said previously, identify why you want to achieve your goal, along with what that goal clearly is. Then, the steps needed for how you can reach the goal become so much clearer. Knowing your why will help your mind to clearly focus on the steps necessary to your success.

Should we just ignore the potential negatives, the challenges you may face along the way? No, because they always seem to challenge you during the process. With my clients, I suggest that they develop what I call a “Disaster Agenda.” Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? However, after setting their objectives, I ask them to think about the worst three things that could happen and, more importantly, what their potential response might be to such events. I do not like to dwell on these negative challenges, but I feel the benefits of recognizing them are twofold.

First, if one of them does occur, you will be better prepared for it with a solid response. Second, if something even remotely similar happens, you will be better prepared to overcome that hurdle, too.

One word of caution for you. We should not ignore these negatives, but make your primary focus on the objectives you want to achieve. Let your thoughts dwell on these, and I will see you at the finish line!

As author Leonard I. Sweet stated, “The future is not something we enter, it’s something we create.”

Can I assist you with this same process? If so, be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

These are tough times. Our economy is scary in some sectors and best characterized as shaky for a lot of people. However, please let me share some good news with you. The key is to focus on Success, not Failure!

The primary reason for this is that if we spend all our time focusing on failure, we can become fearful. Fear is like a weed. It grows without any help and can pop up unannounced, often catching us off guard. However, faith in a better outcome must be sown. How do you do that?

I’m glad you asked. Faith can be sown by focusing on your goal. I call it a “six-inch challenge.” That is because 6 inches is the approximate distance from our left ear to our right ear. Our mind is in that same 6 inches. In other words, whatever you fill your mind with, that will be where your focus remains. The real problem with this approach is that it can get you “down,” and then you never get to the steps necessary to break free from your current challenges.

My suggestion is, despite the current economic challenges, decide What you want to achieve (i.e., “The Goal”) and then be specific about Why you want it. At this point, do not worry How you will achieve the objective. The reason for this is that if your Why is strong enough, the How becomes much easier.

Once we’ve identified Why you want to reach a goal, we can outline the How as follows:

  • Decide what you want & why you want to attain that goal, i.e., what level can be achieved?
  • Define it clearly in your mind, e.g., $300,000 Net Income.
  • Clearly outline Why you want to hit this target. Remember, your Why is far more important than your How.
  • Next, we start laying out the How. What steps do you need to take to reach your objective? What do you need to change? Let’s also identify the potential hurdles you will have to overcome.
  • Start laying out the steps you must pursue to overcome these challenges.
  • Start implementing these steps, realizing that some factors will change as you proceed forward. This can create new obstacles or, on a more positive note, it may eliminate some other ones.
  • As I’ve said many times before, track your results because if you measure something, you can understand it. If you understand it, you can control it. And if you can control something, you can most definitely improve it. That, my friends, is what success is all about!

As Napoleon Hill stated, “The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.”

Can I assist you with this process? If so, please let me know and be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops to help you with this process.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

During the past six months, I have noticed a new trend in the way people try to overcome the challenges they are facing in their businesses. They cancel previously scheduled meetings with their Nutritionist, CPA, Attorney or other Advisors. I think it can best be described as “ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away.” If you ever observe this scenario with a neighbor or your brother-in-law (assuming it never happens at your operation), here are a couple suggestions about how to overcome it.

Suggestion #1 – The challenges you face are not likely to go away if you ignore them. In fact, they could compound and become even more challenging.

Suggestion #2 – Cancelling one of these sessions, especially at the last minute, can throw your professional’s schedule off. My biggest concern is that if you urgently need them later, will they be in a position to step in, particularly on short notice? Will they even be motivated to do so?

As I suggested in my last blog, let’s focus instead on the Solutions, not just the problems. Along that same line, we should always remain open to meet, to learn, to develop new objectives and adjust our course as needed, because no one is immune to items changing.

This is all part of what I call “Working on the Business, Not Just in the Business!” It will lead us to complete the following tasks:

  • Answer the question of “What will your business look like in 10 years?”
  • Will you personally be fulfilling the same role or doing different tasks?
  • Who will your competitors be in the future? Sound silly? Consider the impact that products such as Almond Milk or Oat Milk may be having on dairy supplies. Will it become even greater in its future impact?
  • What obstacles do you see in the short term or over longer time periods? What’s the impact of higher inflation, rising interest rates, or increased industry regulations?
  • Keeping these factors in mind, have you begun developing a roadmap for overcoming these hurdles?
  • Are you pursuing your objectives or those of your banker, your industry or someone else? These are all key points to consider.

