Winning Friends, Influencing People

I am often asked what books or people influenced the most in my life. There are so many books, quotes, poems and stories that have changed my thinking and helped form me to become the person I am now. There are however only a few books that I return to almost every year when I feel that I need to review the lessons written on those pages. I just finished re-reading a classic by Dale Carnegie, a book that has been read by countless leaders and influencers over the past eight decades since it’s original publication. If you are looking for one of the most powerful and useful books ever written, read How to Win Friends and Influence People. The lessons are timeless and applicable no matter who you are. It is a textbook on how to communicate with others and influence others to your ways of thinking. At the end of each chapter is a recap about the lesson of that chapter. I have listed those principles below because I believe they may help others. For more in depth stories about how these principles have been used throughout history, you will have to read the book in its entirety. Enjoy… and take notes.

How to Influence Others
1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Making People Like You
1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
2. Smile.
3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

Win Others to Your Way of Thinking
1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying, “Yes, yes” immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
8. Try to honestly see things from the other person’s perspective.
9. By sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader:
1. Change people without resentment
2. Begin with honest praise and appreciation.
3. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
4. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
5. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
6. Let the other person save face.
7. Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement.
8. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
9. Use encouragement. Make the faults seem easy to correct.
10. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

Advertisements

Perspective During the Holidays

Things To Keep in Mind This Season

I love the Holiday Season as a time for reflection on the past year as well as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. If I’m being honest, I could do without the cold weather and smoky fires and Christmas trees (I have asthma and all three of these aggravate the condition.) I remember countless Christmases and New Years being sick as a kid. In fact, I’m sick while writing this. All that said, I still get overjoyed and excited around this time of year because of the spirit of giving and love. I love seeing children go to church to celebrate their religion and learn about giving to others. I also love giving children presents and watching their eyes light up as they open their gifts. However, I know the Holidays are not all positive for many, including myself. Even with all the issues I personally have with the Holiday Season, I look forward to it all year. I know others do as well, despite the fact that millions report stress and anxiety during this season. To keep stress at a minimum, there are some things I like to remind myself of during this time of the year. I’m going to share them with you in the hopes that it helps you realize some wonderful experiences.

The Power of Anticipation/ Momentum- While most tend to take their foot off the gas and coast through the Holidays and into the New Year, I use this time to anticipate the coming year to really work hard so that I can build momentum heading into January. This is especially true with my physical training and business preparations. Being in the fitness industry, it’s vital that I build momentum heading into the New Years because those who join the gym during before the end of the year are more likely to stick around after those who didn’t realize their New Year’s resolutions drop off. I also like to kick up my training a notch so that I’m able to use the extra food I consume at parties to build muscle rather than store fat. By increasing the intensity of my training, I also have more energy for all my employees and family. Momentum is very important although most underestimate how valuable it can be. Use the Holidays to build momentum and absolutely drive pedal to the metal into the New Year.

Unrealistic Expectations- I have been guilty of having unrealistic expectations of what Christmas and New Years should be like and have suffered disappointment when my expectations were not met. I think that so many of us are like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation; we have a grand vision of what should happen during the Holidays and how it should happen and then catastrophe occurs because we become so attached to this vision. Now, I’m not usually one for lowering standards, but trading expectation for appreciation is really the key to happiness during this time of year. If we are more appreciative of the time we have with family and friends and less attached to the expectations in our mind, I guarantee less stress and more positive feelings.

What’s Under Your Control- Along the same lines as having unrealistic expectations, it’s important to remember, as always, what is under your control and what it not. You may fall ill during this season. If that happens, it happens! It’s not in your control any longer. You may wish there was a different outcome, but that will not affect the reality of the situation. You also may not receive the present or bonus you wanted. These are also not in your control. Certain family members may not be present at your get-together. Again, this is not in your control. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you act to external events. Therein, lies a big choice. You can choose to be happy and appreciative despite what is happening, or you can let yourself be overcome with stress, grief and disappointments. How? You can always choose to use reason. That is under your control. Everything else is not.

