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Improving Your Life Trajectory

Life Trajectory

Why is it that some people’s lives improve along a steady or linear growth curve while others improve exponentially?

It’s because the future success of your life is determined by the trajectory your choices set today.

Similar to the power of compounding interest with money, time also compounds our choices.

When we make good choices at a young age, consistently over a long period of time, it doesn’t create a linear improvement over someone who doesn’t but rather an exponential improvement.

Similarly when we make poor choices at a young age, consistently over a long period of time, it creates the possibility of an exponential decrease of future opportunities and an increase of challenges.

It doesn’t mean that we are ultimately doomed to our history and our past, but it does mean that our best chance for shaping the steepest inclined trajectory for a positive future is to start immediately.

Good choices begets good opportunities.

And making good choices again when presented with good opportunities yields even more drastically positive opportunities.

But it needs to happen now!

You need to start today.

Because the sooner you invest into your own personal development…

The sooner you increase your work ethic…

The sooner you improve your attitude…

The steeper and more positive the trajectory you set for your life.

But you are in control.

You are the one who makes the decisions.

You are the one who makes the choices.

And your best chance for big opportunities later is always exponentially increased by making good choices right now.

So make good choices today and multiply.

Fighting Off Thoughts of Fear

fear

For some reason I woke up today scared.

Scared I wasn’t going to hit my goals.

Scared that I wouldn’t amount to anything.

Scared that my life wouldn’t mean anything to anyone.

But then I remembered that while danger is sometimes real, fear is always a choice.

I remembered that fear is a figment of my own imagination.

I remembered that fear is just my creativity working in the wrong direction.

And that means that I can destroy fear; I can dissipate it.

Because fear isn’t real.

Fear is the technique the devil has to try and use on me to slow me down.

Because he knows I cannot be stopped.

He knows that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The devil knows that his only hope is to try psychological warfare to attack my mind.

But I won’t let him.

I choose to take control of my mind.

I choose to have powerful thoughts.

I choose to write a new future.

I do it because I know I can.

I do it because I know I’m meant to be somebody.

I do It because I know my life is going to count for other people.

So I erased my fear and wrote over it with a new rich and powerful future.

And now I’ll go out and work harder than I ever have before.

Because I’m no longer afraid.

You’re Gossiping and You Don’t Even Know It

GOSSIPING

People say all the time “I never gossip” but unfortunately many of them are mistaken. 

They do participate in gossip, they just don’t realize it. 

Because we think of gossiping as “telling” secrets we’ve heard; but there’s more to it than that. 

To listen to gossip is to participate in gossip. 

Why?

Because when you listen to gossip you create a clearing and an environment for an emotional person to propagate their story. 

In other words you give a gossiper an audience. And that invites and encourages them to continue talking about whatever it is that they are talking about. 

Listening to gossip will at minimum make the person feel more validated and at most fan their flame to share even more. 

Because it’s hard to listen to gossip and not be agreeable and supportive of the person you’re listening to. It’s human nature to want to empathize with another person- especially when they’re frustrated or complaining. 

But by doing that you become an active member of the gossip crowd. You are advancing what is being said. 

So how do you know if what you are listening to is gossip?

Simple: Gossip is anything even remotely negative being said about a person who isn’t there. 

The moment someone you are talking to starts talking negative about another person you have immediately crossed into the gossip zone. 

And remember if you’re listening to gossip then you are participating in gossip. 

So how should you respond?

Also simple: You interrupt the person as quickly and politely yet firmly as possible and say “Hey, hopefully you don’t mind but I actually made a resolution this year that I would not talk negatively about or listen to negative talk about someone who isn’t in the room with me. I do want to support you and be a good friend though and the biggest thing I’ve learned that helps is to go talk directly with ________. I think that would probably help.”

This of course is simple but not easy. 

And yes you may lose some friends over this. And the ones you lose will probably be vocal about you being on your high horse because misery loves company and misery often gets angry when their company moves on and leaves them alone. 

But it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, the person who isn’t there, and the person who is frustrated. 

Because, as Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying: Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

My Morning Routine

morning routine

How you start each day has huge implications for the success of each day and thereby the eventual success of your life.

