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What’s Your GPA? (Pt. 1)

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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 goalis 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. 

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