Smart entrepreneurs Play CARDDS

What’s the deal with DIY?

Perfect entrepreneurs know, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. But there is no such thing as a perfect entrepreneur, even you mam or sir. You probably know this, if you’re a perfectionist yourself. Perfectionism is not just having high standards. Often it means setting impossible standards because of your fear of what it will mean to release something to the world that’s not perfect.

Smart entrepreneurs know that sometimes you need to get out of your own way and you can’t do that if you’re a control freak. Aka the perfect entrepreneur. Let’s face it… if you’re a perfectionist, you like to be in control. Consider successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. All extremely intelligent and capable people, who at some point had to get out of their own way and let someone else take control of something.

Busy bees, these entrepreneurs

Every week, I meet business owners who tell me they’re super busy. They know what they need to do for their business but they’re too busy working in it to step back and take care of the bigger picture. Often the more staff they hire, the busier they get. They’re probably even high achievers and excellent at what they do.

Sadly, I’ve seen so many businesses die, even though the owner is great at what they do. You can’t build a great business if you keep ignoring the big picture. Many of these clever, talented, high achieving people kill their businesses or even more tragically burn themselves out.

Anything but not everything

You might believe to your core that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. But you need to consider something else. You might be capable of doing anything but you can’t do everything. Time will not allow, no matter how competent you are. You need to decide what’s crucial for your success and learn to let go of the rest.

I don’t care how capable you are, how sophisticated, how organised, how anal -you will need to decide where to focus your time and energy. If you want your organisation to grow beyond you or if you want to build something that’s valuable long after you die, you will need to stop doing everything yourself and concentrate on the essentials.

You’re not Superman. You’re not Wonder Woman. Even wearing your undies on the outside of your pants won’t make it so. Sooner of later, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and be reminded you are human. In most cases, it’s physically impossible for you to do everything. In an extreme case, you might even burn out (most likely for high achievers).

So, you probably get the point I am trying to make by now. You can’t do everything yourself nor do you need to. Work out what’s essential for you to do and those other things you need to get off your plate. Once you clear your plate (metaphorical) of the non-essentials, you make room for what matters.

Stop. Before you start working on anything that lands in your desk, remember, smart entrepreneurs play CARDDS. CARDDS is an acronym that stands for Complete, Automate, Redirect, Delegate, Dismiss and Schedule. These are the CARDDS smart entrepreneurs play to help them win the day.

Clear your plate with CARDDS

CARDDS is an acronym to help you remember your options when dealing with anything incoming that lands on your desk, in your tray, in your email inbox or otherwise gets your attention as something that should be done.

Notice I used the phrase should be done, instead of needs to be done. Other people’s expectations can often be a trap when we’re deciding how to best prioritise our time. When you use the CARDDS acronym, remember to make these decisions based on your own priorities and needs, rather than someone else’s “shoulds” and expectations!


How long will it take you to complete this task?

If it’s important and can be completed in under 2 minutes, go ahead and do it. Make sure it’s not interrupting your most important work when you do it though. Don’t even give these things your attention until you have enough time to complete these small tasks and organise the bigger ones.


How often will you need to complete this same task?

Automate any action you will need to repeat frequently. Consider how long it will take each time you stop to repeat this task compared to automating it once. Unless you’re a robot, doing mindless repetitive tasks is not the best use of your time.


Does fulfilling this request contribute to your core business?

Redirect anything that distracts you and your colleagues from fulfilling your core business. A simple and polite redirect is just a matter of pointing someone to a helpful source or someone who is better suited to help them, than you. You’re trying to be helpful but make it clear this is not your responsibility.

Important: Do not treat this as a recommendation or endorsement. If you recommend someone, you may end up being held partially responsible for your endorsement -even though you have no control over the outcome. So you might just subtly suggest by saying, “Have you tried…” and leave it at that.


What if no one else can help but this is still not your core business?

Nothing becomes your responsibility by default. It is not your fault or your problem if no one else can help, unless this request directly contributes to your core business. Sometimes you will need to say a polite but firm. “No”. Say no to anything that is unimportant. Remember your core business, your most important work and who you work for are paramount. Everything else detracts from this focus and should be dismissed.


Is this your core business but not your own responsibility (or strength)?

Delegate anything that contributes to your core business but is not your personal responsibility (or strength). Ensure whoever you’re delegating to has the appropriate skills, confidence and authority to take care of the assigned task or project. Before you delegate, make sure you consider if this assignment will be the best use of this person’s time. Do not delegate anything if it will detract from this person’s contribution to your core business.


Do you need to bite the bullet and do something yourself? If it is going to take longer than 2 minutes, remember, you may not need to do it right now. Schedule an appropriate time in your calendar and treat it as though you would any other commitment. Make sure you stick to it.

What’s the best use of your time?

Stop trying to be the perfect entrepreneur. Think of yourself as a conductor, curator or someone else who concerns themselves with the big picture. Your most important role as an entrepreneur is to make sure all of the parts of your business work well together. That’s essential if you want to make something great.

Next time an email hits your inbox, a piece of paper lands on your desk or a client makes a request, pause. You need to decide which of these incoming requests is the highest and most valuable use of your time.

Play your CARDDS to make sure you clear your plate of anything that distracts you. Remember there are many options to get back in control of your time and work on what’s most important.

SMART Goals Are Failing You

Successful people know the secret

Do you set SMART Goals? Have you ever missed a goal that you worked on so hard, for so long? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. I want you to know that missing your target was not your fault. In fact, I want you to realise you never failed at all.

SMART Goals have been failing you!

What are SMART Goals?

I’ll quickly explain what they are… George T. Doran first wrote about SMART Goals in 1981. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic and
  • Time-bound.

What do you want?

