A Parent’s Perfectionism And A Hard Lesson Learned

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A Parent’s Perfectionism And A Hard Lesson Learned

Early on in The Strategic Coach® Program, we introduce a concept called The Gap, a state of mind highly common among ambitious entrepreneurs — and one that can cause a great deal of harm.
Quite simply, The Gap is the space between where we are currently in any given situation and where we want to be — our ideal. As we move toward our goal, we mentally measure our progress, and here’s where it gets tricky.
Most of us measure forward, looking ahead at the ideal goal and seeing that we’re always falling short. Any tendency toward perfectionism makes it even worse. At Coach, we learn to measure backward from where we are now to where we first started.
Measuring backward, we can immediately see the progress we’ve made. The feeling of accomplishment, even in small steps, keeps us moving forward with confidence rather than falling into The Gap and its accompanying feeling of failure. Measuring backward is how goals are reached and fulfilled! It sounds so logical and so simple. Why don’t we measure backward all the time instead of choosing the perfectionist’s route to our ideal outcome?
Once we truly understand how easy it is to put ourselves — and those around us — into The Gap, and how great life outside The Gap can be, there’s no measuring forward again — as Chad Johnson shares in his honest and deeply humbling story.
A quick, and heartbreaking, trip into The Gap.
Chad Johnson is a remarkable entrepreneur in The Strategic Coach Program as well as one of our exceptional associate coaches. He is also a devoted husband and father of 11 children. It is from his family life that he shares an unforgettable story about how quickly The Gap can propel us into thinking we’ve failed. This experience provided him with a powerful life lesson that will resonate with many.
As a Strategic Coach client and coach, Chad is well aware of The Gap and its pitfalls. Yet, one day he found himself heaping all the negativity of The Gap on his children in one unthinking moment.
Chad explains, “In reality, we fall in and out of The Gap all the time, depending on how we measure our progress — and we put others around us in The Gap, too, which is an unforgivable thing. In the story I’m going to share, I, sadly, had no awareness that I was actually doing this to my children. Their faces told me that I was.”
Smooth sailing on a family project until perfectionism showed up.
Chad and his family live on a farm in north central Oregon. On the property, there was a 6,000 square foot barn, where they had remodeled the upper level into a great family space with a gym, an office, and a library. Down below on the main level, it was a true barn, with a tractor, other farm equipment and implements, and a lot more “stuff.”
As Chad tells it, “One Saturday, I said to the kids, ‘We’re going to do an ‘80/20’ on the barn today.’”
“An 80/20 meant that we were going to go in there and make a great improvement,” Chad explains. ”We’d put the bikes away, organize everything, sweep out the mangers, and so on — but not to the point of 100 percent perfection. I know that aiming for 100 percent can easily lead to falling into The Gap.”
Divide and conquer was the strategy.
Chad and the kids broke up into two teams, an upstairs team and a downstairs team, having discovered over the years that divide and conquer works well for getting things done in a large family.
“We turned on the music, set a timer for two hours, and decided we were going to bang this out before lunch. When the timer went off two hours later, I headed down the stairs with my upstairs team and saw my downstairs team looking up at me. I’m not sure exactly what was going through their minds, but I’m sure they were excited to show me what they had accomplished.”
As Chad reached the bottom of the stairs, something caught his eye. It was a small section where they stored the odd pieces of wood that didn’t fit along the wall where all the other lumber was kept. To Chad’s eyes, it looked like these scraps of wood had just been pitched into this four- by six-foot space.
The one thing.
Chad continues, “I called them over and, without even thinking, started to pick on the one thing, the one thing out of 3,000 square feet — the one little spot that wasn’t perfect. I started to berate them about not caring, not being able to do quality work, about just chucking stuff into that space.
“Immediately, I saw them go from being so proud to show me the work they’d done to something I wasn’t expecting. They had been so pumped, thinking that I was going to love what they’d accomplished, but in the space of a minute, I took them to a place of utter failure. I deflated them completely.
“It was crazy because they’d done far more than I’d asked. They’d far surpassed the 80/20 we try to aim for. Everything had looked beautiful in the barn except for that one thing. And to see myself suck the life out of them was a moment I’ll never forget.”
Chad’s children turned and walked toward the house. That’s when it really hit him. He wondered what he had been thinking. His aim was always to build his children up, but he realized that in that moment, he had just destroyed them.
Chad admits, “I had put them in that place where you’re not enough, you’ve failed, and you should be ashamed of yourself. All of this, when they had done such amazing work! And yet, my tendency was to find that one thing.”
Aim for perfection, and you invariably set yourself up, instead, to fail.Click To Tweet
Asking for forgiveness.
Chad called out to them and asked them to come back. He says, “They turned around, expecting more abuse, probably.”
As Chad apologized and asked for their forgiveness, he told them what was true — that they had far surpassed his expectations, that what he had called them out for was such a small thing compared to all the great work they had done. He continues, “I told them I was proud of them, and I saw them come back to life.”
Always on the perfectionism lookout.
We all go into The Gap, the by-product of our high ideals and perfectionism. The important thing is to recognize you’re there and get yourself out as fast as you can.
As Chad finishes his story, he tells us, “This experience showed me that I was not only putting people I love deeply into The Gap. I was also doing it to people like my team, who I care very much about and who look up to me and depend on me.
“These are all people who don’t have the benefit of knowing about The Gap, or how to get themselves out of it, and I wasn’t conscious of that. But that moment in the barn with my children taught me an important and powerful life lesson I’ll always remember.”


