May 7, 2008
Superior Book Productions is joined today by Dennis Kelley, author of the newly published ”Achieving Unlimited Success: How to Get Out of Your Own Way and Live the Life of your Dreams.”
Dennis A. Kelley is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and business coach. He has helped countless business owners and other professionals succeed without limits. With thirty years of experience in financial services, he has held executive positions in some of the world’s largest banks, including as a Regional Bank President. In his coaching business, he guides business owners and professionals to the new skills they need to improve the quality of their businesses and their lives.
Tyler: Welcome, Dennis. I’m excited to talk to you today about “Achieving Unlimited Success.” To start out, what made you feel the need to write this book?
Dennis: Well, Tyler, when I started my coaching business several years ago, I began to notice that most of the entrepreneurs and business professionals I met really didn’t have a plan for their business or their life. In fact, the most common response I would get is that they hoped to make enough money to cover the bills and take an occasional vacation. When I asked what goals they had set for their life or business it was common to hear that they didn’t have any. However, after asking some questions and digging deeper I always found that they had dreams and goals for their life—they just had forgotten about them or given up on them because of their day-to-day responsibilities. “Achieving Unlimited Success” was written to address this need and to get the average business owner or career-minded individual thinking about what they truly want from life and give them a realistic plan to get there.
Tyler: Dennis, what do you think makes “Achieving Unlimited Success” stand out from the other self-help and motivational books in the marketplace?
Dennis: Many of the self-help books today try to sell the concept that if you just think positive thoughts and believe you will succeed, then everything will begin to fall into place. There is a lot of discussion about the Law of Attraction right now and it seems to me that there are many gurus today telling you to believe and your perfect life will be attracted to you. I wish it were that simple, but it is a mistake to think succeeding does not require a clear plan and specific action steps. In my book, there is a practical plan for achieving whatever you want in life. It all starts with getting crystal clear on what you want in life, and I help you define success and create a clear vision of what your life will look like when you have achieved success. I then lead you through the development of a plan and the action steps you will need to take giving you suggestions and direction on how to overcome any obstacles you come across along the way. If you want to be a millionaire or a CEO or only work a few days a week, it will take a plan and some work to get there, not just positive thoughts. I show you how to do it.
Tyler: Dennis, one of the most important ways to achieve success that you mention is having written goals. In fact, I was stunned when you stated that only 3% of the population has written goals and they control 97% of the wealth. Why do you think writing down goals can lead to such success?
Dennis: When you write your goals out and have transferred them from thought to paper, they become real. You have now committed to them and you start to change your thinking. By putting your goals on paper, you start to develop a road map for HOW you will achieve what you want to. Your thoughts become actionable once you have identified the steps you need to take. It is so easy, when we just hold our goals in our mind, to change the goal or forget what we should be focused on. When your goals are written down you can stay focused on what you said is important and constantly refer back to what you should be working on. Let’s face it; everyone is so busy these days. It is very easy to get distracted. But, if you can look each day at what you have set as the priorities you need to focus on it is a lot easier to stay on track. If you really want to make your goals powerful, write them down and then share them with someone. By doing that you have now made a powerful commitment to accomplishing them.
Tyler: What do you think is the biggest reason why people don’t set goals for themselves?
Dennis: Tyler, the thing I see is people have a self-limiting belief about goals. So many people think writing out goals is a waste of time or only for “big” companies, not for them. The problem is they don’t make the connection between goals and their daily routine. Many people believe they are controlled by the day-to-day demands of their job or their life and not the other way around. You have to change your thinking—you control what you focus on each day. Yes, there are things you have to do each day, but there is always a choice on how you use your time. Finding a few minutes or a few hours each day to work on one of your top priority goals is essential to achieving your dream life. Until someone can make the connection between goals and the focus it will give them, they tend to avoid setting goals.
Tyler: Dennis, once a person has written down their goals, what is the next step? How often should someone revisit their goal list, and where on that list of goals does one start?
Dennis: When you set goals you start out by setting goals for a 3 or 5-year time frame in order to set your subconscious mind on what you are trying to accomplish that will get you closer to your definition of success. After you have set these longer-term goals, then you must break them down into what you will accomplish over the next year and then even further into what you will do in the next 90 days. It is so important to work on your goals in 90-day increments. By doing so you will find that it is much easer to stay focused on the important things. You will progress much faster this way. It is so hard for us to stay focused on achieving a long-term goal due to the number of distractions in life. However, when you break the objective into smaller pieces, your mind can more easily focus on these smaller tasks. You should review your 90-day goal sheet each week as you set your plan for the week to make sure you are setting the correct priorities for the week.
Tyler: You spend a lot of time in “Achieving Unlimited Success” talking about the top self-limiting beliefs. Will you tell us briefly what you feel are the worst self-limiting beliefs?
