Hitting Your Stride

Pitchers need to stride out to throw strikes. Ideally, a pitcher’s front leg lands at 100% of their height. (For example, a six-foot pitcher would stride out 72 inches.) This almost never happens except in the pro. Yet it works so much better than a taking a smaller stride. So why don’t more amateur pitchers do it? Because it’s hard to do, and so many young pitchers think they can’t–or simply don’t want to. There’s a point to all this.

Are we striding out as far as we can? I know my own answer and it is, “No!” I will take tiny steps outside of my comfort zone, but I know I should be taking b-i-g-g-e-r ones. So what’s holding me back? Fear. Fear of failing, fear of looking foolish, and fear of not believing it can be done–or fear that I can’t do it. Like many people, I often look at others who have more success and wonder what they are doing that I am not. My conclusion is they are taking bigger strides.

To continue with the baseball metaphors, Steve Jobs once said it is better to hit a home run rather than two doubles . . . I feel like I’ve been a singles hitter. A singles hitter hits for a high average by using a measured swing and hitting the ball where it’s pitched. (Basically, playing it safe.) So what can we all do to swing for the fences more, even if we fear we may strike out?

1. Find examples of others who have done what we want to do (and possibly did it with less time, talent, and total resources). Use this to prove that what we want to do is possible. Also, study how they did it and do the same thing.

2. Stop worrying what others will think. They won’t have to live with the regret we will if we don’t try. What they think of you doesn’t matter half as much as what you think of yourself.

3. Realize that the time will never be right to try something big and bold. The time is now. It’s funny how we may say, “Well, I could die tomorrow” to justify doing something that brings us immediate gratification. We rarely do that with things that don’t pay off right away. So yes, we could die tomorrow, so let’s die trying to do all we can to make our dreams come true.

Hitting Your Stride

Hang In There

When people feel frustrated that nothing is going right, they need to use a four-letter word to fix it. Ah, it’s not the word that probably popped into your head, the word is hope. In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne (who is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit) says, “Hope is a good thing.” 

As long as we have hope that things will get better in the future, we can endure what’s happening in the present. Without hope, we can spiral down into a place of self-pity and despair–which is not where we want to be.

So how do we get to a place of hope when the world around us (our world) is crumbling and there seems like there is no way to rebuild it? Here are several steps you can take right now to put yourself on a path to prosperity and happiness.

1. Proof Positive
Hope comes from knowing that someone else in your same situation (or worse) has turned things around. Use Google to look up great comebacks and read about someone else that overcame similar obstacle. After studying them, print out a picture of this person and on the back write what you think THEY would do if they were in your shoes.

2. Let Go Of The Outcome
It’s easy to lose hope when you aren’t in control of the outcome of a project, proposition, or plan. Instead, get lost in the process. The Nike slogan, “Just Do It” is appropriate. Just start and let go of the things you can’t control–other’s opinions and decisions. Action is the antidote for frustration. So just start on something without caring about how it will turn out. Or, take on a tiny project you can control and see it to completion.

3. Positive People
If we are surrounded by positive people who we know are pulling for us and who help us out, encourage us, and really listen to us when we tell them about our situation and don’t judge us, we can see hope on the horizon. Make a list of the people you spend the most time with and next to their name put a plus sign if they are positive people and a minus sign of they are negative. Make it your mission to spend more time with the positive people in your life. If you don’t have enough positive people in your life, find a group that will help you better yourself and has people with a positive outlook on life–like Toastmasters, for example. (By the way, stay away from social media where other’s are flaunting their success. This can drag you down.)

4. I Can See Clearly Now
Having a vision for your future is always better than just winging it. When we wing it, anything is possible, which sounds good, but in reality is overwhelming. When we know what we want, can picture it, describe it, and verbalize it to others we are focused–and when we are focused on something (positive) we will see opportunities. Whichever way works best for you to create a clear target to aim for and a path to get there, then do it. Write down your mission statement. Pick a person or company and say, “I want to be the (fill in the blank) of my industry. Find a photo of what you want and put up where you can see it. (Also surround yourself with your past success–anything you have done in the past that motivates you in the present will do.)

5. Helping Hand
Sometimes helping others with their problems gets our minds off of our own. Seeing someone succeed and having a hand in it gives us hope that the same can happen for us.

Hang In There

Friends and Success

It turns out friends hold the key to our success—and happiness. Friends helping friends is how many business deals are done since we prefer to do business with people we like, know, and trust. The question is, how good of a friend are we to others? Let’s find out. (Check off the traits that apply to you.)

__ I’m a good listener and there to lend an ear when needed.
__ I do nice things for others and don’t ask for or expect anything in return.
__ I’m fun, supportive, and positive—others enjoy spending time with me.
__ I return calls and reply to text messages and e-mails quickly and nicely.
__ I cheer others on and celebrate their success with no hint of jealousy.
__ I’m honest, trustworthy, and reliable—a person others can count on.
__ I remember and acknowledge people’s birthdays and important dates.
__ I’m not judgmental and my friendship is unconditional.

I’m going to guess you scored high on the friendship quiz. That’s why I want to share a few quick and easy ideas you can use to be an even better friend. But first I want to share a short story with you that taught me the true meaning of friendship.

I first met Barbara “Sunshine” Blake in 1994 when she sought me out as an advisor on a project she was working on—a book about her life. Over the years Sunshine and I became close friends. It pains me to say this, but she was a better friend to me than I was to her.

