Saturday 31 January 2015

Are You Ready to Succeed?

We've come to the end of the month, a month that I have dedicated to strategies for reaching your goals.  You possess the tools now to set and achieve your goals successfully.  If you have followed the principles of Brian Tracy, author of Goals, as I have blogged about them, you are working on the following steps.

Write down your goals on a calendar or paste them into a scrapbook or on a vision board.  Set a timeline for your goals.  Examine your values and incorporate them into your goals, making sure that none of the goals conflicts with any other goal.  Choose a major definite purpose for which you have a burning desire.  Find someone to be accountable to as you progress towards your goals.  Seek out a support system, whether it's your best friend or your Facebook community, to cheer you on.  Nurture your creativity, whether through prayer and meditation, or through exploring nature or a visit to the art gallery.  Plan to work hard and sacrifice smaller rewards now for larger ones later on.  Plan to manage your time wisely.  Visualize your goals on a daily basis, bringing you one step closer to success.  Be prepared to fail successfully, knowing that you will likely make mistakes on the journey. Be prepared to practise an attitude of gratitude.  Be prepared when that golden opportunity presents itself.  Call on the Holy Spirit, or superconscious mind, to guide you along the way.  Above all, believe in yourself!

I posted my vision board on the rec room door right beside my computer chair where I can study it everyday, burning the images into my mind.  I hung a calendar on the wall beside my computer desk, marked with my monthly goals.  I am ready, willing and able to put my plan into action.  I look forward to measuring my progress at the end of the year.  I hope you will join me in my journey.  Are you ready?

For more information, read Are You Ready to Succeed? by Srikumar S. Rao at

Friday 30 January 2015

Believe in Yourself

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." 
( )

Self-belief or self-confidence is a key to reaching your goals.  According to Mark Tyrrell, self-belief is a learnable trait.  In order to grow in self-confidence, you must silence your inner critic.  You must turn weaknesses into strengths.  You must be your own coach or cheerleader.  You must stop comparing yourself to others.  You must learn not to take criticism personally.  Remember that self-belief gives you the strength to take action, to bring you closer to your goal.    

Once you establish your goal, don't let anyone or anything deter you from that goal.  When Rob and I decided to adopt a baby, it was like I put on blinders.  I became oblivious to the naysayers, to the critics.  All I saw was my goal.  I kept my eyes on the prize.  I was a woman on a mission and no one was going to stop me.  Within a year and a half, I was holding my bundle of joy.  

When Roger Bannister set out to break the four-minute mile, he tried to accomplish something that hadn't ever been done, despite the efforts of many.  In May of 1954, he crossed the finish line, his arms upraised, in under four minutes.  It was like a barrier was broken, not just the ticker tape on the track, but a barrier in the mind of all runners that the four minute mile was possible.  The words "It can be done!" ran through their minds.  Within weeks, in July of 1954, two more runners broke the four-minute mile at the Commonwealth Games.  And the rest is history.  

When I think of self-belief, I think of the son of an itinerant race horse trainer who was asked to complete a project in high school.  Not accustomed to receiving good marks, since he was on the road a lot with his dad, he put his heart and soul into the assignment, nonetheless.  The teacher asked him to write a paper about what he wanted to do when he grew up.  The boy wrote a detailed paper about his plans to own a horse ranch.  He even drew a diagram of the 200 acre ranch, showing the location of the buildings, stables and track.  He included a 4000 square foot house that sat on the ranch.  

Two days later, the teacher handed back his assignment, marked with a big red "F" and the words "See me after class."  The boy met with the teacher who said:  "This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you.  You have no money.  You come from an itinerant family.  You have no resources...There's no way you could ever do it."  Then she added:  "If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade."  

The boy went home with the paper and asked his father what to do.  His father left the decision in the hands of his son, knowing that it was an important decision to make.  Finally, after a week, the boy returned to the teacher with his answer:  "You can keep the F and I'll keep my dream."  

The boy kept his school paper.  Today it's sit in a frame over his fireplace in his 4000 square foot house on his 200 acre horse farm.  Listen to your heart.  Don't let anyone steal your dreams!

Source:  "Follow Your Dream", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993) at    
For more information, read The Power of Self-Belief by Oluseyi Eyitayo at

Thursday 29 January 2015

The Marshmallow Experiment: Delayed Gratification Key to Success

Delayed gratification is "the choice of limiting the ability to get something now, for the pleasure of being able to have something bigger or better later on." (

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment was conducted by Professor Mischel at Stanford University in 1970.  A group of 32 nursery school children, half boys, half girls, served as subjects for the experiment.  They were left alone in a room with a tray full of marshmallows.  They had two choices: they could either eat one marshmallow immediately or wait 15 minutes to eat the marshmallow and be rewarded with a second one.  

Some children, of course, ate the marshmallow immediately.  Others waited, covering their eyes or tugging on their pigtails or even petting the marshmallows, but ultimately giving in to the temptation. A third of the children, however, delayed the immediate gratification and waited the full fifteen minutes, thereby receiving two marshmallows.  

Follow up studies were conducted in 1988, 1990 and 2011, which resulted in the following conclusions about the delayed gratification group:

1.  they were better psychologically adjusted individuals
2.  they were dependable
3.  they were self-motivated
4.  they scored better grades in high school and on SAT exams
5.  they had a more appropriate BMI (Body Mass Index)
6.  they were more financially successful

Professor Mischel proved a distinct link between delayed gratification and success socially, financially and health-wise later in life.  He even used his findings to kick a three pack a day smoking habit.  You can read about the professor's results in his recent book The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control (2014) at .

Like the children in the Stanford study who ate the marshmallow right away, we live in an immediate gratification society.  We want it and we want it now.  The United States credit card debt sits at an astonishing $448 billion.  And yet in my grandfather's time, credit cards were unheard of.  He paid cash for everything.  And he knew how to save his money.  

Brian Tracy points out that saving your money isn't as impossible as you might think.  He quotes George Klasson, the author of The Richest Man in Babylon, who states that if we simply save 10% of our gross income, we will become financially independent.  For instance, if you save $100 a month from age 20 to 65, and reap 10% interest per year on those savings, you will see a healthy return of
$1,100,000 by the time you retire.

