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Several years ago I was working with a guy who was not having a very good year. He had lost a couple of jobs and was on the verge of filing bankruptcy. One day we were talking about how a family had sold what had been a cotton field for a couple of million dollars. When he heard about it he said “I need the good-luck bird to take a dump on me like that.” A pretty crude way of saying what a lot of guys today think, “if I could just get a lucky break like that guy, I'd be set”
Well, my friend didn't need luck and neither does any guy, what he needed was a good dose of hard work.
Hard work is not very popular with guys between voting age and being old enough to rent a car. There's a disturbing trend among this group of 8 guys living in an apartment so you only need to deliver pizzas for 10 hours a week to pay the rent. That leaves lots of time to play “Call of Duty” and “Halo”. But these are the same guys who end up complaining because they can't get a real job later on.
These guys think the men who do get a good job are lucky or knew the right people or were standing under the good luck bird. They don't realize those guys weren't lucky, they had developed a good reputation by working and working hard.
The guys that are almost always successful know that hard work is what you purchase your reputation with.
Here's a secret, hard work will get you noticed. There's so little of it going on these days, that a young guy can move up quickly just by hard work. Guys who are willing to work hard are so rare that one who will sticks out like a flashlight at night.
It's important that young guys learn the importance of hard work, because Microsoft, Facebook and Apple weren't built by slackers. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs weren't just lucky, they had incredible work ethics.
Here's one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Edison about the relationship between hard work and success:
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”.
Stop waiting for the good-luck bird and go to work. Pretty soon you'll be amazed at how lucky you become.
Every guy wants to make better decisions. Nobody goes around wishing they could figure out how to make worse decisions. We've all made enough of those to have that figured out pretty well.
A lot factors go into to making good choices but one of the easiest to control is when you have a big decision to make, be sure you're at the top of your game. This means there are 4 times in every man's life when he shouldn't make a big decision.
The first is when you're HUNGRY. When you're hungry your body is missing key ingredients it needs to process information in a rationale and thoughtful way. That's why you've always heard that you shouldn't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Well if that's true, then you definitely don't need to buy a car on an empty stomach.
The second time you shouldn't make a big decision is when you're IRRITATED. This is when you're more likely to act on emotion instead of on reason. Making a big decision when you're irritated means you make unreasonable demands during negotiations and blow a deal that was actually good for you.
The third time you shouldn't make a big decision is when you're TIRED. Research has shown time after time that fatigue affects your decision making skills in the same way that excessive drinking does. That's why one of the best pieces of advice my dad ever gave me was to sleep on a big decision.
The fourth time you shouldn't make a big decision is when you're STRESSED. You really see this when it comes to money. A guy is stressed out because he can't afford his mortgage and decides to sell his house. Then he takes the first offer that he thinks gets him out of the house even though he's leaving money on the table.
So the next time you've got a big decision to make just remembers HITS, and do a quick review to see if you're hungry, irritated, tired, or stressed. If you are STOP until you're not.
- You Open It But Don't Close It
- You Turn It On But Don't Turn It Off
- You Borrow It But Don't Return It
- You Make A Mess But Don't Clean It Up
- You Move It But Don't Put It Back
- You Don't Ask Permission From The Owner Before Using
- You Ask Questions When It's None Of Your Business
Most of us learned about these mistakes in kindergarten but it's amazing how many of us have forgotten them. It's also amazing how much better your life and the lives of everybody you come in contact with, is when you don't make them.
Have you ever been driving behind a tractor-trailer that was swerving all over the place? Most folks think it’s because the truck is overloaded, but actually the reason is the trailer is empty.
Tractor-trailer rigs are not designed to haul empty trailers, they are designed to carry heavy loads. The weight of the load is what keeps the rig tracking straight instead of swerving from side to side.
This means the driver is not doing his truck a favor by driving it without a load. It actually hurts the truck and makes his job even harder. When a truck is loaded down with 40,000 pounds of cargo is when it drives and rides the best.
The same thing is true with men, especially young men. They respond and live better when they are carrying a load (not a too heavy load, but an appropriate load). When a young man is living without a load he swerves from side to side going from one part-time job to another, one relationship to another and one crappy apartment to another. When a young man is carrying a load of responsibility like marriage, children, mortgage or whatever, he tracks straight without too much side to side action.
Some parents think they are helping their son by carrying some of his load, but they are actually hurting him. He’s tougher than you think and more capable than you or he knows. He’ll also develop self-respect as he learns responsibility, because it’s not a curse, it’s what he was designed to do.
