A Tap on the Glass

A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 98 - Don't Move without a Direction

by Michael Darling

It's the holiday season here in the U.S.

And chances are, sometime this season, the big question will come up:

"So, Michael, where are you working now?” (Or, at least some variation of that.)

If your family is anything like mine, whatever you tell them is going to translate in a number of different ways…from perceptive understanding to a obligatory acknowledgment because they really don’t have a CLUE what you’re doing, how you do it and why.

So, this week I gave some thought on how to help you (and me) get past that frustration. Maybe there are some keys I can give you to surpass everyone's expectations. If you apply what you discover in this, from this point forward, you'll be the envy of friends and family, known and loved by Millions. (Sam Millions…he does my dry cleaning.)

Now, I didn’t come up with all of these of course. I "stole” them from a great book: Get Out of Your Own Way by Robert K. Cooper, PhD. I suggest picking up a copy for even more insights.

Onward & Upward …

Here’s one: Direction, not motion.

Be careful here. You might think this is about hitting your goals, but don’t be so fast to assume that!. You can hit a lot of goals and still be running around in circles chasing your tail. That's why you need direction.

A friend of mine was like that, chasing the tail of money for years … moving from one money job to the next. It wasn't until he started looking at the direction he wanted his life — not just a bank account — to go that he started seeing progress in both.

In my life, direction always meant following my natural skills and abilities. Abilities I've known I had since high school, like writing, speaking…. However, I never believed I could "make a living” doing those things. How wrong I was. Plus, in many cases, my direction ignored my values … which left me feeling unfulfilled and without a purpose in life.

I'm still fine-tuning my direction, but each day — and even with each project — I get more clear on where I'm going in my career and, more importantly, in my life.

Look at it this way: When a ship leaves its harbor, for fully 99.99 percent of its voyage, it can't see its port of call. If the captain were to follow every distracting wave and current, he'd never find the port. But, by knowing the direction he needs to go, his motion is efficient and rewarding.

So What?!

While most of my childhood is fuzzy, I do remember Pastor Larson at our church. He used to finish his sermons with the phrase, "So What?!” In other words, what does this mean to you and for you? How can you apply this to your life starting today?

Ok…let’s look at that. There are a couple of things you can do …

Take a series of personality assessments and career assessments. There are several free ones online. I'd also recommend any book by Marcus Buckingham. Or, check out our own Steve Roller's article "A Job, a Career, or a Calling.”

Another is to come up with a personal Mission Statement. It's not easy, but it is a powerful tool for keeping you on track. Then, refer to it before taking on any project — personal or professional.

Finally, I simply suggest you remain very aware of why you are choosing to spend your days and life the way you are. Is it your dream or someone else's dream for you?

A good attitude check, in my book…and a question you might want to ask yourself periodically.

Next time…perhaps we can FOCUS on another tip…

..and that’s your clue.

Thanks for reading…

A Tap on the Glass - 97 - If You Want to Play the Game, You Have to Swing.

By Michael Darling

I've got a problem. At least, I used to. Success freaked me out. I thought I wanted to be successful, but I really didn't.

Oh, I'd think a lot about wanting to make more out of my life, to do something that filled me with passion and excitement, but I never bit the bullet and did it. You know why? I was scared I'd fail.

Failure, to me, meant saying I was going to do something publicly, trying to do it, and then not being able to do what I wanted to do. I've always been like this, for as long as I can remember.

As a matter of fact, one of the earliest memories I have is of me playing baseball. I was probably seven years old, maybe even younger than that. I loved baseball then, and I was a pretty good runner. I played in the outfield. If you want to hide a seven year old, you send him to the outfield, so he can pick dandelions.

I was terrified of hitting, though. Not because I was scared of the ball; I just didn't want to hit the ball. I thought it would be the most embarrassing thing in the world to make an out in a critical situation. So, every time I went up to bat, I prayed for a walk. I honestly never swung once the entire season.
Naturally, I ended up striking out a lot. Same result as I would have gotten had I swung, without the opportunity to ever get a hit. That thought never crossed my mind, though.

Finally, the last game of the season, my dad (normally a man of few words and who rarely left his recliner at home) finally said something to me. He realized what was going on, I think, and explained to me that I never had a chance to get a hit if I never swung the bat. Hmmm.

So, the last at bat I got in that game, I swung. And you know what?

I struck out. Again.

But, after the game was over, my dad told me he was proud of me for trying. And the words started to sink in.

I realized I had to be willing to fail in order to succeed. To my young mind, this was a new thought; one I'd never really considered before.

Is this kind of situation playing out in your life?

Here I am now.

I'm much older, and still scared sometimes of putting myself out there. I think it's natural for pretty much everyone. We think that if we say the way we'd like things to be in our lives (whether it's professing love to someone, or admitting we're dissatisfied with our jobs, or wanting to go back to school when we're definitely past our college years), people will laugh at us. They'll beat us back into conformity with everyone else, and that won't feel good.

So, we don’t.

