Thursday, August 22, 2013

Six Critical Insights You Need If You Want Values-Driven Success

Here are six critical insights you need to understand if you want Values-Driven Success:

1) Values-Driven Success happens when you get what you want AND you are the person you want to be.
So, it's important, critical really, to identify what you want AND the person you want to be. Living the life you want depends on identifying the destination these criteria define.

2) What you want AND the person you want to be are not as easy to understand as they seem.
I recently read an interesting article titled, "How Facebook (FB) is Altering Your Mind." In it,David Rainoshek helps us understand a powerful biochemical human behavioral driver, dopamine, and its effect on our habits.  While this article is intended to explain why it's easy to become addicted to Facebook, what I took away was the application of this biochemical impact on all aspects of our lives.  I believe the concepts discussed in the article reinforce the principles behind The External Rewards Model I developed to compare and constrast with my GPS Theory Model (see my previous article, "Why Are People Afraid of Success?").

When we follow the External Results
 Model, our focus is on seeking rewards, avoiding punishments, or trying to keep our situation from changing, depending on the circumstances we're facing at any given time.  In the GPS Theory Model, the primary focus is on our Core Values.

Rainoshek cites an article by Krista Peck who provides an easy to understand description of dopamine's powerful influence in our drive to seek rewards.  Rainoshek and Peck explain why people are less productive in their lives due to the dopamine rush created when we engage with various internet social media channels in search of rewards such as entertaining releases from the stresses of our world (jokes, games, etc.), great deals on material items or recognition, attention, and affection from the people we interact with directly and indirectly online. According to Peck, studies indicate we don't get the same rush when we actually receive rewards as we do while we are actually working towards getting them.  Therefore we are driven to constantly seek rewards and when we get them the dopamine supply stops compelling us to look for more.  I propose we get the same rush when we are in a situation where we are trying to avoid a punishment. The concept of rewards and punishments does not only apply to the internet. We perceive rewards and punishments in virtually every situation where risk is involved. The important questions to ask are:
  • Is the majority of my time spent seeking results that add real value?  
  • Do my decisions and actions contribute to situations where there is a need to avoid punishments?
3. We each have a finite amount of time to achieve Life-Long Success and the duration is unknown.
In cases where we focus only on The External Results Model, we sometimes confuse rewards with punishments, especially when an addiction has developed.  For example, time spent on Facebook looking for little "gold nuggets" increases the dopamine rush at the cost of irreplaceable time. The truth is, every tick-tock cycle of the clock indicates another morsel of time has passed which will never come again.  So, wasting time on the internet is truly a self-inflicted punishment. Because of the effect of dopamine, we perceive a greater value in seeking something of value in a place where it only exists temporally.  When you think about it, don't all bad habits have the same wasteful effect? Thinking about getting what you want AND being the person you want to be, what do you really want?  Are you really doing what it takes to get it?

4. The only constant in life is you must change!
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Getting what you want AND being the person you want to be is excruciatingly hard.  Most of the time, you will get one without the other.  The reason for this imbalance and for  the constant nature of Change is a simple concept that applies to every living thing on Earth- there are limited resources AND we are all competing for them.  What you have today and want to keep, you might lose tomorrow.  What you don't have, and want, you might get...or, you won't. The Situation dictates.  That's life.  Get used to it. The rewards and punishments we receive in life are all externally controlled and temporal in nature. The idea that we can control our situation is an illusion.  The best we can expect to be able to do is have influence.

You can limit the negative influences of the dopamine rush on your productivity when you have the mindset for Values-Driven Success. Once you know and accept the fact that you'll always struggle to get what you want AND be the person you want to be you can look at every reward as merely a step toward a destination and not the destination itself. You can avoid the spiritual and emotional pitfalls created when the dopamine drip stops after every accomplishment if you focus on doing what it takes to make the next step happen instead of getting the result.  This mindset also provides you with the emotional and spiritual foundation you need to keep going when some of the steps you take do not reap the rewards you seek. Rather than feeling like the destination is impossible and unattainable, perceptions that tend to create feelings of depression and hopelessness, you will simply recognize the need for additional steps. Further, by devaluing the result of each step you lower the magnitude of the impact the dopamine has on your drive to take it. When you get to this mindset, it becomes much easier to make the choice between the easy good feeling that comes from wasteful addictive habits and the more challenging and difficult things you really need to do to reach your destination.

5. There is one thing we can control...
When you follow the GPS Theory Model, your primary focus is on your Core Values and your decisions and behaviors become driven to make decisions and take actions you expect to influence your situation in the ways you want them to. When you continuously try to follow this model you remain on the path to Values-Driven Success.

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” 
― Viktor E. Frankl

Instead of intense emotional highs followed by extreme lows, you find the means to gain a consistently positive outlook.  You're not where you want to be, perhaps, but you're moving in the right direction. So, you drive on! You perceive you can take on all challenges, refusing to quit just because everything isn't going your way! By mastering your mindset, the way you plan, decide and behave, you master your attitude!
6. If you want your situation to change, you have to lead the change.
There is no getting around it. You can and must create the changes in the conditions (relationships, other people, environment, challenges, finances, etc.) you believe will have the greatest positive impact on your situation by taking definitive and decisive actions that will get you on, and keep you on, the path to getting what you want AND being the person you want to be.  It doesn't matter what you've accomplished in the past.  The mistakes you've made do not need to be repeated and do not need to limit what you're capable of. The only thing that matters is what you will do next!

