Tag Archives: Voyage of a Viking

Viking Leadership

Now if you have read my book, Voyage of a Viking, then you already know that there was more to these Norse warriors than the looting and pillaging helmeted guys we so often see in the movies. In fact, while there definitely were plenty of coastal raids, there were a lot more things that the Vikings did well – things modern leaders can learn from.

The more I looked over these “Viking Laws” the more I liked them, and I started thinking of some of the principles that great leaders employ as they seek to grow their businesses and endeavors.

Let’s take a few minutes to learn something from our Viking brothers

The Viking Laws

1. Be Brave and Aggressive: Be direct, Grab all opportunities – In other words, don’t be afraid to take chances. You do have to do the work to gain success, it doesn’t come to those who just sit around. What are you waiting for? The perfect time never comes.  So don’t be a whiner – instead take the Viking way, get out there and do something! It might get hard along the way (in fact, it probably will) but as the great leader Winston Churchill once said, “If you are going through Hell, keep moving!”

2. Be Prepared: Keep your weapons in good condition, Keep in shape, Choose good battle comrades – Of course, if you are going to get out there and do something you ought to be prepared. Have your weapons (products, information, tools, business cards) ready. Keep in shape mentally through reading great books and taking time to focus on personal growth.  Find people like that to be your “battle comrades” as you continue along your success journey.

3. Be a Good Merchant: Find out what the market needs, Don’t make promises you can’t keep – A great leader is out to meet needs and shows integrity and character in what he or she does. John Wooden, an amazing leader on and off the basketball court, taught his players a lot more than the game. He underscored three basic life rules – never lie, never cheat, and never steal. Living by these three simple things will assure that you are a leader people can trust.

4. Keep the Camp Tidy – This is where I have to break from my Viking comrades and say, “Nope, make a mess!”  Sometimes leadership is messy business, and to get things done you have to wade in and get your hands dirty (see Law 1). If you try to put together the perfect, tidy conditions before you get going, you will never go anywhere. Don’t fear the mess and don’t wimp out.

Now, I’m not saying just charge in a without any care, shattering anything and anyone in your way. Instead, be honest and work on yourself rather than looking around and trying to figure out what is wrong with the world, and encourage your battle comrades to do the same. That’s the only way you will grow (and the camp will stay relatively tidy).

For all that might be said about the Vikings, they certainly knew how to get things done. So grab up your own ax and helmet and start to put these laws into practice in your business. You might be surprised what successes await when you begin leading the Viking way.

Have you applied any of the Viking Laws to your business or other endeavors?

God Bless, Tim Marks

Develop Mental Toughness

Whether you are an athlete on the gridiron or in the boardroom, a certain quality is always found in the guys who remain standing when the storm winds blow.  When rejection hits these guys it bounces off them like spitballs off of a battleship.  They chuckle at groundless criticism.  They bounce back quickly from setbacks.  They feel energized to try even harder after a defeat.  That special quality these warriors are showing is something called “mental toughness”.  Wikipedia defines this as “a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders – generally describes a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.” (Emphasis added.)

Each of us will receive a gut shot at some point in our lives that knocks the wind right out of us.  It’s not a matter of whether you will be struck by disaster, but when.  In my first book, Voyage of a Viking, I describe in detail many of the challenges I faced through my life.  I’ve faced my storms and I know that I have more storms awaiting me.  I also know that you do as well.  Rather than sitting around moaning and complaining when we are being pelted by chunks of hail the size of golf balls, we can put on a suit of armor to deflect whatever life throws at us.  That suit of armor is your mental toughness.

You can’t measure mental toughness; you measure its effect.  You can’t measure what’s going on inside a leaders head, but you sure can measure their behavior!  You see it when they lose their biggest customer one month, and it ticks them off just enough to go smash a sales record the next month.    You can see mental toughness when someone is running a marathon and they are gasping for breath, and the only thing keeping them putting one painful footstep in front of the next is their strength of will.  You see it when someone is totally exhausted, yet they keep throwing hundreds of shots into the basketball hoop to perfect their free throw (like my awesome daughter Mya!).  In fact, Mya had to make 1000 free throws; in order to reach that goal, she had to shoot a couple of thousand.   She wanted to quit many times during that experience, but she had committed to a number of people that she would reach her goal.  It’s amazing how a twelve year old girl will follow through on her committment more effectively than most adults.  Mental toughness is courage in action.  When you’ve got it, you cope better than your opponents with the demands you face.