I once heard of an experiment that was done with a group of chimpanzees. These chimps were placed in an enclosure that had a pole in the center. On top of the pole was a platform that had a treat on it (bananas or something). Whenever one of the chimps would try to climb the pole to get at the treat, the researchers would hit the group of chimps on the ground with water from a hose. Eventually, if one would try to climb the pole, the others would grab it, to prevent the group from getting sprayed.

After a while, the researchers quit spraying the chimps. The chimps behavior, however, continued. They still kept anyone from climbing the pole. After a while, none of the chimps tried to climb the pole anymore.

Later, the researchers introduced a new chimp into the group, and removed one of the originals. The new chimp tried to climb the pole, and was instantly pulled back down by the group. After awhile, it quit trying to climb the pole, too.

New chimps were introduced one by one, and original chimps were removed. Eventually, all of the original chimps were gone. None of the chimps currently in the enclosure had ever been sprayed with water. Yet none of them ever tried to climb the pole, because each time they did, the group would pull them back down.

Think about that. None of the chimps even knew why they weren't supposed to climb the pole, yet they all enforced it just out of habit. Because that's the way it's always been.

People behave in the same way. If we try to do something extraordinary with our lives, and we tell people about it, we're worried we'll be ridiculed for it. Mocked and shamed into conformity. People tell us it can't be done, simply because they've never seen anyone do it before.

Well, I think it's time that it stopped. Thumb your nose at the rest of the chimps and climb the pole. Do what you want to do, and don't worry about what other people think.

These are the lessons that I've learned since that day I struck out in Little League and in several circumstances since:


1. Everyone's scared.
No one has it all together. If you talk to any successful person, you'll find out that, not only were they scared to begin doing something different, they still get scared every time. It gets incrementally easier, but the fear never goes away. Professional athletes still get nervous before the game. Musicians still have butterflies in their stomachs before concerts. Authors freak out the night before their books are released. What you're feeling is no different than anyone else.

2. No one's paying attention to you.
This is a corollary to lesson #1. People are so worried about how things are going for them they don't have time to be concerned about anyone else - especially you. Consequently, people spend time worrying about other people, who really have no time to worry about anyone else because they have problems of their own. See how silly this all is? Oh sure, there are some people who are paying attention to you. But, they're usually your spouse or family or really close friends. These are the kinds of people who are going to be supportive of you, anyway. That's a good kind of attention.


3. You have to know where you want to go.
What's the old saying? “If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there”, I believe is how it goes. You need to figure out what your dreams are for yourself. Once you've figured out what you want to do, you can put a plan together to achieve it.

One of the things that always concerned me about goals was hearing all of these “self-help gurus” saying you have to set huge, aggressive, audacious goals for yourself. The implication was that if you don't dream big, you might as well not bother. That always put me off, because I've never wanted anything really big in my life. No huge mansions or Ferrari, no yacht in the Caribbean. I just wanted to be comfortable and free to explore my options.

I came to believe that everyone needs to start somewhere. If you have a lot of credit card debt that you want to get paid off, that's a fine dream. There's nothing wrong with your dream of a debt-free life. You don't have to want to build a multi-million dollar business in order to put the power of dreams to work for you. Just start dreaming, and however big or small they are is good enough for now.


4. Do what makes you happy, and don't worry about others.
With a nod to Bobby McFerrin, “don’t worry, be happy.” Obviously, you have to be smart about this. I'm not saying run out on responsibilities and obligations you have set for yourself. What I'm saying is that there are very few people in this world who's approval you should be after. Your spouse and kids, maybe your extended family if they're supportive; that's about it. If a person doesn't have a vested interest in your success, you can confidently disregard what they think about what you're choosing to do. The only way you can count your life as truly successful is if you're doing what you're meant to do, regardless of what society at large thinks of it.


It's taken me a long time to fully absorb the lesson my dad tried to pass on to me that day on the baseball diamond. I've finally started to put something out there to the world that's reflective of who I truly am, without shame or apology. And I'm finally happy with who I'm becoming. I'm pressing on to be a better person, and, even though it scares me every time I hit “publish”, I'm learning to enjoy the butterflies. Because I'm starting to be who I'm supposed to be…and that’s a good thing, no matter what it is.

Thanks for reading.

A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 96 - On the Road Again

by Michael Darling

It’s a simple fact of life and human nature that when we do not like the circumstances of our lives, our natural tendency is to resist or fight them with all the fiber of our beings.

Interestingly, the irony of this is that when we take up our sword and shield and start the fight against the things that we don’t want or don’t like in our lives we are much more likely to perpetuate their existence in it.

It doesn’t really make any logical sense, but then again, I’ve found that nothing about this journey through life seems to, until we can see past our current obstacle. Later, we look back and can see that a great many of our biggest problems are actually some of our biggest blessings in disguise.

In one of my blogs, I saw this comment from a poster…

“Resistance is a form of friction and it slows your progress.”

There’s a lot of truth in that. A lot more than what we may want to admit.

When you’re so busy fighting the way things are and resisting the circumstances of your life, you tend to get caught inside your own problems. Instead of moving forward you stay stuck and you kill your momentum.

It’s something that I’ve been experiencing first hand lately. I’ve found myself trapped in a comparative and competitive disadvantage by looking at the stories of other people’s success and wondering why mine isn’t one of them.