I want you to pause for just a moment and ask yourself:

  • Would you like to turn your dreams into goals?
  • Do you want to be successful?
  • Would you like to set goals that motivate you?
  • Do you want a clear roadmap to get you there?

If you answered yes to any of those, don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’re still reading, so I’m guessing you want to be successful but there’s something holding you back. Does this sound like you?

Are you ready to set your SMARTEST Goals Ever? Click here if you’re ready.

Don’t worry. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be less than 1 hour away from setting your SMARTEST Goals EVER.

I’ll help you turn your dreams into goals and layout a clear roadmap for your success. Does that sound good?

My Story

Hi, my name is Danny. A few years ago, I had the same struggles as most people when it came to achieving my goals. I would always set goals using this same old formula. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not.

Where did it all start?

I owed around two thirds of my annual income at my worst point. It was my own personal financial hell. Let’s rewind. My debt started at a modest $200, when I first used my credit card.

10 years later, my personal debt had multiplied, over and over.

In fact, each time I maxed out my credit card, the bank would send me another invitation to increase my credit limit. I accepted.

Then I got 2 credit cards because I wanted 1 for business expenses. Unfortunately, while my business was profitable, cash flow was killing me. I never had quite enough cash in the bank to clear my credit card.

My crazy debt

Then, I began unpaid training for my next job. For 8 months,

I had to sit on my credit card, as I didn’t have an income. But it didn’t end there, of course my debt followed me and just grew bigger, like a balloon.

I purchased a car using something called salary sacrifice, which meant I could legally pay off my vehicle and fuel expenses before the government took tax. I thought this was so clever. Well it was, until…

I changed jobs and in my new job, I couldn’t salary sacrifice any more. So, that meant my salary sacrifice agreement became a lease any my lease blew up like a balloon. Unlike a normal car loan, paying off a lease like this means you pay years of interest upfront. I couldn’t even pay it off early.

After 3 years of making payments on my car, I still owed more than the original purchase price of my car.

I was in my own financial hell

Enough was enough. I was sick of my debt. The time had come for me to make a better plan.

As far as I was concerned, I was in my own financial hell. I had piled up just as much guilt for myself, about my situation, as I had debt.

Just so you know, I had wanted to pay this debt off for a long time. I was in a world of pain and I wanted this debt gone. I wanted to feel proud of where I was in my life. Many times before I set a goal to clear my debt. Each time I had a specific, measurable, achievable target and a clear deadline. I failed, again and again.

I realised I wasn’t failing. So many experts told me that all I needed to be successful was the SMART formula. They were wrong. It wasn’t enough to have SMART Goals.

I knew what I wanted. I could picture it clearly in my mind. I had no problem working out what I wanted but I was struggling with how to get there.

Climbing out of hell

That’s when it hit me. I realised I loved the idea of reaching my goal but I wasn’t clear about the process. The parts I was clear about, I didn’t like. I had to find a way to love the process if I was going to achieve my goal.

In a movie Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino delivers a powerful speech to a football team. In it, he delivers one of my favourite lines. His team is losing so badly, Pacino describes it as being in hell. The following quote is from his speech.

“We can stay here and get the sh*t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell, one inch at a time.”

Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

The first time I heard that speech, I thought wow. Anything is possible if you break it down into a step-by-step plan.

I had to stop thinking of the road ahead in miles and start thinking in inches. I was sure I could jump from one stepping stone to another, if they were only a few inches apart.

I created a roadmap, which helped me clarify my goals, break them down into small, bite sized pieces, and take action on them. I read dozens of books, took courses and listened to people who I knew were successful. I took action and tested a lot of what I learned. I kept what worked, tweaked it for my own needs and threw out the rest.

SMART goals just aren’t enough

I could see how much time I needed to pay off my debt and I had a clear action plan to make it happen. I set goals but I learned as much about missing my goals, as I did about achieving them.

Why did I miss my goals? Because SMART goals were only part of the truth. Management gurus kept repeating the same formula, over and over, but something was missing.

Why then, when I was failing, did people drag me through that same tired old process for setting goals?

Perhaps the managers and the people I sought advice from were happy where I was. Maybe the other things I discovered actually were a secret. Maybe they didn’t realised it was possible to achieve goals and find fulfilment, all in the same ‘brush stroke’. I’m not sure.

Why do people keep pushing SMART goals?

Most big companies want you to set goals and they are happy for you to think, as long as you stay within the box they designed for you. They’re afraid you might find out there’s life beyond those 4 walls. You might find work that’s more fulfilling than what you do now.

They run the risk that you could stop working on what they want and start working on what you want instead.

Once I added a few missing ingredients to my own goals, I quickly paid off my debt. Within 2 years, I achieve 2 more BIG life goals. I married my beautiful wife and we saved a house deposit. Less than a year later, we moved into our dream home. I was ticking off goals faster than I ever thought possible.

I want to share what I know, so people like you can get what you want. That’s why I created my Goal Setting Masterclass.

Who else did this help?

My goal setting techniques worked for some other people I know too. One retiree hand wrote a testimonial for me because she wanted more out of life and I helped her do that.

A personal trainer I know told me that since he and his family have used the techniques I taught to achieve their goals AND free up time. How is that possible? Because they have laser like focus on the things that will help them achieve their goals and they say NO to everything else.

Once I had the manager of a local heritage listed function centre approach me 1 full year after my workshop. She explained how I helped her prioritise an extremely busy workday. She still uses what I taught her every day.

How else did this help me?

Not only did setting goals start to make me more successful but I was finding greater fulfilment.

I was able to prioritise and focus more intently in what I was doing. Living life on purpose.

That’s exactly why I created my Goal Setting Masterclass, so I could share what I learned with others and help them get more out of life.

