Priorities Matter: Commit to It and It Will Come

Today I want to tell you a story.

The setting: a baseball diamond in Marshall, Michigan. The regional championship game between my grandfather’s team, the Grossi Nationals, and a rival team from Ypsilanti.  The winning team would advance to the prestigious Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, New Mexico. The stakes were high.

At 13 years old, I was too young to play. But I was part of the team as bat boy, so I saw everything that unfolded up close and personal.

At the bottom of the seventh, we were winning by one run. Two outs, runners on second and third. Our pitcher, Jim Abbott, just needed one more strike. He threw the ball and the batter got a base hit. We lost the game.

But that wasn’t what stuck in my mind. It’s not nice to lose, but it’s a part of sports. What stuck in my mind was the way the rival team acted after their victory. They had been cocky and arrogant since they arrived, and it only got worse after they won. They ran onto the field, knocking our players and fans over and giving us the bird. It was so unsportsmanlike, it was hard to believe. It took 15 minutes for everything to calm down.

It flipped a switch inside me. I knew I had to play on my grandfather’s team. I knew I had to beat this team from Ypsilanti and put them in their place. I told their coach as much. He just looked at me, a 13-year-old kid, and laughed it off.

For the next five years, I visualized what it would look like to play on my grandfather’s team and beat those guys from Ypsilanti. I imagined how I would feel when the victory finally came. I did this every day and at every practice. I played it over and over in my head like a tape on a loop. I could feel it. I could taste it. I had that moment in mind, and it held onto me.

To say I was committed is an understatement.

The day came. I was pitching in the regional tournament against – that’s right – Ypsilanti. They had to win two games to keep us from the championship. In our first game, we were down eight runs at the top of the third. Of course, I always wanted to do my best in every game, but this game was different. I had something to prove. This time, it was personal.

And I pitched like I never had before. I ended up pitching a no-hitter for the rest of the game. We beat Ypsilanti! We were headed to the Connie Mack World Series.

What I visualized came true. All that time, all that energy, directed on this one outcome, and it all came to fruition. That’s what the power of commitment can do to help you achieve your dreams. Not interest. Interest is something that keeps you going until things get tough or boring. But commitment. Commitment is what sees you through the dark times because you know that the end result is worth striving for.

At the end of the game, I went up to the coach of the losing team. It was the same one I talked to five years ago. I asked him if he remembered me. “You’re that bat boy,” he said, incredulously. “Yes,” I grinned, “I am.”

The Making of a Role Model

Did you know that November is National Inspirational Role Models Month? It’s an opportunity to celebrate the people in our lives that we look up to, the people who inspire us to follow our dreams, overcome obstacles in our way, and be the best we can be. And if you don’t have any role models in your life, it’s an opportunity to cultivate some.

No Man is an Island

Our culture values individuals and individual achievement to the point where it often glosses over the reality that many people are involved in any successful endeavor. A pop singer is lauded for their best-selling album, but they had songwriters, producers, studio musicians, sound engineers, artists, marketers, managers, and so on working with them to make that album a reality. Their album – and their success – wouldn’t exist if not for the team.

It’s this way for all of us. What we can do is be proactive in creating the team around us who will help us in our endeavors, including role models to inspire us to go beyond our comfort zone and reach for the stars. 

Pushing Yourself on Purpose

If you’re the best player on your basketball team, you’ll have a hard time improving. There’s no incentive to grow; no one to push you. You need someone who’s better than you to up your game.

That principle is as true in business as it is in basketball. That’s why you should work to cultivate a network of people around you who are where you want to be: people who have dreamed big and achieved their goals, people who are smarter, more experienced, and more successful than you. You’ll not only draw inspiration from them as role models, but you’ll be moved to improve yourself and your own life.

Some people do the opposite. They surround themselves with people who are less successful, have achieved less, and haven’t followed their dreams. This can feel gratifying – who doesn’t want to feel like Top Dog sometimes? But in the long run, it won’t assist you in achieving your life goals. If this is you, I urge you to give up your desire to have the upper hand and start widening your circle to include people who inspire you.

