Riding Emotions and Two Years of Reflection

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It is the perfect time of year to pause, look back, and be thankful.

[To my son, may this give you some guidance 20+ years from now]

The last two years is a very significant timeframe for me and my family.

Just over two years ago (Dec. 16, 2014) I left my job. It was a really good job, with great pay, and I had terrific team members. But, it was a job, and I wanted more. I needed more.

Here is the Ledbury shirt I wore the day I resigned. You see, I remember crazy things like that. This shirt will make an appearance again later (cliff hanger). img_2909

Pause.

I took three weeks and five days off.

At this moment in time, no one (NO ONE) knows what the future will hold. I know I didn’t.

The only guarantees you have are your talents, and the story you’re telling yourself about what you believe. Consequently, these are also the only two things that matter in any venture.

Your Talents + Your Story

Looking back two years later here’s what happened (Reader’s Digest Version).

To start, I was scared. Was I making the right decision? I learned its ok to be scared. It means you have something to not only to lose, but to gain. Sometimes what people are most afraid of, is understanding how good something different truly can be. Understand the downside, and decide, but move —-> forward.

I was excited. If you know me well, I can get excited easily. Excitement and anxiety are nearly the same feelings, but the latter wears the cloak of fear. Both look toward the future and the future = uncertainty. How good could this really be? What I learned was, it was (and always is)…up to me. Make it great for you, and those around you!

The key to any journey is STARTING. Take the first step. As Steve Jobs says in his Stanford commencement address, “the dots will connect later.” You can’t possibly know how, but know life has a way of connecting down the road and awarding the daring.

Back to the story.

Our business grew. We grew as a direct result of many team members committed to answering the question, “How do we get better” every single day. No days off in this pursuit.

How do we get better, today?

We grew as a team and we had individual team members making massive strides in their personal growth. This is probably the most rewarding part of looking back over the last two years. Not numbers, or financials, but real changes in behavior. Numbers come and go. We’ve all seen it.  Behavior is power and can be counted on.

As we continued to grow, we took on new challenges. Most importantly, what does the future hold for our blossoming team?

In rolls 2016.

I had the unique opportunity to become a minority partner in the business as we jumped head first into 2016. An opportunity I’m thankful I had the audacity to ask for, and more thankful to my partners for their openness to engage one another.

Remember son, nothing is given. It must be earned.

This last year (2016) was followed up by even more tremendous growth by our team and individuals. If any of you are reading this, know that I am so very proud of you all. I know I’ve probably said it from time to time, but sometimes it’s more rewarding to read it. Job well done! But don’t stop now. Your sails are up, capture the tailwinds.

We reached an inflection point in our business.

Decision time.

Just recently, our business was acquired and we will be joining a new team in 2017. A future I’m tremendously excited for and an acquisition we’re proud of.

Looking back at the growth of the business in the last 12 years, I’m so very happy for my partners and their families. They started it. I simply tried to add fuel to the fire the last two years.

You see, its fun to look at now, but no one wants to think about or experience the pain, anxiety, travel, loss, and hardship in those early years. Those guys lived it and we’re all better off for it. Thank you!

Cheers gents! I hope it never gets old celebrating what you built.

Back to the shirt as I alluded to earlier in the post.

The day we signed off on all the paperwork, guess what I wore?  If you’re wondering…who thinks about what to wear for something like this? I do damnit!
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You guessed it. The Ledbury shirt I wore almost exactly two years prior when I resigned. It carried tremendous significance.

I promise you, no one knew but me, but boy did I ever know where that shirt had been two years ago. Two powerful (life changing) decisions were made wearing that shirt. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it…No matter what!

After all that. You’d think I’d be over the moon excited. Right!?!

But here’s the funny thing.

Immediately I was sad.

That night we went out and had a few beers, shared stories, laughs, and even a few tears.

That night when I got home, I couldn’t sleep.

With my wife and son fast asleep, I went down to the basement and was sad like a person is the day of graduation. So much time, energy, and short history wrapped up…just like that. You don’t cry at graduation because you’re afraid of going to college or fear of going out on your own. You do so to be thankful.

I barely slept that night. What can I tell you?  I’m human with ALL the human emotions.