Silly? Yes…but I have had the honor and privilege of working with some very talented and remarkable people over the years and its intimidating on many levels!

I feel blessed with the opportunities I’ve been given. But, if you look at it, you can see this line of thinking makes no logical sense either. Beating yourself up for the way things are or for not being the way you want them to be is just another form of resistance.

In essence..you’re fighting your own success!

Now, I know that true progress can’t possibly be made when you’re sitting there and operating from a place of resistance.

It’s like attempting to drive a car with the brakes on. You’re going to burn gas, screw up the engine, and stay stuck.

So, maybe it’s time to look at that and take your foot off the brake. I am a bit of a control freak…so I have a desire to be in complete control of everything…yet that is another interesting example of resistance. It’s the catch-22 on a never ending journey of personal development. You start your journey so you can take control of your life and then realize that the TRUE key to taking control is letting go of your desire to control everything. Once you take your foot off the brake however, the car seems to move effortlessly. So “they” say.

I’m still trying to lift my foot off that pedal.

But, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? While we know logically that there’s no sense in worrying about things that we can’t change, we do it anyway. It’s like an annoying add-on feature of the human brain that was intended to serve some useful purpose, but is actually a nuisance more often than not.

So, how do we take our foot off the break? It’s simple but not easy.

Of late, I remind myself that a year from now what matters today probably won’t carry nearly the importance I thought it would. Five years from now what matters a year from now won’t. Ten years from now what matters five years from now probably won’t.

Part of why we struggle with resisting our temptation to dwell on the problems in our lives is that we continue to project them forward into tomorrow, next week, next month…and beyond. We’re convinced that the impact of things are something that will grow with time.

Well, “it ain’t necessarily so”.

Admittedly, you could say that about goal setting and momentum, but when it comes to the problems we carry around with us, time causes them to eventually lose their power over us. As much as the numerous failures I’ve had impacted me, and placed me where I’m at today (good or bad) I can’t imagine the life I would have without them. They’ve motivated and inspired all the futures that came after them. "As one door closes...another one opens."

So..if you can see that, and when you stop resisting the circumstances of your life, a whole new blank canvas of possibility can open up for you. The more you’re willing to veer off the beaten path, take the “Road Not Taken” (one of my favorite poems from Robert Frost) and take a more scenic route through life, you get an opportunity to find out what you’re really made of and tap into your true potential.

And that, as the poem goes, makes all the difference.

What have you got to lose? If you make a mistake, you learn from it and a whole new canvas appears for you to paint. Take your shot and see what happens.

"Tap" will be on hiatus while we spend some time opening doors.

As always, thanks for reading…

A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 95 - Burnout Time

by Michael Darling

How can you try so hard to succeed and yet fail?

I once knew a salesperson who was so successful that he failed.

His sales and commissions were high, and yet he failed. He was in his office at 6:00 a.m. each weekday and left at nearly 9:00 p.m. each evening. Weekends were used to work at home to catch up on reading, paperwork, and administrative details.

His unrelenting work schedule was amply rewarded financially. Unfortunately, along the way, he became a different person. He became irritable, forgetful, impatient, and fatigued. His family, friends, and co-workers were disappointed and even disgusted with his new personality. Even though he was very successful at work, he was failing at everything else. Eventually he became bored and disenchanted with the sales profession altogether. He was a classic victim of the vicious cycle of BURNOUT.


It’s what happens when you run a machine too hard and too long.  It burns out. The same thing happens to a human machine—a person.
When people strive too hard and too long to reach a goal, they burn out. Burnout is a state of fatigue and/or frustration brought on by an intense pursuit of a goal or devotion to a cause. It brings on a series of physical, emotional, and psychological problems.


Super-achievers suffer from burnout. They usually have overly full schedules and yet still find the time to take on more. They have a difficult time saying no to the requests of others. When working on projects, they usually do more than their share. Part of their problem relates to their inability or unwillingness to delegate things to others. They like things done right and done on time. Consequently, they do almost everything themselves.

I liken burnout victims to jugglers. They pick up three balls (jobs, tasks, causes) and start juggling them. Once they feel competent enough, they pick up two more balls. Then three more. Now they’re juggling eight tasks at the same time. Other people marvel at the burnout victim’s ability to do so many things at the same time. The victim’s pat response is “I work well under pressure.” That is true, of course.  They’re proving that daily. However, nobody works well under extreme levels of tension and pressure for extended periods of time.

Eventually, the overall quality of the victim’s work diminishes. People around them become increasingly skeptical, disappointed, and critical of the victim’s work. The victims sense these negative feelings and overcompensate by pushing themselves even harder. They actually pick up four more balls for their juggling act. The quality of their work deteriorates even further. The vicious cycle of burnout claims another victim.

The people who fall prey to burnout are not bad people. They simply lose their perspective of what is really important in life. They strive too hard to reach a goal in one area of their life, such as their business or profession, and let the other areas of their life (family, social, personal, etc.) flounder. They usually don’t heed the warning signals or symptoms of burnout because they honestly believe things will get better soon. I have news you might use….They don’t!

