#020: 3 Strategies for Taking Your Life to the Next Level [Podcast]

In this episode, I talk about what it takes to get to the next level in any area of your live—health, marriage, or career. Based on my own experience, I share the single most important thing you can do to make your dreams become reality.

The very fact that you are listening to this podcast (or reading these show notes) tells me you are the kind of person who wants to grow. I am too. Personal growth is the driving force of my life.

According to Dr. Timothy Pychyl, writing in Psychology Today:

… the successful pursuit of meaningful goals plays an important role in the development and maintenance of our psychological well-being. To the extent that we’re making progress on our goals, we’re happier emotionally and more satisfied with our lives.”

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Tony Robbins says it even more directly: “Progress equals happiness.”

If the key to happiness is making progress toward a goal, how do you do that? How do you ensure that you are making consistent, steady progress toward your goals?

I believe it is this: Enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.

Why is this important? Three reasons:

  1. Because you want to speed up the learning process and get to your destination faster.
  2. Because you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Someone, some where has already done what you are attempting to do.
  3. Because you want to avoid the common mistakes—and pain—along the way.

Episode Outline

So, practically speaking, how do you do this? I suggest three strategies. From least expensive to most expensive, they include:

  1. Strategy #1: Read relevant content.
  2. Strategy #2: Take specialized classes.
  3. Strategy #3: Hire an experienced coach.

I provide numerous examples in the podcast. If you don’t intend to listen to the podcast, you can read much of the content in this post I wrote called, “3 Ways to Go Further, Faster.”

Imagine what could happen if you enlisted the best coaches and instructors you could afford (whether it is via book, a class, or coaching) and determined you would go to the next level? You don’t need to struggle for months or years by reinventing the wheel. You can go further, faster by employing the three strategies I have outline above.

Listener Questions

  1. Jennifer Hoverstad asked, “How do I dig out from under being overcommitted? Then how do I tell those involved?”
  2. Chris Stevens asked, “How do you take your family along for the journey?”
  3. Bobby McGraw asked, “How do you stay healthy when traveling so much?‘

Special Announcements

  1. I will be in Ft. Worth, Texas next week, speaking for Cendera Funding and a lecture series they are sponsoring called, “Business with Purpose.” I will do two sessions: “The 5 Marks of Authentic Leadership” and “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.” If you are in the area, come join me.
  2. If you are interested in having me speak for your event, check out my speaking page.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a transcript of this episode here.

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  • http://joannamuses.com/ Joanna

    When I was a research student much of my work did legitimately require internet use.  To reduce the temptation to wander off into sites that were likely to waste my time, I installed the LeechBlock plugin and configured it to block the sites that were most likely to be distracting. I set the block to only function for the hours of the day I was usually working on my project so that I wasn’t always having to remember to turn the block on and off when I started and finished working. 

    For times when I wasn’t working on my project, I created Facebook lists that controlled who could see me online and was careful who I put on my Google Talk list so that I could avoid getting sucked into long winded time wasting conversations with people I didn’t know that well and/or rarely had anything of importance to say.

    • http://lesdossey.com/ Les Dossey

      Very cool Joanna….Humans are so creative – who’d thought to develop an app like this and then to give it a name like leech. I love it.

  • http://lesdossey.com/ Les Dossey

    Hey Michael,

    That is the 1st of your podcasts that I’ve listened to and I enjoyed it very much. Now I’ll have to find #1 and catch up. :)

    I would argue just a little… that getting there faster by speeding everything up could become a stranglehold or boobytrap that in reality slows down progress towards getting to the next level.

    Perhaps stating the #1 reason as “getting there right on time” would be a straighter path to take if not a more rewarding one.

    I’ve been more aware in recent months of God urging me to squeeze the life out of every moment and to practice taking every breath by faith.

    I like the quote by Ghandi – There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.

    I realize I’m talking semantics, but speaking from my own experience, the words I choose affect my sight, my hearing, my choices and ultimately my behavior.

    Thoughts?

    P.S. Thanks for being a bright (growing brighter) light for all of us.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It’s a good point. My real goal is to avoid unnecessary pain. Some pain is, of course, necessary. But I get enough of that even when I plan and study. I want to avoid the unnecessary pain that comes from ignorance or arrogance. I want to learn from others’ experience. Thanks.

      • http://lesdossey.com/ Les Dossey

        Isn’t that the truth… I’ve suffered enough pain for 10 men because of ignorance and arrogance. God help me die to both. Thanks

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    There is tremendous value in accelerating your learning.  As early as I can remember in school, a key skill I learned was learning from others.  Specifically teachers would show us tricks, shortcuts, and tools to give us the best opportunity to master the skills or lessons.