It took me a couple days to let everything sink in.

It took me a couple days to think about my wife and family that supported the decision the day it was made over two years ago. She knew it was going to work far before I EVER DID!

It took me a couple days to think about all the support I’ve received to make such a big dream happen (to all my close friends who believed in me).

This isn’t a post telling you to quit your job today. Use your head and do some thinking first. It’s also not about taking all the chances, but at some point you MUST TAKE A CHANCE. Why not?

More than anything this is a dump of thankfulness from my heart, and a nudge in the direction of listening to your gut.

Lastly, its a big thank you to anyone who’s ever read (you right now), liked, or shared a post. I started this journey a couple yeas ago with the idea that maybe (just maybe) I had a few unique ideas to share and that the most important thing I could ever achieve would be to help someone else achieve their goals, their mission, their dreams.

I don’t know if I’m helping to change the world, but I’ve helped a few people think a little differently.

I’ve helped a few people start meditating and they’re telling me it is bettering their life.

I’ve helped a few people get a raise or a new job.

I’ve been able to help friends as they take on new and bigger opportunities. If nothing else, I just listen.

I’ve helped nudge a few more to follow their dreams.

Thank you all for taking time to personally tell me I had anything to do with any of it. You did it yourself. Maybe you just didn’t see it right away.

From the bottom of my heart.

Merry Christmas,

Happy New Years and cheers to what the future has in store!

Would You Have the Courage to Do This?

I find my best blog writing is done when I immediately reflect on an event in my life.  I do this for two primary reasons:

  1. The first and most obvious is the freshness of the scenario, story, or thought in my mind.  Plus, it’s more relevant.
  2. The second is because my mind goes 100 mph and I’ll likely forget it if I don’t.  Truth be told.

So, what happened today that warranted this post?

I caught someone.

Actually it may have been the other way around, maybe they caught me…but I’ll say, “I caught someone in the act of being real.”

Today was my son’s first birthday.  If a one year old could talk (mine can’t), he would say he loves splashing at the pool.  So, off my wife and I went this afternoon to splash around on a perfectly sunny July day.  As we were feeding him his customary four o’clock snack, someone walked by and said hello.  She didn’t have to, but she did.

This is where it got real.

After exchanging pleasantries and chatting a bit, she said the following unprovoked, “I love your blog, I read almost every post.  The last one…about “Giving a Shit” (she said somewhat out the side of her mouth because she’s a pastor’s daughter) was spot on.  I shared it with my entire team.” I’m paraphrasing slightly, but I feel this is a decent representation.

I don’t know what I looked like when she was telling me this, but man would I love to have seen it.  I hope my mouth was closed.

It feels so great when someone says this TO YOUR FACE!

If you think I’m gloating, I’m really not.  I’m using this as a point I’m about to drive home and like it or not, I’m somewhat of an important character in this screenplay.  What I want the readers to think about is the courage it took for her to do this.

Think about it, when’s the last time you read something, liked something, ate a terrific meal, LOVED something that impacted your life, but never said a word?  Not one stinking word?!? Could you imagine how great you could’ve made someone feel?  But you didn’t, because that takes extreme courage.

Life now exists in an incubator we call the new “digital world,” where any of us (myself included) can jump on Facebook or Twitter with “Internet muscles” and rip someone to shreds.  It’s easier to play the hater behind the keyboard or the wizard behind the curtain.  It’s 100x easier to type weakly thought out cynicism, than it is to spark up the gumption to tell someone how wonderful something is, or how it positively impacted their life, or their team’s perspective.  Much less, to their face.

Thank you! You know who you are. You have a tremendous amount of courage.

I’m going to end with somewhat of a self-serving thought (reader beware I guess?).  I watched a video today from an entrepreneur I really admire, Gary Vaynerchuk.  His message is simple and it hit home with today’s happenings.

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I have people all the time ask me, “Why do you do it?  Why keep the blog going?  What are you getting out of it?”  This.  This is 100% exactly the reason.  I write for myself.  I write to express my ideas and empty my mind.  Moreover, I write in the hope that one person says, “Thank you.  This changed my perspective.”

ACTION ITEM:  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! <Insert punch in the face emoji>

Anxiety, Neurosis, and Living a Life of Fear

There’s an epidemic gaining momentum in society.