These people simply expose themselves to too much stress over too short a period of time, and they burn out. Even when they’re lucky enough to achieve their goal and get what they wanted, it usually isn’t what they expected. In other words, the reward doesn’t seem to compensate them for their efforts.


Most people like to know whether they are one of the unlucky victims of burnout. If so, you’re probably exhibiting some or all of the burnout symptoms. These include constant exhaustion, paranoia, forgetfulness, emotional tension, boredom, lethargy, impatience, irritability, skepticism and cynicism, and a superman complex—a sense of omnipotence. Now, don’t rush to the burnout doctor if you are experiencing some of these symptoms. It’s common for everyone to experience some of these ills occasionally, yet temporarily, in some areas of their life. The burnout victims have symptoms that are constant, growing, and pervasive throughout all aspects of their life. They are truly sick physically and emotionally.

How prone are you to burnout? Take the BURNOUT QUIZ I have at the end of this article to determine your current potential for burnout.


It’s not easy.  If it was, everybody would do it.   It requires an intense commitment on your part to change your behavior for the better, and the healthier. It will require the same devotion and willpower as quitting smoking or going on a diet. However, don’t try too hard. You may burn out by trying too hard to get better.  How’s that for irony?

The following activities can help prevent you from becoming a burnout victim. They can also aid you in recovering from a burnout you are already experiencing. If you follow these guidelines, don’t try to change too many of your behaviors at once. That will result in a quick case of frustration and a reversion to your comfortable old behaviors. Attempt one new behavioral change at a time. Do not try an additional new behavior until you have comfortably mastered the previous one. In this way, your new healthy behaviors will last.

1. Limit the number of hours you work. The classic burnout victims work excessively long hours—6 or 7 days per week. Even when they’re home or out socializing, they can’t stop thinking and talking business. They wear themselves down physically and mentally.

Make a firm commitment to cut your daily workload down by one hour per week, each and every week, until you’re down to 8‑9 hours per day, five days per week. Don t say that’s impossible. It certainly is possible if you learn how to manage your time better. What you’re going to find is that by giving yourself a little “wiggle room”, you’ll actually become MORE productive in less time.  That’s working SMART.  Hard is good once in awhile.  Smart is good all the time.

2. Set goals—write them down. Most burnout victims work so hard and so long because they get bogged down in too many trivial tasks. Very often the really important jobs, the ones with a high payoff, never get done. This lack of task perspective is very often the direct result of not having clearly defined goals down in writing.

By knowing what is truly important to you in your life, and by having clearly written goals and action plans, you are better able to differentiate the high-payoff tasks from the low-payoff tasks. Then, if you spend most or all of your time doing your high-priority tasks, you’ll probably accomplish twice as much in half the time.  Once again, that’s working SMART.

3. Learn to say “No!” Burnout victims have a difficult time telling people they are not able to do another task. They feel it shatters their omnipotent image. Ironically, taking on too much puts so much pressure on the burnout victims that the overall quality of their work decreases and their superman image suffers anyway. When you feel you have more than enough to keep you busy, politely refuse to take on more.

4. Learn to delegate. One of the major problems afflicting burnout victims is their inability and unwillingness to delegate tasks to others. They must resist the tendency to do things themselves. Train others, especially your secretary or assistant, to do your routine and low-priority tasks. Also delegate the right to make mistakes. That’s how others learn. Give them their space to do things on their own. You should be spending your time on planning and completing your high‑priority tasks.

5. Exercise. One of the most effective ways to relieve tension and stress is through exercise. It not only helps you avoid a burnout episode, it also helps you circumvent many other physical ailments. Workaholics and super-achievers complain that they do not have the time to exercise. On the contrary, taking time out of a busy schedule to exercise usually makes you feel less fatigued while you’re working and actually increases your level of awareness and productivity on the job. Force yourself to get at least 200 minutes of physical activity per week spread out over at least five separate days.  I’m as guilty of this as many of you.  It’s easier said than done, but it’s attainable.

6. Break your routines. Don’t follow too rigid a schedule. Too much structure gets you into a rut. In the field of nutrition, the experts recommend rotational dieting. That simply means not eating the same foods all the time and adding variety and flexibility to your eating habits. The same advice holds true for your daily and weekly work schedule. Purposely go out of your way to do some things differently, to do some new things, and to do them at different times.

7. Try to relax. Kick back every so often during each day. Let your mind wander, not thinking about anything in particular, and especially not about business. These are necessary recharge breaks. Take long, hot baths at home to relieve tension. You will find that this is an ideal way to relax both your mind and body.

8. Eat lunch AWAY from the office. This is an excellent way to accomplish many of the above suggestions: Walking to and from the restaurant or the park is an excellent source of exercise. Eating lunch outside or in the park is an ideal way to relax and cleanse your mind. Leaving the office for meals breaks the routine of being in the office all day.

9. Take vacations. Most burnout victims rarely take vacations. They have too much work to do. Even when their spouse forces them to go on a vacation, they load one suitcase with books, reading materials, and work. If the vacation consists of more than three days in the same location, burnout victims start climbing the walls. They’re on a withdrawal from work.

If you react in the above manner, take a series of three‑day vacations throughout the year and discipline yourself not to bring any work with you. Vacation to relax, not simply to work in another environment.

