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John Hawkins

John Hawkins

Entrepreneur, US Navy Veteran, Family Man, and Leadership Strategist, John Hawkins makes it his daily mission to help people become successful, significant, and to leave a lasting legacy of excellence.

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Success! Expect Greatness sold 216 pre-orders by July 31, 2017, was pitched to 40 publishers, and will be published by Speak it to Book.

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THIS level will also include ONE SUBSCRIPTION to the online course "EXPECT GREATNESS" which is being developed right now. The online course will cover the mindset needed to make a change, how to develop and implement a plan for intentional growth, and what the best of the best do on a daily basis to get real results. This course will retail for $1,000+

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Expect Greatness

Living a Life of Excellence

The demands of life have a way of wiping out your plans and separating you from your dreams. Expect Greatness provides specific steps to live a life full of excellence!

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Self-Help Leadership & Personal Growth
Daytona Beach, Florida
30,260 words
100% complete
9 publishers interested

Synopsis

Leave a legacy that truly matters—without living someone else’s dream!

What if you stopped running yourself into the ground in the pursuit of empty promises and fleeting success?? Instead, imagine if you were to invest every moment into being the best you and making a lasting impact on others in your unique way?

The demands and routine of real life have a way of wiping out your plans, lowering your expectations, and separating you from your dreams. Entrepreneur, US Navy Veteran, Family Man and Leadership Strategist, John Hawkins makes it his mission to help people expect greatness and pursue excellence. No matter where you are now, it’s your starting point for a life of success and significance that leaves a legacy you can be proud of!

In this book, you’ll learn:

– Why self-help books don’t work

– How to keep yourself from starving at the banquet

– Which of the four levels you’re operating on and what steps to take next

– Why the marathon mindset is seriously misguided and you need to live the dash

– How a well-defined personal creed can keep you from spinning your wheels

– The secret of the unstoppable “why”

– How to move your “but” out of the way so your dreams can get off the ground

– What to prune and plant for effective growth

– Why perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

– Why you should never underestimate the power of Plus One

– How to be the diamond when the pressure is on

– How to change the world in 3 simple steps

Plus workbook sections will help you redefine your goals and live out your purpose with excellence, one day at a time!

Are you ready to cast off your life of settling and regrets to become the best version of yourself—for others? Then start reading your copy of Expect Greatness and begin living your best life today!

Outline

Thank you for picking up Expect Greatness!

Even though we all have different backgrounds, hopes, dreams, goals, and ambitions, every one of us is called to live a life of excellence. We are meant to expect greatness from ourselves and those around us.

As you read, you will find that each chapter stands on its own, as well as fitting into the greater mosaic of life. The workbook section after each main chapter includes reflective questions and application-oriented “action steps.” These questions and action steps are meant to guide you toward a life full of success and real significance.

The workbook sections can be used for independent reflection, discussion with a friend, or group study. In addition to the spaces provided to record your responses to the questions, each chapter concludes with a page for jotting down thoughts and other notes.

Regardless of your particular reason for choosing this book, I hope that reading it will motivate, equip, and transform you as you start to expect greatness from yourself and those around you!

CONTENTS

Introduction: What You Became When You Grew Up:  This is about our expectations as kids, teenagers and young adults, and how we often lose track of who we are, and what our purpose is.

Chapter 1: Living for a Legacy:  

Life hasn’t turned out how you expected it would. Maybe you can’t get momentum in your career or you’ve just lost the job you’ve been working at for years. Perhaps things are going fine, but you find yourself asking, “Is this all there is?”

Readers of this book are looking to maximize their lives so that they will one day leave behind a legacy of which they can be proud.

Chapter 2: Starving at the Banquet 

Picture yourself ten years ago. Remember that kid? If you wrote a letter to that person, what advice would you give? Take a minute and think about it.

What hard-won lessons have you learned that you would love to teach your younger self? What pain could you have avoided? How could your life be better if you’d only known what to do?

Chapter 3: Living the Dash

If life were a race, most people would probably agree that it’s a marathon. You’re in it for the long haul, and you have to pace yourself to finish. So you save your energy for the times that matter most and slog through mile after mile of hard road. After all, look at all the years ahead before you’ll reach the finish line.

In reality, life is oftentimes like the fifty-yard dash. It’s a sprint. We need to give it everything we have, knowing that the finish line isn’t miles away, but right around the next bend.

Chapter 4: Staying the Course.

