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CAT | Determination

One person who inspires me is Les Brown, the motivational speaker.  I had the opportunity to see Les in person on several different occasions while I lived in the Detroit area.  His gusto for life has always amazed me.

Recently I saw the title of one of Les’ speeches on the Internet.  It was Live Full Die Empty.  Let me repeat that

Live Full Die Empty

It got my attention immediately.  It reminded me of an underlying theme for my life that I have gotten away from in the last few years.

Many years ago on my first job out of college, I had the opportunity to work with a man by the name of Cliff Baynon.  He was my assistant supervisor.  In a conversation one day Cliff told me to remember that work and life were games.  Don’t look at them as work.  Look at them as games you play.  Life will be much fuller and better.

I always remembered that.  In my own mind

If Life and Work Were Games,

They Were to be Fun 

To get the most out of them, I had to live them to the fullest.   To do that I had to live life holding on to the seat of my pants.

Whenever possible I tried to do that.  The only problem was there was no manual or workbook showing me what to do.  I made many mistakes along the way.  I have paid dearly for these.

My mistakes caused me to pull back and to live more cautiously.  During the last few years, I realize how sedate I actually had become.  I was afraid to be adventurous because I was afraid of the mistakes I might make and the repercussions I’d have them. 

Only recently have I realized what gifts and talents I was born with.  I also have realized where my true passion is.  I have seen how my gifts and talents align with my true passion.  To enjoy life to the fullest and to have the most fun I have to use my gifts and talents doing something I am truly passionate about.

Now I am anxious again to get back on with this ride I call my life. 

Each day I want to live my life to the fullest.   Yes, sometimes I slip and don’t follow through on this.  However, I don’t let that deter me.

My goal is to

Live Life Holding on to

The Seat of My Pants

What about you?  Are you having the time of your life to the fullest?  Or are you just laid back and cautious about what you do?  Do you know what your gifts and talents are?  Do you know what your passion is?

If you are living life fully, I applaud you for that.

Take A Chance

Live Your Life to the Fullest

If you haven’t experienced what it is like to live the most exciting life possible, I ask you to take a chance today.  Do what you really wanted but were afraid to.  Do something you are truly passionate about.   Remember what Cliff Baynon told me.  Life and work are games.  They are designed to be fun and rewarding.

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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Have you noticed? Our country is more polarized now than it has been at any point during our lifetimes. The news media classifies us politically as being

Red or Blue

This polarization has occurred over the last 10 to 15 years. It seems that people are either ultra conservative and ultra right or ultra liberal and ultra left. We are led to believe there are very few moderates any more. None are more polarized than our congressmen and senators in Washington.

In the past the moderates were the ones who  got things done. Moderate liberals and moderate conservatives worked together. They compromised and got things done. Sometimes they agreed on a conservative issue. Other times they agreed on a liberal issue.

It seemed like they did what was best for the average person.  We all benefitted from it.

Two Camps at War With Each Other

Compare that to the present time.  There are only two camps in Washington.  The ultra liberals and the ultra conservatives.  Each camp is at war with the other.  They don’t agree on anything.

If one group proposes something which will benefit most people, the members of the other group won’t go along with it.  When it doesn’t pass, the group sponsoring it has a black eye.  Everyone wants to know what happened and why couldn’t they get it passed.

Just look back to last summer.  These two groups could not agree on raising the country’s debt ceiling until the very last minute.  What happened?  The Government’s credit rating was lowered.  It became more difficult for you and me as well as businesses to borrow money.

A super committee was appointed to make recommendations on cuts to the Federal Budget by October.  The members of that committee could not agree on what cuts should be made.  Mandatory cuts are now scheduled to take place starting in 2012. Most probably some will cause hardships.

Look at what happened this month.  Tax reductions were going to expire on December 31.  If they did the average person would have to pay $20 more every week in tax.  This at a time when most people are still suffering from the economic downturn we’re experiencing.

It wasn’t until two days before Christmas that an extension was approved.

Where are Reason and Common Sense?

How much more of this are we supposed to take?  When will reason and common sense win out?  Until they do you and I will continue to suffer.  Hopefully it won’t get worse before that happens.