Today I was asked by someone what my morning routine is and I thought to share it here. It is something I’m very disciplined about and that I’ve compiled from learning from lots of different people.

1. Gratitude – The very second the alarm goes off I hit snooze once and stay in bed and immediately start thinking about all that I am grateful for. Don’t fall back asleep, but I spend the first few minutes each day snuggling wifey and thinking of all I’m grateful for. I learned this from Darren Hardy.

2. Scripture – The next time the alarm goes off I get up immediately and go sit down and read scripture. My goal is to have the first words that pass my eyeballs and enter my mind each day be scripture. My friend and partner Steve Reiner once taught me that I want to sew scripture deep into every fabric of my soul. I usually read one passage but I read it slowly, one word at a time, which Tim Keller talks about in his book on prayer. Then I pray.

3. Affirmations – On my phone notes I keep several different lists of affirmations. I rotate each day on which ones I read. Most frequently for the past 7 years I’ve read my “Millionaire Mind” affirmations that I got from T Harv Eker. I also rotate reading through our Southwestern Consulting company Creed, Partners Pact, and Manifesto

4. Wifey Goals – Randomly I started reading AJ’s goals each morning and it became such a powerful way to reinforce and remind me to serve and support her. It is very intentional that I read hers before I read mine. This is a very similar reason why I read our company credos as well.

5. My Goals – I have a list of personal goals (targets I’m pursuing), a list of personal visions (moments I want to experience in the future), and a list of visions for the company. I usually rotate reading through these next.  

6. Social Media Post – Each morning I write a custom post that has one unique lesson that I’ve typically recently learned. My goal is to write something that inspires people for their day like a shot of motivational espresso. Even on days I don’t feel like it, I find something to say because as my friend Jay Baer taught me, “media companies don’t publish on inspiration but perspiration.”

7. Exercise – Then I get up and go workout. As my friend and new SWC Partner, Dana Potthoff once taught me, “I try to get to the gym before my body has time to wake up and convince me otherwise.”

Many of these habits were taught to me and ingrained during my summers with Southwestern Advantage, and as you can see are also made up from other people I’ve learned from.

You can check out Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning on this for more about morning routines.

So, how do you start your mornings?

Variable Time: 1 Idea That Can Cost You or Make You Millions

variable time

A key expense that we manage and consider regularly in business is “variable cost.”

That is, all of the financial costs that go up proportionately with each additional unit of production. Variable costs (often interchangeably referred to as Cost Of Goods Sold – COGS) are the ones “you can never get away from” because they always go up as your sales go up.

Business leaders work relentlessly to get COGS down – often through economies of scale at larger production quantities – because that is the best way to make addition margin in each additional sale.

What is frequently overlooked by business leaders, and is potentially becoming even more valuable than variable cost, is “Variable Time.”

Variable Time is the amount of additional time required to produce one additional unit.

Since we often pay people money in exchange for their time, any additional time that is added also has an additional cost.

Anything that costs you time, costs you money.

Anything that saves you time, saves you money.

So the question that results from considering Variable Time is: “What could we do to reduce the amount of additional time each new unit requires?”

That question typically receives much less attention, if any, from leaders because it isn’t a line item on their P&L (well it is in the form of paying people but it isn’t segmented into productive time and wasted time) and they don’t create a budget for it.

At the executive level, when you’re considering a new product line, a new service, or a new initiative it would be expected – often even required – to map out how much money you will have to invest.

But what almost never gets presented and thought through is how much time it will take people.

You scrutinize and work to control every cost, but do you equally scrutinize every use of every person’s time?

The next generation of cost savings will be more about saving time than saving money.

When you start to evaluate decisions factoring in “Variable Time” you eventually come to the place of asking: “How can we make additional money without adding ANY additional time?”

And that is a genius question to ask!

Because that is a way to create profitability for you at the highest margin of all: zero variable time!

You might think “well yes, that’d be great Rory, but what could you possibly do that would really make you more money without requiring additional Variable Time?”

Actually the answer is, “lots of things”.

