How To Live With Excellence In A “Good Enough” World

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Good Enough

Are you familiar with the phrase “that’s good enough for government work?” Everywhere we turn, it would seem that many people settle with just “good enough” in the majority of areas in their lives. They settle for good enough in their work. They settle for good enough in their personal lives. And, they settle with good enough in their relationships. Welcome to the world of mediocrity.

Those of us in a passionate pursuit of renaissance living, though, know that this is not the best attitude. Sure, there will be times and occasions where we will be in a hurry and can only do what we can do in that moment. What I’m talking about here in this post is a general, overall attitude. People who never push themselves to go to the next level in their lives and their work. If you were to boil it down to its simplest level, we’re talking a general attitude of laziness.

Going To The Next Level

So, if you’ve just been living a life that’s just been good enough to get by, what are the steps to break out of this attitude and mindset and get to the next level of excellent living?

Here are a few steps I’ve found helpful in getting to a higher level in my own life:

  • Change your attitude. Don’t accept an attitude of “good enough” any longer in your life. The people who are living incredible lives in today’s world do not live by the motto of “good enough.”
  • Demand the best you can get. Related to the first step, the next step in a change of attitude is demanding and expecting the very best in all areas of your life. Don’t settle! Also, don’t allow those around you to manipulate you into settling. If this is happening with your family and friends, then make it very clear that you can’t settle for less than the best in your life.
  • Rinse your cottage cheese. In the book Good to Great, author Jim Collins lists the characteristic of “rinsing your cottage cheese” as a factor in taking companies from good to great. The “rinsing your cottage cheese” factor refers to an extremely disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott who would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get any extra fat off. He believed that being disciplined in this one, additional, small step would give him that extra edge in competition with others. So, what does Dave Scott’s example mean to you? Dave was a world-class athlete because he lived he an extraordinary, disciplined life. If you want to live a life of excellence, then you need to be ultra-disciplined in all areas of your life as well.

How’s Your Attitude?

Where do you find yourself, today? Has your attitude been one of just “good enough?” Or, are you trying to break free of that mindset and go to the next level in every aspect of your life?

I would encourage you, today, to embrace renaissance living. Experience the renewal process in your life. Change your attitude, demand the best, and be ultra-disciplined in order to get extraordinary results!

Resources:

The Secret To An “Easy” Life

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Press The Easy Button

You may recall the “Easy Button” commercials produced by the office supply chain store Staples over the last few years. Staples asserts that if you utilize their products and services, that you are essentially pressing a metaphorical easy button to accomplish whatever you need to in business and life itself.

Easy Doesn’t Happen Easily

But, easy doesn’t necessarily happen all that easily. Here’s what I mean.

For example, let’s take playing a musical instrument. If you’ve ever observed an extremely talented musician play their instrument, they seem to do it very effortlessly. It’s almost as if their instrument is simply an extension of themselves. In a strange way, the inanimate object and the human being have merged into one unit.

Or, take another example, a professional athlete. When you see an athlete playing their particular sport when they are “in the zone,” they are moving with extreme ease. Their movements seem very natural. You almost feel like you could accomplish what this athlete is, simply because they make it look so deceptively effortless!

The reality in both of these examples, though, is that the musician and the athlete have both worked extremely hard to get to this place. Through challenging themselves in the practice room or the gym, they were able to get just a little stronger musically or physically each time they practiced their craft.

Make It A Little Harder Each Time

If you want to get into shape physically, you have to push yourself beyond normal levels, three to four times a week. As you workout each week, you need to constantly be thinking about how you can “raise the bar” just a little.

I discovered this when I changed my workout approach a few months ago. Over the last year, I have been doing some moderate exercise at home, using inferior, home gym-type equipment. I felt as though I was just maintaining and not getting much stronger.

I happened to start working out in a gym while my wife and I were on vacation back in May. At that point, I realized what a quality physical workout feels like. I had a better understanding of pushing myself a little beyond my ability in the areas of cardio and strength training in order to get stronger. The weird part of the process – I liked it!

Life Application

If you want easy anything, you need to push yourself. I’m not just talking about working out either. This can apply to all areas of renaissance living: writing, playing a musical instrument, painting, sculpting, reading, and so on.

We all have mental limits we have placed on ourselves in every area of life. The people who have achieved great success in this life have figured out ways to push past those limiting beliefs into a better place. Their lives look deceptively easy, and they are easier in a sense. But, they had to push themselves past their limits in order to get to that next, easier level.

In what areas do you need to start pushing yourself past your own limiting beliefs, in order to reach that “easier” state?

The Wrong Way And The Right Way To Make An Impact Before You Die

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Death At Any Age

You could be one breath away from death. Have you ever contemplated that fact?