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Obviously I don’t believe I’m alone or I wouldn’t write about it.  Anxiety and fear are leaving people feeling trapped, living a life alone with their own thoughts.

It all started for me about five years ago with my UC (ulcerative colitis) diagnosis.  What began as a disease of the large intestine and specifically the colon, spread to my head.

No it’s not cancer.  I’m referring to the negative thought process I became fixated on and concerned with 24/7.  Worry followed by more fear and worry.  Here is a small sampling of my thoughts from about five years ago to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

  • Is this going to kill me?
  • What (if anything) could I eat any more?
  • Would it cause another attack?
  • What if I’m not near a bathroom? (near is a distance 15-20 seconds away at a panic jog rate)
  • What if I can’t eat anything?
  • Would I still be able to travel?
  • What if I got sick away from home?
  • How embarrassing is this going to be?
  • Eat more bananas? Damn it! More bananas?

Why am I telling you this?

Because I believe this is merely a glimpse at my struggle, and although it may not relate to you directly, I believe others need to know it’s okay to be afraid, but accepting of their fears.  What’s not okay is to let fear take over your thoughts, actions, and emotions 24/7 and ruin your life.  For me, this fear lead to panic, anxious thoughts, and uninitiated worry.

A couple years ago on the outside, I may have looked like I had it together, but on the inside I was a complete mess.

The “trifecta” I was living with included more than just the UC diagnosis and fears.  At the exact same time I was kicking a nasty nicotine habit (which needed to happen), while also facing a growing infertility challenge with my wife as we longed to start a family.  Brick by brick, a house of fears and frustration compiled.

It wasn’t until a couple years ago I realized the best medicine for my body wasn’t the two daily horse pills I take. I needed brain training for a reboot.  I’d personally beaten myself down with thoughts and feelings of insecurity and anxiousness.  Everywhere I went there was an undercurrent of fear riding in my sidecar.  If you can relate, you know what I’m talking about. The weeds find a way to grow, and they grow quickly!

What does this fear feel like?

It feels like a racing heartbeat.  Clammy and shivering hands.  Chills.  Feelings of being exhausted and alert at the same time.  It turned situations where I was 100% comfortable a couple years ago into fight or flight adrenaline jolts.  It sucked.

So how did I start to take back control?

Slowly. One step at a time my thinking had to be rebuilt.  Here’s what Ralph Waldo Emerson says,

A man is what he thinks about all day long.

The quote (and I’m not sure who said it), “Everyone has something,” kept running through my head.  “I’m not the only one in the world dealing with this, so stop being such a pansy ass,” I’d say to myself.  It could be so much worse.  I had to make a choice and commit to positivity and living life every day.

Commitment to change happened.

Radical change happens when a line is drawn in the sand and a person must be put to a decision.  In poker you would call this an “all-in” wager.  I didn’t want to wallow in the bullshit any longer.  I decided I’d own it and talk about it openly.  I chose to show others my hand (more card-speak), my insecurities, and not be afraid or embarrassed.  After all, this was me.  All of me, as John Legend puts it.

A crazy thing happens when you speak freely about fear.  It gets released.  When it’s released, it doesn’t carry with it the immense weight as it does in your thoughts.  It disappears like smoke from a fire into the night sky.  Seemingly never to have existed in the first place.

Tony Robbins teaches three things to help you get to this action decision.  You can find the link to his post here (How to Create Breakthrough in Any Area of Your Life)

  1. Change your strategy, change your result.
  2. Change your story, change your life.
  3. Change your state—you change it all!

The kryptonite to my fear, my anxiety, my neurosis wasn’t a pill (although I must admit a steroid pack helps a brother out from time to time if he gets run down and my stomach needs a boost).  No.  The answer lived in my thoughts, beliefs, and actions.  A funny thing happens when this choice is made.  You gain momentum and energy, and you never look back.

Thinking alone won’t ever cure me from my stomach disease or associated fears, but I’m not looking for that any more.  I’m not cured, I’m informed.  I’m committed to not living a life of fear and being a shell of my real self.  If that means saying no to a few more things, or resting when my body needs it, then so be it.