Direction and momentum, not intention, determine our destination.  We must learn to develop and maintain crystal clear, laser sharp focus...not just once, but consistently, over time.

Chapter 5:  Words Have Power

Somewhere along the way, someone likely spoke words of doubt or negativity to us that settled in our mind and heart. Those seeds of doubt or negativity slowly began to grow and spread, impacting our thoughts about ourselves. Eventually, these little thoughts grew into a vast forest of withered, poisoned trees, that limit our upward potential and growth.

This is about recognizing the power of words in our lives and how to speak life to ourselves and those around us.

Chapter 6:  Excellence Buys You Freedom

“Nobody’s perfect.”

Did a parent, a teacher, or a friend ever offer you that reassuring platitude when you were younger?

Maybe they missed the thousands of TV commercials, advertisements, and magazine covers that all tout the secrets to perfection. Many mass-marketing experts want you to know that the perfect body, diet, outfit, and vacation all exist and must be pursued.

If you fall short of perfection, their ads insinuate, you’re a failure.

But guess what? There’s good news: whoever told you “Nobody’s perfect” was a lot wiser than the commercials would have you believe.  Excellence buys you freedom while perfection enslaves.

Chapter 7: Plus One

Sometimes life feels like a huge elephant—an entire herd of elephants on some days—that we’re supposed to eat all at once. It’s easy to become caught up in the enormity of life. Sometimes it might seem easier to sit and starve rather than pick up a fork and dig in.

This is where the idea of “Plus One” comes in.

Too many people try to do too much in a month and not enough in a year. This is why most people continue to live average, ordinary, mediocre lives. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you try to do everything at once. The beautifully simple thing about the Plus One concept is that you don’t have to take on the whole thing—you only need to add a little bit at a time to one area of your life.

Chapter 8: Be the Diamond

Think of your life as an opportunity to be a diamond.

You see, it isn’t the good times that shape a person, it’s the hard times. The times of high heat and extreme pressure are what make or break people. Each person on earth will deal with difficult times. Some people crack, and some shine.

Chapter 9: How to Change the World in Three Simple Steps

There are three foundational and uncomplicated steps to change the world, which I’ll describe at their most basic level. These steps have been proven over thousands of years. They are extremely important, and their application will take lots of hard work.

These three simple steps take incredible sacrifice and ongoing attention. Don’t be fooled into thinking that ‘simple’ means ‘easy,’ or you will have a hard time putting these steps into action. 

Chapter 10: Never Give Up

It will be tempting to give up if you’ve never started. You might see the fact that you haven’t done anything as a sign that you’re going to fail if you ever do give this book a shot. If you’ve tried some or all I have recommended, the time is going to come when you will make a mistake or have a bad day, and you’ll start wondering if it’s worth it to keep fighting.

This chapter helps you better understand and apply the choice to not stop...not quit...to never give up.

Audience

My audience is typically entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and leaders at every level.  My audience is comprised of people who are desiring to increase their influence and maximize their performance and success.  I offered a free early electronic version of my book to my Linked In and Facebook connections and had over 500 downloads with over 100 people providing positive feedback in less than a month.  This was an unbiased sample set as these downloads and reviews were by people who do not know me on a personal basis.

The people who provided feedback ranged from high level executives in well known large companies, to presidents of colleges and universities, to government officials, to senior MLM distributors (Isagenix, Advocare, etc.), to CrossFit Gym owners, to directors and VP's of various organizations.  It originally seemed like a very eclectic mix however they shared very specific traits.

All are very intentional about their personal/ professional growth for themselves and their teams.  They read books by John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson, Tim David, Steve Farber, John Spence, etc. Most of the readers are in the $50K - $250K income range with several being multi-millionaires.  Most have some type of faith based background and are in the age range of 25-50, with approximately 60 % being female.  There is also a good percentage of people in the medical/ first responder/ military professions.

Author

As a member of Forbes Coaches Council on Leadership and Management, and active on several board of directors, John Hawkins’ multifaceted work includes being a highly in-demand motivational speaker and thought leader.  John Hawkins speaks about leadership strategies at events and conferences across the globe and his thought-provoking message encourages each of us to lead with substance, significance, and success. 

John Hawkins is a senior-level leadership coach and strategy consultant and has worked with hundreds of clients, large and small, across all sectors.  Not just an inspirational speaker–John Hawkins has written numerous articles, posts and leadership classes for Business magazines and Higher Education Institutions.  

Who am I personally?