While doing research on my last post, How To Pursue Excellence Like Andy Griffith, I ran across the website OnTheRedCarpet.com. This site has a picture gallery for celebrities who have passed away within the last few years.

As I quickly scanned through this gallery, I was struck by the wide range of age in these deaths from young to very old. This gallery includes celebrities who have passed in their mid-30s all they way up into their 100s.

As I looked at the cause of death, especially in many of the younger celebrities, I saw a pattern of wrong living. I saw young celebrities who have made a horrible impact on those around them. But, I also saw others who have lived amazing lives.

What would be considered the wrong way and right way of making an impact in this world before you die?

The Wrong Way

If I could boil it down to one key characteristic, I would say that the wrong way to make an impact in your life here on earth is to live selfishly. Don’t give a flying flip about what your spouse, immediate family, extended family, friends, or co-workers think. Do whatever you want, and the heck with whatever anybody else thinks. Hey, it’s your life not theirs. Chase after every pleasure under the sun. Make life all about you.

These type of people have the statistical tendency to end up dying from drug overdoses, drunk driving, drive-by shootings, and suicides. Or, they have so abused their bodies and minds that they can barely make it into their 50s and 60s. They die younger than expected.

The Right Way

Conversely, if I could boil the right way down to one key characteristic, I would say it’s about living a generous life. I’m not taking about giving money, either. If you have a generous spirit, you care about others. If you care about others, especially those closest to you, then you’re going to take care of yourself. You’re not going to abuse your body into an early grave.

If you’re doing things the right way, then you will be making major contributions into people’s lives. You will spend time with them, care for them, inspire them, and learn from them. You will be a positive influence and major force for good in the lives of others. You will care more about others than yourself.

Living life the right way, of course, is no guarantee for a long life. Awesome, clean-living, generous people die young too. The difference, though, is that even after living a shorter life, they were still able to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

Which Way Are You Headed?

So, are you headed down the wrong path or right path? Are you living a life of selfishness or generosity? Do you care more about yourself or others? Do you even really care about making an impact in the lives of others? When you do pass from this life into the next, how will people remember you? Will they remember you as being a selfish or generous person?

I would encourage you to take a long, hard look at your own life and determine which path you’re currently on. If you’re headed down the wrong path, figure out a way to reverse course as quickly as possible. It’s never too late to make a positive life change.

Have you experienced the impact of right or wrong living in your life or as a result of someone close to you? If so, feel free to share your story in the comments section.

How To Pursue Excellence Like Andy Griffith

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Andy Griffith, RIP

Last week on Tuesday, July 3, the world mourned the loss of actor Andy Griffith. Andy was best known for his roles as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show as well as country lawyer Ben Matlock in the legal drama Matlock.

Ron Howard (a.k.a. Opie), then child actor who co-starred with Andy on the Andy Griffith Show, tweeted out this statement after hearing about the death of his friend and mentor:

Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy

According to Ron Howard’s tweet, it would appear that Andy Griffith was a man known for his pursuit of excellence. He worked hard at his acting career and enjoyed the journey along the way.

Pursue Excellence Like Andy

As I contemplate Andy Griffith, his career, and a pursuit of excellence, I can’t help but think of some of the unique characteristics of excellent people like Andy who:

  • Work Hard. People who pursue excellence aren’t afraid of a little hard work. They’re going to do whatever it takes to get the job done with quality.
  • Have fun. People who pursue excellence attempt to enjoy the ride. They live in the moment and have fun even while working hard.
  • Bring people along for the ride. Excellent people aren’t afraid of surrounding themselves with other great talent. Many tend to build strong mentor relationships with those around them who are younger and less experienced. Andy seemed to excel in this area.
  • Aren’t afraid to fail. Andy had a breakout role in an early film as well as two hit TV sitcoms. Did you realize, though, that he had a bunch of failed films and TV shows inter-mingled with his major successes? He kept on trying different roles until something stuck. He didn’t throw in the towel when one of his TV shows didn’t work out.
  • Keep on fighting through the challenging times. Did you also know that Andy suffered leg paralysis from Guillain–Barré syndrome back in the 1980s? After an extended period of rehabilitation, though, he returned to television in the legal drama Matlock. He fought through the pain and then went on to star in another hit TV show.

Are You In The Pursuit of Excellence?

How about you? Are you in a pursuit of excellence in your life? If so, I would just encourage you to follow the example of the life of Andy Griffith – work hard, have fun, take people along for the ride, don’t be afraid to fail, and keep on fighting through difficult times.

Are there other key characteristics of people who are in the pursuit of excellence? I welcome your feedback in the comments below.

