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How Busy People Can Still Be Bloggers (My 4 Part Writing Process)

 bloggers

Writing is certainly not for everyone.

Writing takes more than skill; it takes commitment.

Interestingly enough, I never grew up caring about or even liking writing. And I never once imagined I would grow up to become a writer and have it be such an important part of my life and business.

But I’ve fallen in love with writing for a few reasons

– It helps me sharpen my own thinking about lessons I’m learning and concepts I’m wrestling with.

– It gives me a historical archive of questions I’ve answered and it documents much of what our team at Southwestern Consulting and me, stand for and believe in.

– It is a routine that forces regular self-reflection and self-improvement.

– It is a skill that has come in handy as critical in a variety of different areas of our business.

– It is a platform that multiplies my time because it requires the same amount of work regardless of if ten people are reading it or 10,000 people are which helps us reach more people.

But another benefit I didn’t realize until recently is that it is also a discipline that helps keep me on schedule.

I find that people tend to think writing must take a massive amount of time but it really doesn’t. For me, writing is much more about consistency than intensity. (My exercise strategy actually follows that same principle.)

And while I wouldn’t recommend writing as the best short term revenue producing activity for most businesses, it does add a tremendous amount of value in a multitude of ways over the long term.

If you’ve ever wanted to write but don’t think you have enough time, maybe you can try some of these habits I’ve developed as part of my own process:

 

1.Capture the Idea – The hardest part of writing is usually getting started, but you can neutralize that challenge by just keeping a list of things to write about as you have the ideas but then you wait to actually do the writing until you have the time.I keep my list of topics on my notepad in my cell phone. And almost every blog starts as a topic that comes from one of these places:

– A question that someone asks me that I’m going to answer anonymously and publicly (this very article is an example of that)

– A new lesson that I’ve learned that I want to clarify and remember for myself

– Reinforcing a timeless principle I’ve learned from Southwestern Company culture or some other trusted source of truth, or

– Sharing a piece of advice that I would want to give to someone in my life or want to make available to people (like my newborn son) at some point in the future.

One caveat is that if you get into an intense personal situation or experience in your life it’s usually best to not write about those – at least not right away. It’s best to let those situations incubate and allow some time to pass for reflection so you don’t say something out of emotion that you’ll regret later. Plus, time often changes your perspective and shapes what you want to say.

 

2.Restrict Your Focus – Another major hurdle people struggle with when it comes to writing is that they have so much to say about something that they don’t know where to get started. And then like I used to, they sometimes end up with with a large unorganized blob of disconnected mess.

Combat that indulgence by forcing yourself to focus on only one idea with each blog or article. Answer only one question. Give only one piece of advice. Share only one concept. Have only one central message. Where you get into trouble is by trying to fit too much in and not knowing where to draw the line.

I first learned this lesson in speaking during my journey to the Toastmasters World Championships when one of my mentors said, “Most speakers take a 9 minute speech and try to squeeze it into 7 minutes (the max time allowed in the contest). The winners take a 4 minute speech and deliver it in 6.”

 

3.Block Your Time – Like so many things, we just need to find a spot in our calendar to make time for it. Do I write in the middle of the day during prime business generating hours? No.

For me, I write about 95% of my articles during one time only: during take off and landing on airplanes. It’s the one time I’m not allowed to have my computer in front me and I’m also disconnected from wifi; so I’ve found that writing is one of the most maximizing ways to use that time.

And it’s about 12 minutes up and 12 minutes down which is exactly the perfect amount of time it should take to write one article on one topic and do a light proofread.

 

4.Build Your Business – As I mentioned earlier, writing is not the strategy I would suggest for short term business growth; it is a slow long term strategy that can pay dividends but usually only over a long period of time.

That said, content marketing can still be a very useful  tool to a business. While it will never outperform the short term efficiency of picking up the phone and talking to someone about your business ie sales, it can sometimes help you build a broad reputation of trust with a large number of people if you do it well and consistently for a very long period of time.

So make sure you have a strategy for using your writing to capture leads and generate interest for your business that you can follow up with. In fact one of the best things you can do is brainstorm a list of every question your perfect prospect might have and answer them one at a time. After enough time they’ll realize they need to talk to you more!

 

So don’t buy into the excuse that you don’t have time to write.

It’s no different than making the time to work out a couple times a week, review your goals, recite your affirmations, read the Bible, or any number of other positive habits that take a little bit of time consistently and regularly.

It doesn’t take that long.