  • I’m a husband to a beautiful and funny wife and father of a little girl with too much energy who loves playing dress-up.
  • I am a US Navy veteran who is proudly American and have a heart for adventure, people and God. I enjoy sports, trying out new ice-cream flavors, and I’m a coffee aficionado.
  • I live in Florida a block from the beach, and love watching the sunrises here.
  • I love seeing people with tremendous heart win!

Who am I professionally?

  • I’m an expert at high-performance coaching, mindset and strategy. I’ve had my company for 20 years, worked with the best of the best and have a waiting list.
  • I am highly driven and believe excellence is not an act but a way of life.
  • I am dedicated to see clients succeed and achieve their goals, and for that reason I am tough on clients and myself.
  • A strategic advisor and leadership consultant to many successful businesses and organizations.

What have I achieved professionally?

  • Created a program which sees companies grow and personal leadership thrive.
  • I’ve successfully coached hundreds of business owners, leaders and athletes on leadership strategy.
  • Have successfully exceeded multimillion dollar quotas in software pre- and post-sales over multiple years.
  • I’ve recovered from business failures, two of which I lost my entire life savings in.
  • Held several key leadership roles as director of IT and VP of operations among others.
  • I boast extensive experience and a company which has been in business for 20 years

Promotion

I have a very active marketing campaign that will start July 1.  I currently have a substantial following on Linked In (2,800+ connections with several of my posts being shared 2,000+ times), Facebook (page has 6,000 users, group has 1,500 users, and personal has close to 2,000), email list (approx 1,000 subscribers and only started a month ago), 1,000 followers on Instagram, and 62,000 followers on twitter.  I will be posting 3-5 day on each platform, and also have several key social media influencers who will be doing promotion for me.    I have also had my website professionally redesigned and will be spending marketing dollars to promote it and the book.

Competition

1)  Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters:  

John C. Maxwell, #1 New York Times bestselling author, helps readers take the first steps to living a life that matters in INTENTIONAL LIVING.
We all have a longing to be significant. We want to make a contribution, to be a part of something noble and purposeful. But many people wrongly believe significance is unattainable. They worry that it's too big for them to achieve. That they have to have an amazing idea, be a certain age, have a lot of money, or be powerful or famous to make a real difference.


I have spent several years working with John Maxwell and have tremendous respect for him.  As one reviewer put it, my book is different as my material is much more "real and relevant with simple concepts powerfully explained"


2)  Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt, March 2016.  

Each of us has but one life to live on this earth. What we do with it is our choice. Are we drifting through it as spectators, reacting to our circumstances when necessary and wondering just how we got to this point anyway? Or are we directing it, maximizing the joy and potential of every day, living with a purpose or mission in mind?

I like Michael Hyatt as he is genuinely a nice guy.  My material is a bit more edgier and raw than his material yet not edgy as Jocko Willilink.


3)  High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard, Sept 2017.  

After extensive original research and a decade as the world’s leading high performance coach, Burchard found the answers. It turns out that just six deliberate habits give you the edge. Anyone can practice these habits and, when they do, extraordinary things happen in their lives, relationships, and careers.

My book would have a similar audience except more on the professional side.  I have had corporate and entrepreneur experience as well as military and firefighting experience that provides a different insight into how to move our lives to the next level.

4)  Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist, August 2016

Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

My book talks about several key topics that influence our lives and affects our potential for success.  My audience would be similar however would include more men and military veterans


5)  Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy by Mallika Chopra, May 2016

Living with Intent is a chronicle of Mallika Chopra’s search to find more meaning, joy, and balance in life. She hopes that by telling her story, she can inspire others with her own successes (and failures) as well as share some of the wisdom she has gathered from friends, experts, and family along the way—people like her dad, Deepak, as well as Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Arianna Huffington, Andrew Weil, and Dan Siegel. She also provides a practical road map for how we can all move from thought to action to outcome. Each chapter is devoted to one step on her journey and another piece of her INTENT action plan: Incubate, Notice, Trust, Express, Nurture, and Take Action. Chopra’s insights and advice will help us all come closer to fully living the lives we truly intend.


My book shares wisdom gained from both blue collar, military and executive experience.  I also share from the perspective of someone who grew up in a Christian environment and has a strong foundation in God, family and country.  My book also has a terrific set of questions so the book can be used by an individual, small group or team and get everyone fantastic results.


Sample

I am including Chapter 2 and Chapter 6.  Please contact me if you would like the full manuscript.


