In chapter two, one of the main characters, Scotty, finds himself in the middle of the woods with just a canvas bag of supplies. He’s been left there, the sun is setting, and he’s absolutely sure there are bears all around him. Because he has no other option, he uses the tools in his bag to find his way to security and safety. Waiting there for him at the end is his mentor sitting back comfortably, awaiting his arrival.

Scotty’s mentor had given him everything he needed in that tote bag to be successful. But most importantly, he saw something in Scotty that Scotty did not see in himself. It was not until after he was pushed out of his comfort zone that Scotty was able to see his full potential.

I can relate so closely to this part of the book because I’ve had so many mentors in my life who have pushed me out of my comfort zone. They didn’t tell me what to do; they didn’t tell me the things I wanted to hear. They gave me the tools and the resources I need to be successful and then let me do it on my own. This is what it true mentor does.

In business and life, we have to take advantage of the opportunities we have to mentor and be mentored. We must constantly be looking for people who have more experience than we do and strive to learn from their mistakes. We must also always be looking for those who could use a little guidance to get to their next level.

This week, I have three challenges for you.

Number One: Pre-order your copy of Swim

Number Two: Reach out to someone who has been a mentor to you. Thank them for their wisdom, time, energy, and advise and tell them specifically what their contribution had on your life.

Number Three: Look for opportunities to mentor someone new in the game. Without being pushy, offer gentle advice, words of wisdom, or guidance to help someone make their next right step.

I’m a romantic. I love Valentine’s Day because it gives me a reason to go above and beyond to show my bride how grateful I am for her. I hear a lot of people saying that Valentine’s day is all about commercialism, and while I can see where they are coming from, I choose to look at this day love as an opportunity; an opportunity to celebrate our 20+ years of marriage, romance, and teamwork. Because it’s not easy y’all. It’s not easy to take two imperfect people and put them together for a lifetime. It takes work. But anything worth doing, anything worth having, takes work.

Our passions and our dreams and our businesses are the same way. If they are truly what we were put on this Earth to do, we will find a way to make them happen. We will fall down 9 times and get up 10. We will accept that things will not go as planned, will take longer than we hoped, and require more of us than we expected, and choose to move forward anyway. Kind of like marriage, right?

I can often find a lot of parallels between my love story with Antoinette and the way I encourage and motivate people to reach the next level in business. The first time I saw Antoinette, it was at a college party. She was, by far, the prettiest girl in the room and I made it my mission to find out who she was. After the party we went our own ways, but I did not give up trying to figure out how I could make her see me.  I made it my personal mission to be intentional about seeking her out, with a unique mixture of hope and confidence that this would work, that “we” could work. The stars aligned and we started dating, and the more I got to know her the more I wanted to get to know her. The deeper I fell for her, the deeper I wanted to fall. This is the fun, passionate, exciting chapter of a relationship, where we had nothing but hopes and plans for our picture-perfect future. This part is what we often think back on when things are hard. When things are hard in our marriage, I remember back to the beginning when I was discovering this new relationship when it was all I could think about and all I wanted, and I was relentless in my pursuit. It helps me to look at the big picture and remember my “why.”

If you’re in this chapter of your business development now, you get it. If it’s been a while since you’ve been consumed and on fire for your dream, be intentional this week about thinking about the good ‘ol days. The days when this dream was just an idea. When the budget is tight, or contracts fall through, or when success is taking longer than you hoped, it can be easy to throw your hands up and decide this was not a good idea. But don’t. Think back to what got you so excited about this in the first place and focus on that. This is your “why,” this is what will keep you moving forward when it’s too hard, too stressful, too exhausting.

Once you’ve discovered your why you must actively live it. This means saying no to the things you think you want to make room in your life for the things that you need. Living your passion means making sacrifices and compromises in order to turn your dreams into a reality. If you want your marriage to thrive, you must surround people who want your marriage to thrive. The same goes for your business. You need a team of people to call you out in love when you could be doing better, and encourage you when you’re on fire. A married couple benefits from the wisdom and community of other married couples. While your single friends are fun, they aren’t in a place to help you strengthen your marriage. The same goes for your business. You can’t expect to get to the next level if you surround yourself with people that are perfectly content with mediocrity.

