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I don't want to settle, do you? One of the main reasons I decided to create this blog was because I wanted to share my thoughts, struggles, losses and victories on following through with others. I could...

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Coloring outside the lines I have three beautiful goddaughters who are wise beyond their 4 years. Ok, so it is possible that I may be a tad biased, but whenever I get to spend time with them they inevitably...

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My wife married an athlete, but now she's stuck with... What is it about hitting 30 that changes so much? In my 20s it was harder to talk myself into taking a day off from working out than it was to talk myself into going to...

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What if I'm not an Outlier? In my constant quest to figure out the "It Factor" that true follow-throughers have enabling them to actually achieve the goals they set out to accomplish I'm always looking...

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I want to be a follow-througher! We’ve all done it. We’ve all seen a movie, heard a song, seen an ad, watched a show, read an article, read a book, tried a product…. we’ve all seen or used something...

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Coloring outside the lines

Posted on : 11-29-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Change, Entrepreneurship

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I have three beautiful goddaughters who are wise beyond their 4 years.
Ok, so it is possible that I may be a tad biased, but whenever I get to spend time with them they inevitably do something that reminds me that their generation will someday be smarter than ours.

Over Thanksgiving I was fortunate enough to spend some time with one of them who I don’t get to see very often. I was standing in the kitchen as my wife was sitting with her doing some coloring.   As my wife meticulously colored in the drawings of the Tinkerbell scene on her page, Alexis went at her page with broad strokes of random colors at will.

My wife paused as we both watched her. As an adult, our natural tendency would be to “teach” her to take her time and fill in the drawings with the colors that made sense – yellow for the hair, green for the grass, etc. As if she sensed our disapproving glances she paused, looked up at us and said:

“It’s funner to color outside the lines.”

I couldn’t help but feel proud when she said that.  What a wise statement from a four-year old.  I hope she can keep that mentality as she goes through life, but sadly there will be countless societal forces trying to beat it into her that it’s not ok to color outside the lines.

I had a fantastic vocal coach once who made a similar point that I’m sure you never thought of, but will make a lot of sense once you hear it.

She would always say that we’re all born with loud voices.  While we may not necessarily all be singers, we’re all born with lungs capable of belting for hours on end.  I also spent Thanksgiving with my two newest nieces (Alexis’ little twin sisters) and let me state for the record that these 3 month olds had no problem pushing their vocal chords all day and all night. No warm-up or cool down needed. My voice hurt just thinking about it.

But then it begins.  Everyone around us starts conditioning us to quiet down:

- “Shhh…”
- “Hush, not so loud”
- “Quiet please”
- “Inside voices children”

Then before we know it, we can’t sing out loud anymore.  We need to actually find a vocal coach to help us relearn to breathe properly so that we can use our voices as freely as we did when we were young.

I see the same things holding our ideas back.  We’re all visionaries when we’re little, but then we grow up with so many different forces telling us what we can’t do and what we should do that our instincts can shift from originality towards status quo.

It’s pretty tough to do something big, something unique, something innovative with that mindset so here’s to taking a lesson from my goddaughter and trying to relearn how to color outside the lines.

I don’t want to settle, do you?

Posted on : 11-22-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Business, Change, Entrepreneurship, Ideas

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One of the main reasons I decided to create this blog was because I wanted to share my thoughts, struggles, losses and victories on following through with others. I could have just made notes for myself and given myself morning pep talks in front of the mirror, but sometimes the sign of a smart individual is admitting that you may have a better chance of accomplishing something with a group than on your own. So I decided to create a blog and not just keep a journal. The idea is to create a community and essential to that is sharing other great resources.

Travis Robertson is someone I met my first week in Nashville. Travis definitely embodies the visionary thinking and drive that I think anyone who hopes to follow-through on something big must have. Recently, Travis started a blog called Don’t Settle. In his words:

“Too many people settle for average, mediocre lives. They make a choice that building a life of significance – a life that matters is too difficult. So they go through life working for the weekends and vacations. They’re unhappy, unhealthy, bored, burnt out, frustrated, tired, and lost. This isn’t how life is supposed to feel!”