How do we develop mental toughness?  Here are a few principles to get you started:

Principle #1: Realize Mental Toughness Can Be Developed.

Some people might be born with a certain personality, like a “Choleric” or “D” personality type, and maybe this personality type handles adversity a little more effectively than others.  But that’s not always the case, and either way, anyone can develop this side of their personality.  Don’t cop out on yourself by selling yourself any victim thinking, like “That’s just the way I am.”  Brothers and sisters, you can CHANGE.  How do you build mental toughness?  The same way you build muscles in the gym: by pushing yourself to new limits and increasing the pressure or resistance you are pushing against.

Principle #2: Mental Toughness in the Gym Correlates to Mental Toughness in life.

The gym is the ultimate proving ground for “tough guys” and “tough gals”.  You really find out what you’re made of when you’re doing hack squats or leg extensions.  Most people get into the gym, start doing bicep curls, and as soon as it starts to get uncomfortable, they say, “Okay, I’ve done enough for now,” and they stop exercising.  This is actually the exact wrong thing to do, if your goal is to develop your muscles.  You see, when it starts to hurt, that’s the lactic acid burn in your muscles screaming, “Great job! Keep going!  You’re making progress!”  But when most people start to feel discomfort they choose to ease off.

You don’t become successful at anything by letting your foot off of the gas pedal when the going gets tough.  This includes the gym, your marriage, and your business.  When it hurts to do even one more rep of an exercise, that’s when the real muscle development starts!  (By the way, I’m not talking about pushing through pain when you are actually injured; I’m referring to the normal discomfort we feel when we are tearing down our muscles during a workout.)  If you throw in the towel on the bench press, you train your brain to quit when things get tough.  When you force yourself to keep pushing the weight even when you want to give up, you are training your brain to keep pushing.

Principle #3: Champions Fall in Love with Discomfort

Winners know that the path to success is steep and rocky, and the path to defeat is like a sign pointing at a waterslide that says, “Slippery, Fun and Easy to Reach the Bottom in a Jiffy!”  Bad habits are easy to slip into, like a warm bed when you’re exhausted.  Good habits are pretty much guaranteed to feel tough for most people because you end up denying yourself luxuries and pleasures. You must learn to do what is uncomfortable for you. To develop the psychological edge, you must have extreme discipline to give up the comfort zone that you train and live in. Delaying immediate satisfaction is the ultimate sacrifice that all warriors must choose.

 Become a champion and develop mental toughness in your business, your health, your relationships and in life!

God Bless, Tim Marks

 

“Voyage of A Viking” Reveiw

Voyage of a Viking book coverMany thanks to Oliver DeMille for his kind review of my new book, Voyage of a Viking.

 

Years ago I gave a speech at a business convention. I’ve done a lot of these, so I don’t remember every detail or venue, but several really stand out as memorable. On this occasion, the big arena had many thousands of people, but due to construction there was only way to the stage and we had to get there early and sit on the wing of the temporary stadium stage with all the speakers for that session. A construction boss walked us all through together to ensure that we were safe and avoided the danger areas.

This turned out to be a real blessing to me, because the speaker who shared the session with me changed my life. He spoke just after me, and because of the special construction circumstances I had to stay after I spoke and listen to what he had to say. I think if I’d had been scheduled after him I would have been busy thinking about my own speech and not listened closely to his message. Thankfully, I was highly motivated after my speech, and I listened carefully to every word he said.

He started by saying that nearly all his important lessons in life had come from his struggles, failures, mistakes or losses. He was a fan of golf, and talked about how every golf mistake he made taught him how to be a better golfer. He related this to life and business losses, and discussed at length how he was taught in school to avoid mistakes and focus on the lessons of success—but how real life had taught him exactly the opposite.

It was a moving speech. He had us all pencil out our 5 biggest losses and mistakes in life, and then helped us brainstorm at least three major lessons we should have learned from each. That’s fifteen top lessons, and he assured us that these lessons were some of the things we most need to achieve our goals in life. I was mesmerized, instructed, and moved. The speaker was right: my fifteen lessons have been invaluable to me.
I went away deeply touched by this speech. I have seldom listened to a speech or read a book that was so genuine, so real, so deep, and so powerful. Until today.