The same goes for your health.  North America struggles with the obesity issue today.  Say your goal is to lose 25 pounds.  You say that it's impossible because of your age (forty-something) and your slow metabolism.  Here is a strategy that might work for you.  Cut 100 calories from your diet each day.  Burn 150 calories doing exercise.  That's 250 calories less each day.  Times that by 7 days per week equals 1750 calories.  That's a half a pound a week (a pound equals 3500 calories) which translates into 26 pounds a year.  You've surpassed your goal!

The same goes for your marriage.  According to Fox News, the American divorce rate is 50% (there were twice as many marriages as divorces in 2013).  Divorce is an epidemic.  The easy thing to do when your spouse looks at you the wrong way is to say:  "I'm out of here!"  The difficult thing to do is wait it out, to put your heart and soul into making the marriage work.  Couples who do take the time and effort to save their marriages often end up with a stronger relationship.  

Take Louis Zamperini in the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand at  The Olympian was tortured in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for two and a half years.  In 1946, he married Cynthia Applewhite and she had a child but he couldn't shake his nightmares.  His post traumatic stress led him to binge drinking.  After three years his wife couldn't take it anymore and asked for a divorce.  But she returned to pack her clothes and the neighbour invited her to the Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles.  There, Cynthia gave her life to Christ and returned home to Louis saying she no longer wanted a divorce:  she wanted to work on the marriage. Louis, too, was willing to do anything to save their marriage.  After two night at the Billy Graham crusade, he gave his life to Christ and forgave his torturers.  Now he was able to put his heart and soul into the marriage.  The Zamperinis had a healthy marriage for decades until Louis' wife passed away in 2001.  

No matter what the area of your life, remember the Stanford Study.  Be patient.  Delay gratification. Hold out for the two marshmallows.  They're worth the wait!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Glenna's Goal Book

"Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be open." 
(Matthew 7:7)

In 1977, Glenna Salsbury was a single mom with three daughters, a car payment and a house payment.  She also had big dreams.  She attended a seminar about goal setting where the speaker talked about a principle called I x V + Reality (Imagination x Vividness = Reality).  Glenna put the theory to the test.  Knowing that the brain works in images rather than words, she decided to make a goal picture book.  She bought a scrapbook and filled it with pictures from old magazines which represented her dreams, including:

1.  a good looking man
2.  a woman in a wedding gown & a man in a tuxedo
3.  a bouquet of flowers
4.  a diamond
5.  a Caribbean Island
6.  a lovely new home
7.  new furniture
8.  a Vice President of a corporation

She studied her goal book regularly, imprinting the images on her brain.  Eight weeks later, a good looking man pulled up beside her in his sports car.  He asked her out on a date, where he presented her with a bouquet of flowers.  Within a year, he presented her with a diamond ring.  After two years of dating, they married in California.  They honeymooned on St. John's Island in the Caribbean.  A year later, they moved into their lovely home filled with new furniture.  At that point, Glenna showed her husband her goal book.  At the same time, she became vice president of human resources at her company.  Never give up on your dreams!  Glenna is living proof.

Source:  "Glenna's Goal Book", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993) at

Click here to read about one woman's attempt to make a goal book:

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Practise Positive Thinking

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:  but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

"You are the driver of your bus," says one blogger.  "Fuel your ride with positive energy."  Positivity produces energy.  It increases your faith in your abilities.  It inspires others to be positive.  It boosts your mood and your immune system, making you a happier and healthier individual.  

How do you become a more positive person?  You make a conscious choice to think positive thoughts.  When negative thoughts enter your head, you replace them with positive ones.  You repeat daily affirmations to reassure yourself.  You visualize a positive outcome.  

Get in the habit of smiling and laughing on a daily basis.  Help others unselfishly and feel good about yourself.  Practise an attitude of gratitude; count your blessings, especially the small ones.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Remain open to change and to learning.  

Be a winner.  Vince Lombardi, a former football coach, says:  "Get in the habit of winning."  He used to focus on not just winning regular season games, but also pre-season games to get his team in the habit of winning.  A winner gets accustomed to thinking like a winner, of expecting a positive outcome.

In 1932, Minister Norman Vincent Peale arrived in New York City to a position at the Marble Collegiate Church.  He faced a big problem from the start, however:  its pews were almost empty. Undeterred, Dr. Peale starting practising positive thinking, envisioning a full church every week. Over time, his strategy brought hundreds of parishioners into his church, boosting its membership from 600 to 5,000.  Dr. Peale remained at Marble Collegiate Church for 52 years.

In 1952, Dr. Peale wrote the infamous book, The Power of Positive Thinking at  The publication was so well received by the public that it remained on the bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks, was translated into 15 languages and sold 5 million copies.  The world hungers for a positive message.  

Note:  For more information about The Power of Positive Thinking, read my post at

Monday 26 January 2015

Curiosity Killed the Cat -- Not!

"I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious." (Albert Einstein)

I always thought that curiosity was a frivolity.  Cats are curious.  Monkeys are curious (at least Curious George).  But are people naturally curious?  According to blogger Todd Kashdan, one of the keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity.   Being curious can transform everyday tasks into enjoyable experiences.  Curiosity can help us recognize pleasures in novel experiences and find novelty in familiar experiences.  It can make us feel alive, engaged and more capable of embracing opportunities, thereby helping us to achieve our goals.

A 1996 study of adults aged 60 to 86 conducted by the journal "Psychology and Aging" concluded that the study subjects who were more curious were more likely to be alive five years later when a follow up study was conducted.  A 2005 "Health Psychology" study concluded that subjects who were more curious were less likely to have diabetes or hypertension.  A third study, conducted on children, linked curiousity to a higher IQ.  Three year olds who were curious scored on average 12 points higher on an IQ test conducted eight years later.    

Couples who run into marital troubles often complain about being bored with their spouse.  Curious people are less likely to get bored with their partner thereby enriching their relationship.  Rather than searching for happiness outside their marriage, they try to see the novelty in the familiar.

Curiosity serves as an entry point to a job, a hobby or a passion.  If you are passionate about something, you're usually curious.  Building your knowledge about a topic helps you to be more curious.  For instance, a marine biologist is more likely to notice a special pattern on a fish since he has a well rounded knowledge of marine life.  A child who knows 45 states will be more curious to know the other five.  A piano students is more likely to hear the nuances of a concerto.

The National Public Radio aired a story about a potato chip factory employee who employed his innate sense of curiosity.  His job was to make sure that all of the potato chips which rolled by on the conveyor belt were uniform in size and pleasing to the eye -- a tedious task at the best of times.  However, he made up a game by giving names to the misshapen chips and starting a collection which included Marily Monroe, Elvis and Jimi Hendrix.  The factory worker's day started to move more quickly and he became more efficient at spotting the misshapen chips.  

