Before you begin reading this; remember that I already know you; as well as your habits! …and you can’t wait to jump into the 12 things listed, but for once in your life; focus, and then follow the directions by READING THIS FIRST:

I’ve spent my entire life shooting from the hip. Leaving home at only sixteen gave me plenty of time to learn how life really worked by spending many years in the College of Street Smarts. Enrollment is easy and each class is challenging enough to keep your attention. You also don’t have to travel far because if you look closely there’s a campus in every neighborhood. One thing is for sure; it doesn’t come to you…you have to go to it. The last thing you need to know about this school is you never graduate! That’s right…no expense for the cap and gown ceremony along with that fancy piece of parchment paper. The reason this school has no graduating class is that you will remain here for as long as you’re on this earth…but that’s a good thing. Speaking of people that are tops in their fields, this school also reminds me of something written in 1976 by a true musical genius as he referred to a place in California…where you can check out any time you want but you can never leave.

We’ve all seen the ‘Self Help Books’ on the subject of how to possibly better our lives by seeing what habits helped some of the most influential people get to the top of the food chain in their respective fields. Most of us have our own opinion of what is success but do you have a definition of what is a habit? I do and this is mine. I define a habit as a constant reoccurring thought or action…whether productive or non-productive… that becomes second nature. That’s all it is to it. Nothing more only complicates the issue.

What is the difference between making something a habit or just performing your daily routine?

For simplicity let’s just say that a good distinction is that your daily routine is made up of a collection of your habits. No different than writing a sentence. It depends on how it’s phrased as to whether it needs a period or question mark at its end. Most of us are creatures of habit…there’s that word again. Each morning finds us putting our feet on the floor then usually heading straight to the bathroom. Next; if you’re a coffee drinker you head to the kitchen where your freshly brewed ‘timer set’ coffee is already waiting. You know the rest…shower, shave, get dressed…get on the computer then set up your day. What about your morning session of meditation. You made no time for that…what happened? If there is anything in your life that you would like to change this could be your planning time to change it…or the first of many habits you may want and need to correct.

Defining successful people could mean different things. Even though I have my own thoughts on life; in no way do I put myself anywhere near the categories of some the traditional ones such as The Carnegies and Vanderbilt’s, Henry Ford, Freud, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, etc.

Then you have the people that fit into my own selfish world of music and muscles. People such as Neil Diamond, Stevie Nicks, John Denver, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joan Biaz, Glenn Frye, Jackson Browne, Carole King (and the list could cover pages) that have the uncanny ability to write some of the greatest song lyrics that truly have made up the music of our lives. If you listen carefully to these words you will sometimes see they are no more than a reflection of their own lives.

Last, and certainly not least…a quick note on successful people in the world of fitness and muscles. In our personal lives we’ve all made mistakes and mine could take up volumes but these are also my heroes that still help me get through my daily life referring only to my world of muscles; people such as Dave Draper, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane and Larry Scott. Because of me being selfish; there is a good chance that you’ve probably never heard of most of my heroes but they are there and they are real. Because of their habits they helped get me through some tough times in my own life.

One of the greatest things I’ve ever learned from this College of Street Smarts is not to re-create the wheel, just enjoy rolling it. If faced with any decision I simply ask; how did the people that got to the tops in their fields do it? …then try to emulate their footsteps…keeping my life as simple as possible.

These are the 12 things that I’ve seen over the years that got these people where they are:

1. AT ALL COST…SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE STAY AWAY FROM NEGATIVE AND DIFFICULT PEOPLE BY SURROUNDING THEMSELVES WITH THE POSITIVE AND SUCCESSFUL FLOW OF ENERGY. Negative people don’t know it but subliminally they are ruining their own lives. Don’t give them the opportunity to ruin yours. Arnold Schwarzenegger was told he would never win a bodybuilding contest because he had ‘high calves’…yet he won the highest honor in that sport, The Mr. Olympia Contest not just once but seven times!

2. VISUALIZE THE END RESULT OF YOUR GOAL…Energy flows from your head into your body. There’s no way this can happen if you don’t first see it all happening in your mind. At one of Fleetwood Mac’s concerts, Stevie Nicks told the story of how her life was once totally on the rocks and gave serious thoughts of going back to her job as a waitress. She said that one day she stood in a small head-shop in San Francisco called The Velvet Underground. Even though she didn’t have enough money to buy even one single thread on any of those clothes she could feel the presence of some of the greats that had been there before her. People such as Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix that had made it to the top; before creating their own self-imposed demise…also feeling the energy flow into her own body telling her that something good would also be coming to her. It was only a short time later that she received a telephone call from Mick Fleetwood asking her to join Fleetwood Mac. I wonder how that turned out!

3. A PROBLEM IS ONLY A CHALLENGE IN DISQUISE! WHEN FACED WITH A CHALLENGE…BRING-IT-ON! Not only bring it on but welcome it! This gives you the opportunity to dig even deeper into your soul of how to resolve it… making anything a true success.

4. MEDITATION AND PLANNING YOUR TIME…I’ll promise you that meditation is not a bunch of hocus-pocus and really does work. Why do you think our brains are protected by a thick shell called a skull? Again, it’s because everything flows from here first before the energy can proceed downward into your body. If you don’t ‘train your brain’ you can’t train your body.