It took over 100 hours to create this course

You don’t need to spend 100+ hours reading books

It took me months of 5am starts (I do this before my day job) to put the content together for this course. Not to mention the dozens of books I read, so I could find and test the best content. I spent hundreds of dollars on books and courses, and hundreds of hours reading them.

My local bookshop owner ordered some of these books from overseas, even finding some out of print books.

It was all worth it because now you get to take my course, Goal Setting Masterclass, which selects the best bits. You don’t need to invest hundreds of hours in studying because I have already done this for you.

My course takes less than 60 minutes

Now you can take this course in less than one hour and be well on your way to achieving your goals. I have made the content in this course clear and concise, so instead of investing all of that extra time reading or studying, you can get to work on your goals right away!

Why take my Goal Setting Masterclass?

Here are just some of the benefits you will get when you take my course:

  • Define 7 Steps to Master Your Time, so you know what you need to work on to get back in control of your day
  • Set Your SMARTEST Goals and find 3 secrets hidden from the SMART formula
  • Discover the 6 A’s of Goal Setting, which will increase your chances of success
  • Define Your Success, so you can be crystal clear on what you want and go after it
  • Use the Power of Visualisation, so you can start building your dream in your mind, even before it’s real
  • Start Living on Purpose, so you know what to prioritise and where to focus

What do my clients say?

Don’t just take my work for it. Here’s what others are saying:

” [Danny Hile’s Goal Setting Masterclass] course so far is very thought provoking. And I am now ready to take some action.”

Tony Heywood, Director at Optimal Bookkeeping

“[Danny Hile’s Goal Setting Masterclass has] Great content ! I incite the teacher to launch a course video about the whole content of his book !”

Vay Ross, Udemy Student

“Thanks Danny for your [Goal Setting] Masterclass. I am grateful to have come away inspired & looking forward to making actions on my goals.”

Michael Cluff, Sales Team Leader

Would you like to get access to my Goal Setting Masterclass? Do you want access to:

  • My 10 video lectures?
  • Full slide deck to download or print?
  • 1 page goal setting template? AND
  • Bonus first 3 chapters from my book?

Well, for less than the cost of a single cheap pub or fast food meal, you can. I know I said it’s my duty to share what I know but if I don’t charge you a small amount, you won’t value it. If you don’t value it, you might not follow the plan.

Imagine how much more this course is actually worth, if it helps you finally achieve your BIG life goals.

What’s the value of this course?

Now, it would be impossible to show you ALL of the benefits of taking my Goal Setting Masterclass right here but I want to show you some of the things you will experience once you’re on the inside.

Of course you’ll get all of the video lectures and my complete course. Plus, you will receive a one page goal setting template, a chapter from my book AND lifetime access to me -so you can ask any questions you want about my course and I will answer.

A good coach could cost you $2,000 or more. If you read the DOZENS of books I have about goal setting and achievement, each book would cost about $25. Even similar courses to this one cost $200 or more.

Okay, but what’s the price?

  • If ALL this helped you do, was achieve your financial goals, would it be worth it?
  • If ALL this course did, was help you with your personal health and fitness, would that be worth it?
  • If you ONLY became more successful in your career, would it be worth investing the small fee to take this course?

Yes, it would… but the step-by-step process I share in this course is universal. You can improve ANY area of your life you really want to by setting effective goals and doing the work it takes to get there.

You can take this course right now for $24.95. Get started.

PLUS, you get a 30 day money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with the course, Udemy will refund your money -as long as you let them know within 30 days.

Buy this course now because I’m not sure how long I can keep it at this price. It’s going to go up in price soon.

So, click on the button below. You will go to my course on Udemy, where you will be able to purchase my course and start watching it instantly. Don’t put it off. Start working on your biggest goals today.

    P.S. This is not for everyone BUT if you’re a motivated person who wants to get the job done -this is for you.

    Write goals and keep them close

    Do you write goals?

    If you don’t write goals, how will you know where you’re going?

    My wife and I were moving house a couple of weeks ago. Our lives were in transition for a few days, living from tarp like bags and boxes with all of our worldly possessions. In our living room, we sold almost every piece of furniture not screwed down.

    In the end, we would move into our new house. So, the tiredness, inconvenience and feeling of homelessness while we were moving would all pay off. We could see the pot of fruit loops at the end of the rainbow.

    One morning when we had our things packed up ready to go, I was getting ready for work. I started to panic that I was running late.

    Clocks keep you on time

    I looked up where our vintage clock previously sat on he bookshelf and it was gone. Looking around for the smaller clock we kept on the hall stand, that had been packed up too. I couldn’t even see the bottom right corner of the TV from where I was getting ready because we had sold the stand right from underneath it. “How would I know if I was early or late?” I thought to myself.

    My clock usually kept me on time. I knew how long I had before work and what time I had to leave. I knew the ideal time to have a shower, sip of my coffee and a shave. Even the ideal time to brush my teeth and put my shoes on. But on this day I felt a bit lost.

    I had so many unknowns. Would I get to work on time? Did I have enough time to eat breakfast at home? Could I watch Home and Away re-runs before work or would I have to record them? I’m just kidding. I don’t watch Home and Away. My wife watches it. No, really.

    Anyway… I was a bit lost that morning, until I found my watch. My feelings of panic started to disappear as soon as I could see I was on time. Mini crisis averted. I got to work on time but I probably would have struggled if I didn’t find my watch.

    Calendars mark important dates

    When I arrived at work that day, I checked my calendar to remind myself of any upcoming meetings. I keep my calendar close at hand (actually, I use a smartphone calendar) and set reminders to keep me on track.

    Imagine if I wrote dozens of my most important appointments for the year in a paper diary and then stuffed it down in a drawer for the next 12 months. What are the chances I would be on time for every appointment? Probably not that great. In some cases, I would probably forget who I was meeting, where I was meeting them and the purpose of the meeting.

