Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best Podcast listeners, wherever you might be in the world today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, and we have a friend and wonderful guest today, Joshua Spodek. Welcome, Joshua!

Joshua Spodek: Glad to be here, thank you very much!

Steve Shallenberger: Okay. I had the opportunity for Joshua and I, to visit a couple of years ago, as one of our podcast guests, and today, he has written a new book, that was just released two weeks ago. I’m excited to have Josh share with you the contents, the idea and the impact of INITIATIVE. That’s the name of it, the subtitle is “A Proven Method To Bring Your Passions To Life And Work”. So, first of all, let’s give you a little background on Josh. He’s a TEDx speaker, professor at NYU, host of the award-winning Leadership and the Environment Podcast, a columnist for Inc. Magazine, author of the number one best selling book, “Leadership Step by Step”, which we had fun talking about that, previously. He holds five Ivy League degrees, including a Ph.D. in astrophysics. We talked about that before, that just generally helps you everywhere, doesn’t it, Josh?

Joshua Spodek: It does! I’m going to add one more honor, which is, you and I met, I think years ago when I wrote my first book. About six months ago, I met and had a burrito with your son, who has profiled me in his book, which is a great honor for me!

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, that’s great! And he loved visiting with you, that was a lot of fun and he shared what a big impact that was on him, so thanks for doing that! Great!

Joshua Spodek: Thanks to him!

Steve Shallenberger: He has an MBA from Columbia, where he studied under a Nobel Laureate and helped build an X-Ray observational satellite, with the European Space Agency and NASA, and I mean to tell you, Josh’s experience just goes on and on. So, I am really looking forward to this discussion, for gaining new ideas, and I know you are, as individuals that are excited to gain new knowledge, new insights, and look for ways to apply that to what you’re doing today, in the process of becoming your best. So, let’s dive right into this book, Josh, and what’s the difference between your method initiative and what you call, “Dog show entrepreneurship”? Give us some background on this and let’s dive into it!

Joshua Spodek: Yeah, the dog show. So, for a long time, I’ve asked people, “Have you seen the Westminster Dog show?” Not everybody has, but a lot of people have seen dog shows and I asked them, “What it is a dog show?” And they say, “People come dancing around, fancying their dogs and the judge judges how well they look.” And I say, “If you could own a dog, and the only way you could own a dog was that way, would you?” And a lot of people who love dogs wouldn’t necessarily want a dog if that was the only way to do it. And when I talk about the judging and so forth, I say, “We have turned entrepreneurship into The Westminster Dog Show.” I’m not saying everywhere, but there’s a lot of it to watch, Shark Tank, or you look at a lot of the stuff of business plan competitions, a lot of it is not so much… What I had with my dogs growing up, they got messy, they got dirty, they played in the mud and stuff like that, but I loved it! They would never win an award but I loved it! And there’s a lot of people that could start businesses, projects, that might not be something that we’d get venture capitalists to buy it, it might not be something that made the front page of Forbes or Inc., but they would love it and it would be great. And a lot of the resources out there, are designed, you know, they’re buying value types or they’re buying for researchers, or there are these big things, like, to invest in the show. That’s great! I love that there’s resources out there, I think that it’s great, for them. But most people don’t have an idea and a team to start off with, and they need to start a little bit earlier and they want to have a great life, and they want to do something really great, if it becomes best in show, great, that does happen with my stuff, but my method Initiative, what I call, “The way of taking initiative” is designed for people who don’t yet have an identity, they’re not necessarily engineers in their 20s, who are trying to get venture backing to then get an IPO, but they could still love the projects that they create. Usually, there are going to be projects that are entrepreneurial, to start a new company, but often times, a lot of the people who’ve gone through these exercises, have gone to start a non profit, but most of them, they go to their managers at work and they get responsibility and authority and resources to do projects at work. So, you could call it entrepreneurship, but I like to call it just simply taking initiative. I like the simpler word. That’s the method initiative, is the exercises I’ve put in the book, you go step by step, and it leads you through, in the short term – how to create a project; in the long term – how to become someone who knows how to create projects anytime.

Steve Shallenberger: So, what you’re saying is there’s a difference, Josh, between having this refined finished product and being down in the trenches, and actually making something successful. Is that what you’re saying? That there’s a specific process that helps you get there?

Joshua Spodek: Yeah. Most of what I’m saying is that it’s more than the idea that you start with, it’s the social and emotional skills that you, as an innovator, as an initiator, as someone who wants to have responsibility, it’s developing the social and emotional skills of seeing the germ of an idea and share that with people. And what I do, is I walk you through the process of developing a pre-idea, something so rudimentary that an investor would say, “this doesn’t even count, this isn’t worth it.” But, if you talk to people close to you, and not ask for judgment, but get advice, then you can improve it. There’s 10 steps in this process and each step takes you from something rudimentary to something that kind of works, from something that works to something that works very well, and keep responding it, and each step along the way you’re learning the skills that when you look at the great entrepreneurs, they all have these skills. They developed them through other ways, but this is the way for you to develop them so that you can become someone who can start from nothing, but identify problems around you and solve them in ways that become so useful to the other people, that they support you back, that they help you.

Steve Shallenberger: Great! Now, so many of our friends and associates have asked for help in this area and so, becoming your best actually has today, a breakthrough leadership conference and so, I am excited to hear about some of these things that are involved in the exercises because when people start out, I mean, we think about this as we begin this entrepreneurial conference, just thinking about the current reality of what’s happening in the history of individuals that start ideas, and like you said, sometimes, Josh, they’re within a company, which is great. You have many internal entrepreneurs. Other times, is somebody that has decided that they want to develop an idea, but it starts with the idea. And so, often, people go directly to execution, and we call that, FFF – Formula For Failure. And it sounds to me like you’ve created something between the idea and the execution, that minimizes the risk because right now, somebody starts something, within 10 years, 70% of them will have failed.

Joshua Spodek: That’s it? I thought more than that.

Steve Shallenberger: Well it is, I’m just being conservative.

Joshua Spodek: Okay.

Steve Shallenberger: You’re right. So, let’s talk about, if you don’t mind, I’d love to hear about the exercises and what do you feel is appropriate to share now, during the podcast and how can you help us understand what is involved in this. I’m excited to hear about this.

Joshua Spodek: The best way that I can describe it is by analogy because they’re experiential exercises, meaning that you have to experience going through them, to learn from them, we learn from experience. The analogy that I’d like to use is, imagine you live in a world where all those who taught piano, taught it by lecture and case study and so, if you wanted to learn to play the piano, you’d sit in a classroom and they’d teach you, or they just told you, “Here’s the history of Bach and Beethoven and music appreciation.” It’s very useful, it’s nice to learn, but it doesn’t actually help you play the piano. Imagine you came up with the idea of playing scales. Now, in history, scales took a long time to develop. Now, if someone wants to learn to play the piano and you say, “Put your thumb here, put your finger here, put your finger on this key, put your next finger on this key” and so forth, to learn to play scale, you would say, “That isn’t playing my heart out. That’s not an emotional expression of how I feel, that’s very mechanical.” The thing is that if you want to get to Carnegie Hall, you might think these mechanical things don’t work, but actually, that’s exactly how people get to Carnegie Hall, is you have to practice, at first, very mechanical things, but when you get those down, when you don’t have to think about where your fingers are going, then you can start expressing yourself through the music. There’s lots of middle stuff, lots of middle exercises as well. And so, the early exercises are like playing scales for piano. And if I describe them, you might say, “It doesn’t sound like very much” but as you develop on them, as you dig them, you develop your voice. Here would be your entrepreneurial voice, or your taking intiative voice, as opposed to your musical playing voice. And it’s the same in other areas. If you want to play tennis, you start with ground strokes, if you want to play basketball, you dribble, if you want to do the military, you do basic training. And this is basic training. So, the early exercises are really… It starts with writing a personal essay just to give you direction. But then, it’s writing down problems and solutions and then talking to people and getting them to give you advice and votes on which one to work on and then it’s refining and refining and refining, by going out to people and getting advice from them, but in very specific ways, so you don’t have to guess it, like, “How do I ask for advice?” or “What kind of advice am I looking for?” I get specific what to do and how to say it. If you have relationships with people, you don’t have to follow the scripts perfectly, but it gives scripts so that people don’t have to guess. They can use the scripts that work pretty well. I hope that describes it because what I found is if I tried to describe exactly what the exercises are, it’s like trying to describe piano skills to someone who wants to play on stage. It doesn’t seem quite yet like it would work, but it actually does.

Steve Shallenberger: Right.

Joshua Spodek: I also put throughout the book a bunch of stories, each step of the way, so that people can see what it was like for other people who went through the same stages and what they got out of the exercises.

Steve Shallenberger: Okay, good. And let’s keep building on this, and understanding it and looking at the application. So, what would be the first exercise? What’s one of the first things you recommend?

Joshua Spodek: The very first exercise is to write a personal essay, and that’s to give you direction because people often have multiple areas that they could go into and it’s best to pick one and go with it. Sometimes people are nervous if you go on one direction, “Oh, what if I pick direction A and direction B was actually the perfect one for me?” Well, developing the skills that you do, along working with A then you decide you want to switch, actually, the switch is very quick and easy. So I give people direction with the first exercise. The next exercise, more specifically, I’ll go into a little more detail, is to spend a week thinking of the direction that you want to go into and looking for problems in that area – places where people complain, places where you complain, places where people wish things were faster, easier. And you write down, over the course of the week, five problems and then come up with some solution, however rudimentary. This is a big challenge here, is not to evaluate the quality of your solutions yet, because no one the first time through is going to write down a great idea. What happens is that you, by writing down these five rudimentary ideas, the next stage is going to have you share these ideas with other people, ask advice from them, and you will be surprised at how quickly that advice changes those ideas from rudimentary and sometimes embarrassing, to plausible. In the next couple of stages, you’ll keep refining them and eventually, you’ll have someone say, “When is this going to come out? I want to buy this thing. I want to use your service.” But it takes a while to get there, so the early stages are asking for advice on very rudimentary ideas and I give instructions, a lot of times when you ask someone, “I wonder if you can give me some advice” people mean well, and they basically say, “I think that sounds great, go for it!” The thing is, “I think that sounds great, go for it” it’s judgment and maybe positive judgment, but it doesn’t really help you improve it. So I give lots of tips on how to switch, how to deflect judgment and get advice. Because if they say, “You know, if you need a little bigger, or if you made it a little smaller”, or “Have you talked to someone about it?” That’s much more useful. And there’s types of advice you get. Some of the advice is, it will change people. I’ve been teaching this course on NYU, the book is based on the course, several hundreds of students go through it, from all levels, from undergrad through I teach professionals who want to advance in their careers, I do a lot of coaching one-on-one. And it’s remarkable the changes that go through people. They just keep telling me, “I did not think that I could learn these sorts of things, that I learned in this class, outside of life. I didn’t even think you could learn these things.”