    That’s what I gather from visiting with other people who’ve gone on before me – in years, experience, in things I want to do.  That’s also what I gather from reading.  Others really have made tremendous headway, I really don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

    I thoroughly enjoy hearing people discuss the fact that it’s okay to seek help and guidance to enhance your own abilities and quality of life.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    You can’t watch the Olympics and not realize the value of coaching.  All of the athletes give some measure of credit to their coaches. Watching the women’s gymnastics last night, it was interesting to see each personal coach come on the floor while their gymnast was on, then quickly exit for the next personal coach to come out. Even tho the team coach was always present, the gymnasts still all wanted their personal coaches.  There is something to learn in that.

    • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

      I agree that in certain areas coaches are essential, sports and athletics being obvious.  I can see how coaching could spill over into the business world as well, but as a creative individual, coaching seems a little contrary to self expression.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Really? How about a piano teacher? Or an art instructor? Or a creative writing teacher? I think in any creative endeavor you have to learn the basics in order to be free to improvise.

        • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

          I would say that they help grow that seed of creativity. I enjoyed photography, but in about 20 years had taken maybe five photos that I loved. 
          I took a class with a professional photographer who was also a gifted teacher. Not only did I learn to see the world in an amazingly different way, but I learned to capture much of that beauty as well. While I am not a pro, I love the images I capture and have had folks tell me they treasure the photos I create.

          It’s not that we either have a talent or we don’t, or that we should follow a mystical process of self-discovery through which we step into our genius. I believe it’s about taking a seed of an interest and nurturing it into something worthwhile and gratifying with a hand up—like Miracle-Gro, perhaps—from those who already know how.

          • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

            I think a healthy balance of organized learning through teachers, coaches, books, practice, etc. is crucial to developing any talent.  When we balance that with self-discovery and a willingness to explore places beyond learned formulas, I believe we can bring an honesty to our work that would otherwise not be there.  This is where our greatest artists, writers, musicians, etc. develop… from the balance and willingness to risk. 

        • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

          Yes, I agree, Michael.  As a teacher I think of those who teach the creative subjects as “teachers” rather than coaches.  The word coach has traditionally been associated with sports, etc.  I’ve taught guitar and songwriting to others and I tell them exactly that: “you have to learn the rules, before you can safely go outside the boundaries.”

          Thanks for replying.

        • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

          I know Michael that one of my most gratifying clients as a coach has been person making the leap from the professional world to the world of music as a career. My skill isn’t in the area of music, but it is in keeping him on point for his values, creating accountability, creative problem solving when obstacles arise. 

      • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

        A good coach wouldn’t say ‘do it like this’ and attempt to funnel you into a particular creative tract. Rather quality coaching helps you to grow your skills, helps you in staying focused in your stated vision and processes through obstacles. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I remember when I first approached my boss about co-funding my coaching expense. He said, “Why do you need a coach? You are one of our top performers.”
      I said, “Exactly. But that’s why I need one. Even Tiger Woods (who at the time was the reigning golf champion) has a coach!”
      That was the end of the argument, and my boss agreed to write the check!

      • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

        When my previous organization, who had agreed to assist with co-funding my own coaching, changed course and decided not to, I decided that I wasn’t sticking around that organization for long. I paid for the coaching myself, and lo and behold I now coach others! 

      • http://www.whiteboardbusiness.com/ Dallon Christensen

        The value of a good coach cannot be understated. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the greatest basketball players of our time and have won multiple championships. Neither has won a title without Phil Jackson as their head coach. Even at the highest athletic levels, a great coach makes a big difference.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Good post.  I agree with reading relevant content and taking specialized classes, but as an independent and creative soul I would probably opt out of a life coach.  Although the idea of a coach my appeal to some and may work for some, I think finding our way on our own journey through our own mistakes and lessons is the best method for me.  In my experience I’ve found that it’s very difficult for other people to learn from your mistakes.  People tend to make the choices they will even if another warns them of negative consequences.  It’s human nature.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It doesn’t have to be as all encompassing as a “life coach.” You can hire specialized coaches for almost anything. A fitness trainer, for example, is a coach. Thanks.

      • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

        Yes, I agree.  Their are some good reasons to have coaches

        • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

          Most ‘life-coaches’, like myself lead with the question, “What areas do you want coaching.” 
          Some of my clients need help clarifying values, etc. Some want help with a VERY specific project, getting into the grad school of first choice for instance. 
          A skilled coach brings DEEP listening, compelling questions, accountability, creative problem solving, motivation and ‘change-skills’ to the client. 
          Helping people make desired changes is at the heart of coaching. The client (ALONE) gets to decide what those changes are.

    • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

      I agree with Michael that it doesn’t have to be an all encompassing coach. However, a fresh eye can shed a lot of light from their new perspective and can often offer ideas or angles that haven’t been previously considered. They can also encourage you to stretch and ultimately break out of those sometimes unseen and constricting bonds of your comfort zone.
      Been there, done that. Enjoying the fruits of my escape while growing in this new place. :-)

      • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

        Thanks for your reply, Kim.  I believe there are times and good reason for coaches.  I think the title of “coach” my cause confusion as I think of sports and athletics when I think of coach.  When I think of other areas I think of “teacher.”

        • http://lesdossey.com/ Les Dossey

          Dan,

          I’ve been doing the kind of coaching that Michael refers to for about 7 years and I wrestle with the word coach myself, for the reason you mentioned and because so many are now calling themselves coach. 

          In practice, I ask great questions which helps the person see what he couldn’t see, like (blind-spots, gaps in understanding, in-congruencies, internal conflicts, etc.) I educate and or point to great educational resources like Michael’s Blog or books, I teach and help develop better strategy and tactics. I coach to help men find balance in the 7 major areas of life (spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, relational, financial and professional) and because people seldom change without accountability, I provide tough love accountability.

          But I’m at a loss for a better word to define what I do. Hmmm…if you’d like to coach me through coining a new word or term I’d be a willing. Seriously willingly! 

          • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

            I like your humor.  I’m not sure I have a better term, yet I misunderstood the job description based on the word coach.  Almost sounds like a “counselor” but that would have other connotations, too. 

            I’ve actually played this role in a few people’s lives as a friend.  I like the accountability and tough love aspect, but have also seen too much backfire.  I’ll keep thinking about the dilemma of the term “coach” and let you know if I come up with anything.  I like your humor Les.  

          • http://lesdossey.com/ Les Dossey

            Thanks Dan! I’ve been getting coached because my kids told me I was the boringest white guy on the planet. :) 

          • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

            Oh, that?  Don’t worry it happens to the best of us.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            If you could come up with a new word, you could own it!

            I do like coach better than the alternatives: instructor, mentor, tutor, teacher, etc. It seems to be more than those.

          • http://lesdossey.com/ Les Dossey

            Agreed and agreed… if I coin something new I’ll be sure to let you know. 

  • http://www.changevolunteers.org/ Change Volunteer

    Makes me reflect on school, college days and my first job. All institutions have taught me different things, instilled different values. 

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Another great podcats, packed with great information, I really enjoy listening!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks so much! I appreciate the encouragement.

  • http://www.liveyourwhy.net/ Terry Hadaway

    I think I had some coaches in my life long before “life coach” was being discussed. I can think back to a student pastor and pastor who played tennis with me every morning when I was 16. Through their guidance, I started pursuing my why. Now, as a direct result of their input, I’m writing about it. I would never have achieved many of my personal goals without the influence of “coaches” who looked a lot like pastors, professors, bosses, etc. 

  • Lisa Sheridan

    Okay, Michael… you mentioned that you really enjoyed your ballroom dancing, but need a refresher course. I’ll give you two options! I own an Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studio (a 100-year-old company)! I’ll either: visit you and your wife for a day and teach you some wonderful things in exchange for a meal where I get to pick your brain, or; I’ll hook you up with a complimentary Private Lesson at your local Arthur Murray studio!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for the offer. It’s probably not a priority right now, but I will consider it for the future. Very generous of you. Thanks!

      • Lisa Sheridan

        Anytime! I completely understand… just keep us in mind for when you’re ready to add a little spark to what seems like an already-strong marriage.

  • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

    Michael, how do you receive questions for your podcast?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You can leave a question here. Thanks.

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

    One thing I would add, even as an option to more formal coaching, would be to pull on the strength of our friends. For instance, we have several friends who are intentionally thinking through how they are going to raise their kids through the transition to the teenage years. We are several years behind them with our kids, but not so far that there is a big gap. Take a friend out to lunch and pick their brain, even ask for their insight into where you are looking to grow.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great podcast, Michael. Where I struggle is with the value equation. I’ve had training and coaching that has been worth much more than I paid. On the other hand, I’ve wasted time and money paying for things that I could get for free or low cost elsewhere. It definitely pays to do some Google research first.

    To give you an example, I paid a couple thousand dollars for an online college course on advanced search engine marketing.  When I actually got the curriculum it was over two years old. Twenty to thirty percent of it had changed during that two year period.  While I got a certificate of achievement saying I passed the course, I would have been much better off going with a Copyblogger course or something from Hubspot for a lot less money.  Live and learn… 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Ugh. I have regrettably had the same experience. I agree: I think the only safeguard is checking reviews and references.

    • http://SourcesOfInsight.com/ JD Meier

      My short-cut here has been finding a few trusted sources, and then depending on my network for references.

      For example, I can always count on The Great Courses for amazing material.

      To find the most useful and insightful books, I ask my network which books actually changed their lives, or which books do they “use” at work or in life.

      If a hear about some promising training, then I’ll do research on the person behind it to see the quality and caliber of their information.

