Failures, struggles and setbacks are not only an inevitable part of life but a necessary step on the path to success. Speaker, coach and podcast host Jim Harshaw shares powerful stories to empower his clients and audiences to overcome their own challenges and achieve success – despite their inevitable failures.
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3 Key Points:
- Failure is inevitable.
- There is a process to success.
- Failure is the road to success.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:59] – Jim was a wrestler and learned most of his big lessons on the mat. He has four kids and lives in Charlottesville, VA
- [02:09] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Jim grew up around elite performers and olympians and was an olympic hopeful himself. He also had the opportunity to be around millionaires, billionaires and high performers. He has a podcast called Success Through Failure and discovered through his interviews that there is a replicable process to create success
- [03:08] – Jim also discovered the process through his own personal experience and is glad he is able to share it with other people
- [03:48] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Every wrestler’s dream is to be a Division 1, All-American, and this includes Jim. From his freshman to junior year he failed to get in and finally made it his senior year to achieve his lifelong goal.
- As he grew up, he had success as an athlete and became a Division 1 head coach and was an Olympic hopeful training at the Olympic Training Center. He started to build a business, sold it and then started another one, and that business failed…
- [05:10] – Jim was in the worst stage of his life with his business failing; he had debt and was having relationship problems with his wife and kids
- [05:26] – One night, Jim was looking for a job when he asked himself how he was able to create so much success at one point in his life and then got to the point where he was just failing at everything?
- [06:11] – Jim realized there was a process he could use to create success
- [08:20] – Jim realized he was failing because he had forgotten the process and everything was out of balance
- [08:54] – Jim regained clarity, focus and the balance he had when he was an elite athlete
- [09:49] – JLD asks Fire Nation to think about their core values — what do you stand for? Let that become your guiding light
- [10:27] – Who are the people holding you accountable?
- [11:07] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: I realized I could take this process, turn it into a business and actually help people with it
- [11:25] – Jim also did a TedX talk called Why I teach my children to fail, and he did this because he had the goal to improve his public speaking skills
- [11:45] – Jim started the podcast and taught people the process
- [12:35] – The TedX talk stemmed from the idea of Jim’s own failure, but the core concept is that failure is a necessary step on the path to success
- [13:22] – What are you most FIRED up about right now? – “Sharing this system. Sharing this process”
- [13:45] – Jim knew he had a message that resonated with people and he is also fired up about his podcast
- [14:05] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – The belief that “I was supposed to get a job”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Do every little thing you can to get an edge. Outwork everybody and pay attention to the little things because those things are going to separate you from everybody else”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Doing a productive pause”
- Can you share an internet resource, like Evernote with Fire Nation – Google Documents and Google Drive
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – How to Win Friends and Influence People
- [17:46] – Do the productive pause
- [17:56] – Connect with Jim through his website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Jim: Let’s do this, JLD.
John: Failure, struggle, and setbacks are not only an inevitable part of life, but a necessary step on the path to success. Speaker, coach, and podcast host, Jim Harshaw shares powerful stories to empower his clients and audiences to overcome their own challenges and achieve success despite their inevitable failures.
Jim, take a minute. Fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Jim: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean I learned most of my big lessons on the wrestling mat. I was a Division One, All-American, ended up being the youngest Division One head wrestling coach in the country for a spell. And just surrounded my – I was surrounded by Olympians, and national champions, and elite performers my whole life. So, I had this sort of amazing experience growing up that I’ve been able to replicate into the real world.
But in addition to that, I have four amazing kids, ages 3-11. Live in Charlottesville, Virginia, from Pittsburgh originally, which is the home of the – the religion of the Pittsburgh Steelers, so go Steelers.
John: Oh, is that a football team?
Jim: Yeah. Yeah. They’re pretty decent.
John: Oh, okay. I’m a Patriots fan, so we have a hard time sometimes.
Jim: No, let’s not even talk about it. [Inaudible] [00:01:09] can you edit this part out of this report?
John: Done. So, Jim, I kinda wanna talk now about your area of expertise. Because we just talked about how you were a wrestling coach and, of course, a great wrestler. And now you’re doing a lot of things on the success circuit. So, what would you say the one area of your expertise is and then break down for us, Fire Nation, something that we don’t know about this area of expertise that we probably should?
Jim: I mentioned that I grew up around these elite performers. There’s something about being an athlete and performing at a high level and being around Olympians. And I got to train at the Olympic Training Center. I was an Olympic hopeful.
So, between my experience around elite performers there and then my experience in athletic fundraising, I’ve been around just millionaires and billionaires, and just high performers, and entrepreneurs and successful people. And through my own podcast, I have a podcast called Success Through Failure, and just interviewing astronauts and again, billionaires and just other elite performers, I’ve discovered that there’s this process, this replicable process to create success that I think most people just really struggle with the clarity on, on what’s next for them.