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, great! Oh, that’s good, that’s exactly what I was hoping for, and that kind of gives a good feel for things. So, Josh, can you share a couple of examples, stories of people who did the exercises, and the results? I think that could be helpful to me and our listeners.

Joshua Spodek: Yeah, the opening story, I picked because it’s a guy, he’s now a friend of mine, at the time he contacted me out of the blue, he wanted coaching, he said, “Josh, you started a company, I can’t stand working where I’m working now. Please, help me start a new company.” The deal was that it was a media company, it was a small company, and I didn’t know this until he told me, but he had constantly come up with ideas that he thought were profitable or with low costs, and he would go to his managers and says, “How about this idea?” And over and over again, they would say, “Well, we’ll think about it” and nothing would come out of it. So, he thought, “I don’t want to work for people anymore, I can do this better.” So, I started working with him, and we started doing these exercises. Now, I was actually preparing him, this was a little over a decade ago. I was preparing him to help start a company. And we were developing ideas. And one day, he comes, we would start the coaching session and he says, “Josh, I don’t need to start a company anymore.” I go, “What do you mean?” And he said, “I didn’t tell you this, but I’ve been taking the principles that I’ve been learning through doing these exercises with you to start a new company, and I’ve been applying them with my managers, with the old ideas, and instead of asking them, try to find the perfect idea and showing to them so they’d have to say, ‘Yes’, I went back to early stages and shared the ideas with them, got their advice and approved it and eventually they gave me the project! And so, I don’t want to leave my company anymore.” And so, it turns out, yes, he wanted ownership in the sense of having deliverables and responsibility and authority to be able to deliver them, but he didn’t want to start a company, he didn’t want to file the state, figure out health insurance, hire people and get office space. He wanted authority and responsibility and resources. And that’s what he got, and as a result, it turns out that, while he didn’t get a raise, he would go home earlier every day because he could do his work faster. So, that’s one example.

Steve Shallenberger: Take this illustrating, the impact, because what I’m hearing from you and as we think of the gap here between the idea and execution, this is really a set of disciplines that individuals can learn and that it helps strengthen not only the individual but the whole organization.

Joshua Spodek: Exactly! That’s if they want to stay. I think that organizations would do well to give this kind of training to their employees. A lot of companies, they’re scared that if you give them entrepreneurial training, people are going to leave. But if you give them initiative training, then they start solving problems, and then, people can get promoted this way, because I think managers recognize, especially CEOs recognize, “if this person is a good problem solver, do I want them to solve low-level problems or high-level problems?” So they want to promote people who know how to take initiative and solve more problems.

Steve Shallenberger: Right, yeah, I agree. Well, let’s hear one more story and then I’d like to talk about this word, “initiative” a bit more.

Joshua Spodek: Sure. So, at the other end of the extreme is Jonathan. So, Jonathan was a lawyer making six figures and he had an Ivy League degree and I didn’t know this until he took my class. What happened was, he went to a mentor of his, and said to the mentor, “I’m making a lot of money, it’s not really rewarding, I don’t feel meaningful about my work” and the guy said, “Take a class, take a night class at NYU.” It happened to be that he took my class. And so, when he took my class, he had no idea that he had to do a project, at all. He just thought, maybe he’d get an overview of entrepreneurship, he didn’t know that this was going to be a project-based class. So he did the exercises and a project emerged, the details of it was that he wanted to help one-on-one people through bankruptcy so bankruptcy has become more and more difficult over time. And in the process of creating this project, he also met a programmer and the programmer and he decided, “Let’s put this online.” So, they kept developing the project and not long afterward, let’s see the things that happened. He got written up in the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, he got funding from Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, from Eric Schmidt from Google, and he got into Y Combinator, if you know that thing on Silicon Valley and became one of the few non-profits there. The American Bar Association named their project one of the top online resources for 2018 and I’m skipping all the middle stuff, how he grew and grew and grew, but you can read that, you can go to Wall Street Journal and you can find out. And the point is that even though he didn’t have an idea at all to start with, and if he had belonged to a lot of the resources that are out there, that were saying, “If you have an idea and a team, you can build it.” that actually would have been a bigger hurdle for him because he didn’t have an idea at the beginning. And yet, he made it to this startup worlds. If you know Y Combinator, that’s one of the most prestigious places where you can go, it’s like an incubator, an accelerator.

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, great area. Right.

Joshua Spodek: And so, anyone can start from almost nothing and these exercises really change a person. And if you go to the book page for the book, there’s a video of Jonathan talking about this experience.

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah. That’s great. Now, why the word “initiative”? That’s the name of your book.

Joshua Spodek: Oh, man!

Steve Shallenberger: Tell us why did you choose initiative for that book?

Joshua Spodek: I said, “Oh, man!” because you had to hear the conversations between me and my publisher, they’re like, “Put the word ‘entrepreneurship’ on the cover, it’s going to sell more.” I was like, “Whenever I say entrepreneurship to people, I can’t stop them from thinking, ‘Shark Tank or Venture-backed high-growth engineer sleeping in the garage in their 20s” and this does help people like that. There’s lots of resources for people like that. But, taking initiative is in my view, more general. One application for taking initiative it is to start a for-profit company, but it’s not the only one. I mean, my podcast is a big passion of mine and it’s not a big profitable thing, but in itself is just a project, I love it. I mean, I deeply, deeply love it! And so, there’s many different ways that you can take initiative and if you take initiative, you can become your best, you can develop all these other skills, grit and perseverance and being able to talk to people and get them to support you. And all these different things, and discover your passions and unearth them, and build them and make them part of your life. If you don’t take initiative, you’ll be lucky if you’ll get a lot of these things, sometimes, life will bring them to people, but taking initiative is a much more sure way of getting them. Starting a company doesn’t always get them. I know the first company that I did, if I had gotten the advice that goes for a lot of people with ideas and teams, I would’ve built a bigger company doing something I didn’t really like. When you take initiative this way, it’s always based on something you like, and you actually determine and find more of your passions, and you unearth them and build them.

Steve Shallenberger: Thank you for the background on that, I love that because anybody can start. I mean, you just got to get going, that’s what initiative is and you’ve also shared some other words, “passion” and “action”. How do you tie those together? The relationship between initiative, action, passion, getting something done, getting going? That’s where it starts.

Joshua Spodek: There’s a few myths out there that I buy into sometimes. I have to get them out of my head sometimes. A lot of people think you need a passion to start. Look at someone like Bill Gates, that kind of big passion for starting what became Microsoft. If I had a big passion, I would do that too. Unfortunately, I just haven’t got my passion yet, but hopefully, it’ll come soon. And the only thing that you can do if you believe them, you just have to wait for news to whisper in your ear and sometimes people get lucky but for the big things in my life, I don’t want to depend on luck. On the other side, there’s a lot of people who say, “Act! Just act on something and eventually you potentially emerge.” The thing is, okay, you get to act, but sometimes you do stuff and it’s not really what you want and you hope it will turn into a passion, it may not, so you start something, it doesn’t work out, you start something it doesn’t work out. And a lot of people start feeling like, “Oh, it’s not worth it.” They feel futility. And what I find works is not to wait until you have a huge a passion and then act or not to act so much that you force a passion form. But, to start with a little bit of direction from some interest, take initiative there and do some action, if that action goes well, will develop a little more passion, that passion will lead you to take a little bit more initiative. And then, initiative will lead you to act, the action will lead you to passion. It’s what I call the initiative – action – passion cycle, where instead of waiting for everything on one side, you develop things cyclicaly. That’s why the cover of the book has this spiral staircase, because as you go around the cycle, in one direction you’re going round a circle, but each time you go around you go up a level and most times when people start, they start with what they kind of like, and if it goes well, they’ll like it more, and if it goes well, they’ll keep liking more. Each time you do this cycle, it takes you up a level and sometimes something will run out, like I’m sure people have taken on a project, it went really well for a while and then they’re done with that project. Then you start with another one and that will take you up another level and then you start with another one, that will take you up another level. Each time you do these things you go from what I call, “passing fancys” into hobbies and things that you really like and eventually you reach life passions. And so, this initiative – action – passion cycle keeps taking up more and more levels at a time, each time going from things that you have access to, that are passing fancies, up into life passions.

Steve Shallenberger: All right, okay. Thanks for talking about that, and one of the words you used a number of times, Josh, is doing something that you’re excited about. How does that play in?

Joshua Spodek: Yeah, excitement is, I don’t know if you can hear my voice, I love what I do. I didn’t always love what I do. And, I was telling you before we started recording, I’m just post book-launch and so the number of my emails it’s like insanity, I’m barely catching up, my eyes are glazed over from being in front of all these stuff and it’s so much needy greedy deep down. And if I was doing this work for someone else, I would be furious, this is terrible, you give me someone else’s micro-managing crap, it’s horrible, but it’s my stuff and I love it! Hopefully, everybody has that feeling, I wouldn’t change anyone’s other kid’s diapers, but everyone’s changing their own kid’s diapers. When you have a project that you created, other people help you develop and you’ve heard from them, “I really like what you’re doing, I want to buy that thing.” There’s two types of inspiration that I find. December 31st, people say to themselves, I’m going to go to the gym once a week this year. And we all know somewhere around Valentine’s Day, 99% of people are not going to the gym anymore. They felt inspired on December 31st, but it doesn’t really stick that much. That’s the inspiration, hopefully, for a lot of people does work out, that kind of fades when it’s just about yourself. But when you talk to someone about, “There’s this problem I’ve been working on, I think I can solve it, can you give me some advice?” And in the process of giving advice, they say to you, “This is great, I want to buy this!” That type of inspiration, to improve the lives of people around you, it becomes greater than yourself. That type of inspiration, that can last a lifetime. That’s excitement, and that comes from, as far as I know, it only comes not from just having an idea, but acting on it so that actually takes on a life of its own, to where people see the results of what you’re doing. That’s what this book is about. I hope it gets people promotions and raises, I hope it gets people to solve other people’s problems, but I hope that it gets them to feel that excitement, that passion, that just does not fade because people tell you, “You’ve made my life better.” And if on the side they say, “Take my money, please” so you can make more of this thing.

