This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Positive Mental Attitude
e all have problems every day, and every day's problems impact on the way that we live and enjoy our lives - or not enjoy. The problem arises when our problems take over and shadow the enjoyment of our lives. Just to simply say to yourself "let's be positive" does not always do the trick and seldom has the desired long term effect. One thing that we have to keep in mind, is that a negative feeling toward our life will show - not only in our actions, but also the way that we look. The old saying of " you were born with a face, but you earned the way your face looks at forty " is very true - as all your experiences will be reflected on your face when you reach this age. To live in an "attitude of gratitude" as advised by Anthony Robins, is not a bad idea, since we all seem to take so much for granted, without being grateful for it. Life does not owe us a living, and there are no guarantees that our lives are going to be without a hitch, so it is best to open your eyes in the morning with the idea that life will throw things at you, for no rhyme or reason - and that you will have to cope. You are not singled out for problems - they just simply happen - and need to be attended to - so to spend time, effort and worry about why it happened is time and energy wasted. Life should be seen as a game of "snakes and ladders" where you will have to learn a lesson when landing on a "snake" - because unless you learn the lesson you will have to repeat the same lesson at a later stage. When you land on a "ladder" it is time for you to move ahead - and be grateful for the fact that you have passed a test. Should you ever look around and see people with "perfect" lives - have a closer look - because never mind how "perfect" a life - there is always a problem or two in the background - and it is your ability of coping with these problems that will determine if you are successful or not. So the bottom line is - make the most of your life and do not allow everyday problems to get you down - never mind how difficult it may seem at that moment all problems are temporal (my word = things are temporary) - and need to be placed in context.
I'm constantly learning from the popular media -- movies, books, newspapers. Over the years, I've learned a lot -- and I have to admit, that I don't seem to be learning as much from movies as I used to; perhaps I'm seeing the wrong movies. Anyway, when contemplating this week's topic, I was reminded of the line in the Billy Crystal flick, "City Slickers." Billy gets his mojo, so to speak, from an old cowboy, who tells him the meaning of life: "one thing." The key of the movie -- and I heartily recommend it if you haven't seen it yet -- is that for each of us, there's one thing that will lead us to being a success. And yet, for most of us, we often do everything but that one thing. Earl Nightingale, in one of his "Our changing world" programs, talked about this very thing. Many of his most interesting observations are contained in the tape series "The Essence of Success," but Nightingale-Conant also put the programs into an excellent hardbound book. Let me quote from it: "We get what we expect from life. If we expect more, and plunge in after it, we'll get it. If you want to turn your dreams into reality, you're going to have to take a chance. There's no playing it safe." It's really simple, but it's something we don't usually follow: the greatest success you are likely to have is doing something you are good at doing. "The great question," said William Shakespeare, "is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure." That is the great problem that keeps most of us from success -- we learn to be content with failure. Oh, our failure may not be the full-blown, bankruptcy and ashes style of failure, but it's failure nevertheless -- simply because we chose to ignore the success potential which was inside us all of the time. Truth be told, most of us know it's there -- most of us know that deep down inside ourselves, we've got a spark of something, that if we cultivated it, could turn into a blazing inferno of success. Many of us know it's there, and yet never act on it -- we're just too scared. It's there where Earl's advice rings true: "If we expect more, and plunge in after it, we'll get it." All around us are people who attempt to diminish our ability to change. They say things like "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Did you know that Harlan Sanders (you probably know him better as "Colonel Sanders") didn't start his first chicken place until he was in his mid-60s and on a pension? Do they know that people adapt, every day, to change -- sometimes radical, jarring change -- and then move on?
83 The naysayers around us will tell you that you can't succeed -- only the rich succeed. Good grief -- how do they think people got rich to begin with? The naysayers will tell you that PMA doesn't work -- but it does! Even science is proving that the mind-body connection is real. The old adage of "What you can believe and conceive, you can achieve" is true! The cynics in this world will tell you there is no chance of success -- but they're wrong! People succeed every hour of every day. Businesses may fail, but they also succeed -and the people who started them are often dumber than you! Are you so blind that you can't see your own potential? If you are, just ask your wife or your husband (or your boyfriend or your girlfriend, or your mother). They've seen it for years. If they're like my wife, they keep bringing it up! This is the truth: success happens. It happens all of the time. It happens mainly to people who have a vision, take the leap of faith, and work their hearts out to bring their dreams to pass -- although oddly enough, oftentimes, people find their "line of success" is doing something that seems like play to them, not work. Can you be a success! You'd better believe it! And when you believe it, and act on it, you will become a success in whatever you choose to do -- that "one thing" that Billy Crystal learned about in the movie.