Well, there’s an actual process that you can go through that I’ve discovered that all elite performers have in some way, shape or form in their life. And I’ve discovered that through my own experience, personal experiences and then through these experiences of elite performers. But since I’ve discovered that, it’s just been an incredible time sharing that with other people and applying it to my own life initially, but also sharing it with other people. So, it’s been a pretty fantastic journey, all said and done from [inaudible] [00:02:50] to nuts. From beginning to now.
John: So, in a nutshell, what is that process?
Jim: Yeah. It really started from probably my worst entrepreneurial failure.
John: Well, then let’s just go ahead and dive into what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment, but make sure we’re definitely gonna be highlighting the process that you’ve created –
John: – [inaudible].
Jim: We’ll zoom out briefly real quickly. So, my experience as a Division One All-American wrestler started with – it was failure, failure, failure, it was all these failures, right? And my goal at the national championships when I was in college was to be a Division One All-American. It’s every wrestler’s dream to be a Division One All-American. It’s actually statistically harder for a high school wrestler to be a Division One All-American than it is for a high school football player to make it to the pros.
So, it’s a big deal to get there. And there’s 100,000 people throughout the three days of this event, 15,000 people per session. And my freshman year I failed. My sophomore year I failed. My junior year I failed. And finally, my senior year, I made it. I beat the fourth ranked wrestler in my country and got my hand raised and I achieved my life-long goal.
So, fast forward 15 years and I’m out in the real world and I’ve had this history of success. And I created success as an athlete. I went on to be a Division One head coach. I was an Olympic hopeful, trained at the Olympic Training Center. Started a business from scratch, sold that successfully. Started another business and that business failed.
And so, when I finally came to the realization that this wasn’t going to work with this business, I had a failed business, I had debt up to my eyeballs, and my relationship with my wife was just not healthy, not strong. I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids and I was in the worst physical shape of my life. And I had this moment of like, “What’s going on?” I was the guy who worked really hard and created success, and now, here I am with sort of everything is broken in my life.
And I was scrolling through Craigslist looking for a job and I remember one evening, so I was scrolling through Craigslist, I closed my computer, I go upstairs and I lay down in bed. My wife’s already asleep, and I’m laying there thinking, like, “How could I create so much success at one point in my life, and then get to this point where I just have failure in every area of my life?”
And as I lay there, I just was trying to replicate, how do I replicate the success that I’ve had before into the real world and into my life now?
And at that moment, literally that moment, it was like a camera lens slowly coming into focus where I realized there was a process, right? There was this process that I used to create success. And I started noticing it in other people. And I said, “There’s something to this.” And the process was this: No. 1, all elite athletes have this and I had this. They have core values, right? They have something that’s important to them. They have a reason to do what they’re doing, okay? That’s bigger than them. And it may be because you like the attention you get as an athlete or you like the comradery or you like to work on focus goals. Whatever it is. So, I had these core values that drove me.
And then the second piece was this and it’s a four-step system. And the second piece is this: I had goals that actually aligned with those values. Because most people, what happens is they get out in the real world and they have some certain things that are important to them and then they have goals, but they don’t align. Right? They’re totally separate and they start chasing after things because that’s what the media tells them that they should chase after. Or they look at their next-door neighbor and the car that’s parked in their driveway and they start chasing goals that aren’t important to them.
And that’s where they struggle. That’s where they struggle with clarity. And people talk about balance and not having balance in their life. It’s because they don’t know what their values are and they haven’t built goals on top of those values. So, they don’t have goals that actually align with what’s important to them.
So, I had those when I was an athlete. And then I had what I call “an environment of excellence,” right? I had a coach who kicked me in the rear end when I needed it. He picked me up when I needed to be picked up. I had teammates. I held them accountable, they held me accountable. I had sports psychologist, I had a nutritionist, I had a strength and conditioning coach. I had all these things in my environment that manifested success.
And then the fourth step is I had a plan for follow through. Okay? And for me, at that point was No. 1, I was on scholarship, so I had to keep pushing because otherwise I’d lose my scholarship. And No. 2, if I lost on Saturday, my coach would be, “I’ll see you tomorrow at the workout. See you Sunday.” So, I had people holding me accountable and I had this follow through system.
So, I realized I had none of this, John, in my life now. And that’s why I was experiencing all this failure. I felt so out of balance. My health, my fitness, my relationships, my goals, my finances, everything was out of whack. Everything was out of balance. But when I realized there was this process, I was actually able to recreate this into my life and find success. And now I own multiple real estate properties, have a successful business. I ran a half marathon not long ago. I’ve got a healthy relationship with my wife and kids again. So, everything’s back in balance.