10. Spend more time with your family. I realize not everyone is married or has a family. Those who do should schedule their family members into their appointment book and respect the entry as they would any other business appointment. Eat at least one meal per day with your family. Try to keep business calls to a minimum at your home. Spend one evening and one half-day per week doing something with your family as a group (TV watching doesn’t count!). Get to really know the people who are very important to you in your life.

11. Take time for yourself. Get away by yourself intermittently. Spend some time alone getting to know yourself. Meditate. Relax. Read light, enjoyable material. Pursue a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with your line of work, but which is relaxing and enjoyable. Treat yourself—you deserve it.

12. Don’t take life too seriously. Believe it or not, you’re not indispensable. Not to the world. Not to your country. Not even to your company. Everything will go on with or without you. Let up on yourself and others. Yes, you do make a contribution—maybe even a major one. But don’t overestimate your own value and worth. Do what you do and do it well. But, don’t kill yourself in the process, because then you’re of no value to the people and causes for which you were working. Take care of yourself and enjoy all aspects of your life—not just work.

Everyone will be the better for it, especially you.

Being successful is not easy. It is, in fact, one of the most difficult things in life to do. It takes hard work, smart work, and dedication. However, if you try TOO hard to succeed, at the expense of other areas of your life, it is only a matter of time before you burn out. The consequences of burnout are not pretty. You don’t have to fall victim to it if you just keep your goals in perspective and your total life in balance, and follow the burnout-prevention recommendations suggested in this article. You’ll be successful in ALL areas of your life, not just work.


SA = Strongly Agree = 10 points
A = Agree = 7 points
D = Disagree = 3 points
SD = Strongly Disagree = O points

  1. I always seem to feel fatigued throughout the day.

  2. I find myself talking less and less in business and social meetings.

  3. My memory seems to be deteriorating—I’m forgetting more and more.

  4. Even after a good night’s sleep, I still feel tired.

  5. I find it very difficult to really relax—my mind always seems to be in full gear thinking about work.

  6. At the end of each day, I feel that I’m further behind than when I started the day.

  7. I seem to be more irritable and cranky lately. I am not as patient with others. I have a short fuse and blow up easily.

  8. I am spending less and less time on physical activities and hobbies—or with my family and friends.

  9. I seldom seem to be pleased with what I’ve already accomplished. I feel that I should be accomplishing more.

  10. I either operate at full speed ahead or at dead asleep—no middle ground.



  • 0-15 points—you either don’t do anything or you’ve really got your act together.

  • 16-50 points—you’re doing well. At this level, you're highly unlikely to suffer from burnout.

  • 51-80 points—you’re on thin ice and just about ready to fall in. You’d better change your lifestyle quickly because burnout is knocking down your door.

  • 86-100 points— I’m glad I don’t work for you or with you. You are a walking time bomb. If you do not make immediate adjustments in your behavior, you may be burned out by the time you finish reading this article.


Take a deep breath....and thanks for reading.

A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 94 - On the Road to Success

By Michael Darling

I was researching information for an article on goal setting recently, which started after a discussion with one of our newer Admissions reps.  Inspiration comes from all sides if you’re open to it and you let it find you.  The conversation struck a note and I went home that night with this column in my mind already.

Well, I didn’t realize what I was starting until I started digging a bit.  It’s fair to say that there is an overwhelming amount of information and opinion on the internet about goal setting importance, as well as how to do it, when to do it, who to do it too and when you should do it to yourself.  Whole websites are devoted to it and you can pay thousands of dollars to a motivational trainer to show you how, when, who and why.   My goal here is to save you a little surfing time and a chunk of money.

Suffice to say, operating without some sort of goal in mind is kind of like trying to hit a bull’s eye of a target with your eyes closed.  You can spend days, weeks, even years launching your arrows, but continue to miss the target entirely.  Eventually, you’re going to burn out.  You become so exhausted and frustrated with repeated efforts that don’t give you the results you want, you eventually give up.

The old saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”   We’ve all read that many times over the years, I’m sure.  Heaven knows, I have.

But the reason you’ve read it so many times is because it just happens to be good solid sage advice.  To get where you want to be, you have to have a clear vision of it in your mind.  You need to know what you want before you can pursue it.

The subconscious mind is an amazingly powerful goal-achieving machine, but no matter how powerful it is…it’s unable to lead you to your goal if you don’t provide it with a specific target.  That takes focus.   If it doesn’t have that clear and specific target, it’s not going to get you there. Not now. Not ever.  You’ll continue to wander down the road day after day until you just get tired of walking, lost and hungry.

Well, that’s a pretty dismal picture…isn’t it?

Focus is the practice of being able to center on the “right” tasks at hand, while minimizing distractions that take your focus away from the goal, whatever it is. 

It’s like turning on a mental GPS to guide you to your destination.  The difference is that you can actually understand your own voice…and it usually responds to you before you’ve already turned the corner and find yourself lost.

Focus on the goal and it will improve your time management, your professional and personal performance, how efficient you are in your task…heck, it’ll even give your life some balance and help your mind find the information it needs to get you to that bull’s eye.  You’ll sleep better, your complexion will clear up and you’ll finally be able to play the piano!  It’s amazing!