Looking forward to compromises in the future,

Bob Paroski

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In my July Post I asked who and what are robbing you of your greatness.

On October 5 Steve Jobs died.  Since then many people have commended him for his great work with Apple, Next and Pixar.  I read much of what they have written.

Of all that I have read about Steve, one thing has really stood out.  It wasn’t written about him.  It was actually something he said in his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

A Change in Steve Jobs’ Life at Seventeen

Toward the end of his speech he talked about what he heard someone say when he was 17 years old.  Then he went on to say:

“Since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

That really hit home for me.  Since then I have thought about that frequently.  In those few words Steve was saying exactly what I said in my July Blog post.  Clearly he was not settling for the good things he could do in life.  He wanted to do those things which he was great at doing and those things which he was truly passionate about.

If you look at his life, I think that you will agree that

He Truly Did That

Look at what he did with Apple when he first started it with Steve Wozniak.

When he was fired by Apple in the 1980’s he went on to start NEXT which has become the framework for the way Apple is today.  Afterwards he started Pixar which has been at the forefront of animated movies Like Toy Story.

Then he went back to Apple.  Along came ITunes, the IPOD, the IPhone and the IPAD.  Each one better than the one before.

I truly believe that Steve lived each day doing what he wanted to do that day.  We have all benefitted from Steve and what he accomplished.

Now I ask you.  Are you doing each day what you truly want to do?  If not, what changes will you have to make to do so?

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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If you review everything you do on a daily basis, you would probably tell me there are a few things you don’t do well and there are a few things you are good at.  There are probably very few things you consider yourself great at. What prevents you from . . .

Being Great at More of Those Things

You Consider Yourself Good at?

You might say natural ability or mental aptitude. Lack of desire may be in there too – you are content with being good at a certain thing and have no desire to be any better.

Are you great at your job? Are you great at those things you are truly passionate about?

Yes, lack of natural ability or mental aptitude or lack of desire play major parts in keeping people from being great in certain areas of their lives. However, there is another underlying factor which most people don’t think about. This factor is more detrimental than any I’ve mentioned so far. Did you ever realize

“Good is the Enemy of Great”

“Good is the enemy of great” is a quote from the book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins. I heard that quote several weeks ago and it really hit home. I thought about it more and more and realized how true that statement actually is.

Think about it. Many of us are content with doing something well. We know we could do better but we settle for what we have done.

It may be our choice of jobs. We don’t actually pursue work that we are truly passionate about. Frequently we feel we will never find that job or we won’t be able to make a comfortable living at it. So we settle for less. We take a job that we enjoy even though we know this will not bring us the happiness and joy that we crave.

Even if we are doing work we are truly passionate about we may not be doing it to the best of our ability. We know we are performing it better than our peers. We settle for that and not what we are truly capable of.

In the process we deny ourselves of the true happiness and joy that we would have if we had done the work as well as we could.

Sometimes we act this way out of fear. We settle for a job that we like but are not passionate about because we don’t believe we can ever find our ideal job or won’t be able to get it.

In some instances we settle for the job or do less than we can because we are lazy. We just don’t want to make the effort to do as well as we can.

Who Are We Robbing?

So Jim Collins is right. Good is, in fact, the enemy of great. Settling for something we do well prevents us from being great at it. Who are we robbing here? Actually the only one we are robbing is us – ourselves.

The sooner we accept this as fact, we can decide from that point on, we will not continue. We will do what we have to the best of our ability.

We will only accept a job that we are truly passionate about. We will do that job as best we can and not sit back and only perform well enough to exceed what others in similar jobs are doing. In the process we will experience the joy and happiness that we were meant to.

Conscious Choice and Discipline

In his book Jim Collins also makes another profound statement. He says “Greatness is not a function of circumstance, greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

We are not going to become great at our work or at a sport we love or at a relationship we’re in because we were lucky. It’s not going to happen because we were in the right place at the right time.

We only will achieve greatness because we make a conscious choice to do so.

