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Search Results for: intention

10/24/08 – Intention

One of the sisters to self-discipline is intention. If discipline is the action of doing things you don’t want to do then intention is the conscious thought that immediately precedes discipline. Most people do not live life with intention and as a result only have a sputtering chance at ever being disciplined on demand.

We are creatures of habit and what’s more important than knowing that we are creatures of habit is realizing that the habits that rule our lives are executed subconsciously. Do you realize that you probably dry yourself off with a towel almost exactly the same way every single day? Do you realize that you drive the exact same way to work every single day? Let’s cut deeper… do you realize that your interaction with loved ones almost definitely follows the same repetitive cycle? Did you know that you spend your money in almost a perfect pattern in which unless intentionally changed you are hopelessly bound to experience the same level of financial security for the rest of your life? (Or lack of security)

Many of the problems we encounter in our lives have nothing to do with the problems themselves. IE the other person involved in the bad relationship, or the financial tragedy that seems so “un lucky”. Because the one thing that is in common with all of the problems you encounter is…YOU. In my case, me.  And actually most of our “problems” aren’t the real problem. Most of our “problems” are actually just the bi-products or manifestations of an internal lack of intention.

We’ve all had that experience where we’re driving home from work and suddenly we arrive home without having any idea how we got there. The same is true with most people’s lives; most of us wake up one day not really understanding how we got to where we are. That’s because just like we were on autopilot about choosing which turns to make driving on the way home, many times we’re on autopilot about choosing which turns to make in deciding on how to live our life.

However, for many parts of our lives our habits are survival mechanisms; they allow us to complete things quickly without requiring much focus. The problem is that some of the things we haven’t been focusing on are REALLY important. You can change this all by simply being INTENTIONAL about how you live your life. What areas of your life are “broken”? By acknowledging the areas that are broken you are already adding intention to your life. Because you are consciously looking toward a solution.

Of course the key is to not focus on the problem but rather to be INTENTIONAL about seeking a solution. And then INTENTIONAL about taking action. The action part is where intention is transformed into discipline.



7 Critical Components of a Powerful Morning Routine 


One of the most important habits of developing consistent high performance in your life is to put your self-esteem into your work habits rather than your production.

The reason is because we want our confidence tied to things that we can control rather than things we can’t.

Production often fluctuates up and down but our effort, work ethic, and intensity needs to always be consistent.

The decision to embrace this philosophy can be something that you demonstrate in the first few moments of every day.

I first learned the power of a morning routine from my time in college working in The Southwestern Advantage summer program.

They taught us to have and focus on a “mini-victories list” every single morning.

To this day, I follow a regimented routine every single morning that includes many of those original habits I developed selling door to door in the summer:


Gratitude – The very first thing I do when the alarm goes off is immediately start saying “thank you”. I thank God for as many specific blessings as I can possibly come up with in those first few moments. In addition to being a powerful way to start the day, it also keeps my mind from being occupied with negative thoughts about how tired I might be or what I have to do that day.


Scripture – For me it is a very intentional choice that the first input into my brain each day be scripture. Not email. Not Twitter. Not news. Scripture. Not only does it help charge my soul for the day, it is also an external representation of an internal decision to prioritize my spiritual walk and relationship with God above all else. After reading scripture I pray. It’s an important discipline. (Tip: Timothy Keller’s book Prayer taught me to focus on reading each individual word slowly and one at a time instead of speeding through sentences.)


Affirmations – Over the years I have amassed several lists of different affirmations. Some speak to the person I want to be, some speak to the company we want Southwestern Consulting to be, and some are very specific to reprogramming my brain about certain fears, current limiting beliefs that I have or new habits I’m focused on developing. I read those next.

Goals – I’ve always then spent a few minutes reviewing my short and long term goals. What has been very powerful for me in the last couple years is that I read my wife’s goals first. And when I know of them, I read specific goals of my business partners as well before I read mine. This is another discipline that I practice to try and cultivate more selflessness in my life. It’s important because I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that absent an intentional decision to think about other people, I unfortunately naturally default to thinking mostly of just myself.

Schedule – I spend a few moments reviewing my schedule and making sure I’m consciously aware of everything that is supposed to happen that day. A great piece of advice that I’ve been trying to practice that I learned from profiling a Multiplier for the Procrastinate on Purpose book is to “throw everything off my calendar and make it fight to earn its way back on.”

Exercise – This is another habit I learned directly from Southwestern, which is to do something physical first thing in the morning every single day! Even if it’s only a few push-ups, sit-ups, or weightless squats, it’s a major victory to do even some small physical activity. And you should never underestimate the power of consistency in your life; literally a few minutes of exercise every day does wonders for helping you maintain your physical state.