What it takes is a decision and a commitment.

In fact “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” is almost never the truth about why people don’t create positive habits.

The truth is that you just need to find a way to efficiently fit in the things that are important to you.

It can be done and it doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated.

So if it is your desire, write on my friend.

Write on.

 

7 Critical Components of a Powerful Morning Routine 

morning

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.

How to Solve Your Competing Priorities Problem

priorities

The first action step for becoming more productive is to write out your vision.

Write out in specific detail what you want your life or business to look like in 5 years.

The clearer you see your vision, the more obvious you will see your priorities.

Priorities are not a matter of right and wrong or good and bad. Priorities are simply a matter of relevant and irrelevant.

The reason people have such a hard time prioritizing is because we live and work in a world with unclear vision.

An unclear vision means there either is no vision or there are too many visions.

If there is no clear vision, then everything is a priority. If there are many visions, then you will bump into having conflicting and competing priorities pulling you in different directions.

Either way, you will have frustration, stress, lack of clarity and feel overwhelmed.

The proper selection of your next most significant priority then is 100% dependent on its context as it relates to the vision.

When you clarify the vision, the sequential set of steps that are needed to make it a reality usually become clear.

But if you don’t have a clear vision, then you may find yourself running in a thousand directions just doing everything that shows up as something you can possibly do.

So if you find yourself struggling to balance competing priorities the answer may not be to just work harder and longer, but to stop, take a breath, and clarify what really matters.

2 Reasons Your Meetings Are Complete Failures

Reasons why your meetings are complete failures

Meetings are worthless without execution.

It is absolutely mind boggling how many meetings go on each and every day in businesses all across the globe that are virtually a complete waste of time.

Meetings are perhaps the lowest use of time and the greatest waste of money in all of business.

People think that the purpose of meetings is to communicate.

That is wrong.

Communication is not a purpose because communication is not a destination.

Communication is the journey. Communication is the process. But communication isn’t the goal.

The destination, and the purpose of meetings, is two-fold.

1. To make decisions
2. To take actions

That’s it.

That is why you meet.

Decisions and actions.

If you don’t complete either of these, then your meeting was a failure.

Building trust and comradery is also a function of meetings, but it’s still more of a bi-product rather than the focused outcome.

Communication is the necessary path to making decisions and to deciding what actions need to be taken.

But communication, in and of itself, is not an end goal.

So when you meet you meet, you need at least one person in the meeting driving the team to make decisions and to assign action items.

Not only that but you also, more importantly, need one person that documents those decisions made and the action items assigned.

That way you can refer back to them later, communicate clear next action steps, and hold people accountable to getting significant priorities knocked out.

If you walk out of a meeting without decisions documented and action items assigned, then I don’t care how good of a meeting it was, it was a failed meeting.

It was a waste of time.

It was a lack of leadership.

You have to make decisions.

And you have to assign actions.

When you do that, things get done.

Things get changed.

Things get improved.

And if your meeting doesn’t have the right people, the right amount of time, or the right commitment to decisions and actions…

Then simply, don’t have the meeting.

The Secret to Doing it All

Group of People Connection Digital Device Concept

Just yesterday I received this question from a reader:

Rory,

I have been benefiting from your insight (very appreciative I found your information!) and I am seeking to implement the principles you share. I am amazed. I was thinking: you run Southwestern Consulting, you generate enormous amounts of actionable content, you have speaking engagements… all the while having a family and the responsibilities that go with it. What a juggling act it must be!

How do you stay ahead of the wave of time?

I’m starting out on building a platform and I wonder, will I have time to respond to comments like you do? Create quality content? And not sacrifice family relationships or my own health?”

– Pat

Thank you so much Pat!

Your comments are truly inspiring and uplifting to me. We do have a lot going on and I promise you there are many times where it is probably appearing like we have our act together far more than we actually do!

Needless to say, your note made me feel good to have someone take notice of how hard we really do work. Especially when the people we are working so hard for are people just like you!

My personal philosophies about productivity are clearly outlined in Chapter 5 of Take the Stairs (The Harvest Principle), in my Tedx talk, and of course in detail in Procrastinate on Purpose.

But I want to highlight the question “How do you manage to keep up with it all?”

Because there is a simple answer to it.

While it isn’t necessarily a secret, the answer is still dramatically under-realized by most people.

The answer to “how do I manage to keep up with it all?” is…

I don’t.

We do.