I think we can all relate to that feeling. We’ve all been there, stuck in a point in our lives when we’re just going through the motions.  So what is it then that paralyzes us from breaking out of that monotony? True, in the tough job climate we’ve seen the past couple years giving up the security of a comfortable situation may be an intimidating proposition. Or is that just another excuse to put something your passionate about and could truly excel at on the backburner once again? I guess what I’m saying is, if now isn’t a good time to take a chance, then when is?

I’ve taken some big chances in my life and it was scary each time. Yet, each time I did take a leap of faith, whether or not it worked out as planned, it always seemed to spring me into something better than before. Funny enough, as I write this I now realize that the cycle naturally wants to start over in that whenever you reach a point again where you need to take another jump it’s as if your logic forgets that it was a good decision before and so many forces within you (and maybe around you) try to keep you from taking that next jump. Are we starting to see a pattern here?

I’m definitely at one of these points again in my own life. I’ve had a few big ideas that have sat on the backburner for far too long. Can’t say exactly why because I am genuinely passionate about them. It would be easy to say I was just too busy to get at them before, but I don’t think lack of time is ever really a valid excuse. If it matters enough to you, you’ll find the time to make it happen.

So here I am, telling myself again to go ahead and take a jump, to not settle. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But at least I’ll know. I think that all of us already have too many “what ifs” in our lives and to me, those are way harder to live with than trying something that doesn’t work out.

Everyday’s a battle

Posted on : 11-17-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Change, Fitness

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A good friend of mine has a saying:

“Everyday you’re either
winning or you’re losing”

For the record, he is the embodiment of what it means to be a follow-througher and an all-around bad-ass. He went to the Naval Academy after which he decided he wanted to be a runner even though he had never been a competitive runner. In fact, of my competitive memories of him growing up (he was the first friend I ever remember making), where he perhaps most excelled was as a hockey goalie – not exactly a position you’d probably equate with a future runner.

Well, it didn’t take him long to become the top runner on the marine core marathon team. That wasn’t enough so he went on to do triathlons where he would routinely finish in the top for his age group in even the biggest races. If that wasn’t enough he became an ultramarathoner, running 100 mile races at altitude!

Needless to say, he has a level of follow-through and determination that not many are able to maintain. Stepping back and taking a look at some of what he’s accomplished to this point he’s done some pretty incredible things.

I think his philosophy of every day being a battle has played a great role in his success. For me it doesn’t mean the same as the old saying of “taking it one day at a time”. “Taking it one day at a time” to me gives a sense more of surviving each day whereas “everyday you’re either winning or your losing” strikes me as a much more proactive approach to life. It’s easy to sit back and say that today is just one day in the grand scheme of our life so what’s the big deal. But Blake doesn’t work that way. He strongly believes that each day the decisions you make either move you closer to your goals, or put you further from reaching them. I’ve heard him say it, but I’ll be honest and say I haven’t genuinely lived that way.

For example, this post was supposed to go up on Monday. It’s now Wednesday. That may seem small, but to me it means that for two days I was losing in this aspect of my life. Rather than moving forward I was moving back.

The actions we take contribute to the patterns of our life and if, as the saying goes, we win most of our days by making positive decisions and following-through well then, that sets us up for a pretty winning life. Like any battle, you can’t win ‘em all so we’ll have our losing days. The goal though is to put more marks in the W column.

So how did you do today?

Breaking out of your shell

Posted on : 11-08-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Business, Change, Networking, Relationships

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How often to you take a minute and try to think about the aspects of your persona that could possibly be holding you back from achieving your goals?

I don’t spend enough time focusing on the things I’m not good at.  Let’s face it, if we’re not good at something we probably don’t enjoy it and if we don’t enjoy it then, you guessed it, we’d probably rather not spend time thinking about it.  We’d all rather focus on the things we love doing and do well, no?

One of the first times I remember being aware of this need was thanks to my high school soccer coach.  Soccer wasn’t the biggest sport in MN when I was growing up.  It wasn’t really that big at all.  But somehow that’s what I loved and thanks to my Dad spending countless hours with me in the backyard I was able to get pretty good at it.  Good enough that I could always get by focusing on the parts of the game I was good at and loved while getting away with not doing all the little things (ahem defense anyone?).  But hey, it’s not like they were going to put someone else in for me, right? So I thought.