You can be successful and happy or successful and unhappy. The difference is in how you measure your progress.
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News Year’s Resolution Ideas That Everyone Can Get Behind

The end of the year is a natural time to try to integrate your past, present, and future. As always, though, it’s important to use these three time frames in a way that fills you with confidence and excitement instead of stressing you out.
That’s why we all love and hate New Year’s resolutions: They fill us with resolve and determination, but if we don’t stick to their high ideals, they end up feeling like embarrassing failures.
The problem with resolutions is that they get the time frames all wrong: They’re about trying to fix something from your past out in your future.
Instead, try approaching your goals for the new year this way:
Look back over the past year and celebrate your progress. How far did you come? Why is this a triumph? We often forget to recognize and acknowledge our wins, but this celebration fills you up with morale.
Look at the projects and relationships in your life you’re most excited about and want to carry forward. This great foundation gives you momentum.
Ask yourself what you want—the things you have a desire to experience and achieve in the future, which might be completely new, unprecedented, with no ties to the past. This charges up your motivation.
Always make your future bigger than your past.Click To Tweet
This thinking turns your past, present, and future into useful tools rather than another “stick” to punish yourself with. The “stick” method is discouraging, guilt-inducing, and doesn’t work anyway. Just ask anyone who makes hifalutin resolutions on New Year’s Day—usually to correct what they did the night before!
May your new year be the biggest and best ever, full of challenging and exciting goals that make you grow.


Discover 10 goal-setting tips that successful business owners use to keep them on course to a bigger future.

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The Power Of Unique Ability®

From time to time, we tap into a deep well of wisdom by inviting Strategic Coach clients to share their secrets to success. This post is from Joe Polish, legendary marketer, founder of Genius Network, co-founder of ILoveMarketing.com, and creator of 10xTalk.com. Joe is a valued advocate of Strategic Coach and the power of Unique Ability.
If there’s one skill to master that allows you to make more money doing what you love, it’s Unique Ability. Unique Ability is a concept developed by one of my best friends, Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach. Dan has done more to help guide my thinking, actions, and confidence in the areas of value creation than anyone else on the planet.
The secret to being successful doing what you love.
Put simply, your Unique Ability is the set of natural talents you’re already amazing at, that give you energy, and that you love doing. When you spend more and more time working in your Unique Ability, you’ll start to see that’s where growth and money lie.
Then, the idea is to hire other people with Unique Abilities that support your own. You want to hire people with the behaviors and skills you’re weak at. If you spend your time doing things that aren’t within your skill set and Unique Ability, it’s like ripping up money and throwing it away.
People say, “Well, I can’t hire anyone because ______.” Yet, it’s hiring people to support your Unique Ability that allows you to do what you do best.
Your Unique Ability is where growth and money lie.Click To Tweet
Investment, not cost.
All of this is an investment, not a cost. Those who don’t get anything out of collaborating with team members look at everything as a cost. If you’re thinking about how much something costs, you’re trying to measure what you’re getting out of it. Instead, when you look at things as an investment, you’ll be thinking about how to enhance and improve everything you do.
The development of your Unique Ability will never cost you anything; it saves you money, it makes you money, and it saves you time.
Everything aligned with who you truly are.
When you aren’t living in your Unique Ability, life is hard.
When you’re mentally doing something that’s incongruent with what you like and out of alignment with what you do and who you are, it drains the life out of you. It takes enormous amounts of energy to live incongruently with who you are. The same is true when you try to adopt someone else’s methodology or system. If it’s not something that aligns with you, it can put you into a negative place.
On the other hand, when you’re living in your Unique Ability, you become more generous and more confident, and you’re much, much happier. You create value for others and for yourself. You create win-win situations.
Figure out where your energy comes from and how it’s sustained. Within that is your Unique Ability. When you live from that place, you’ll not only make a lot more money doing what you love, you’ll have a sense of satisfaction about every part of your work and life.