Can I assist you with this same process? If so, be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I recently listened to an excellent podcast from motivational speaker Brendon Burchard about how to deal with “tough times.” Life in America has historically been good, but I know many people are concerned about things like inflation, rising interest rates, government decisions and, of course, the rising stress levels associated with all of these challenges.

Here some solid suggestions from Brendon on how to deal with these challenges, especially since we don’t always know when they might arise:

  1. Raise Your Ambition Level – This is a key element of being on your “A” game, essentially “showing up!” I believe that when we actually raise our ambition level, we become more focused and benefit from additional clarity. While your competitors or those providing you with this “challenge” are still developing their game plan, you can be one or two steps ahead of them, already having considered numerous “What If?” scenarios. Many challenges come from bureaucrats, and I have found that they hate nothing more than someone who is “prepared for them…”
  2. Reframe Doubt – Brendon emphasizes that we need to overcome pessimism. As he states, “Doubt is calling you to rise, not stopping you!” Everyone has doubts. This is normal, so take a closer look at the situation and consider how you might handle it differently than just having doubts. For example, if you were having success in this situation, what would have to have happened? Trust me. The more you practice this process, the more it will become natural for you and the more you will meet with greater success levels.
  3. Reset Your Habits – Challenges like we are facing today require us to boost our Daily Focus. Just as I wrote in my prior blog, better habits and increased discipline will take you a long way toward achieving your objectives. Again, the best way to overcome bureaucratic obstacles is to succeed in spite of them. That, my friends, will take you to the Next Level!

What challenges are you facing today? Here are my recommendations:

  1. Rest up, if necessary, and then Show Up! Face the challenges head on. You can overcome them!
  2. Doubts are normal. What to do? Think your game plan through and move forward. That’s what progress is all about.
  3. Focus – As Mr. Miyagi said in “The Karate Kid” movies, “Focus, Daniel son, Focus!” This is always good advice and something we should strive to implement.

You will likely find new solutions, refine your processes and make additional, positive improvements. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Are you actually preparing for what’s next? I’m not talking about post Afghanistan, after our summer temperatures abate, or after Apple stock goes over $200/share. I’m talking about your business. Business Coach Brendon Burchard stated that “we are always preparing for something.”

Yet, are your current routines and thinking creating the future that you want in your life and business? Author Dennis Waitley talks about us getting stranded on an island called “Someday Isle,” where the weather is perfect, and we have no challenges in our business or life, that which he actually interprets as “Someday I’ll…”

You know, Someday I’ll: 1.) Get my employees to do all the necessary tasks without being reminded. 2.) Have all of my taxes paid. 3.) Have none of my expenses increasing at an alarming rate… The list goes on.

I’d like to review what I’d explained in a prior blog, released on May 25, 2021:

Several years ago, my Business Coach Dan Sullivan of the Strategic Coach organization offered an excellent idea for everyday use. It’s called the WinStreak®, and it’s available as a free app that you can download on your phone.

It provides a simple, but powerful, way to accumulate more “wins” in your business and life. At the end of each day, you list your three greatest accomplishments for the day. It will also ask you to list the three largest objectives you intend to accomplish tomorrow.

The payoff is that instead of dwelling on the tasks you didn’t do or the items that you didn’t complete, it helps you to focus on what you have done, as well as what plan to achieve tomorrow. I’ve been doing this for at least three years, and it has helped me focus on what really matters.

Along the same line, you can summarize the three best things that happened this past week and, if you had a chance to relive this same week, what would you do differently?

The key is that, as we move forward in business and life, let’s focus on preparing for what’s next. Will we ever know with certainty what is going to unfold as we go through the week? Probably not. However, just the very process of reviewing what went well, and what we can do to make next week even better, will help prepare us for a brighter future.

You, too, can stun the world with the items you discover and the objectives you achieve. However, this will require you making this day, this week, this month an “intense time,” one characterized by proactive thinking about how you can make your outcome even better than you ever imagined. You are going to be operating your business & leading your life anyway. Why not make it more prosperous and enjoyable?

My question for you is this: What one task or achievement, if you accomplished it this year, would generate a genuine sense of accomplishment and extreme momentum to carry you into the future?

Knowing this one thing will keep you off of ‘Someday Isle!”

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Of course, the answer is “Yes!” We all do, but now that I have your attention, let’s talk about the opposite position. Do you have any good habits?

Once again, the answer is “Yes.” Of course, you have some good habits. I do as well. I track my weekly results on multiple key measures, I call my adult children at least weekly, my son and I are going through a Napoleon Hill study weekly for all of 2021, and I try to sleep eight hours per night.