Dennis: Each of us has a set of self-limiting beliefs that hold us back from accomplishing all that we are capable of and what is a major limiting belief for one person is not the same for someone else. We each have our own unique beliefs and it is important to identify for yourself what is getting in your way. However, the two that I see a lot of in business people are the fear of failure and the belief that if they just work harder things will get better. Failure is simply a learning experience and it is important to accept failure as a stepping-stone to success. We all fear the consequences of trying something and failing, it is just natural. But, everyone who built their own success had struggles and trial and error along their journey. Almost everything we fear isn’t nearly as bad as we think it will be. Our mind tends to exaggerate what will happen if we make a mistake and our ego gets in the way. The only way truly to succeed is to be able to accept failure and learn from it.
The other self-limiting belief is that if I just work harder things will get better. People have worked themselves to death trying to make things better and it didn’t help. It isn’t about working harder…it is about having a plan and working the plan in a rational and focused manner. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean getting ahead. In fact, I will tell you that as time goes on you should be working less and enjoying the fruits of your labor more. In order to get what you want you have to be able constantly to learn, grow and take charge of what you do and then you will see progress. Working harder doing the same things will just make you more tired.
Tyler: Dennis, where does the self-limiting belief that if you work harder things will get better come from? It seems the United States was built on what’s known as the Protestant Work Ethic, but is it fair to say what worked for earlier generations to succeed has changed in the twenty-first century? What specifically does a person need to succeed now compared to what worked a century ago?
Dennis: Let me first be clear that achieving success usually requires working hard for at least some period of time. There is nothing wrong with working hard and it is true our country has been built on a strong work ethic. Almost all successful people worked hard for much of their lives. The difference is that when someone is working hard and not making the progress toward their goals that they want, then something needs to change. Just working harder doing the same things will not suffice. So many times I see entrepreneurs and professionals stick to the philosophy that if I work harder, or more hours or keep my nose to the grindstone, then things will get better. Inevitably, things don’t get better. This self-limiting belief keeps people stuck where they are today and keeps them from making the changes they need to. If you want different results, do different things. Don’t believe that hard work is the key to success. Hard work should move you closer to the success you want so eventually you don’t have to work so hard and can enjoy your success.
Tyler: Dennis, I loved the story about the frogs who had a competition to climb a tower. Would you mind telling that story to our readers?
Dennis: Sure…I love that story as well. It’s a story about really listening to your own heart and not listening to the negative talk of others. The story is about a running competition being held with a group of tiny frogs. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. No one really believed that any of these tiny frogs would be able to climb all the stairs necessary to reach the top of this tower; it was just too high. A crowd of frogs gathered around to cheer on the runners, but you heard comments like, “NO WAY! Too difficult!” “They will never make it to the top.” “The tower is too high.” One by one the tiny frogs started to collapse as they made their way up the tower. Some of the frogs picked up the pace and were climbing higher and higher but the crowd kept yelling, “It’s too difficult,” “No one will make it.” More frogs got tired and gave up but one continued higher and higher and just wouldn’t give up. At the end every frog had given up except one, who after a lot of effort was the only one to reach the top. Naturally, everyone wanted to know how this one tiny frog had made it when all the others couldn’t. It turned out the winning frog was deaf!
The story just illustrates how important it is to believe in yourself and not listen to the negative input of others. Avoid those people who shoot down your dreams or are always looking at the negative aspects of life. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you focus on the positive things.
Tyler: One of the sections in “Achieving Unlimited Success” that I most enjoyed was your chapter on what you called “head trash.” Will you explain for our readers what you mean by “head trash” and how to get rid of it?
Dennis: We all have that little voice in our head that tells us not to do things. Sometimes the voice is good and tells us to do things we shouldn’t—like putting our hand on a hot stove. Other times the little voice isn’t good and talks us out of doing things we should do. We tell ourselves not to do something because we may fail, or be laughed at, or lose money, or any number of negative things. The voice creates a fear that keeps us from taking action. Think about a time when you wanted to try something and talked yourself out of it. This is head trash. You have to learn to recognize head trash and not let it stop you. Head trash keeps so many people from pursuing their dreams because they talk themselves out of taking risks or making changes. The best way to remove head trash is to develop your self-confidence so fears will not hold you back from doing new things and taking action on your goals. You also need to remove negative thoughts and negative language from your life. If you are confident in your abilities, believe in yourself, and believe that the actions you take will be beneficial, then the little voice won’t hold you back.
Tyler: I also loved all the time you spent talking about positive thinking. You quoted Norman Vincent Peale as saying, “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously and never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop this picture!” Of course, Norman Vincent Peale is famous for positive thinking. Why do you feel positive thinking is so important?
Dennis: Simply put, if you think positive thoughts and look for the positive in things that is what you will see. If you are looking for the negative things then that is what your mind will find. Let me ask you, when you are feeling negative or down, do you tend to look at things more negatively? Of course you do. By thinking positively and truly believing you will achieve your goals and succeed then you will start looking for those things that can help you achieve your goals. You will be much more willing and able to take positive action when you are thinking positively. It is very hard to get out of bed and attack the day when you are feeling negative or down. Positive thoughts lead to positive action; it’s just that simple.
Tyler: You also mention the Law of Attraction, recently made popular by the book and film versions of “The Secret” but you were also somewhat critical of it. Will you explain your position on the Law of Attraction?