The Importance of Your Health- The stress of the Holidays, the financial stress, the stress of expectations, and the physical stress due to poor food choices and excessive alcohol consumption are very real. Heart-related deaths increase by 5 percent during the holiday season. Fatal heart attacks peak on Christmas, the day after Christmas, and New Year’s Day, according to a national Circulation study. People may also tend to put off health care during the holidays, leading to potentially fatal situations. My advice? The holidays are a time to enjoy the health of you and your loved ones, not ignore it. ‘Tis not the season for gluttony and alcohol abuse. Enjoy the treats and parties, but remember that health is a very serious thing. We tend to forget this until we experience a near death experience or have a family member pass away. Don’t ignore your health this season. Improve it.

What Is Really Important- Lastly, remember what is really important about this time of year. Faith, family, friends, traditions, health- these are all the things that should be celebrated during this special time, not material things. I love to give as much as anyone, but I realize now the most important thing I can give is my presence not my presents. (I know that’s a cliche, but indulge me.) I will say there is one caveat to this; if your family or work parties are not conducive to improving your spirits and health, as in they are blanketed with negativity and excess libations, I suggest it best to skip them and focus on reflecting over the past year and planning where improvements can be made. This may sound harsh, but in the end, you are the most important person in your world because you are the only one in control of you! So make sure the Holidays bring out the best version of you so that you can be a joy for others.

So there you have it. These are the five things I like to remind myself of during this time of year. I think it’s important to reflect them so that the Holiday will be filled with positive emotions rather than negative ones. The Holidays, like another other time of the year is what you make them. I hope this season will be the best one yet for you and your family and loved ones.

In Health,

Sean

50 Reasons To Be Proud

50 Things I Am Proud Of

Sometimes when you are battling with negative thoughts and problems in your life, it helps to remember all that you have accomplished and all the obstacles you have actually overcome. I’m making this list to remind myself of what I can do when I put my mind and body into action. I suggest that you take the time to do the same. You may just find that you are actually quite amazing if you would just see clearly. So here we go, 50 things I’m proud of.
I’m proud that:
1. I found and incredible woman to be my partner in life.
2. I have always been curious to found out what makes others successful.
3. I have learned a great deal and taken massive action towards reaching my goals.
4. I graduated college without debt.
5. My wife never stops trying in our relationship or business.
6. My children are so smart and well liked.
7. I have made incredible friends.
8.I became a professional athlete with the help of friends and family.
9.I was instilled with a sickening work ethic from my father.
10.My father made me write an essay ever day.
11. I have been able to read over 25 books a year for the last 5 years.
12. My wife and I have been able to travel and experience so much.
13. I have successful businesses that have made me a great deal of money.
14. I have been able to utilize reason and philosophy instead of drugs to get through problems.
15. My immediate family is very close.
16. I have been able to avoid medications for my autoimmune disease without side effects.
17. I’m still so in love with my beautiful wife.
18. My wife and rarely have disagreements or fights.
19. My family has multiple sources of income
20. I’ve made good investments decisions.
21. I’ve had the courage to try new things and learn from my mistakes.
22. My parents have stayed married longer than most couples do.
23. I have turned weak body parts into strong ones.
24. My kids are so loving and kind.
25. My wife and I have started our own traditions.
26.My wife has become an incredible athlete.
27. I have been able to build a company that people see as valuable.
28. I never let my mind focus on what I could not do.
29. I’ve been determined in various areas of my life and achieved what I set out to do.
30. My family comes together to help others.
31. I have been able to train myself to learn new skills and use those skills in the marketplace.
32. I have not let my genetics or disabilities hold me back from doing what I want.
33. I have a wife who makes me want to be a better man.
34. I have a relationship with more passion after 13 years than when it started.
35. I achieved millionaire status by age 25.
36. I’ve lived an incredible life.
37. My kids love learning and being creative.
38. I have surrounded myself with people who want me to do well.
39. My family is always willing to help others.
40. I have not been jaded about humanity despite seeing evil in others and myself.
41. Despite not liking school, I graduated college on the honor roll.
42. My sisters found good men to share their lives with.
43. My friends are all successful in many areas of their lives.
44. I have made an impact of others lives through sharing my knowledge.
45. I have been able to expand my businesses from one to many.
46. I have written extensively on various subjects.
47. I have been able to clear my mind from stress and anxiety with reason and philosophy.
48. I have read and studied history a great deal and have been able to apply its lessons.
49. I have free time to spend with those I love.
50. I have people who love me in my life.

What are you proud of? Let me know.