    Imagine if we did the same thing with our goals. Just wrote them down and stuffed them in a folder or drawer for the year. Oh wait -most people do! Or worse still, they don’t write goals in the first place. Following are a few reasons your should write goals and keep them handy to refer back to.

    Why you need to write goals

    There are many reasons to write goals, instead of just keeping them in your head. Aim, progress, accuracy and accountability are a few that come to mind.

    Write goals to clarify

    When you write goals, you clarify exactly what your target is and at what point in time you expect to make it. Not only does the end point become clear but so does the path to get you there.

    Write goals to measure

    Once you have defined your end point, you can also set milestones along the way. Instead of waiting until the deadline for a major goal, you can check your progress along the way against these smaller steps. Think about the purpose of the minutes and seconds hands on a clock (although there are possibly many). Most of your appointments might be on the hour, however, if you check the minutes and seconds hands before the appointment you will know if you’re on track.

    Write goals for accuracy

    Accuracy improves when you write goals. If you don’t write goals, it’s too easy to shift the goal posts depending on your mood or what you think at the time is realistic. If you allow other people to take control and set your goals, (a manager for example) they will probably shift the goal posts on you too. I remember once that I doubled the sales required according to one of my sales targets. But instead of being praised or rewarded, one of my managers decided the original target was no longer good enough. So, in their eyes I failed. Imagine how I felt. How could I ever be successful if the goal posts would shift every time I kicked a goal?

    Write goals for accountability

    Take ownership of your goals. You improve your chances of success when you accept responsibility for your goals and hold yourself accountable for success or failure. Set a big goal but one that’s actionable. Set a goal that’s within your control.

    Take ownership

    Of all the reasons for getting your goals on paper, accepting ownership of end results is the most important. You will always face external forces. Some will set you back and some will push you forward but they will often be beyond your control. Writing your goals is the first step to taking responsibility for what happens to you. There are some things you can control, so focus on those.

    “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” -Theodore Roosevelt.

    Some people believe in fate. That outcomes can’t be altered. Chances are, if you’re not setting goals, you’re not leaving it up to fate. Instead, you’re falling into someone else’s plan. What someone else wants to happen, is not necessarily what is meant to happen.

    Write goals. Keep them close.


      Long term goals matter most

      Long term goals matter most. Some people tell me there’s no point in setting long term goals because we live in a world of fast and constant change. I am here to argue that it’s because we live in a fast paced world that we need long term goals to keep us on track in both business and in life. Your circumstances may change but your end game should not.

      I know there are few times in my life when I have achieved a long term goal and experienced a great sense of satisfaction. Anything worth doing in your life will take time, sometimes years. You will be challenged and you may even doubt yourself at times. Your greatest reward may be the challenges you face and what you learn about yourself as you dig deep to overcome them.

      Long term goals matter most








      Shiny new object syndrome is the new trend. Most people jump from one new idea or project to the next, instead of pursuing worthwhile goals. Focus has gone out of fashion and busyness is the new black. If you or your business is following a trend then you are also at the mercy of that trend when it declines. Switching from trend to trend, as they become in and out of fashion costs time and money.

      You might be searching for the next big thing, jumping from one idea to the next. Ask yourself, what will you do when you find it? Jim Collins and his research team developed something called the hedgehog concept, which he wrote about in his book, Good to Great. Collins suggested one of their findings was their turnaround companies focused on their core business, which ultimately was what they could be the best in the world at (pp90-103). So ask yourself, what can you or your team be the best in the world at?

      Collins was talking about turning around companies, from good to great but there’s something we can all take away as individuals too. When deciding what your long term goals are, make sure they align with your personal strengths. I often hear people say, there’s a lot of money in that kind of business or something similar. There might be a lot of money in an industry but if it doesn’t align with your strengths, passions and abilities, you’re not going to see very much of it!

      Consider some of the oldest companies in the world. Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi is a hot springs hotel in Japan, which was founded in 705AD. It’s been owned by the same family for 52 generations. Do you think they set long term goals? I think it would be safe to say they do… or at least, they haven’t followed trending industries. Same business, same industry, 52 years.

      Imagine how many companies Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi has outlived in 1,313 years (at the time of writing). How many downturns, recessions and depressions do you think this company has survived? I would dare to say more than you or I have had hot breakfasts. Would that be possible if the family had switched industries when hotels became more competitive? Imagine the impact they might have felt when billion dollar hotel chains were established across the world.

      Consider Jeff Bezos also, who at the time of writing unseated Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Bezos’ Amazon is now Goliath and you may have forgotten about their early days. For nearly 20 years, Amazon barely made a profit. Imagine trying to keep early investors happy for 20 years on the promise they would one day make a lot of money. That’s a long term view, in a world where many investors focus on quarterly profits.

      Jeff Bezos built his reputation and his business by setting long term goals. All along he warned shareholders that he would be playing the long game. He suggested investors buy stock in Amazon, only if they intended to invest for the long term. He had the discipline to focus on becoming the world’s biggest bookstore. Books were probably not a very sexy industry at the time, however, Bezos had a vision and a unique business model.

      Warren Buffett is a very successful investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. At the time of writing, Buffett is worth $85.7 Billion and the third richest man in the world. Buffett has become known for his long term investment strategy, which he used in his early days when investing money for a small group of family and friends. He still uses that strategy today.

      “I am not in the business of predicting general stock market or business fluctuations. If you think I can do this, or think it is essential to an investment program, you should not be in the partnership” -Warren Buffett. 

      Buffett’s investment rules include testing performance, which he says should be done at most every 3 years. He does however, prefer 5. He still follows this long term investment strategy in a world where everything seems so urgent, stock markets fluctuate rapidly and we are exposed to a 24 hour news cycle.