5 Reasons You Need To Establish An Exercise Routine

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Mid-Life Crisis

Almost two years ago, I turned 40 years old. Like anyone going through a mid-life season, I started evaluating my physical body. I asked myself questions such as, “if I continue living the way I have been for the last 40 years, will I even be able to make it to age 80, 90, or maybe even 100? If not, what do I need to do differently in order to go into the second half of my life, healthy and strong?”

Obviously, regular cardio exercise and strength training are necessary to live an extended, healthy life. I’m not saying that exercise guarantees anything, but we do know that it greatly improves the quality of our lives as we age.

And that was my ultimate desire going into the second half of my life. I want a better quality of life. I’m happy to say that I’m seeing and feeling amazing results over the last year.

5 Reasons To Get Exercising

Here are some great benefits that I’m discovering as I continue to pursue my regular workout routine:

  1. More Energy. I have two pre-teen children and a baby on the way. I’m definitely in need of more energy to get through my work day and still have energy reserves in order to give to my wife and kids.
  2. Deeper Sleep. The amazing thing I’m finding out about exercise and overall good health is its impact on my sleep. I’m now getting better, more restful sleep. Because it’s a better quality sleep, I’ve also found that I can sleep less and wake up earlier – BONUS! Go for quality, not quantity.
  3. Weight Control. I think this one is pretty obvious and probably the primary reason that most people exercise. My weight has never been a huge issue for me, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the results of turning some of my excess fat into lean muscle. I’m currently trying to get the 6-pack abs.
  4. De-stress. Over the last couple of years, my personal and professional life have been a bit stressful for a variety of reasons. A few months ago, I found myself experimenting with pushing my workouts a little bit longer and a whole lot harder. The result has been a lowering on my stress level. Exactly what the doctor ordered!
  5. Increased libido. It’s a well-known fact that as we age, our hormone levels begin to decline and our sex drive suffers as a result. Push your body a little harder in the cardio and strength training, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Why Do You Exercise?

So do you exercise? If so, do you have any different or better reasons that you do that differ from my list of five above?

Have you found any of these specific five reasons to have had a huge impact in your life? Which ones? Feel free to share with us the beneficial aspects of exercise from your own life experience.

The Secret To Living To Age 100

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A Personal Goal

I recently added to the long-term vision of my life a goal to live to at least the age 100. Crazy I know. Why would anyone really want to live that long? Kind of reminds me of the movie The Green Mile when Tom Hanks‘ character keeps on living while all the rest of his friends and family are passing away. That’s probably not the most enjoyable experience to outlive everybody you care about.

For some, living that long may not be all that appealing. For others, though, they have the desire to see what the world will be like in the future. They welcome the opportunity to have an impact on the lives of their extended family members in that future.

I think that’s where I’m at. I was born in 1970. I distinctly remember Jimmy Carter as President, the Iran hostage crisis, and the election of Ronald Reagan. My first computer was a Commodore Vic-20. Ever since these early historical memories, I have been blown away by what has happened over the last 40 years. I’m curious to see what our future looks like over the next 60 years.

5 Keys To Living A Long, Healthy Life

Over the last several days, I’ve been doing some research into how people live to be 100 and beyond. Here are some of the key discoveries scientists have made about long life:

  1. You Must Be Born With The Right Genes. Discouraging, I know. People who make it to age 100 seem to be born with just the right combination of genes. If you have any close relatives who lived long lives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.), there is a good chance you may have these genes! For more information, see the following article on the ‘Methuselah’ gene.
  2. Avoid smoking. Although many people who have made it to 100 and beyond may have been smokers at one point in their lives, they did not maintain the habit for their entire life. See article How to Live to 100: Secrets From Centenarians.
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight. In a recent centenarian study in Boston, very few centenarians are obese. Many of these would be considered “lean.” See article How to Live to 100: Secrets From Centenarians.
  4. Stay engaged. You need to be active both physically and mentally. You need to be doing cardio exercise for heart and lung health. You need to be doing weight training to fight the loss of muscle tone and mass. You need to be involved in activities that keep you mentally alert, such as crossword puzzles, brain games, playing musical instruments, reading, writing, and so on. See article How to Live To Be 102.
  5. Eat a healthy diet. The highest percentage of centenarians live in Okinawa, Japan. Their diets are high in grains, vegetables, and fish. Their diets are low in eggs, dairy, and meat. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough fiber and veggies in the American diet. We need these “to push the bad stuff out.” See article How to Live To Be 102.

How Long Do You Want To Live?

How old are you, today? How long do you want to live? Have you ever established a goal to live into your 90s or even 100s?