Sean

What You May Be Lacking

What’s the most important thing in life? Money? Family? Love? I’ve often said in my writings that personal philosophy—a set of guiding principles—is the biggest determining factor in the quality of your life. I’ve said this for years, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized what truly underpins the development of philosophy and fulfillment. I have had more personal development this year than in the last 10 years. After really focusing on why, I’ve come to the realization that I discovered the most important thing in life, and took advantage of it. So what is it?

The most important thing in life is the relationships we develop with others. Simply put, our associations with others develops in us our philosophy, sense of fulfillment, joy, frustration, depression, ecstasy, anxiety, fear—nearly every emotion we experience as humans stems from our interactions with other people. Humans are social creatures. The reason we have survived so long as a species against larger, more powerful creatures, against the forces of nature, against disease, is because of cooperation and the development of language and communication. We tell stories and write about our experiences and discoveries so that other generations may learn. The length of human existence will depend largely on the harmonious relationships that can be sustained.

This is also the case with all our individual lives. The quality and harmony of the relationships we build will affect the quality of our lives more than any other aspect of life. This year I have been lucky enough to develop incredible strong relationships with people that have solidified my faith in others and myself. These relationships have also led to incredible experiences that have helped transform my philosophy towards life. All of this has led to an increase in fulfillment in my day-to-day experiences because I am grateful most of the time. Before I focused more on expectation. Today I focus more on appreciation. And that has made all the difference.

So, my advice would be to get out in the world and develop quality relationships that serve you and shape you into the person you’d like to be. Look for honest, gracious and humble people that you admire. Look for mentors you can learn from. Don’t just look in your local area. Relationships can by built across the world today, something not possible even just a few decades ago. Look for people you can be in harmony with, so that you may work together to build something greater than yourselves.

P.S. Don’t allow just anyone into your life. Make sure they have your best interest at heart. Even if you’ve known someone for years, make sure they fit your criteria for a harmonious relationship.

In Health,

Sean

How I Turned Pro (In 5 Steps)

On the left: How I looked seven months prior to earning my Pro Card.
On the right: Earning IFBB Pro Card at the USA Championships.

It may or may not surprise you that one of my dreams as a kid was to be a professional in sports. I think that most kids, especially boys, share this dream. There were a few problems that I realized would keep me from fulfilling this dream. The first was that I have been plagued with severe asthma since I was one year old. I spent a great deal of my childhood in and out of hospitals and on various medications for breathing. Another obstacle that stood in the way of me becoming a professional athlete was that I was a small, skinny kid. My hand-eye coordination was great, and I was fast, but I lacked the mass for football and the endurance for most other sports. In my eighth grade year, I began lifting weights pretty seriously with my father and I was able to gain significant strength. Then, in ninth grade, I made the wrestling team. This sport actually suited me well because I was short and a little stalky. Not long into the season, however, I developed severe back and hip pain. I struggled with this pain for two years, all the while popping ibuprofen like candy.

After I graduated high school, I was misdiagnosed with RA, rheumatoid arthritis. I was prescribed Percocet, Darvocet, and a steroid to keep the pain under control. I nearly became addicted to these compounds. To say that I walked around like a stoned zombie would be accurate. Not only that, I stopped lifting weights. After losing lots of muscle tissue and feeling miserable most of the time, I decided to go back and see a specialist. This time, Holly, my girlfriend at the time and now my wife, went with me. The doctor properly diagnosed with with AS, ankylosing spondylitis, a form of reactive arthritis that attacks the joints and organs. People with this specific disease actually carry a genetic marker, HLA-B27. The recommendation of the doctor was that I stop exercising and begin immunosuppressive drugs along with chemotherapy drugs to lower my immune system and reduce the pain. After hearing this news, along with seeing how sickly the people in the waiting room were, I decided to completely ignore his advice and embark on a journey of health and wellness. No drugs. Lots of weight training and exercise. I would also try to identify foods that were making me feel bad. I knew that most autoimmune diseases are at least exacerbated by poor diets. This led me to becoming a personal trainer and opening my first full-service health club at 24 years old. In 2008 I competed in my first bodybuilding competition. I won my classes as a novice bantamweight and open lightweight. I did two more shows in 2009 and 2010. I won the lightweight class in both of those shows as well.