An employee I once had set a goal once that she was terrified to set, because she had never been successful at achieving it before.  A little brainstorming on a list of those things we thought were the “right” activities she needed to be doing in order to get to her particular goal, helped her focus on those activities.  Once she did that, she actually ended up EXCEEDING her goal.

The same thing can happen to you if you just use your internal GPS and focus on your goals. And, it’ll work inside a building.

A while back, while at a sales practices seminar, the speaker asked, "How many of you have written out your goals?" The results stunned me. Of  the 123 salespeople present, only three admitted to writing down their goals. I find that alarming.   3 out of 123!

Proper goal setting and good execution of those goals automatically solves many important problems for anyone, salespeople especially. Once you’ve set goals, it can translates into positive action. Then you automatically become well-organized by doing things in the order of their importance.  Finally, people develop better working habits and becomes self-disciplined.

To set and achieve your goals, I'd like to suggest developing a complete goal blueprint of sorts. Since everyone's circumstances are different, use the form here as a guide. This is slightly similar to mine.  Take some time right now to build yourself a complete goal outline. Set down your major goal, 10 to 15 sustaining goals, and from five to 15 specific activities you must accomplish to reach each sustaining goal.

Major Goal

I will do an outstanding job for the next calendar year by (for instance) increasing my sales commission or achieving a promotion to (title), so that my total income will be (X). Then, each year thereafter, I will increase my income to (X) over the previous year. This will enable me to purchase (item) by (date), (item) by (date), (item) by (date).

Sustaining Goal #1 if you’re in sales:

To maintain an adequate number of bona fide prospects to keep me busy selling productively all day, every day. Specific activities to do daily, weekly and monthly include:

1.      Devote a minimum of four hours per week to productive prospecting.
2.      Develop and maintain close contact with productive centers of influence.
3.      Get leads from every person I sell to. (very important, but rarely done)
4.      Get favorable PR by speaking to one service club, church group or company meeting per month.
5.      Prospect at least two hours per day using the telephone.
6.      Use the telephone, or use person-to-person contact, to call on five present customers each month and ask each for names of prospects.

Sustaining Goal #2 if you’re in sales:

Make (X) number of face-to-face presentations monthly. Specific activities to do daily, weekly and monthly include:

1.      Fill each day with (X) number of productive appointments.
2.      Fill each week with (X) number of productive appointments.
3.      Be in the field making calls for (X) number of hours daily or weekly.
4.      Do necessary paperwork during nonproductive calling hours.
5.      Have available a more-than-adequate number of bona fide prospects each day.
6.      Each day make alternate calls, to fill in any open time.
7.      Make (X) number of face-to-face presentations daily, weekly.

Sustaining Goal #3 if you’re in sales:

Increase the ratio of sales closings. Specific activities to do daily, weekly and monthly include:

1.      Analyze each attempt to sell.
2.      Read a book on selling (X) number of minutes per day.
3.      Listen to CDs or webinars in between calls.
4.      Review and study company sales-training methods (X) number of times weekly.
5.      Set up a definite self-improvement program.

Sustaining Goal #4 for all professionals

Make the most productive use of my time. Specific activities to do daily, weekly and monthly include:

1.      Every evening, plan for the best use of time the next day.
2.      Phone to firm up all appointments each day.
3.      Visit less and spend more time selling on each interview.
4.      Permit no nonproductive time during prime selling hours.
5.      Daily, weekly and monthly do things in the order of their importance.
6.      Arrange appointments according to their geographical locations.

Sustaining Goal #5 for all professional

Maintain a positive, enthusiastic attitude. Specific activities to do daily, weekly and monthly include:

1.      Give myself (X) number of pep talks daily.
2.      Read one good book on self-improvement every month.
3.      Listen daily to inspirational tapes.
4.      Keep my mind on the importance of achieving my goals.
5.      Be an example of an enthusiastic person.
6.      Review my goals daily.

To complete a goal blueprint like this for yourself requires a lot of concentrated thought and the effort of writing it down. In the same way that making sales calls yield better results when you are prepared - knowing the buyer, knowing the competition and the value of your product - your goal-setting program will prove its worth if you'll give it a chance. Anything that produces real results is worth the effort you put into it, right?

See you on the road to success…..I’ll wave if I see you.

Thanks for reading…

Tap the Glass #92 Oh You Kid

By Michael Darling

I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of life's decay,
To be once more a little child,
For one bright summer-day."

-Lewis Carroll, “Solitude”

We’re having our Grandkids spend the night this weekend…and in observing the dynamics of them, I’m convinced that if you spend a little time with children, or just observing them, you might learn a few lessons that could help your health. I’m fascinated and a little intimidated by the level of curiosity and energy these little creatures have. (Ok, I’m also intimidated by the 4 year old that handles an I-Phone better than I do…but that’s fodder for another column.)