When the next challenge comes along (and it’s guaranteed to happen), I will be more prepared.  I will be more present in understanding what I’m feeling.  In the meantime, I’m going to hop on this black stallion called life and break her to live my way!

ACTION ITEM: I’ve been thinking about this post for some time.  A great deal of emotion came about when thinking about it.  It makes me feel even better writing it.  But, it’s not about me.  I know without a shred of doubt there are people struggling like I did.  If you are afraid, SO IS EVERYONE ELSE!

Make a choice to beat it.  If you’re a friend, make a choice to help them.  Life is far too short to be afraid all the time.

How Stuart Scott Impacted My Life

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He will never know it, and I hate to say his passing triggered the actions I took to write this, but it is the truth.

I spent the better part of Sunday, January 4 with my wife in complete admiration of a man I never met and only knew through watching him host “The Big Show” on television.  To say I was a SportsCenter junkie growing up would be like saying Michael Jordan was a little competitive.  I bet I didn’t miss a night or morning of SportsCenter for 10 years growing up.  Because of this feeling of attachment, I was emotional.  Emotional for his daughters, for his battle, and for his spirit to live on.

If you watched 10 minutes of ESPN’s wonderful coverage surrounding Stuart’s life and fight with cancer, you learned a couple key things.  First off, people loved him.  They really, really, loved him because he did him so damn well.  He owned who he was and wasn’t afraid to wear it every day.  That isn’t the immediate focus of this post, but it is certainly one we can all learn from.

You be you.

I watched a segment this morning (January 5) on the Dan Patrick Show where SVP (Scott Van Pelt) and Dan were reflecting on the life and career of their dear friend.  Each spoke in immense admiration of Stuart and maybe even shared a laugh at Stu’s expense.  The point was, they were saying things they’d known for a very long time, but they felt obligated (my words not theirs) to say them now because that’s what you do when people pass on.  You remember and you reflect.  It didn’t change their feelings of Stuart for the last 10 years, but now because he’s gone, it all comes pouring out.

What happened next was one of the most fulfilling things I’d done in a long time.

Why wait?

I grabbed my laptop and decided I was going to let my nearest and dearest friends know how I really felt about them.  These people are extraordinary and they needed to know it today.  I won’t disclose the words said or the people who it was addressed to.  Those things are for me and my comrades.  But I can promise you one thing…

I hope it made them feel as great as it made me feel to write it.

I’m not sure how often I’m going to do this at this scale, but I’m going to make a very concerted effort to ensure people understand how much I care about them and what they mean to me and our family (my wife and son).  We’ve all seen how life can change in an instant.  Although we all hope and pray it never happens, it inevitably does.  Life changes, and we’re left in the wake of something forever missing.  Words left unsaid feel like a burden because they never meet the flesh of the person they were meant for.

ACTION ITEM: Please don’t wait.  Write something today.  It doesn’t have to be a lot, you just have to mean it.

“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live”

~ Rest in peace Stu.  Booyah!

What I Learned the Week I Unplugged

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About two weeks ago, I took a different direction in my professional life and resigned from the job I’d dedicated my entire adult career (10+ years) to. It was an extremely tough decision, but one I felt I needed to make in order to stay vigilant in pursuing my dreams and goals.

Although this is another subject for another time (or post), what resulted from this action was really eye opening and life altering.  I turned in my computer and phone and suddenly lost touch with the world, or did I?

I was trapped and didn’t know it.

My day revolved around these two devices.  Phone calls, tweets, texts, Facebook messages, emails, emails, and more worthless emails filled my day from the early morning hours until hitting the pillow at night.  I didn’t realize how disastrous this was until I literally couldn’t do it anymore.  I needed to dry out from technology.

It was exactly the therapy I needed.  I was addicted.

Maybe I’m still addicted, but I can see it more clearly now.  Ironically enough, I was reading a book a week or two ago discussing the topic of boredom.  The author described in great detail how people today (mainly younger adults and children) have no concept of boredom because they just plug into another device just when the B-word sets in.  This rampant activity causes our brains to operate on overdrive 95% of the time and provides little to no rest.  We need rest.