We will also achieve it only when we have the discipline to do so even when we are being distracted, even when everything is going wrong for us and pulling us away from our goal. Chet Holmes calls this “Pigheaded Discipline” when you stick to it regardless of what is happening in your life.

Let’s look at Michael Jordan.  Yes he had tremendous talent and skills to play basketball.  However, these were not instrumental in becoming a great basketball player.  Michael chose to be great.  He also had the “Pigheaded Discipline” to practice and to learn to use his talent and skills to the best of his ability.

Your Game Plan

If you want to experience the joy and happiness in your life, determine that you will become great at those things in your life that you are truly passionate about.

  • Take some time this week and review where you’re at in your life right now.
  • Identify what you are truly passionate about.
  • Are you great at that? If not what will you have to do to become great.
  • Write down the steps you need to take to become great.
  • Start to work on the steps immediately.
  • Take some time on a weekly basis to see what progress you have made.
  • Reward yourself for your progress. If you find that you have slipped, renew your efforts to get back on track.

We have the freedom to be as great as we can in life. We are the only ones who can take the steps to achieve our greatness

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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How long does it take to become so skilled at a job, hobby or any other particular area that you are considered to be a Master – an expert?  According to Michael Masterson who is well known in the copywriting field, it takes about

1,000 hours

If you started today and spent 20 hours a week on it, it would take you 50 weeks before you mastered your job or hobby.  Those 1,000 hours are if  you are learning on your own while on the job or working on what you want to master.

Can the time be shortened?  Yes, there are several ways that it can be.

The first is by reading as much as you can on the subject.  That will shorten the time significantly.

The second is by working under the guidance and supervision of someone who is already a master or expert.  They can show you how to continually improve what you do so that you become more adept at what you are doing.

If you truly love and are passionate about something then it is worthwhile for you to do what is necessary to become a Master at it.  You will put yourself in a position where everyone will look up to you because so few people will have reached that level.  Most are not willing to devote the time and energy to achieve Mastery.

How Are You Rewarded by

Becoming a Master?

If it is your job, your income will be higher than what you it would be had you not become so skilled.  You will also be complimented by your associates, friends and family.  If it is a hobby, there will be recognition for you.  However, neither the higher income nor the compliments of others nor the recognition will match the personal gratification you will experience from becoming a Master in your field.

Start Today

Decide that you will become a Master in a certain area of your life, an area you are truly passionate about.  Follow through on this until you know that you have truly mastered it.

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Think about when you learned anything new.

When did you learn the most about it?  Was it when you knew absolutely nothing about it?  Or – was it when you had some knowledge of it and you were just adding to it?

If you think about it deeply, I am sure you will agree.  You learned the most about a subject when you had absolutely no knowledge of it beforehand.  The reason is simple.  You had no preconceived notions of what you were learning.  Your mind was more open to learning about it.

When you had some knowledge of the subject and were just adding to it, you already had some preconceptions.  These were there.  They may or may not have been correct but they were still in your memory.  The new knowledge that you were getting was being distorted by the preconceptions you already had.

The Starting Point – Beginner’s Mind

Anytime you are learning more about a subject either at a seminar or lecture, in a book or article or over the Internet it’s best to start at the beginning – to have a Beginner’s Mind.

That simply means prior to the event you decide to put everything you already know about the subject beside.  You are going to listen and understand what is being taught as if you knew nothing at all about it.  That is – as if you never read or heard anything about the subject before.

The Benefit to You

Starting with a Beginner’s Mind enables you to learn far more about the subject than you ever knew before.  You may learn things that you had never thought of before or were receptive to before.  You may find some of what you had read or heard before to be untrue.

As we age our preconceived ideas become more deeply entrenched.  It’s far more difficult to change our opinion.  That is until we resolve on a regular basis to look at each and everything with a Beginner’s Mind.  In the process our knowledge grows.  We become wiser individuals.

Try it today.  Have a Beginner’s Mind when you are learning anything new or are being exposed to a new idea.  Let me know the results.

Much Success in your efforts,

Bob Paroski

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“Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can’t, You are Right.”

– Henry Ford

I don’t know if you’re like me.  Sometimes it takes me quite awhile to understand something I read or hear.

