Andy Andrews is a New York Time best-selling author and speaker whose books have been translated into almost twenty foreign languages and have sold millions of copies around the world. As a speaker and corporate trainer to some of the top companies and athletic teams in the world, Andy is always in demand. He’s spoken at the request of four different U.S. Presidents and toured military bases around the world inspiring our troops at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Andy started his professional career as a comedian and transitioned further into entertainment touring with such personalities as Joan Rivers, Kenny Rogers, and Cher. He entered the business world as an independent business owner and then started writing which eventually evolved into the various roles he plays today. Andy is husband to Polly and father to Austin & Adam and beloved by millions for his unique perspective and gift for telling stories and explaining life.
It was in the late 1990’s during his early business years where our paths first crossed. Andy was the keynote speaker at a convention with the last spot on the roster for Saturday night. He walked out on stage to audience of thousands who gave him a warm standing ovation. Once the applause died, he started into his prepared talk when someone out of the audience screamed, “Andy, tell us a story!”
Andy, somewhat startled, paused and then went in a totally different direction. If you’re a fan of his and you’re knowledgeable of The Traveler’s Gift and The Seven Decisions for Success, you know how much Andy loves the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.
According to Wikipedia, Chamberlain was a college professor from the State of Maine, who volunteered during the Civil War joining the Union Army. With no prior military experience or training, he became a highly respected and decorated officer, reaching the rank of general. For his bravery at Gettysburg, he was awarded the Medal of Honor and was further given the honor of commanding the Union troops at the surrender ceremony for the infantry of Robert E. Lee’s Army.
To experience the full story, I encourage you to read The Traveler’s Gift. The take home point is this…never doubt the significance of what one man or woman can do. As Andy explains, Chamberlain’s decision to charge verses retreating ultimately helped the North win the battle of Gettysburg and eventually the war. The Northern victory then set off a sequence of events that largely have our country operating as it does today.
Little did we know that the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain would be one of seven featured in Andy’s yet to be released The Traveler’s Gift which was eventually published in 2002. While Andy has produced a number of other excellent best sellers, The Traveler’s Gift stands alone as his masterpiece and claim to fame. Whether speaking to a Fortune 500 Company or college football team, the core principles remain the same and always go back to The Seven Decisions for Success.
I purchased The Traveler’s Gift when it was first published and have been living with its principles now for over ten years. While my original copy was print I purchased the audio version a few years ago and have listened to it more times than I can count. The specific sections where Andy teaches the 7 Decisions can be listened to or read again and again because you can always improve on these life changing principles.
Fast forward to early 2009 and I ran into Andy again in person as he was speaking at a business convention in Fort Worth, TX. Given the economic state of our country after the fall of 2008, he focused his talk on providing hope and encouragement for better times to come. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me.
As a part of the crash of late 2008, the company I was working for essentially “died”. I was in a career transition and not feeling the best due to the unrest in our economy. Andy’s talk gave me a different perspective and a renewed hope that this “storm” was but a season of life that would not last forever. As a result, I walked out of that event with more hope for the future than in many months.
Looking back this was the first in a series of three events that set my life in a different direction. With my improved attitude, I was able to land a job back in the commercial office furniture industry where I had spent the past ten years. Financially this put me back on track and moving forward in a positive direction.
The second event was meeting John Maxwell in the fall of 2010 which I wrote about here, and third would be the totally by chance meeting with one of my other significant mentors in early 2011. Stay tuned as I will be writing about Jeffrey Gitomer in an upcoming post.
These three chance meetings really caused me to take a hard look at my life. By then I was in my mid 40’s and life had not turned out as I had hoped for or expected. As mentioned earlier, I had been living with Andy’s 7 Decisions for years and yet new life was breathed into them given my strong desire for change.
The 7 Decisions – And what they’ve taught me:
Decision 1: The Responsible Decision – The Buck Stops Here
Accepting responsibility for where you are in life is a huge key to success. Good and bad things happen in life and yet you always have a choice in how you respond…especially to the challenges. The moment you place any blame on an outside circumstance, you give away your power to create change in your life.
“I understand that God did not put in me the ability to always make right decisions. He did, however, put in me the ability to make a decision and then make it right.”
This first decision was for me a key step in moving forward. To accept 100% responsibility for my life was not easy. For the positive, it was encouraging to realize that I was not bound by my past decisions and that by taking different actions in the present, I could forever change my tomorrows.
