Mediocre Success

Entrepreneur, author, and blogger James Altucher has written a contrarian post about successful habits called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People. The first person I heard use this provoking style was my first coaching mentor, Thomas Leonard. Thomas used to teach that to be attractive, you need to “become incredibly selfish.” He loved that selfish provokes a huge reaction. Thomas then drew the distinction between being selfish – taking care of your needs first – and self-centered – caring about yourself to the exclusion of others.

Here is a summary of Altucher’s thoughts:

  • Procrastinate. As we posted recently, procrastination is your mind trying to tell you something. Figure it out and you can move forward effectively.
  • Zero-task. We tend to want to multi-task. We often feel if we aren’t doing something, we are falling backward. But when was the last time you did nothing and just took time to think? Doing nothing can free your mind and allow you to be creative.
  • Fail. Most of us aren’t Mark Zuckerburg or Bill Gates. We don’t succeed first time out the gate. Failure isn’t our enemy. It creates persistence, which is what most of us need to succeed.
  • Be unoriginal. Solomon said “there is nothing new under the sun,” so why are you trying to find it? Most ideas are the combination of existing ideas combined with other existing ideas. That is something new. Russell Conwell, in Acres of Diamonds makes the point that there are riches right in our own backyard.
  • Exercise poor networking skills. Entrepreneurs are working hard to keep their businesses going. When you are working 20-hour days, be extremely selfish and take care of yourself. You will have time later to network.
  • Do anything to get a “yes.” Getting to a deal means others will have a stake in the outcome. You will also find opportunities you might not otherwise access without the association that comes from a “yes.”
  • Be a poor judge of people. You don’t have to be a good judge of people. Rather, reserve judging them at all and get to know them. Going slow might take time, but the long-term result will be solid relationships that will sustain your businesses and causes.

Mediocrity in some areas of your life does not mean you have to be mediocre in all areas of your life. Attitude and persistence are the real habits of effective people. Everything else will work out.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People


Fixing your fix on Fear

Over in the blogs recently, Eric V. Holtzclaws, CEO and founder of Laddering Works, talks about four major fears facing entrepreneurs. Not an entrepreneur? These may be keeping you held back in your work or calling. He also offers great prescriptions for each:

  • Fear of Failure. The obvious one. who wants to suck? Holtzclaws says pay attention to what works and doesn’t, and deal with it. This translates to regularly review your operation so you can act.
  • Fear of Success. If it works, you must perform. Can your operation meet the demand? Plan ahead and find someone in your industry you can partner with. My buddy Phil Leonhardt of CSL Media in Fredericksburg found another printer to handle specialty jobs he doesn’t have the equipment to service so that he can still meet customer needs.
  • Fear of Starting. Things seem too large? Not sure what to do? Just start! I teach clients, when setting goals to think of something, however small to do today when getting started. Even a small step will give you confidence to take more action. After all, you will have started!
  • Fear of Loss. Risk and loss can freeze us. As Holtzclaws points out, the status quo doesn’t really stay static. If you don’t control change it leads to risk — and loss.

My tip for facing fear: gratitude. Faith is the slayer of fear. Gratitude is faith in active. Don’t just be thankful to yourself. Let others know you appreciate them and you will discover it is hard to be afraid when focused on others.

Fear is a 4-Letter Word

Related Posts

Should you indulge procrastination?

Chris Widener puts out a great newsletter. Recently, he talked about those times when we don’t feel like doing what we know we should be doing. Is that procrastination kicking in, or is it something else? Chris offers five ideas for confronting and dealing with these feelings:

  1. Honestly evaluate whether or not you need a break. It could be a desire to procrastinate, but take an honest look and evaluate whether it is evasion or fatigue. Sometimes we really are tired; if so, take a break. If you aren’t sure, try one of these other techniques.
  2. Start small. One way to work through the desire to procrastinate is to give yourself a small goal to work toward, after which you will take a break. For example, it is better to do a short workout than skip your workout all together.
  3. Change your routine. Sometimes, it is our boring routine that tempts us to blow things off. Why not change up the routine to make it more interesting?
  4. Reward yourself. Procrastination and reward seem at odds. They are. But why not figure out what must be done right now and give yourself a small reward? Celebrating victories is important to your self image. And if a small reward will keep you from goofing off, isn’t it worth it?
  5. Reconnect the action with pleasure rather than pain My take: think Mary Poppins. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find it, and snap, the job’s a game!”

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

Traditional Leader or Innovator?

Dan Rockwell at the Leadershipfreak blog posts short, pithy messages. I don’t want mine to be longer than his, so let’s jump into it.

Dan posits distinctions between traditional leaders, especially in 3 areas:

  • Receptivity. Do you try to make others do what you want, or are you willing to embrace other points of view?
  • Withhold judgment. Never making decisions leads to chaos, but are you always in a hurry to decide and move along, or are you willing to let new ideas play out for a while before deciding about them?
  • Curiosity. Do you need to appear to beall-knowing, or are you willing to celebrate and explore the unknown?