CUAAR -- Five letters to a better relationship
When you use the word "relationship," nowadays, most people think you're talking about what is euphemistically called a "love relationship." It's what your spouse means when she says "Honey, we need to talk about our relationship." But, when you get right down to it, whenever two people meet and associate together, you've got a "relationship." It's not the kind you usually sit down and talk about, but it's there nevertheless. For the purposes of our discussion today, we're going to concentrate on "business relationships" -- employees, customers, potential customers, co-workers, and bosses -but the five concepts we'll talk about are important to any relationship, even the kind you sit down and talk about. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, by any means. I don't claim to be Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, or Dr. Spock. Still, it's a useful little list of five items that can make or break a relationship -- any type of relationship. The words start with the letters C, U, A, A, and R. Put them together, they spell CUAAR. I say it "Ku-are." So let's dive right into it: CUAAR -- five little letters that mean five powerful, positive steps to better relationships.
I was listening to a co-worker talk some time ago. This person was berating another employee, without even giving the other time to explain. I'm sure my co-worker thought this demonstrated power -- or something. The years have taught me something, though -- when I take a friendly approach to others, I usually get more from them. For whatever reason, I've found when I call someone up, joke with them a bit, be outgoing and gregarious, I can usually get whatever information I need, even from the most apparently hard-hearted individual. When I come on with a "full court press," demanding the information, threatening them, and berating them, I find I usually don't get a thing. H. L. Mencken was once asked to explain the key to a successful marriage. "Common courtesy," he was reported to have said.
83 I am constantly amazed at how many people try to throw their weight around, demanding, pushing, complaining, and swearing. Most of the time, these people don't have a great deal of success with that approach; you've got to wonder why they try it. I used to teach reporting at a university. One of the things I taught was this truth: the 60minutes style "confrontation interview," that you see on TV, where camera crews shove a camera and microphone into someone's face and then ask confrontational questions, rarely gets any information. The low-key, courteous interview, on the other hand, usually gets a wealth of information. In business, Courtesy is the first thing about developing a relationship. We tend to always show courtesy to our bosses, our potential customers, and sometimes even to current customers; but many of us rarely show courtesy to our employees, our coworkers, and even many of our customers! Don't believe me? How many times have you personally been sucked into a store as the result of an advertisement, only to find that the staff was discourteous, even bordering on the edge of nasty? Perhaps it's just the circles I sometimes move around in, but I've seen it quite a bit. I remember one day some 15 years ago at a McDonald's restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. I was in town on business, and, attempting to save money on my expense account, I had gone to the local McDonald's for breakfast. It was 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Their sign said they opened at 8:00 (this was in the downtown business area). The restaurant was full of employees, but when I opened the door, a worker said "Hey! We don't want any customers in here, yet!" I guess they must have been running late -- but you know, even though I have been to Atlanta a number of times since, and even though I eat at my local McDonalds quite often, I never went back to that particular location. I'm convinced they didn't want any customers, at all. I was happy to grant their wish. When a company is discourteous to its customers, through long lines, nasty checkers, irritating salespeople, continual telemarketing calls, uncaring tellers, obscene service charges, continual price hikes, or high-pressure selling, they are doing the same thing that Atlanta McDonald's did to me. They are saying "Hey! We don't want any customers." How about in the workplace? Sure, there are plenty of people you've worked with that you probably wouldn't give the time of day. The world is full of people, and a lot of those people are of the "Yes, I work here, but that doesn't mean I actually work" variety. You know, I'm no saint where this is concerned, either. Over the years, there have been people I've worked with that I couldn't stand. Even with those people, I soon learned that when I was courteous, it usually worked out better. Sure, there are still the ones who will stab you in the back, and consider common courtesy to be a sign of weakness, but they're really not as prevalent as you think they are. Most people warm up well when shown common courtesy.
83 Better yet, courtesy gives you a distinct business advantage. If you're anything like me, you're more likely to patronize a bank that has courteous tellers; you're more likely to go to a hardware store where the employees smile at you; you're more likely to patronize businesses where the store employees treat you with respect. In the long run, promotions are more likely to come to the courteous employee, and less likely to come to the whining, nasty, backstabbing ones. When layoffs come, unless the nasty employees are God's gift to the company, they're often among the first cut -because nobody really campaigns to keep them around. Some businesses actually hire with courtesy as a primary requirement. Some others -well, they must actively hire the nastiest people they can find. Try being more courteous in your daily activities -- try being nice to strangers on the phone; try treating some stranger as if they are your favorite family member -- and see how well it works for you. I think you'll be amazed at what a difference it makes. If you're already courteous to others, try ramping it up a bit. I predict you'll be impressed at the difference.