      “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much” -Jim Rohn.

      Long term goals will set you apart. In business, they’re often referred to as strategic goals. Jim Collins calls them BHAGs or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (pp195-205) in his book. I recommend, in business and in life, you set long term goals first and then work backwards. Consider the most capable athletes or people in your line of work who are at the top of their game. Chances are you will find it’s taken them years, perhaps even decades of determination to achieve what they have. Learn to play the long game, like them.

      Why goals fail

      Do you know why goals fail? I have listened carefully to dozens of people tell me why they have not been successful. I have failed more often than I’ve succeeded myself but I’m fortunate to have some victories too.

      Why goals fail, even the SMARTEST ones

      Setting effective goals is only the start of your journey. This article is going to address why goals fail, even if you have already set your SMARTEST goals.

      Expect the unexpected

      I used to be a police officer, which is a job where I learned to expect the unexpected. Imagine being sent to arrest someone at their house. Would they stay? Was it likely they were going to run? Were they ready for a fight? Or indeed was I ready if they attacked me?

      In each case, our training had prepared us for a range of scenarios. We had repeated drills, as part of our training, in case we would find ourselves confronted with a life threatening situation. We had standard procedures for those who were cooperative too but that was rarely the case. In this role, I learned more than in any other about why goals fail. 

      Goals have moving parts

      Soon I learned business was no different. Perhaps not as dangerous or life threatening as my previous role as a police officer. My point is, there are so many moving parts inside and outside a business. Competitors, governments, regulators, economies and industries are always changing. They are mostly fluid and unpredictable.

      In business, as in life, things will change. Things might go wrong or not according to plan.

      Goals have challenges

      Why do goals fail? Most goals fail because the person or organisation pursuing them wasn’t prepared for what was coming. I know that seems like an obvious point but I still see people set goals as if nothing could go wrong.

      Most people set goals with a positive mind set. Don’t get me wrong. Positivity helps. But if you truly believe nothing can possibly go wrong, how can you be ready for it when it does?

      In blunt terms, what are you going to do when the shit hits the fan? If your goal is big enough, you are going to be challenged. If you try hard enough, you might even fail. Failure is a learning experience, not an end point.

      Why goals fail and why you don’t need to

      Next time you’re setting some goals, write down all of the things that could possibly go wrong. Choose the problems that are most likely and write down how you might avoid them. Write down your worst case scenario for each and how you might minimise the damage.

      Bruce Lee said it best when he said, “Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

      Anything worth doing in life will be hard. In my experience that’s the way life is. My question is, what will you do when things get tough? Don’t give up.

      Prepare yourself because lack of preparation is why goals fail. Nothing great ever comes easy. Great things come when you overcome adversity.

      10 tips to run your morning routine like a boss

      Morning routine tips

      How to run your morning routine like a boss

      I’m sorry, there’s no such thing as the perfect morning routine  but I have learned a few things while experimenting with my own.  I have read about other morning routines and I have been able to try them for myself along the way. I hope what I have learned through trial and error can help make your mornings just that little bit better.

      Wake up naturally

      Wake up naturally -I always enjoyed waking up when the sun comes up, however, these days I usually rise a bit earlier. Whatever time you wake up, try to keep a consistent pattern to make it easier on yourself. If you’re a shift worker, I feel you but you’re going to have to skip this and move on to the next step.

      Enjoy the morning sun

      Sit in the morning sun -some studies show exposure to sunlight helps fight depression by releasing serotonin, a natural anti-depressant, in the brain. I sit in the sun and enjoy my coffee as part of my morning routine whenever I get a chance because it makes me feel good.

      Take some time to think

      Take some time to think -Give yourself some time to think before you start your work for the day. Creative and original ideas don’t come from overloading yourself with more information. Sometimes the best ideas come to us on a quiet morning walk, while sipping our tea or in our morning shower.

      Write a morning journal

      Write a journal -I don’t practice this everyday, however, I do write a journal when I find myself feeling lost. Some people swear by keeping a journal every morning though. You might start by writing down three things you’re grateful for or setting some goals.

      Never check your notifications first

      Don’t check your notifications -I only check my phone first thing if there is a missed call or a text message because usually they are important for me (my friends and family know not to call too late unless it’s an emergency). I never check my email, social media or app notifications on my phone when I wake up. Avoid being side tracked by distracting alerts and sounds, which in my experience are never urgent and rarely important. Wait until later in the day to check you social media, when you have finished your most important work.

      Cold showers and your morning routine

      Take a cold shower -I need to add a disclaimer here: this was part of my morning routine for about 3 weeks in an Australian Summer. Cold showers really seemed to wake me up and make me alert for the day ahead. Many people have written about the benefits of taking a cold shower and there is some scientific evidence to back the benefits. One thing I did notice is that my best ideas were no longer coming to me in the shower.

      Arrive at work early

      Arrive early -I get up early most mornings to do work in my home office. I have always found I get more done first thing in the morning at home or at the office. Either way, I seem to get more work done between 6am and 8:30am than I do the rest of the day.

      Ignore phone calls first thing

      Don’t answer the phone -I know this is probably counter intuitive to what you’ve always been told. I look back on the phone calls I have answered and I think 75% of them would have just been a distraction from what I was working on. Important callers will usually leave a message, send an email or I would have a call scheduled with them anyway. If you’re a secretary, don’t follow this advice because it’s your job to answer the phone. If you work in any other role, limit your use of the phone if it’s likely to be a distraction.

      Start with your most important task

      Work on your most important task -Leo Babauta first introduced me to the very simple concept (and in hindsight quite obvious) of your most important task or MIT. Leo suggests you should work on your most important task and nothing else at the start of your work day. That’s what I do now and I have been significantly more productive than before. Focus on your MIT until it’s done.