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What Is The Ceiling Of Complexity?

All growth happens in stages. And in each stage of growth, people hit a point where they can’t grow any further using their existing set of skills and knowledge. This is what I call The Ceiling of Complexity. And it happens time and time again, in every stage of growth.
As you progress in your growth, you gain experience by solving problems and transacting business. However, this experience often comes at a price: complexity. Each problem you solve, each transaction you make, and each hurdle you overcome adds to this complexity to the point where it holds you back from future growth of capability, performance, and achievement. You become overwhelmed by the messes, “stuff,” complications, conflicts, and contradictions that come from doing things a certain way for a long time.
Work smarter, not harder.
For some, this ceiling becomes a permanent fixture. And this is why many people fail to grow beyond a particular stage of development.
But when you’ve hit this ceiling, there’s a smart way to overcome it. It starts with recognizing that working harder and longer in the existing stage no longer works. You need a new set of concepts and strategies to achieve a new state of simplicity. By developing this simplified way of thinking, communicating, and performing, you’ll break through the ceiling.
All this means that you must leave your current state of complexity behind. When you choose your future over your past, you enter a new stage of growth.
The power of goal setting.
Think of your development in terms of goals. Each stage of individual growth comes from having goals—desiring something in life that is new, better, or different. Setting higher and more demanding goals automatically forces us to develop new relationships, structures, and habits. You can then use these as the tools to take you to the next growth stage.
New relationships can provide you with larger opportunities and better results. New organizational structures can give you the support you need to achieve those larger opportunities and results. New habits will allow you to reach higher levels of performance and achievement that enable you to get there.
It’s a fact of life for everyone, everywhere.
The Ceiling of Complexity isn’t unique to entrepreneurs. Individuals, groups, organizations, industries, and even countries all over the world run into the same type of situations. They reach a plateau they must progress beyond. All current stages of growth in all areas of human activity eventually reach a ceiling. But knowing what it is and what’s needed to take the next step—that’s where true growth and success lie.
Learning how to break through The Ceiling of Complexity is perhaps the most important life skill that anyone can develop. And that’s exactly why I created The Strategic Coach Program—to arm entrepreneurs with the tools, strategies, and resources they need to break through the ceiling in their own entrepreneurial careers.
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If You’re Pursuing Happiness, You’re Doing It Wrong