In order to cultivate your curiosity seek out new experiences which sometimes requires a suspension of judgement on your part.  An 18 year old bodybuilder was asked to learn how to crochet, a hobby that he had previously seen as a waste of time.  After learning how, though, he discovered that crocheting was demanding, meditative and that he could make a flip flop sandal.  He was surprised to find out that he actually liked crocheting.  It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss character who, after resisting eating something new for the whole book, tries it and announces "I do like green eggs and ham!" 

Follow the example of the cat and monkey.  Be curious and reap the rewards!


Fore more information, read Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (2006).

Sunday 25 January 2015


"Self-discipline is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic." (Amy Morin)

Maybe your goal in 2015 is to lose weight.  One of the keys to your success will be self-discipline, a skill to which you must devote intentional, dedicated practice.  Know that developping self-discipline takes time and hard work.  There is no easy fix.  Here are six tips offered by Amy Morin to reach your goal.

1.  Acknowledge Weakness:  You might say:  "I could lose weight if I wanted to."  That statement infers that you really don't need to stop overeating, that you really don't have a problem.  The first step to stopping a bad habit is acknowledging you have one.  

2.  Establish a Clear Plan:  Write out a daily, weekly and monthly plan that you can follow.  Planning ahead can help prevent you from slipping back into old ways.  For instance, my husband planned on eating canned salmon last night.  I cooked mini-burgers for the kids.  Even though, he was sorely tempted by the burgers, he stuck to his original plan and ate the fish.  

3.  Remove temptations:  If your weakness is sugar, avoid buying sugary foods and stocking your cupboards with them.  Use natural sugars like honey, as substitutes for sugar, in your tea and your baking.

4.  Practise Tolerating Emotional Discomfort:  Practise handling boredom, frustration, loneliness and sadness in a constructive manner, thereby increasing your tolerance and your self-discipline.  When frustrated, rather than reaching for a bag of popcorn like I did last night, do a set of stretches or go for a jog.  

5.  Visual Your Long Term Reward:  Sacrifice immediate gratification for long term rewards.  Visualize your new slim and trim self in a new outfit.  Post a photo of yourself when you were slim on your fridge as a reminder.

6.  Recover from Mistakes Effectively:  We all make mistakes.  We all fall off the wagon at some point.  Acknowledge your mistake and move on.  Don't let the mistake define you, but rather let it strengthen your resolve!  I ate the bag of popcorn last night.  Rather than dwelling on the mistake, I can plan to do a set of stretches tonight.

Self-discipline will serve you well in life, whether it's applied to losing weight or quitting smoking or curbing your overspending.  The skill can be applied to both dropping bad habits and forming good habits.  Self-discipline has served me well in keeping a daily appointment at the gym for the past five years.  Practise it daily -- you will be amazed at the rewards you reap!

Saturday 24 January 2015

Sacrifice: Part of Success

"To forfeit something for something else considered to have greater value." 
(American Heritage Dictionary)

Society preaches that we can have our cake and eat it too.  We see headlines like "Get ripped without long workouts!" and "Get rich without having to work hard!" and "Loose 20 pounds and eat what you want!" and "Buy a house and pay nothing down!"  The message is that we can reach our goals without giving up anything else.  It comes as no surprise, then, that the United States has a credit card debt of $886 billion!

As Frederick Douglass once said:  "A man,at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing."  If you don't work to earn your fortune, you don't appreciate it nearly as much.  With every goal comes sacrifice.  If you want to become a doctor, you must give up time with your family and friends to put in the necessary hours at medical school.  If you want to become a blockbuster actor, you must give up your anonymity for fame.  If you want to become a proficient writer, you must knuckle down and write daily, rather than watching television or shopping at the mall.

Take the story of Le Van Vu.  He belonged to a successful family in North Vietnam who, in the early 1960's, owned one third of the real estate.  His father was killed by the Communists, forcing he and his mother to flee to South Vietnam.  Le worked hard in school and became a lawyer.  Capitalizing on the increasing American presence in the South by the mid-1960's, Le became a successful builder. However, on a trip to the North, Le was captured and imprisoned.

After three years, Le made a daring escape and returned to the South and his family.  He started a fishing company, soon becoming the largest canner in South Vietnam.  However, with the Communists threatening to invade, Le made a decision:  he and his wife decided to leave Vietnam. 
In exchange for all of the gold he owned, Le sought passage to the Phillipines.  In only two years, he developped the fishing industry in his new country.  

However, the Van Vu's ultimate goal was to go to America.  On the trip across the Atlantic, Le became demoralized at the thought of starting over yet again.  He was about to jump overboard when his wife stopped him, promising to help him along the journey.  His wife's encouragement was all that he needed.  

They arrived in Houston, Texas with no money and no knowledge of English.  Le's cousin invited them to work at his bakery during the day and they took English courses at night.  The cousin offered to sell him the bakery once he came up with the $30,000 down payment.  Le knew that if he rented an apartment, it would take him forever to come up with the money.  So he and his wife lived in the back of the bakery for two years, surviving on a diet of baked goods and taking sponge baths in the mall's washroom.  

After two years, Le presented his cousin with a cheque for $30,000.  Now he owned the bakery.  But he wasn't ready to move into an apartment just yet.  He and his wife continued to live in the back of the bakery until they could come up with the $90,000 balance they owed Le's cousin.  Finally, after another year of sponge baths and baked goods, Le made good on his promise, presenting his cousin with a cheque for the remainder of the loan; he owned the bakery free and clear.

Twenty years later, at the publishing of his story in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Le Van Vu was a millionaire many times over.  For the entire story, read 2.  "Willing to Pay the Price", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993) at

Friday 23 January 2015

Nothing Replaces Hard Work

"If you have talent and refuse to work hard -- so what?  It will not make a difference in your life." (

There is no magic formula to achieving your goals.  Success doesn't just fall into your lap.  While committing to your goals is the first step, working towards achieving them is just as important.  Be persistent and keep the bigger picture in mind.  Know that there will be days where you will tire of the routine.  As one blogger says:  "Achieving goals isn't always about a daily cork popping ceremony to celebrate something sensational that you did."