Children have certain natural instincts, which all too often are derailed pretty quickly by the "elders" around them. I will be the first to agree that there are times when the derailing is necessary, but I DO think there are a few instances where it pays to be more like a child:

Keep on movin'. “These kids today, they’re always movin’ around….!” Children in general are in constant motion. All you have to do is just watch in amazement. Were we like that once? As they transition to young adults, unfortunately, too many take on our sedentary habits, which is even more prevalent with the video game rage and I-Phones. This inactivity goes into high gear in adolescent years, something called the "adolescent slump". It affects girls more than boys, I was surprised to find, and all too often it’s the start of a couch potato life. So…the lesson here is to add more movement to your everyday life. Act young to stay young.

Know when you're full. Young children rarely overeat unless they are force-fed by “caring” adults. Infants stop when their bellies are full and so do preschoolers. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they’re not. They are eating for hunger, not for other reasons such as boredom, anxiety or stress. As with activity patterns, they pretty quickly pick up our bad nutrition habits- but with a little work, that doesn't have to happen. Eat right, and for the right reasons. Yes, easier said than done, for sure.

Early to bed, early to rise. I have to think that Benjamin Franklin's famous quote must have come from his observing kids. Most of us adults don't get enough sleep, nor do we get high quality sleep. Admittedly, that’s partially BECAUSE of kids in our lives, but we're learning more and more about the negative health consequences of too little or too much sleep. Even though it turns out to be one third of your life, eight hours is just about right for most of us. Sleep like a baby- and I don't mean waking up every 2-3 hours crying and curling into a fetal position! (Work on that stress.) In terms of your health, if you don't snooze, you lose, so snooze!

Let it go. Kids do get angry, upset and/or sad all the time. Sometimes extremely so. But in a few minutes they are on to something else, usually more pleasant. They emote, get over it, and move on. Learn to live in the present, with your eye on the future of course. Use the past to visit fond memories and also to shape the present or future- but don't dwell on negative past, it will take you down emotionally, and ultimately, physically.

Bob Dylan once said/sang "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now". Perhaps he was contemplating the innate wisdom of his youth. Of course, perhaps he was just stoned at the time too…but my point is this:

Find your inner child, and let him or her out a little more often. You just might feel the difference. That’s not a bad thing, right?


Time for my nap. Thanks for reading.


Tap on the Glass #91 Addicted to Porn?

by Michael Darling

Are you addicted to "inspiration porn" like I am?

During a recent weekend, I spent nearly an entire day reading post after post by some of my favorite inspirational and personal development bloggers.

Want to know how I felt the next day? This is not going to be surprising to many of you for sure, but I felt....


I felt bloated and heavy from my overindulgence, overwhelmed with my internal sense of failure to be able to even come close to the expectations from these articles. In fact, it did just exactly what I perceive as the opposite of what these articles are trying to convey....I also felt small and cynical.

And I felt envy for not being as wonderfully productive as all the goodie-goodie gurus I so love. Of late, I'm even struggling with my hero, the late Zig Ziglar.

In truth, I think what it all boils down to is that I have feasted on too much rah-rah advice about how to be awesome and epic and remarkable and revolutionary and just a damn badass mutha (shut your mouth).

But why did it make me feel exhausted and helpless? I've been doing articles much like this for several years, so why did the stuff that was meant to leave me feeling inspired end up doing the opposite?

Because I'm a loser. That was my first thought.

But that didn't feel right either.

So I am trying to reassess. Pacing around in front of my window yesterday and staring at an open sky, it begins to occur to me that a lot of this "Self-Help" has turned into a sort of escapism.

..and don't think the irony of looking elsewhere for "self-help" hasn't escaped me in the first place!

Here's what I think...
Reading about personal development allowed me to experience boosts to my self-esteem without the inconvenience or discomfort of actually taking action or using any of the advice. Hmm...

What I'm beginning to notice is that the highs didn't last. Like a junkie, I had to keep indulging to keep from crashing. Exhausting!

But here's what really distressed me: As a blogger, I've contributed a lot of my own self-help advice. Did that make me a hypocrite? Was I a pusher?


I realized that the truth about self-help is sometimes pretty stark. Little to none of it is going to stick unless you actively take a role in making it stick.
And I learned something else too...

If you want to make a lasting impression, our brains respond better to stories of conflict and struggle in the pursuit of something than they do to lists of motivational rules meant to bring bliss and success. Go figure.
Scientists have discovered that our brains are hard-wired for storytelling (I.e., tales of trouble). I have no idea how they came to that conclusion but there it is.
Jonathan Gottschall's book "The Storytelling Animal" relates to it. Many books I've read through the years stuck to me better than others because of the author's ability to wrap me up in the story...so maybe there is some truth to it.

Scientists think they're so smart!

So maybe the story you tell yourself about your dreams and your pursuits is the key to making inspiration stick. Maybe all that good advice really just needs a good story to go with it. This is not a simple proposition, especially when you feel heavier than a sad clown on the planet Jupiter.

It probably takes some effort to tease out the kind of story that'll work for you. You can't just snap your fingers, tell yourself you're Luke Skywalker, and expect a hero's inspired sense of purpose. Force or no Force, I've already tried and it doesn't work, believe me. It just doesn't.

So maybe, heres a process that might work for you (your mileage may vary):


I sometimes have to cut myself off—completely. In fact, I've gotten to the point where I have to do this often, which may belie other issues, but try this and see what happens:

No Internet.
No self-help books.
No motivational pollution.