Valentine’s Day may be a day where we spend too much money on chocolate and jewelry, but I love it. I love the idea of a whole day dedicated to celebrating love, and the work and effort it takes to make it work. I love the idea of honoring the woman in my life who has encouraged me to pursue my dreams but kept me grounded at the same time. Valentine’s Day will come and go, but my love and commitment and dedication to Antoinette will not.

This is how we need to be when it comes to our next-level dreams. We need to use every day as a day to celebrate our accomplishments, work to be better, develop better habits and rituals, and make a choice to pursue our passion with everything we have. Not just when things are good.

I hope that this week you can reignite the fire you have about your business and make a choice to live it intentionally. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be perfect, but I can promise you it’ll be worth it.

As I get ready for 2019 and reflect on 2018, I realize that I was very intentional on preparing my family, and my life, for our personal off season. I took deliberate steps to ensure that the time that all three of my kids were home would be uninterrupted and free of distractions to take advantage of the small chunk of time we had together. I made a list of three things that I consciously did that I feel contributed to the success of our families off season. And then I took it a step further and thought about how I could use the same three steps to make sure my professional off season is just as successful.

Schedule It

One of the first things that I did was figure out and schedule what dates all three of our kids would be home. I put this in our calendar in big red marker and highlighted it. This time was blocked off. Nothing else was going in this window of time. When people would ask me to do things like attend schedule birthday parties, or go golfing,  or anything else during that time, I could confidently look at my calendar and give them a hard no. This time was blocked off and reserved for family time, and nothing else was going in this space. I was more than happy to schedule outings and work meetings and other things before or after this specific block of time, but I was unwilling to compromise my time with my family for other things. As a successful businessman, I live by my calendar. I keep my calendar handy on my phone at all times and look at it multiple times a day. It helps keep me organized and focused. Anything that is important and needs to be remembered goes in my calendar. So my personal off season went there as well.

Busy business leaders live by their calendars. Whether it is an app on their phone or good ol’ fashioned pen to paper, a calendar keeps meetings, deadlines, goals, and important information organized. Your professional off season needs to go in your calendar. Right now. Go write it in there. If you don’t, there is a chance that something ‘“more important” could get scheduled in that space and your off season could be pushed back indefinitely. You can tell a lot by a person by looking at their calendar. Things that are important to you going to your calendar. Your off season needs to be there too.

Warn People

Another thing that I did, almost subconsciously, was warn people about my personal off season. I let the people in my inner circles know that this specific time was going to be spent with the four people I love the most in the world. I let them know that if I didn’t respond to their texts right away, or was a little off the grid, that it was nothing personal and they had nothing to worry about. I was just being present with my family. I learned that by warning people ahead of time that I was going to be unavailable for other activities, that I got a lot fewer interruptions. It also helped to quiet that nagging voice in my head that tempted me to reply to work-emails or return non-urgent phone calls during this time.  It even sparked conversations with friends and acquaintances about the benefits of an off season.

I heard from multiple people over the holidays that printed out the free off season planning page, and they were all impressed at how a single resource could help them take the first step towards a successful off season.  I actually heard from someone over the holiday break that they implemented an off season into their life after listening to our off season audio download. They are excited for 2019 and report that it has changed the trajectory of their life. That is a big deal!

One of the biggest distractions from growth and development during your professional off season is your inner circle. You love these people, care about these people want to spend time with these people. These are your golfing buddies, your family, your neighbors. These people may see your professional off season as a “break’” and unintentionally interfere on this important time. Before you start your off season, tell the people around you. Explain to them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it so that they can give you the creative space you need without interruptions. Warn people ahead of time that you may not answer texts as fast as you normally do, that you may be “off the grid” for a short period of time, but that you’re fine. More than fine, actually. You’re devoting your time and energy on things that will get you to the next level.

Practice Saying No

Believe it or not, even though my off season was scheduled in big bold letters in my calendar and I told people about it, I still got invitations for outside activities during this time. However,  over the years I’ve learned that saying yes to something means saying no to something else.  If I were to say yes to these outside invitations, I would be saying no to fishing trips with my kids, late-night chats by the pool, and other precious memories that I wasn’t willing to give up. So I said no. And I said it often. More often than not, people completely understood my reasoning for my personal off season and respected my boundaries. I saw the power of no reflected in my kids as well. There are a hundred of other things that they could be doing during this window of time when they are not in school, but it made my heart happy to see that they felt confident saying no to those things as well. And not because we were bugging them as their parents, but because we’ve instilled in them the importance of family time and creating memories together.