It doesn’t shock me one bit to see the #1 growing diagnosis among strung out teens and young adults is anxiety.  We can’t let go of technology until we’re forced to for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Well I missed out.  I missed out on 10 days of…

NOTHING.  I didn’t miss a damn thing, and I’m a better person for it.  If people needed to get a hold of me, they texted my wife.  How cool is that?  They actually couldn’t get a hold of me.  Sad news is, I’m back now with a phone and a computer, but I’ve got to tell you what I’ve learned in the process.

  1. I’m not that important.  Yes, I technically don’t have a job at this very moment, so I don’t have those responsibilities, but life went on for everyone else.
  2. Silence is beautiful.  I was trying to remember the last time I just sat and thought.  It’s been too long.  Can you tell me the last time you spent 30 minutes in silence just thinking?
  3. I was neglecting myself.  I was able to catch up on reading I wanted to tackle, blog posts I wanted to write, and knocking down jump shots in the gym (basketball was always my sanctuary growing up).
  4. Anxiety was running my life.  Not from a clinical standpoint, but I was always on alert for the next thing: text, email, phone call, etc. that needed to be responded to.  Ready, ready, ready, and…exhausted.
  5. I’m in control.  The last couple weeks I’ve had entire days to myself.  I made the decisions on what to read, when to exercise, and yes, when I wanted to take a nap (although my wife says I should’ve done more of this). It’s always been my schedule.  I just let others dictate it.
  6. Scheduled downtime.  Now that I’m a recovering information junkie, I’m learning to schedule my downtime.  I’m working on not jumping right into technology in the morning and taking breaks throughout the day to recharge (albeit briefly), so I can be the best version of myself.

ACTION ITEM: I was so excited to share this with the tribe.  I really hope you can take a few days, maybe even a week away from everything.  Some say, that’s why God made Mexico, but I’d like to see you do it while at home and take the challenge head on.  I bet you will find a little more of yourself in the process.

Lastly, it would provide me a great deal of pleasure if you would comment on your experiences below.  This is only my opinion, and I’m sure there are tremendous amounts of knowledge to be shared from the community of readers out there.

Thank you,
Zac

The WHY Behind A Keen Mind

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I started this blog 10 months ago for a reason.

Do you know what this reason is?

Start With Why

I just finished reading a great book as part of a mastermind group.  The book is Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. This book, by Simon Sinek, outlines the very simple, yet difficult statement, “People don’t buy what they do, they buy why you do it.”  The illustration above is a simple outline of this principle.  A principle he calls, “The Golden Circle.”  It is a principle I’ll never forget.

If you’re a subscriber, I hope you find my “WHY” in line with my content.  If you’re new to A KEEN MIND, welcome!  Here is what’s in store for you when you subscribe.

Why: I believe in strategies helping people to establish a positive mindset and more achievement in their lives.  Whether the goal happens to be: a raise, a promotion, a calmer more centered mind, or more security with their bank account.  I believe in the continued pursuit of achievement and learning and will share my journey with my tribe.

How: I will consistently deliver content, not withholding my own faults and challenges with my readers.  I will share openly and honestly my strategies to create trust in the tribe, in hopes the tribe will grow and share on its own.

What: My content will start as a blog.  In the future, I do not know where it will go, but it will always be grounded in serving my WHY.

My starting goal was simple.  Help one person achieve their pursuit.

ONE PERSON.  I thrive in hearing about a reader that gets what they were looking for (I save every email).  I love hearing about the content I’m sharing.  How it changed the way the reader or others around them think and feel.

I accomplished my goal.  It’s time for a much bigger goal!

My New Goal: Help 10,000 people.

If you think I’m a little nuts, thank you!  I LOVE IT.  Better question is how the hell am I going to achieve this?  The answer is astonishingly simple.

One post at a time.

It only takes one well written strategy, posted here, shared by one of you, to catch fire and change hundreds of lives.  The tribe will grow, and I will continue to focus on my WHY!

ACTION ITEM: I’ve got to write my next post!

244 Likes Later

Landon Ray Keeney

Landon Ray Keeney

On July 30, 2014, my wife and I welcomed Landon Ray Keeney to the world.  A magical moment we will never forget.

About a day later, we let the world know by introducing him on Facebook (is there any other way?).  One day and 244 “Likes” later, we were just as happy before we made the announcement as we were after.  The only thing that really changed were the number of people happy for us.