Identifying Your Inspiration

I’ve long believed in the power of role models and mentors; my life has been shaped by them in important ways. In fact, they were so influential that I dedicated my book to the two biggest male role models in my life, my grandfather Joe Grossi and my father-in-law Dale Choate. But there have been others, including Dr. Skoglund, an incredible clinician, who reached out to me when I was struggling in dental school and told me he had faith in me. His simple show of support at a time I needed it most made a huge difference in my life, a difference I doubt he fully realized. My wife is another one; she inspires and guides me to be the best I can be. These are the people I’ve added to my team over my lifetime, and without them I would not be where I am today. 

If you have a role model, reach out and thank them this month. If you don’t, set yourself the task of identifying some. It can make all the difference in your destiny.

Realted post: Developing Your Core Values and Sticking to Them

Finding Joy - happy family outside

Be a Kid Again: Finding Joy on Your Journey

When’s the last time you saw the world through a child’s eyes? If you spend any time around children, then you know they see the world very differently than adults do. Children often believe anything is possible.

Let’s try to revive some of that childlike wonder so we can live our lives and fulfill our potential with more joy.


Being a Kid Again Means Dreaming Big

Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from children is that they dream big and they do so unapologetically. They don’t get bogged down by what other people think. Adults, on the other hand, are often concerned about what friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and people on social media have to say about us and our plans.

I call many of these people “dream killers.” They may not mean to kill dreams, and they would probably deny it if you called them out on it, but nonetheless, that’s what they do. When you say, “I want to start a business” or “I’m going to write a book” or “I dream of reaching the top of Mount Everest,” they say “Ooh, that’s hard, not many people succeed at that, maybe you should do something else.” 

But kids don’t care about whether something is difficult. Some kids want to be an astronaut, a veterinarian, and a ballerina when they grow up – at the same time! So what? They’re staying open to life’s abundant possibilities. They know what brings them joy and base their dreams off of that. 

You need to dream big, too. Forget what other people have to say about your dreams. What does six-year-old you have to say about them?


Finding Joy and Regretting Fear

When I was a kid I dreamt of playing in the World Series. And I got to do it! Okay, kind of. I didn’t play in the World Series but I did get to play in the Connie Mack World Series, a prestigious amateur baseball championship for teens from all over the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. I pitched against Puerto Rico and our team ended up third in the nation. Not bad. It may not have been exactly what I pictured as a little boy, but it was still an amazing experience.

Baseball was a passion of mine for a long time and brought me a lot of joy. After playing for many years, I eventually quit baseball altogether because I had a fear of failure. I regret that decision because I’ll never know what could have happened had I stuck with it and believed in my dreams. 

Fear of failure is not a valid reason to quit. Instead of running from your fear, you need to run toward your joy.


Start Today 

What are your dreams? Now, dream bigger. Now, even bigger. If you knew failure wasn’t an option, what would you attempt? There’s something out there calling your name. That thing that gives you that buzzing energy in your stomach. That’s the joy on your journey calling to you. Don’t ignore it; follow it.


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Determine Your Destiny (Finding the Answer to That Question, “Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?”)

It’s a classic interview question: “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” Your answer will supposedly tell the interviewer whether you’re a good fit for the role in question. Job applicants often prepare a canned answer to this question that makes them look good. 

Canned answers aside, have you asked yourself this question recently? Really dwell on it for a moment. Ten years from now, will you be where you are today? Or will you be closer to achieving your dreams?


Destiny is Not Heredity

I believe that we each have immense power to determine our own destiny. If we can dream it and work hard toward that dream, then we can do it. Many people share this belief.

However, some people don’t believe they have the power to determine their own destiny. They make excuses instead of taking action, and they blame others when things don’t go their way. With this attitude, they will forever be reactive, rather than proactive.

If you’re one of these people, then I have great news for you. You can change your worldview. You are the only one who can determine your destiny. You are the author of your story.


Destiny = Belief + Action

Belief is a part of destiny – a big one – but it’s just one component. The other vital component is action.

An action doesn’t have to be massive to make a profound difference. Think of the power of a seed. From such a tiny, seemingly insignificant thing, a towering tree can grow. It just takes the action of planting the seed and the belief that it will sprout. 

Plant seeds of greatness in your own life. Do something to move toward your dreams and believe that they’ll come to fruition. The universe rewards people who take action and have faith.


Make a Difference

The universe also rewards people who make a difference. Your destiny doesn’t just involve you, it involves your family, the people who care about you, the people you work with, the people in your town. Your destiny touches others’ lives in ways you can’t even see.