Steve Shallenberger: Great! So, how long does it take for one person to do all the exercises?

Joshua Spodek: There’s 10 exercises and I envision people doing them in about a week, about a week each, so it’d be 10 weeks, but some people do it in half that time and once the dean asked me to do this. I talked the class Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, so once, I had a whole class doing it in a week, but that was a pretty intense class with me there, but in principle is possible to do it that quickly, but that’s pretty tough. I’d say a month would be really fast, 10 weeks would be average and some people, they really get into it and they go into real depth on one exercise and some people would take a lot longer. And there’s a couple of stories of people who took a lot longer the book because they got so much more out of it.

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, that’s great! Well, I’m just in this, I’m looking at across my yard here and planted our garden about three weeks ago, but what you’re talking about is planting the seeds to entrepreneurship and being successful in projects that you can make a difference in, but it takes a while. You’ve got to prepare the ground and cultivate it, and that’s what sounds like these exercises help you do so that you grow something really awesome.

Joshua Spodek: Yeah, and I think that if they’re listening to this podcast, they’ve been developing it for a while because that’s what you’re about, so I think that they have that garden.

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah that’s right, I bet it’s great, I love it! Because it helps you think this way. Well, I’m always shocked, Josh, of how fast things go, our time’s up, tell us how our listeners can learn more about what you’re doing, how can they get the book and how can they find out more about our friend Josh, and his good work?

Joshua Spodek: So, everything is at my webpage,, and I post my blog every day, if you go to the upper right corner and click on books, then you can get to Initiative and that’ll take you to Amazon and Barnes & Noble or wherever you want to buy it and it also gives you videos and you can download the preface. So,, everything’s there.

Steve Shallenberger: Okay, well, we can’t wait, that’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m excited to read the book or get it here very shortly so, thank you, Joshua Spodek, for being on this show again, great time, congratulations on the book and you’re making a difference in the world, my friend!

Joshua Spodek: Steven, thank you very much, the pleasure has been all mine.

Steve Shallenberger: All right, and to all of our listeners, never forget, you too are making a difference every single day, and it’s a light that shines from you and as we keep learning and becoming our best and developing, mastering these principles, it has a huge intergenerational impact. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best, wishing you a great day!

Rob Shallenberger: Alright, to our Becoming Your Best Podcast listeners, friends, family, wherever you’re at in the world, this is your host, Rob Shallenberger. I want to give you a great welcome, wherever you are. Today is a little different because our entire team is scattered all over the world. I’m doing this from my phone, instead of our normal recording equipment, so you may hear a little background noise. The purpose of this short podcast is to share with you a couple of things that I’ve observed over the last few days, that I would consider to be life-changing. They really caused me to ponder and think. I went on a drive this morning, down to get just a cable, so I had 30 minutes driving down the Canyon, back and forth, just a great time to ponder and be thinking about what I’m going to share with you in this podcast. I just got back from DC, where I did three separate keynotes, and in one of them, I asked everyone who was there, all 400 people, to look at the person on their left and on their right. And then I asked them, “Don’t you think it would be safe to assume that that person is going through a challenge that we know nothing about?” And everyone’s heads, they’re nodding, everyone can relate to this because we all have something. Call it your challenge, your Goliath, whatever you want to call it, we all have something, whether it’s finances, a relationship with a spouse, a son or daughter, a friend or someone who’s wronged us in a certain way. Maybe it’s being overweight and needing to lose weight or having high blood pressure. There’s all of these things out there in the world, we all have something.

Rob Shallenberger: Today is the day to take those challenges, those areas of improvement and make them our strengths, to address them head-on because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any one of us. I imagine that you can relate to this – sometimes, life is at a high, it feels like nothing can go wrong, everything’s working in our favor and when life is like that, it’s wonderful. And then, there are a handful of times where it’s tough, sometimes it’s tough to even see the light. You feel like, “Man, do I even have what it takes, to go on, to do this?” Pursue your vision, whatever that looks like. I think we can relate to that, whether it’s a relationship, a health goal, or whatever it is, it’s never too late to start, it’s never too late to make a course correction. For example, let’s take a relationship with a son or daughter if that applies to you. I’m sure there’s been a time in your life, like there has in mine, where we said something that we regretted, we wish we wouldn’t have said it. Well, instead of just holding on to that, now is the time to take ownership to apologize, to own up to what we did that it wasn’t right, and make the course correction and not waste another day dealing with that. Let’s move on! Let’s address whatever it is that’s the big issue.

Rob Shallenberger: As I mentioned right along this thing that we’re talking about here, as I’ve had the chance to meet with thousands of people all over the world, the one common denominator is that everyone has something going on in their life, that needs to be dealt with. Hence the words BECOMING YOUR BEST. And I’ve really been thinking lately about the word “becoming” because life can be a list of things that we check off, you know, yes I’ve got an MBA, a college degree – check, check; I did this, and I did that – check, check, check. What are we becoming in the process? We could check all the boxes in the world, but if we’re not becoming in the process, then to what end are we doing those things? And that’s what this is all about, it’s truly focusing on that word, “becoming” your best. Becoming itself is a verb, it’s a journey and what’s interesting about this word, in particular, is that if we focus on that word, “becoming” we should actually never arrive in this life. And that’s the whole spirit of the quote “Good, better, best – never let it rest, ’till the good is better and the better is best.” and in this journey of Becoming, I’m sure there’s a time where maybe we haven’t lost hope, but the hope has been diminished a little bit. Maybe we’ve given up on ourselves or we quit trying in certain aspects of the arena. I want you just to think about your life for a couple of seconds here. Is there something out there, that you still want to accomplish? Maybe it’s, again, a weight goal, maybe it’s a certain financial target, maybe it’s a relationship that needs mending. Whatever it is, NOW is the time to do what matters most in this journey of becoming.

Rob Shallenberger: I’m going to wrap up this very short podcast with two invitations for you. Number one, in this journey of becoming, it doesn’t matter what we’re checking off the list, if we’re not going in charity, in love and compassion, in a legacy of greatness that we’re leaving, and how we treat others, our relationships. So, invitation number one is to purposely do three acts of kindness for someone else today, a stranger, a family member. In other words, purposely focusing on doing three acts of kindness. They don’t have to be huge, monumental things, maybe it could be as simple as a compliment. I’m inviting us to flip the lens so that we’re not looking inward, rather outward. When you do this, and I just tried this yesterday, and I say “tried” because there were several times where I had the opportunity and I missed it and eventually I got it, but I thought, I had several opportunities that I missed on, and so I’m recommitting today, as we fly to Spain, later this afternoon – I’m going to look for these opportunities to compliment someone, to open a door, to bend over and pick something up that someone dropped. These little things, I promise you, and I know you’ve experienced this, watch how you feel inside when you’re serving someone else. This is what I was going to say, I promise it’s hard to be angry, it’s hard to be down or upset when you’re doing something kind for someone else. So that’s number one, is to do three acts of kindness for someone today. See how you feel.

Rob Shallenberger: Number two, since this idea of becoming should be happening today, not procrastinating another day, another week, I’m going to invite you to go to Youtube, and search for a talk that was given, called, “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. I know some of you have seen this before. If you have, I invite you to watch it again. If you’ve never seen it, you are in for a treat, it is one of the best talks I’ve ever heard in my life! He delivered this lecture to his students, in September 2007 at Carnegie Mellon. He was a professor there, and they have what they call, “The last lecture” which is typically symbolic of their Final Talk at University. In this case, it was his last lecture. The month prior to giving this talk, he was given the diagnosis that his pancreatic cancer, which he found out a year prior, was terminal. So, this was indeed his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon. He passed away 10 months later after giving this talk. It was later published in a book, it was on the New York Times Bestseller for something like 110 weeks, something just amazing like that, because it was so powerful, and it’s a great talk about focusing on what matters most, with the time that we have. It is not an understatement to say, it’s a life-changing talk. It will really bring a perspective to you, to say, “You know what? Now’s the time!” If there’s something we need to fix, mend or do in our lives, now is the time. Let’s not waste another day on this!

Rob Shallenberger: So I wrap up this podcast with those two invitations. Remember this, becoming is a journey and if there’s something we wanted to do, let’s start now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed for any one of us, and we do not want to procrastinate or wait or delay another day. So, even though this is a bit short, I hope that has caused you to think and be powerful for you, in some form or fashion. So, whether you’ve seen it or not, three acts of kindness today, and then go to Youtube and look for Randy Pausch’s last lecture and listen to that, and see how you feel inside afterward, and I promise that it will move you and inspire you and light a fire within. So, this is Rob Shallenberger, wishing you a great day, wherever you’re at in the world. Let’s go out there and make a difference and do something kind just for one or two or three people today, and let’s start that ripple effect! Alright, have a great day!

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best Podcast wherever you may be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host, and we have a rapidly changing world. New technology is found in virtually every part of your life. Fresh ideas are disrupting how things have been done in the past and putting companies, literally, organizations and in some cases, entire industries out of business, and it seems like everyone is clamoring for your attention. You are beset by a non-stop barrage of noise, email, voice mail, Twitter, Instagram, Messenger and with much more coming, I might add, of options, and the constant flow of change is everywhere. Old time management really is of calendaring and checklists, just simply are not adequate to stay ahead of the game. You are losing ground in what seems like a sometimes-hopeless battle of time and project management, regardless of whether you use a paper-based or electronic planner or calendar. So that’s why this podcast today is on the New Age of Time Management, doing what matters most.

