(It’s fitting that this was the most popular post this year, because this year we lost a legend.)
A few weeks ago I had the chance to eat lunch with Zig Ziglar and his amazing family.
One of the most successful motivational speakers of all time, Zig is a legend the world over. I knew I’d get to spend time with his son Tom, a brilliant guy in his own right, but was not expecting to see Zig when I was in Dallas. Lunch was great and, during our conversation, Zig went out of his way to be incredibly kind to me. I was throwing tons of questions at him, his wife and Tom.
“How do you pursue a dream without wrecking your family?
“Did you ever wrestle with fear and your ego?”
“How do you not get lost in all the challenges that come with growing a business?”
Zig and Tom graciously answered every one of my questions. At the end of the lunch though, when we were getting ready to leave, Zig leaned forward on the table, pointed his finger at me, as if to say, “If you only hear 3 things today young man, hear these,” and then said this:
1. True success starts at home.
Zig implored me to pursue my wife continually and ceaselessly. All the speaking gigs in the world, all the book sales, all the fun opportunities don’t matter at all if I abandon my wife in pursuit of some dream. Watching Zig and his wife tell stories at lunch and laugh about decades of a shared adventure, it was easy to see he was living out this principle. When I told him I was bringing Jenny on stage with me at the Quitter Conference to talk about how working on a dream can be a team sport, he said, “That is the most brilliant thing you’re doing.” And I think he was right.
2. Your reputation is everything.
“If you tell someone you’re going to be there at 9:00, don’t you dare show up at 9:01. Do the things you tell people you are going to do.” This one was hard to hear because I’m honestly not good at that. I tend to overpromise and under deliver because I want people to like me. I wrote about my desire to tell everyone, “Let’s get coffee sometime,” when I know we probably won’t. I make big promises that I simply can’t keep, because it’s fun to say “yes” to requests and hard to say “no.” But that kind of thing chips away at your reputation. Hearing Zig say that made me realize I need to do some repairs to my mine.
3. It’s not about you.
“Help other people be successful. That’s what it’s all about.” As I wrestle with building “my personal brand,” Zig’s words were like a lighthouse in a stormy night full of tweets. (That simile got a little away from me.) I know this sounds silly, but writing Quitter and holding the Quitter Conference really got me excited to help other people be successful in a way I haven’t felt before. For years, I was in a bit of a “me, me, me tailspin.” And it’s exhausting when life is all about you. You have to maintain so many edifices and fronts and plans and manipulations. I actually felt a great sense of freedom when Zig said “It’s not about you.”
I’m not done with those three ideas. That is, I haven’t mastered them and moved on. I’m still unpacking that lunch, working through what Zig shared. I think that’s what great leaders do. They shake you up, even over Pad Thai in a quiet restaurant in Dallas. They drop off grenade ideas and then say what I’m about to say to you:
So, what are you going to do with that?
(This is a guest post from my friend Matt Cheuvront. If you came to the Quitter Conference you remember Matt and his brilliant team!)
A few weeks ago I woke up at 3:45am, drove 30 minutes from Nashville to Brentwood, TN, and gathered with fellow hustlers, dreamers, thinkers, and doers for #5Club. Led by Jon, together we shared ridiculous goals, fears, and big dreams.
The takeaway? If you’re not willing to wake up insanely early to hustle and pursue a dream – then you haven’t found the right dream yet. Because the right dream is something you’ll make time for, no matter what.
Usually, we’re afraid to pursue our wildest, most ambitious ideas because fear wants to hold us back. Fear says, “You don’t have enough money,” “There isn’t enough time,” “You don’t have what it takes,” “Nobody believes in you.”
We’re deathly afraid of failure. Because failing sucks.
But you know what we’re also afraid of? We’re afraid of success. We’re afraid to start because it means that we may – you know – have to finish. And that can be pretty terrifying.
This time of year undoubtedly has us dreaming big, setting goals, making plans, and committing to resolutions for 2013.
Maybe you want to run a marathon. Maybe you want to make a movie. Maybe you want to start your own business. Maybe you want to sign up for pole-dancing classes. Maybe you want to get your book published – or heck – get your book written.
As you write down those resolutions, you’re going to be afraid that they’ll become a reality. And that’s okay. Write them down anyway.
And at the risk of a cheesy after-school-special-esque-segue, that’s why I’m here. I’m here to help you make those ideas possible in a real, tangible way.
Since we opened our doors at Proof in 2010, we’ve worked with over 150 businesses, organizations, and individuals in building and branding their ideas – helping each to tell their own unique and compelling story. Because as Jon so aptly put recently, “Branding is the story you tell about the story you live.”
Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with a dream to get your business off the ground or a well-established entity, you have an exciting story to tell. We’re here to help you tell that story, to take away your excuses, and to give you a strong brand that lets you turn your dream into reality.
As I listened to the “ridiculous goals” of the folks at #5club, I walked away with the realization that no dream is too impossible to make happen.
And while you can’t control the journey, you can always control when you start.
If you’re ready to start – let’s chat about how we can work together. During the month of January, exclusive to the Jon Acuff community, we’re taking $500 off our LAUNCH branding package. Simply include the promo code “dreambig” when you apply. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Here’s to making 2013 the best year yet!
I have a 6-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old daughter.
A few weeks ago, they grabbed my iPhone, took a photo, and then added cats to that photo.
This is what kids do. They add cats to photos.
I then posted that photo on Instagram. It was a funny photo. I’m a dad who loves sharing how awesome my kids are. End of story.
Next morning, L.E. comes downstairs. I tell her I posted the photo.
Her first response was, “How many likes did it get?”
That is why my kids won’t use social media any time soon.
She doesn’t need to be worrying about how many “likes” something she created got.
I’m 36. I’ve been to college. I’ve worked at a lot of companies. I’ve purchased a house, done my taxes and a lot of the other things you do as an adult and, even so, I have a hard time handling “likes.”
I don’t want to add that to her tiny self-esteem.
When I was in the seventh grade, a guy named Dan Smith laughed at me in the courtyard before school started. He didn’t like the shirt I was wearing. He got other people to laugh. I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of “likes” in that moment.
But I couldn’t measure them. I didn’t count them. Other people weren’t about to see how low I was on “likes” in that moment, but with social media you can.
I don’t know how old your kids should be before you let them use social media. If you’re a parent and your kids have Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, please don’t think I’m judging your decision.
The title of this post is “Why my kids won’t use social media any time soon,” not “Why your kids shouldn’t use social media any time soon.”
I don’t have the answer for your family. I honestly don’t have it all figured out and will make countless mistakes along the way.
What I do have, though, is a recent realization that as a dad, I want to do everything I can to protect my kids from anything that will force their hearts to ask, “How many likes did I get?”
One of the strangest things that happens when you start hustling on your dream is the reaction you often get from friends.
People who you’ve known for years.
People who love you.
People who you were certain would support you, suddenly do just the opposite.
They criticize you, they attack you, they chip away at the progress you’ve made and discourage you at every step. This is not surprising to some of you.
For years, we’ve all heard the cliché, “the greatest insult a crab can commit against the other crabs in the bucket is to try to climb out.” Every crab immediately pulls their hopeful compatriot back into the bucket. But that’s “what” happens. Let’s talk about “why” it happens.
Why do friends attack your dreams?
Because we all go deaf sometimes.
I have a friend whose family doesn’t talk about Santa with his kids. That is exactly what he told me last December. His direct quote was “Our family chooses not to talk about Santa with our kids.”
Do you know what I heard?
“The Acuff family loves Jesus less than we do because you talk about Santa. Why do you guys hate sweet baby Jesus so much? You know where you can hide the Elf on the Shelf? In hades, where you’ll end up.”
Another friend home schools his kids. He told me, “We feel like homeschooling is the best option for our family.” Do you know what I heard?
“You’re a bad parent for sending your kids to public school. If you really loved your kids you’d home school them too.”
My younger brother Will is a vegetarian. When he first became one, he told me “I’m becoming a vegetarian. I’m going to stop eating meat.” Do you know what I heard?
“You’re dumb for eating meat. Only stupid people eat meat. Jerky is for jerks.”
Over and over again, what people say, isn’t really what I hear. I add all these other sentences to their words that are entirely untrue.
And the same exact thing happens when you start hustling on your dream. When you tell some friends, “I’m going to write a book. I’ve been getting up early to work on that dream of mine,” do you know what they hear?
“You’re not working on your dream. If you were smart or passionate about life you’d be working on a dream too. You’re failing right now.”
Sounds crazy, right?
It’s not. I promise this happens all the time. Your kindest friends turn into your greatest foes not because of something you said, but because of something they heard.
So what should you do when it happens to you? Give your friends grace and ask them what they heard versus what you said. If you’re honest and they’re honest too, this can actually be a chance for a friendship to deepen not weaken.
And above all, keep hustling. Never ignore wise counsel, but if the criticism is born from envy, jealousy or hurt, that’s not wise counsel. That’s one crab trying to drag the other one back in the bucket.