Case in point.

I first heard the quote at the top of this post from Henry Ford quite a few years ago.  Not only  didn’t I look at it closely to see what he was actually taking about, I have to admit until recently I totally misunderstood what he meant by it.

You see – I was really upset when I first heard it.  I thought it was a put down.  I thought he was saying at any time on any issue there are people who are going to be on opposite sides.  There are those who are going to be right.  There are going to be those who are wrong.

Regardless of what anyone does it is going to be difficult to convince those whose positions are wrong that they are wrong.  The more someone tries to persuade them otherwise the more firmly they hang on to their position.

When I heard this quote again several weeks ago, a light went on in my brain.  I finally got it.  I also realized how badly I had misunderstood what Henry Ford meant.

It has to do with

A Person’s Beliefs

Frequently some people will believe they can do a certain thing.  They find that they are right – they can do it.  Other people believe they can’t do it.  They are right – they can’t do it.

Let me give you an example.

  • Some people have no problem speaking in front of a group of people.  They are very comfortable doing it.
  • Others fear talking in front of a group of people.  No way will they ever speak to a group of people.
  • Their thoughts stem from their beliefs.  Each is right.

Frequently beliefs can be limiting.  Many never achieve what they can in life because their beliefs limit them.

The sad thing is that people rarely question how they developed their beliefs.  They never look closely to see if their beliefs are valid.  They never see if they want to hold on to them.  They never determine if they would achieve more of their potential if they worked to change their beliefs.  They don’t explore what they would have to do to change their beliefs.

Are You Open to Trying Something?

Take some time this week alone.  Look at the beliefs you have.  Are they helping you to reach more of your potential?  Do you have any which are limiting you?  If you have any that are limiting you, what can you do to change them?

After you have done this, let your spouse, a loved one or a friend whom you can trust know about the self analysis you did.  Tell them of the limiting beliefs you have that you want to change.  Ask them to support you as you work to change each.  Also ask them to hold you to follow through and change each.

What Will You Gain from Doing This?

You will achieve more of the potential that you have.  You will be more fulfilled.  You also will have more happiness and more peace in your life.

I want you to know that I support you in your efforts.  I know that you will be pleased with the results you get.

Much success in your efforts,

Bob Paroski

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Do you have an adequate support network? You know – close friends who you can call upon when you are facing challenges in life.

We always expect life to go exactly as we planned.  That very rarely happens.  Frequently unexpected problems arise.  Sometimes these can be very severe.

Problems – The Storms of Life

Les Brown, the motivational speaker, has an interesting view on this.  Many years ago I heard him say that life is far from smooth.  Les called problems the storms of life.  He added at any point we are heading into a storm, in the middle of a storm or on the way out of one.  We get a brief rest and then the next storm is coming along.

When these problems or storms of life as Les Brown calls them come along, how do you respond?  Do you try to handle them on your own?  Do you have a support network, a group of good friends, who you can rely on for the help you need to deal with and get through the problem?

Think back to the last problem you had.

If you didn’t let anyone know of the problem you faced and tried to handle it on your own, how much time did it take you to resolve it?  Did it take longer than you expected?  Did you get the outcome that you desired?

If you have a support network, did you let the people in your network know of your problem?  What type of help did they give you?  How quickly was the problem resolved?  Did you get the outcome you desired?

It is a Sign of Weakness For a Man

to Disclose a Problem

We men are led to believe that we should resolve problems we have on our own.   Letting others know of our problems is a sign of weakness.  So we shouldn’t ask for help.

Women are different.  They normally reach out to friends when they have problems.  They are not afraid to ask for help.

For most of my life I was the typical male.  At any time I only had one or two close friends.  I didn’t discuss problems I had with them.  They might think less of me if they knew what I was facing.

Intentionally Building a Support Network

Over the last 15 years I have made a dramatic change.  Intentionally I started to build relationships with more men.  Right now I have 10 or 11 men in my inner circle.  These are men with whom I can discuss any problems that I have.