So what is one to do? Well, the answer is to use NEW AGE Time Management. You ask, what is NEW AGE Time Management? That’s a great question! NEW AGE Time Management is a new, fresh way of doing things, that puts you in the drivers’ seat. It is an approach that puts leadership, effectiveness, and priorities FIRST. Once we have chosen the RIGHT direction, then we can apply solid management and efficiency practices. This is all about doing What Matters Most! NEW AGE Time Management, NEW AGE TM, is scheduling your priorities, not just prioritizing your schedule. NEW AGE TM is about leading a life by design, not by default. NEW AGE Time Management is both a mindset and a skillset. So let’s just take a moment and talk about each one.

The mindset is the determination to be a transformational leader versus a transactional leader. A transformational leader is one that takes time to focus on what matters most and leaves things better than when he/she found them. A transactional leader feels like a firefighter, putting out fires all day long, and has an endless checklist that doesn’t ever seem to go away, and often finds satisfaction from always being busy and frequently getting burned out. A transactional leader is too busy to pause to plan out his/her week in advance. A transformational leader pauses to reflect on his/her vision, goals for the year, and what matters most and then takes time to plan out the week in advance. A transformational leader makes time. The mindset is being determined that you will take charge of your life and no longer be endlessly pushed around by every external environment force that exists. The mindset is that you are an exceptional leader who chooses to take time from Friday afternoon, but before Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. to look at your life by design, rather than by default. This choice puts you in the upper 10% of all people in the world. You choose not to be among the other 90% of those living a life by default, being pushed to and fro. That is a steely mindset that will change your life and those of the people around you.

Alright, so what is the Skillset? Well, the skillset is to have a tool, and the ability to use the tool, that allows you to put leadership and effectiveness (doing the right things), FIRST and get a game-changing result. Doctors have surgical and imaging equipment that allows them to serve their patients very well. First, they have the state of the art equipment and second, they learn how to use the equipment because of their training, and bring the two together. This revolutionizes medical care and provides an extraordinary service. Same with an auto mechanic, a college professor, a wealth advisor, a police officer, the military, a businessperson, in sales and marketing, in the service industry and so forth. In other words, in our quickly evolving world, new advanced tools help you to be the one that is doing the disrupting and staying ahead of the curve. So what are the tools and skills that are needed for you to compete against the urgency timeline, in an ever-increasing set of demands? We call the process Pre-week planning, after the metaphor of pre-flight planning, that a fighter, an airline pilot or private and commercial pilots use before they ever go up in a flight. At least the very best do it. And before ever climbing into the pilot’s seat, it’s taking time to prepare for the flight, to consider the weather, the fuel, the condition of the aircraft, the destination, the weight and balance of the aircraft, and filing a flight plan. So, once these things are complete, we have the confidence and peace that we are ready for a successful and happy flight. Imagine what would happen if the pilot just jumped into the aircraft and flew by the seat of his/her pants. This is the same principle that applies to, really, New Age Time Management. How many of us simply go from week to week, without doing careful pre-week planning, fly by the seat of our pants, and expect a different result, a better result?

Well, the tool is the Becoming Your Best Planner, and let me explain why. It is uniquely focused in both process and design, to guide the application of leadership and effectiveness first, to your week and life, and then invites a management efficiency focus to do the job well. It is the only tool that we are aware of, that provides this type of a process for you. It is available in both a paper-based, it’s the Becoming Your Best Planner, or a soon to be released NEW AGE TM app, called Life Organizer. This should be coming out in the next couple of weeks, so just watch for it! This is a tool that makes your job much easier. If you have a Becoming Your Best Planner already, you only need to apply the 3-step process of having a GREAT week because you already have the tool. If you do not have a Becoming Your Best Planner currently, I invite you to invest the small amount of money into your life to get to a whole new transformational level, really. And you can simply go to Becoming Your Best the website store at and order your planner. All you need to do is apply the newage code, for a 30% discount to get you going. This is a one-time offer, and we may not leave this code in there for long, but we’ll certainly put it in long enough for people listening to this podcast, to take advantage of. So, the code to get your discount will be newage, then you can just order your planner. Now, although this is part of our business, I assure you it is not about selling another organizer or planner, this is not the idea. This is a tool that can change your life and affect every aspect of your life, personal, relationships, professional, civic. And I might add that if you do not have a BYB Planner and need the format to start today, simply email us at and we will send you a sample weekly planner sheet that you can use today while waiting for your full-year calendar to come to you, in the mail.

Now, this skill, along with the tool, is understanding the simple 3-step process of pre-week planning to get to high-performance results of what matters most in all areas of your life. The more that you do this, the better that you get. In other words, your ability to use the right tool to get superior results improves. So, in summary, not at the necessarily quite at the end of this podcast, but let’s just review, once again, what is the mindset and skillset? The mindset is a transformational leader, that takes time to do pre-week planning. Why? Because you care deeply about the results. You realize that if you do pre-week planning, you will get a vastly superior result from doing what matters most. You will realize greater happiness, health, peace, confidence and high-performance results. That’s the mindset. It’s saying, “I will do it because it’s vital to my success and happiness.” The skillset is to open the BYB planner to the weekly view and apply the simple 3-step process of leadership and management. Mindset – Skillset (the tools and the ability).

Here are the three steps to pre-week planning. Open to the weekly view and you will see a reminder of the three steps in the upper right-hand corner of every single week of the year. It’s just a quick queue to remind you that this is the process. Before you jump into pre-week planning, it’s helpful to briefly review your monthly calendar in the planner to see what is happening in the coming weeks and months. This really helps you to queue up your week and to be well prepared for things in advance and avoid crisis in the future for both you and others. This part takes just a few minutes, you just flip through the months and I can look anywhere from one, two, three, four, five, six months out, just quickly. That sets you up, then, for step 1, which is, write in your roles. So, right across the top you’ll see some gray boxes, and notice the first one is common for all of us, personal; but other roles might be that as a spouse, a parent, work or professional, school perhaps, civic/church. So, you’re going to get really fast at this, it might take you 30 seconds at most, once you start doing this from week to week. You know what your roles are, doesn’t take a lot of time to sit there and think about them, or ponder about them, once you have them. One of the things that immediately starts happening is that this process of simply writing down your roles, helps you think of your life in terms of greater BALANCE and about what matters most! So it’s really a filtering process, that’s step 1.

Step 2 is right under those gray boxes or some white boxes, and this is where you can set action items for each role for the things that matter most, to do this week. For example, in your role as a spouse or a partner, let’s say, what is the most significant set of actions you can do to maintain a happy, close relationship? This, by the way, is exciting, as you apply your intellect and imagination to the possibilities. In this case, for example, you might write a note of appreciation to your spouse or partner, you may go on an exciting date; not just a date, an exciting date! Or another may be to go to lunch and just listen to your partner, see how they’re doing. Or maybe the role that you’re reflecting on is professional, or work. What actions matter most and help you to be among the high performers and someone that can be counted on, in your business? An example of an action might be cultivating a new client or relationship that is important for business or call your five most important customers/clients and do something to help make their life better. Okay, well that’s step 2. Step 2 might take 10 or 15 minutes, it’s the one that takes the longest time, but it’s not very long.

Step 3 is to schedule a time for when you will do each action. In other words, write in when you will accomplish the actions that you have identified. Steps 2 & 3 together, can take maybe 20 minutes, not very long. Step three goes pretty fast, it’s more execution and thinking where does this best fit? How do I create a balanced week? Now, set back and look at the whole enchilada. How does this week feel? How does this week look? How can I improve upon it? You may say to yourself at this time, Good, Better, Best, Never Let it Rest, ‘Til the Good is Better and the Better is Best! I often let the words of that quote and poem go through my mind as I, just look at the week and say, “Okay, how can I notch it up a little better? How can I make it a little more balanced?

Once completed, you will feel more prepared, at peace, confident, focused for your week, and ready to go. You will have considered your week from the high road and you’re ready to attack a great week. And, you have considered your whole life, balanced and full. Your health, attitude, relationships, and profession are all in focus. For those that use an electronic planner, it now only takes a few minutes to transfer your ACTION dates and times into your electronic calendar from this planning tool.

Incidentally, it’s interesting to note that among those that are most successful in time management, use both a paper-based calendar, like the Becoming Your Best Planner and the electronic. In other words the paper-based allows you to go through this level of thinking, of setting up the right direction and the discipline of forming your week out and looking at the balance and then transferring it into your electronic for those that use the electronic. It doesn’t have to be both, but they are a powerful combination. This then, syncs up and for those who may have a group, type Calendar embedded it within your planning, is this kind of thinking.

This is the NEW AGE Time Management approach. This approach and process puts you in the driver’s seat to lead your life by design. You may ask, what happens if I “blow it”? Well, you can’t blow pre-week planning. You go through those three questions and you can get better and better at it, but it’s really hard to blow it. But, in terms of, “What happens if I blow it and I miss doing a weekend here or there?” Well, that’s a good question because it comes down to the Mindset and Skillset and we just need to really think about both. The mindset is being determined that you are the one taking charge of your life and that you will make time for the pre-week planning, so that’s just locked in there, solid. And that you are definitely going to improve your skillset. You will try, try, try again until you consistently do your pre-week planning every single week, until it just becomes locked in habit. And that will happen! And especially because you can’t stand what happens without it! For those who are listening, that are fully in the practice of pre-week planning now, using the tool, may this podcast reinforce all that you are doing! In addition to continuing the habit in your life, now, go out and help your team and family and friends, to develop the habit in their life. This is a great influence and will have an impact on high performance. And for those that are not currently doing pre-week planning, set yourself up now to win. Invest in yourself and get the Becoming You Best planner, that’s very unique, and in the meantime, email us and we will send out the one-week sheet so that you can use it now, this weekend, to get started, while your planner, your 12-month planner is coming, so that will help you get going.