So, I have this clarity, this focus, this balance that I had when I was an elite athlete and I’ve replicated it into my life now. And that’s this process that can be replicated into your listeners’ lives.
John: Okay. So, it starts with core values, it ends with the follow through. So, just real quick, just go bang, bang, bang, bang for those four. Starting at the top, run through it.
Jim: No. 1: Core values. Gotta know what’s important to you. No. 2: Goals. You have to have goals that align with those values. No. 3: You have to have an environment of excellence. You’ve gotta surround yourself with the right people. Read the right books. Listen to the right podcasts. Turn off the garbage you can listen to and watch on TV. And then fourth is that plan for follow through. That plan to execute when things get hard, when life starts pulling you in a million different directions, you have to plan to execute through that.
John: Wow. Let me just tell you, Jim, you are a brother from another mother. And Fire Nation, you know this because that’s something that we continuously harp upon here on EOFire. No. 1, it’s gotta be something that’s bigger than just you. Like, what is your core value? What do you stand for? Yes, you’re gonna have struggles throughout that, but if you can always go back to your core value, that’s your North Star, that’s your guiding light.
And then, of course, goals. That’s why I created the Freedom Journal, so you can sit and accomplish your No. 1 goal with that focus in 100 days in an environment of excellence. What are you doing right now, Fire Nation? You’re with Jim. You’re with myself. We are two of your people that you’re hanging out with today. And as Jim Rohn says, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So, we’re two of the five so far. So, keep up that heat.
And then, of course, follow through. And that’s gonna come with surrounding yourself with the right people, having the right mastermind. Having that coach that Jim had, says, “See you tomorrow.” Who’s the people that you are meeting with on a consistent basis that know you and your business intimately, that are holding your feet to the fire? That is key, those four steps. Apply them to your life, Fire Nation.
Now, Jim, shift. Because we’re gonna talk about an “ah-ha” moment. That obviously, laying in bed, having that camera focus like moment was a huge idea, a huge “ah-ha” moment. But you’ve had a lot of these ideas throughout your life. That’s why you’ve achieved the level of success that you have. Give us a story of one of your greatest ideas that you think would resonate with Fire Nation, so that we can see how you turn that idea into success. Tell us that story.
Jim: I’ve been in business for quite a long time. I’ve been an entrepreneur. And even being as a head coach, you’re kind of an entrepreneur. And when I realized that I could take this process and turn it into a business, I could actually help people with it, that was a huge moment for me. And so, I actually applied to do a TEDx talk. And everybody can Google my TEDx talk and it was called, “Why I teach my children to fail.”
So, I did that TED talk and the only reason I was able to do that was because I had a goal of improving my public speaking skills. And I signed up for Toastmasters. So, I did the TEDx talk and then I started the podcast and I started helping people, and teaching people, and sharing this process.
And when I learned that I could turn this process into a business and actually help people, but also help myself and help my family, and make the world a better place at the same time, it was this big moment of revelation. I’ve seen a lot of people do this type of thing before. And for me, to actually create that’s been just a lot of fun. And a fun journey and it was a big “ah-ha” moment for me.
John: So, your TEDx, “Why I teach my children to fail” obviously was probably somewhere between 15-18 minutes. I know that’s usually the average. But give us a one or two sentence sum up. Why do you teach your children to fail? And Fire Nation, of course, on the show notes page, we’ll link to this TEDx talk so you can go watch it there. But just the meat and potatoes, Jim, why?
Jim: Yeah. So, the TEDx talk about why I teach my children to fail was – it really stemmed from this idea of my own failure as a wrestler and how that eventually translated into success. But the core concept there is failure is a necessary step on the path to success. When we look at successful people, we look at you, John. We go, “Oh, everything’s easy for you. Everything’s easy for JLD. The success just comes easy.” We just see people standing on the podium. We see the successful entertainer up on stage. We see people on TV. We see success, but we don’t realize that their failure, and struggle, and setbacks, and adversity all along that path. And that’s really the core message of my TED talk.
John: Love that. So, Jim, let’s kinda fast forward to today. What are you most fired up about right now?
Jim: It’s about sharing this system, sharing this process. Because when I share this process, I’m impacting the world in the way that I’m supposed to impact the world. Through this TED talk, I know it really resonated with a lot of people. People started hiring me to speak without me soliciting that. And I knew that I had a message the resonated with people.
So, I’m fired up about sharing the system. I’m fired up about sharing my podcast. And I’m fired up about sharing that message.
John: Well, I am fired up about the lightening round. So, Fire Nation, don’t you go anywhere. We’re gonna take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors.