Don’t just focus on yourself and your needs all the time, but look outward and around you. How can you help others? What can you do in your community? How can you impact the world?


Where You’ll Be in Ten Years

It can be scary to take control of your destiny, believing that you are solely in charge of your life. You can no longer hide behind excuses or blame anyone else. You need to be prepared to take responsibility for your failures as well as credit for your successes. You have to take action and have faith that your seeds will eventually bear fruit. Only when you do this, can you take control of your destiny. Only then will you know exactly how to answer the question “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

Becoming a Leader & The Law of Reciprocation

Leadership is a fascinating topic to me. Most people are not natural born leaders, but they learn the skill of leadership like any other skill in business or in life. It’s something you master over time. Here are some of my thoughts on leadership and what I call the law of reciprocation.

What it Really Takes to Be a Leader 

When we think of a “leader,” we may think of the CEO of a big company. But you don’t have to hold a prestigious position or impressive title to be a leader. There are many different ways to become a leader in the world.

Maybe you want to help people in your community. Or maybe you become a leader by being the best you can be at work and inspiring others. You can lead by changing systems or processes. Or, you can help create a new and better company culture by setting a positive example through your leadership. 

At the core of leadership is a desire to make a difference in the world. As long as you have that desire and act on it, you can be a leader. Leadership, in essence, is influencing others in a positive manner in big ways and small. 

The Law of Reciprocation

Leadership is enhancing your influence over others and inspiring them to follow you. To follow you, they must believe in you. But first, you need to believe in them. That’s the law of reciprocation. You must believe that they are great and that they want to help you along your journey. You believe in them, and they believe in you.

Usually, “being a follower” is considered to be a negative thing. It implies that the follower has no imagination and no self-direction. But I believe that a great leader knows when to lead but also knows when to follow. A true leader is as much a follower as a leader.

A great example of this is in the 2018 movie 12 Strong. It’s based on a true story about a U.S. Army Special Forces team[1] who helped take down the Taliban in key locations in Afghanistan after 9/11. The main character, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a true leader. It is obvious that all his team loves him, and he loves them too. They have that reciprocal belief in each other. He has the intuition to know when to take on the leadership role and when it’s okay to step back, becoming a follower. This true story is a great example of the law of reciprocation.

Leadership is Earned

No matter your title or position, remember that leadership is earned. Never is leadership something you’re automatically entitled to. Someone in charge may boss their subordinates around, but that doesn’t make them a leader. 

It takes work to become the leader you want to be. Not a day goes by that I don’t fail in leadership on some level. But I know that, like any other skill, I will master leadership the more I work at it. I’m working hard to earn the privilege of leadership because I am driven by the desire to make a difference in the world. You can do the same.

Working on goal

Adopting a Laser Focus to Accomplish Your Goal

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do the job. You don’t have to have the most talent or the best connections. What you do need is a laser focus on your goal. 

Learning the Value of Discipline

As a student in high school, I did not have discipline. My grades were mediocre and it was clear I was not concerned about being the smartest kid in school. Looking back, I can see now that I simply wasn’t interested in school at that time in my life, so I didn’t try very hard.

Everything was different when I was in dental school. By that time, I had a wife and a young child who needed my time and attention in addition to my grueling academic workload. I slept about four hours every night for four years and sacrificed holidays and free time in order to study while friends and family were out having fun.

I developed the discipline I needed to succeed because I was laser focused on my goal of graduating from dental school and becoming a dentist. It wasn’t easy – in fact, I can say that it was painful – but it was what I needed to achieve my goal.

Laser Focus and Discipline Go Together

Think of a goal you’re pursuing now. Are you laser focused on it? Are you willing to sacrifice some fun and leisure time now in order to put in the time necessary? Do you have the discipline to achieve it – or are you going to take the easy way out just to get to the finish line. 

Laser focus and discipline go together. Laser focus allows you to keep your eye on the prize, while discipline gives you the strength to shut out the distractions and do the work you need to do, day after day.

Develop a Laser Focus on Your Goals

Adopting a laser focus means making your goal foremost in your mind while blocking out the distractions in your life.

Know why you are pursuing your goal in the first place. What do you really want? How will your life change for the better once you achieve your goal? How will it change your family for the better? Knowing the answers to these questions can keep you going when you want to give up. It will help you see the long-term benefits.