5. WHEN SOMEONE CALLS YOU A DREAMER…THANK THEM! “You’re nothing but a dreamer!” Most of us have heard that at least once in our lives. No act or product of any kind can be produced without first dreaming it. Somebody had to sit down and first dream of how to put a person on the moon. After realizing it could be done; they had to put that plan into action. Just remember; if it is worth dreaming then it’s worth doing. This is where many of us flounder. Prove the crowd wrong by putting your own dreams into action.

6. LIVE A BALANCED LIFE…This could mean different things to different people but one thing I’ve noticed about people that are tops in their fields is they take time to enjoy life. This doesn’t necessarily mean going hunting or fishing as some people just enjoy working but whatever ‘floats your boat’…do it! …and as Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘Do it with great vigor!’

7. TURN A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE…I know this sounds clichéd but is definitely true. All we have to do is to practice what we’ve heard our entire life. Is the glass half empty or half full? Your answer can dictate your entire life’s journey.

8. PEOPLE THAT ARE TOPS IN THEIR FIELDS ARE NOT GOOD LISTENERS…THEY’RE GREAT LISTENERS! …Have you noticed how many people say “Hi…how are you” as though they’re a trained parrot? If you’re gonna’ asks such a cleshed’ question than at least don’t turn around and begin talking with someone else until they had a chance to answer. I see this happen way too often. Even once engaged in conversation I can easily spot the person that is not really listening as they are too busy planning their upcoming remark. Different things are important to different people. For someone to stop and perhaps begin telling you what happened to them means it was important to them. Think and comment back on what they just said. It shows you were truly being a good listener. As they leave; you may not know it but they can tell whether or not you were really listening to them. I’ve yet to meet a successful person that is not a great listener!

9. DE-CLUTTER AND SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE …I’m not sure if de-clutter is really a word but you know what I mean. Besides, I’m thinking that Emily Post won’t be reading this anyway. If she is, please give her my best! De-cluttering our brain is imperative to living a good life and can even lead to possible lowering our blood pressure. As far as simplicity, my ultimate goal is if Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke told me to be out of town by noon tomorrow, I could pack up everything I own in the trunk of my car and be gone! Life is sometimes not quite that simple but we can come close. Take inventory of your brain and your physical body as well as your overall lifestyle. De-clutter and simplify by removing anything unnecessary.

10. FIND YOUR OWN NICHE… Each of us are born with our own inherent values which is just a fancy way of saying we each have our own personality. Thoughts and actions can be learned as well as changed but personalities can’t. An accomplished artist once told me that her occupation is a perfect fit for her personality as she enjoys hours of alone time in her studio as she listens to soft classical background music in while holding her brush; accompanied only by her thoughts.

11. I’VE NOTICED THAT SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE ORGANIZE, PRIORITIZE AND MAKE LIST… Making a written list is extremely important! One simple item left off at the grocery store can keep you from making your entire meal! Business as well as life in general is no different. Break big goals down into smaller ones that can be accomplished without making you feel overwhelmed! Think about the pecking-order of things necessary to accomplish your goals then attack those tasks in that same way. Multi-tasking is okay too but remember that your goal is to get each item checked off your list as soon as possible without leaving everything out there in a cluster. When you lay your head on the pillow at night you’re the only one that knows if you gave it your best for the entire day.

12. NO MATTER HOW SMALL…I’VE NOTICED THAT SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING! … You may not see it but successful people do. I’m speaking about the kind word that someone in your world needs at any given moment. Even just a “Great Job!” remark weighs a lot more than you may know.

13. LET’S MAKE IT A BAKER’S DOZEN…SO HERE’S NUMBER 13… SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE NEVER, EVER CARE ABOUT KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES’S! … because the Jones’s are broke from trying to keep up with the other Jones’s…they just don’t know it. I’m amazed at the commercials about how to improve your credit score and the time people put into this stuff just so they can borrow more and more money getting deeper and deeper into debt. The power of money invested over time is incredible. It can give us unbelievable wealth but this can’t happen if you’re too busy living your life on borrowed money. It may take a while but one day you’ll find that having a big mortgage on a big house along with all of the proper stickers on your shiny new SUV letting everyone know that your children attend a trendy private school doesn’t really impress anyone…except the other Jones’s. While I’m slamming you…why do you need that big fancy car anyway just to run errands around town. Oh…I forgot! It looks impressive in your driveway. If you’re gauging money as being successful…become extremely meager by living well within your means. There really is a difference between existing and living…so if you’re gonna’ really enjoy life then why not live your own instead of someone else’s!

I could say … “Wait…there’s more! …as I could easily write pages on this stuff; but being out of time and out of space; I’ll leave you with something that my grandad used to say, “You can usually find just about anything you’ll ever need in your own back yard.” I’ve always employed that to mean everything I have just written is already within your grasp. All you have to do is go to your own backyard and extract it. Also remember; you can’t extract anything if there’s clutter in the way!
…from your lifelong friend…sj 8 miles high on life…and climbing!

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