I know that I can rely on them.  If I have a problem, I can go to them for advice.  If they don’t have advice for me, I know that they will give me their support.

How Has My Support Network Helped Me?

First – I deal with my problems more effectively.  My friends help me to look at what action I can take more clearly.  They also follow up with me to see what I have done.

Second – I am able to resolve problems more quickly now.  In the past I would procrastinate and hope that the problem would resolve on its own.   Problems would drag on and on.  Now they are resolved more quickly.

Third – I have more peace and happiness in my life. Problems don’t disrupt my life for extended periods of time.  I don’t obsess over them.

Start Building Your Network Today

If you are where I was, if you are trying to resolve problems on your own and are not pleased with the outcomes that you are getting, make a change.  Start to build your own support network.  Make friends with people you truly like.

Let them know that you will support them.  Ask them if they will support you when you need it.

When you have problems, take a chance.  Call your friends, let them know what is happening.  Ask them for their help.

You may feel uncomfortable the first few times you do this.  As you reach out, you will find that your friends will come up with ideas and suggestions for you that you hadn’t thought of.    You will be able to resolve your problems more quickly.  You will have more peace and happiness in your life.

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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You may have never thought about this. Yet it may be having a profound impact on what you do today. The question is simple.

What Impact Does Your Past Have

On The Way You Live Today?

Everyone has failed at a certain point in their lives. Many have failed over and over again. The strange thing is that people deal with failure in different ways.

Some use failure as a learning experience. They don’t take it personally. They look at what went wrong and what they did or did not do to cause it. They make changes. They also take steps not to let it happen again.

Others view failure as an enormous personal defeat. They get hung up on the failure itself and blow it all out of proportion. Even blame themselves unmercifully even when it was not their fault. The memory of the failure is so painful for them they avoid looking at it closely. They never get to the point where they can see what actually caused the failure. Nor are they able to take steps to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Those in the first group normally are more open to taking risks. They know that they may fail. However eventually they will succeed.

Those in the second group frequently won’t try new things. They fear failing and don’t want to deal with those awful feelings that come with it. The more frequently these people fail, the less frequently they will try anything new. They get stuck in their own little worlds.

As they age people in the second group set less and less goals for themselves because they fear they will never be able to achieve them. Dreams become a distant past for them.

If they work at jobs they despise, they won’t look for work elsewhere. After all they may end up in a worse job than they have now.

They eventually reach a point

Where Thoughts of Their Failures Consume

Most of Their Time Each Day

They no longer appreciate what is happening right here right now. They no longer allow themselves to have fun. They become more and more cynical.

As you can see this is a truly horrible place to be.

If you are in the first group, I congratulate you for being where you’re at. You are experiencing as much of the present as you can. Most probably you are enjoying what you do each day and the experiences you have.

If you are in the second group, realize

It’s Not Too Late for You to Change

It’s Not Too Late for You to

Really Enjoy Life to the Fullest

Let 2011 be the year

· Where you realize that your prior failures do not mean you are a failure as a person.

· Where you allow yourself to look back at those times when you have failed and see what actually caused them. You will find that some were not your fault. You will also see that some occurred because you did not have adequate knowledge.

· Where you see what you can learn from each failure so that you can avoid making the same mistakes again in the future.

· Where you don’t allow yourself to worry constantly now about the failures in your past.

· Where you allow yourself to live and experience life to the fullest each and every day.

· Where you allow yourself to dream again.

· Where you throw off the chains that have been binding you and create a new you.

You can do this. If you have difficulty looking at the failures in your past on your own, discuss them with a friend. A friend who will be objective and help you really understand what happened and the reasons for it.

Men may have difficulty here. We frequently don’t like to open up, especially to another man. If we have these types of conversations we will be seen as weak. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Remember – Everyone fails. A good male friend will welcome the opportunity to help and to relate how they have dealt with their own failures.

Take the first step today. Give yourself a chance to be happier than you have been in a long time.

Have a great New Year and let me know of your success.

Bob Paroski

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Last weekend I watched two of my favorite movies,  October Sky and Rudy.  Both are about 2 boys who defy all odds to achieve their dreams.