Cut out distractions, negativity, and clutter. Limit your time with people who drag you down with their negativity and “can’t-do” attitude. Reduce or eliminate the time you spend on things like social media and TV that don’t add true value to your life. Ask for your family’s support as you pursue your goal.

The Alternative is Regret

I always say that you can choose between two types of pain: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. I think that discipline combined with a laser focus on your goal that ultimately helps you achieve the life you want is preferable to a life of regret, wondering what could have been. Which pain do you prefer?

Man thinking positively

Positive Thinking: The Power of Your Thoughts

Of all the things I’ve done in my life, I can say that one of the most important was to change my thoughts. I not only changed what I thought about myself, my business, and my community, but I changed how I thought, too. I’m a believer in positive thinking and I want to share some lessons I’ve learned about how positive thinking can shape your life.

Your thoughts help guide your future

The government may call it a “small business” but there is nothing small about running a multimillion-dollar business. Just changing my mindset on that one issue with respect to my business opened my mind to new possibilities that allowed me to grow my practice in a way I hadn’t thought possible when starting out.

Your thoughts can make or break you

“Fake it ‘til you make it.” Why does this work? Because it changes the way you think about yourself. When you act “as if” – dressing for the job you want, not the job you have, for example – you begin to believe that you really are capable of meeting the challenges ahead. In the same way, you tend to view yourself as lazy and unmotivated if you wear sweatpants instead. Be aware of the messages you’re sending to yourself through the actions you take. Are your actions creating positive thoughts in your mind or negative ones?

Your thoughts can give you the power over your life

Though I’m a very positive person now, there were many years where I was pessimistic and cynical. But I later realized that if I wanted to live the life I had in mind, I had to take control of my own success. That started with changing how I thought about myself first. Over time I began to see that I was worthy of success. By changing your thoughts about yourself and developing the confidence to accept that you are meant for greatness, your thoughts will give you power over your life to shape it as you choose. 

Your thoughts can also destroy you

For many years when I was younger I played the victim because I wasn’t able to take responsibility for my life. My upbringing was challenging and it left me thinking that I wasn’t capable of doing anything. As a young adult with a wife and a child, I was broke, without money for dental school, and jealous of other students whom I perceived had an easier time than I did. I wallowed in these negative thoughts until I decided to step up and own the choices I had made in my life. From then on, I changed my mindset to one of positivity.

If you think you can, you can, if you think you can’t, I promise you, you WON’T.

Successful people don’t think they’re incapable of achieving their goals, they know they can. They focus on pursuing their goals, supported by positive thinking. You can do the same by shutting out negativity and getting into the habit of seeing the positive. If you think you can do it, then you can.

Develop Your core Values

Developing Your Core Values and Sticking to Them

I strive to be a man of true character. It’s something I admire greatly in other people and something I continuously work on. To me, true character is about being the same person in public as you are behind closed doors. It aligns with your purpose. It’s who you are. 

True character is built on core values. It’s by understanding, developing, and living your core values that you can be a person of true character. 

Developing Your Core Values 

Your core values are the values you most prize and want to embody. You likely already embody some and have room to work on embodying the others. Examples of these values include honesty, integrity, candor, compassion, and excellence. 

If you’re not already clear on what your core values are, then take the time now to do that. Get a piece of paper and write down the answers to these questions that will help you develop your personal set of core values. Don’t worry about answering each question with a value itself, just write what comes to you. 

  • What are characteristics I look for in myself?
  • What characteristics I admire in other people?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • Where do I need to grow?
  • Who do I aspire to become? 

Out of your answers you’ll be able to find patterns and discover what truly matters to you, and then you can assign a value noun to those ideas.

Living Your Core Values 

Now that you have defined your core values, you face the lifelong mission of living them. Here are some ways to do that.

Keep your values front and center. You can write them down on a piece of paper that you keep near where you work so you can see them often. 

Be clear on what your core values look like in action. For example, if integrity is one of your values, then know what behaviors are the behaviors of a person with integrity. A person with integrity tells the truth. They do the right thing, even if it’s not in their best interest. They treat other people with dignity. And so on. Do this for each of your values. 

If you aren’t yet embodying a value as much as you’d like to, find opportunities and start expressing it. This is how you take your core values from an intellectual exercise to a way of living. 