Me and my Wifey (AJ) do. Me and my Partners at SWC do. Me and our extraordinary “Special Ops” (Operations) team at SWC do. Me and our now private team of Vaden family assistants do.

We are a team.

We, as a team…do.

People often feel like it’s impossible for themselves to keep up with it all – and they’re right!

That’s exactly the problem. Most of us are trying to keep up with it all.

You can’t.

Only, you + a team can.

You have to have a team.

You must have a team.

It is our team that deserves the credit.

And I don’t mean that in a trite, cliché, politically correct, it’s the nice thing to say, kind of way – although I do love our team, appreciate them dearly, and believe in them.

I mean that you literally have to lead people. You have to inspire people to join a mission.

You have to create an outlet for them to pursue a cause.

You have to create jobs for people.

How do you do that?

Simple.

You reinvest.

The way to building a team is you have to learn to reinvest.

And here is the key…

When you’re first starting out, you have to always reinvest more than you feel comfortable reinvesting.

There has never been a single time in the growth of our business so far (which is now an 8-figure business) where I felt like I had enough money to reinvest.

You always feel short of what you need.

But you have to do it anyway.

You can get Virtual Assistants at $2-4 per hour to start with simple tasks. And then you work your way up from there. Not to mention that you can get family, friends, neighbor kids, and interns to often help you out too.

If you’ll do your best to invest into them, they will do their best to invest into you.

My goal (and AJ’s) is to always keep reinvesting in other people. And one of my personal goals in the next 5 years is to have all of our top performing team members making more than any other person in the world who does a similar job function to what they do.

We want them to win. We want to create for them. We want to provide unparalleled opportunity for them.

When you reinvest in other people, you’re betting on them but you are also betting on yourself.

You’re betting that with the extra capacity they can give you, you can use that time to create more revenue, more opportunity, and more value.

And then once you do that, you reinvest again.

And again.

And again.

You build a team.

Slowly if you have to, but you must build a team.

Because you can’t do it all.

You need help.

You need other people.

And they need you.

And if you’ll create for them…

If you’ll work for them…

If you’ll risk for them…

Then you will provide rewards for them that they can’t get anywhere else.

And in turn, they will pick you up, support you, and carry you on their shoulders all the way until other people look at you one day and say…

“How in the world do you possibly keep up with it all?”

Life Story with Amanda Johns Vaden and Jim Cavale: Highest Use Of Time – Episode 147 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

time

As Iron Tribe’s President, Jim Cavale’s focus is scaling the Iron Tribe Fitness athlete experience throughout all of its gym markets, leading each of his departments to innovate new growth strategies and engage their respective teams to achieve the brand’s purpose of creating fitness communities that change lives. He is passionate about impacting lives in a positive way in every aspect of his life.

Amanda Johns Vaden is a Senior Partner, Million Dollar Producer, Business Consultant, Executive Coach, and Keynote Speaker at Southwestern Consulting™Her involvement in Southwestern Consulting™ started in 2006 where she traveled the country working with over one thousand U.S. based sales offices training them on best practices in sales and business.

Show Highlights:

  • As you grow you realize it’s tough to scale anything, especially culture. @JimCavale
  • When people are all about purpose and passion, sales sometimes becomes a dirty word. @JimCavale
  • At some point you have to say no and let go of controlling every aspect of your life. @JimCavale
  • Time management is a system that you use to manage your time, not a tool of productivity. @JimCavale
  • Are the items on your to-do list the most important use of your time? @JimCavale
  • Create more whitespace on your calendar to free up your mental and creative capacity. @AmandaJohnsSWC
  • When you go from one meeting, phone call, and project to the next, you don’t give yourself time to get real tasks done. @AmandaJohnsSWC
  • What do you do better than any one else in the world? Don’t get distracted by everything else and do that one thing really well. @JimCavale
  • What is your time worth today? @JimCavale
  • Put those goals into motion and figure it out along the way. You will never have everything figured out before you start. @AmandaJohnsSWC
  • I never want to look back and say, “I didn’t get the most out of myself.” @JimCavale
  • The more you help yourself and make yourself better, the more you can help others be better. @JimCavale

To learn more about Jim and Iron Tribe Fitness follow the journey and get involved at irontribefitness.comTwitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

If you are interested in partnering with Iron Tribe and opening up a franchise in your area, click here!

The Action Catalyst show is a weekly podcast that Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting™ hosts every Wednesday, which is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts and has listeners from all around the world. The show 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 one very special expert guest and thought leader every week. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!