      Never email first

      No email before 10am -If you check your email first thing in the morning, then other people will be setting your agenda for the day. Never let other people set your priorities. Instead, you should start your day on your most important task or (if you can’t remember what that is) open your calendar or task list. Similarly, you should shut down your email and only check it during 3 or 4 (at most) scheduled times during the day.

      One final thought. Don’t try and fit everything into your morning routine. Start by adding one of these elements and find out if that works for you. I didn’t write this article to overwhelm you or make you feel like there’s even more to fit in your day. It will be a great start if you can replace one or two of the things you’re doing that aren’t working for something that will.


      Positive thinking kills your goal setting skills

      Positive thinking and goal setting

      Positive thinking is an important part of goal setting but at the same time, it can kill your goals. I’m not suggesting that negative thinking is helpful either. Let me explain. Unbridled optimism, that is when you believe nothing can go wrong, seems to be when it does. For this reason, I have always believed in being cautiously optimistic.

      German Field Marshall and Prussian Army General, Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke, summed it up best when he said, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” In this case, the enemy is not necessarily another individual; rather anything that could go wrong.

      I suggest you should have a sense of cautious optimism when setting goals. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It would be easy to suggest, as some of my clients do, that planning is pointless. They argue, “What is the point in setting goals when you don’t know what’s going to happen?” In fact, I once had an accountant tell me that I should not set specific goals or make long term plans for my business at all. Needless to say, I quickly changed accountants!

      Goal setting and your personal values

      I am an advocate of having long term goals, even in turbulent times. After all, if you’re not following your goals and dreams, who’s goals are you following? Some people believe that by letting go of the reigns they’re following their destiny, when in fact they’re actually following someone else’s agenda. There’s nothing wrong with being of service to other people but not everyone is pursuing goals that will align with your values. So, even if your goal is cause related or to be of service to someone else, it should reflect your personal values.

      In his book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins published his findings on why some businesses thrive in uncertain environments and others struggle. He discovered that the best leaders are more disciplined, more empirical (make decisions based on evidence) and more paranoid. I find this sense of caution quite a contrast to the high risk taking view I often popularised by the media. Collins’ book was an excellent read and it reminded me that positive thinking alone is not enough. Things can go wrong and they do.

      Famous actor and philosopher, Bruce Lee had a point when he said, “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

      Goal setting for the best but expecting the worst

      Tim Ferriss, Author of the 4 Hour Work Week, published a short video about stoicism, which I have included below. As Ferriss explains it, stoicism is about admitting what could go wrong and giving an honest answer to the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Ferriss uses the term fear setting, instead of goal setting, for the process he often uses to lift his mood and make sound business decisions.

      Of course it’s not enough to list all of the things that can go wrong. You then need to list some ways to avoid the worst and some ways to fix things or minimise the damage if the worst happens.

      I have often visualised worst case scenarios in my own mind and tried to think of preventative measures or possible solutions. I expect to encounter problems when I’m pursuing my goals. I believe the trick is to pay attention to the things that go wrong and then be as prepared as you possibly can.

      Positive thinking and your enemy

      Positive thinking is done from your point of view. Your enemy has other plans. I’m not suggesting to treat every other person and organisation like the enemy, however, you need to acknowledge that you are not in a perfect world. Your world is full of moving parts, conflicts and hidden agendas. In my own life, I stay focused on what I can do to put my goals into motion but I’m always conscious that there will be obstacles.

      I recently read a book called Red Teaming by Bryce G. Hoffman. The whole concept of the book is summed up neatly in the tag line, “Transform your business by thinking like the enemy.”

      Hoffman suggests a systematic approach to making plans stronger. He advocates the use of red teams within an organisation, who can expose the flaws in a particular plan or course of action. I highly recommend this book.

      The author goes on to point out the various military and business applications where red teaming has already been implemented. I should point out that testing plans like this is not about being negative. It’s about taking a good plan and making it better.

      My goal setting and preparation experience

      Contingency planning

      When I studied business, developing a contingency plan was best practice. A contingency plan is simply a plan b. I have found that’s served me well to develop a plan b while setting personal goals, business goals and sales forecasts.

      Contingency planning is not about abandoning your goals at the first sign of trouble; rather it’s about adjusting your course in pursuit of that goal if something goes wrong. Invariably, things will go wrong. Stock markets crash, consumer confidence declines, employees leave, new competitors come to town, bad things happen and most of this will be out of your control. In my opinion, businesses that fail do so because they’re not adequately prepared for what’s coming.

      Hollywood endings are fiction

      I have seen hundreds of Hollywood action movies (my guilty pleasure) and most of them have one thing in common. Nothing ever happens quite like it does in the real world. I often see the hero come up with a perfect plan, only to be hindered by something unexpected. There’s usually a corny joke about there not being a plan b and the hero goes into beast mode and wins the day. The problem is, just like in business, things can and will go wrong and hinder almost any plan.

      My experience in the police force taught me to plan for a specific situation then to plan for any likely alternatives. Preparation was also important. We invested countless hours performing weapons and other drills, so we could be prepared for almost any scenario. Similar drills are also performed in other military organisations, like army and navy teams. Often, the objective here was to prepare for when things go wrong.

      Hoping for the best but expecting the worst

      Cautious optimism is essential for goal setting and planning. Positive thinking alone is not a bad thing unless it leads you to assume nothing can go wrong. I often hear people assume that positive thinking is a kind of ignorance that we live in a perfect world.

      Planning is more important in a changing world than it would be in a perfect world. You need to set your course towards your goals and adjust your sails when the wind changes. Be ready for the challenges ahead.

      Anticipate those challenges as part of the goal setting process and be ready to do what’s necessary to get the job done.