The next time you're feeling the dopamine rush in anticipation of a dubious reward that you recognize will cost you valuable time and effort to seek, ask yourself:
  • What is the real value of this reward? 
  • Am I spending my resources right now doing something that will help me get what I want AND be the person I want to be within the context of Life-Long Success?  
  • Can I afford to keep doing this?
  • Should I change this habit/behavior?
  • What should I do instead? (NOTE: I believe the word "should" is only effective when we apply it to ourselves. Applying it to others (as in "He should...," "You should...," or "People should..." versus "I should...") is a habit that reduces personal accountability and creates false expectations.)

My own long and winding path has been rife with self-inflicted obstacles. I constantly strive to overcome them in my own pursuit of Values-Driven Success. What I've learned is that life creates enough challenges for a person to deal with without creating more through ill-formed decision-making and poorly chosen behaviors. I encourage you to start taking steps to evaluate what drives your decisions.  Are you primarily driven to seek rewards, or your Core Values?

My Core Values inspire my efforts as the founder of BoomLife.  I've been there- It's more than having credentials that indicate I'm qualified to help (although I have earned them). I've done that- It's more than an intellectual exercise for me (although I've invested a lot of brain cells in understanding how to get out of the holes I've dug and how to stop digging more). It's about practical experience in applying the principles of Values-Driven Success. I'm focused on helping people achieve Life-Long Success and I'm willing to do what it takes to help.

How can I help you start the change in your life that will make the difference between survival-mode and Values-Driven Success?

How can I help you get to a place where you will have the strength to help the people in your world?

To let you in on a little secret, we start by answering this fundamental question:
What words do you want other people to use to describe you and the life you've led?

The power to live those words is within you!


If you'd like to learn more about the process we developed to help people answer that question, download our Success Planning Guide for FREE! This guide is full of tools designed to help you through GPS Theory's process and is a companion to my new book, Finding Success: Get what you really want

Tom Eakin
Success Engineer

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Birth of GPS Theory

One morning, back in November 2012, I had a great idea!  It was the kind of moment where one sees things clearly.  I had a realization. I recognized a behavioral trend that explained the root cause of not only my greatest successes but also my deepest failures and my situation at that point in time.  The way I perceived myself didn't always match up with the way others did.  My professional performance hadn't always matched up with my behaviors in my personal life.  My career progression hadn't always reconciled with my accomplishments. Mainly, the disconnect centered around trust.  The people who had the most influence on the results I sought didn't always trust me.  The trend had nothing to do with whether I'm trustworthy, it goes much deeper than that.  

You see, I strive for excellence and I have a track record to prove it.  When I served in the Army, I earned the right to wear the Ranger tab. In the corporate world, I've led teams to triple-digit performance improvements and saved the companies I worked for millions of dollars.  I've been this way consistently for two decades.  In short, I've shown, time and time again, that I am willing to do what it takes to lead others and exceed expectations! So, why hadn't I moved up the corporate ladder as quickly as others who mainly "just put their time in"?  Why was I unemployed?  Why did I just lose a dream job opportunity to someone else? What was going wrong and how could I stop it? 

The answer came to me that morning. The facts were telling me, "People don't trust you because you try to push them out of their comfort zones."    

"What!?!," I resisted at first, "That's crazy, I've only given them what they've asked for.  They said they wanted something and I helped them understand what it took to make it happen!  I was always willing, they weren't!"  It didn't make sense!  Why would people say they want something if they aren't willing to do what it takes to get it? Nothing of value in life comes without risk! "How am I ever going to be successful if I have to work with people who think like this!?!"  

The question stopped me in my tracks.  It was a helpless thing to say. I sounded like I was a victim.  I'm not a helpless person.  I believe my life is the result of my own decisions and actions and therefore I am not a victim of circumstances!  There was an important message here.  So, I asked myself a question, "What does "success" look like to you, Tom?"

I decided to take a minute to answer the question about the meaning of success.  As I did that, reason and logic began to return to my thought process.  I realized the main point isn't about money, power or authority.  It's about being able to look in the mirror and ask myself if I always try to do the "right" things.  The guy looking back at me already knows the truth, and he knows I have not always been successful at this.  The good part is, as human beings, we don't need to be perfect, what we need is to continuously try to be better. But better at what? Being right?  Life just isn't that black and white. The conversation I had with myself that morning led to the most powerful question I've ever been asked and it gave me the greatest insight into what trying to be better means to each and every one of us, "When it's all said and done, what words do I want other people to use to describe me and the life I lived?"  

Making my "what words?" list was easy.  It was empowering!  There I sat, with a list of words I want other people to use to describe me and the life I've lived.  Now what do I do with it? How would I ever know if anyone would ever use those words?  After all, it's the kind of question that implies you won't get the real answers until you're dead, as if you could hear what people were saying at your funeral... and anyone can see the irony in expecting to find out anything at that point.  

It felt like I was getting close to something.  If I could help people create their "what words" list to identify and define their criteria for Life-Long Success (their Core Values) and then provide them with the means to find out if the people in their World would actually use those words to describe them, it would open doors for positive change.  You see, Life-Long Success has two components which must work together:

  • Results which are material and temporal in nature.
  • Behaviors that represent human Core Values.
Results are easy to measure.  Honest and accurate measurements of behaviors against the standards of Core Values seem impossible to acquire, but they're not.  You see, the people in our World provide us with what we need to know every day but they don't do it in a way that is easy to understand.

I set to work creating the measurement system that would help people improve the relationships with the people they need to succeed by clarifying the signals we often misinterpret because of the intricacies of ambiguous communications and our limited ability to translate them.  Why? So we can understand the true gap between the person we are and the person we want to be.  This system is called GPS Theory and it's available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Eakin is the author of Finding Success and the Success Engineer at BoomLife. LEARN MORE ABOUT TOM...