Where do you fall in the dynamic on each question? Remember that in today’s fast moving marketplace you cannot afford to ignore those who want to help you succeed. As a leader, your big job is to articulate the vision and help everyone get there. Others can be experts and not threaten your leadership if you keep the vision in front of the team.

Three Qualities Traditional Leaders Reject

Note: Originally published under title Three Qualities Traditional Leaders Reject. Originally submitted to the blog via email, I messed up the subject line.

Color my world

My new friend Justin Buck wrote a great piece the other day. Using a very interesting story about the paints Picasso used in his art. Read this great blog post, but the theme is that Picasso took the ordinary and made it extraordinary. We have the opportunity to do this, too, and Justin shares 5 points:

  1. Starving Your Talent is a Mistake
  2. Even Limited Resources Are Resources
  3. Your Greatest Resource is YOU
  4. Even Great Resources Can’t Guarantee Great Results
  5. We Choose Our Own Means

When coaching clients, I often have to remind them about points 2 and 3. The seeds for your success lay in your current environment. You will have to take action to germinate and grow your resources. What is key is changing the way you think so that you can see and act on the opportunities before you. Then you will be able to turn common house paint into a masterpiece.

Paint Does Not a Painter Make

Innovation is a Leadership Challenge

Scott Anthony knows a thing or two about innovation. The managing partner of an innovation consulting company and Harvard Business Review (HBR) blogger. He often comments about innovation issues.

His recent post, Your Innovation Problem is Really a Leadership Problem, talks about the leader’s critical role in establishing repeatable processes for innovation in their organizations. Innovation scares people. It is unnatural. Because we don’t often practice it, we are not especially good at it. Scott also points out that innovation requires leaders manage in two opposing directions: to minimize mistakes yet encourage experimentation.

This should not be any surprise. A leader’s number one responsibility is to define the organizations vision and keep it moving toward it. Innovation is not a quick and easy, short-term project. As Scott says, it isn’t a point event. Leaders who succumb to short-term pressures and do not work with their teams to create, evaluate, and shepherd ideas that support the larger mission and vision will either be replaced by leaders who can, or see their organizations move toward irrelevance.


Your Innovation Problem is Really a Leadership Problem

Are you looking for success?

My friend and mentor Ed DeCosta has a great blog about success. (If you don’t like to read, he publishes it as a v-blog, too, just scroll to the bottom of the page.) In his latest installment, Seeing What You’re Looking For, Ed explains the science of success and our “Reticular Activating System” (RAS), that part of our subconscious that sees things that are important to us. RAS is the reason you see your new car’s model everywhere you drive. Your subconscious has alerted your conscious to be on the lookout.

As Ed points out, success works the same way. When we write out our goals, we let our subconscious know they are important to us, and it alerts the conscious mind to be on the lookout and tell it when things related to our goal appear. When you do, you begin to see what you are looking for.

Are you looking for success? Then read what Ed has to say. It is truly “Ed-ifying!”

Seeing What You’re Looking For


Great Tips for Gaining Focus

Over at, a great entrepreneurial blog site, Michael Adams has some great thoughts about handling your “always on” brain.

Here are some of his key points:

  • Do a brain-dump. Don’t carry it in your head. Trying to remember keeps you from focusing.
  • Let it marinate. Get away from the list, let your brain rest, and take a fresh look at things. You may be surprised at what you see.
  • Narrow the list. Entrepreneur? Which ideas will make you money? Not an entrepreneur? Which ideas truly advance your values and provide the greatest opportunity to live your values in the largest way?
  • Create POW–Piles of Wow.” Tackle your list and keep a record of the great things you have done. John Maxwell calls that “The Law of Victory.” Celebrating our victories, large and small, reminds us of the value we are creating for ourselves and others,

Stop Thinking! How I Conquered My Mind and My To-Do List

Leaders with Superpowers

Michael Hyatt reminds us that leaders have the power to energize or deflate their teams. In his post 5 Ways to Energize Your Team, he tells the story of a great team deflated by the thoughtless actions of a leader. He also offers these 5 points:

  1. Assume others are smart and working hard.
  2. Listen intently and ask thoughtful questions.
  3. Acknowledge the sacrifices others have made on your behalf.
  4. Express gratitude for their effort and their results.
  5. Remind them why their work is so important and the difference they are making.

You do have super powers. How are you going to use them?

5 Ways to Energize Your Team

A secret to gaining a truly positive attitude

If you are going to clean a house, you have to see the dirt.

–Louise Hay, motivational author, about dealing with the negative in your life so that you can achieve. Read more about dealing with the negative in your life so that you can achieve your goals on my blog.