Jim, are you ready to rock the lightening rounds?
Jim: Let’s do this.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Jim: I mean really the only thing holding me back from an entrepreneur is, like you, I was supposed to go out and get a J-O-B. I was supposed to get out and – go out and get a job. I went to the University of Virginia. It was the No. 1 public school in the country. And I got two degrees. I got a master’s degree and I was supposed to get a job. And I did that. And I had a pretty unique job in that I was a college wrestling coach.
But I did. I went down that path, but always knowing that I wanted to be an entrepreneur deep down. And that’s really where that all came from.
John: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Jim: It had to have been from my dad. My dad never went to college, construction worker, hardest working person that I know. And he’s always said, all the way through my wrestling career, all the way through my life, he’s always told me, “Do every little thing you can to get an edge. Out work everybody and do all the – pay attention to the little things because those are the things that are gonna separate you from everybody else.”
John: Yeah. I love the comment of you always can control on variable, Fire Nation: how hard you work. What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Jim: I call it the “productive pause.” And it’s actually this core habit, this master common habit that I’ve realized that all my guests have done on my podcasts. I know you do this type of thing. This is based on the Freedom Journal, the mastery journal. I did this when I was an athlete. The most important one hour that I ever spent in my entire wrestling seasons was the hour that I spent sitting down with my coach and planning. So, the “productive pause” is planning, it’s goal-setting, it’s meditation, it’s journaling.
It’s all these things that take you off the treadmill of life and help you actually plan so you’re working on the right things. And I define the “productive pause” as a short period of focused reflection around specific questions that leads to clarity of action and peace of mind.
John: I love that, the “productive pause.” In fact, I always have a word of the year and my word for 2017 is “Think.” I just want people to step back and think.
Jim: That’s it.
John: I mean so many people go through decades of their lives just filling it up with this busy, this meaningless, this shallow work, when man. If you just think, you go back, you could just have that one idea to go deep and you’re off to the races.
Now, Jim, let’s talk about an Internet resource, like and Evernotes, that you think Fire Nation could rock.
Jim: Yeah. I tried Evernote and it never really stuck for me. But I think the most underrated resource on the Internet, John, is Google Documents and Google Drive. I use that for everything. It’s my Cloud storage, it’s my document storage, it’s my document sharing. It’s where I keep notes. Anywhere I’m at, whether – any computer I’m at, any device I’m on, and I know Evernote does the same thing, but Google Docs, so many more people use it. So, you can share it, you can have two people interact on it at the same time. I use it for my clients. We use it for sort of a shared journal. So, I think Google Docs and Google Drive.
John: If you could recommend one book, Jim, what would it be and why?
Jim: The book that I always recommend, and I know this has been recommended on your show before, is How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is the single most powerful book to help people learn how to deal with other people. Whether you’re in sales, whether you’re a parent, whether you’re a manager, whether you’re a leader, no matter what your role in life, you deal with other people. And How to Win Friends and Influence People will help you with that.
John: Jim, let’s end today on fire, brother, with you giving us a parting piece of guidance. The best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say buh-bye.
Jim: The parting piece is this: It’s do the “productive pause.” Like John Lee Dumas says, “Think. Stop and think.” And I’d love to help people with that. They can come to my website, jimharshawjr.com/fire. They can sign up for a free session with me if they wanna do their own productive pause and stop, and think. And have somebody take them through sort of a guided thinking process, so they can get clarity and balance, and get refocused on the most important goals for themselves.
So, and that’s the best way to find me, just my website, jimharshawjr.com. Or on Twitter, Jim Harshaw. Instagram, Jim Harshaw Jr., Facebook, Jim Harshaw Jr.
John: And is Jr. spelled out or is that Jr.?
Jim: Jr., yeah. Thanks for asking.
John: Got it.
Jim: Jim Harshaw, Jr.
John: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you have been hanging out with JH and JLD today. So, keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type “Jim” in the search bar and his show notes page is gonna pop up with everything that we’ve talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, time stamps, links galore. Of course, we’ll have Jim’s great TEDx talk, “Why I teach my children to fail” linked up there. So, you’ll wanna watch that. It’s pretty epic from everything that I’ve heard. I’m gonna go check it out myself.
And, of course, go directly to jimharshaw – that’s H-A-R-S-H-A-W, Jr., as Judy or JR – .com/fire and sign up for a chat with Jim. You can talk about how you can productively pause, how you can really embrace my word of 2017, which is “Think,” because none of us do it enough, myself included. But again, that’s jimharshawjr.com/fire. Go check that out. Take advantage of these opportunities Fire Nation.
And Jim, thank you brother for sharing your journey with the Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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