      I also budget a chunk each year to experiment with different training sources, so I can find some wild cards that change my game.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        That’s what is good about sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. They crowd source reviews, so you get a better idea how a place is. While these reviews can be rigged at times, if you throw out the extremes, you usually get an accurate appraisal.

  • http://www.whiteboardbusiness.com/ Dallon Christensen

    Having a coach is a must for anyone serious about improving themselves or their businesses. Even if you have to engage in group coaching, having an outside person challenge you, offer good questions to shape your thinking, and encourage you is invaluable. I’ve invested considerable money over the years to be coached, including right now as I launch my business. Having someone who was basically in my exact same situation 15 years ago and is now running successful businesses will help me shorten my learning curve in my own business.

    As for reading books, a certain “Platform” book certainly helped me make a lot of great changes to my blogging and social media strategy, so I guess books aren’t all that bad. :)

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com/ JD Meier

    Tony Robbins is a wise one. 

    There is a lot of evidence that even a little progress, helps us get our happy on.

    I actually like the three paths of happiness:
    1. the pleasant life – short-term pleasures and things that feel good.
    2. the good life – spending more time in our values.
    3. the meaningful life – the path of fulfillment.

    The key in so many things is to connect our “how” or “why” we do something to our values.

    In terms of coaches, I’ve made it a habit to seek out mentors for specific cabilities.  I ask around to find out, “Who’s the best at XYZ?”, and then I try to learn from them.  Experts often like to share what they know.  I like to find the ones who are passionate, and do what they do for the love of it.  

    I try to make it mutually beneficial by sharing insights and actions in areas of leadership, or business, or mind.  I study principles, patterns, and practices, and I learn from a wide range of books and people, on top of my daily experience of business transformation and leading Agile teams at Microsoft, so I can usually offer something they can directly use.

    In addition to mentors, I Use a “board of advisors” model where I bounce ideas, and get deep feedback from a trusted inner circle of people that know me well, and are willing to give me tough feedback.

    The most important thing I’ve learned about continuous learning is to focus on the model, the method, and the map.   Specialists in a domain tend to have very different mental models (and often simpler), then those that dabble.  Knowing the mental model can shave off months and years of wasted effort.  

    The method is another short-cut.  Specialists tend to have a framework of questions that help look at and inspect the domain in a more meaningful way — or they might even have some specific techniques.  For example, NLP has anchors and triggers to change emotional state under stress.  

    The map could either be a simple map of the terrain or a more specific roadmap of what to study, and in what sequence.  My favorite maps are roadmaps of learning objectives.  These give us a way to work backwards from end-in-mind, and to test ourselves along the way.

    My mentors save me dead-ends, and help point out how information is specific and relevant to me.

    At the end of the day, I might summarize my principle as, “Mentors are the short-cut.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I like the summary of your principle. Excellent!

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Thanks, Dallon.  All the counter points have been fair and enlightening today.  “The Accidental Creative” is a great title and sounds like a good book.

  • http://www.48dayrebel.com/ Jonathan Brown

    I don’t think there was a link for the book : Write it Down Make it Happen.
    So….  Here Ya go!   :  http://goo.gl/h1aZm

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      How did I miss that! I just added it to the show notes above. Thanks!

  • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    Michael, this may have been your best podcast yet. I normally listen to podcasts in the background. Yesterday I had an hour long drive to a working group, and your podcast came up in Downcast during the heaviest traffic part of my drive. Very timely and pertinent.

    I need to get “Write it down, make it happen”. It’s been on my list for years.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Eric. The funny thing about it is that I thought it was my worst. I even told my wife that. However, I got several comments like yours, proving that there is zero correlation between how I feel about a podcast and what others experience! ;-)

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    This looks like a great document, Karen. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Kent Faver

    Wonderful podcast Michael.  I could not agree more on reading and I could not be more ambivalent on paying someone to coach me to do something.  Continuing ed is required in my profession and I guess I look at it as a necessary evil, so maybe my attitude is poor.  Most professional coaching I’ve received has been so vague and cliche-riddled it’s really no better than a self improvement book (Work “on” your business, not “in” your business, etc.).  Thanks again!

  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you Michael.  Really seeking and gleaning from others messages.  I just read @AndyAndrews:twitter book The Noticer and this reminds me how Jones says it is better to learn from others mistakes when we can. That could be a whole post and the different views on it.

    K, bye

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  • Kristin Kaufman

    Michael – thank you for your vulnerability, wisdom, and suggestions.  I have truly enjoyed your blogs and podcasts. I hope and intend to see/meet you in person some day. I sent my book to you several weeks ago – as I believe you would appreciate. It was endorsed by Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard….I hope it finds you (as I am sure you receive many gifts of appreciation). 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thank you for your kind words, Kristin. Thanks.

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