Just me alone with my thoughts for a while. Admittedly, this is hard for me and often terrifying.
My mind is a scary place, even for me. Plus, my work requires connection. And I'm always looking for another fix. Again, that's the way of the world now.  I admit, I'm not fond of it.
It's not like it was 40 years ago when you worked your shift and then punched out till the next day without having to worry about reports and emails and phone calls coming at you every waking moment.

More and more, I have to do it though. I have to let myself unplug and crash. Only then can I even start to feel inspired again.


Sadly, I haven't done this in quite a while. So I should probably follow my own cliched advice. Again.
It has to be a genuine friend who knows me..not a mere acquaintance. You have to feel safe enough to let the walls down..and you have to listen.
I'd do the same for my friend.


Like many of you I walked to school a lot growing up. Uphill both ways in a snowstorm, knee deep....right?
But there was a lot to be said for those walks. It gave me a chance to process my day and think about how I fit into the world.
As an adult, I sure don't do this often enough. But when I do, it clears my head and gives me some emotional space to push forward...

WATCH YOUR FAVORITE "Against-all-odds-Hero" movie.

To this day, Rocky is still my favorite, but who cares as long as it works for you. Find that "Eye of the Tiger". Maybe that goes back to the bit about storytelling. Our brains like to hear about the struggle and triumph of th underdog because we like to feel that same boost in real life.


Ok..that's appropriate to me. I'm often surprised when I find out that what I actual think is not what I think I'm going to think. When I write these little ditties, it helps me edit and discover what's really going on up there...and in my heart too. I choose what I let everybody see. Writing sometimes gives me the opportunity to sort through conflicts and ideas so I understand them better. With that, I can reaffirm goals in a way that makes sense to me.

Make it bigger than you
I have a nasty, ugly, monster-mutant of an ego inside me that tries to make life all about him. The more I allow him to have expression, the less inspired or motivated I feel.

The world gets very small when it's just about me. In fact, it's suffocating. The only remedy is to step outside of my selfish concerns by caring about and doing good things for other people. I have to allow my dreams to morph a little for the service of the world beyond my narrow expression of "I."

I've found that the quickest way to experience a boost of inspiration is to help someone else solve a problem or surprise somebody with unexpected generosity. It can be something as simple as expressing gratitude to someone for the small ways he or she delights me.

Then I use that boost to help me imagine how my dreams and personal goals can have positive meaning or impact for other people and the earth that sustains me. Doing so feels good. It's the kind of feeling I want to have stick around.

For most of us, inspiration doesn't live long inside the hollow vacuum of greed and selfish accumulation of our individual desires. We are each a part of the world, not the world itself.
Establish your meaningful quest
When I was in the 7th grade, I co-wrote and illustrated three "epic" choose-your-own adventure books with my best friend. To be honest, I wrote..he illustrated.

The experience forced me to think about the unexpected pathways created by our decisions and the uncomfortable fact that our choices can never provide us with any real certainty. Anything can happen, no matter how safe a given path looks from the outset.  You can never completely prepare for the "human factor".

Being involved in the creation of such a story is kind of exciting. Inspiring even, maybe.

Just as in a choose-your-own adventure book, I think that life makes us the protagonists in our own stories. We might not get to choose every plot point or every ending, but we do often have a say in choosing a general direction or theme.

We get to co-write our own personal narratives. We get to be the heroes who don't give up in the face of lots of bad days or enormous obstacles or paths that have dead-ends. We get to do it all for more than just us. We get to try to save our corners of the world in our own special ways.

When I'm the hero of my story, I accept challenges more readily  and I'm more likely to brave my fears.   I care more about riding the adventure than dreaming (and stewing) about the outcome (which I've been prone to do on many an occasion).
Ruthlessly curate your mentors
I struggle with this one. Shiny new gurus draw me into their shiny happy places all the time. If I'm not careful (which I'm often not), I soon feel like…well, you read the beginning of this post, right?

I have to remember that no blog or book or podcast or seminar is going to move me past my hang-ups. Personal development bloggers and life coaches can show me possible paths. But it's up to me to choose which one to walk.

Then I actually have to take action. I can't just keep accumulating new maps.

So it's important to be selective. If I want to stay inspired on my quest, then I have to acknowledge that my mind only has space for a few good mentors.  That's where the trouble begins.

My mentors shouldn't just tell me what I want to hear. They should challenge me. They should help me deepen my narrative and push it further. And they shouldn't care whether or not I call them master or give them money or retweet their platitudes.

In my experience, the best mentors are the ones who make me laugh, not the ones who take themselves or anything else too seriously.

I'm way too serious enough already.
I don't need more rules. I've got plenty of those.
I need mentors who encourage me to play and explore and get dirty and scraped up. But they can't act all holier-than-thou if I choose not to.

Ultimately, my destination may not be the one I dream about. It's freeing to be OK with that.

So I guess that means I'm the hero in a story not yet told. It's being written now. Part of it is even in my own handwriting.

That inspires me.

Maybe it will inspire you too.

Thanks for reading.