After 2010, Holly and I decided to focus on the business and start a family. I’m happy to say we have been very blessed with two kids and a successful chain of health clubs. In 2017, my wife Holly decided that she wanted to push herself to do a figure show. I researched a great deal to find her a coach that I thought would be a good fit and she took Holly on as a client. After two weeks of watching Holly’s body transform, I decided that I wanted to test the water again and see if I could make a return to the stage. I reached out to IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Jon De La Rosa, who has long been my favorite bodybuilder after watching him turn pro at the USAs in 2011. Honestly, I was nervous that he wouldn’t take me on as a client because I wasn’t in contest shape and I only had nine weeks to pull it all together. But on April 1st, 2017, after putting in the work and giving it our all, my wife and I competed together at the Governor’s Cup in Sacramento. She took second in her class in her very first show (and many had her winning the show). She look absolutely amazing and I knew that she had a bright future. I also won the lightweight Bodybuilding division and the new Classic Physique (classic bodybuilding) A Class, under 170 lbs. Right away my wife called her coach and told her she wanted to do the NPC USAs, just 13 weeks away! I agreed to continue on with her and compete then as well.

Long story short, Holly got sick and was forced to pull out of the show, but I was able to carry on and earn my Pro Card, becoming a professional athlete. My childhood dream had been fulfilled and the best part was that my kids and coach, (now one of my very best friends) Jon De La Rosa, were present to watch me earn pro status. So how did I do it? A weak, sickly kid with arthritis and asthma?

HOW I TURNED PRO IN FIVE STEPS:

  1. I first assembled a great team around me. I had my wife, kids, parents and my amazing coach. As Jim Collins says in the book Good to Great, “First figure out who belongs on the bus. Your team. Then you can figure out where the bus is going.” I didn’t know I’d be turning pro this year, but I assembled the right team to do so first.
  2. I trusted the people on my team. When push came to shove and I had to cut carbs, change my training style and add more cardio, I didn’t complain. I did the work as prescribed, knowing that my team cared about me and had that best plan for me. This is very difficult for most people and quite frankly, honest, caring coaches who are qualified and hungry to see others do well are very rare. So, I was lucky in a way.
  3. I believed in myself. If there is one trait that I have that has made me successful in any way, it is my capacity for faith, or belief, if you will. I have always had faith in myself, and those around me, that the best possible outcome will happen. I have never doubted my abilities. I don’t consider myself cocky, but I see obstacles as more of a challenge. Having beaten AS and asthma, I love a good challenge. A Napoleon Hill said, everyone has the capacity for faith, but most are using it in reverse gear and getting the things they don’t want in life, the things they fear. I agree. Have faith you can get what you want and then take massive action to get it.
  4. I had a clear vision of exactly what I wanted and desired. Clarity and focus are crucial to achieving anything. I firmly believe that most people don’t know what they want in life so they resign themselves to boring lives of quiet desperation. In the days leading up to the shows this season, I would meditate and read to control my mind and focus it on my outcome. I think that outcome-focused people avoid becoming problem-focused people. The biggest drug in the world isn’t in pill form. It is problems. We become addicted to our problems because we focus on them instead of what we actually want our outcome to be.
  5. I let fate take its course. This may sound counterintuitive considering the previous four steps, but the truth is that some things are outside our control. This is especially true in the bodybuilding world. It’s a subjective sport where opinions matter, not facts. While this may be difficult to handle, the truth is we live in a world where bad things happen to good people, the best don’t always win, and terrible things occur. Paying too much attention to things outside our control is a sure-fire way to depression and dissatisfaction. Instead, as the Stoics believed, I spent all the time and effort I could doing the things that were in my control and I let fate take it from there. That doesn’t mean settle, by the way. I’m simply saying that we should identify what we do have control over and what we don’t, and spend all of our energy on the things we CAN control!

So there it is, my long journey to becoming an IFBB Professional Classic Physique Bodybuilder. If I’m being honest, it’s still a little unreal. I’d like to thank all my family and friends again for their support. I’d like to thank my clubs, Fitness System, for being the best place to train in California. I’d urge anyone looking to have an incredible coach and human being in their life to look at http://www.jondelarosa.com to find out about his services.

And above all, I’d like to thank my wife Holly and kids for sticking with me through this journey. There will be more adventures to come.

In health,

Sean Covell IFBB PRO