What's Your GPA?

A 4.0 GPA used to be the perfect academic GPA.  At least that was the case back when I was in high school. It's climbed a bit higher since then.


In fact, in 2014, a senior by the name of Dhara Patel from Hillsborough County, FL earned an unprecedented 10.03 GPA. What the hell is that? HOW?  


Do you want to take a quick guess as to what Steve Jobs' high school GPA was? 


Go on.


Guess.


I'll wait while you put something together.


Ready?


2.66


Do you wanna guess what Albert Einstein’s GPA was?  Well, all we can do is guess, because GPAs didn't exist back then.


How about Martin Luther King Jr.?


Probably high, right? Probably super-high, considering how intelligent and compassionate he was.


2.48


Not quite what I had expected, either.  How does a guy with that kind of speaking prowess and sociological intelligence perform at a 2.48 GPA? What if it's not that important, after all?


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Our academic GPA, in a traditional sense, is not as important as we've been led to believe. 

It kept us well-behaved and nervous as hell in school. It doesn’t guarantee anything as far as your lifelong success.  


No matter how well you did then, when you got out into the real world, you had to kick ass and hustle and work for what you want, just like everyone else. The guy with a 1.0 had the same troubles as the guy with the 4.0. Life outside of academia is the great equalizer.


But if that GPA isn't the end-all, be-all determinant of success, what is? There's a new kind of GPA in town -- one that I've discovered over the course of my years in coaching and helping others succeed. I call it the "Exceptional Life GPA." 


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Your Exceptional life GPA


Everything has to start with a dream. You gotta have a wanna!


In your ELGPA, the first part of the equation is your GOALS. 


Our goals are those way-points that we must set and follow to arrive at the desired destination. In this case, that destination is our dream life. 


Les Brown said, “If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.”  Are you going after your goals with all the determination you can muster? If you've found it hard to achieve what you've always wanted, maybe a little elbow grease would help.


I’m deliberate about what goals I’m setting and what I’m doing to accomplish them. Every year I set my yearly goals.  When I’m setting these goals, I assign monthly, weekly and daily tasks that I need to do to reach my goals. 


When I’m setting these tasks I ask myself whether it's going to get me closer to my dreams or farther away from them. This makes things simple for me.


Does it help?


No?


Then scrap it.


If yes, carry on. 


It's a bit primitive in its simplicity, but aren't the great things in life just so?


This no-nonsense system has taught me to say no. That's a powerful word when it comes to achieving. When you say no to the things that don't help you, you're saying yes to those things that can and will.  


All those goals you have written down in your life don't mean jack if they don't have a date written next to them. Sorry if it sounds a bit brutish, but it's true. When we relegate our goals to the aether of "one day," we're giving it a death-sentence.


I know this truth first-hand.


When I'd sit down and write out my goals, I'd pat myself on the back.Great job, I'd think to myself. It's a common reaction. Goal-setting and all the other self-help stuff we passively participate in releases lots of endorphins that make us feel great. Essentially, setting goals without deadlines is like a drug. It's an easy hit of feel-good hormones and doesn't require us to actually do anything.


So patting ourselves on the back for it isn't bad in a moral way -- it's just the highest order of self-congratulatory bullshit.


Writing down goals without dates was comfortable and easy. I wasn't accountable to anyone -- not even time, not even myself.


Nothing started happening for me until I stopped lying to myself.  I had to set those dates and keep those appointments with myself.  TD Jakes said, “Wherever you are in life, you made an appointment to be there.”  


What appointments do you need to make with yourself today to make sure you are moving toward your dreams?


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The next piece of your Exceptional Life GPA is PLAN.  This one's easy to screw up. Lots of people do it. I've done it, myself.


Let's say someone has their goals set up. Ducks in a row. How delightfully organized they are.  They're dreaming big, working at their vision board, doing all the other necessary steps. 


But a goal is just a goal. It's an end-point; a target. 


When you fail to plan, you plan to fail right. Thank Ben Franklin for that important reminder. 


When I did my first cross country solo flight for my private pilot’s license, I had to create a flight plan.


The only intimidating thing about a solo flight is the whole "solo" part. One of my friends, in a misguided attempt to encourage me, told me not to worry. 


Once you take off, you'll either land or you'll crash; either way you'll be back on the ground eventually.


Not wrong.


Not great, but not wrong.


My mission was to take off from Tamiami airport, land in Pahokee airport, near Lake Okeechobee, then land in Belle Glade. Then I'd head all the way back to Tamiami airport to finish up the round trip. 


Total air time, 2 hours.


We plotted waypoints. These are identifiable landmarks like water towers, highway crossroads, and cell towers- stuff you can see from a plane. 


Although my little Cessna 172 had a GPS, it was important to have a backup. The last thing you want is to realize an hour into your flight that you were way off track because the GPS wasn’t working.  


Those waypoints were my goalposts, and they were all timed out. Each one had a "time stamp" to verify that I'd arrive at my destination with enough time and fuel.  


Without a clear plan, I wouldn’t have succeeded on that flight. Without plans, it would be hard to succeed at much of anything.


Just ask anyone who’s on that track of accomplishment and they'll tell you that their plan was the thing that got them there.


But it's the final part of the GPA equation -- the "A," that'll get you where you're going.


That "A" is accountability. The accountability element is what helps you stay consistent with your "waypoints" toward your goals. 