In October Sky, Homer Hincham leads 3 of his friends to start building rockets.  This is in the 1950’s after the launch of the first satellite by the Russians. Homer and his friends overcome all odds to win top honors in a national science fair.

In Rudy, Rudy Ruettiger has a dream of playing football for Notre Dame.  There are two problems.  First he has a learning disorder.  When he graduates from high school, his grades are not good enough for him to get into Notre Dame.  Second, he is too small and does not weigh enough to be on Notre Dame’s football team.  Rudy dues make it to Notre Dame.  He plays on the football team’s practice squad for 2 years.  Finally with about 30 seconds to go in the last game of the season, Rudy gets to play.

The Main Adversity

The main challenge Homer and Rudy had to overcome was the lack of support they received from their fathers.

Homer’s dad was a coal miner.  He was the best at the mine at which he worked.  Since Homer wasn’t good at sports, his dad saw him following in his footsteps and working at the mine after finishing high school.

Rudy’s dad was a steel worker.  He saw Rudy working at the same steel mill where he worked.  In fact Rudy did work there for several years after High School.

Both Homer’s and Rudy’s dad were tough on them.  Homer’s relationship with his dad was horrible.  Anybody seeing the movie for the first time cheers when Homer goes on to succeed even though his dad does not support him.

First Observations Are Deceiving

The initial impression anyone gets is that both Rudy’s and Homer’s dads want them to work with them where they work because that is what is expected of the males in their family.

Rudy’s dad tells him that a Ruettiger is meant to be a steelworker.  The men in the family are blue collar workers.  None has ever gone to college.

Homer’s dad lets him know that everyone in their town works in the coal mine.  The only males who get out of it are those who are good in sports and get scholarships to college.

Going Deeper

When you watch these movies more than once, you wonder what triggers both fathers to be the way they are.  You suddenly realize that both were that way because somewhere along the way their own dreams had been crushed.

Rudy’s dad was forced to grow up quickly when his own dad deserted their family. At that point he had to start providing for himself and the family.  Any dream that he had was crushed.

Homer’s dad lived in the same area of West Virginia.  The only work available for men was as coal miners.  There was no way out for most.  The only ones who could possibly make it out were those who excelled at sports and got  scholarships to colleges.  (Homer’s dad was not one.)  Everyone else might as well forget about any dream they had.  It was never going to come through.  They would still end up working in the coal mine.

So in effect both Rudy’s and Homer’s dads were trying to protect their sons.  They didn’t want to see them crushed when they found they would never realize their dreams.  They tried to discourage their dreams.  They just went about it in the wrong way.

Homer’s mom indirectly confirms that when she tells Homer that he is just like his dad.

Does This Still Happen Today?

I want to say no.  That would not be true.  It may not happen to the same extent as it did to boys and girls growing up 30 to 60 years ago.  Yet it still occurs far too frequently.  One good thing is that most dads today are not as critical Homer’s dad was.

There are too many instances where dads are not encouraging their children to pursue their dreams.  They don’t take the time to find out what each individual child’s gifts are.  They don’t see how the gifts tie into the dreams they have.  They never bother to check how they line up with a career or job.  They don’t encourage their children to ask a guidance counselor at school for help on this.

All too frequently people end up in jobs where their talent is wasted – jobs that bring them no satisfaction and jobs where they are not happy.

What Can You Do?

If you’re a dad, find out what dreams each of your children have.  Support and encourage them.  Take some time with them and see what talent they have.  Help them develop it.  Work with them to find a career and job where they can use their talent to the fullest.  Most probably that career and job will line up with their dreams.

If you’re a mom, talk to your husband about this.  Let him know what special talent you believe each of your children has.  Help your husband find out what dreams each has.  See what steps the both of you can take to take to discover what career and job would be a great match for each child.  Work with your husband in encouraging each child to pursue their dreams.  Support them in getting into careers where they can use their talent fully.

As parents our greatest desire is to see our children be as happy as they can be.  By working with them to see what their talent is and to find a career where they can use their talent fully, we will be helping them to experience more happiness in their lives.

Have a great day.

Bob Paroski

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