CHAPTER TWO

Starving at the Banquet

Picture yourself ten years ago. Remember that kid? If you wrote a letter to that person, what advice would you give? Take a minute and think about it.

What hard-won lessons have you learned that you would love to teach your younger self? What pain could you have avoided? How could your life be better if you’d only known what to do?

I asked those questions to a group of professionals not long ago, and they were quick to respond.

“I’d save more money. I wouldn’t beat myself up over my failures. I’d get a start on my dreams a long time ago,” they said.

I was impressed by the wisdom they had gained through what must have been much struggle and heartache.

“So, are you living that wisdom now?” I asked them.

Silence.

I looked to my right, then swept back to the left.

Heads remained oddly still, and the attention that I’d held to that point seemed to melt into glazed stares.

I folded my hands together and breathed deeply.

“Why aren’t you doing these things that you obviously know are good and true?” I asked somberly.

A few moments passed.

“Because I’m stupid,” a man said.

The audience laughed.

Then he went on to add, “Dumb is uneducated, but stupid is a choice. Even though I have all this knowledge and wisdom,” he said, twirling his hands around his head. “I’m choosing not to act on it. So I must be stupid.” There were a lot of heads nodding and murmurs of, “Me, too. I’m pretty stupid, too.”

“Okay,” I said, “since stupid is a choice, what do we need to do to get un-stupid? What do we need to do today to get different results tomorrow? We must choose to go in a different direction starting right now.”

The Feast

The problem with most folks isn’t a lack of education. Most people have been through a lot. They’ve seen a lot, learned a lot. They know where to go if they have questions. They have all the tools and resources they could possibly need within arm’s reach using Uncle Google.

The problem is that they aren’t doing anything with everything.

It’s like they’re sitting at a fabulous feast, buffet tables lined in every direction, and all they need to do is pick up a plate and help themselves to the food.

But they don’t. They stand there hungry, doing nothing, complaining that there isn’t anything good on their empty plates.

If they’re not careful, they’ll starve to death.

So, when the latest, greatest guru or expert comes along and offers them a half-chewed, regurgitated bite of a cupcake, they take it and think it’s delicious and nutritious. All that amazing food is waiting, full of nutrients and flavor, but it’s easier to take the chewed-up leftovers that someone else puts on their plates than to do the work themselves.

The Three Problems and a Guy Named Tom

Eating someone else’s leftovers is not a pleasant analogy. Yet think about how often people take up someone else’s opinions instead of thinking for themselves.

And don’t think this only applies to other people.

These words are for you, my friend.

I want to tell you about a guy named Tom. He’s in his fifties and unemployed. Tom wants certainty that he’ll be able to provide for his family until the end of their lives. He’s worked in the automotive field for twenty-five years before getting laid off, and now he’s lost his confidence. He doesn’t even go on interviews anymore because he hasn’t been called back for a second interview in months. After twenty applications, Tom’s given up.

Been there?

When feeling stuck and unsuccessful, it’s paramount to first dig into the root of the problem. In Tom’s case, he needs to figure out his purpose for working and why he wants a job so badly. He isn’t going to be motivated to find work unless he has a reason that fires him up every day!

Providing for his family is a motivating reason, but right now his own fear of failure is blinding him. Before he can pick himself up, he needs to shift his vision off his own discomfort to his need to provide for his family.

The second problem Tom must tackle is to figure out if his current work is a good fit for him. If he’s employed in a job that doesn’t engage his strengths, he only offers his employer his weaknesses. No wonder he’s not solidifying any job offers. Tom needs to figure out what he’s good at and what excites him before pursuing a job. This is true for any worthy goal. Training for a marathon may be beneficial to your health, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the running—especially if swimming is a much better fit for you.

Once Tom knows why he’s working and what work he’s passionate about, the third problem he must tackle is that of focused goal-setting—or lack thereof, at this point. Knowing that he’s excited about sales doesn’t mean he’s equipped to be a great salesman. Tom needs to learn how to make his goals a reality—and that’s not easy. It’s much harder to take steps toward accomplishing goals than to sit and dream about them. Tom’s path will require careful thought. He’ll have to stretch himself.

Sound familiar? Maybe you are like Tom. You want to change, but you don’t know where to start. The reality is that “when the pain of being average outweighs the fear of being excellent, that is when we make our move to the next level.”

It’s time to advance to the next level, friend. This is your life. You only get one shot. There is no time like the present to start becoming the person you want to be, and I am here to help you take those steps.