Vitamins – Taking vitamins and veggies is not something I particularly enjoy; but I do it every single day. Because staying healthy requires discipline and it’s a choice I want to consistently make first thing in the morning. My body is something I choose to protect and preserve and supplements are an important part of the routine. As mama always said “enjoying it isn’t a requirement of doing it.”

Making it through this entire list (including a 20 min workout routine) takes me about 45 minutes.

(In full disclosure, there is one other step to this routine that I’ve been doing the last couple years that I left out since it’s not ubiquitous to everyone: I also write 1 little inspirational social media post each day on Instagram that I also share to Facebook and Twitter. It takes about 7 minutes a day but I find that writing a little each day adds up tremendously over time. Those little thoughts often later get expanded into blog posts, which then many blog posts get put together to become a book, which is then made into keynotes, virtual trainings , and coaching modules.

Part of the power of this routine is programming your brain for success each day.

Another part of the power of this routine is preparing yourself to have a positive attitude each day.

But perhaps the most powerful part of this routine is that it helps you start “winning” right away.

Because all of these things are things that you can control.

And all of these things are mini-victories.

They are demonstrations of discipline that happen every morning.

They are resolutions that I will not let my life happen by accident but by design.

I will not be confused about where I’m going; I will be clear.

And I will not lose to the natural voices of fatigue, negativity, and distraction in my head; I will silence them.

This process helps remind me of how much I’ve been given, why my life counts, and who I am focused on serving.

You don’t have to follow this exact process, but I would highly recommend that you and your coach create some process – and that you follow it relentlessly.

Because success is never owned; it’s only rented – and the rent is due every day.

One Way to Not Lose Friends – But Why We Often Do


Its unfortunate that we often judge other people by their actions but judge ourselves by our intentions.

When other people mess up it’s easy and natural for us to point out their mistakes, highlight them, and use them as evidence for why they aren’t capable or worthy of our praise.

Yet when we mess up, it’s easy and natural for us to defend ourselves by trying to explain and articulate to other people what we really meant to say or what we were really trying to do.

The reason we do that is not because we’re bad people. We do it because we simply have access to the information of knowing what our intentions are and we often don’t know the explicit intentions of others.

We know that the way it came out was not what we really meant to say and that it sounded much worse than we actually think or feel.

We know  that the way other people interpreted our behavior isn’t an accurate reflection of what we were really trying to do.

We  know that because it is us.

But a lot of times we don’t know what another person’s intentions were.

And so all we have to go on is our immediate interpretation of their actions.

Many times though, that is a shame. Because it causes us to assume the worst about people when there is perhaps another viable and reasonable explanation.

It’s a shame when we allow ourselves to get angry at others, misinterpret others, or distrust others without exploring what was really going on.

Too often it causes us to lose friends that we never should’ve lost.

Perhaps that is why there is so much wisdom to the phase, “’tis better to seek to understand than to be understood.”

Seek to understand..

It gives us a chance for reasonable explanation.

It gives us a chance for clear representation.

It gives us a chance for possible reconciliation.

Because we spend time exploring what someone’s actual intentions were.

The valuable technique here is to learn to generously give people “the benefit of the doubt.”

To assume the best in people and not the worst.

To believe there is some explanation and not an intention to do evil.

Especially with the vast majority of the people we know and are around every day, they generally have good intentions.

There are relatively few people who are ruthlessly evil, completely self-serving or deliberately sabotaging.

But there is a lot of room for misinterpretation and miscommunication.

That is just because there are so many unique ways to look at a topic, event, or idea from a different point of view.

But just because someone has a different point of view doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

If anything, it’s cause to embrace and explore what their view point is so that we can learn from it.

With ourselves though, we can be more strict and demanding. We can push ourselves to be more considerate of how other people might interpret what we do or say.

We can look beyond just our intentions and challenge ourselves to make sure that there is less room for misinterpretation of our actions.

We already know that we have the best of intentions and so we can strive to make sure that we take action in a way that it is most likely to be viewed as positive.

We can help try to save people from having to question our intentions.

So, if anything, perhaps we should flip things around from the natural way we sometimes live.

Instead of judging others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions…

Maybe we should generally give other people the benefit of the doubt by assuming they have good intentions, yet push ourselves to deliberately consider how we will affect others through our actions.