John Corcoran, who battled illiteracy for decades, learned that hard work paid off.  In Grade 2, when his classmates already knew how to read, he struggled.  The letters were all jumbled.  His teacher became frustrated with him.  The other students laughed at him.  Nobody knew that he had dyslexia, an unheard of term at the time.  

And yet, despite his inability to read, he was passed from grade to grade.  With each year, John was more and more embarrassed about his illiteracy.  He could never bring himself to own up to it.  High school did not improve the situation.  Somehow, he was accepted at college.  He made sure he enrolled in classes where the professors gave multiple choice, rather than essay question, tests. Astonishingly, he received his degree and embarked on a teaching career.  He made sure that he picked his strong students to read paragraphs, stories or books to the class.

John got married and revealed to his wife that he couldn't read.  She was astonished.  He went on to make money in real estate.  However, the economy bottomed out and John was on the verge of bankruptcy.  He had visions of going to court and having to read something on the witness stand.  He couldn't keep up the masquerade any longer.  First, he mortgaged his house for collateral.  Second, he visited the Carlsbad Library and told the librarian he was illiterate.  At the age of 48, John, with the help of a tutor, sat down and did the necessary work to learn how to read.

All of a sudden, he was on fire for reading.  He read every book and magazine he could get his hands on.  He read the road signs aloud to his wife as they drove down the street.  And he dusted off the 25-year-old love letters from his wife, reading their contents for the very first time.  He went on to deliver speeches about overcoming illiteracy, calling it "a form of slavery".  Nothing could replace the time and effort that John put into solving his problem.  He did the work and reaped the rewards.  For the entire story, read

John Corcoran wrote a book about his life called The Teacher wWo Couldn't Read  
John Corcoran courtesy 

Thursday 22 January 2015

Be Accountable

"The more you publicly commit to an attitude, the better able you are to resist any attempts to change it and this is largely due to those increases in confidence and perceived importance." (

In this social media society, many people announce their New Year's resolutions on Facebook. Declaring your intentions can make you feel one step closer to your goal.  Also, committing publicly to a plan makes you accountable to your family and friends.  Others might jump in the boat with you, offering their support.  Some might cheer you on privately.  Making your plans public is also a good way to connect with like-minded people.  

There could be a down side to sharing your resolutions with the public.  Such an announcement could invite comments from naysayers, people who are negative or simply jealous of the thought of you accomplishing something that they haven't.  I read online that some studies show that when you tell others about your plans, you are less likely to achieve them because in the act of telling, you think you've already performed the task.  Don't mistake the act of commitment for progress.  

If you prefer not to announce your goals to the world, just tell your best friend.  Make periodic reports on your progress.  At the very least, if you prefer to tell no one, have a reward system if you stick to your plan and a deterrent system if you stray from your plan.  Accountability helps you stay focussed on the task at hand.  

For more information, read Done and Done:  The Power of Accountability Partnering for Reaching Your Goals by Annette Lyon and Luisa Perkins (2014) at

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Feed Your Burning Desire

"But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Maybe you have a burning desire to run a marathon.  When you are setting your life's goal, make sure you pick a goal that you really want.  If you pick the wrong goal, you will lack the passion to achieve it.

One blogger suggests that you ask yourself the question:  "If I won a million dollars tomorrow, would I still have the same goal?"  If the answer is yes, then chances are, you have chosen the right goal. The blogger suggests that you keep notes of other people's success.  Find a companion who is on the same journey as you.  And believe in yourself:  "Stay out of your own way."  Self-doubt is the biggest hurdle to your success.

I think of a little boy named Glenn Cunningham who, along with his brother Floyd, used to light the stove in the one room schoolhouse they attended.  One day, the teacher arrived at the school with the other students to find it engulfed in flames.  She dragged a semi-conscious Glenn out of the burning building.  He was rushed to the county hospital.  Floyd, on the other hand, died in the fire.

The doctor told his mother he likely wouldn't survive.  Glenn overheard the conversation and resolved that he would live, despite the burns that covered the bottom half of his body.  After a few days, the doctor told his mother that although he had survived, he would likely be a cripple his entire life.  His legs just hung lifeless on his body.  The doctor recommended amputation, but Glenn would have none of it.

When Glenn went home, he was confined to a wheelchair.  But his mother would massage his legs everyday, hoping for the best.  Glenn had a burning desire to walk coupled with a strong faith in God. His favourite verse became Isaiah 40:31 which he would recite daily.  One day, Glenn's mother wheeled him outside into the yard on a sunny day.  Glenn resolved that he was going to stand up that day.  He squirmed out of the wheelchair, crawled over to the picket fence, dragged himself to a standing position, and pulled himself stake by stake along the fence.  He determined to do this exercise everyday, wearing a path in the grass on the inside of the fence.

After several weeks of walking with the aid of the fence, Glenn figured out how to walk unassisted beside the fence.  One day, he walked to the schoolhouse.  He set his next goal as running.  Once again, he tackled the task with a burning desire.  Eventually, he started running to school.  He would run just for the sheer joy of running.  In college, he joined the track team.

Glenn wasn't finished with his goals, however,  Once he mastered running, he determined that he would compete at the Olympics.  In 1932, in Los Angeles, he placed fourth in the 1500 metres, just shy of an Olympic medal. And in 1936, he competed at the Berlin Olympics where he won a silver medal in the 1500 metres. Glenn's burning desire fueled his goals.  As if that wasn't enough, in 1933, at Madison Square Garden, he ran the world's fastest mile.

Source:  "The Power of Determination", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993) at

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Visualize Your Goals Continually

"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements." (Napoleon Hill)

As I said in my post "Conceive, Believe, Achieve", visualization can do more than any other exercise to bring you closer to your goals.  Once you have written down your life's goals, continue to visualize them as you go about your day, your week, your year.

Brian Tracy says that if you tap into your superconscious, what Christians call the Holy Spirit, you can accomplish more in a year than others do in a lifetime.  If you change the mental pictures on the inside, you will change your outside world to correspond with those pictures.  If you want a quality, imagine you already have it.  If you want a job, imagine you already have it.  As Whitney Young Jr. said, "It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.  

Take for instance Miami sanitation worker Les Brown.  He dreamed of becoming a disc jockey.  He would take a transistor radio to bed at night and listen to the local deejays.  Grabbing his hairbrush as a microphone, he would practise his speech, introducing records to the radio audience.  One day, on his lunch break from cutting grass, he visited the local radio station and asked for a job.  Once the radio manager realized he had no experience in broadcasting he turned him down flat.  