Dennis: I love the idea of the Law of Attraction and believe that there is a lot to it. But, I also strongly believe that the value of it is the positive thoughts you get by always believing you will get what you want. Again, positive thoughts lead to positive action. I challenge my readers to take about six weeks and do nothing but get up in the morning and sit on the couch thinking about all the positive things they want in life. For six weeks do nothing else, just sit there and think positive. Do you really believe that by doing nothing else you will start to get the life you want attracted to you? No, of course not. The Law of Attraction says to me that if you are a positive, happy, true believer in your course of action then you will do the right things that get you the right results and other successful people and habits will be attracted to you. Success breeds success and successful people love to associate with other successful people. You see it over and over again in history; the successful people attract more success to them because they are taking positive action on their thoughts, not just because of the thoughts alone.
Tyler: I was struck by all the wonderful stories in the book of real people’s struggles, including Michael Jordan and Charles Schultz. You also talk a lot about the importance of mentors. Were there any mentors or famous people who were role models for you specifically?
Dennis: Mentors have played such an important part in my life, Tyler. Ask any successful person if they have been inspired, challenged and pushed by someone whom they would consider a mentor and you are almost certainly going to get a ‘yes.’ I was fortunate to have someone take an interest in me early in my career and spend time helping me get my career started. He guided me through various promotions offering advice and support along the way. He put me into challenging situations and coached me on how to handle them. He believed in me even when I wasn’t sure myself. I’ve had several of these types of mentors during my years in business, and I believe the value I received from these people is what has fueled my passion for coaching and helping others succeed.
Tyler: Were you ever afraid of failure, and if so, why did that fear not keep you back?
Dennis: We have all been afraid of failure at one time or another and I am no exception. During my career, I’ve taken some risk that offered the possibility of failure. The most recent was the decision to give up a very lucrative banking career to start my own business. I went from having a very good income and the comfort of doing something I knew well to no income and a huge learning curve. I knew a lot about what it took to be successful in business, but actually doing it was new to me. However, I refused to let myself be limited by the risk or by a lack of confidence in my ability to succeed. I knew that if I believed in myself, surrounded myself with great people that I could learn from and absorbed myself in learning opportunities I would create an even better life for myself. That is what I teach my clients and in my book — don’t let anything hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Make a decision, develop your plan and then attack it with everything you have. Believe you will succeed and take action every day and success will follow.
Tyler: Will you tell us a little about your own career and how you achieved unlimited success?
Dennis: Tyler, I succeeded in my career by showing up every day and staying focused on my goals. I knew where I wanted to go from the first day I started work—the corner office. I wanted to be a bank president and set that as my goal. I worked in a lot of jobs, some of them that I didn’t really like, to achieve that goal. But, every job I worked at I did that job like it was the most important job in the company. I learned everything I could in each job and didn’t think about the next step until I had proved myself in my current position. Doors opened to me because I added value to my employer in every job I held and because I stayed committed to my plan. Today, I am reaping the rewards of that discipline and have the opportunity to help others do the same thing.
Tyler: Today you have left the banking world to be a business coach. Would you tell us how you help other people as a coach to reach their business goals? If people hire you as their coach, what should they expect?
Dennis: The first thing I work with clients on is the importance of changing their thinking and their beliefs. They need to start thinking differently about their business or career and quite frankly about their life before they can start to make meaningful changes. We then create a very clear definition of success as they define it for themselves and then turn that into a vision. Setting clear actionable goals is the next step and then we start developing the implementation strategy. This works for any segment of their career or business that we need to focus on. It is very powerful and in fact is life changing.
Tyler: Dennis, is it ever too late to start? You started a new career in mid-life. Can even an old dog be taught new tricks? What advice do you have for people who want to start over in their careers? Do they need to start by going back to school?
Dennis: It is never too late to start working on your dreams. If you decide it’s too late to work on your dreams, then you have essentially given up. Unless you already have everything you want out of life, then you should be working on making your life the best you possibly can. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. We all have the extraordinary coded into us, and it is never too late to work on unleashing it. Start today on this amazing journey, and you will be able to look back on your life with the satisfaction that you have lived your life the way it was meant to be. If you feel trapped in your job or career or your business isn’t performing like it should, then start defining what you DO want and develop your plan to go get it. Remove your self-limiting beliefs and find a mentor or coach to help you get started. You’ll be glad you did.
Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Dennis. Will you let our readers know more about your website and what additional information they may find there about your coaching services and “Achieving Unlimited Success”?
Dennis: It would be my pleasure. They can learn more about the book “Achieving Unlimited Success” and my coaching services by visiting www.AchievingUnlimitedSuccess.com . There they can also sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive the free special report “5 Step Success Formula.” Tyler, I want to thank you for your time today, it has been a pleasure speaking with you.
Tyler: Thank you, Dennis. Not only have you been an inspiration to talk with, but you’ve also given some very good practical advice, and I’m sure readers will want to hear more of what you have to say by reading “Achieving Unlimited Success.”
Read also the book review for "Achieving Unlimited Success" here at Superior Book Productions.
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