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Goals? Plans? Tools? All Secondary — Teapots and Gyms As Teachers

So many of the lessons we’re taught growing up, or by life’s merciless classroom are not rocket science. First you learn to work hard, then you add work smart. Most of what we learn tends to follow that template. A brick at a time, right?

The teapot I’ve had for several years, and in which I boil water for my morning coffee, was lookin’ a lot older than it should. I wanted it to gleam the way it did the day I brought it home. So I found the elbow grease and broke out some serious scrubbin’ action. The results were, um, less than stellar. I tried all kinds of cleaners, different sponges and brushes, none of which produced. What to do?

Some time went by ’till I’d finished making coffee one morning and decided I’d spray one of the cleaners on the still hot teapot, then let it sit awhile. About an hour later I came in, used the rough side of a sponge, and quickly scrubbed and rinsed it. I repeated this twice daily for about three weeks. It’s shiny again! Who knew?

Seems the application of a mild solvent teamed with heat and time, followed by a little scrubbing — a couple times a day for 21 days or so, slowly but surely does the trick. It was an X brand cleaner, nothing special. The difference maker was showing up every day doing what had to be done. Again, not rocket science.

Like many of you, I belong to a gym, and workout frequently — usually six days a week. Due to tendon problems I’d let myself go, as I was pouting the last several years over the realization I was no longer a threat to Ahnold. (Talk about living in a fantasy world.) Then I met a guy who told me about a relatively different fitness approach, which wouldn’t, for the most part, mess with my tendons. It was anaerobic in nature, which in plain language means you’ll probably find yourself talkin’ with your long dead grandma more days than not.

I bought into the concept, and began in earnest March 1st. I kept goin’ regardless of what seemed at times to be lagging results. Almost five months later, I’m 27 pounds lighter, down 8½ inches on my waist, and my body fat is down over 30% from when I started. When I was itchin’ to goose the speed of the progress, I began adding 30 minutes on the treadmill after workouts in which I’d managed to keep my lunch down. :)

Same moral as the teapot. Show up when you’re supposed to, do what you know you should be doing, keep doing it for a long time. Results will happen over time — guaranteed. Even a poor plan, relentlessly carried out, will succeed — just not as well as a superior plan. Action mated to persistence — wed to quietly showing up every day like the sun rising in the east — will produce positive results.

We can’t be relentlessly persistent ’till we show up — not a minor point. Showing up, at least from where I sit, is the catalyst to the attainment of any goal. You’d think that would be self evident, but after decades of watchin’ agents in their natural habitat I can assure you it ain’t self evident to most of ‘em. Know what most of ‘em think holds the key to success? It’s a tie between another agent’s office, the coffee room, and happy hour.

Here’s an example of a poor plan executed religiously for a couple years.

It was waaaaay back in the day — I was 23, almost, and the market was in a recession, something I thought only happened to hairlines. (Little did I know.)

I knocked on 50-60 doors daily. Kinda sorta made it up as I went, following instructions from a book on farming — I wasn’t aware of any local farming experts or mentors. Most agents just picked a different neighborhood almost every time out and started knockin’ doors.

Anywho, it took about two months or so before I got my first listing. I kept refining the process, adding stuff, discarding what wasn’t working. After a year, I was getting about half the listings or more — after 18 months I was listing way more than half. Believe me when I tell you that when I first started talking to those folks, I was literally making it up as I went. But those home owners must’ve figured out I was gonna be there month in and month out regardless, as they began asking me in on cold or rainy days for coffee and pastry. I remember my broker at the time hated rainy days when I farmed, because he knew I’d come back to the office wired for sound. :)

All I did was start showin’ up, then kept showin’ up, then results flowed. Were there better farmers back then? My guess is they were all better than I was — how good could I have been for Heaven’s sake? But I was the one who kept showin’ up at their door.

So do yourself a favor, grab a plan, any plan, and begin a long, uninterrupted period of showin’ up — executing that plan like a dog with a bone. When the results start coming in, and they surely will, don’t act surprised, OK?

Related posts:
  • Education? We Unions Don’t Need It.
  • My New Years Resolution: To take care of today’s goals today, tomorrow’s tomorrow, and to track my progress every day.
  • Got goals? Prove it…

  • 6 comments

    6 Comments so far

    1. Russell Shaw July 28th, 2009 3:14 am

      Very nice, Jeff. You do with words on a blog what Earl Nightingale did with words on cassette tapes.

    2. Jeff Brown July 28th, 2009 9:29 am

      What a happy thought that is — it’s very much appreciated.

    3. Keahi Pelayo July 28th, 2009 2:47 pm

      Really good metaphors. Just keep showing up, sounds simple but hard to do.
      Aloha,
      Keahi

    4. Sean Purcell July 29th, 2009 10:03 am

      Sounds like you discovered CrossFit…

    5. Jeff Brown July 29th, 2009 12:27 pm

      Sean — True enough, and in large part because of you.

    6. jay July 29th, 2009 8:14 pm

      I love it! Consistency is everything. In college I sold books door to door every summer for 70 hours/week. Best learning experience of my life by far–far more valuable than a joke of a college degree I received.