Here are a few examples:

1. Raise your price – Inflation goes up. Costs of living go up and so your prices every once in awhile should go up. Same amount of time on your end but more profits.

2. Charge an activation fee – Chances are you are incurring very legitimate additional expenses of both time and money to setup new clients, so it can be very fair to charge an activation fee and can actually increase the service experience your new customers have because you have resources dedicated to staff it (It also can improve retention). It’s charging for work you’re already doing.

3. Create recurring contracts – Instead of selling it for just one use, one term, or one project, simply change your sales talk to say “this is an ongoing relationship and we work with clients for x# of cycles”. That creates predictable revenue and reduces the potential future selling time needed to create the same revenue dollar.

4. Go Digital – Depending on your industry or product, convert a physical offering that has to be mailed and shipped to instead being virtual. Or if that doesn’t work, just add an additional digital element to your physical offering and bundle them together at an increased cost.

5. Target a higher end clientele – It (theoretically) takes the same amount of time to sell to a wealthy customer as it does to a less financially able customer, but one will typically buy more and buy higher margin goods than the other.

6. Keep an existing client – It’s typically much more profitable to sell to or continue on with existing clients than with new clients. Yet, sometimes we’re so focused on new business that we don’t take care of our current business. Even if a new customer makes you the same amount of money as an existing one, it will always cost you more in variable time.

7. Monetize your waste – Many companies, like manufacturers, produce waste that often can be converted fairly easily into dollars. Someone out there is likely building something or doing something with a raw material that is an unnecessary output of your core offering.

8. Get paid for results – Again, depending on your business model, it might work to be paid for your results instead of your time. Ask for a percentage of the success you help create instead of just being paid an hourly rate. Same amount of time but potentially a lot more money if it makes sense to structure things that way.  

9. Outsource – Hire other people to do things for you that can happen at a lower hourly rate than you can earn if you focus on certain higher income producing activities. A good example of this is bringing in someone to train your team for you (like we do at Southwestern Consulting) to do things like grow revenues. Even if you’re a small company, you can do things like Arnie Malham (link to my podcast interview with him) and pay your people to read books. Books are one of the fastest, cheapest, and best ways to train your people and it costs you zero time.

All of these items are examples of ways to potentially add profitability to your company without adding much or any additional time.

It’s not these examples that really matter though. It’s the consideration of “Variable Time.”

It’s your thinking that matters.

Because when the leaders thinking advances, it advances everyone.

Letting Go of What Others Think

 

think

So much of the pressure we feel, so much of our stress, is the result of trying to manicure the impression that other people have about us.

We want them to like us.

We want them to respect us.

We want them to think that we are good looking, successful, or important.

Whether it is bosses, friends, clients, and even sometimes strangers that we barely know, these forces have an incredible power over our lives.

While there’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, it can be exhausting and empty to be perpetually trying to impress those people around you.

Because trying to control anything that we don’t have control over is exhausting.

But there is something especially taxing about being concerned with what other people think about us. Because not only do we have to be evaluating whether or not they feel that way or they don’t feel a certain way about us, but then we also expend an extraordinary amount of emotional energy trying to decipher or clarify in our own minds as to why or why not.

This causes us to create theories, invent stories, and to hyper analyze our past experiences with them.

The byproduct of which can sometimes make us feel like they are holding us hostage when in reality it is ourselves holding us hostage.

So instead, what if we just let all that go? What if we refocused the energy that we expend on being concerned with what other people think about us to instead be invested productively into serving others and doing the work that helps us achieve our goals?

What if we trusted that we don’t have to concern ourselves so much with what other people think and allow our work to enable them to create their own informed impressions?

And if self-awareness isn’t enough for you to start letting go, then consider this…

Just as you spend so much time wondering how you appear to others, and what they think of you, realize that they don’t have time to be thinking about you.

Why?

Because like you they are too busy thinking about themselves!

They are thinking about what other people think about them.

You find, as the old saying goes, you stop worrying about what other people think about you when you realize how seldom they actually do.

So let those negative thoughts disappear.

Let those insecurities die.

And let your time to be freed up to focus on other people instead of yourself.

Not only will you find more success, but you will find it coming to you with much less stress.