Decision 2: The Guided Decision – I Will Seek Wisdom
Proverbs 1:5 says “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,”
I have read the book of Proverbs on monthly bases since 2005 without fail and it is one of my favorite books in the bible. King Solomon was the author as he is Andy’s main character in The Guided Decision. This by far was the easiest of the 7 Decisions for me to embrace as I’ve always been a sponge for learning.
Graduating from high school or college is the bare minimum to enter the game of life. With technology changing our world faster than ever before, if you’re not intentional with your ongoing learning and personal development, you will be left behind. If you’re challenged with time, read the last of this post for a strategy that will help.
Decision 3: The Active Decision – I Am a Person of Action
While we should learn from the past, our focus should be on what we can do today which directly creates our future. Many people struggle with living in the past including dragging along the baggage of various failures in business or relationships to the point of sabotaging the present.
For me personally this meant letting go of past failures both in marriage and finance realizing that my future was not tied to either. Going back to Decision 1, I had to accept full responsibility for these failures and then let them go. I learned from them but finally accepted that my future was not bound to them.
“When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting for God. But I understand, in most cases, God is waiting for me!”
Decision 4: The Certain Decision – I Have a Decided Heart
This decision for me was all about destroying my tendency to procrastinate things that I don’t understand or that I’m intimidated by. Not understanding for me can lead to over analysis and thus further inaction. This lesson is ongoing as I have to fight my natural tendency of figuring things out before taking the first step.
As Andy teaches, the purpose of analysis is to come to a conclusion and then take action. I’ve learned that the sooner I put a plan into place and then take action, the better things turn out. Without fail, however, when I put things off, things never go as well. Solid analysis, followed by a sound plan, backed by early and consistent action for me is a much better strategy.
“A person without a dream never had a dream come true.”
Decision 5: The Joyful Decision Today -I Will Choose to be Happy
Attitude is choice and it comes from within. It is not based on outside circumstances, and it takes a daily discipline to build and maintain a positive attitude. While this was nothing new as all of my mentors teach the importance of attitude, the very nature of the 5th Decision itself is a constant reminder that it is a DAILY choice.
The following which has become a life verse for me sums up my thoughts on attitude:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Decision 6: The Compassionate Decision – I Will Greet This Day with a Forgiving Spirit
This may be the hardest of the 7 Decisions from an emotional standpoint because you may have to deal with potentially hurtful situations that have existed for years.
Ephesians 4:32 says “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Luke 6:27 says “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,”
What I know is that forgiving a person for a past grievance can actually benefit you more than them. You will experience the freedom that comes with a tremendous weight being removed from your shoulders. In contrast, a failure to forgive is to harbor a “root of bitterness” that like acid will eat its container (your heart) from the inside out. And that’s no way to live.
“I realize today that it is impossible to fight an enemy living in my head. By forgiving myself, I erase the doubts, fears, and frustration that have kept my past in the present. From this day forward, my history will cease to control my destiny.”
Decision 7: The Persistent Decision – I Will Persist without Exception
In my experience, persistence will trump talent day in and day out. Wasted talent is commonplace as many people are gifted at birth and yet fail to develop to the point of realizing their full potential.
For me, the 7th Decision is a reminder to have a long term perspective and one of my favorite examples is the compounding penny. If you’re not familiar, look at the following chart:
At day 10 you have $5.12 which which is where most people give up. At day 20 you have $5,242.88 which is an improvement but still not a lot to be excited about. However at day 30 you have $5,368,709.12 which is amazing.
The most important point to remember is this…the math never changes. It’s the consistent daily effort that creates the power of the compounding effect. If at any point, you skip a day, you destroy and or delay the compounding.
That is why it’s so important to keep a long term perspective with regard to goal achievement. There will be days where you feel like you’re making no progress or even going backwards. Persist, persist, persist, and if your plan is solid, you will reach your goal.
“For me, faith will always be a sounder guide than reason because reason can only go so far—faith has no limits. I will expect miracles in my life because faith produces them every day.”
Closing Thoughts for My Readers
Andy continues to be a blessing in my life right up to today as I’m finishing this post. His weekly podcast which comes out on Saturdays around Noon Central is always good and today was one of his best. My goal with this post is to pay tribute to Andy. Beyond his excellent books and other resources, if you have the opportunity to see him live, don’t miss it. You and your family will be blessed as a result…I promise.
Next up in my Mentor Series: Jeffrey Gitomer