Sticking to Your Core Values 

Understand that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for most people to live their core values 100% of the time. When people are in stressful situations, they can behave in a way that’s not true to their values. If this happens to you, give yourself a break, and promise yourself you’ll do better next time. Commit to living your core values and you’ll see yourself change over time as you embody and express them more and more. This is how you build true character.

Get Out Of Your Own Way

Get Out of Your Own Way

Answer this question right now: What’s standing in the way of you achieving your goals? 

Most people would say a lack of time, lack of resources, or lack of external support. Maybe a particular person or company or organization is responsible. 

I’m here to challenge these common answers and gently suggest that you are what’s standing in the way of achieving your goals. To achieve your goals, you have to get out of your own way first.

Taking Ownership 

The first step here is to take ownership. You need to understand that you are the one who’s in control of your destiny, not anyone or anything outside of you.

This is more difficult than it sounds, because the truth is that not taking ownership is usually a more comfortable place to be. We can always point to reasons why we haven’t achieved what we set out to achieve – she did this to me, or he said that about me, or the economy/the government/the weather/etc. stopped me from reaching my goal. 

But this is a victim mentality and it doesn’t serve you in the end. It only takes away your power and prevents you from discovering new ideas and solutions that could serve you. While it can feel scarier to take ownership and, therefore, take responsibility for your successes and your failures, it’s necessary. 

Stop making excuses. Get out of your own way and take ownership of your life and your future. 

Staying Open 

When you’ve done that, next you can open yourself up to the opportunities that are out there waiting for you. Stay focused on your dreams so the universe can help you along your path. Be on the lookout for new people and new experiences that may aid you in your purpose, even if at first they don’t seem to be relevant. Listen to your body and when you feel that buzz of energy lighting you up, then you know you’re onto something good; follow it. 

This can be the hardest part of getting out of your own way, because it requires you to slow down and pay attention. Many of us are busy, busy, busy. But sometimes you need to stop and tap into something more subtle and listen to your instincts. If you don’t, you could miss out on the opportunities that are waiting for you. 

Welcome Change; Don’t Run from It 

We are meant to live a big life and achieve our biggest dreams. Don’t be afraid of it! Doing this means welcoming change rather than avoiding it for the sake of comfort. It means opening up so you can allow all the good things to come to you that are destined for you. All you have to do is stop preventing your own success. Get out of your own way and see what’s in store for you.

Action Starts with You – Make a Difference

Some people wait around for something to happen to them in life. They’re waiting for that phone call, or that knock at the door, that will change their destiny. 

But you know what? Ninety-nine percent of the time, that’s not how life works. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it takes determination, it takes effort, it takes action, to change things and make a difference. 

Take Responsibility and Take Control 

The problem with the person waiting around for life to happen to them is that they’ve given up control. They don’t think they’re in charge of the direction of their life. But each and every one of us is in charge of the life we live. You need to start by acknowledging that and taking responsibility for it. 

In practical terms, that means you don’t wait around for other people to fix your problems or make your dreams come true for you. You don’t make excuses for your actions, or your lack of action. You determine what you want and you make a plan to go for it. You do that because you know that ultimately, you are in control of your life, and that’s true whether you take responsibility for it or not. 

Taking the First Step 

This concept is applicable to the biggest dreams you have in your life, and it’s applicable to the small, day-to-day interactions, too. 

For example, imagine a couple that bickers frequently. They both want to be right and neither of them wants to be the first to say “I’m sorry.” (Do you know any couples like this? They’re common. Perhaps you’re in a relationship like this right now.) Arguments can quickly devolve 

into stalemates because neither one will step up and take action and apologize first. When this happens over and over, couples grow apart and relationships fail. All because neither would take responsibility and take action first. They expected the other one to make the first move. 

It Begins with a Single Step 

Is your dream to become a doctor? Take the first step of studying for the MCATs or fulfilling undergraduate science courses so you can apply to medical school. Is your dream to be a professional musician? Take the first step of finding a music teacher or coach to help you improve your skills. Is your dream to own your own business? Take the first step of meeting with a mentor at the SBA or applying for a tax ID number from the IRS. Whatever your dream is, identify the first step on your journey, and take it! 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” as the Chinese Taoist proverb goes. No matter how far away your goal seems to you right now, the only way you can reach it is by taking that first step. The incredible thing is, once you take action towards fulfilling your dream, that’s when things start falling into place and the universe starts helping you along. That’s when things get exciting and you can really make a difference in the world.