Is Success Satisfying?

This weekend I shared a really important reminder with my Personal Victories newsletter subscribers: victories are pretty empty without a little fun. I’m all for hard working, in fact I prefer hard work over the quick and dirty tactics that many people think work well in internet marketing and other areas of life. But if you get to your hard won goal and all you want to do is clean the dirt off and go to bed how much of a victory was it really? The whole reason most of us work towards victories is because we think they’re going to be this amazing result and we’re going to be so glad that we did all that had to happen for us to get to that point. But when we don’t want the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we need to step back and take a good look at all we’re working towards because it’s in those moments that we’re finally able to see the truth for what it is rather than being so buried under work that we can’t see it.

So what should our journey and work towards victories be? Fun! No, not every moment will be fun, some will be very challenging because we’re being stretched and pulled and developed into the amazing people we have the potential to be. But if we make sure to incorporate something we do enjoy into each work day not only will we reach our victories better and quicker, we’ll be happy to throw the celebration then too.

I’ve learned in my years in business and studying other businesses that happiness can be a big indicator with success. When employees and customers are happy, not only is the business more productive, but you have less of the issues that many business owners have to deal with like looking for customers and hiring new employees and profit losses. Yes, it’s still a business and there is still work to be done, but happy employees are much more productive than those who are miserable, and happy customers are happy to come back and excited to spread the word about how amazing you are.

I would encourage you to start the week off by checking the general temperament of your family, your business and yourself. If you’re miserable, if everyone around you looks miserable, it’s time something changed, or any goals you set for your future will just feel empty.

“I realized the more fun I had, the more relaxed I was working, the better I worked.” Bill Murray

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Awesome Apples

Today we’re celebrating a delicious fall food: the apple!

Breads:

Cinnamon apple twist bread

Cinnamon apple pull apart bread

Apple muffins

Apple cranberry spice muffins

Apple dumpling slices

Fresh apple cinnamon scones

Apple cinnamon pull apart rolls

Cinnamon apple flat bread

Apple cranberry toasted bread pudding

Double apple walnut bread

Cake:

Old fashioned apple cake with brown sugar frosting

Apple upside down cake

Apple skillet cake

Fresh apple cake from Georgia

Caramel apple cheesecake

Apple coffee cake with crumble topping and brown sugar glaze

Pie:

Classic apple crisp

Cranberry and apple crumble

Crusty apple pie

Flat apple pie with perfect pie crust

Treats:

Apple tortilla bake

Slow cooker apple butter

Apple strudel

Apple phyllo triangles

What are your favorite apple recipes?

Why You Might Really Hate Change

I talk about change a lot because it’s absolutely essential to our continued success.  Not everything changes all of the time, but there comes a time that something will change that will impact your business if you don’t prepare for it with changes or change in response to it.  But many of us struggle with change, simply because we like things how they are or aren’t interested in doing the work that’s necessary if we do decide to change.  Because it’s something that so many of us struggle with I spend a lot of time each week reading and thinking about how to better help us deal with it when it happens.  So this week in my readings I found a statement that totally blew me away because it’s so true and yet says something really ridiculous about us.

“People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of.” Carey Nieuwhof

Yep, that makes us sound really bad.  How immature are we if we only like change because we thought of it? How huge is your ego to think that you’re the only one with any good ideas?  But ultimately it comes back to us being unwilling to recognize how essential to our lives, health, success and finances it is to be willing to trust others and work with them rather than against them.

What if I told you that there was one thing that you needed to do and if you did it it would bring you all the success you wanted?  You probably know where I’m going with this, it’s simply to learn to be a better partner in this great world we live in.  If we learned how to work together we would all end up with more of what we want and need, and less of what we don’t want.

When we all bring our personal strengths to the table, when we all contribute and discuss ideas, when we all take part in making things happen, we have the potential to change the world in amazing ways that have not yet been conceived of because we have not yet been willing to accept the brilliance of others.