What does this say about us as a society?  I can tell you what I think it means to me.

Social is a vehicle, not a value.

We live in a wonderful era of communication where we can instantly connect with thousands of people across the world and give them a “status update” on our lives.  But do you really need everyone else’s approval on your life?

I really hope not.

The response of 244 “Likes” will not define my relationship with my new son or our happiness as a family.  What social did do was open up hundreds of wonderful communication opportunities with our closest friends and family to talk about this newest miracle.

ACTION ITEM: Please see social media as a communication tool, and not a scoreboard driving you toward unhappiness or an unfulfilled life.  There is far too much to be thankful for!

Five Lessons from Mr. Keeney on Father’s Day

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I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share with all of my readers five key lessons my Dad taught me, especially on Father’s Day.  The list below contains life lessons and I’ll never forget them as long as I live.

Furthermore, now that I’m an expecting father of another Keeney boy, I hope to pass them on with the dignity knowing they came from my Dad.

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t met my Dad, here is a picture of the two of us goofing off nearly five years ago on Beth and I’s wedding day.

Beth and Zac's Wedding Day

Bernie Keeney & Zac Keeney 2009

As promised here is the list.

Five Valuable Lessons from Bernie Keeney:

  1. Hard Work –  I must start with this quote from Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  My Dad’s life is a living example of hard work.  Obviously I wasn’t around, but I know he didn’t grow up anywhere near the standard of living he provided to my sister and I.  He got where he did because of a tremendous amount of hard work and discipline.  Nothing was handed to him, and I’ll tell you he wouldn’t want it if you did.  Today, many look for the easy way out.  My Dad will tell you there is no such thing and to stop complaining.  The same effort refocused would yield the results. 
  2. CoachableMy Dad taught me at a young age the need to be coachable.  He continued to remind me of this through my adolescent years and hundreds of athletic events.  I think it’s a great lesson, especially for younger leaders as there is so much to learn from so many.  You have to be willing to listen, especially when the feedback is something you don’t want to hear. 
  3. Lifelong Learner If you’ve ever heard me talk about my Dad, I’ll say he’s a better version of Bob Villa, a true Mr. Fix It.  The only way you get to be this skilled at so many crafts is to have an appetite for learning.  He continues to learn even more now in his retirement.  Every day is a new adventure, a new story to be told, or new challenge.  He’s never backed down from a challenge and is one of the smartest guys I know.  
  4. Tough & Fair My Dad spent his career (30+ years) as an educator.  He had thousands of students, but there were two he looked after more than most, my sister and I.  With each of us he was equally tough and fair.  If we screwed up or were out of line, he was always fair with our punishment.  We always knew where we stood with our Dad and I can only hope to be the same with my son.
  5. SupportiveNo matter the need, Dad has always been there to support.  If I need advice, help on a construction project, a trailer to haul something for a move, or any tool known to man, Dad will be there.  Most of the time it probably didn’t fit in his schedule, but that really didn’t come into his head.  He continues to be there for our growing family and I can’t wait to see what he’ll pass along to his grandson.

I’ll leave you with this.  I believe one of the primary jobs we have as Dads is to provide our kids with a better life than we had.  If I were the teacher and handing out a grade to my Dad, it would be an A+.

ACTION ITEM: If you haven’t already, tell your Dad “Happy Father’s Day”.  If you’re one of the many with their Dad looking down from above, do something to remember him today.

The Hardest Work You’ll Ever Do

I hate to gossip.  But, this one is juicy.

I’m about to tell you the inside scoop on the toughest working relationship I have and the painstaking work I’m enduring to make the best of it.  I promise not to name names, but you can start guessing if you know me that well.

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First, a little background on the relationship is appropriate. 

My challenge is pretty simple really.  However, it’s a relationship years in the making with both ups and downs.  Great successes and challenging failures have resulted from this individual.

I’m trying to make this person the best they can possibly be, but I don’t exactly know where that ceiling is.  I continue to challenge and push, but no two days are the same.  I struggle with what sometimes feels like two creatures wrapped in the same person on a different day.