Now, what are some tricks of the trade? Well, here’s just a few of them. Find a time that works well for you to do the pre-week planing. I think that’s golden. That really is a big help. I was talking with an extraordinary and successful woman, she’s a leader, entrepreneur, and mother. I was just talking to her yesterday, she’s from the Dominican Republic. She indicated that she really needs to complete her pre-week planning on Friday afternoon because that’s the ideal time for her to do this. She does it before leaving work to be sure that it gets done. And then, she still has time to reflect on ways to improve on the week to come, during the weekend. Now, others start on Friday afternoon, putting in their roles for the next week, because that only takes what, 30 seconds, as you get really good at it, because they don’t change, they are almost always the same roles, and then considering the actions that are most important. And you may start filling those in perhaps on Friday afternoon, but certainly on Saturday and/or Sunday you’re seeing the plan come alive, you’re maybe watching a show or just hanging out, you can open your planner and then, wrapping things up by Sunday afternoon, so you have your whole week rightly framed up and ready to go.

Here’s another trick of the trade: Put a reminder in your phone. We have many people that set a reminder in their phone for the alarm to go off on Friday afternoon, it’s just set, it’s repeated, every Friday, 04:00, somewhere in that range, and it’s the trigger that reminds you, “Oh yeah, I want to do my pre-week planning”, and then another trigger or alarm reminder on Sunday afternoon, to remind you to complete your pre-week planning. That way you sit back and you are ready to go before Monday ever comes.

Here’s another trick of the trade, number three: People ask this question, on the paper-based planner, on the sides on each side of the week there are to-do columns. So what is that for? As you are going through the week, this is a perfect place to put down things that maybe haven’t been in your original plan but they are spontaneous and come up, it’s something that needs to be done on a timely basis. So just get your pen and pencil, write it down right now in that to-do space and it will be the tickler to help you get it done. What happens if you don’t write it down? Well, there’s a high risk of forgetting. And whatever you do, avoid, this is the next trick of the trade, is avoid sticky notes. When a to-do comes up, go right to your planner, if you use a paper-based or write to your electronic and write down that to-do, right then. Then, you will easily be able to find that to-do, look back, be sure that you’ve taken care of it on a timely basis. Besides that, sticky notes just clutter up your whole workspace, you can lose them, it’s just nice to have things in one place.

Alright, and then, number five is: Have fun! This is a fun process! This is fun stuff. You can doctor-up your planner. So, for example, in the inside front cover, I have glue-sticked in my vision. In the back cover, inside cover, I have glue-sticked in my goals for the year. I’ve also put in a full-color photo of my family towards the front. So this is my planner, this is a motivating thing. You can use then your unique will-power, determination, leadership, and management skill to get to a whole new place in life, a better place, a place of high performance, happiness, health, balance, and joy. This is a great process!

I hope that these ideas will be stimulating for you, inspire and motivate you to become your best particularly in this area and reap the huge benefits that come your way as a result. We need to do things differently. We live in a new world than our parents did, so it requires new tools, a new focus and these are the tools that will help you stay ahead of the curve. I’m wishing each one of you a becoming your best day. And remember, you are a light to others, you’re lifting, inspiring, and building others every day. It’s such an honor to be able to visit together today, I wish you the very best! This is Steve Shallenberger, your host with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership.

Rob Shallenberger: Hello to our Becoming your Best friends and family! This is your host, Rob Shallenberger today, hoping you’re having a great day wherever you are in the world. It’s a beautiful blue-sky day, here in Utah, with a slight breeze, about 75 degrees, so wherever you’re at I hope you’re having a great day, and if not, the intent of this podcast is to help lift your day and make it a great day. So, with that as our starting point, I had the honor last weekend of going to Marymount University in Los Angeles and doing their commencement address. It was awesome! It’s so cool to be around these students who just had this fire in their eyes, are getting ready to go out and tackle life and just a great atmosphere to be in. Not to mention the fact that we’re overlooking the Pacific Ocean and it was a perfect day, temperature-wise.

So, on this podcast, what I’d like to share with you is what I shared with the students during the commencement address because the thought is, it can have a real impact on our lives, if we will do those things. So, what I shared with them is, and I start out with this thought, and it is actually pretty funny, I did an informal survey on social media and asked how many people remembered anything from their commencement address and out of 70 responses, only three people remembered anything. So, the thought was, how could the people who are graduating, look for just one thing that could have an impact in their life so that in 20 years from today, when someone asks them, “What’s one thing from your commencement address” they can repeat that one thing. So, maybe likewise on this podcast, I’ll ask you just to look for one thing that you feel could have a big impact in your life. I think that’s a fair invitation. So, let’s get rolling in this.

I’m going to start with you, similar to how I started the address during the commencement, and that is to imagine ourselves 50 years from today. What’s the impact of your life? What’s the impact of your actions on the people around you? Some may think they’re small, some may realize they’re big, either way, you are going to have an immeasurable impact on the world, no matter what you’re doing right now. And so, the question is, how do we have the greatest impact? And as you know, at Becoming Your Best, we’ve spent decades researching the top 10% from any industry, so sales, executives, managers, athletes, coaches. The top 10% who we would call, “High Performers”, and what sets them apart. And as you know, if you’re listening to this, most likely, is that we’ve identified that there are 12 High-Performance Principles and Habits that you see over and over among the top 10% of high performers. And the question is, how do we utilize these 12 Principles, to have the biggest impact possible for the remainder of our lives? So, in that spirit, I’m going to invite you to imagine that you’re a pilot, except, the difference is you’re the pilot of your life. In other words, I’m going to invite you to fly your jet and lead a life by design, rather than live a life by default.

Now, in the fighter-pilot world, we don’t like to use auto-pilot or cruise-control, so to speak. We like to fly the jet. Likewise, as you go into life, let’s not put our lives on auto-pilot or cruise-control, rather actually fly your jet and lead a life by design. And one of the things that you need to know, let’s just take the F16 as an example, is that there are over 300 gauges, switches, and dials in the jet, and all of these have an important role. Yet, there are six what we would call, “Primary Instruments”. And if a pilot loses track of these primary instruments, at some point, they will die. And so, of all these gauges and instruments that are clamoring for your attention and they’re all important in their own right, these six are absolutely critical. And so, as you fly your jet, as you lead your life by design, there are six, what we would call, “primary instruments” in order to fly your jet successfully or lead your life. Some of these you’ve heard before, and some will be totally new.

The first is to “Lead with a vision.” Now, this is one you’ve heard from Becoming Your Best a lot and it’s because almost every great leader, at some point, has started with a vision. Almost every great endeavor has started with a vision. If you look at Bill Gates, the vision – desktop computer in every home. People told him he was crazy when he had that as its vision. President Kennedy – we will send a man to the moon and back, before the end of the decade. Or Martin Luther King and his famous speech, “I have a dream.” These are powerful examples of a vision. And in order to lead a life by design, a person needs to know where they’re going. I mean, you could imagine, if a fighter pilot takes off and they don’t have a destination in mind, where will they end up? Who knows? Likewise in life, we need to have a destination, so we know where to go. And it’s my opinion that your personal vision is the seed of your legacy. And if you think about that, what happens if we plant a seed in fertile soil? Well, it at least has the chance to grow, whereas if we never plant the seed, it never has a chance to grow. And as you develop your vision, it should be meaningful and provide you with direction. If it doesn’t do those two things, that’s your Litmus test. And it’s really not a vision. It needs to be meaningful, and provide you with direction. The other thing you need to know about this is, you’re going to be doing what 97% of people will not do. In our research of hundreds of organizations around the world, only 1-3% of people had a written personal vision. And I’ll take it a step further and even suggest that when we memorize it, it even becomes that much more powerful.

And some of you have heard this story, I mean, I’ve experienced the power of a personal vision, even as a teenager. And I don’t know how your teenage experience was, maybe some of you can relate, but that was a tough time for me. Speaking of direction, there was no direction, this was a ship without a rutter, at 16. I had no idea where I was going, school wasn’t going well, I mean, there were even teachers who said, “Rob, you’re not going to mount anything in life, because you can’t focus.” And to their credit, they were actually right. At that point in my life, I did not have any focus, until something happened. And we attended the event called, “The Stadium of Fire”, it’s in Provo, Utah, and there’s 55,000 people in the stands, to celebrate the 4th of July. And every year they start this with a force ship fly-by F16s and it’s just awesome to watch. And if you’ve ever watched a fly-by or felt this in real life, you know that it’s just awesome when you feel that rumbling in your chest, that roar of the jets. Well, in this case, the jets flew by and we felt that roar, and my brother and I looked at each other, and we said, “Someday, we’re going to fly those jets right over this stadium!” Now, what was just born inside of us was a vision. The seed was planted. And there we were, at 16 years old, whereas I was all over the place before, not anymore. Now, laser-focused. And 15 years later, if you fast-forward the clock, both my brother and I became F16 pilots and we got permission from the Pentagon to do the fly-by for The Stadium of Fire. And so, in 2007, I’ll never forget looking across the formation. There was my brother on the other side, we went over the stadium, and I just thought, “Man, we did it!” And then the jet is just “phoooo”, and I’m looking over, thinking, “We just did it!” We just did what we set out to do 15 years ago. And then, over the radio came the voice of the Ground Controller, and he said, “Viper 1-1, nice fly-by, perfect timing, congratulations Shallenbergers!” I remember getting chills up and down my arms and a tear in my eye because, for us, that had taken an incredible amount of work and effort to get to that point. So, number one, your primary instrument as you fly your jet is to “Lead with a vision.” What is your vision?

Number two are “Priorities”. Focus on what matters most. You know that this is one of the 12 Principles. A wise man once said, “No success in business can compensate for failure in the home.” And it’s my opinion that a transformational leader makes time. And I think we all can relate to this. If not in our own lives, we know someone who’s happened to, where we’d be the least health, a relationship, or something went south in our lives because we gave into the noise and chaos of the world. And the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way! One of the best stories I’ve heard, that illustrates this point is a dad who came home late at night, it had been an exhausting day. He walks in the door, he sets down his computer, opens his laptop to fire off a couple more emails and his young boy walks out of his room, comes up to the dad and taps him on the shoulder. Dad looks down, and the young boy asks his dad, “Dad, how much do you make in an hour?” Dad thought, “Well, I don’t really think it’s anything that’s your business, but if you need to know, I make about $25 an hour.” And then, the son looked up at him again, and asked, “Dad, can I borrow $25?” And the dad, this was kind of enough to put him over the top. It had already been a long day, he kind of lost his temper and he said, “Son, go to your room! If you want to make the money, you can earn the money but I’m not going to loan it to you.” And the kid went to his room. After a few minutes, the dad realized that he’d probably been too hard on its son. And so he got up, I mean, he’d already realized that it was kind of a short fuse, because the long day that he had, and he walked to his room. And there he saw that his son was clearly crying, and he said, “Son, I apologize. I was probably a little bit too hard on you. If you were asking for $25, you probably had a reason, and so, here’s the $25.” And the son looked up, and he took the money and then he said to his dad, “Dad, now that I have $25, can I buy just one hour of your time?” And this was pretty much enough to put the father over the top. He broke down, he embraced his son and just apologized. For that father, that was a turning point in his life. He learned a life lesson on that day, at that moment, that he probably couldn’t have learned any other way. When it comes to priorities, schedule your priorities, rather than prioritize your schedule, and let’s always remember our priorities and what matters most. And if we’re a little off track, let’s get back on track because this is one of your primary instruments as you fly your jet. We can’t lose track of our priorities!