This week I encourage you to do some evaluating.  We’re getting into the busiest time of the year for many businesses so now is the last chance you have to set yourself up for success and making a lasting impression on the customers that visit you in the next 3 months.  Don’t dismiss an idea just because it came from a stockist, secretary, intern or customer, instead consider what they’re actually trying to tell you, and the ways they’re trying to help you be more successful.

Your Happiness Perspective

One of the greatest challenges we all face is seeing our own value. Some of us do a lot of boasting and act all self-important, but all too often we’re unaware of exactly how awesome we are. It’s partly because we are with ourselves all the time and we just get used to who we are. It’s also because we get told by others how capable or incapable we are, and if we hear it often enough we start to believe it, whether it’s true or not. A third, and unfortunately too often true, reason would be that we simply aren’t aware of how much potential we have. It’s all too easy to just get wrapped up in life the way it is and not think about changing things. Life is complicated and challenging enough without bringing in more changes than we already have to deal with.

But it’s exactly when we choose not to pursue our potential that we choose to make our lives miserable, or at least a shadow of what it could be. I can do tons of things for you but ultimately it’s up to you to choose the things that will satisfy you, make you happy and fulfill you. I can’t force you to be happy or satisfied with life, that can only be decided and felt by you. I may get satisfaction from helping you or completing a job for you, but I can’t make you experience the same thing. So what does that mean? It really means that we have to be comfortable with ourselves enough to accept who we really are and what we need from life. It means accepting in all brutal honesty who we are, warts and all.

Perspective is a funny thing; the world looks much different when you sit on the floor, stand, or fly through the sky. Not sure? Just a simple exercise of walking through a park or your yard and then sitting on the ground can show you exactly what I mean.  Sitting the world looks much bigger than it does when you stand. But, just like optical illusions, the world isn’t really any bigger when you’re sitting, standing or flying, it’s all the same size, it just seems different because you’ve got a different perspective on it.

So if you’re feeling lost this week, ask someone else what they see as your potential. I honestly believe that we’re all world changers deep inside, some of us are just waiting to be released, or unleashed, on the world. If you can’t see your own potential initially that’s OK, don’t be afraid to reach out to a coach or someone who can give you a positive perspective (don’t bother chatting with those who don’t like you, they’ll just convince you that you don’t have potential to find). It’s not a bad thing to ask for help if you can’t see your own value.

“A man cannot be made comfortable without his own approval.” Barbara Walters

Daily Steps to Success

Kids have so much to learn all throughout school. We are having them learn things earlier and trying to cram even more things into their brains than ever these days. I’m glad we’re trying to prepare them, but they’re put under a lot of pressure. I often wonder if they have time to just be kids, and what that really means anymore anyway. They have to get up and go to school whether they feel like it or not, just like we do with work. But the truth is that you have a choice: what you will do with today?  Will you do your best to make it better than yesterday or will you let the fates roll the dice for you?

As I was thinking about our attitudes this week, I ran across this quote from Brian Tracy:

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”

We are really all very blessed in 2014. There’s more running and clean water around the world, health care has made such amazing strides, and that doesn’t even touch on the technology that has made it possible for us to connect with others around the world instantly. But there’s still lots of improvement to be had, just look at CNN or the nightly news and you’ll see lots of people still intent on screwing up the good that we have.

I think a big problem that we’re facing around the world is people who aren’t able to be grateful for what they have. I think this is where a lot of unhappiness and craziness starts: with not being able to be grateful for what you have. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to become more or have more, but I think an important step people are missing in this journey is accepting and even more being actually thankful for where they are and the progress they’ve made.

Each week I send out a newsletter called Personal Victories. I titled it this because I recognize how important it is to celebrate those amazing moments that in little daily steps bring us closer to our goals. Our big victories are ultimately made up of little ones that are like stepping stones from the place where we are to the place we want to go. We can’t climb the mountain in one step, we have to work our way up it. And the only way we get there is with little victories along the way.