If you have established a long life goal, what are your steps to accomplish that goal? Why do you want to live a long life in the first place? Feel free to share your “living a long life” story with us.

5 Ways To Delay The Effects Of Old Age

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Let’s Age Like Tom Cruise!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m really beginning to notice a lot of the big name stars are aging pretty darn well. In fact, I’ve seen Tom Cruise on TV quite a bit lately, and people are really starting to notice that for a 50-year-old man, he still looks like he’s in fantastic shape. To me, he can still easily pass for a man in his late 30s or early 40s. And it’s not just Tom Cruise, either. In general, it would seem that people are living longer, healthier, and stronger as we continue further into the 21st century.

Personally, I’m okay with getting older. Hey, if I have a few grey hairs in my hair or beard right now, that’s fine. I can deal with that. What I don’t enjoy is feeling like I’m stiff and sore when I get out of bed in the morning. I’m also not crazy about having lower energy levels than I had at a younger age.

Five Strategies That Are Working For Me

Over the last couple of years, I’ve really been working hard at regaining the energy I had as a younger man. I’ve been exercising more, eating better, and just focused on taking a more proactive approach to my overall health and fitness.

I have found these five strategies extremely helpful in turning a few years back on my body clock.

  1. Move a lot of air. Be sure to push yourself in the cardio area 2-3 times a week. You can bike, run, or use traditional fitness center equipment. Get hot, sweaty, and breathe really hard for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Pump some iron. In order to have a strong body, you need to be on a regular strength training regimen of 2-3 times a week. The loss of muscle mass is one of the big issues related to aging. Fight it.
  3. Eat and drink the right stuff. Eat some greens. Vegetables, not fruit are probably the better overall approach to a healthy diet. This is due to blood sugar spikes and drops. Decent portions of protein are needed for strength, especially if you’re exercising regularly. Eat carbs in light moderation. Drink lots of water and tea. Avoid soda and other sugary drinks.
  4. Rock it in the bedroom. Meaning: have a lot of intimate relations with your spouse, regularly! If you focus some time and energy on the first three, your desire is going to grow too. Do you want to feel like a guy (or gal) in your 20s and 30s? This is a great way to do it (no pun intended).
  5. Laugh at yourself. As I get older, I’ve just stopped taking myself as seriously as I did when I was younger. I laugh more. I enjoy life at a different, deeper level. This leads to less stress and greater relaxation. Less stress means better health and aging.

How Are You Aging?

So, how are you aging? Do you feel like you’re aging faster than desired? Or, do you feel like you have successfully slowed the process?

Are you proactively working at turning back your biological age? Do you use any of these approaches? Do you have some additional tips that you have found valuable? Feel free to share your tips and secrets with us.

How To Experience A Personal Rebirth And Become A Better Person

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Renaissance Means “Rebirth”

The Renaissance time period is often viewed as a bridge from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era. The Middle Ages experienced a tremendous amount of political upheaval, deadly plagues, the heavy-handed rule of the Roman Catholic Church, and overall general chaos. As the European continent slowly emerged from the late Middle Ages, “new” ideas in literature, music, art, technology, and politics began to surface.

Historians generally credit the time period spanning the 14th through the 17th centuries as the Renaissance. The term “renaissance” means rebirth. It was out of a difficult period in human history that a cultural and intellectual transformation took place.

Problems Can Change People

When people encounter difficulties, it often causes them to pause and think. They think about causation. They consider solutions. They attempt to determine if they are part (or all) of the problem in the first place.

I know this happened in my own personal life. Around age 39-40, the wheels of my life came flying off. My  family was ripped apart, and I was handed a divorce I didn’t want. I experienced pain and anguish that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

But, with the help of close friends and a great personal counselor, I embraced the pain. I took a long, hard look at myself and my part in my failure. I vowed to myself that I would never go through something like that again. This was definitely not the vision or desire of my life.

Something had to change. I needed to change.

I allowed the difficulties of life to transform me into the person that I wanted to become. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I allowed Him to shape me into the kind of person He wants me to be.

And because of such intense pain, I experienced an amazing rebirth on the other side of the difficulty.

Have You Experienced A Rebirth?

How about you? Have you gone through a recent difficulty? Maybe a divorce, death, job loss, financial hardship, or illness?

I don’t know what has happened in your unique situation. I would just encourage you to get help. Talk out your problems with a friend. Seek out the assistance of a professional counselor. Unpack your baggage. Then, after you’ve made it through the grief process, embrace your challenges. Own them like you’ve never owned them before. And, finally, allow the entire process to transform you. Experience rebirth in your life at every level.

Do you have a life challenge and rebirth story to share?