Fueling Your Fire

I look at kindling greatness as building a fire. Three things are necessary in the Fire Triangle: heat, fuel, and oxygen. When it comes to finding what’s worth pursuing in life, those same three things are supreme.

The heat or spark comes from you. It’s what you’re passionate about, what gets you excited, and what you find yourself drawn to again and again. These are often hobbies, learning addictions, or the things you can’t avoid doing even if you try.

But as you know, sparks are a dime a dozen and sputter without fuel. That’s why it’s imperative to seek wisdom before pouring your petroleum on any one particular flicking, orange glow. Because fuel—a combination of your skillsets and resources you’ve acquired or can acquire—creates quite a flame. And what’s the point of burning if you haven’t stopped to consider whether the sudden burst of heat will singe your eyebrows instead of warming you?

Finally, fire needs oxygen to be sustainable. Oxygen in this case is the people in your life, as well as your relationship with God.

Write this down: I need solid people in my life to encourage, teach, and help me. I need to associate myself with life-givers, people who affirm me and impact my ability to work harder and far longer.

These people will be life-giving and life-affirming, impacting your ability to work much longer. Similarly, pursuing a strong connection with God fills you with the constant energy needed to pursue dreams. Without this intimate connection to God and supportive inner circle, dreams die quickly.

It’s easy to get off track in life when one of these important elements is missing. Time and again, a person’s job may feel like they’re missing the spark. They don’t believe their work is significant. Or they might be unable to move forward because though they have the spark and the encouragement, they don’t want to put in the work to make a dream a reality. This leads to fast burnout, especially when passion is sparked and fuel used but surrounding “oxygen”—people who are supposed to support—complain or point out problems with a person’s goals.

Think about that spark you have. What is something you are excited about that you have yet to act on? Consider the fuel you would need to light a fire under that dream. It might require going back to school, starting a business, changing your family dynamic, or even cleaning your house. What relationships could you seek out and strengthen to add oxygen to your fire? With the right spark, fuel, and oxygen, you should expect greatness!

Setting SMART Goals

I was once giving a talk to a group, and everyone was discussing what they would tell their younger selves. One woman said she would have started redecorating her house years ago. I asked her what she was going to do with that wisdom, and she replied, “Well, I’m going to redecorate my house before I retire.” That was a good goal. It was a dream she’d had for a long time.

The first step to getting results is setting a goal, but identifying a goal is not the same as reaching it. The Goal Fairy wasn’t going to fly over this woman’s house, wave her wand, and make her dream come true. In order for your goal to become more than a pipe dream or a “maybe someday,” it needs to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. You need to specify exactly what you want to achieve, make a realistic plan with specific steps and deadlines, and determine how you will measure your progress. This woman needed to decide on a budget and a style, choose a decorator, and begin working from a timeline and schedule.

I asked the woman when Christmas would be. She shot me a confused look and replied, “December 25.”

I asked when we could expect Halloween. She said, “October 31.”

Then I asked, “When is your yard sale to kick-start your redecorating?”

If we don’t put tasks on our calendar, they don’t get done!

Her face brightened. Then a co-worker volunteered to help her paint, and another said she’d go shopping with her. Before long the woman had a group of people to help her reach her SMART goal and to keep her accountable.

I’m going to give you an assignment. First, spend time identifying one of your SMART goals. Think it through and choose something you really want to accomplish. Make sure to choose just one goal. More than that can be too overwhelming and cause you to stall out.

Next, think about the specific steps you can take to meet that goal. Maybe you’ll see a clear pathway of what needs to be accomplished to make it all the way to the end. Perhaps you aren’t sure and your first step needs to be sitting down to coffee with someone who can help you figure out where to start. Maybe you need to find some extra work to fund this dream of yours.

Then find people to help you stay motivated. Tell your spouse, involve your kids, ask a friend to go with you, or set a date with a colleague to report back on your progress.

It’s a long journey toward leaving a legacy, but the banquet is all around you. You’ve been living off the chewed-up remains of someone else’s dreams and thinking that it was enough for a long time. Now that you know you want to eat from the banquet, you’re going to have to fill your plate for yourself.

Decide on a SMART goal, identify the first step, find an accountability partner who will encourage you to succeed, and set a date for accomplishing that goal. If you want to change your life, you’re going to have to choose to do the work. You have everything you need to live your best life, so stop settling for less than greatness!