Here are some of the other challenges I have with the individual:

  • Can sometimes lack focus and have too many things happening at once
  • Works too much from time to time
  • Is always looking for more
  • Has a hard time letting go and delegating
  • Will not accept mediocre
  • Can be selfish
  • Is a picky eater (ok that’s not a real gripe, but it is true)

So who is this person and how can I stand to keep him around?

 

Any guesses?

 

It’s me.  Zac Keeney.

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The hardest work I’ve encountered in my career is responsibility for my own path.  It continues to be the hardest work I’ll do because I’m not satisfied with where I am today and what the future might hold.

Please don’t misunderstand this for being ungrateful.  I’m extremely thankful for all the people I get a chance to share the day with.  But success today is far from final.

I will promise my readers this.  No one else is going to take responsibility for your career or your future.  It’s on you and those you surround yourself with.  You and I hold the keys.

That is exactly why this is the hardest work you’ll ever do.  There is no one else to blame for your results.  IT’S ALL ON YOU!  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and it would become a mundane task lacking joy.

The books to read, people to meet, challenges to take head on, and the passion to continue growing.  It is the hardest work you’ll ever do and it won’t end.  It will also be the most fulfilling because YOU OWN IT!

Yes, you will have many people help you along the way.  No one truly does it all on their own.  Thank them.  Offer to help them and repay your success with an obligation to send them down a similar path.

If you’re anything like me, my strong personality pushes back from time to time and I need a wake-up call or a swift kick in the ass to continue.  Just don’t give up!

ACTION ITEM: If you can look in the mirror and say the work you’re doing on yourself is sufficient, I challenge you to look for more.  What more can you do to challenge yourself?  It wasn’t meant to be easy and the product (you) isn’t finished yet.

 

Life’s a %itch

That’s right folks.  Life’s a PITCH!

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Wait, not what you were expecting?  No time for negativity here.  In each of our lives, we’re going to rely on our PITCH to get things done and get what we want.  Everyone has something to sell, some are just more committed to it than others. Imagine what’s being sold right now, this very moment by various professions throughout the world:

  • The College Coach – Selling a top recruit on their school, their style, and the athlete’s eduction (maybe).
  • The Non-Profit – Leaders are out selling their ideas and asking for donations to make the world a better place.
  • The Teacher – Looking to get more resources for his/her classroom to enrich the learning experience for his/her students.
  • The Interviewee – At some point, you will be looking for that dream job.  The only way to get it is sell yourself against the steep competition.

And the list goes on…

Knowing this fact of life, I’ve provided a list of five elements that help me deliver a better pitch and get more of what I want.

  1. The Buyer’s Side – Here’s a simple statement.  Over 50% of presentations are lost immediately because there is no understanding of the buyer’s side of the proposal.  Where did I get that number?  If you only understand your half, you can’t possibly win the other 50%.  Get to know and understand your buyer’s thoughts, feelings and emotions.
  2. Rehearse – Over and over again.  A coach would never expect an athlete to perform at a high level with zero practice.  How do you expect your idea to be bought without rehearsing it?  Couple tips here.  Record it so you can play it back to yourself for feedback.   Secondly, practice it again.  You can only benefit from the repetition.
  3. Storytelling – If you’re following my work, you know my love affair with storytelling.  I believe the ability to tell a great story will separate the good from the great pitch.  This ties directly into the first point.  Understanding the pains and hardship of our buyer will help you draft the perfect story.
  4. Visuals – If at all possible, make the story easy to understand.  We’re blasted with more and more messages every day.  Our job is to make the story simple, easy to understand, and not require a semester’s worth of research to buy-in.  Visuals will help you accomplish this task.  Think of when you were a kid and participated in Show and Tell.  Doesn’t quite have the ring to it if there is nothing to show and we only TELL.
  5. ASK – Every pitch needs to come with an ask.  Selling yourself, a product, a service, or anything is only talking unless you ask the other side for commitment.  If you’re preparing to pitch, prepare to ask.

Use these tips to your benefit the next time you have something to pitch.  If these tips help you get more of what you want, it would mean a great deal to me if you’d share this post with others.

ACTION ITEM: Pitch, Pitch, Pitch, and PITCH your ideas!  No one ever won them all, but you’re guaranteed to fail if you never try.