However, Les was determined to pursue his dream, not just because he loved radio, but because his higher goal was to earn enough money to purchase a house for his mother.  So Les returned to the radio station everyday for a week.  Finally, the manager relented and gave him a job as an errand boy, without pay.  The disc jockeys saw how dedicated he was to his job and they started sending him in their Cadillacs to pick up visiting celebrities like The Temptations and The Supremes.  While hanging out with the deejays, Les taught himself how to work the control panels, preparing for the opportunity he knew would present itself.  

One night, the deejay on duty was drinking himself into a stupor.  Les kept a close eye on him, ready to take over when necessary.  The inevitable call came from the station manager asking Les if he would phone the other deejays to find a replacement.  Les hung up, but instead of phoning deejays, he phoned his mother and asked her to turn on the radio.  Fifteen minutes later, he phoned the station manager saying he couldn't find a replacement.  The manager asked him if he knew how to work the controls to which he replied yes.  Les hung up the phone, jumped into the deejay's chair, flipped on the microphone switch and in a confident voice announced:  "Look out, this is me, L.B., triple P -- Les Brown, your Platter Playing Poppa!"  He went on to a career not only in broadcasting but also television, politics and public speaking. 

 Source:  "Look Out Baby, I'm Your Love Man", Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993) at

For more information, read Your Inner Will by Piero Ferucci at

Monday 19 January 2015

Remain Flexible

"Be clear about your goal, but be flexible about the process of achieving it." (Brian Tracy)

If you have been trying to reach a goal for several months or even years and do not appear to be getting any closer to that goal, maybe it's time to change your approach.  If you change your strategy, you change your results -- hopefully, for the better.  In his book Goals, Brian Tracy recommends that you pick a stalled project, write down the reasons for stopping, list reasons why it's important to you, and finally, revise your plan.  Have a Plan B, C, D, etc.  Don't get locked in a stagnant strategy!

I think about a political science course that was recently offered at the University of Western Ontario where my husband teaches.  Originally, the course was advertised as "Women in Politics".  Almost no one signed up for the course.  Then, the course organizers simply added an extra word:  "Women, Sex & Politics".  All of a sudden, the course was full.  The change required very little effort.  It didn't cost anything.  It just required a bit of brain power.  But it made a world of difference.

Automobile magnate Henry Ford declared bankruptcy in 1903 after having gone bankrupt twice, first with the Detroit Automobile Company and later with the Henry Ford Motor Company.  He started a third business, the Ford Motor Company, hiring James Couzens as his Vice-President.  Henry Ford's strength, his attention to detail, could also be his weakness.  He tended to hang on to his vehicles until he got everything just right.  However, Couzens warned him:  "Stop shipping, and we go bankrupt." Henry Ford shipped and kept shipping until the day he died in 1947.  His estimated value?  Almost two billion dollars.

Note:  Read Achieve Your Goals:  Strategies to Transform Your Life by Andy Smith at 

Sunday 18 January 2015

The Momentum Principle

"Momentum:  the principle that the linear momentum of a system has constant magnitude and direction if the system is subjected to no external force."  (Law of Physics)

A body in motion tends to stay in motion.  Look at a runner running full tilt.  It is hard for them to stop on a dime.  They tend to keep running for a few yards.  As Brian Tracy says, "Although it may take tremendous energy to overcome inertia, and get started initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going."  Tracy says that the faster you move, the more energy you have.  If you want to achieve your life's goals, become an action-oriented person.

The momentum principle reminds me of the two-horse rule.  Take a horse that weighs 700 pounds.  It can pull 700 pounds.  Take another horse that weighs 800 pounds.  It pulls 800 pounds.  Put the two horses together and how much can they pull?  Simple mathematics says they can pull 1500 pounds.  However, in reality, the two horses can pull 3000 pounds!  You add the weight of the two horses plus their interactive weight, thereby quadrupling their individual power.

There is a mental component to the principle.  Think about humans, for instance.  If your task is to clean the kitchen cupboards and you have to do it on your own.  It's a boring, meticulous task which you are dreading.  It will probably take all morning.  However, your sister joins you to help.  You are making progress much faster than you thought.  You see results.  And you have her company to make the time pass faster.  Within an hour, the task is complete.

The momentum principle can also be applied to your mortgage.  When Rob and I first bought our house, it seemed like it would take us forever to pay it off.  Month by month, we only chipped a tiny amount off the principle.  However, after a few years, we noticed the principle decreasing more rapidly, like a snowball effect.  We made a few extra payments.  The final few years, the principle seemed to disappear.  Sixteen years after our purchase (on a 25 year mortgage) we owned the house free and clear.

The same principle can be applied to my blog.  My original intent was to write a weekly blog.  However, once I started, I thought I would build momentum more quickly if I wrote everyday.  I had seen too many blogs start with a weekly post only to have the blog fizzle out within a year.  Here I am four and a half years later, feeling like I still have more to say.

Note:  For more information, read

Saturday 17 January 2015

Take Charge of Your Life

"When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large." (Geoffrey F. Abert)

In his book Goals, Brian Tracy devotes a chapter to taking charge of your life.  He says that only you are responsible for everything you do.  It is up to you to create opportunities for yourself to achieve your goals.  Don't just wait for the right time -- act!  If you stay in your comfort zone, you will never realize your true potential.  Take the risk.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  

"Action springs not from thought but from a readiness to take responsibility," according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Taking charge of your life means taking responsibility for it -- the good, the bad and the ugly.  It means accepting what can't be changed and changing what can be changed (the old Serenity Prayer).  

Tracy points out that blaming others gets you nowhere.  When you blame others, you give up your power to change.  You become a victim rather than a victor.  Don't wait for others to change.  You only have the power to change yourself. When you change, often others will follow suit.  For instance, the fiance who thinks she is going to change her future husband's bad habits is usually sadly mistaken.  However, she can work on her own bad habits.  Changing her own behaviour might be a positive influence on her future husband's behaviour.

I'll leave you with one thought:  "If you don't build your dream, someone will hire you to build theirs." (Dhiruhbai Ambani)

For more information, visit

Read Take Charge of Your Life by Dr. William Glasser at


Friday 16 January 2015

Identify Your Major Definite Purpose

"What would be the one thing that would wake you out of bed in the morning and get you fired up for your day?" (

Brian Tracy devotes a chapter to "Your Major Definite Purpose" in his book Goals:  How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Every Thought Possible   Imagine what you would like to be known for long after you die.  What would you like your tombstone inscription to read?  

