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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are currently over 7.5 billion people on the planet. Yes, 7,500,000,000+ people! The number is so large, it’s hard to conceive.
It’s easy to feel like a small fish in an enormous pond. It’s easy to feel like our individual lives don’t matter. After all, what possible impact can one individual have in such a huge world?
If you ever start to feel this way, just remember: Your life matters. You matter. You have something to contribute to the world that no one else has.
Have you ever known someone who has committed suicide, or someone who experienced the suicide of someone close to them? Then you’ve seen how much the life of one individual matters. Perhaps the person who took their own life was in a place where they couldn’t think beyond themselves and believed that their actions would only affect them. But you knew that wasn’t true. Family members, friends, coworkers, and members of the community were all impacted by that one decision, and for many of them, it’s a pain they’ll never recover from.
We’re often not aware of the impact we have on others, and there’s no way we can know the extent of it. I’m certain that at some point in your life, you’ve given some excellent advice to an acquaintance that changed the course of their life. You may have said exactly the right thing to a friend in a moment of need that allowed them to tackle a challenge head on. You may have done a small kindness that seemed like nothing to you at the time but changed a stranger’s day for the better. This is the invisible impact we have on others that can make a big difference in the world without us realizing it.
Pain of Discipline, or Pain of Regret
Once you’ve accepted the truth that your life matters, you need to decide how to use it. The way I see it, you have two choices: you can experience the pain of discipline and working hard, or the pain of regret for having given up on your dreams. Either way, you’ll experience pain.
I’ll tell you a secret. It’s something I learned firsthand after becoming an author and motivational speaker, something I wanted to do for a long time. It’s this: Even though I felt the pain as I worked towards achieving my dreams, it was entirely worth it. Unlike the pain of
regret, which follows you to your last days, the pain of discipline is gone once you’ve reached your goal. It’s suddenly a distant memory.
There’s a quote from Muhammad Ali that fits here. He said “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” He’s clearly someone who chose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret.
How Are You Going to Use It?
As long as you’re alive, you’re able to serve others and make a positive difference in this world. And that’s why your life matters.
There’s a lot to be said for staying in your comfort zone. After all, that’s where you thrive. In your comfort zone, you have the knowledge and skills you need to succeed and you know exactly what to expect.
But there’s no progress in the comfort zone. No innovation or invention. Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone stayed in their comfort zone and never dared to try anything new. We’d be stuck with the same technology, the same knowledge, and the same attitudes as in the past.
That’s why you need to get out of your comfort zone. It’s only when you dare to leave it that amazing things can happen in your life.
What’s Holding You Back?
Is it fear? Maybe you fear the humiliation of other people seeing you fail publicly, or maybe you don’t have the resilience that can help you pick yourself up and move on after failing.
Is it lack of self-confidence? Maybe you have dreams but you don’t believe you are actually capable of reaching your goal.
Is it your external circumstances? Maybe your family or friends are holding you back, discouraging you from upsetting the status quo. Maybe you don’t have the time, or the money, or the space to do whatever it is you dream of doing.
If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, then I have something to tell you: these are all excuses. You can overcome fear, you can build up your self-confidence, you can expand beyond your current circumstances. In fact, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to do all these things. You just first need to recognize that you are in control of your life.
What’s Waiting for You
It’s almost impossible to take your life or your business to a new level if you stay in your comfort zone. What’s more, that little voice whispering inside you, reminding you of your dreams, telling you what you should be doing, that voice will disappear if you continue to stay in your comfort zone and ignore it. Your creative energy, your visions, and your dreams will die.
What you need to do is take bold action. Many people make the mistake of waiting for the universe to act first and give them what they need in order to start pursuing their dreams but that’s backwards. You need to act first, then the universe will align on your behalf.
For me, it was only when I stepped out of my comfort zone of being a dentist with a conventional practice that I began to explore my full potential and realize my dreams of being a motivational speaker, author, and coach. It wasn’t easy and it was definitely scary at times, but it was 100% worth it.
Don’t Do It for Yourself
If you’re feeling reluctant about taking that first big, bold step, think of it this way: It’s not about you. The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll be able to impact others in a profound way. It’s when you live your purpose that you can truly affect change and help the world improve, a little bit at a time. It all starts with that purposeful step into the unknown.
Learn about How to Be The Best You.
Answer yes or no: Are you the Best You you can be?
I don’t know you personally, but my guess is that you answered “no” to that question. I’m guessing you feel like you have a long way to go towards being your Best You. We all do. We have a vision in our minds of what ourselves and our lives could be, and we don’t measure up to it – at least not yet.
This isn’t meant to be depressing, but inspiring. Because I believe that how to be the Best You is not by being the Best You. Instead, it’s by continually improving yourself to become a better version of yourself. Here are some of my thoughts on self-improvement and why it’s powerful.
We Love Stories of Change
As a culture, we love movies and books in which a character evolves and grows. At the end of Casablanca, Rick chooses sacrifice over selfishness. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz learns a lesson about valuing home. Red from The Shawshank Redemption begins to hope again.
We like stories where the characters change not only because we like a happy ending, but because we recognize the truth in them. People change in real life all the time. When people change for the better, their stories of self-improvement can be a beacon of inspiration and hope to others. Think of how many high-profile figures share stories of their difficult childhoods or rough beginnings. We don’t focus on who and what they were at the start, but on who and what they became later on.
It’s the same for you. Being the Best You means constantly evolving and working to be better than you were yesterday. If you have your own story of a difficult childhood or rough beginning, as many of us do, you can’t let that hold you back. Instead, let it inspire you to make an even greater change over the course of your own story. You never know how many people your own story of self-improvement will inspire.
It’s Never Too Late
At the start of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserable and miserly man with money but no friends or family that love him. After visitations from the Ghost of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, he realizes he’s living his life all wrong. He discovers love for his fellow man and wakes up on Christmas morning a happy, generous person. It’s one of the most beloved stories of all time that’s been told countless times.
Some people make excuses and lament that it’s too late for them to improve themselves and their lives. But remember that Scrooge is already an old man at the start of the story, yet we’re moved by the improvement he makes to his character overnight.
The moral is, it’s never too late to change for the better; as George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Just as you can’t let unfortunate beginnings stop you from working towards being your Best You, you can’t let your age stop you, either.
Self-Improvement Never Stops
If you want to be the Best You you can be, then you need to get used to working on improving yourself to become the best version of yourself you can be. The truth is that no matter how much we change, there will still be room for improvement. That’s because as we continue to achieve our goals, our dreams become bigger and bigger, too. The only way to be your Best You is to accept that you can really only be the Best You At This Moment – and that’s good enough.