Your past and present hold the key to your future

Where are you going?

No, I don’t mean where are you going on your next appointment. I don’t mean where are you going out to dinner. And I don’t mean where are you going when you get to the mall. I’m asking: Where are you going in life? That’s a pretty big question because it’s about your future.

Did you miss your quota last month? Last year? How come? Blaming it on the economy again? Blaming it on the competition again? What is a quota anyway? A quota is a goal that someone else sets for you. I’m asking: What have you set for yourself? When someone gives you a quota, why not double it? That way you’ll make the number with ease. It’s all in how you look at things.

Guess what? You create barriers or you jump over them.

Once a year I try to predict the future. I do it on the anniversary of the beginning of my writing career. This week marks my thirteenth anniversary. It’s always a cause for deep reflection because writing and being published is the fulcrum point of my success. It’s not only about how I’ve made a name for myself, it’s also about the legacy that I will leave salespeople worldwide—and, of course, my children and grandchildren.

Writing is about more than creating new sales information each week that salespeople like you can benefit from. It’s about being self-disciplined so I can clarify my own ideas, which form the basis for the speeches that I give and the books that I write.

If you really want to know where you’re going, you have to understand where you’ve been and recognize where you are. Where you’ve been, or the past, provides you with knowledge and experiences, successes and failures, as well as opportunities and obstacles. Where you are, or the present, is what happened during the past 30 days, what’s happening today, as well as what’s going to happen within the next 30 days. Where you’ll be, or the future, is a combination of your experience, your being open to opportunity, your goals and dreams, your tolerance for risk, as well as your determination and focus.

Let me clarify that and break it down into 3.5 easy-to-digest categories.

1. Once was.

2. As is.

3. Can be.

3.5 Become.

Once was is the history of your life. It’s the sum total of your knowledge, your wisdom, your experience, your victories, and your defeats. If you look closely at the history of your life, you can see some things that you wanted with all your heart but you didn’t get. At the time you were devastated, but in retrospect it seems silly that you ever wanted those things. You can also see some things that you were given or that you earned, but once you got them, you quickly lost interest. More important, you see the things you loved and how they have affected you. You look at the risks you took and think that if you had the opportunity to take them again, you might not. And all of that brings you to as is.

As is is where you are today. Are you where you want to be? Are you happy with your lot in life? Are you blaming your lack of success on someone else? Have you found what you are looking for? Do you even know what it is?

Some of us haven’t found what we are looking for, but that doesn’t mean to stop looking. I didn’t start writing until I was forty-five years old. If you’re younger than that and you start writing tomorrow, in 13 years you’ll be ahead of me.

I’m teaching my granddaughter to write. She’ll be 50 years ahead of me.

As is provides you with your greatest single opportunity. It’s about how you decide to invest your time and money. The time to take action is now. The time to risk is now. The time to go for what you want is now. The time to educate yourself and study is now. If you do, you may be able to achieve the success you are looking for later.

Many people think that once they’re done with high school or college, they’re essentially done studying. That may be OK if your closing question is: Will that be paper or plastic?

Success doesn’t just show up in the now. Success comes as a result of hard work and focus in the now. But that elusive brass ring you are looking for lies within. It’s the can be.

Can be is full of dreams, full of goals, and full of serendipity. Some things are not goals. Some things just evolve. And in that evolution, you can find what you really love. If you love something, you don’t have to make it a goal. Instead, you just work your butt off, and it becomes reality.

What you can be is going to be a result of your hard work, your positive attitude, your passion, your focus on achievement, and your drive to not let little things stand in your way—even if it means risking what you’ve got.

Many people in their struggle will come to me and say, “Jeffrey, you don’t understand.” And then they go on to say something about their personal situation, their money, their spouse, or their kids.

I understand fine. People are afraid to risk what they have in order to go for what they really want. The worst part of not risking is lamenting. Lamenting that you didn’t try it, that you didn’t go for it, or that you should have done it.

Maybe it’s time to read or watch The Wizard of Oz again and see how it relates to your life. Remember what Dorothy’s companions were searching for? Courage, brains, and heart. You’ve always known the formula—you just haven’t used it. And with very few exceptions, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

And when you combine once was, as is, and can be, the sum of that is what you will become. One of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned was from a friend, Dr. Paul Homoly, who said to me, “Make all decisions based on the person you would like to become.” That wisdom is so powerful that I think of it everyday. It’s been a big part of my success. Perhaps you can use it in your quest to be your best.

Let me throw some words at you. Educate yourself, try your best, risk failure, seize the opportunity, develop self-discipline, dedicate yourself to becoming a winner, and make a commitment that it’s for you first and everybody else second.

It’s not a formula—it’s a philosophy. And philosophy is the secret to getting you from where you are to where you want to be.

Excerpt from Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, is the President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer

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