Tracy outlines steps to identify your major definite purpose:

1.  It is something that you personally want, not that someone else has suggested.  It should excite you, make you happy.  

2.  It should be clear and specific.  When written down, it should be something that a child could understand.

3.  It should be measurable ex.  I would like to earn $100,000 by June 1, 2016.  Or, as an ESL instructor, I would like to teach ten people how to speak and write English fluently.

4.  It should be believable and achievable (at least 50% success rate).  For instance, if you want to become a millionaire within a year and you have no money in your bank account, such a goal is likely not within your reach.  It might serve to discourage rather than motivate you.

5.  Your major definite goal should be in harmony with all of your other goals.  

6.  Your major definite goal will likely help you achieve many of your other goals.

Don't think that you need to have a paying job to have a purpose.  As Rick Warren says "If you're alive, you have a purpose."  Your purpose might be to raise the next generation as a stay at home mom.  Your purpose might be to help others as a volunteer at your child's school, at the general hospital, at the local playhouse or at the neighbourhood soccer field.   Volunteers really do make the world go round.  Your purpose might be to start a daily blog.  I still derive great joy from mine, even after almost five years of blogging!  Having a purpose makes you feel alive; it gives you a feeling of self-worth.  Everyone needs a major definite purpose.  What's yours?

For more information, read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren at 

Thursday 15 January 2015

Surround Yourself with Who You Want to Be

"Associate yourself with people of good quality.  It is better to be alone than in bad company." (Booker T. Washington)

You don't do it alone.  You need help along the road to success.  You need help in your effort to achieve your life's goals.  If you are a business person, seek out talented people.  As Henry Ford said: "I am not the smartest, but I surround myself with competent people."  Develop potential leaders. Once your business grows, and you have to delegate responsibility, you can assign managerial tasks to these leaders.

Seek out the best employees.  Author P.J. O'Rourke, when writing about the Vietnam War protests and Women's Movement, maintained that:  "It's the beautiful women who are always on the edge of social trends."  While you don't necessarily have to hire beautiful people, you should hire professional looking people.  How you look after yourself says a lot about your personality; it shows you care.   

Create an environment of collegiality.  Learn how to build people up.  I once taught for a principal who had a talent for building his teachers up.  He focussed on our strengths, rather than our weaknesses.  I would have followed him anywhere, to any school, but he retired shortly after that.  

Joel Osteen says:  "Surround yourself with people that inspire you,  that challenge you to rise higher, that make you better."  If you are a student, seek out fellow students who will do just that.  When my husband Rob was in university, he had a friend who was always questioning Rob's work ethic.  "Why do you work so hard?" he asked.  "I barely try and I'm getting grades almost as good as you."  So, after two years of being on the Dean's Honour List, Rob slacked off in his third year.  He didn't make it on the honour roll.  In the meantime, his friend was furiously working away, trying to achieve "A's".  Mid-way through third year, Rob decided to pull up his socks and his grades gradually climbed back up.  His friend, however, couldn't sustain the pace.  He dropped out at the end of the year.  By fourth year, thankfully, Rob was back on the Dean's Honour List.   

Seek out people who build you up, who rejoice with you in your success.  Maybe you are a couple trying to adopt a baby.  I remember when Rob and I were on the waiting list to adopt a baby.  We had friends at the time who were also trying to adopt.  I took a proactive stance by completing a home study and getting on two waiting lists.  I also circulated 400 business cards telling people that my husband and I were searching for a baby to adopt.  While I heard several horror stories about couples waiting ten years and still not getting a child, I hung on to two local success stories.  If they could do it, so could we!  Meanwhile, my friend sat at home and did nothing.  Within a year and a half, I called her with the exciting news that we had a baby.  She did not sound happy for me.  In fact, she asked:  "Why did you get a baby instead of me?"  

Seek out people who you can trust.  If you're running a business, trust is tantamount. Trustworthy employees are worth their weight in gold.  You are not just trusting them with your money, but also your reputation.  Trustworthy business associates are also valuable.  If you open a business with someone, check their record first.  Are they already in massive debt? Did they already fail at business once (or more)?  

Say you're looking for a potential mate.  A trustworthy spouse not only helps build a good marriage, but also a good family.  You need someone who will make a good husband or wife.  Just as importantly, someone who will be a good role model for your future children (or present children, if you are widowed or divorced).  Choosing a spouse will likely be the most important decision you ever make.  Choose wisely!  

Seek out positive people.  "We become part of what we are around."  If you hang around people who are constantly swearing, chances are you are going to pick up the habit.  If you associate with people who are constantly complaining, odds are you will start grumbling too.  If you surround yourself with lazy people, chances are your productivity level will also go down.    Seek out people who have a talent for seeing the glass as half full, rather than half empty.  As Roy Bennett says:  "You cannot surround yourself with negative people and expect positive outcomes." 

Seek out others who are striving for a common goal.  Draw on their inspiration and encouragement. It's comforting to meet others who are in the same boat as you, to know that you are not in it alone.   

Note:  For more information, read The Winning Side:  How to Associate Yourself with Success by Stanley F. Bronstein

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Create Your Future

"Where there is no vision, the people will perish." (Proverbs 18:29)

In his book Goals, Brian Tracy highlights a study of 3300 successful leaders.  The number one quality that they all possessed was vision.  Their long term perspective led to financial and personal success.  

Tracy recommends that you envision a five-year plan.   Idealize what your business or family life will be like five years from now.  Practise "blue sky thinking":  just as the sky seems limitless, so too are your plans for the future.  Imagine anything is possible.  Write down what your job situation will look like:  your co-workers, tasks, level of responsibility, goals and status.  Estimate what your finances will look like: your salary, mortgage, bank account, investments, retirement.  Envision your family life:  spouse, children, extended family.  How will your health fare ex. appearance, weight, diet, exercise?  Will you be involved in the community ex. charity, volunteering?  Will you practise self-improvement strategies ex. go back to school, update your skills?  The author maintains that often people overestimate their yearly goals and yet underestimate their five-year plan. 

