Before I tell you about what to do on day three of your goal setting mission, I want to share a series of short vignettes. These are true stories about things that have happened to me throughout my professional life, and they represent some of my major milestones.
Story #1: Easter “SEALs”
It’s early January 1992 and I’m about half way through SEAL training when I was dragged out of the water mid-way through a weekly two mile ocean swim. My lungs were filling with blood and phlegm and I can honestly say I know what it feels like to drown.
Getting pulled from a swim is one step away from quitting. In my case, I was taken directly to medical for evaluation. After some lengthy tests, they discovered an “antigen” in my blood and that’s when I confessed…I had been sneaking asthma medication called Theodur–something I had been taking since I was 12. As much as I had worked to convince myself I wasn’t asthmatic, I still hadn’t left behind my medicinal “crutch.” I was given an option to quit via a medical drop, or be removed from my current class, take something called a methacholine challenge and let the results of the test decide my fate. I opted for the latter.
I had six weeks before I could rejoin a new class and wait for the scheduling of the test. Up until that point, I hadn’t really done much volunteering unless you count the mandatory stuff at the Academy. But I’m not counting that because I was only doing that to check a box. Since I was limited duty, I had some free time and though I can’t remember who it was, I ended up volunteering to help some severely disabled children “swim.” Imagine an extra large hot-tub with ramps and special lifts to lower children and adults into this massive warm water bathtub for the sensation of floating. Myself and another SEAL candidate swam these children around in the pool. We did it for a few hours a week, and I did it for no other reason or expectation than to help them (and keep them from drowning). I had no hidden agenda, just some extra time while I waited out my medical “sentencing” at SEAL training medical. Weeks later, I pass the “challenge,” join BUD/S class 182 and graduate in July of 1992. (And I continued for the next 10 years helping special needs kids as a coach with the Special Olympics.)
Story #2: From Bankruptcy to Best in the Business
It’s 2006 and we are essentially broke. My business partner Mark and I hadn’t taken a salary in a year. We had $25k left from $1.5 million that we had raised over three years–not even enough to pay our bills to suppliers, though we just didn’t want to admit it. While we were floundering on what to do next, I got “promoted” to president of a local 150 person charity that I had been volunteering with since 2000. This is a long-standing, founded in 1947, non-profit called the Guardsmen, and its charter is to raise money to send under-privileged and at-risk Bay Area kids to camp and school.
It was an honor to receive the vote of confidence from my Guardsmen peers, but definitely not the ideal time for me to be president of this great group. My business was collapsing around me and being the president was a full-time job in itself. Again, I had no agenda other than not to let down the 150 volunteers and the kids that counted on our million dollars plus per year in donations. I gave that presidency role everything I had and then even more than I thought I had. I didn’t miss a single event, we had about 40 that year, and I even left the hospital within hours after my third son was born to attend an event. The volunteering there wasn’t completely selfless; I had made some of my closest friends during those years and it was a joy to be with them. But needless to say, it was a massive amount of work, and it was also the year we created and launched a little product that we hoped would help us pay some bills. That product was called The Perfect Pushup, and during my time as president our sales soared from $500k to $32 million. A year later, our little company was recognized by Inc magazine as the fastest growing consumer products company in America.
Story #3: Building Bonds
In 2011, we sold Perfect Fitness to a larger company called Implus Corporation out of North Carolina. A perfect match really, they had the operational excellence and we had the design and marketing excellence. I promised to serve as the head of their new fitness division for three years, and as my three year anniversary approached I have an unexpected visitor at our home on an August weekend in 2014. Our guest is a well-known volunteer for our public schools in our community, where all four of my boys attend, and she was asking for my help.
Our public schools were stretched to twice the size of their intended capacity and for a variety of reasons, it was determined that an upcoming November vote was the best shot we had at getting a $30 million construction bond passed. Not only was the vote only three plus months away, it required raising over $30k non-tax deductible dollars to set up an independent bond campaign. Because of the circumstances, for the bond to pass we needed a super-majority (67%) of votes from our community. I had NO campaign experience, nor did my teammates that joined our little committee–not to mention the fall is the busiest time of year for the fitness division of Implus. However, what we lacked in expertise we made up for in working our collective butts off. From conducting newspaper interviews to gymnasium sized community outreach meetings to multiple volunteer phone banks to “get-out-the-vote” calls, our efforts paid off and we got the votes (over 70%!) for the bond that will improve our schools.
A month later, Implus started the process of selling to a larger private equity firm which when completed, four months later, set my family on a course to fulfill a twenty year dream of living overseas.
The point of these stories is to build a mental bridge for you between your actions and the achievement you seek. More to the point commit this ancient quotation to memory:
“Whatever you want from life, You must do for someone else first.”
~Jey Rinpoche (1357-1419), teacher of the First Dalai Lama
Okay, so by now you can probably see where I’m going. Of course I didn’t at the time. I just gave when I could–nor did I do it with much purpose-driven focus. Enter The Diamond Cutter. Read this book and you’ll understand why I’m sharing these three stories. Essentially this book summarizes how Karma works. No, I’m not turning into a Tibetan Monk nor am I or Geshe Michael Roach, the author of the Diamond Cutter, trying to convert you into one!
I want you to be insanely aware of your actions and how they can help or hinder you at achieving your goals. The point is that our actions are all connected and I mean ALL of our actions–what we say, do and think toward others (incidentally that’s the definition of Karma–it’s all about taking action!). If you’re looking to achieve something then help someone else achieve it first, this is the bridge to build. And that’s the point of sharing the three stories above.
Those stories, and I have several others, were major milestones in my life. And with each one, I can track this moment in my life when I was helping to serve others, whether it was with Easter Seals, the Guardsmen, or our community. I’m not asking you to give up your day job for a life of volunteering. Instead I am asking you to build a bridge between those top “must-have” goals with specific actions to help others achieve something similar.
For example, here’s one of my main professional goals for 2017: Sell 100,000 copies of the new edition of Be Unstoppable. This goal is four times beyond the furthest book sales horizon I’ve ever seen. (It’s a serious stretch goal considering the previous edition has sold “only” 25,000 copies worldwide since its launch in November of 2013…and the new edition doesn’t launch until March of this year!) I came to this goal in part by doing my Outcome Account of its positive and negative outcomes. (See Part 3 of this Goal series for more detail.)
The second part of the Outcome Account is defining those who can help you AND how you can help THEM succeed. For starters I plan on donating 10% of book royalties to a non-profit that helps youth succeed, as well as donating 10,000 books to similar causes. But that’s not enough; writing a check is relatively easy to do, and isn’t nearly as important as committing personal “roll-up-your-sleeves” actions to help others. (That’s the more challenging part, obviously requiring more effort.) Part of my actions will be donating my time to help others understand the tenets of Be Unstoppable. For instance, mentoring young companies and entrepreneurs in helping them find success, in part by teaching them the 8 Actions of the book.
I don’t have all the ways I can give back completely ironed out yet. (Those listed above are just a few I have planned.) This will be a work in progress throughout the year. But I can tell you, you can’t fail at goals when you connect giving of yourself to others – it’s a Win-Win. Some of the most glorious professional moments of my life involved helping Special Olympians and Easter Seals, at-risk Bay Area youth, and our community.
I know this post may sound/read counter-intuitive to other goal tracking/achieving advice out there but it works and I’m living proof . Every great achievement in my life is directly linked to helping others succeed. Try it on just one of your goals this year, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
The more you give – the more you receive,