Do YOUR Best

“We’re all absolutely equal in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have.” –Coach John Wooden

Coach Wooden is considered by many to be one of the leading coaches of all time.


To do your best is part of the purpose of life. Plan for it and persevere. Focus on your capacities to serve more than comparing yourself to what others have or have not done.



Achievable Resolutions

To Plan, Decide, and Act to Achieve, Improve, Solve, Change, Transform

I developed this 7-Step Method to help my seminar students who often set the same “New Year Resolution” year after year. Both they and I have done better identifying priorities and taking action.

7 Steps to Set a Resolution that increase your chance of success:

If you answer these seven questions as an outline for your plan, you will boost likelihood of success. You will better internalize the results you seek and why you should follow through, plus have a plan that helps you invest enough time to give you a chance to succeed. Research—mine and others—suggests over 50% of people quit on resolutions, most within one month.

  1. Mission (Purpose)
  2. Vision & Goals (Desired Results)
  3. Solutions (Strategy that could work if implemented)
  4. Motivation (Results if you succeed, if you quit, why you should persevere)
  5. Choice (Decision on if the resolution results are worth the time and resources)
  6. Systems and Structures for Success (Create automatic actions for success)
  7. Assessment and Accountability (Integrity and feedback)

Main reasons for failing:

  1. Lose focus on the result, benefit, and commitment felt at the time of setting the resolution. There is science behind the benefit of writing your resolution result and plan plus reading regularly to remember and internalize.
  2. Never truly get started because they do not plan for the hours and times to invest, which includes appointments with self and others, plus identifying what to reduce to make time for the new priorities. If you need 5-10 hours per week to get something done and do not plan for or implement that time commitment, most fail and often never know why. This often requires new habits or at least re-defining balance for awhile. An Olympic athlete or a working professional going back to school at night for a few years usually chooses to invest more time in the bigger goal and less time in less important activities like excessive tv, social media, or hanging out (note: “excessive” because some of those can be good unless it gets excessive and shifts from good renewal to excessive escapism). The average person spends over 20 hours weekly watching tv—the dedicated Olympian or parent going to school to make a better life makes better choices—at least until the resolution is completed.

Stories of Succeeding using this Method:

Writing books. Col. Stretch Dunn (USA Retired, 1943-2017) and I wrote two books, Professionalism Under Stress and Patriotism in Action, on time and budget using my 7 Step Method. We used the plan template to outline what we wanted to do, why, and how, then decided together and signed the accountability partner agreement. If you want to keep a promise, ask a West Point graduate trained in doing “the harder right” to be your partner😊. If you have a big enough “why” and internalize the importance to you and others you value, plus outline a plan with potential to succeed, then persist, you can do most anything.

Graduating school. I finished my doctoral dissertation and graduated a year faster than most in my class mainly because I realized early on I needed to invest more hours in the main thing that final year–research and writing on my dissertation. Like most students, I felt motivated and busy though an honest assessment of how I was spending my time motivated me to make changes in time priorities that made the difference.

Stopping bad habits. A grandmother attended my weekend workshop. She confessed, she had tried to quit smoking for years. Question 4 helped her finally succeed: Motivation. She wanted to live to see her grandchildren graduate school. I suggested she post a photo of her grandchildren on her mirror and ask daily, which is most important: “my grandchildren or my cigarettes?” She grinned at the suggestion, paused, thought, agreed, then she quit smoking. She internalized her big “why” and that made the difference.

This and more content are provided for you in the planbook. To see or print a complimentary copy of the planbook you can use to outline your goals for the 7 Areas of Life, plus plan an achievable resolution:

7 Steps to Set Achievable Resolutions

Courage to Dream

Many of us hold back, sometimes unconsciously, on pursuing dreams–because of fear. We sometimes dwell on possible negative outcomes like failure or embarrassment.

Seminar students often say, they stay in their “comfort zones” too much because of “what people might think” if they tried something special. They also admit they hesitate instinctively when seeking goals outside their comfort zones.

When that happens, we need a bigger vision, a “why” to expand thinking, actions, and expectations. When we expand expectations of ourselves, that expanded vision becomes part of our new comfort zone, which our instincts will strive to fulfill.

Fear of embarrassment is a self-induced barrier. We sometimes let the fear of what people will think if we try and fail hold us back. But, the truth often is, they likely admire us more if they see our courage to try and persist through adversity. 

What percentage of the time will you succeed if you do not try? 

Consider the people you admire–they likely have tried, failed, and kept trying to fulfill ideas in which they believe, even if others could see their flaws and failures. You likely admire their courage. Success stories usually include recollections of desire and dedication–not successes at goals requiring little effort or risk.

