“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
– Isaac Newton
Think hard about the statement above. Who do you know (living or dead) that moves you? Who by her magnitude of achievement or virtue of character inspires you the most? Have you ever had someone in your life that left you in awe at the heights they have ascended to? (If not, you need to get someone like this - it’s awesome!) There are giants all around us. Some live their lives center stage and are magnetic by virtue of their charisma. Others do not recognize that they are giants, yet they can be identified by the enormity of their contribution. The word giant is defined as “a person of extraordinary powers.” Power is “the ability to act or produce an effect.” Who do you know (or know of) that produces extraordinary effects that move you to higher aspiration? Did you ever think you could be a giant yourself? If you have ever been inspired by an individual who created anything extraordinary in his life, then it is possible for you to CREATE similar results in yours.
If you believe you are capable of more than you have demonstrated in your life so far, than you need to surround yourself with giants. Make a habit of seeking out giants and put yourself in their company. Because if you are around giants long enough, you will start to think like they do. If you think like they do, you will start to believe what they believe. And if you believe as they believe, you will do what they do. If you do what they do, you can have what they have. What do they have? All people of greatness (whether a multi-millionaire, an extraordinary school teacher, an artist or a devoted mother) share similar characteristics, beliefs and habits. In addition, by intention or intuition, they all have a strategy. Strategy is “the devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal.” They live in the paradox of believing that only today is within their control, and therefore, it is to be lived on purpose. At the same time, they strive toward a worthwhile objective, believing their actions will greatly influence its fruition in the future.
Regardless of the various points of similarity between them, all successful people CREATE exceptional results through a process and common mind set much like the one we will explore in this article. CREATE is an acronym that stands for:
- Tactical engagement
Before we go further, let me express that I am not going to tell you anything you probably haven’t heard or do not at some level already know. I am not smarter or more gifted than you. At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Why would I continue reading an article by someone who’s not going to tell me anything that I don’t already know and who’s not even smarter than me in the first place?” If this is you, I encourage you to keep reading. It’s not what we know but what we internalize and utilize that makes a difference in our lives. If knowledge by itself was enough, than librarians would rule the world, right? Further, I have had the privilege of surrounding myself with remarkable individuals who continue to teach me things. I have been blessed to overcome my fair share of adversity and achieve things far beyond what anyone thought I could (especially myself). In addition, I have shared these concepts with thousands of fitness professionals and witnessed massive transformation in everyone who has employed these principles. I strongly believe that if you internalize the following ideas and strategies, you will never be the same. Regardless of what you have or haven’t achieved yet, you will be more influential and powerful than you have ever been before. Hopefully, you will share these ideas with others. It is only by going beyond yourself that you can fully develop. For that reason, I am grateful to share the best that is in me with you. Are you ready to begin?
I recently heard Mark Victor Hansen comment on what separates the extraordinary individuals from ordinary individuals. Mark Victor Hansen and his co-author Jack Canfield had one idea years ago. The idea was for the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. That idea earned them one billion dollars! Anyone with a billion dollar idea can teach all of us something. Since then, Mr. Hansen has met some of the most accomplished individuals in the world. Through his observations, he has come to the conclusion that focus, above all else, is the determining factor in the outcome of a person’s life. So if he’s right, what determines our focus? I believe it is the way we communicate with ourselves. It’s the questions we continually ask. The purpose of a question is not only to receive information but to direct our mind. Jim Collins, the author of the bestselling book Good to Great, says that there are three highly important questions every professional needs to ask and revisit. They are:
- What am I deeply passionate about?
- What can I be the best at?
- What drives my economic engine?
What Am I Deeply Passionate About?
You may or may not have seen the movie "Spartacus," but it’s a classic. Spartacus is the story of a group of Barbarian slaves to the Roman Empire. They rose up against the Roman Empire in a fight for their freedom and defeated the Roman Empire twice. Rome, which at that time was indisputably the greatest power on earth, was obviously shaken by this. The empire commissioned Marcus Cassius to put down the revolt. In the climax of the movie, Spartacus’s army sits defeated before General Cassius. He makes them an offer. If they give up Spartacus, they were promised an expedient execution. Now that doesn’t sound like a very good deal; however, the alternative was much worse. If they refused to give up Spartacus, they would all die an excruciatingly painful and slow death by crucifixion. After a period of silence, Spartacus (played by Kirk Douglas) rises to his feet and declares, “I am Spartacus.” Within moments, the man next to him rises to his feet and also declares, “I am Spartacus.” Within the next moment, another man rises to his feet and declares, “I am Spartacus.” Soon, the entire army is defiantly on its feet. When I saw this as a child, I was amazed at how loyal these soldiers were to Spartacus. But now, I realize that they weren’t loyal to Spartacus the man but to the vision that one day they could be free. Once they got hold of that vision in their minds, relinquishing it was more painful than any other fate they could imagine, even more so than death by crucifixion.
- What are you so passionate about that you would pay any price for it?
- What are you so passionate about that life would have no meaning without it?
- Like Spartacus’s army, what are you fighting to be free of so you can live the life you deserve?
If you look around, you have at least two incredible reasons staring back at you. When your reasons are significant enough, your resolve will be strong enough to become the person you need to be, to do what you were called to do. Find your reason!
What Can I Be the Best At?
