If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going, You Will Probably End Up Somewhere Else

January 31, 2017

When I was a senior in high school, the book If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else, by Dr. David Campbell, was myblog2 road map to the future.  I can’t remember how many times I read it, but it helped me look to my future with increased clarity and confidence. To date, I have achieved more success than I planned, but I have also experienced significant setbacks along the way. I have learned that grit and attitude, coupled with an authentic goal setting system, will lead to success time and time again.

In James P. Owen’s book, The Try: The Secret to Success in Life and Career, Mr. Owen defines the word “try” as a term cowboy use.  In this case, “try” is a noun rather than a verb.  As a verb “to try” is make an attempt, but as a noun “try” is invested with a profound meaning—giving it 110% in everything you do.  As Ty Murray, the legendary King of the Cowboy says:  “When you climb down onto a bull, you can’t guarantee you’re going to stay on.  You can’t guarantee that you’re going to make a good ride, and you can’t guarantee that you’re going to be a high scorer or any of that.  The one thing you can guarantee every time is that you will try your guts out.  Whatever the outcome is, that’s what it is.  But to me, if you give it from the bottom of your guts that equates to a good outcome.  And if you do that every time, you’re going to win a lot more than you lose.”

The Try list seven steps to success:

  1. Start with a Dream
  2. Turn Your Dream into a Measurable Goal
  3. Create a Game Plan and Timetable
  4. Make a Commitment
  5. Take Full Responsibility
  6. Expect Adversity
  7. Give it 110%

These seven goal setting steps are exceptional. As a teacher for at-risk high school students, I have seen these steps transform many lives.  To understand how and why these steps work, let’s take a closer look.

Start with a Dream

Having a dream (goal, vision, intention) is a must.  Without a dream, you may not only end up somewhere else, chances are you will go nowhere.  With your dream, you can begin to plan backwards to successfully accomplish your dream one step at a time.

Turn Your Dream into a Measurable Goal

A measurable goal provides the path to your dream.  It gives you day-to-day benchmarks that are concrete and can be measured.  I had a 9th grade student who told me he was going to play college football.  I asked him if he was on the football team, and he said no.  He clearly did not have a measurable goal to achieve his dream of playing college football, and he did not go on to play college football.

Create a Game Plan and Timetable

If we don’t create a game plan and timetable for our dreams, we are much less likely to achieve them.  Soon after college, I decided to “train” for a marathon.  The only problem was that I did not have a game plan or a timetable.  I told myself that I could just gradually increase my distance over time and I would be ready.  Because I did not follow a specific game plan, I never kept up with my increased mileage.  It wasn’t long before I totally gave up on the idea.  Years later, some friends and I decided to run a half marathon.  We followed a very prescribed regiment that included increasing mileage, time off, stretching, and cross training.  When the day came to run the half marathon, we were ready, willing, and able.

Make a Commitment

It is important to make a commitment not only to you but to share that commitment with others as well.  When you tell close friends or family that you are committed to your dream, they will support you and help hold you accountable.  If you are the only one aware of your dream, it is very easy to give up, and people often do.

Take Full Responsibility

Things don’t always go our way.  No one is perfect, and there are always bumps in the road and mistakes to be made.  When you have a set back or falter on your own, admit it, deal with it and move on.

Expect Adversity

No dream or goal worth achieving comes without adversity.  If you expect that you will have difficult times you will be ready for it when it comes.  I often think of marriages that have lasted for many years.  You can bet that every one of them has faced very difficult times, but they were able to work through the adversity and learn and grow together as a stronger couple.  Overcoming adversity builds character and strength.

Give It 110%

Giving 110% is to pursue your dream with Try.  It is going the extra mile day in and day out while staying laser focused on your dream.  The American Dream was built on hard work.  Nothing replaces hard work, and no one can stop you from working hard.  Hard work is a choice, and it is what separates those who are average from those who have purpose.


Bringing the Code to Life

January 17, 2017

Anxiety, apprehension, and unease are normal parts of the human condition.  They can help us focus, positively increase our adrenaline, motivate us, act as a warning sign of danger, and help show and understand empathy for others.

Today the feeling of overwhelming stress and angst has become the most common psychiatric disorder in children.  An astounding 1 in 3 adolescents suffers from feeling higher than normal levels of stress related to-among others-school, friends, and families.  Why is this?  What has changed in the last fifty years?  How can we reduce this alarming and suffocating statistic?

One answer is the following-as Baby Boomers came of age, they (we) drifted away from the shared values that made our country great.  Church attendance declined, the divorce rate increased, family dinners fell by the wayside, “anything goes” became the norm, and we slowly lost our faith in ourselves and a higher power. Endless worry over everyday issues is crippling our great nation.  The idea of shared values is nonexistent.  Very few people truly know what they stand for and, more importantly, why?

We must dig down deep and figure out who we are and how we are raising the next generation of leaders and doers in our country.  The perfect place to start is with the ten principles found in the Code of the West:

Inspiration:  The Code of the West

  1. Live Each Day with Courage
  2. Take Pride in Your Work
  3. Always Finish What You Start
  4. Do What Has to Be Done
  5. Be Tough, But Fair
  6. When You Make a Promise, Keep It
  7. Ride for the Brand
  8. Talk Less and Say More
  9. Remember That Some Things Aren’t For Sale
  10. Know Where to Draw the Line

As a teacher of Cowboy Ethics in the Classroom, I ask my students if they have a code or a creed to live by, and the majority of them look at me with blank faces.  They don’t know what my question means.  This is very concerning because without a code or a creed to live by one is destined to a troubled, directionless life.  Hence, the situation we are in today in our country.

Think about it, if everyone just lived by one of above ten principles, our country would be in a far better place.  We would be more likely to trust one another, we would follow through, we would live up to our promises, we would have fair and honest discipline, and we would collectively know what we stand for as a country.

Better yet, if everyone developed their own principle to live by, I know that exorbitant anxiety levels would decrease and resilience and self-reliance would make a roaring comeback.  Below are some examples of 11th Principles written by students who had previously suffered from anxiety and an extraordinary lack of confidence.

“Breath in problems and exhale solutions.”

“Fear is your gas pedal, not your brake.”

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

“Show up like you are meant to be there.”

“Tough times don’t last.  Tough people do.”

“It’s not supposed to be easy….it’s supposed to be worth it.”

“Fear is a sign of growth.”

There you have it: “out of the mouths of babes.” So let’s wake up and know and defend what we stand for as individuals, families, and as a nation-for living a principled life is the only life worth living.  Period.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Aquila says:

    It’s so true, with no values, especially moral values, a society is doomed. I watched my contemporaries act the fool, over and over. Telling themselves anything was okay as long as it supposedly did not hurt others. We also have to remember that some of the blame for the erosion of societal values should be placed exactly where it belongs – on ourselves. Those of us would did not speak up, who did not try to raise their children to be respectful, of themselves and others, who decided that it didn’t matter, that there was nothing greater than ourselves and the things we decided to do, not understanding and accepting responsibility for our choices and actions. There was a time when you could count on being treated respectfully by just about every one you met. It is long past time for a return to a system of values that many people hold. Thank you for being here.

    Liked by 2 people

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