That changed in high school because our coach was a great coach.  I think I probably hated him at first because it seemed like all we talked about was the things I didn’t do well.  Of course, all I could think was: “But hey, can’t you see how hard I can shoot?  Or how many guys I megged (put the ball through a defender’s legs)?”

Now I know that he did appreciate those things (ok, maybe not the excessive megging), but what he knew that I didn’t was that being great at a few things is not good enough if you don’t address your weak points.  While not a superstar by any means, except for maybe in the eyes of my parents, I was able to play at a pretty decent college level and have some success beyond what most soccer players growing up in MN were able to be a part of.  I can say without a doubt that would never had happened had it not have been for my coach’s insistence on focusing on the weaker parts of my game.

So now as I enter a new chapter in my professional life and try to make the switch from player to leader I’ve been asking myself what are the weak parts of my game?  What aspects do I need to get better at that need to help me follow-through on a more consistent basis?

Given that I just relocated to Nashville and am in a new place with a limited network what I’m focusing on first is breaking out of my shell and putting myself out there more.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy, but I’m also not the one to typically just start the conversation.  One step I’m trying to take here is to make a more conscious effort to meet more people.  I’ve always said that your life is only as good as the people you have around you.  That’s easy to say when you have a great group of friends and family.  But what happens when you’re thrust into a new environment?

I feel like I’ve met a lot of great people already in my first few weeks in Nashville.  That’s not to say that there’s a greater population of great people here than in other places I’ve lived, but I’m making more of an effort.  Part of the thanks goes to Ryan Bitzer who I was fortunate to meet over coffee a couple of weeks ago.  Ryan spends his days as VP of Business Development at sparkart.com making kick-ass websites and implementing online marketing strategies for artists like Bon Jovi and Carrie Underwood. A like-minded individual also passionate about music and interactive media, I tried to take a page out or Ryan’s book when he told me that he has a weekly goal of trying to meet two new people every week.

I had never heard that before, but it sounded great so I thought why not.  So far, so good and I’ve met some really cool people.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of great people out there (and yes, a few not-so-great ones as well, but win some, lose some), but how many do you ever get the chance to even share a conversation with.  We can always learn something new from someone else.  That’s what growing is about, no?

So I’m breaking out of my shell.  Not sure who the two new people will be this week.  Maybe you if we haven’t met?

And I’ll throw down the gauntlet to you as well, invite someone you don’t know to coffee or a beer this week and come tell us about it.

My wife married an athlete, but now she’s stuck with me

Posted on : 11-01-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Fitness

Tags: ,

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What is it about hitting 30 that changes so much?

In my 20s it was harder to talk myself into taking a day off from working out than it was to talk myself into going to the gym.  After 30 it’s been the opposite.

The odd thing is, I still love how I feel when I’m on a run, but until I am actually out the door and start running, running is about the last thing I want to do each day. And let’s just say it’s started to show.

Battling for work-out consistency is something I think most of us can relate to. And there are thousands of programs and probably hundreds of thousands of books and websites on ways to follow-through on your fitness goals. I have to admit that I’m at a bit of a loss lately since I haven’t really found it so tough in the past. Maybe I can take a little from Cialdini’s book and add in a little commitment to consistency on record? I haven’t tried that before, so I would say it’s worth a shot here.

And if not for me, than at least I owe it to my wife.   After all, when she agreed to live happily ever after with me I was an athlete and  not too unpleasant to look at with my shirt off.   Now I haven’t been able to wear my favorite jeans in over a year. :(

So here I am on public record saying that in 3 months I will fit into my favorite jeans again.  Photo proof will be provided.

Goal: Fit into favorite jeans
Realistic weight drop needed to achieve goal: 20 lbs.
Start Date: Nov 1st, 2010
Target Date: Feb 1st, 2010

Ok, off for a run.
If you have some tips for what gets you off the couch and into your workout gear let me know!