Do I succeed all of the time on each of these items? Not quite. However, I typically get very close to 100% on these and several other measurements each week. One of the most positive discoveries I’ve made throughout this process of developing these habits is that I have created a “System,” through which I am able to typically complete them in a timely manner, and if I skip a day on any of them, I actually notice the difference in my performance or outcome.

These are some of my business and personal habits that are creating positive outcomes. Now, I’d like you to think about some in your life and business. Please allow me to give you some examples from a recent Client meeting I had.

This Client, a mid-sized dairy operation, has had a solid history of profitability over the years, but their milk production had plateaued, and, on some days, it had even fallen off considerably. During our discussion, it became clear that, with the labor challenges all operations are currently facing, several tasks just weren’t getting completed consistently.

Free stall beds were not getting raked daily, and feed was not being pushed up regularly. Now, we wouldn’t consider skipping a day of milking the lactating cows in the herd, and we wouldn’t skip breeding cows for several days. So, why skip the other management routines that are so crucial to high production?

The primary problem in both of these areas was a lack of training. With all of the employee turnover this Client had experienced over the past two years, new employees were not always aware of what they should have been doing. It took some training and teaching one employee how to drive the tractor to push up feed, but it is now working.

What was the key to this improvement? A “System,” based upon a foundation of good habits. Raking the free stalls daily, pushing up feed every three hours, 24 hours per day, and several other managerial tasks are what will help take your operation to even greater success.

Create your list of tasks (habits) that need to be completed to develop a system in your operation today. When you make a concerted effort to do this and get it written down, you, too, will notice it when any of these items gets overlooked. However, when you’ve created a “System” of good habits, you will then know exactly what to do next!

Let’s take your business to the Next level!

So often, we get caught up in the throes of responding to various crises in our business. You know, feeling like you are always “on call,” just waiting to put out the next fire… We basically are, as Author Dan Heath suggests, “…downstream, handling one problem after another, but we never make our way upstream to fix the systems that caused the problem.” So, why do we act in this manner?

I have two suggestions. First, you do not have to act in this very manner. Second, I’ve worked with my Clients to avoid this problem. I’ve taught them to respond, when needed, but, more significantly, start exploring (as Dan Heath describes it) “Upstream,” in effect where the problem started.

Let me provide you with a real-life example. My Client was a distributor of various fruits & vegetables. They would contract with growers, and then market these items after they were “re-packed” into their containers. Historically, they were fairly profitable, but their labor costs were getting out of control… Imagine that!

Regardless of what type of business you are in, you should consider the similarities of their situation with that of your company. Whether you measure your Revenue, Expenses and Profitability on a per box or per bag basis as they did or some other measure, this same thinking is still applicable.

If we know our costs, as we did in this case, and we understand the historical levels of rejected units under normal conditions, we can predict, with some degree of certainty, our expected results & profitability. Remember, if you can measure it, you can understand it. If you can understand it, you can control it, and if you can control it, you can improve it! Looking at these early in the process is what Dan Heath calls “Pre-game measures.”

The next step Heath suggests is to “Align incentives.” With this mind, we reinvented the labor/pay structure completely to include incentives for these workers to produce positive results. Since we had already modeled their Revenue, Production & Costs, we could simultaneously incentivize the workers and boost results on both their productivity and the profitability of the company.

As a direct result of going “Upstream,” several positive things happened. First, the workers involved made more money by being incentivized (And, trust me when I say: not everyone bought into this concept. They left for what they assumed were greener pastures elsewhere…). Next, the increase in productivity levels was astounding, partly as a result of the remaining employees “buy-in” to the new process. Finally, the profitability of the company jumped dramatically from a seven-figure loss to a very healthy profit, as we had predicted!

This is just an example of what can happen when we go “Upstream,” and rather than just “putting out fires,” in this case on the Labor front, actually determine the true source of the problem and then work to preemptively correct it. In stark contrast to their old program, which wasn’t working for either the Company or its Employees, this new incentivized program worked better for both of them. My question for you is this:

“Where, when and how will you go Upstream in your business?”

If you will continually do this, I guarantee that you will continue to expand your future opportunities and profitability results! I urge you to please join me in making the changes we need to in order to succeed and prosper! As we move forward with my Next Level Thinking™ blogs, I’ll continue to focus on the benefits of “Upstream” thinking from Author Dan Heath. If I can assist you in any way on this process, please reach out at or at 209-988-8960.