Today I read a book that struck me the same way this speech did. Voyage of a Viking by Tim Marks is a must read for anyone who cares about success and leadership. It will apply to moms, dads, mentors, professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and everyone else. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I read the book straight through from the beginning to the end.

I was touched, moved, motivated, instructed. I cried. I read quotes to my wife, and later to two of my kids. I found myself taking notes about my own life, and making plans to be better. This book is incredibly real, genuine, and powerful.

Marks admits that not everything in Viking history should be emulated, but he emphasizes how much we can learn from the positive Viking traits, including such things as yearning for freedom, being courageous explorers and connecting communities. He teaches how the name for the modern Bluetooth comes from the Viking king “Bluetooth” Gormsson of AD 958, a great builder of bridges (literally and figuratively) between communities. This concept of bridge-building is still much needed in all facets of modern leadership.

Marks shows how another Viking trait worthy of emulation is bullheadedness, which combines initiative and innovation with tenacity and ingenuity. Together these form the base of the great entrepreneurial values—they are also the de facto values of the great free societies in history.

One of the most moving things in this book is Marks’ view of what it means to be an adult, a leader, and a man. In many ways this reminds me of one of my favorite authors—Louis L’Amour. Some prestigious universities were criticized a few years back when they began using L’Amour texts in great literature courses, but this didn’t surprise me. Some of his works are, in fact, truly great.

As a youth, one of my favorite pastimes was reading L’Amour. My dad was a school teacher by trade, and my mom was an English teacher for both high school and college, but our family ran a farm with croplands as well as cattle, sheep, horses and other animals, and a lot of my non-school time was spent working with my dad and brothers on the farm.

In later years, after I became an author, my brothers made it a standing joke to laugh about how often they’d be in the middle of a farm project (hauling hay, moving wheat into bins, building fences, shearing sheep, exercising the horses, etc.) only to notice that somehow I’d slipped away from the work and was nowhere to be found—I was nearly always high on haystack in one of the barns reading books by L’Amour or some other author. Marks’ Voyage of a Viking book would have fit right in.

This is a book about life, what it means to live a good one, and how all of us have to overcome our challenges if we want to make a positive difference in the world. In my book The Student Whisperer, which I wrote with Tiffany Earl, I wrote about the “desert” or “wilderness” that all leaders must pass through on the path to any success, but I have never seen it more effectively described than in Voyage of a Viking. This alone is worth the price of the book.

But there is so much more. Marks’ thesis sums up what this book, and in fact all success in life, is all about: “Define what you want, learn from someone who has gone before you, and then do it for the glory of God.” Right on. It is full of profound gems. For example: “Being humble doesn’t mean you think less of yourself—it means you think of yourself less,” and “We can judge how good we are as students by how fast we implement our mentor’s advice.”

Perhaps the most powerful thing about this excellent book, as I mentioned earlier, is that it is one of those rare contributions to success literature that shows how our losses, struggles, setbacks, mistakes, and challenges are some of our most important teachers and mentors. A lot of books tell us to make lemonade out of lemons or see the silver lining in things, but this book shows us how this works—in real life, in the face of real obstacles, in our own experiences. As such, it is literally a must read.

Leadership is about wisdom, and Voyage of a Viking is a profoundly wise book. There a few wisdom books every leader simply must read, like Corrie Ten Boom’s Tramp for the Lord, Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, or L’Amour’s The Last of the Breed. And, of course, there are a few truly wise business books, such as The Radical Leap by Steve Farber, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis, Johnson’s and Blanchard’s Who Moved My Cheese?, among others. And who can forget Goleman’s Primal Leadership, or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey? Tim Marks’ Voyage of a Viking fits right in to this list.

As Marks himself says about this book: “This is a no-holds-barred discussion on the speed of the leader determining the speed of the group.” This book is fun. It is about finding yourself as a leader by dedicating your life to serving others, and it is about the adage, as articulated in the foreword by Orrin Woodward, that example in leadership isn’t the main thing, it’s everything.