WORKBOOK

Chapter 2 Questions

Question: What hard-won lessons have you learned from experience that you would like to teach your younger self? What pain might you have avoided with these lessons?

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Question: Are you living with wisdom now? What changes have you made in light of your past experiences? What is a lesson from your past that you have yet to implement or apply fully in your life?

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Question: What is your spark that inspires you? What is your fuel to keep you moving toward your goals? Who is the oxygen in your inner circle?

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Question: What is one of your SMART goals? Be very specific and laser focused. What is your target date for achieving this goal? What first step will you take today?

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Action: Choose to learn from your past experiences and live with wisdom now! Identify the spark, fuel, and oxygen necessary to build a fire under your dream. Pinpoint one goal you want to accomplish and figure out the first steps for achieving it. Set a date for achieving your goal and find a partner to keep you accountable.

Chapter 2 Notes

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CHAPTER SIX

Excellence Buys You Freedom

“Nobody’s perfect.”

Did a parent, a teacher, or a friend ever offer you that reassuring platitude when you were younger?

Maybe they missed the thousands of TV commercials, advertisements, and magazine covers that all tout the secrets to perfection. Many mass-marketing experts want you to know that the perfect body, diet, outfit, and vacation all exist and must be pursued.

If you fall short of perfection, their ads insinuate, you’re a failure.

But guess what? There’s good news: whoever told you “Nobody’s perfect” was a lot wiser than the commercials would have you believe.

The Slave Master

The word ‘perfect’ is thrown around so much these days that people have stopped thinking about its impact. People desire the perfect house, the perfect Christmas, the perfect car, or the perfect family.

Unfortunately, the repeated failure to achieve perfection then leaves people feeling unworthy and unlovable.

Perfection fascinates me. For many years, I was what you would call a perfectionist. To me, perfection was the only acceptable outcome, and I would beat myself up when I didn’t reach it. Perfection is, of course, unattainable, except in certain extreme conditions and situations.

Striving for perfection is demoralizing. It will enslave you and turn every person around you into your master as you begin to believe they all see where you failed and find you unworthy. You will begin to compare yourself to people you see as superior. You will assume that everyone else is comparing you to others.

On top of that, when perfection is your slave master, you become a master to everyone else, too. You begin to compare everything you do to what others do, and you will either be left wanting or feeling superior. When a person feels superior, they like to wallow in it, looking down on everyone else while believing they are better.

Here’s what I’ve learned about perfection: it’s all about taking things away. Did you ever notice that? When I strive for perfection, I remove everything that does not contribute to my ideal. I must lose ten pounds. I need to remove the ugly décor in my home. I need to eliminate my children’s bad habits. Perfectionism is a bully. It finds a person’s weaknesses and then points them out again and again until those weaknesses are the only things they can see.

There is no possible way for any of us imperfect humans to be utterly perfect. Even if I managed to achieve the goal of perfection I set, there would still be something inside me that would not be satisfied. I would find myself looking back and seeing something I could have done better.

Perfection is a single moment in time that a person works toward. They may reach that evanescent moment where they achieve their goals, but then the moment fades away. They’re left in the dark again, looking for another flicker of light to pursue. While those moments of achievement might be glorious, they are fleeting. The emptiness that follows is an ever-deepening hollow that enslaves the person even more.

Quitting Perfection

There were two body builders I once knew. One pursued perfection. I mean, he measured every mouthful of food, counted every calorie and rep, worked out constantly, and was determined to come in first place in a major competition he entered. When he came in fifth place, this man was devastated. He curled up in the corner of the back room. His entire identity was tied up in being first and achieving perfection. Once he missed that goal, he didn’t know who he was anymore.

The other body builder was driven to be excellent. He worked out rigorously and watched his diet carefully, but he never put coming in first on the altar of perfection as something to be worshiped. When his family went out for pizza, he went along and had a few slices. This man came in ninth place at the same competition as the first bodybuilder. After the awards were handed out, he walked around and talked with the other contestants. He even met Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was laughing and chatting and enjoying the entire experience.

Only the top three contestants received any sort of prize money or endorsements, so both of these men earned the same amount (nothing). But the second man walked away with so much more than the first. For him, the entire experience, not just the first-place trophy, was the goal. He sought excellence versus perfection in the competition.

It’s tempting to look at perfection and believe you must pursue it, or else you’re lazy. Stepping away from perfection doesn’t mean your life needs to be less. To stop striving for perfection won’t leave an empty void in your life.