I remember back  to the Christmas of 1997:  my sister Lisa had us all do a visualization exercise at my parents' house.  She handed out pieces of paper and asked us all to write down ten goals and put them in an envelope to be examined five years hence.  My number one goal was having a child, as was Lisa's, I suspect.  At the time we had both been married for several years and yet remained childless.  Well, we didn't have to wait five years.  The following Christmas, I brought my bundle of joy to my parents' house and my mom snapped a picture of him under the Christmas tree.  Two years after the goal writing session, Lisa brought her bundle of joy to my parents' house and my nephew and son played together by the foot of the Christmas tree.  

Have a long term vision.  Write it down.  The sky's the limit!  Watch how God acts in your life.

Note:  For more information about visualization, read my post "Conceive, Believe, Achieve" at

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Clarify Your Values

"Any attempt to live on the outside in a manner that contradicts the values you hold on the inside will cause you stress, negativity, unhappiness, pessimism, and even anger and frustration." (Brian Tracy)

Google's definition of values are "a person's principles or standards of behaviour; one's judgement of what is important in life."  Brian Tracy says that before you set out on the journey to achieve your goals, you need to clarify your values.  Think about what you want to be known for, what you represent.  Imagine what you would like people to write about you in your obituary.  As Dr. Gordon Eadie said about American soldiers fighting the enemy in World War II: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

Ideal values in the workplace include:  hard work, dependability, cooperation, initiative, ambition and high performance.  Ideal values within the family include:  unconditional love, patience, forgiveness, generosity, kindness and attentiveness.  Ideal values with regard to money and finances include: honesty, thrift, education, industry, persistence and performance.  Integrity is high up on the list of values.  A millionaire once said:  "Integrity is the value that guarantees all the other values."

Brian Tracy points out that your values need to be congruent with your goals.  "Be sure that as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building," warns Stephen Covey.  If you are an environmentalist, you are not going to fit it at a factory where workers dump toxic waste into the nearby river.  He says that the people who are the happiest in this world are those whose behaviour is consistent with their beliefs.

Tracy maintains that people demonstrate their true values in their actions, especially when under pressure.  An example that comes to mind is my old neighbours.  They said that they loved their dogs, but they never walked them, they chained them up and ignored them.  Then, when times get tough and they were evicted from their home, they abandoned the dogs in the house, trapped inside with no air during a heat wave, walking around in their own filth.

"As within, so without" is a good motto to live by.  Whatever you put into your body or fill your mind with, often comes out in your thoughts and/or actions.  If you do nothing but watch violent movies, play violent video games, read violent books, listen to violent music and use violent language, chances are you are going to have violent thoughts and/or show violent behaviour.  By the same token, if you keep a positive attitude, watch positive shows, read positive books, listen to positive music and use positive language, chances are you are going to have both positive thoughts and actions.

Note:  For more information, read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

Monday 12 January 2015

Manage Your Time Well

"Time slips through our hands like grains of sand, never to return again.  Those who use time wisely are rewarded with rich, productive, satisfying lives." (Robin Sharma)

When I was a child and a young adult, I used to arrive early for everything.  I was so well organized that I was rarely late for anything.  However, once I had children, my life became busier.  Now I find myself arriving on time or even a few minutes late.  I try to pack too much into my day.  If you are like me, here are some tips to help you manage your time well.  

1.  Make a to do list for the day, week, month.  Prioritize your tasks from most to least important/urgent.  

2.  Balance urgent tasks with tasks that can be done gradually in your daily routine.

3.  Focus on your most productive time of the day.  

4.  Manage your time in increments of 15, 30 or 45 minutes each.  

5.  Periodically (ideally every 45 minutes) take a break to refresh your mind and re-energize your body.

6.  Keep track of your progress.

7.  Reassess your to do list.  Add or take away tasks.  Delegate tasks.

8.  Leave time for fun to refresh your mind and relax your body.

9.  Sleep 7 to 9 hours per night to give you optimum alertness and energy.

10.  Don't spread yourself too thin.j

11.  Take advantage of small gaps of time between larger tasks to accomplish something.  A few minutes here and there adds up to a big chunk of time.  Note:  When I first took part in Nanowrimo, writing a 50,000 novel in a month, I realized that I had to do this in order to meet my daily word count. It worked wonders!

12.  Complete each task from beginning to end.  Set "way points" where you reward yourself with something small once you have completed a big chunk of the task.  

13.  Give yourself a Planning Retreat where you spend a day planning your goals for the year.  Visit for more ideas.  

For more tips on time management, visit

Sunday 11 January 2015

The Superconscious Mind

Henry Ford conceived an idea.  The engineers at the Edison Illuminating Company, where he was employed, however, said it would never work.  Henry told them "Just do it."  The result was the internal combustion engine.  For more information on the combustion engine, read

Where did Ford's idea come from?  The upper recesses of his mind. Sigmund Freud called it the superego, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the oversoul, Alfred Adler, the collective unconscious, Carl Jung, the superconscious, non-scientists, intuition, and Christians, the Christ consciousness or Holy Spirit.

One website says that when an idea hails from the superconscious, it has three attributes:

1.  It answers every aspect of the problem you are seeking a solution for.
2.  It is a "blinding flash of the obvious".
3.  It's like a burst of happiness or excitement, an "Aha!" moment where the "lightbulb" goes on in your mind.

How to you access our superconscious mind?  According to Brian Tracy, you have two options: either immerse your heart and soul into achieving your goal or immerse yourself in a completely different activity and the answer you are looking for will suddenly appear.  To activate the superconscious, you need to be calm, confident and relaxed.  Seek out silence.  Thomas Edison used to take regular naps throughout the day to stimulate his mind, resulting in over 1000 inventions.

If you want inspiration to achieve your goals, access your superconscious.  Meditate on it, pray on it. The lightbulb will go on.  And you will create the next internal combustion engine (even though your co-workers will say it can't be done).

*For more information about the superconscious mind, read The Conscious, Unconscious and Super-Conscious Mind by Gurdip Hari (2005) at

*For more information about the Holy Spirit, read The Holy Spirit:  Amazing Power for Everyday People by Susan Rohrer (2011) at

Saturday 10 January 2015

Removing Roadblocks to Success

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." (Henry Ford)

Everyone encounters roadblocks on the path to success; some are personal, some are external. Personal obstacles, those within your control, include a lack of: time management, self-esteem, communication skills, drive, expertise, or education.  You may have loosely defined goals.  You may be focussing on what you don't want rather than what you do want.  You may be resistant to change. You may have internal conflict holding you back.  Brian Tracy points out that you may be living in a comfort zone, where you are so complacent with your job or your relationship with your significant other, that you are reluctant to change, even if it is for the better.  