Number three is “Attitude.” I believe that success starts with attitude. And attitude is a reflection of our thoughts and language and it’s one of the greatest predictors of success. I mean, think about this, a positive attitude will help you do anything better than a negative attitude will help you do it. Isn’t that true? I mean, wouldn’t you agree? And attitude is contagious. it radiates to other people, either for good or for bad, a positive or a negative attitude. And since attitude is a reflection of our thoughts, I love this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. You’ve heard this before if you’ve been to our seminars. “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” In other words, all starts with our thoughts. Our words have power and whether we think we can, or whether we think we can’t. Either way, we’ll be right. And you may or may not be aware of this, but the average person thinks between 50 000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. 70% of those tend to be negative. I’m sure many of us can relate to that. And one of my good friends is a world-class triathlete. We’ve had him on the podcast, James. He was talking about the impact and the power of thoughts that they can have on an attitude. And he said he really learned this when he was on one of his bike rides. And you’ve got a long time sitting on the bike, and so he tested this theory. And what he would do is allow a negative thought to creep in just to test it. And his team was measuring his body, and what they found was that when he had a negative thought that would come in, his power would go down and his heart rate would go up. And as soon as he would cancel that thought and replace it with a positive on, power goes up, heart rate goes down. In other words, he was having a very physical effect on his body, whatever his thoughts were. And so, this is what he said, “I only need to be perfect in my thoughts for the next 10 seconds.” And what that means to us is, next time you have a negative thought creep into your mind, “I’m overweight, I’m ugly, I’m not good enough”, name the negative thought, there’s millions of them, next time we have those thoughts, replace it with a positive, and just focus on being perfect in our thoughts for the next 10 seconds. Let’s get rid of that thought and let’s replace it with something else. Why we are good enough, why we can do it. And that’s what I’m asking. When it comes to attitude and thoughts be perfect in the next 10 seconds, and then that will shift to 20 seconds and 30 seconds, and pretty soon, like James, our model will become, “We don’t do negative.” And I love what Zig Ziglar said, “Get rid of the stink in thinking.” and that is exactly right! So, if we want to have a great attitude, then that really starts in our head with our thoughts.

Number four, the fourth primary instrument as you fly your jet, as you lead a life by design, is to “Choose your wingman carefully.” In other words, be very careful who you choose to bring into your close circle of friends. There’s an old saying, and I know you’ve heard it if you’ve listened to these podcasts. Is that “We become the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Well if that’s true, then we ought to be very careful who we choose to spend time with. If you look right now at your current circle, the people you spend the most time with, do they motivate you? Do they legitimately cheer on your successes and want to see you succeed? Here’s another way to look at this: if you’re in a room with people and you’re the sharpest in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room. We want to be around people who lift the bar for us, who help us want to do better. And at some point, the people who are on your team, whoever you bring into your inner circle, will play a significant role in either your success or failure, and the truth is, you need, just like we all do, a wingman who will watch your back.

I learned this, I was flying a night mission over the Atlantic Ocean, we were about 100 miles offshore, in the F16. It was a benign flight, it was very simple, One Be – One intercept flight, just a nice little practice sturdy, we call it. However, I remember being a pitch-black night. Couldn’t see any stars, there was no moon, everything was black. The ocean below, the sky above, it was just a pitch-black night. And on the way home, you know, we made it through the mission, no problem, and we’re about 20 miles from the base, and we finish our descend checklist and we start the descent, we take our night vision goggles off, and as I’m running a fuel test, I see that there’s a problem. And suddenly, what was calm, turned to chaos, because one of two things was either going to happen: either it was a gauge problem with my fuel, or I had about two or three minutes of flying time left before the engine flamed out. And so, immediately we started zooming the jet so that we can get a glide ratio that would allow us to glide into the airforce base, if the engine fails. I clear my wingman to a safety chase position. We put the night vision goggles back on, we declare an emergency, and really chaos has erupted. And with all of this stuff going on, I forgot about my primary instruments. And so, with the night vision goggles on, I was pointing to what I thought it was the Shaw Airforce Base, but with night vision goggles, there’s not a real good depth perception. It’s hard to see things at night like we see them during the day. So, what I was actually pointing at, was Sumter Airfield, which was 10 miles away from the actual airforce base. It had a short runway, and there was no way that if I would’ve flown an approach to that runway if I would’ve actually touched down, there’s no way that I would’ve been able to land that F16 on that runway and stay on the runway. It was way too short. And so, there was a radio call that came over the radio, when I was still flying my approach to Sumter Airfield. And he said, “1 (who was my position time)check heading, I’m showing Shaw Airforce Base left 10 o’clock, 8 miles.” That one radio call brought my eyes up, back on the primary instruments, I realized I was flying an approach to the wrong field. So I made a slight course adjustment, we landed uneventfully, I taxied back to the Gate and it end up being a gauge problem, so no issue. So what could’ve been benign, could have potentially turned into a scenario where we would’ve lost the jet and potentially my life, without that powerful call from the wingman. It was just a simple call, yet it potentially saved the jet and my life. So the question is, who will be on your team? Who will you bring into your circle of friends? And do they inspire you, want you to succeed and legitimately cheer you on?

The fifth primary instrument to fly your jet, is to make the resolve to never give up. And most of you have heard this during our seminars, if there’s a handful of you that haven’t, then I’m going to ask you the question and you can all respond with the first word that comes to mind. So, wherever you’re at, driving, sitting at a desk, if you’re alone you can yell it if you’re with other people you can say it quietly, but say something with a voice, out loud. I’m going to ask you the question I want you to respond. What is the opposite of success? Failure. Most likely, if you’re like 97% of people, responded with the word “Failure”. That’s because that’s exactly how we’ve been programmed since we were young. And the reason that that is negative programming is because if we’re afraid to fail, wouldn’t you agree that in many cases we’ll be afraid to try in the first place? So, in my opinion, the opposite of success is not “Failure”, it’s “Giving up”! And even deeper is this fear of failure. The fear of failure is a real emotion, and it is a dream-crusher. And so, I’m excited for failures. I mean, they’re not fun, none of us enjoy it, none of us say, “I want to fail.” But I’m excited for when you have a failure because it means you’re one step closer to success. And I love what Theodore Roosevelt said, because ultimately, what we’re talking about here, is getting into the arena. And he said about the arena, he said, “It’s not the critic who counts, nor the person who points out why the strong man stumbles or how the doer of deeds could do them better. No, the credit goes to the person who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with blood, sweat, and dust, who if, at worse, they fail, fail daring greatly, but they may never be met found among the poor timid souls who knew neither victory, nor defeat.”

It’s only in the arena that we find success. And I’ve experienced this personally. Some of you have heard this story, most of you probably have not. When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided to wrestle. It was an average year, I won some matches and I lost some matches. You know, it was average. Well, at the end of the fall, when the season was over, most people went on to different sports or whatever, I decided to double down on wrestling. So I went to a local university, found the number two ranked collegial wrestler at this particular weight, and he agreed to coach me three times a week, throughout the summer. So when I wasn’t coaching with him, I was out on the mats of this University, training, grinning, over and over, the repetition. Well, when the fall came around the next year, I wrestled who had been one of the top wrestlers on the team the year prior and pinned him in about 45 seconds. And suddenly, I wasn’t ready for this, mentally, the coaches started talking about, “Rob, you’re going to win state, you’re going to be a state champion!” Well, I wasn’t ready for that, mentally. And so, I kind of, in my mind, thought, there’s really one or two things we can do here. Number one is I can keep wrestling, and I may be a state champion. But if I keep wrestling, and I lose, I’ll have assured that I lost, and I’ll never be able to say, for the rest of my life, that I was a state champion. In other words, there a possibility of failure, if I keep wrestling. The other alternative is I could quit, and if I quit, for the rest of my life I could say, I could’ve been a state champion. Not assuring the defeat. Something weird happened to my mind, and I decided to quit. Well, this was crushing to a lot of people, and so the coaches came down, trying to get me out of class, come wrestle, and nothing that anyone did, worked. I quit. In other words, I took myself out of the arena.

As I look back on life, that is in the top three regrets of my life. It’s one of the top three things that I regret. At the same time, there’s a gratitude in this, because from that experience, evolved a motto, that we now use as a family, and it’s this, “Shallengergers don’t quit. When we start, we finish. Pivot? Yes! Adjust the plan? Yes! Quit? NO. Quitting is not an option.” So, on one hand, yes, one of the top regrets of my life, I removed myself out of the arena because of a fear of failure. That is the single reason for quitting. As I look back though, that resolve, to never again quit, has carried me through so many things, a two-year mission in Bolivia, pilot training, all of these different things through life. So under that hand, I’m grateful for the experience. I invite you to decide now, no matter where you’re at in life, to never give up in pursuit of your vision. Pivot? Yes! Adjust the plans? Yes, that’s smart! Quit? NO. That’s stepping out of the arena.