And it's such a robust concept that I actually have to turn this into two posts!  That way, we can focus on this one aspect in more detail in its own environment, where we'll put it under the microscope. So head to the next post to figure out how accountability is the most integral part of your Exceptional Life GPA. 

“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.” - John DiLemme


Accountability inspires action. You can have the wildest dreams and the greatest plans, but if there is no action,nothing's gonna happen. That's just science.


Ghandi said, “Action expresses priorities.”  That's also science -- kinda. I mean, you can't argue with that kind of logic. You do the things you most prioritize. Whether it's misguided or not doesn't matter. You're doin' the thing, right?


So what are your actions saying about your priorities?  How are you investing those precious 24 hours you get in a day?  How you use your time tells you and the world what your priorities are. 


Lack of time is the biggest excuse people give for why they aren’t able to pursue their dreams. But it's not like 24 hours is all we get. There's tomorrow. There's the next day. Thirty minutes every day becomes two and a half hours for the work-week.


Commitment is the trick. It means I'm sticking to my plan for the day, that I'm off social media and set times that I'm allowed to e-check it. I don't move on to my next task until I'm done with what I'm working on. 


When people tell me that they don't have time, I tell them that I saw a video of Steve Harvey at the gym. That guy has like, one million TV shows. If he has time for the gym, we probably have some time to do what we've gotta do during our busiest days.


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When I first opened my title company, I had this crazy goal that I wanted to make $240K / year.  I don’t know where exactly that number came from, but its a pretty damn good number, so I kept it. 


For a two-person operation, just little ole me at the beginning, that seemed like a great big goal at the time.  I knew that the only way I was going to be able to get it done was to break it down.


You may have heard that classic question: how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.


(Disclaimer: don't eat elephants).


So I started breaking things down.  $240K/year equated to $20K/month.  I knew I had to do at least twenty closings a month to reach my goal.  Twenty closings is a lot for a one-woman show but I persisted. 


I just needed to make great use of my time every day.  I had great mortgage brokers and real estate agents who were loyal to me, so I decided I was going to dedicate myself to helping them succeed. 


That's one of my greatest success secrets. Helping others succeed brings you unprecedented success. Your life and your business will change the moment you change your focus from making money in your business to helping others succeed.


So anyway, once I made that decision, I incorporated some accountability into the mix. Because I didn't have anyone to hold me accountable, I decided I was going to hold myself accountable. 


How do you hold yourself accountable in a way that works


By committing to the task at hand, by creating habits, and through a willingness to invest your time and resources.


I knew that, for my clients to succeed, I had to make myself available.  They all had my cell number and knew that if they called me on a Sunday with a question from a open house, I was going to pick up. 


I invested in an app so that they’d have access to closing costs at their fingertips at all times - whether they were using me as their title agent or not. 


Remember, my commitment was to their success not to what business I could get from them.  If one of their closings was stuck because of a title issue with another title agent, they knew they could call me.


And the more they succeeded, the more I succeeded. In no time, I reached my goal. 240k a year. I never looked back and never had a month where I didn’t exceed the goal I’d set.


But I held myself accountable to that commitment not only leading up to achieving the goal but well beyond it to sustain it.


Creating winning habits will get you farther than your experience, talent or knowledge ever will. 


Plans change sometimes. Life gets in the way. Things happen that prevent us from doing it in just that way that we'd wanted to. But when you have a commitment, the path can twist and turn and fork -- no problem. Your commitment and accountability to the goal will see you through. 


Like a GPS, sometimes we have to be willing to reroute whenever necessary. Those habits you’re creating will make you strong enough to be able to stay the course. Success will become passive for you -- based in habitual foundations instead of knee-jerk reactions.


I read once that you should write your dreams and goals in stone and write your plans in sand. Stay open and adaptable.


Charles Darwin suggested that the species that survive are not the strongest or the most intelligent. The species that survive are those most adaptable to change.


When we're flexible and adaptable, we move with life and it presents us with opportunities instead of obstacles. 


People are confusing and neurotic. We're often resistant to change.  Change can suck big time. It hurts, it's uncomfortable, it's scary, and it's worth it.


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This guy was sitting at a park bench, enjoying his lunch outside on a beautiful afternoon.  He noticed a chrysalis jerking about on a tree near the bench. When he inspected closer, he noticed a crack beginning to form. The butterfly was struggling to make it’s way out, so to help it along, he took the top of his pen and slit the opening. 


He sat back, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. 


Within a few minutes, the butterfly made its way out and immediately upon its exit, fell to the ground and died. Sorry. Horrible ending.


The most cynical of us might read the moral of the story as "Don't help anything or anyone because you'll just end up killing it." Not quite.


What the misguided man didn't understand was the process. In that struggle to break free, the butterfly gains the strength to fly.  


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Cynthia Ocelli said “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.  Its shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes.  For anyone who doesn’t understand growth, it looks like total destruction."


In order for us to succeed, we must be willing to change.  Remember that we are always building that bridge between where we are and where we want to be; between who we are and who we want to become. 


Start keeping track of your GPA.  Figure out what, if anything, is missing to start living your most exceptional life.


Make sure your goals are clearly defined.  Make sure you have the right plan in place.


Ask yourself what appointments you are going to start setting today to make sure you are heading in the direction of your dreams.


Find ways to stay accountable, either with a partner or by investing in yourself with a coach or mentor. Every step counts.


And above all, remind yourself every chance you get that you deserve to live that exceptional life you are destined for.