People understand personal off seasons. They get that you want to step away from work and spend time with your family. However, sometimes they don’t understand a professional off season. They don’t get why you would step away from work, to work on work.  People who don’t intentionally schedule off seasons into their lives typically see any time away from work as a vacation. Help them to understand the benefits of a powerful offseason, but continue to say no. The time you have to focus on your business, to analyze and plan and brainstorm and create and focus on your vision is very limited, and saying no to outside interruptions will help you maximize this time.

My personal off season with my wife and kids meant the world to me we are sad to see them go. But I feel refreshed and ready to get back to work after this priceless family time. As I sit at my computer to jot down my thoughts, I am excited to get back to work. I’m excited to work on the one thing that I am so passionate about: motivating and inspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs to get to the next level.

I sincerely hope that your holiday season and personal off season has left you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on 2019. One of my favorite Bible verses talks about how there is a time for everything; a season for building and a season for tearing down. Your season for building up great things and breaking down bad habits is now. I’ve also put together a few off season resources to help you plan a professional off season that will make you feel the same way.

Cheers to more family time, productive off season, and growth and development in 2019 like we’ve never seen before!

You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs, business leaders, and network marketers can’t recite their company’s mission statement. That’s like an actor getting up on stage without ever seeing a script, or an individual stepping onto a train without looking at a map. It’s a recipe for disaster. A clear and compelling mission statement is the script, the map, the purpose for a company to reach the next level. But a mission statement is not something you throw together on your commute to work one day. To create a solid mission statement that will get your company inspired and re-focused, consider these 5 ways to write a mission statement that moves people.

Less Is More
This is a mission statement, not a company profile or biography. You want your mission statement to be something people can say, remember and recite easily. You want it to wrap up everything your company does into a sentence or two that packs a punch. It will be the filter in which you run every business decision, so it needs to encompass the values and goals of the company in a sentence or two. Here are some examples of powerful, yet short, mission statements:

  • JetBlue: To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.
  • Life is Good: To spread the power of optimism.
  • Facebook: To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
  • Hyatt: “To provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day.”

Even though they are short, you have no question about what they do or who they do it for after reading their statement.

While many companies choose to go the more detailed mission statement route, most never exceed more than 2-3 sentences. Think about the things that are critical for people to understand about your company. Use that. The other stuff can be featured in the vision, on your website or in your logo. Your mission statement is sacred and should be reserved for the values and ideas that your company holds in the highest regard.

Don’t Be Generic
When you are creating your mission statement, make sure that it’s unique to the goals and values of your specific company. If you can plug the name of any company into your mission statement, it’s too generic. Make a list of catch phrases and keywords that are unique to the culture of your business, and see how they can fit into your mission statement. Get creative. This often serves as a customer’s first impression of your company. Stand out.

Ask The Foundational Four
Your mission statement is a statement of purpose. It’s not a fluffy, feel-good sentence that people want to put on a bumper sticker. It’s a confident statement that embodies who your company is. As you create your mission statement, make sure it answers these four foundational questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • For whom do we do it?
  • Why do we do it?

If your customer base can’t answer these four questions after reading your mission statement, it needs to be revised. Customers should be able to know who you are and what value you add to their lives by reading your mission statement. Interview yourself. Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. Then play with your answers until you can get all of the answers to flow together. That is your mission statement.

Keep Your Customers In Mind
Why do your customers need your service or product? What is your audience looking for in product or service such as yours? How can you let them know, from the get-go, that you have what they need? Your mission statement is a way for your company to stay focused, but it is also the way your customers understand what they can expect from you. Put the words they want to see up close and personal so that there is no question that your company can give them what they need.

Get Expert Help
Maybe you’re a strong business leader, but the idea of sitting down to write a mission statement gives you the heebie-jeebies. Maybe you are a phenomenal public speaker but getting the right words down on paper is something you struggle with. Or maybe you’ve never created a powerful mission statement before. If this is you, don’t just wing it. Join the Next Level: Personal Development Mastermind Group and get the expert advice you need to create a powerful mission statement that will change the course of your business and your life. Seeking out expert advice could mean the difference between a mediocre mission statement and one that truly embodies your company.

Leave your mission statement in the comments below, and we’ll try to guess your business!