And the sixth and final primary instrument, as you lead a life by design, as you fly your jet, is, in my opinion, trust in God. There’s a Proverbs that said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not into thine own understanding.” There’s another one that says, “To be learned is good if they hearken to the counsels of God.” And here’s the deal. Bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why that’s the case. They will continue to happen. Bad things will continue to happen to good people. Here’s what I do know. I would say a prayer when I climb in the cockpit every time getting in the jet. Just a silent prayer. And there were many times where I felt the divine hand of God protecting me while flying, not only in flying but in leading our life and our family throughout the experience in the airforce and thereafter. And so, what I know to be true, is this, is that God lives and that he is real, and that our lives will be better off with him, than without him, in our lives. And that’s why I consider that to be one of the primary instruments.

So, as we wrap up this podcast, we’ve used this metaphor, this analogy, if you’re flying your jet of leading a life by design, well, there are six primary instruments that we’ve talked about here, that will help a person do that. Lead with a vision; stay focused on your priorities, do what matters most; attitude – remember that success starts with attitude; choose your wingman carefully; make the resolve to never give up; and lastly, trust in God. A person who does this is so much more likely to succeed than a person who doesn’t. I mean, if you think about that, how could you not be? You have a vision, a direction. You stay focused on your priorities, you have a great attitude, you figure out how to make it happen, you never give up. The people around you cheer you on, they’re part of your success team, and you have God at the helm. How can a person possibly fail, in the ultimate sense of the word, with that being the case?

So, I’m going to finish with this quote, and then an invitation. You’ve probably heard this before, “One ship sails east, and another west. By the self same wind that blow, tis the set of the sail, and not the gail, that determines the way they’ll go.” In other words, we all have this wind at our backs and the question is, how will each one of us choose to set our sails. Will we, or won’t we catch that wind? So, as we wrap up this podcast, I invite you to fly your jet. Lead a life by design and have a big impact in the world, wherever you’re at, whether that’s in your own life, family, children, neighbors, your business, wherever your sphere of influence is, have an impact in that part of the world. And that’s the whole spirit of Becoming Your Best.

Now, just as a reminder, to those of you who have not registered yet, at, there are some powerful free tools and courses there, that you can take. “How to develop a powerful vision” that’s a free course sitting there on the university. Anyone with the desire can do that. “The six-step process”, “How to hire the right people the first time”, “How to mind map and bring ideas”. These are simple, and yet powerful courses, that are all there for the taking, if we have the desire and willingness to take action. So, this is Rob Shallenberger, it’s been great being with you, wherever you’re at in the world, and I hope you’ll have a fabulous rest of the week.

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to our Becoming Your Best listeners, wherever you may be in the world today! This is Steve Shallenberger and where I’m sitting today it’s a beautiful spring morning. The skies are blue, I can see snow on the mountains, 11,000-foot rocky mountains that spring up here and go to the East. They’re majestic and beautiful! Today we are going to talk about one of the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, it is Principle 11 – Live in Peace and Balance. Oh my goodness, this is such a huge one because it impacts that asset that is the most valuable thing we have on the face of the Earth, and that’s our bodies, our mind, our heart, and our spirit. So the question is, how do we maximize that? How do we have the most energy possible? How do we live at peace? How do we extend our productivity over a long extended period of time, to maximize our success, and be among the high performers walking upon this planet here and do it in a way that blesses the world, and leaves a trail of good? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. I hope that you have fun. We are going to talk about one very specific aspect of living in peace and balance, it can be a tremendous tool that you can use every single day! This tool can bring peace and focus and confidence and clarity in your life. It will bring greater health for sure. It will help calm the mind and increase your vision. What is that? Well, that happens to be MEDITATION.

This year I’ve had the chance, or at least this last year, to talk about health longevity and defying aging. Among that, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of individuals that have dedicated their lives to the field of medicine and health in this very subject. They, over years, have all come to certain conclusions that will help contribute to your health longevity and defying aging. They’ve given a number of great recommendations. Certainly fitness, a healthy diet that you can enjoy. Sleeping – getting adequate sleep. Having a purpose, in other words, your heart needs a reason to keep beating. Learning – always learning. On the list of all of these is meditation. As we reflect upon meditation, it has been practiced since antiquity and it helps us do a number of things, including focusing the mind on a particular subject, thought, or activity. By training attention and awareness, these forces contribute to becoming more mentally clear and emotionally calm. Meditation may be used with the aim, specifically, of increasing focus, effectiveness, gaining greater peace, perception, it contributes to enhanced memory and well-being. So much research, now, is showing as this is the case, as we are able to measure, physically, the brain, the electrical impulses of the brain and the brain waves. I might also add that meditation reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and they can measure this as well.

As we think about meditation and reflect upon it, today, if you’re driving, you can just listen in, of course, but if you happen to be at your desk, in a place where you can take notes, I’m going to share a few thoughts that may be helpful, as you build and become more enhanced in your meditation. There’s really three types of meditation. A Pointed Meditation, where you try to anchor your mind to one point of attention, like your breath, or a candle, or even a mantra. One of my favorite mantras is, “I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific!” And that is a mantra you can say over and over and over again, and what happens is this physical action begins having an impact on your emotional state, elevating that emotional state. It creates a chemical change, a set of emotions, the release of the endorphins makes you feel happier and have a more positive frame of reference. So, Pointed Meditation.

Number 2 is an Open Focus Meditation. This involves recognizing any thoughts, feelings or sensations that pop into your head, as they arise, without passing judgement on them. In other words, you are just recognizing that you have them. Being open to free impressions, promptings, and feelings that may come to you. The third type is the Cultivation Meditation, where you try to develop specific qualities or habits of the mind, like loving, kindness meditation, which emphasizes openness and compassion, that’s one example.

So, as we apply and practice, today, on this podcast, some medication… Yeah, I’ll tell you, meditation is medication, just not the physical kind. If you were to envision in front of you a guidepost with four indicators going different directions, let’s say we had different words on them. The top one might say “Help” and another indicator might say, “Support”, going a different direction, “Advice”, “Guidance”. Well, today, what I would like to invite us to do, is focus on the word, “Help”. And we will say this word, “Help” during the meditation exercise, three times. So, just think in your mind to the word there, it’s flashing on a neon, “Help”, and there it is again, “Help” and there you see it again, “Help”. And when we get into the meditation exercise, we will relax ourselves, and the total experience of meditation might take only five minutes, will be done with this podcast in 10 minutes max, but we will reflect upon that. You could substitute other words and during the meditation, just be open, either outgoing or incoming of either individuals that are in need of help, or help that you might be able to give to others, an organization, and individuals, or help that you may need.

So, here we go. Let’s just go ahead and give this a try, today. If you are in a situation or a position where you’re sitting down in your office, or just listening to this, in other words, not driving or not exercising, I’ll invite you to close your eyes. If you are driving or otherwise, of course, don’t do that, but you can participate, you can still do this and pay plenty of attention, or you can just pull over for a few minutes, and participate fully. That would be easy to do. Alright, here we go!

I’d like to invite each one of you that are in a position to do so, close your eyes. Obviously, if you’re driving, don’t close your eyes. Alright, here we go. So, those that can, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Fill your lungs up completely, more, and now exhale. Let it out slowly all the way. Now take another breath, and now let it out. You can feel the relaxation coming in to the upper body, you’re actually starting to feel your entire body, just kind of loosen up your arms there. Now we’ll take a third breath, fill up your lungs all the way, more, and now think of the word, “Help”. You don’t even need to direct your thoughts, just be open to any incoming or outgoing thoughts, totally relaxed. And now think of the word “Help”, once again. Be completely open to any impressions that you may have, or thoughts. Just acknowledge them. And now, one last deep breath, and once again, think of the word, “Help”. Being sensitive to anybody in your personal life, relationships or work or service or civic, that may be in need of your help or offer to help, but also, you may have a need and it’s okay to acknowledge that. We can figure out later how to get help. And now, open your eyes and write down or record any thoughts or impressions that you’ve had. I’ll give you just a minute or so, to capture those thoughts.

Okay, well, when I do this with a group of people, I typically ask the question, “How many of you feel more relaxed now than when we started this exercise activity?” Almost always 100% of the hands go up. So, how many of you, listening today, feel more relaxed, more at peace? I also, just out of curiosity, ask, “How many had a thought or impression of somebody that needed help, or that you could help?” And, frequently, many hands go up. And, “How many thought of an area that they needed help in?” This is an area, certainly being humble as an acknowledgment that we can benefit from the help of others. Many hands go up for this, as well. I’ve done this exercise personally a number of times, and I actually plotted out a course of action of how to do both. I had impressions come both ways, and when I got to my pre-week planning, I actually turned these ideas into action in a way that provided focus, peace, and balance of the things that mattered most.

So that’s the exercise today. That’s our podcast today. I finish with an invitation for each one of our listeners, that during the coming months, pause for a few minutes each day, and practice meditation. It can be any one of the three that we’ve just talked about or a combination of them. Just close your eyes, push back from your desk for a minute or if you’re driving, just pull over for a few minutes, quiet yourself, just like we did today. It might not take any more than three to five minutes. As you can see, the impact is palpable. You feel a greater peace, composure, calmness, and ability to do those things that matter most on your schedule. This is most important for those that have full and busy lives. And then, be attentive to the impact or influence on you, that meditation has. How do you feel? What are the insights that may have come to you? Write these down in your notebook or journal and then, they become part of you.

It has been a delight to be able to visit together with you. We feel so honored to be able to associate together with you, on this podcast. Thank you for listening! I wish we could just be sitting in the room together and be able to visit about these. But, you’re amazing! YOU are making a difference in this world. This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best, wishing you, a great day!

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to YOU, a very warm welcome to our Becoming Your Best Podcast listeners. Today we begin this podcast show with a special tribute to Mothers! This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States and it is a great time to recognize, remember and applaud Mothers, wherever you might be.

The subject of today’s podcast is the Becoming Your Best Checklist. It is a podcast of reflection, assessment and resolve to live the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, just a bit better. Mothers are definitely leaders! As you think about Mothers and the 12 Principles, you can see them applied over and over! Enough credit can never be given to Mothers. All one has to do is to try to fill in for a Mother for a very short while, and you are left asking yourself, “How does she do it all?” I am sure you would all agree, that a Mother does not need to have offspring of her own to carry the title of Mother.