When I made a conscious effort to stop, I was afraid. I didn’t want to be sloppy or open myself to criticism from others. After all, if I’d worked that hard and still fell short, what would happen when I stopped striving for perfection?

I was surprised to find that the room in my brain and heart previously filled with my slave master’s cruel dominance wasn’t replaced with fear and shame. Instead, when I put my efforts toward caring for other people, my brain and heart were filled with understanding, love, and lots of grace.

Pursuing Excellence

Now I put all of my energy, efforts, and resources into striving for excellence. Please hear me out. You might be rolling your eyes and dying to tell me that perfection and excellence are the same, and that I’m caught up in word play. You couldn’t be more wrong.

Where perfection is a slave master, excellence buys freedom. It’s a lifelong achievement, not a single moment in time. It’s the difference between what you learn over the course of your entire education versus how you do on a single test.

Perfection is wrapped up in how things appear and how other people perceive you, while excellence is about how things are done and what you truly are at your deepest level.

Perfection is about doing something right; excellence is about doing the right thing.

Perfection repels, while excellence is a magnet.

The definition of ‘perfectionism’ is “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.”[2] How unrealistic and ultra-demanding! There’s no way to go through life as a perfectionist and feel anything other than worthless the vast majority of the time. However, the definition of excellence is “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.”[3] Much more attainable, isn’t it? I can’t be perfect, but I can be unusually good. I can surpass ordinary standards.

One of the greatest benefits to pursuing excellence is how it allows you to handle failures. Perfection holds up failings and rubs your nose in them. You won’t be allowed to forget shortcomings and must be motivated by fear, guilt, and shame.

On the other hand, when failures happen while you’re striving for excellence, you can learn from them and allow them to help you grow. While they aren’t exactly welcomed, they are expected. I will fail in everything I try on some level or another. It’s not shocking and debilitating when mistakes come along because I’m a human being and I mess up. I might need to apologize, rethink things, and do some soul searching, but I can forgive myself and move on.

Excellence is also a habit, and it has no limit. Perfection is the glass ceiling, and it’s exhausting. A perfectionist either spends all his time climbing toward the top of the mountain, or he’s failing in his attempt. Excellence, however, sees the opportunity to improve life with every step. There is no one to compete with; no one is superior. If I run a race and do my best and come in fourth, I can be happy with myself. A perfectionist, on the other hand, might do the best they can possibly do, come in fourth, and feel like a failure because they fell short of the winner.

My best isn’t my neighbor’s best. Boy, is that a freeing thought! I know there will always be someone out there who is better, faster, more attractive, and smarter than I am. When I’m in excellence mode, I see those people and feel happy for them. They might spur me on to try new things, but if I never reach their level it’s okay. I stop being jealous of them. I no longer feel superior to those who aren’t on my level. You tried your best and came in tenth place? Way to go! Let’s celebrate. I came in fourth place—do you want to train together? I can show you my workout routine, and you can show me yours. Maybe next race we’ll do even better.

So strive for excellence! You will never be left feeling “less than” or like you failed. Instead, you will experience contentment and joy in your and other people’s achievements, and you will be free.

Everyone Can Be Excellent

Perhaps you’ve been reading this chapter and know for certain you are a perfectionist—you’re driven to absolute perfection. You might even be on the other side of the pendulum and find perfectionism repulsive. Maybe you had a parent who drove you toward perfection and you’ve spent your life rebelling against it. Maybe you just don’t have the need to try that hard. Perhaps you’re so beaten down by life that you can’t bear the thought of even attempting perfection.

Here’s the good news about excellence: it’s for everybody. No one can be perfect, but everyone can be excellent.

Consider where you are in life right now, wherever that is. You might be struggling to jump-start anything, or you might be speeding through life, hitting on all cylinders. Wherever you are on that spectrum, you can be excellent right where you are.

Ultimately, freedom is found in excellence. It truly is. Every single step I’ve encouraged you to take so far is summarized in being excellent. Choose excellent words. Pursue excellence by listening well. Be motivated toward excellence with your unstoppable “whys.” Live excellently so that you enjoy the feast. Live the dash with excellence. Expecting greatness from ourselves leads us to live a life of excellence.

Perfectionists only find value in themselves based on what they do. People of excellence find value in themselves based on who they are.

Striving for excellence means going out and touching people’s lives, encouraging them to be their best, and being boundlessly grateful. Perfection is so single-minded and finite. Excellence increases and multiplies when the people around us are also excellent. It’s eternally significant, while perfection is entirely forgettable. Excellence draws people in, while perfection drives people away.

