Commitment

On September 25, 2016, in Monday Motivator, The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” Unknown

One of my favorite success quotes is attributed to the actress Mae West. “An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.”

We live in a world where people are increasingly choosing careers that suit a 9 to 5 schedule. Gen Y kids are said to switch jobs in a heartbeat, if it doesn’t fit their lifestyle. And everybody knows about the uncomfortably high divorce rate.

In the elite world of high performance you always need to be on your A-game. The difference between leading the field and getting stuck in the pack is the work you’re willing to do on the extra mile.

It’s easily forgotten that the single most important behavior that leads to achievement is commitment.

“Unless commitment is made,” said management guru Peter F. Drucker, “there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”

My mentor, Jim Collins of Good to Great fame, writes, “The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work. Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning, and through your day with a spring in your step.”

Jim’s words remind us that the habit of excellence is based on the foundation of commitment.

Commitment is taking the time to figure out what happiness really means.
Commitment is due diligence before decision.
Commitment is an inoculation against distraction.
Commitment on both sides is the steel that forges a lasting relationship.
Commitment refines and transforms dreams as they come closer to reality.
Commitment is malleable but unbreakable.
Commitment overcomes fear.
Commitment repels negativity.
Commitment is the fuel that recharges energy.

How many of these definitions fit your outlook, your goals, your behavior?

When NBA hall-of-famer Earvin Johnson used to come by WVIC in the days when we were both in East Lansing, it was clear, even then, that Magic was focused. “I was able to see what I wanted to do,” he wrote later. “I could see the opportunity, even when others could not. I stay committed to doing it and doing it well, no matter what.”

How about you? How do you feel today about that central dream that drives you?

If we expect excellence, we tend find it. But, like all things in life, it has a way of being attracted to people who are committed to it.

Have a great week!

Feedback welcome to scott@spartanology.com or @MSUScottW on Twitter.

 

The Ever Present Past

On September 18, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, The WestermaNation, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

Listen to an audio version of this message.

Scott’s Maxim: “Most of our bad juju is self created and a result of continuing to think about what we might have done, instead of what we still can do.”

Class reunions are a time for reconnection and reflection. As the years pass, people grow and change. Many of the people we knew during high school and college end up leading very different lives than we expected. Your popularity then doesn’t guarantee your happiness now. Outcasts and introverts can blossom. The “most likely to succeed” sometimes don’t.

Memories inevitably flood back as you recognize now unfamiliar faces you used to know. And if they open up to you about their adventures, regret may creep into the conversation.

What’s keeping you up at night? That’s on the short list of questions I ask alumni whenever we are one on one. Almost always the answers end up being about things that might happen and things that have already happened.

Worrying about the future is useful only to the extent that we channel that energy into productive activities that influence positive outcomes.

Worrying about the past is a total waste of time.

Wise sentiments. Now, if we could just convince ourselves to believe them.

The “ever present past” keeps us from living in the now. We relive past mistakes, things we wish we had not said or done, missed opportunities, hearts we have broken, people we offended, anger felt toward those who have hurt us. And not just what happened yesterday. Many of us are still paying penance for things we did years ago.

This is wasted energy.

Life eventually marks us all as damaged goods. Since we become what we think about, focusing on what might have been, or worrying about what might be can cement self fulfilling prophecies. The most productive thoughts are centered in the now. What will you do today to take one step in the direction of being the person you hope to become?

The happiest people is see at class reunions are those who have come to terms with their past, accept the realities of their current situation and are executing a plan to get happier.

If you have lost something important, find something else that fills the void in a healthy way. If you screwed up, learn from it. If you hurt someone, apologize. Then, let it go.

Easier said than done. But we only have so much time and our energy reserves are finite. Every moment you spend thinking about the past, or worrying about what might be, is a present moment lost.

And life happens in the present.

Have a great week!

Feedback welcome via Scott@Spartanology.com.

 

 

Keep Breathing

On September 11, 2016, in The WestermaNation, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
Do you know someone who seems to love to wallow in self pity? There are people out there who thrive on unhappiness. Most of them don’t do it intentionally, but they like nothing better than a good audience to listen to them tell you how horrible their life is. And boy, can they tell the story. They weave a tale of woe that could depress the most positive thinking motivational speaker.

Here’s a fact of life: Sometimes life will suck. Bad things happen to good people and good things sometimes happen to bad people. Just don’t get attached to the “suckyness”. At times like these I often think of the parable about the student and the master.

“I’m having a terrible day,” said the student.

“Keep breathing. It will pass,” said the master.

The student did as he was taught and within a few days he found himself enveloped in warm feelings of happiness and fulfillment.

“I did what you said, and today I feel wonderful,” said the student.

“Keep breathing. It will pass,” said the master.

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be,” writes Cheryl Strayed in her book book, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. “Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

I would add this: Acceptance may sometimes feel like an empty room. But If we keep our hearts open, something magical ultimately walks into that room to fill the void.