I’m still applying those 15 lessons I penciled out years ago as I listened just off stage, and I know that many years in the future I’ll still be re-reading and applying the things I learned today in Voyage of a Viking. It’s a truly great book. So do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on this great contribution to leadership!

Oliver DeMille is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, Leadership Education, The Student Whisperer, The Coming Aristocracy, Freedom Shift, and other books on freedom and leadership.

 

To read DeMille’s review of Viking on Amazon.com and to add your own, click here.

God Bless, Tim Marks

Live on Results Food

Voya of a Viking bookHard work and consistent effort are important parts of success, but they are nothing without results. At some point a winner has to stop being satisfied with “activity food” and start craving “results food.” I examine with this idea in my new book, “The Voyage of a Viking,” due out in April. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

God Bless, Tim Marks

At the heart of winning comes a hunger to succeed. Something inside us craves a big victory. There has to be a gnawing, aching feeling in your gut that things must be made right for us to feel content, and that we’ll get out there and “do what it takes”. This is a pretty noble feeling and I applaud people with the guts to try. But trying is not enough.

 

I once heard about a motivational speaker who invited an audience member up onto the stage to help him demonstrate a point. On the stage was a fold-up chair. The motivational speaker pointed to it and asked the volunteer to “try to pick up the chair.” The man looked puzzled at the request, because this seemed like a pretty easy request! The man reached over and picked up the chair.

 

The motivational speaker said “No, no, no, I’d like you to try to pick up the chair. Don’t pick it up; I want you to only try to pick it up.”
Confused, the man picked up the chair again, and once again the speaker said, laughing, “No! Don’t pick up the chair; just try to pick up the chair. You keep doing it wrong! You keep picking it up! I want you to just try to pick it up!”

 

This went back and forth a few more times with the volunteer getting increasingly confused and frustrated. Finally, the motivational speaker said: “To quote Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back, ‘Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.’”

 

Missing a goal hurts inside. If someone has a gnawing aching feeling in their gut that demands that they succeed, the pain is too great to ignore. We must feast on some sort of food to try to get rid of that pain. But the type of food that satisfies us is a big key to what happens next. You see, if we just simply “try hard” to reach our goal, if we feel ok about running around, only being busy, then we are attempting to satisfy ourselves with what I call “activity food.”

 

A winner eventually loses his appetite for mere “activity food.” There comes a point when people who become successful find that “activity food” starts to taste pretty bland; it lacks any nutritional value in the diet of achievement. We have to reach a point where we get sick and tired of simply working hard, and getting nothing to show for our effort. We are on the path to success when we are no longer satisfied with “activity food”; but instead we crave “results food.”

 

Robert Fritz said, “All too often people fail to focus their choices upon results and therefore their choices are ineffective. If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” These are great words of wisdom. We have to decide to be satisfied, not just with effort, but with results.

If We Aren’t Humble, We Will Be Humbled

My mentor, Orrin Woodward, says leaders should value excellence over ego. I couldn’t agree more – in fact, I’m convinced that humility is an essential quality of a great leader.  I included a section on humility in my upcoming book, The Voyage of a Viking. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

God Bless, Tim Marks

 

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke, 14:11, ESV

 

Defeat can be a blessing.  Many times it is.  Defeat forces us to face reality and admit our weaknesses.  If we are in the process of becoming a leader, defeat is used to prepare us for that responsibility.  It’s better to make a mistake leading a small group of people and improve yourself then, rather than NOT learn the lesson and make that same mistake when you are leading a large group of people.

 

Maybe we are harsh with people, as I was and sometimes still have to be on guard against. Maybe we are disorganized. Maybe we are moody, or unpleasant to be around. Maybe we are negative. Whatever we need to improve, defeat usually has a way of pointing out our “area of opportunity.” As Tommy Newbury says, “We often don’t realize it, but we frequently come face to face with the exact obstacle we need at just the right time to sharpen us where we need it the most.” Hopefully, we can swallow our pride, admit we need to grow in a certain area, and say, “I need to overcome this weakness.”

