Years ago, I wrote a list of “100 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.” It’s really an amazing, audacious list. Whenever I review it, I am both inspired and stunned by how many of the items I have already accomplished. And yet, there is so much more. The list keeps growing!
I’ll bet you have a list, too. Maybe you’ve written it down. Maybe not. But either way, you want to accomplish things. Really important things.
Unfortunately, life is short. Or at least it feels that way. I have more to accomplish than I could do in seven lifetimes.
So how do you reclaim some of that time? How do you shortcut the process and make significant gains on your goals?
The Most Important Action You Can Take
I’m going to tell you the single most important action you can take to go further, faster and to make your dreams become reality. I have done this over and over again in my life.
To the extent I have achieved any level of success, I believe this is the secret. It’s something I learned from my dad.
Enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.
Let’s be honest. Everyone needs a sherpa to get up the mountain. My assumption is that someone, somewhere has already done what you are attempting to do—and done it well. If you can tap into their experience and learn from it, you can get to where you want to go faster and with fewer missteps along the way.
There are basically three ways you can do this. I’ve arranged them from least expensive to most expensive. However, you can often find free alternatives if you look hard enough.
1. Read the Best, Most Relevant Information
My journey into uncharted territory always begins with a search on Google. There is a ton of free information on the web (obviously). This will give you a feel for who the experts are and what they have to say. If I want to go deeper, I then buy the best books I can find on a given topic.
For example, when I first took up digital photography, I bought the three books with the highest Amazon ranking and the best customer reviews. I did the same when I decided to start running. This is a relatively inexpensive way to learn the basics and get a broad working knowledge of the topic at hand.
But this step doesn’t just apply to new interests. I continue to read in areas where I am already proficient. I want to deepen my knowledge and keep my skills sharp. Think of it as continuing education for life.
2. Sign up for Specialized Classes
I have a short attention span, so full-length, longer-term courses don’t work for me. I get bored. I prefer the all-day, three-day, or (occasionally) a one-week course. For example:
- When I wanted to learn how to build a great marriage, Gail and I attended several courses on marriage, some taught by Gary Smalley. [A bit of trivia: Gary and his wife, Norma, introduced Gail and me to each other. He actually performed our marriage ceremony.]
When I wanted to up my game on team alignment, I took a one-week course from Gap International called “The Alignment Intensive.” It blew my mind. I use the tools I learned in this course almost every day.
When I wanted to rethink what was possible in my business a few years ago, I attended Tony Robbins’ Business Mastery. I have been to several of Tony’s events, but this conference was a gift to me at that juncture in my career. It wasn’t cheap and the commitment was substantial. But it’s a whole lot less expensive than learning these lessons on my own.
When I wanted to improve my writing skills, I signed up for an intensive one-week course from American Writers & Artists, Inc.called, “The Copywriting Success Bootcamp.” This was one of the best professional investments I ever made. Similarly, I went through the Fast, Effective Copywriting course. It was worth every penny.
These are just a few examples of dozens I could cite. Some of these courses were free. Some cost a few hundred dollars. In a few rare instances, the courses cost several thousand dollars.
Regardless, you can sometimes find very good free or inexpensive courses taught by churches or other nonprofit organizations or even local colleges. Like I said, enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.
3. Hire World Class Experts
Finally, I enlisted the help of real people who could hone my skills beyond what I could learn in a book or garner from a course. For example:
- When I wanted to create sustainable work-life balance, I hired Daniel Harkavy, the president and founder of Building Champions. He helped me craft my very first life plan. Later on, we cowrote the book Living Forward to explain the life-planning process.
When I wanted to take my business to the next level, I hired Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach to help me think through obstacles and opportunities in new ways. It’s no exaggeration to say I use what I learn from Dan in my business every day.
When I wanted to take my personal leadership skills to the next level and really see how my own thinking was impacting my corporate results, I hired Ilene Meuthing of Gap International. She’s basically performed a brain transplant on me, helping me change my thinking and produce better outcomes.
When I wanted to figure out why I kept slicing my drives, I hired Nancy Quarcelino, one of the best golf teachers in the country, for a two-hour session. She videotaped me, so I could see the problem in my swing and fix it for good. Her personalized coaching bore immediate results. Though my game is still not all that great, it’s a lot better because of her coaching.
In addition, in the course of my life, I have hired personal trainers, nutritionists, counselors, music teachers, accountants, lawyers, fishing guides, agents, and various kinds of instructors and coaches. Some have been short-term; some have been long-term. My philosophy is to use them as long as they continue to provide value.
Don’t Let Resources Hold You Back
Again, note that I said, “hire the best coaches and instructors you can afford” For years, the most I could afford was to check out a book from the library. Don’t worry about what you can’t afford or do. Focus, instead, on what you can afford and start there.
The most valuable resources you have are determination and creativity. In my experience, the rest shows up as you go.
In the end, you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible. And you can do it faster and with better results if you just enlist the assistance of the right guide and do what they say. I can’t think of anything else that will help you accomplish your goals more than this.