Your innate talents can be identified by the skills you demonstrate with a high level of proficiency that you did not have to work hard to develop. Conversely, other people have to work very hard to develop the skills you effortlessly possess, yet they still lack your proficiency. Everyone has at least one valuable talent. It’s our job to find it. Maybe for you it’s the ability to build rapport quickly with almost anyone. Or maybe you can take in technical information related to exercise science and effectively put it to practical use via program design. Some people possess innately high levels of emotional intelligence and can connect with and deeply empathize with others. Then again, maybe it’s your sense of humor, like the people who work at the bank and put braille lettering on the drive up ATM machines. Or who leave the bank doors wide open after closing yet chain the pens to the counter. What about the people in the drug store who make the sick people walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while the healthy people can buy their cigarettes up at the front? Once you’ve identified your talents, you need to ask, how can I use what I do best to add value to other people’s lives where they need it the most? Zig Ziglar says, “You can have anything in life you want, as long as you help enough other people get what they want.”
What Drives My Economic Engine?
The answer to that is developing your capacity as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are the most highly rewarded people in our society. Here’s why, in 1800, the French Economist J.B. Say defined an entrepreneur as someone who “Shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and yield.”
Now that’s a pretty good skill to have! So what are your resources and how do you allocate them toward a desired outcome? In any business, you have capitol resources, physical resources and human resources. Even if you do not own the company where you work, you still have human resources in the form of employees or clients. So if your clients are a constant resource, than the purpose of your business is to create and keep good clients. Therefore, your economic engine is driven by your ability to effectively attain and retain a profitable client base.
Skills are the keys to success. The greater your skills, the greater your potential. Two essential skills to your business (or any business, for that matter) are innovation and marketing:
- Innovation is the creation, execution, evaluation, modification and re-implementation of an idea. Most innovations are more the result of perspiration than inspiration. The key is tenacity.
- Marketing is the way you convey a benefit or solution that prospective clients deeply desire or need and compels them to action.
In order to compel someone to action, you must identify the quintessential reason for wanting what they want. A useful premise in marketing is, whatever you think you sell, you don’t. No one is interested in better health, losing weight or becoming more athletic. What they want is the emotional result or outcome they believe they’ll attain as a consequence of achieving their goal. Just like the owner of a Mercedes is not buying fine German engineering, he or she is buying the feelings of affluence, acceptance, sex appeal or maybe a sense of security. One effective way to identify an individual’s emotional reason is to probe their statements with the question “why?” or “What is most important to you about that?” Irrespective of the goal, why they want it is more important than what they want in the first place. It’s unlikely any behavior will change unless an individual truly desires to change it. The more skilled you are at peeling away an individual’s goal to get at the root cause of why they desire it, the more profoundly you will transform the lives of others and, by indirect effort, your own. Which brings us to the second component of the CREATE system: responsibility.
The fact that you’re reading this reveals you are most likely not like everyone else. Most people are content to just do what they have always done and get what they have always gotten. They blame other people, events and past circumstances for their current conditions. But you are unique because you work on yourself. You understand you are accountable to your own professional growth, and that in order to achieve more, you must discipline yourself to become more. Unfortunately, others will not do what you do and therefore cannot have what you have. The question is, what is the extent of your commitment to go beyond making a living and instead make a difference? Commitment is the resolve to do what you said you were going to do long after the emotion has left you. Successful trainers accept the fact that where they are and who they are is the result of what they have done or failed to do. Five years from now, we will all be five years older (hopefully). Where we arrive is the direct result of every decision we make, every day from this moment on.
A long time ago, there was a wise old man. People would come from great distances to seek his guidance and tutelage in a range of matters. His wisdom gained him the respect and admiration of many, many people. Most of all, he was adored by the people of his village. He was in fact the elder of their community. As long as any one could remember, he had helped and served everyone in the village and everyone respected him, except for one boy who despised him. He was jealous because no one revered his father like they did the old man. His father was a simple man, and his mother would continually compare the wisdom of the old man to the ignorance of her husband, insisting that he consult the wise old man on every matter. Over time, the boy’s resentment grew and he devised a plan. He influenced his friends to help him. He said to them, “We are going to prove that the old man is not wise at all. When we do, he will lose all of the respect and admiration of the village. Here’s what we'll do. We will catch a bird, and I will go the old man with the bird behind my back and I will ask him, ‘What do I have behind my back?’ “He will certainly know the answer to that. He’s not that wise, but he’s not a complete fool either.” The boy continued, “But then we will trick him. I will ask him, ‘Is the bird alive or dead?' There’s no way he can know that! If he says the bird is alive, I will crush it in my hands and drop it on the ground dead in front of him. If he says the bird is dead, I will let it fly into the air. Either way, we will prove that he is unworthy of his position in our village.” The other boys agreed and went out to catch a bird. When they did, they walked to the wise old man's house and called for him. The old man came out, saw the boys and immediately knew they were up to no good.
“What can I do for you young men?" said the wise old man.
The boy held the bird behind his back, away from the view of the wise old man. “Old man,” said the boy, "If you are so wise, tell me: what do I have in my hand?"
“That is a foolish question,” said the old man. “You know very well you have a bird behind your back. After all, it’s in your hands!”
“Very good,” said the boy. “But tell me, is the bird alive or is it dead?”
The old man smiled because he was very wise and said, “Young man, again you ask foolish questions. You know very well whether the bird is alive or dead. After all, it’s in your hands!”
So in regard to responsibility I ask you: is it alive or is it dead? Of course, I’m not talking about a bird. I’m talking about your dreams and highest aspirations. I am referring to everything you once aspired to be and do someday or the things you almost gave up on years ago. Now, imagine you took that question to the wisest man you knew and asked, “Is it alive or dead?” If he was truly wise, he could only answer, “It’s in your hands.”