And nobody wants to stay in a bucket all their life.
Has a friend ever criticized your dream?
It’s not just the climb.
It’s the grind.
It’s the getting up while other people are sleeping.
It’s the checking your blog 100 times a day and realizing there’s not a single comment. And then writing again tomorrow. And the day after that.
It’s the walking by your TV and not letting it suck you in to find out who got the rose.
It’s the ignoring what you’d like to do because what you’d love to do needs your time.
It’s sucker punching Monday morning and starting your day before fear has a chance to find you.
It’s the swallowing your pride and playing the concert to nobody but the waitress.
It’s the filling out all the annoying paperwork it takes to turn your dream into a business.
It’s the 12,000 tweets.
It’s the asking people for help even though you’d like to pretend you’re too strong to need it.
It’s the realization that the scale isn’t your boss, it’s a tool. And if you didn’t hit your weight goal today, you’ll get back on the bike, back on the run, back on the steps, and hit it tomorrow.
It’s losing the client, losing the job, losing the opportunity, and realizing you didn’t lose your identity.
It’s getting back up.
It’s the 4 AM alarm clock to catch a shuttle to the airport.
It’s the measuring your success against your own actions, not the accomplishments of others.
It’s the remembering that hard work still beats 100% of the shortcuts everyone else thinks social media offers.
It’s the being willing to fail.
And get better. Slower than you’d like. In increments smaller than you’d like, but better is better.
It’s the not being ashamed of your success or apologizing for the wins, but having the courage to celebrate them without stumbling into the land of arrogance.
It’s starting all over again every time the sun does.
Is it just the climb?
No. If you want to change your life and the world, it’s the grind.
It’s easy. Here’s all it takes.
Spend more time practicing your dream than you do promoting your dream.
The Internet has made it ridiculously easy to promote your dream, your craft, your passion, your whatever. As someone who writes books and throws events, that is awesome. But that ease comes with a consequence.
The temptation is to spend more time on promoting what you’re doing instead of practicing what you’re doing. Honing your skills, putting in the hours to improve, working hard while no one is watching. Promoting makes people think you’re great. Practicing actually makes you great. There’s a huge difference between those two things.
Want to stand out from the clutter of social media and be a rock star?
Spend 10 hours practicing your dream for every 1 hour you spend promoting it.
Want to be a rock star even faster? Make that ratio 100 to 1.
If I’m being honest, I haven’t yet. I fall into the promotion vs. practice trap all the time. But the times when I focus on practice, I end up doing work that is vital, not just viral, and that matters more to me and probably you too.
What are some ways you “practice” your dream?
This is the best time in the last 100 years to change your life and the world.
Three forces of nature have collided to create a once in a century storm even bigger than the one Patrick Swayze surfed at the end of Point Break. (Google it).
Tis’s the season for goals, resolutions and “I swear this year I’m going to really do it!”
In the midst of that, I found a sign that summarizes how the Acuff family will be approaching the year.
It’s simple, challenging, and above all infused with the missing ingredient most people leave out of their goals.
Here’s how the Acuff house will be living in 2013. Or rather, here’s what we’ll “do.”
I met a grandmother once on a flight. She was flying back from a gambling trip in Reno with her sister. During the flight, after talking a little about our lives, I gave her a copy of my book Quitter. After she had been reading it for an hour, she leaned and asked me a question I wasn’t ready for.
There was sadness in her words. A sense of fear and resignation that seemed to suck all the joy out of a boisterous weekend trip. Sadder still, I didn’t have an answer for her. I didn’t know the answer, but I knew there was one.
I didn’t want you or me to get to 80 or 90 years old and realize we mortgaged the best years of our lives doing something we weren’t called to do. I didn’t want to look back on life and wonder where it all went.
So like most challenges in my life I started to research and write about this issue. What I found surprised me.
It turns out, that the opportunity and speed with which you can reach awesome has never been greater. Three forces of nature have collided to create a once-in-a-century storm even bigger than the one Patrick Swayze surfed at the end of Point Break.
At Start Night, on February 7, we’ll explore those three factors and discover the five stages every awesome life goes through. We’ll look at what it takes to punch fear in the face, escape average and do work that matters.
Plus, everyone who is there will get a free copy of my new book two months before it’s available to the public!
And we’ll do all of this in a magical theater built in 1937 in downtown, Franklin, TN.
The space for Start Night is beautiful but it is small. (It’s half the size of Quitter!)
The last two Quitter Conferences sold out and this brand new event will too.
If you want to escape average, make sure you don’t miss this once in a lifetime event.