Follow the example of those you admire. Allow yourself to try and sometimes fall short as you give yourself more chances to succeed as well as grow capacity in courage and commitment.

Just do your best, learn and improve from failures and successes, and enjoy the freedom that comes with courage.

May you PLAN and LEAD your LIFE and share with others. –David

Source: adapted from an excerpt in Suggestions for Successful Living: Positive Ideas for the 7 Areas of Life by Dr. David Dyson (1994). Author web site:

Break the Anger Addiction



Many people seem to be addicted to anger.

The addiction often means a person will first focus on complaining, venting frustration, and creating drama…instead of focusing on a solution to the problem with a reasonable level of confidence that most problems can be solved or, at least, situations improved.

When a challenge arises, do you focus first on the solution or feel negative feelings that you have another problem?

Two examples

When working with Veterans Making Comebacks (from homelessness using caused by responses), I learned many got there because of mindsets that led to addictions, sometimes including drugs or alcohol, though almost always including a tendency to feel bad or negative at life’s circumstances. Many who assessed themselves as addicted to stimulants often also admitted some form of tendency toward anger. Some responded to their bad feelings by escaping into drinking or fighting with family (arguments mostly) of fighting with fists (often a bars with other angry men)–or numerous other ways to avoid their situations mentally.

Most I met who faced PTSD, moral injury, or pains associated with re-entry into civilian life either ended up stronger emotionally or they stayed in a state of “broke down,” at least for awhile. One of the determinants of the path taken is the choice or propensity to “think solutions” or “focus on failure.”

Another fresh example is, I tried to help a man fix a problem logging into an account using his computer. Technical support kept trying to help me help him though for the first four tries their system kept declining the newly set password. So, four times I advised we needed to edit the previous password by at least one number or letter to try again. Each time, instead of answer the request, he created visible signs of anger, repeatedly asked how many times had he “given them a new password,” and even spoke, “this stuff can give me a heart attack.” The obvious answer is to just help with the solution. Complaints or heart attacks don’t help. This man has formed a pattern–it is more comfortable to “melt down” than “stand up” with a little “courage” and “cool wits.”

Here’s a simple strategy to help: add this sentence to your Life Plan or Life Constitution–When faced with problems or stress, I… [fill in the sentence as your best-self would.] Read it out loud daily for as long as you need to replace old patterns of anger “acting out” with instinctive responses that focus on making situations better instead of worse.

You can do this if you become aware of your vision for yourself and your actual behavior and use the difference to motivate you to better thoughts and actions.

Plato and Our First Victory

“The first and best victory

is to conquer self.”


Best-Self Leadership is the first best practice to plan and lead in life. –David

7 Best Practices for Life Leadership Continuum and 7 Areas of Life Pyramid

Dyson Life Leadership Model 1987 Gold

To prepare students and professionals to do their best requires teaching and rewarding learning and development in Best-Self Leadership.

Definite Purpose+Burning Desire

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”

Napoleon Hill, author of The Law of Success and Think and Grow Rich

To identify one’s calling not only provides greater clarity on purpose but also gives us a greater sense of calling, which means better inspiration, direction, action, and, more likely, results. Planning should be more than to do lists and long-range plans. The process of planning can help us identify our purposes.

Plans help us improve “definiteness of purpose” and “knowledge of what one wants” plus adds fuel to our “burning desire.” Once we understand our purposes and possible results while creating the vision, we will be more likely to persevere and less likely to let disappointments hold us back.

Investing 1% of our time in planning adds significance to the other 99%. The 1% can help us focus on better priorities and feel more inspiration to take action.

Napoleon Hill, as a young journalist interviewing Andrew Carnegie, learned common denominators of doing our best exist, make a difference when learned and implemented, and should be taught at home and school, as well as places of work and worship. Often they were not taught or used (in many schools and other key places, still not taught, which we can fix). Plan for School and Life Initiative

Carnegie saw Hill was inspired and offered to introduce him to scores of the world’s most prolific people, including U.S. presidents, business leaders, and scientists such as Thomas Edison.  Hill studied and compiled their common denominators into a list of principles and practices published in essays and books.

If you read more of Hill’s work, you will see his emphasis on writing your “definite purpose” and internalizing it as a key to building desire and action. This process and plan can become a great source of motivation, habits, accountability, and results.

My research and coaching affirms, people with an “A” awareness of calling and choices are much more likely to demonstrate “A” level of “courage” and “commitment.” Without a plan, courage, commitment, and confidence average “C” level, which holds people and their organizations back. In most cases,”A” or “B” is attainable and should be developed.