Winning At Home Like You Win At Work with Mark Timm – Episode 194 of The Action Catalyst Podcast


When Ziglar Family CEO, Mark Timm, heard Zig Ziglar speak for the first time almost 3 decades ago, it changed his life direction. Mr. Ziglar’s timeless principles inspired Mark to start more than a dozen successful businesses. But when his business success didn’t transfer to his family life, Mark and his wife Ann got intentional about applying those time-tested Ziglar principles to leading and growing a successful, blended family with six children. Today as CEO of Ziglar Family, Mark passionately shares the Ziglar principles that have worked so well for his family to empower millions of other families around the world. Ziglar principles have guided Mark to significant achievements, from becoming a national FFA officer as a teen, to becoming a highly successful entrepreneur and starting more than 12 businesses.  He has spoken professionally for over 25 years, giving thousands of speeches to over one million people in 48 states. But his highest priority is to keep his family as the most important thing. Together with his wife, Ann, he is proud to parent six of the coolest kids on the planet — three boys (Markus, Kavyn, Zachary) and three girls (Mary, Cassandra & Grace). They live near Indianapolis, Indiana. When not helping families in the Thrive community, Mark enjoys flying airplanes, traveling with his family, and engaging in fun outdoor activities with his kids.

Show Highlights:

Watch Rory talking Southwestern Consulting with Zig Ziglar – Click Here!

You already know to be successful at home if you are successful somewhere else. @themarktimm

So many families don’t have a target they’re aiming for, they’re just in survival mode. @themarktimm

The greatest change happens at the dinner table. @themarktimm

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

When you’re together, don’t miss the opportunity to talk about something meaningful. @themarktimm

If we teach our kids to think, that sets them up for success. @themarktimm

Your job is not to raise a good kid, it’s to raise a good adult. @themarktimm

5 Ideas for running your business like a family:

  • Give special attention to new team members
  • Celebrate Milestones and achievements
  • Provide for them and keep them safe
  • Train and develop your people
  • Care about them because they are yours; not because of what they can do for you.


Go to take it for FREE with your family for motivation, inspiration and to keep your winning streak alive!

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Why Cheat Days Never Work and How to Create Real Change


“Cheat days” don’t work.

Because “cheat days” fly directly in the face of what actually creates sustainable behavior change.

The concept of a “cheat day” is that you “reward” yourself for one day as the result of “depriving” yourself for all the other days.

But cheat days don’t reward you; they ruin you.

Not only is it just a waste to undo all of your progress you’ve made the rest of the time, the worst part is the thinking behind a cheat day is completely destructive.

You can’t create sustainable self discipline and behavioral change through the strategy of self-denial.

Self-denial doesn’t tackle the root of the problem.

Self-denial is convincing yourself to use willpower to give up something that you have convinced yourself that you really want.

There are 2 problems with that strategy:

  1. At some point your will power is likely to run out because you’ll be tired, or sick, or convince yourself that you’ve done something that makes you “deserve” the thing you’re trying to keep yourself from.
  2. As long as you’re convinced you really want it, you’re brain will constantly unconsciously be looking for ways for you to get it – even if you are consciously trying to avoid it.

So how do you create real, meaningful, sustainable and lasting behavior change?

It’s simple.

You don’t “deny” yourself.

You “re-program” yourself.

You have to convince yourself that you don’t really want it… now or ever.

You have to change the way you think about the thing that you currently want.

You have to literally form new neural pathways in your brain that tell you what to think (and feel) whenever you think about that thing.

The number one first step to doing that is to change your self talk about that thing.

You stop saying “if I’m good about not having ___ now, then I can indulge and have it later.”

You start saying “I don’t even like _____ because it has ______ and _____ negative affects on my life.”

You retrain your brain. You use what we at Southwestern would refer to as “Self-Talk.”

You keep repeating it over and over until one day you “actually” really don’t want the thing that you used to.

Similar to forming a new path in the wild woods, it’s hard and slow at first, but the more you work at it, the more clearly the path forms. Until one day the new path becomes so ingrained and automatic that you forget the old path was ever even there.

Is this hard? Yes.

Does this take work? Yes.

Does it require intention? Yes.

But so does exercising short term will power.

The only difference is that this is actually sustainable for the long run.

This strategy will actually change your life.

Because it starts by changing the way you think about a thing, but that then quickly adapts to influencing your actual physiological attraction to the thing.

The first time I said I no longer liked fast food, it seemed like a terrible thing to say! I didn’t believe it. I knew I was “lying” to myself.

But your brain is a funny thing in that it doesn’t believe what is true or false; your brain simply believes whatever you tell it most often.

So after you say it over and over again you eventually start to believe it. Until one day, your desire for that thing has truly disappeared.

That’s when everything changes.