There have been numerous extraordinary women in our lives, definitely in my life, that I consider a “Mother” in every sense of the word. Some Mothers are stay-at-home moms, while others carry on a profession or work, while at the same time carrying out the duties of Mother. There really aren’t enough words to describe our wonderful Mothers. Here are just a few that might begin the effort: Loving, Selfless, Caring, Present, Dedicated, Ever-present, Faithful, Listener, Angel, Example, Smart, Sacrifice, Wise, Compassionate, Don’t Mess with Mom, Tolerant, Forgiving, Patient, Eternal, Fun, Sense of Humor, and Divine.

Steve Shallenberger: Thanks to the Moms in my life! Here are a few of them: Grandma Margaret Quarles; Grandma Viola Shallenberger; My amazing wife of six children, Roxanne; Our daughters: Tonya, Lara, Deanna, Michaela, Heather, and Anne. There is Dorothy, Twaila, Annette, Sandra, Margaret, Frances, Anna and Ellie. That is just a start. Thank you, ladies! How can I ever thank you? A million expressions of gratitude is not enough. So, Happy Mother’s Day!

The rest of the podcast is for all of us! However, as you go through the Becoming Your Best Checklist, which contains affirmations and questions, it will be hard not to think of Mother. May you and I be inspired by this reflection, personal assessment and resolve to continue to Become Your Best. Your light and example will bless everyone in the process. Now, for the Becoming Your Best Checklist Podcast.

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to our Becoming your Best Podcast listeners, wherever you might be today in the world. From Ancient Greece, Socrates once declared that “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This really was an invitation to be reflective and thoughtful about our own lives. We only have one life, how can you make it the BEST life lived? What does my best look like? What follows is a set of questions and affirmations that can help you to Become Your Best!

May the journey be wonderous and joyful. It will bless you and others in every way. You may adjust it to yourself with time and adjust some of the questions or affirmations so that it best supports what you want to do and becoming your best. The Principles of Highly Successful Leaders are proven, timeless, universal with a powerful predictable outcome that will produce greater happiness, health, performance, and prosperity.

Today, I invite you to just enjoy these questions, these affirmations, that it might be a time of reflection for you. How are you doing? How do you lift the bar? How are you measuring up? These are just questions that you’ll answer yourself. What we’ll do is proceed through the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. Of course, these are not just plucked out of thin air. These 12 Principles are based upon 40 years of research of what sets apart the highest performing individuals and leaders in the world. And really, over hundreds of years. So here we go, let’s just go through each one. The process will be, I’ll go ahead and state one of the 12 Principles, with some questions for you to reflect upon, that I will reflect upon. Hopefully, the end result is that it will cause each of us to say how are we doing, and how can we do a bit better. Here we go!

Be True to Character! That’s the principle. I am bold and courageous to do and communicate what is right, with integrity and honesty! My words match my heart and mind. I do what I say. I keep my commitments and promises. I bust my pick to get the job done. If I can’t, I communicate, so people know what I am doing, and when I will get the job done. People can rely on me! People can count on me! I am a 100% finisher. I am humble, non-judgmental of others, and I apologize when needed. I am a person of total character. I never talk about others negatively, in their absence. If I have bad feelings towards another, I apologize and I move on. If I were called home today, my life is in order.

Principle 2: Lead with A Vision! This is literally job number one of all leaders, to identify and clearly articulate the vision, in my personal life, family, professionally and in service to others. My vision represents my heart and mind. Does the vision provide leadership in the absence of supervision on my teams and my family and organization? I realize this is job number one of a leader, to point the way, to lead the team in the right direction. To be sure that the vision represents the heart, soul, passion, and capability of our organization. The vision is shared by others and we regularly discuss it and communicate it. Once I/we have a vision, we have it. You may tweak it from time to time, but once you have it, the vision is there! You’re frontloading your success.

Principle number 3 of Highly Successful Leaders: Manage with A Plan! Do I have fun and an inspiring, encouraging, written SMART goals for this year by each of my roles of life? If so, are they in a place that I can regularly see them? If not, get a sheet of paper out today and write down your goals for the year. It’s fairly simple! The cleanest sheet of paper, write your roles down the left-hand side of the paper and then sit back and use your imagination and creativity. What are the things that matter most, that are aligned with my vision, that I can do this year? Have I shared my goals with someone that inspires me (a mentor, a family member, a partner)? At the end of the year, do I report how I did and then share my goals for the next year? Having annual goals is one of my greatest tools of life and are done only once a year, while the impact of what I do lasts all year long in a grand and positive way, making me a better person.

Principle Number 4: Prioritize your Time! This is best done through Pre-Week Planning! Do I take a few minutes from Friday afternoon sometime, but definitely before Monday morning, to think about my vision, annual goals, the upcoming calendar and events and my roles to sketch out a GREAT week coming up? It is really a simple process. Be sure you have a BYB (Becoming Your Best) planner to sketch things out. This will help you put leadership first, and then how to best manage. It will help you do the things that are most effective first, and then how to do them efficiently. It is literally placing, determining what the compass is, what matters most, and then, what is the clock? How do I do them well? Write your roles across the top in the planner on the weekly focus. This only takes 20 seconds, especially when you build this muscle up from week to week. And then, reflect right under each role, in the white space, what actions matter most. What can I do that really makes a difference, to really make this a great week? This only usually takes about 10 minutes. And then, in the body of the planner, on the weekly view, organize yourself and prepare for a GREAT week. This might take 10 minutes. This 1% of your time, that’s how long it is, in the terms of the overall how many hours we have in a week, will impact the other 99% in an extraordinary way. This practice brings confidence, peace, focus, balance, joy, and happiness. For those that use an electronic planner, then once this leadership exercise has taken place, this focus, this discipline, simply transfer your things in your electronic planner and you are locked and loaded. You’ve actually built on these first four principles together to create a Transformational Leadership.

Principle Number 5: Live the Golden Rule in Business and in Life. Do I treat people with respect, kindness, consideration, and patience? Do I inspire the best in other people by living the 12 Principles of Becoming Your Best? Do I recognize the good in others? Do I complement the good? Do I unilaterally do good to others? Do I continually lift, build and inspire others to become their best? Do I bite my tongue if I feel impatient or might want to say something that might hurt another? Do I regularly and genuinely compliment others? These all are a practice of living the Golden Rule. It’s lifting and building the world for good.

Principle 6: Build and Maintain Trust! Do I use the “Trust Meter” to gauge whether the trust tank is full, half full or empty in my relationships? Do I take genuine, unilateral action not to pin it upon another’s person? Not to pin it upon the weather outside, but being determined to direct my actions from the inside? And so, do I take unilateral action to move the trust meter to “full”? We asses the trust meter, we can hold it up, it’s this metaphorical gauge, it’s active within our chest and heart and as we look at another, the gauge moves one way or the other, so we know how we’re doing. So, once we see how it’s doing, do I make independent choices to move it to “full”? That builds trust, that strengthens trust? I cannot control others, but I can control my own actions. I continually work to build warm, caring, happy, and strong relationships? I realize that this type of a relationship pays the highest dividends of life over and over again. Trust is the glue that keeps things together and creates high-performance cultures and families.

Number 7: Be an Effective Communicator. I realize that to be a Highly Successful Leader, I must first listen to and understand others! I listen fully with my eyes, ears, heart, and mind. I confirm to the other person’s satisfaction that I understand them and their point of view, or the issue that they may be concerned about. When I do this, I understand it changes the world for good! If I have a message or a point of view that may be helpful, I communicate it with clarity, accuracy, thoughtfulness, and consideration of others. I work to communicate well in writing, speech, and appearance.

Principle Number 8: Innovate with Imagination! I understand that the mind is among the most powerful set of tools in the entire world. I realize that I can put that mind to work right now, to develop opportunities, to solve problems, and to become my best. I have many tools to get me started: The 6-step process of planning and execution; mind-mapping and brainstorming. These are rain-makers, game-changers, and when a challenge or opportunity comes up, I am excited to go to work, spring into action and get to a better place. I do not shy away from problems or opportunities. I attack opportunities now and realize that my gift of imagination is a portal to success. These, number 5,6,7 and 8 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders create a transformational team and relationship and puts them into a whole other category of high performance. And now, the Principles of Transformational Living.

Number 9: Be Accountable! I am responsible for my actions. I take responsibility for the outcome. I don’t blame, criticize or condemn! I understand that this principle and habit liberates me to become my best! I understand that for every 60 seconds of anger or blaming that I might harbor, robs my happiness and positive frame of mind! I refuse to be negative in any way, but only positive! Being accountable opens the highway to success!

Principle 10: Apply the Power of Knowledge! I love to learn, to read, to gain new insights! I work to read a book a month. I listen to podcasts, Ted-talks, read magazines and other articles to gain new ideas and thoughts. One of my greatest hopes of the future is to always be learning and applying knowledge to my personal and professional life. I am always working on learning about every field of knowledge I can and ask, how does this apply to what I am doing and how can I improve?

Principle Number 11: Live in Peace and Balance! I understand that my body, heart, mind, and spirit are the greatest assets that I possess on Earth. I protect, guard and care for my body. I exercise, maintain a healthy diet, meditate, learn, and take time to be at peace. I manage stress and a challenging full life by being well organized, having a clear vision, annual goals, doing pre-week planning, so that I can prioritize my time and good health habits. I periodically take the circle of peace and balance assessment to check in and to be sure that I am living a balanced life and those things that are important to me are given appropriate attention. I realize that this assessment can be found through the It’s also in the Becoming Your Best book. All you have to do is just request it, we’ll be happy to send that along to you, free of charge. It’s That’s a fun assessment.

Principle Number 12: Never Give Up! I realize that the great glory in life is not how many times I fall, but how many times I get back up. Although there are many challenges, and some of those are serious, very significant challenges, I see them as opportunities to grow, learn and get to a better place. Failures are my stairway to success! I may fail many times in order to succeed greatly only once. And then I will succeed again and again. I understand that my greatest success may come after my greatest trial and set of challenges. I will never give up! I understand the refiner’s fire will ultimately bring out my greatest qualities. I will keep moving forward, one step in front of the other. I will never give up! I will succeed and become my best!

It has been such a delight to think about these 12 Principles together today. May they be a guidepost to each one, to lead us to a happier, more successful, and more prosperous place. Remember, you are making a difference, every single day! This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best!

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