In 2010, Sunshine telephoned to tell me she’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer and asked if I would be willing to complete the book she had been “working” on all these years. Of course I said, “Yes.” For nearly a year we met every Wednesday at her favorite coffee house and I listened as Sunshine shared her life story with me until the day she died. I turned Sunshine’s story into a novel and released it earlier this year—as promised. In the end, I was able to be the kind of friend to her that she was to me.

Here’s some suggestions to be the kind of friend others would do anything for—because that’s what you would do for them.

• Half birthdays. With social media, it’s easy to remember a person’s birthday. If you really want to show you care, send a card or a note on a person’s half birthday. (Choose a card that shows how well you know them—because you listen.)

• Minute to Win It. We can’t do this for everyone, but for our close friends we should try to reply to them within a minute or two (if it will only take a minute or two) to show them how important they are. *

• Random Acts of Kindness. We should let others know we were thinking about them by sending a small gift out of the blue—or when we know they’re feeling blue. (It really is the thought that counts, not the cost.)

• Celebrate their Success. It’s so easy to click the “like” button or write a quick comment when one of our friends shares an accomplishment on their wall—and we should. A really good friend also shares that same post with other friends.

• Memorable Moments. We can really connect with another person when we show up—we are there for them when they need us. Another way to connect is to find a common bond through something both people are passionate about.

* Not everyone can be a called a close friend—or should be. Does time fly when we’re with them? Do they make us feel better after talking to them? Do they respect us and our time? We should spend our time with the people where time spent feels like time well spent.

Friends and Success

The U.S. Mint Makes Cents

By Evan Silber, Age 8

I try to do unique things like wear two different shoes and two different socks and do different stuff that other people don’t do so I stand out. When I get older I want to be like my dad and be an author and an illustrator. Oh, and a surfer and a football player. I know I have to work hard, get good grades, and practice.

When I have a problem the first step is you have to think. If you’re in school you should listen to your teacher because she might tell you something important that could help solve your problem. If you’re out of money, you can find cardboard and a pen and then make a sign, hold it up and you might, like, get some money.

I don’t like mean people and bullies. To me, a good friend is a nice, kind person you can trust. When I’m kind to other people it makes me happy. When, like, a younger kid wants to know something, like how they make money, I would tell them there’s a place called the U.S. Mint and they make cents there.

The U.S. Mint Makes Cents

People Skills = Success

Quick, name a Rolling Stones song. It’s not that hard, right? Now, name a Mick Jagger solo song. Not so easy, eh? You see, even one of the greatest frontman of all time benefits from being in a band and partnering with others—like Keith Richards. Even Don Henley of the Eagles said, “Mick Jagger can’t even make a successful solo album, and the Stones are the biggest rock group that ever was.”

Most musicians can keep a beat and hit the right notes, but the ones who make it are able to not only get along with others, but make others better because of their partnerships with them. People skills are one one the most important skills (outside of our musical chops) that can make or break us in the music business.

Those old sayings like, “It’s who you know,” and “Nobody makes it alone,” are true—especially in the music business. It’s all about relationships (healthy, positive, and long lasting ones, that is.) It is who we know that determines how high we can go with our careers, it’s also about who knows us and what they know about us (our reputation). People want to partner with and promote those they know and like.

So who are the most well-liked and respected rockers of our time and what do they all do that we aren’t? It’s a long list (both in numbers and number of things they do to have others wanting to help them reach their goals.) Let’s just pick one and see what we can learn. Dave Grohl, founder and leader of the Foo Fighters knows what it’s like to be in a dysfunctional group (Think: Nirvana) as well as how to function in a group of guys that truly seem to get along (his current band.)

It seems like everywhere you turn Grohl is jamming with other major musicians, having the biggest of the big names appear in his “Sound City” documentary (Paul McCartney comes to mind), and his band has remained intact (for the most part) for years. What is the one thing he does that sets him apart?
• Grohl keeps his ego in check and shows respect for other musicians. Could he play all the drum parts for Foo Fighters? Absolutely. Does he? No. He lets Taylor Hawkins bash away while he plays guitar and sings. In interviews he is constantly praising the level of play by his bandmate . . . and friend. Give honest and sincere praise as often as possible and respect people for what they do and how they do it—even if they do it differently than us.

• He does the right thing by others. People don’t care how much we know or how good we are until they know how much we care about them by how good we treat them. Doing the right thing is hard, but in the end it makes life a lot easier. We eliminate guilt, worry, and fear that comes from trying to live a lie. We also have a lot less enemies and more friends. When we help others get what they want and give them what they need, they will help us get what we want and need.

• A friend of mine met Queen guitar great Brian May when he stayed in the hotel he works as a bellman. They talked for a short while the guitarist checked in on his first stay, but my buddy never got a chance to say goodbye. The next year May stayed at the same hotel and not only did he remember my friend’s name, he recalled what they had talked about a year before and his wife’s name as well. If we can be better at remembering names and pay more attention to others, they will become fans for life. Dave Grohl is known for being down to earth and the kind of guy you would want to hang out with—even if he weren’t a Grammy Award-winning artist. Dave Grohl said, “My songwriting is like extending a hand to the listener.” Be better at remembering names, birthdays, and details about the people you meet and work with and remember, it’s not about us, it’s about them.

LEE SILBER is not only the best selling author of 19 books he is also a drummer and bassist with his own band and is known for going the extra mile for other musicians. To learn more about Lee go to: http://www.leesilber.com.



People Skills = Success