I first read Hill’s books as a college student in a summer job selling Bibles door-to-door. The ideas plus the summer experience planted the seeds of my calling to help people learn and use best-self leadership. Hill’s work influenced mine and is a reason why I emphasize so much to students, professionals, and families alike that we should write plans to help us discover purpose, focus, and internalize what’s most important.

May you Plan and Lead your Life, David

10 Habits Of Mentally Strong People

 I read this article about “mentally strong” with interest for two reasons: the habits align with best practices and lessons written by Col. Stretch Dunn and me in our book Professionalism Under Stress; and, my colleague and friend of 25 years, Stretch, died unexpectedly a few days ago. The reminders of demonstrating “grit” when you don’t feel like it encouraged me today so I share them with you.

Habits of mentally strong people (summarized from the article):

1. You have to fight when you already feel defeated.

2. You have to delay gratification.

3. You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again—without even flinching.

4. You have to keep your emotions in check.

5. You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make.

6. You have to trust your gut.

7. You have to lead when no one else follows.

8. You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb

9. You have to be kind to people who are rude to you.

10. You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what.

You are invited to read the article expanding the habits by Dr. Travis Bradberry

May you Plan and Lead your Life as your best-self.


P.S. Focus now on your priority callings and relationships.

Thanks, Stretch, for showing so many people what it takes to be a “true professional.”


Cowboy Up + Hard Work + True Professionalism = GRIT

2017-01-27-11_03_47-photos2017-01-27-11_06_53-photosProfessionalism Front Cover

Lead your Life is the #1 best practice to Plan and Lead our Lives (1 of 7).

Is your Mindset optimistic and action-oriented or do you feel entitled or defeated?

Is your instinctive response to tough situations: complain or think solutions?

Most of the time, to change our results, we need to improve or even change the way we think. Those who envision, write plans, and mentally rehearse do better.

My resolutions include at least one for developing my capacities. How about you?

May you Plan and Lead in Life, David

Expand Capacities to Increase Freedom

Einstein inspires these thoughts and actions about “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures”:

  1. In addition to doing daily activities and tasks, we can grow more by intentionally planning and preparing for expanding our capacities.

How would you like to change in the way you think or behave toward others?

What characteristic is holding you back?

Which one is good that could be even better if you focused on making it a strength?

Have you listed your important goals and resolutions to inspire your improvement?

You can add to your goals for the 7 Areas of Life at least one for the Personal Area to think of a way you would like to improve in the way you think or act and the Social Area to identify a way you could improve relationships. Visualize your better or best-self. Write a goal or result. List an action that could succeed. Ask and answer why this is important to you and others (what will happen if you take action and what will likely happen if you don’t?). You likely need all of these to focus on the end result and to keep you moving instead of stay on the path not leading you to your desired journey.

Consider the man who admitted he had “anger issues.” Three marriages. Three divorces. Distant relationships with ex-wives, the new one, even children. Improving this characteristic is more than daily living and wish lists. It almost always requires intentional action inspired by a big reason to choose a better self.

Let us remember, If nothing changes, nothing changes.

He had a choice to make: stay in a comfort zone of beliefs and acceptance, I am a “hot head though after the blow up I am over it and don’t mean to hurt anyone…they should know that and get over it.” Keep telling yourself that and keep getting the same results. Or, widen your “circle of compassion” and your capacities to think and behave differently. Is it worth 1% of your time, about 10-15 minutes daily to improve your plans, actions, and results?

2.  “Compassion to all living creatures” means treating dogs, cats, horses, and most others with respect and care. Enlightened people treat living creatures about the same–humans and animals deserve respect for their purposes. Those who hurt animals when no one is looking or for entertainment likely will hurt or cheat people when no one is looking. Just because what is “legal” has not caught up with what is “ethical” is not justification for people to behave badly.

Have you ever realized you were doing something you thought was okay because “everybody was doing it” and decided it was not okay? I have, too. When bad things are done to other people or to animals, sometimes it is done by people with bad intentions though some people of good intent do bad things because they have not been taught well or they have not yet figured out “right” on their own. Many children learn right and wrong as they mature though too many older adults still suffer–and cause suffering–because they are too lazy or too overwhelmed to include improvement in their daily lives.

A few minutes of daily reflection on plans, actions, and results can save us and others from excessive heartaches as well as increase joys and successes.

May you Plan and Lead your Life, David


Courage to Try creates Confidence

To lead our lives means we need to be aware of when we talk ourselves out of taking action on a calling. My research shows people who have written their plans for callings and choices are much more likely to take action because they develop higher levels of commitment, courage, and, eventually, confidence.

Lead your Life and Plan for Life are steps #1-2 to achieve #3, Have an Impact. Because, we can only have impact if we take shots.

May you Plan and Lead in Life, David