Choosing Excellence

To check whether you are pursuing perfection or excellence, ask yourself two reflection questions: First, did you give your best? Second, did you give your all? You might think that these are the same question, but they aren’t. I can give my best and not give my all or vice versa. These two simple questions help me to determine if I’m living a life of excellence, and they will help you as well.

As you go through your day, keep asking yourself, “Did I give my best? Did I give my all?” If you can answer yes to both, you are chasing excellence. Other people’s reactions and opinions don’t affect your excellence. If you gave your best and gave your all to a project that turned out to be a flop, you still contributed excellence. If you gave your best and gave your all to your family when you arrived home from work—even if your spouse had a bad day and the baby was fussy—your family was better for it, and you contributed excellence.

Excellence is a firm and fair taskmaster. If you begin to feel in bondage to it, you are likely sliding toward perfection and need to stop and reassess. If you are unwilling to attempt excellence, you already know what life will be like because you’re living it. When you find that you are unhappy and know that life needs to change, circle back to excellence. Ask yourself if you are giving your best and your all.

God is important to me, and He fits into this discussion about excellence over perfectionism in profound ways. We can work toward excellence, but in and of ourselves, we aren’t capable of achieving perfection. Only God is perfect.

God’s Son, Jesus, came to earth and led a perfect life and died in man’s place. He now offers His perfection to replace man’s failures, but each person must reach out and take it. God can’t have anything sinful near Him, which means there’s no hope for anyone outside of Jesus Christ. I have found so much freedom and hope in knowing that when God looks at me, He sees His Son’s perfect record because I have accepted Jesus’ gift.

If your heart is crying out for freedom from guilt and shame, please start looking into the Bible’s truths. They can transform your life more than anything else in the entire universe. I know because I tried just about everything, and nothing compares to the freedom I’ve found in Jesus.

I don’t have to try to be perfect. I choose to chase excellence. My family, my work, my team, and my friends are all better because of this pursuit.

So I ask you: Are you giving your best? Are you giving your all?

You’re already equipped with a personal creed and the boldness to fight off any negative speech that has prevented you from becoming who you were created to be.

Now it’s time to deal decisively with the pressure to be perfect, which is trying to enslave you and make you feel unworthy. It’s time to choose excellence.

WORKBOOK

Chapter 6 Questions

Question: What does ‘perfection’ mean to you? What does your perfect life look like? How can you make the transition to excellence starting today?

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Question: How do you handle your failures or shortcomings? How do you overcome them?

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Question: What are several specific ways in which you can choose excellence on a daily basis this week?

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Action: Pursue excellence by choosing your words carefully and listening well. Focus on your unstoppable “whys” to motivate yourself toward excellence. As you work to live your daily life above ordinary standards, don’t forget to look for your freedom—and enjoy the feast!

Chapter 6 Notes

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  • Dan Pennington on July 6, 2017, 3:48 a.m.

    So very excited for your new book John! Proud of you.

  • Edith Nowicki on July 6, 2017, 12:21 p.m.

    John, being part of one of your training's, spending a week talking and moving us to a different stage of our life, was amazing to me. I am a different person and I will continue to look for GREATNESS in my life. I can't wait to start reading this book. I am sure many people are going to change their life too. Thank you, Edith

  • Roger Nielsen on July 7, 2017, 5:54 a.m.

    Just invested into my copy of John's book Expect Greatness which is what he expects from himself and anyone fortunate enough to be one of his friends, associates, or clients.
    He has written a book that he lives which makes it that much more powerful.

  • Shawn Findlater on July 11, 2017, 7:58 p.m.

    Amazing value!!!

  • Reggie Dabbs on July 12, 2017, 7:25 a.m.

    Change the world bro!!

  • david smith on July 12, 2017, 12:20 p.m.

    Great men change lives.

  • Drew Smithson on July 19, 2017, 5:39 p.m.

    I am looking forward to receiving my hot of the press copy!

  • Stacy DeSmet on July 19, 2017, 6:56 p.m.

    I can't wait to receive Greatness from John!

  • Sean Phillips on July 19, 2017, 7:20 p.m.

    You rock John!! Can't wait to see this bad boy in hardcopy!! I will need dozens of copies then. 👊🏻❤️

  • Jason Hawkins on July 25, 2017, 10:25 p.m.

    great book...lots of wisdom

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