External obstacles, those out of your control, include:  the economy, competition, location of jobs, lack of support and stereotyping.  

Here are some steps to follow when you encounter roadblocks:

1.  Identify the obstacle.
2.  Brainstorm what you can do about it.
3.  Seek advice from experts, confidantes.
4.  Choose the solution that is best for you.
5.  Write down your plan.
6.  Set a time frame.
7.  Act.

Your attitude is everything in your attempt to leap over any hurdle.  See it as an opportunity for growth.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:  "Life's a journey, not a destination."  Enjoy the ride. 

Be willing to negotiate.  It certainly helped John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962! The President's willingness to negotiate helped prevent World War III.  

Ask yourself how committed you are to the goal in the first place.  Where there's a will, there's a way. If it's something you really want, you'll make it happen.  Again, as I said in yesterday's post, your passion will drive you forward.

For more information, read Overcoming Roadblocks:  Removing Roadblocks on the Journey to Your Success (Andrew Neilsen) at


Friday 9 January 2015

Measure Your Success

"What gets measured gets done." (Peter Drucker)

If you have been following my posts this month, I am focussing on goal setting and achieving, something Brian Tracy talks about in his book Goals:  How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible.  If you want to learn more about how to set goals, visit my post "Chasing Butterflies vs. Digging for Gold" at  

Once you have set your goals and put your plan into practice, you need to measure your goals.  One blogger suggests the following:

1.  Track your daily goals at IDoneThis, an e-mail based productivity log started in 2011.

2.  Join a goal setting website like (set your goal; build new habits; manage your tasks).

3.  Use the Seinfeld Method.  Keep a daily calendar in which you check off every day that you complete your goal.  A chain of checks starts to develop.  Try not to break the chain.  Visit here for a Don't Break the Chain Calendar:

4.  Keep a journal.  If you are working towards something intangible, like being more content, journaling is a good forum for showing the progression of your daily feelings and state of mind.

5.  Schedule a weekly dinner with your family, friends or colleagues to review your weekly goals.  Accountability goes a long way.

6.  Schedule a monthly review of your monthly goals.  Are you focussing on your major goal?  What are you goals for the following month?

7.  Assign each goal a measurable unit ex. chore chart with tasks and time allotments; a chart to spend more time with your family ex. weekly date night with spouse; # of activities with children.

8.  Other ways to measure your goals are:  rate your goal achievement on a scale of 1 to 10 (very unsatisfied/unhappy versus very satisfied/happy).  Assign a monetary value to your goal ex. If you don't follow your plan one week, you give so much money to charity.  

9.  Each month ask yourself:  Whether the goal is still worth pursuing.  How you're doing?  What action steps are needed to bring you closer to your goal?

Note:  There is a difference between tracking your goals, recording what you have done, and measuring your goals, calculating how far you've progressed towards your goal.

Thursday 8 January 2015

How to Become an Expert in Your Field

"Be all that you can be." (United States Army motto)

An Ivy League study concluded that it takes 1000 hours to become an expert in any given field. However, in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, he begs to differ.  He quotes a study conducted by Berlin's Academy of Music which followed three groups of musicians.  Group one was called the elite group, group two was the good group and group three was the average group.  For fifteen years, from age 5 to 20, the musicians practiced.  Group one practiced for 10,000 hours, group two for 8,000 hours and group three for 4,000 hours.

Only the elite group members were considered to be worthy of the term "expert".  As Malcolm Gladwell concluded, 1000 hours qualifies you as "efficient", but 10,000 hours qualifies you as "genius".  The moral of the story is:  Practice, practice, practice.  Becoming an expert is not a quick process, but a lengthy one.

Bobby Fischer, world chess champion from 1972 to 1975, took nine years to perfect the game. Author Pierre Berton spent a lifetime writing newspaper and magazine articles as well as 50 history books, qualifying him as a Canadian history expert.  According to Julia Child, if you want to "master the art of French cooking", you need to start by trying the 524 recipes in her first cookbook.  Even if each recipe only took an hour to follow, that's over 500 hours.  

When I think of an expert, my grandad comes to mind.  In Grade 7, he wrote a math test in which he received a poor grade.  His teacher posted it on the black board and mocked him.  Grandad vowed to get revenge on his teacher by becoming a math expert.  He devoted hours to mastering the subject.  In Grade 8 his math marks slowly improved. In high school, he started to receive A's.  He majored in math in university where he graduated with Honours in both Math and Physics.

Teacher's College followed.  During a recession in the mid-1920's, Grandad was offered not one but three math teaching positions in Toronto high schools.  He was promoted to the Head of the Mathematics Department.  He taught for forty years for the Toronto Board of Education and became an expert not just in math, but in teaching.  With his perfect geometrical shapes, the Ontario Education Inspector said that he had the "neatest blackboards in Ontario" -- not bad for a boy who couldn't even pass a basic math test.    

If you want to become an expert in your field like my grandad, here are ten tips offered by Brian Tracy:

1.  Commit to excellence.  As someone once said:  "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."

2.  Be a lifelong learner.  Upgrade your knowledge and skills regularly.

3.  Turn driving time into learning time.  The average driver spends 500 to 1000 hours in the car. Listen to audiotapes.  You'll be well on your way to becoming "efficient" in your field.

4.  Attend workshops.  A one day workshop can give you valuable tips.

5.  Identify the key skills you need to become an expert.

6.  Practice those skills daily.

7.  Be observant like a journalist.  Being observant helps you learn.  It also helps you network.  You may be in the right place at the right time with the right person to create the right opportunity.

8.  Read a book a week in your subject area.  That translates into 50 books a year and 500 books in ten years.  

9.  Be passionate about your subject.  My grandad always recommended that to me as a teacher.  Passion is infectious; it translates to your students.  Passion brings you closer to the title "expert".  As cardiologist Dr. Mani says on his website:  "Passion fuels expertise which in turn keeps passion  burning."  

10.  Find a mentor.  We all look up to someone.  Pierre Berton's mentor was News-Herald editor Jack Scott.  He patterned his early newspaper columns after Jack's.  Bobby Fischer's mentor was Carmine Nigro of the Brooklyn Chess Club.  The young chess protege would come to his house for games every weekend for two or three years.  Julia Child studied under the tutelage of the great French chef Max Bugnard in Paris in the early 1950's.  

For more information, read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.