Because you don’t have to “deny” yourself anything anymore. Because at that point you really don’t want it! You don’t spend any time thinking about having it. You don’t feel like you’re missing out on it. And you really, truly, are more aware of the negative impacts of the thing than you are about whatever short term part you used to like about it.

Plus, while it’s nearly impossible to deny yourself of something that you know you really want; it’s nearly inevitable that you’ll automatically stay away from things you really don’t want.

The thing doesn’t change. It’s your mindset about the thing that changes. And once your mind about the thing changes, you’ll see that your body’s response to the thing will also change.

And trying to temporarily increase your willpower will never be as effective as permanently changing your taste buds.

So don’t deny yourself and find yourself in a constant never ending battle to find willpower.

Instead, reprogram yourself to make a permanent and proactive change into becoming the person you truly want to deign yourself to be.

Change your thinking about something and you will change your life.

Paid Like a Professional

So you want to be paid like a professional? You have to act like one. Here is a short video we put together sharing the 3 areas in which you need to be professional.

If you wanna be paid like a professional, you need to act like one. Wow, those words still ring clearly in my head from my early days at Southwestern Advantage. They use to say that all the time. “If you wanna be paid like a professional, you need to act like one.” Most of us sales professionals underestimate, honestly, the importance and the value of our physiology. That is, how are we feeling? What is going on inside of our skin, right, inside of our bones? And a lot of that has to do with your professionalism. There’s three specific areas that I want to just bring to your attention, of ways that if you could be professional in these areas, then it will help you feel more professional when you’re out selling.

The first one is your dress. How are you dressed? And the general rule of thumb that I like to follow, is you want to be a half-step nicer dressed then everybody else. Just a little bit of a distinction, not much, up from maybe what everybody else is wearing, right? So if you’re gonna be in a room where everybody’s in suit and tie, you know, maybe you have cuffs, or maybe you have a tie bar, or maybe you have a pocket square or something like that. If everyone else is going to be a step down, then you want to, sort of, gradually step down.

But you always wanna look clean, and together, and intentional. And if rough and ragged is your look, that’s fine but be intentional about it, right? Don’t just be crazy, be focused and put some thought behind what are you wearing, how do you look, what is your…what’s going on with your hair? And men, your facial hair and ladies, obviously your makeup. So, the more you can be dressed like a professional, the more that you will feel like a professional, thus you will act like a professional, and therefore, you will be paid like a professional.

Now, the second thing is a different area that maybe you don’t think about professionalism a lot and that is with your materials, with your selling materials and your marketing materials, it’s to be professional. Your business card makes a huge statement. When you hand someone your business card, you should be proud of that. It should be an…it’s an extension of you. So don’t be handing out raggedy business cards that are half mangled, that you’ve been keeping in your wallet for months and months and months. You want something that is firm, and tight, and sharp, and clean, so that when you hand it, it makes an impact, right?

Same thing with your presentation materials. It’s amazing how many sales professionals have awful PowerPoints. Spelling errors, you know, crazy animation, just inconsistent graphics, logos that are spread out like crazy. Those things make a huge difference. It affects the way that people look at you, and it affects the way that you look at yourself. When you put intention behind the preparation of your materials, you feel like a professional. And you act more like a professional. And therefore, you get paid like a professional. So make sure that you pay attention and you are intentional about your materials.

And finally the last thing is, you wanna be focused on creating a professional office environment. A professional office environment. It’s insane how many of the people that we coach, just have office environments that are disasters. And that can be different things. It can mean a complete mess. Now I’m not saying that you can’t be a top producer with a messy desk. A lot of top producers have messy desks. But I’m saying that the more that you can have a professional working environment, it will contribute to the way that you feel. It contributes to your physiology.

So maybe it’s neatness, right, that’s a factor. But maybe it’s also putting up things in your office that remind you of things that are important. Put up a picture of your goals, or maybe it’s plaques and trophies, or pictures of your family. But that you don’t just, kind of, casually walk into your office every day, and you don’t pay any attention to the environment. What can you do in the environment?

Here’s another common thing that we see in the office environment, is that top producers often have standing desks. They will stand up when they make sales calls so that they feel more alert, and alive, and more energetic. So what can you do in your office space, your office environment? Those are three simple places, right? What is your dress, your marketing materials, and your office environment.

But the bottom line is that in order to be paid like a professional, you need to act like a professional. And there’s a whole lot of things that you can do to make you feel that way. But if you don’t feel like a professional, if you haven’t put time and energy and preparation into how you look, or into the materials you’re handing out, or into the place that you work every day, you’re not gonna feel like a professional. And if you don’t feel like one, you’re not gonna act like one. And if you don’t act like one, you’re not gonna be paid like one.