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Ken Keller: Keeping yourself motivated

Posted: March 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Ken Keller Ken Keller
Ken Keller

One challenge of being a business owner or holding a position of leadership is keeping motivated.

Many years ago I had the pleasure of learning about Brian Tracy. Brian is a self-made millionaire. He did not graduate from high school and in his early twenties had limited career prospects.

His one passion was travelling and with friends he launched himself on a trip from British Columbia to South Africa. Once arriving in France the goal was to make the rest of the way by bicycle.

The trip was a disaster from the start. It was difficult, expensive and dangerous. The bicycles were soon abandoned and replaced by taking trains, ferries and walking. Just before landing in Africa a Range Rover was purchased but it was constantly breaking down.

The key to completing the journey was making it across the Sahara Desert. It was a very close thing; Brian and his one remaining traveler made it across with no time or water to spare.

This trip was a turning point in Brian’s life and he recaps it in talk entitled “Success is a Journey” which is available on

At the end of his talk, Brian recaps the life-long lessons he gained from this journey. He says that it took him years to understand the value of what he learned.

He begins by saying that “everyone has a Sahara to cross” in their life; perhaps several. These events are times of great personal difficulty, decisions involving family, business, health, life, death.

Brian suggests that during these “dark nights of the soul” it is important to fall back on the time-tested lessons that sustained him and help to make him the success he has become.

It starts with making a decision or setting a goal. Brian said that the act of setting the goal to go to South Africa sustained him many times when he wanted to quit. He became a fanatic about goal setting.

As two friends left and returned home, he came to understand that quitting is a habit, one that he did not wish to acquire.

Brian came to embrace the concept of “always forward, never backward.” He was always moving toward his goal, even if it was small steps.

Taking action is critical. In Brian’s case, it was getting a job and saving money for the trip. He worked along the way and sold unneeded supplies and equipment for money.

Brian knew that he would never be in a position to start and complete the journey any other time in his life. He stayed focused by mentally comprehending that “the only time you have is now.”

As the journey progressed, Brian repeatedly met people intrigued by his goal, but also tried to talk him out of it. He gained a certain amount of stubbornness and then proceeded to “avoid the naysayers.” He learned that he preferred to “fly with the eagles.”

Almost daily Brian dealt with a lack of money, poor health, bad weather and dangerous situations. Each of these obstacles appeared to instruct him, not obstruct. He learned from each one so that when it was time to cross the Sahara, he was ready for it.

Brian understood the need to “be clear about the goal but be open to changing the plan.” The goal never changed, but what happened to accomplish the goal did.

To this day, Brian understands that “no one does it alone.” He remains grateful to all those who helped him along this life changing event, whether they helped to fix a flat tire, provided a meal, or allowed him to work in exchange for a place to sleep.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with small and midsize business owners to grow top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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