I was in born in the United States, and I think that the American experiment is one of the most extraordinary things that’s happened in human history.
But there’s something I’ve always questioned, and that’s the part of the Declaration of Independence that states that all people have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
I totally agree with the life and liberty part, but it’s the idea of pursuing happiness that troubles me. “Pursuit of happiness” implies that you’re not currently happy. It means your happiness lies sometime in the future. And my feeling is, the moment that you pursue happiness, it’s always going to be a make-believe game. It’s not going to be an actual goal. It’s an ideal.
Goals are specific, measurable, and attainable, while ideals are abstract and always out of reach. Aiming for something as vague as “happiness” means you’re never going to achieve it—because you’re never going to know when you’ve reached it.
Expand your happiness.
Instead, I encourage the expansion of happiness. This means starting with happiness and building on it rather than pursuing happiness.
Before setting a new goal, take the time to recognize and appreciate the progress and achievements you’ve made so far. You’ll see how you’ve raised your levels of capability and confidence with your past progress. What you then want to do is take these things that are true and expand them outward. You’re not trying to get anywhere. You’re just trying to get bigger.
Happiness is your starting point, and you’ve expanded on it by achieving the goal. So, it’s a constant outward expansion of happiness.
Happiness is internal. It doesn’t come as a function of competitive achievement. Pursuing happiness isn’t possible. What you need to do is start off positive and just keep making it bigger.
Start with happiness.
It’s an enormous burden to be in the mindset that happiness is something you need to go out and get.
Rather than “pursuing” happiness, start with happiness. If you take the time to think about it, you’ll find things you’re happy about. Acknowledge those, and use that positive energy to build on and enhance your happiness.
I don’t think we set and achieve goals in an effort to become happy. We do it because we are happy and want to expand our happiness.
The harder you try to pursue an ideal, thinking it will make you happy, the further away you’ll find that hypothetical happiness to be once your work is done.
“Start with happiness.” —Dan SullivanClick To Tweet
Achieving real happiness.
Happiness must be based on reaching achievable, measurable goals. This way, it’s not idealistic happiness. It comes as a result of the specific measurements of progress you make, so it’s also a grounded happiness: You’ll know exactly why you’re happy, and you’ll be able to see how to replicate the happiness and expand it.
By expanding on your happiness and setting tangible goals, you have a far better chance of actually being happy than if you were to pursue an ideal called “happiness.”
I believe the history of America might be different if the Declaration of Independence had used the term “expansion” instead of “pursuit.” But the next stage can begin now. During the first 250 years, we pursued happiness, but from this point forward, we’re going to master the ability to start with happiness and continually expand it.


You can be successful and happy or successful and unhappy. The difference is in how you measure your progress.
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Discovering Your True Self: The Unique Ability® Story

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Discovering Your True Self: The Unique Ability® Story

At Strategic Coach, we have hundreds of concepts, tools, and thinking processes designed to support entrepreneurs and their businesses. On occasion, I’ve been asked, if someone were to take them all away, and I could only hold on to one, which would it be? And the answer is simple: Unique Ability.
I discovered the basis of Unique Ability early on in my professional career and later used it as the foundation for The Strategic Coach Program. So I know that today, if I just had Unique Ability, I could come up with hundreds of new and different concepts and ideas that would ultimately result in a program with more or less the same feel as Strategic Coach, and would still support entrepreneurial growth and success.
Sharing my Unique Ability story.
Unique Ability is the idea that everyone on the planet has a set of skills and talents that are unique to them. It’s at the heart of who they are, and it’s been this way forever. When individuals just focus their time and energy on doing activities that are aligned with their Unique Ability, they’ll be happier and more successful.
My Unique Ability story begins in 1980 when a friend of mine was elected to Canadian Parliament and hired me to write and design a report. The basis of the study was to go across the country and interview people with disabilities to determine what could be put into place that might assist them in new, better, and different ways.
During the three-month assignment, I interviewed over 40 individuals, and I realized that those individuals who were the most successful had learned to focus on and leverage their unique strengths. They had built their lives around their capabilities and abilities, not their disabilities.
I began to understand that while not everyone has a disability, everybody has areas in which they’re not capable as well as areas where they have natural strengths and inclinations and the possibility of achieving extraordinary results.
I realized that everybody on the planet has the opportunity to develop those areas where they excel—and this is the greatest opportunity for success and freedom. Those who focus on trying to develop the areas where they lack ability will experience frustration and irritation. When you understand yourself, your strengths, your talents, and your Unique Ability, you’re excited by it, you love what you’re doing, and you could do it forever. And though it might look like work to someone who doesn’t share your same talents, to you it’s pure joy. It’s exciting and energizing every day.
“People are only unhappy to the degree that they don’t utilize their Unique Ability.”Click To Tweet
Unique Ability and you.
I’ve shared the Unique Ability story so you can begin to recognize the areas where you have the most success and happiness and acknowledge those areas where you lack skill and ability. Once you get a handle on your Unique Ability, you can start to reshape your life and business to focus more and more time and energy on honing it and then adjust your schedule, activities, and delegations so you can spend as much time on your Unique Ability activities as you can. Acknowledging your weaknesses is important—not so you can strengthen and improve them, but so you can find people around you who have talent and ability in those areas to support you.
In the entrepreneurial world, there’s a huge reward for zeroing in on your Unique Ability and then surrounding yourself with people who are also tuned in to theirs. This combination of efforts will allow everyone to be more productive, profitable, and successful—and enjoy life a whole lot more.


We all have a Unique Ability®—the way you create ever-evolving value in the world—but can you define yours?

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