 

One area of character that defeat really helps us manage is arrogance and pride. If we aren’t humble, we will be humbled – count on it! I know when I started having fast success in building my leadership business I made the mistake of “reading my own press clippings.” I listened to those who were praising me and cheering for me, and I started to get a big puffed up chest, thinking I was “all that and a bag of chips.”  Well, God corrected me on that one pretty quickly by causing my business to slow down until I faced my arrogance. In fact, any time my pride has gotten out of hand, He sends me a gentle little reminder to knock me back into place.

 

I’m amazed at how we struggle with arrogance and pride, because a lot of the time we look pretty goofy to the people around us. It might do us some good to stop trying to look good all the time and just come down to earth. C.J. Mahaney, author of Humility: True Greatness, suggests one way to manage pride. He says, “First, play golf as much as possible.  Yep, golf. In my athletic experience, I don’t think there’s a more difficult or humbling sport. Rather, humiliating – because if you play at all, you know all about those shots that result in laughter from you partners and humiliation for you. No one escapes them.” I think we could all benefit by loosening up and allowing ourselves to look silly more often.

“Viking” Sets Sail in Early 2012

Viking ShipJust a few days ago, my mentor and friend, Orrin Woodward, posted an announcement on his leadership blog about a soon-to-be-released book.  I’m also excited to add my confirmation that The Voyage of a Viking, which chronicles my own journey in leadership and many of the things I’ve learned along the way, is due out early next year. Orrin graciously agreed to write the forward, which you can read here.  I have posted the article in its entirety below.

God Bless, Tim Marks

_______________________________________________________

Tim Mark’s new book The Voyage of a Viking, is to be released early next year. I had the honor to read a galley copy and write the foreword. Although expecting excellence, since Tim accepts nothing less from himself, this book surpassed my highest standards. I found myself laughing then crying, inspired emotionally, and finally, thankful that I know such a man and leader. Chris Brady and I routinely remark at Tim’s ability to constantly improve himself and he has done it again! Here is the foreword that I wrote for his upcoming book. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

In today’s age, many people blame others for their non-productive lives, proclaiming themselves victims of society’s mistreatment. Tim Mark’s early life had all the signs of qualifying for victimhood, with one extremely important difference, he refused to go along with society’s labels. Tim’s near legendary success today – tens of thousands of people within his leadership community; keynote speaker in front of tens of thousands of people, loving husband to his beautiful wife Amy and father of four wonderful children – can easily overshadow his humble beginnings; which is why Tim’s new book, The Voyage of a Viking, is part autobiography, personal development, and leadership, all married into one.

In the book, Tim first shared his life story. I found myself pulling for young Tim as he explained some of his struggles with schooling, parent’s divorce, and latch-key childhood. Tim’s inspiring stories of dreams, struggles and victories will move millions of others to action who started out on the “wrong-side of the tracks.”  It’s so easy to see the finished product, but not realize the arduous journey taken in order to achieve it. Few people have overcome as many obstacles in so short a time. So many lessons are taught through his stories that I found myself in awe of Tim’s overcoming spirit and God’s redeeming grace.

Second, Tim shares the key principles of personal development which helped him in his journey from viking to victory. I have had the honor of mentoring hundreds of leaders over the last eighteen years, working with Tim for the last twelve years. No one that I personally mentored moves from problem identified to problem solved as quickly as Tim Marks! In fact, Tim’s ability to confront issues and change is directly related to his humility. Instead of defending his ego and sacrificing excellence, Tim chooses to defend excellence through sacrificing his ego. The lessons he teaches on his viking journey will enhance everyone’s life.

Lastly, Tim captures the essence of leadership – example. Tim lives the 13 principles that I share in my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. Remember, example is everything in leadership, it’s the only thing. Tim leads by example in everything that he does, whether it’s through encouraging the downhearted, loving the unloveable, courageously confronting, or celebrating others victories. Tim started out as a student of  leadership but has now graduated as one of the best teachers and examples of leadership in America today. Moreover, I find I learn just as much from Tim as I teach because of the man of grace he has become. Not to mention that he has become one of my best friends and a person whom I trust unconditionally.

Tim and Amy Marks story should be shared around the world. At a time when heroes are nearly an extinct species, their story displays that with courage and the right principles, heroic lives are still possible. Don’t just read this book. Devour it. Choose to live and lead with the principles in this book, becoming another example of what God’s grace can do in a person’s life. What are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to start you start your learning voyage through the Viking’s life and leadership?