So don’t always look for ways to remove a guy’s heavy load because you probably aren’t helping him. Some of you need to stop spending your time looking for ways to get someone else to carry your load and man up.
(thanks to pastor Mark Driscoll for the idea of comparing young men to trucks)
In our house we use all sorts of words and phrases to describe people or situations. One of my favorites is how we describe folks who just don’t seem to be too concerned about life, school or work. When a person like this comes up, one of us will say “ain’t they got no goals?” (yes, I know it’s horrible grammar but I’m a redneck from Alabama, what did you expect).
The reason we say this is a co-worker of mine told me that one day when he was a teenager and still in bed at noon, his dad walked in his room and said “ain’t you got no goals?”
Recently one of the guys I work with talked about how the Army had taught him the importance of setting and achieving goals. He said before he learned this skill his life was absolute chaos. He was newly married with a child and because his financial skills were so poor he was on food stamps. He also was not being promoted on schedule.
One day a sergeant sat him down and taught him about setting goals and he decided that was what he needed to do. So he wrote out a series of goals from financial to career and started doing the things necessary to reach the goals
After reaching his first set of goals, he did the step that some guys miss, he set new goals and started on them. He understood that life is more like a marathon than a sprint. Too many guys reach the first set of goals and think they’re done.
Every guy needs to develop and write down life goals that cover financial, relationships, careers, faith, health and self improvement.
If you’re not sure how to set goals, here’s an acronym that will help.
S-Specific. Dreams are general but goals are detailed.
M-Measurable. If you can’t measure it, then you’ll never know if you accomplished it.
A-Achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure and discouragement by trying to do something you can’t.
R-Relevant. Make sure you’re not investing time and energy to reach a goal that won’t add value to your life.
T-Time-Boxed. Guys need deadlines.
I’ll give you a personal example. One of my goals is to weigh 200 lbs by my 49 birthday, which is September 30, 2013. Here’s how it looks using the SMART template.
- Specific- I didn’t say I want to lose weight, I said my goal is to weigh 200 lbs.
- Measurable- There aren’t many goals more measurable than weight.
- Achievable- I did the math and my goal requires me to lose 1.5 pounds per month, which is very doable.
- Relevant- I want to get my weight under control while I still can so I’m set up for the next season of life.
- Time-boxed. Mine is very simple, September 30, 2013.
Now, tell me what goals you’re working on.
This picture drives me nuts. In fact I kind of get the shakes just looking at it. I cannot handle the little red circles on my iPhone screen. Whether its a text, voicemail or email, I cannot resist the urge to press it. I have to know what it is. I might be missing the email that will change my life. If I don’t check twitter every 10 minutes I might miss the holy grail of tweets with a link to the ultimate viral video.
I always thought this was just my own, private weirdness until I heard about FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out. This is the fear that you’ll miss out on something spectactular if you don’t go to an event or do something.
Warning signs that you may be suffering from FOMO:
Is Facebook the first thing you look at in the morning and last thing you look at before going to sleep?
Have you ever had a episode of “phantom vibrating iPhone”, when you took your phone out of your pocket because you thought you felt it vibrate?
Have you had more than two near misses because you were texting and driving?
FOMO is a fairly new condition. I’m 47 so I remember life not just before the Internet but before answering machines. I can remember being in the middle of dinner and the phone would ring. Sometimes we’d say, just let it ring, they’ll call back. And you know what? They did.
What’s the answer? Is there a cure other than throwing away your iPhone?
I think the biggest thing that’s helped me, is to realize it’s actually a fear of man issue. I care far too much about what people think of me and depended way too much on the approval of others. One day I read a great quote from a preacher named Steven Furtick “he who lives for the approval of others, will die by the absence of the same.” That one quote has helped me in my ongoing struggle with FOMO.
Here’s a few things to help anyone suffering from FOMO
- don’t immediately reply to a text, unless it’s an emergency
- Ask yourself if the person will add value to your life before you follow them on Twitter or friend them on Facebook.
- Occasionally unplug. The next time you’re out with your girlfriend or spouse, leave your phone in your pocket.
- Develop a “they’ll call back” attitude. If they really need to talk to you, they will call back.
There’s even a verse in the bible to help- “Fearing people is a dangerous trap…” Proverbs 29:25.
Stop reacting immediately to the red circles in your life, pretty soon you’ll find your FOMO going away.