      Company mission statements start in your organisation’s heart

      Company mission statementsCompany mission statements are essential for great organisations. I believe such organisations also require great cultures, however, this article focuses on the importance of mission.

      I wrote a chapter about mission statements in a book I released recently. My focus in that book was individual, rather than corporate. I believe mission statements can be very powerful for individuals and businesses and I have one for both.

      I was discussing mission statements with my book’s editor who said, “I’m not a big fan of mission statements”. He explained to me that most organisations he worked in had mission statements. Few of the employees actually knew what their organisation’s mission was. Most of the statements were buried in a drawer and only re-printed to impress the shareholders in the annual report.

      I hate to admit it but my editor made a great point. I too had worked at similar places.

      However, I have also had the benefit of working with organisations where they took their mission very seriously. Well written company mission statements, backed by supportive cultures, can inspire people, unite teams and advance your shared vision.

      Mission statements are effective in a range of situations. In the context of leadership, we can easily see similarities between military organisations and business. Mission statements are often used by military organisations, project teams, large corporations and disruptive startups.

      Military and paramilitary mission statements

      Mission statements unite teams

      In a former life I was a Police Constable. One of my colleagues once wrote on our team whiteboard, “United we stand, Divided we fall”. I later learned this was a quote from US Founding Father John Dickinson. Dickinson’s quote has been repeated often since in 1768. Team work was essential for survival, among other things, during my time as a police officer.

      Mission statements provide a sense of purpose

      On the day I marched and attested from the NSW Police Academy, I swore an oath to the Queen. Every officer must swear an ‘oath of office’, which is a solemn vow that the police officer will execute their duties faithfully and according to law. I considered this ‘oath of office’ as my mission and it continued to be a benchmark for me and my colleagues, during our service as police officers.

      I recall one of our instructors often reminded us to walk with a sense of purpose. Most students, including myself, thought it was funny. On the day I marched out of the academy it all made sense. Everything we were trained to do at the academy, from ‘walking right’ to the way we dressed was a symbol of our professionalism and the manner in which we would carry out our mission.

      Mission statements communicate values

      Military organisations have their own mission statements. The Australian Army, for example, publishes what they call a ‘contract with Australia’. The United States Navy states their mission, “To maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”

      Mission statements motivate people

      Robert Kiyosaki discussed the importance of having a sense of mission in his book, ‘Rich Dad’s Before You Quit Your Job’. He applies this to the context of his involvement as a soldier in the Vietnam war and later in business.

      “In Vietnam, I witnessed firsthand a third-world nation beat the most powerful nation in the world, simply because its fighting forces had a stronger sense of mission” Kiyosaki wrote (p154).

      Company mission statements in corporations

      Comapny mission statements communicate a higher calling

      In the context of business, Kiyosaki refers to mission as being about more than money. He refers to it as a higher calling (p156). He goes on to say, “The Marine Corps did teach me that the mission of the organisation starts at the core, in the soul of the organisation. Without integrity to a mission, an organisation does not have soul” (p157).

      In his book, ‘The Art of the Start’, Guy Kawasaki says shared meaning is a strong predictor of a startup’s success. Kawasaki views most company mission statements to be long and boring but he does support the idea of ‘shared meaning’ . He suggests the use of a three or four word mantra to communicate that ‘shared meaning’ (pp12-14).

      Company mission statements bring your big game

      Daniel Priestley, who is a successful entrepreneur, author and coach agrees that an entrepreneur’s mission should be at the heart of their pitch. Priestley refers to your mission as your ‘Big Game’ and says it should communicate your vision for three or more years in the future.

      Startup company mission statements

      Imagine you own one of the new wave of companies commonly being referred to as ‘the disruptors’. Disruptors operate in highly competitive environments and navigate through rapidly changing world. Some of the biggest disruptors have written mission statements despite sometimes operating in unpredictable environments.

      Facebook’s mission statement

      “Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them”.

      Did you notice their big game? Facebook’s mission is about more than keeping a few lonely geeks connected. They talk about bringing the whole world together and empowering people to build communities and express themselves. Apply this statement in today’s world and you quickly realise the wide reaching ramifications. Imagine the positive impact of enabling previously oppressed minorities to express themselves.

      Google’s mission statement

      Google’s mission is to, “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.

      Did you notice Google’s big game is about more than providing a search engine? They’re talking about organising the world’s information. They’re talking about making that information universally accessible, which is an incredible challenge on its own. Bringing ‘the world’s’ information to everyone would be an enormous challenge. Consider third world countries, people without computers, people with disabilities, citizens of dictatorships and so on.

      Tesla’s mission statement

      Tesla’s mission is, “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible”.

      Tesla obviously has enormous challenges ahead. Sustainable transport will need to go beyond the use of renewable fuel. Imagine the challenge of sourcing renewable, recyclable or biodegradable materials suitable for making cars. Car owners will need access charging stations when they’re away from home, which is a challenge in itself.

      Final thoughts on company mission statements

      Every company, big or small, should have a mission statement. I created a personal mission statement and one for each business I am involved in. My mission is always close at hand. My mission statement is my guide for significant decisions. I check it when I need motivation. I show it to my stakeholders including my partners, prospects, clients.

      Write your own company mission statement and use it as a guide for everything you do. Your mission should inspire you and your team, unite your efforts and drive you forward. Remember the words of Robert Kiyosaki; “Without integrity to a mission, an organisation does not have soul”.


      How to make a vision board in just 5 minutes

      Are you curious how to make a vision board?

      How to make a vision board
      How to make a vision board

      In this article, you will learn how to make a vision board. A vision board is simply a collection of photos, plans, pictures and other stimuli, which help you visualise your goals.

      A vision board is not just an absract concept or a nice idea in theory. In fact, it can help you visualise the details in your plan. Individuals and organisations already use vision boards (or something similar) for many practical applications.