“In the end,” writes Jack Kornfield, “just three things matter: How well we have lived, how well we have loved, and how well we have learned to let go”

When you must do things you don’t enjoy, do them to the best of your ability, have faith that with determination and practice you will discover a path that suits you, and understand that all things.. both good and bad.. are temporary.

Happiness is nothing more than a state of mind you choose to manifest. So is suffering.

Do your best to manifest good things. Be prepared to ride out the inevitable storms with courage and grace.

And whatever your current situation, always remember that nothing ever stays the same for very long.

Keep breathing, it will pass.

 

Living in The Now

On September 4, 2016, in Monday Motivator, Spartanology, The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
It’s easy to peer into the unknown and worry, to look in the rearview mirror and regret.

We can become paralyzed if we imagine some inevitable future pain we must endure, fearing that traumatic scars, real or imagined will damage us beyond recognition. We sometimes choose to give up on a dream, rather than risk the heartbreak inherent in the inevitable failures that show us the way to making them come true.

How can some people find seemingly unending reserves of energy and courage to try again and again, even as an objective mind tries to convince a subjective heart to give up?

The Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, challenges us to remember, “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”

Those choices can make all the difference.

Continue reading »

 

Chasing Happiness

On August 29, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

From 2012, here’s one of my most requested messages about, defining, bracketing and “chasing happiness”. It’s a good shot in the arm for anyone starting something new, or perhaps assessing the current chapter you’re writing right now in this great adventure we call life.

“In essence, our lives are about defining, bracketing and chasing… Happiness.”

(From my keynote at the 2012 Choices Conference in Grand Rapids.)  As I write this I’m freshly returned from a trip to Asia. 48 hours ago, I was standing on a street corner in the center of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Here you’ll find an example of nearly every nuance in the broad spectrum of humanity. Men and women in $1,200 suits share the same sidewalk with burquas and Nike t-shirts. Every form of commerce is in play here from oil executives and government ministers to prostitutes and peddlers of Rolex knock offs. The obese and the underfed, the well educated and the uneducated, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Confucians and I suppose more than a few atheists, all breathing the same air, existing elbow to elbow.

What, I wondered, do all of these people share in common? When you peel away the Maslow pyramid and get to the essence of these millions of concurrent lives, what is the common question that is in the back of everyone’s mind?

So I decided to find out.

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Mike Sadler’s Six Maxims

On July 31, 2016, in in Memorium, Spartanology, The Spartan Life, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
MikeSadlerYou learn a lot about a person when they are thrown into the public eye. Notoriety and achievement require a higher standard of behavior built on a firm foundation of character, work ethic and compassion. Such were the elements that defined the all too short life of Mike Sadler.

Mike and I both came to Michigan State University in 2010. I had the opportunity to watch his progression, as an athlete, an academician and as a human being. We often found ourselves in front of the same audiences.

He always spoke of the importance of an education, setting goals that stretched you, doing the hard work to achieve them, cultivating a compassionate heart and taking the road less traveled with fellow travelers who shared your ethical outlook. He also loved to have fun and maintained an insatiable inquisitiveness that turned every challenge in life into a fascinating puzzle to be solved.

A common theme among those who eulogized him was that this young man crammed more living into his four and twenty years than most accomplish in sixty. How did he do it?

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Prioritizing People Who Care

On July 17, 2016, in Monday Motivator, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

Listen to an audio version of this message.

“Prioritize people who care, in the end they will be the only ones there.”

Giving hearts can be trapped in un-productive relationships. The flip side of compassion can sometimes be a tendency to hang on to someone when you should be letting them go.

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Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

On June 26, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

We got an email at work this week warning us to stay away from the legendary Brody Square dining facility at Michigan State. There are several thousand Methodists on campus for the church’s annual convention and, as I found out when I ventured to Brody last night, the place was jammed.

So I took the email’s advice and went to Snyder Phillips tonight. As I was walking in, a collegue was walking out. “500 kids just came in there for dinner,” he said. “You’re about 5 minutes too late.”

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The Father Factor

On June 19, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
The “Real” Scott Westerman will be 91 on July 10th. I’m the third in a line that started with his dad back in 1895. I’ve always felt richly blessed to have been born into a family with a pair of extraordinary parents. And since Sunday is Father’s Day, decided to look back over a conversation I had with dad a couple of years back about what lessons he learned from his father. I present them here, not necessarily as recommendations, but solely for your consideration.

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On Being the Change

On June 14, 2016, in Spartanology, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
Begin every day asking yourself: What can I do today to make the world better than it is right now? What can I do to inspire the disaffected, the fearful, the ignorant and the hungry to manifest a brighter future? What act of kindness can I perform that might convince someone to choose a life of service instead of an act of self destruction? Once you’ve thoughtfully answered these questions, go beyond talking about it. Be the change and act.

BeTheChangePride