Celebrating and being thankful for those victories is an important part of this because it means that we recognize how far we’ve come, but it also is about accepting that you’ve done good and can do good again. It’s not just about the destination, but about the climb as well as what it teaches you for you to use in your life going forward.  What will you choose to celebrate and be thankful for today?

What’s Your Value?

Last week we talked about being proud of our businesses.  As I was thinking about it this week, I think that this actually has to do with a deeper and bigger issue than whether you’re satisfied with the end result or not. It has to do with something way back in the beginning of your planning that too many businesses lose sight of as they continue on for years and as they grow and change: the value they’re committed to adding to the world.

One of the first questions that runs through my head when I’m approached by a new business is “OK, what value are they bringing to the table?  What are they doing differently than similar businesses?  Are they putting their best foot forward?”  These three questions are ones I need to answer to know if I can help them, but they’re questions that each business needs to answer as well.

Are you bringing something of value to the table every time or has your value gotten buried underneath corporate tape, tiredness, crazy people and dollar signs?

Is your business exactly like the guy down the street or around the world selling the exact same thing or do you make your unique light shine through?

Are you really showing the world what you’re made of or are you too shy or lazy or scared to ask for help to really show the world your stuff?

If you’re feeling some embarrassment, defensiveness or frustration with any of these questions know it’s normal.  Most businesses/business owners get distracted, especially if they’ve been active for a while.  There’s a lot to keep track of and keep in motion that something that seems as insignificant as value gets buried.  However, it’s when it gets ignored that things start to fall apart.  When you stop remembering that every single thing you do, every purchase you make, every decision you decide directly, ultimately and completely affects your customer is when you fall into the danger zone.

If you want to be a success you have to remember that you are only successful as long as you bring value to the table and people value what you bring to the table.  If both of those aren’t met, you’ll fail, or at least not be as successful as you would like to be.   What you bring to the table ultimately reveals how much you value your customers.

“To add value to others, one must first value others.” John Maxwell

Ready to Read

Parents and educators alike have the challenge of trying to convince young minds that books are way cooler than video games or endless sports activities. It can be really challenging to find something to fit for them. The good news for everyone is that with the internet and sites like Amazon it’s much easier to find books on any subjects and get them to you, you don’t have to depend on the local library or school books. As a child I loved reading, but hated with a passion 99% of the books we were required to read for school. A big part of the reason for me was the ridiculous over-analysis of each book and the pressure to find something that may or may not have stood out to you while reading. I like to read because it shows insights into people and takes me on adventures that I may never go on, not to mention the exposure of my mind to new ideas and concepts and perspectives that can help in my relationships and work.

My goal in life is to help you see things from a different perspective. It’s that simple. My hope with each document, each conversation, each written word, each social media exposure is that something might catch you off guard and give you that little nudge to considering your situation a different way, to opening your mind to the absolute fact that there is more to the world than what you see.

We each have our own goals in life, some are 100% focused on being parents, or making money or having a partner/relationship. We each need goals and dreams for our lives to be full and fulfilling. We each have different goals and go about reaching our goals in different ways, it’s part of what makes each of us unique.

A universal goal for all of us should be to give our kids the best possible chance at life, and that means encouraging them to make friends, be active and read. The world opens up for us in so many ways with the internet, one of the greatest is being able to read and explore and learn about topics that interest you, even if they’re not topics that interest others. From the world of Harry Potter to Twilight to 50 Shades of Grey you are talking about some of the same people and some very different people. These books aren’t for everyone, and not everyone likes the subject matter. But there is something out there for each of us, as long as we’re willing and encouraged to explore our own path.