      Vision boards help you picture the outcomes you want

      Visualisation is very powerful. I have used examples in my own book, Time to Start, of high achievers who use visualisation to help them achieve their goals. I also wrote about computer simulation training programs, which are used in emergency services and military training.

      Vision boards are simply visual aides, which help you envision your future success in your ‘mind’s eye’. I have used visualisation in my own life to help me achieve my goals.

      Vision boards help you be clear about the results you want

      I want you to think for a moment about the most ambitious project you can. Try and think about a famous building, house or bridge if you can. An architect or builder likely drew up a plan for each of these projects long before they started.

      Long before a bridge is built, for example, similar bridges are photographed, an architect draws a design, an engineer will help with the calculations and someone (I assume the architect again?) will draw a few concepts of what the finished project might look like. All of this happens long before anyone picks up a hammer (or whatever they build bridges with these days!).

      Your vision board should be the same. Instead of thinking about your vision board as some abstract concept, think of it as filling in the details of your plan.

      Famous people who use a vision board

      Before we dive into how to make a vision board, I want to mention a few famous successful people, who already use one. You can watch Steve Harvey talk to Oprah Winfrey about the importance of using a vision board.

      Pop star Katy Perry reportedly made her first vision board when she was 9 years old, which depicted a singer she admired winning a Grammy Award. 15 years later, Katy won her first Grammy Award.

      TV host Ellen DeGeneres showed her vision board to the audience on her show, which showed images of Oprah and ‘O’ Magazine, which she wanted to appear on the cover of. Some time later, Oprah called Ellen and invited her to appear on the cover. Watch the video of Oprah calling into Ellen.

      I’m not suggesting a vision board has been solely reponsible for anyone’s success but I do believe very strongly in the power of visualisation. If a vision board helps you paint a chrystal clear picture of what you want, then in my mind, you will be significantly more likely to succeed.

      How to make a vision board

      You don’t need to know how to create the perfect vision board, you just need to get started. You can improve your vision board over time, as your goals and definition of success becomes clearer.

      Your vision board does not need to be complicated. In fact, start off as simply as you can. Find a pin board, magnetic white board, a blank wall or just a piece of cardboard if that’s all you can muster up. If you have enought money, you can purchase something a bit nicer. The photo of the vision board in this article was taken at Kaisercraft.

      Vision board apps exist and you can use those too, however, they are my least favourite option because you risk being distracted by app and message notifications every time you want to focus on your goals. So, for that reason, I prefer a low tech pin board or something similar.

      What to include on your vision board

      Use your personal mission statement (if you have one) or your personal goals, as a guide for what to include on your vision board. You might choose to include some of the following on your own board:

      • Anything you are grateful for and want to keep in your life
      • Words, phrases or quotes that motivate you
      • Photos of your mentors or others who inspire you
      • Pictures and records of milestones you have achieved
      • Records and photos of any big goals you have achieved
      • Drawings, plans or photos to help you envision your goals
      • Drawings and photos that remind you of future rewards

      I recommend you include things on your vision board, which remind you of how much you have achieved. Envisioning your future will help you reach your goals, however, reminding yourself of your achievements in the past (no matter how small) can reaffirm your confidence.

      Where to keep your vision board

      In short, keep your vision board everywhere! I recommend you have a physical pin board or something similar, which you keep in a place you’re likely to see it every day. Keep a photo of it on your phone, update your computer desktop with that picture. My point is, you should be able to refer to your vision board as often as you need to remind yourself of your goals.

      When should you start your vision board?

      Today! Now you know how to make a vision board, your next step is to actually make one. Start searching magazines, finding quotes or taking photos that represent your dreams and goals. Remember to keep your vision board simple and uncluttered. Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”


      How to focus in an always on, always connected world

      How to focus in a noisy world

      How to focus in a noisy worldIf you want to master any skill or achieve your goals in today’s world, you need to learn how to focus. Tune out from the noise and distractions and concentrate on what matters most. I know that’s easier said than done, which is why I wrote this article and created an infographic to help you.

      People so accustomed to short videos, infographics and bite sized pieces of information online that we forget true mastery involves so much more focus, commitment and immersion.

      Fortunately for you, I have caved and created an infographic, which gives you a few quick tips on how to focus. If you want more detailed tips, check out a few of my other articles about how to focus.

      Why you find it hard to focus

      Some sources estimate, a person living in a major city is likely to be exposed to up to 10,000 advertising messages each day. At the risk of being an alarmist, we are under attack from marketers! Okay, perhaps it’s not that extreme (says the marketing major in me) but still; focus is a dying art.

      Technology is also arguably causing a decline in people’s attention spans. You may find it difficult to focus these days because you get interrupted with phone calls, voice mails, sms texts, instant messages, tweets, friend requests and email notifications; just to name a few. Compare that to just 20 years ago, when mobile phones were much bigger and much less common. Social media and text messages were’nt really a thing.

      Please feel free to send and share this infographic to teach your colleagues, clients or followers how to focus. It gives a few simple ideas that anyone can follow. If you’re a manager, feel free to print this out and hang it on the pin board at work.

      6 tips to find your focus

      Here are some simple tips on how to focus:

      1. Turn off social media and email notifications, unless they are relevant to the task at hand
      2. Block or redirect any phone calls not related to what you are working on
      3. Focus on what you are working on right now by saying no to everything else
      4. Concentrate on a single task, rather than rapidly switching or multi-tasking
      5. Lock your office door or turn your chair to face away from colleagues
      6. Wear a pair of big, obvious headphones, so colleagues can see you are working
      7. Remove your visitor’s chair, welcome sign and anything else that invites drop in visitors

      Print out this infographic on how to focus, as a handy reminder of how to minimise distractions and focus at work.


      How to focus infographic