MindsetCEO Blog: Reflections at 60, Why I like the number zero.
Certainly, once you hit this point in your life, it is natural to sit back, relax and think more about the past than the future. I have always liked to reflect on my life's journey. I readily admit that this perspective leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction. I finally believe that I deserve the fruits of my labor. That is much more profound than being gratified with the accomplishments.
I never expected any of it. I did not expect to live a long life. I did not expect to have a big family. I also did not expect riches. These are all very worthy things. But as a young man, I did not want to think about the future. I was too concerned about living in the moment and figuring out how to meet the challenges and obstacles that I faced. I was a fighter and a survivor, not a planner!
Please don't misunderstand me by confusing my apathy toward the future with a lack of passion or ambition. I did not expect much out of life, but I always had high expectations of myself and my ability to perform, endure, succeed, and achieve. So I began to ponder what can I attribute this ambitious and successful life journey to?
First, I think it's the power of the number zero. Zero is more than a digit in big birthday years. Zero represents having nothing or starting over. I have never been afraid to start from scratch through all my startups, job changes, and a series of life challenges.
A life-long career in sales made me realize that I like beginning things, perhaps more than ending them. The sales profession is by necessity numbers-driven. But the number to focus is on is 0 and not 100. It does not matter what you sold last month, quarter, or year. You must be comfortable starting from scratch each time your sales plan comes out for the new year. I realize that I enjoy having a clean plate and the challenge of proving myself all over again. It renews me and creates a sense of purpose.
But is that enough to get the things you want in life? Surely, as any good business or life coach will counsel, you should have goals, and it's best to put them in writing so they are actionable. I never set goals to get married, buy a house, have children, or start a company. But I did all of it. I am being honest when I tell you I did not plan any of it!
At 50, I did the unthinkable, I set a goal for age 60. It wasn't to retire, I am not ready. It wasn't to pick up and move to a new part of the country, but my wife and I did that anyway. It wasn't to have grandchildren, though I am so happy to have one. No, my silly little goal after doing my first Ironman triathlon race in 2012 was to do an Ironman race each year until I did my tenth at age 60. I will be checking off number 10 this September.
That goal literally changed me. Naturally, it has made me physically healthier. But it has also changed me in less obvious but extremely profound ways. It taught me that to reach tough goals; you need to plan the work (or training) and execute the plan. With preparation, perspiration, and desire you can achieve almost anything. I learned that all my success comes from an indefatigable mental strength and a positive mindset. I have embraced the lifestyle, mantra, brand, and meme of being "The IronCEO." Thanks to a seemingly meaningless goal I set ten years ago, it has become who I am.
I have no time to rest as I am perpetually restless and always in motion. I need to channel my endless energy and passion somewhere. I already have some great ideas for my next ten-year goals. When I figure it out (which I will do soon), I promise to write it down and share it with you. In the meantime, cherish the number zero in your life and use it as the springboard to the next great milestone.
This is Alex Cooper. You can find and follow The MindsetCEO on LinkedIn or YouTube. Visit our website and book a call to see how I can help you on your journey from Founder to CEO.
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