“If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important.” Roald Dahl

Peanut Primetime

The all powerful peanut is an all-time favorite with many parents and kids, so today I’ve got some yummy peanut recipes for us to try.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter pancakes

No bake energy bites

Frozen peanut butter bites

Peanut butter apple rings

Peanut butter glazed popcorn

Peanut butter and jelly popcorn balls

Peanut butter granola bars

Easy peanut butter bars

Peanut butter strawberry bars

No bake chocolate pretzel, peanut butter squares

Peanut butter marshmallow pie

Chocolate peanut butter pie

Peanut butter cookies

Chocolate peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter oatmeal sandwich cookies

Peanut butter cheesecake minis

Peanut butter cup brownies

Fudge swirl peanut butter ice cream

Peanut butter fudge

Peanut brittle

What are your favorite peanut recipes?

Are You Proud of Your Business?

School is in session, people’s lives are returning to normal and business should be getting back into more normal schedules, even while it gears up for the holidays of the next few months.  Before we get into that rush I want to talk about something really important, kind of in response to what we’ve talked about the last two weeks.

Over the last two weeks I’ve shared about 4 things many businesses are struggling with or missing that is causing them to lose money: their website and their email list, and their social media and their customer service.  I read another couple of articles this week emphasizing how ridiculous it’s become for some businesses with customer service.  The bottom line in each article was that there is no way in today’s competitive and fast paced market that you can afford to lose customers because you’ve got bad customer service. It’s the simplest yet most important thing you can do to keep people coming back again and again and spread the word about your business.  But that’s a soap box for another day.

For many businesses the next 4 months are the months that put them into the black for the year.  If you just are breaking even or losing a bit throughout the rest of the year usually holiday and seasonal purchases can lift you over that line.  It can be tempting to just focus on making the sale and getting out of another crazy holiday season, but what if your performance and service in these next 4 months could totally change your success for the rest of the year?

It starts like this: when we get super busy we tend to let some of those little extras go.  We tend to slack just a tiny bit on our usual excellence.  We do just that little bit less than we usually do for our product or service because we think it necessary when trying to keep up with the demand.  When in fact we should be doing just that little bit more.  If we create the rave reviews now we’ll set ourselves up for success the rest of the year. No, we may never replicate or replace the extra sales of the last 4 months of the year, but we’ll have a lot less worry and pressure about money.

What it really comes down to is selling something all year long that you are consistently proud of.  If you’re not proud of it, if you’re past that proud mama/papa glow that new business owners get your customers can tell.  Often they’ll look for another similar business that does have that glow, just because it makes them feel that much better.  They feel welcome and know how excited you are that you can share a little bit of love with them.

“It’s not about working anymore, its about doing work I can be proud of.”  Paul Walker

What Will You Do with Today?

Each day we’ve got the choice of how we want to live our lives.  At the beginning of a new work week I thought we’d stop for a minute or two and think about this very important choice.    It really comes down to a 3 things: words, actions, and thoughts.  That’s our influence on our own life.  Of course, there’s the whole aspect of influence by other people but a huge portion of how we live our lives is dependent on ourselves, but even when it comes to other people we actually have a lot of control.

Today I want to focus on these three things because you just never know how much time you have left.  Among others I subscribe to the New York Times daily headline email.  In each and every one there are at least 3 obituary notices.  I don’t know all of the people they share, but I do know there are more people than I know dying each day; people who have made great contributions to the world, and some who didn’t get a chance to fully realize their potential.

We only have today to live for.  We can plan and hope for tomorrow, but it may not come.  The only guarantee we have is today.  So when you wake up in the morning and just want to turn over for another day, week or decade or two and avoid the world, think about what that would mean if today was your last day.  I’m all for spending the day in bed, I love curling up with a great book or TV show.  But life isn’t really lived to the fullest extent spent in bed with the covers over our head hiding from the world.

No, life is only lived out in the world.  Today we’re blessed to be able to explore even more of the world through our computers and connect with countless people we’ve never technically met, like I do with you each week.  But we still have to get out there and explore.

So what will you do with today?

“We pass through this world but once.” Stephen Jay Gould