You know, one of the biggest things that causes trouble in this world is a lack of understanding. Usually it's a matter of a different language, or a different culture; sometimes, it's a difference in upbringing, or a difference in expectations. It would be naïve for me to say that people are alike the world over. We come from a lot of different cultures, a lot of different value systems, and a whole boatload of different experiences. People are different. Your brother is different than you are; your parents brought him up at a different time in their lives; he has a different outlook on the world, different hopes, dreams, and desires. I'll never forget one such disagreement in my own life. I was probably four or five years old, My brother, who is five years older than I am, was teasing me; in my frame of reference, he was tormenting me. Anyway, I was mad, and I pursued him with some vigor. Laughing maniacally (or so it seemed at the time) he went into back door of the house, and locked the door behind him, putting a barrier between us. Being resourceful, I picked up the largest rock I could find, and threw it at him -- through the glass panel in the door. Now, I love my brother -- but I don't always understand him. I did however, learn that it wasn't a good thing to do -- courtesy of my father, who spanked my behind. So, if members of the same family, who were raised by the same parents, often in the same house, have a hard time understanding each other, is there any hope for the rest of us?
83 Of course there is. All you need to know is the key -- and the key to understanding is information. Most of us have relatively similar frames of reference; oh, there are differences, to be sure; you may have grown up in an apartment building, in a big city, where I grew up in a house in a rural community. Still, I bet you once got so exasperated at someone that you wanted to throw that rock. The more you get to know about someone, the more you begin to understand them. Perhaps your co-worker grew up in an foster home, or a dysfunctional home, or in a "broken" home. As a result, perhaps they show a constant need for positive reinforcement. You may have grown up in a supportive home where you were constantly praised. You may have had every chance at success, where they had to work for it. You're never going to understand another person totally -- men have been learning this for years, tutored by their wives and girlfriends -- but you can gain a pretty good understanding of what makes someone tick. How do you get this information? The old fashioned way: ask questions. When you meet someone new, do you try and find out as much as you can about that person? Most of the time, you probably learn just enough to know how to pigeonhole them in your "sorting file of life." It reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon from some years ago. Wally, who is the bald one, was rejected by a prospective company, because "We've already got a bald guy." The more information you gain, the better your understanding of someone will be. Strangely enough, the more information, the better the rapport you develop, the more business (or support) that will likely come your way.
This letter was originally a "W" for "worth." As I thought about it, I decided "Acceptance" would be a better word. So, we're all strange in our own way, aren't we? I imagine there are those "plain vanilla" people who might be reading this, but most of us have our little quirks here or there. We want to be accepted, in spite of those quirks. More than that, we want to be accepted for what we are. Companies wish to be accepted by their customers, for their unique mix of traits that set them apart. Some companies are accepted; others are not. Some people reach acceptance; others don't. Often, communication is the key -- but unlike our formula for "understanding," we must communicate to others what makes us worthy of acceptance. We don't necessarily have to verbally communicate it; there are other manners of communication. We probably
83 don't want to hand-letter it on a sandwich board, and parade through the office. We want to show our contribution, make it known, teach others what it means. Even with all I've said, though, ultimately, we should accept others, as much as possible, if we want to develop a relationship with them. We may not accept everything they do -there are no rules that say that having a relationship condones every psychotic action someone may make -- but we should accept enough of that person to include some part of them into our lives, even if it's just our lives at our place of work.
I'm not a great expert at this, either -- but do you show appreciation to the people you work with, live with, sell to, or buy from? It's getting near to the holiday season, and many companies will send out holiday greetings to their customers. Half the time, it's the only time they ever say, "we appreciate your business," during the whole year. Have you told your co-workers that you appreciate them? Have you told it to your boss? Have you thanked your customers? Have you told your spouse that you appreciate her or him? (Saying "I Love You, while important, doesn't count.) I may be wrong, but I suspect the world would be a whole lot better place if there were more "I appreciate what you're doing for me" and less "I think you should be doing this." This problem extends beyond just casual relationships; this problem extends to governments, too. What's wrong with showing a bit of appreciation once in a while? Why not do something special from time to time for a good customer? You know, one thing that absolutely galls me is magazines that give special rates to new subscribers, and yet raise the rates of the current subscriber. Doesn't the customer deserve a better break than the person you're trying to entice? Why not try a magazine where we say, "You know, the first year's a bit more expensive, but in subsequent years, your rate goes down." Why not show some appreciation? (Incidentally, I appreciate you coming to Salesstar.com and reading Monday Motivation!) What would it hurt? Try it! I think you'll be amazed at the results.
I guess you could also make this letter mean "respect," but all of the items we've talked about are leaning toward that. By recognition, I mean to recognize your friends, customers, family, co-workers, employees, and employers, for what they contribute to you.
83 I know this goes hand-in-hand with "appreciation," but I think it's extremely important. The social scientist Abraham Maslow taught what he called a "hierarchy of needs." At the bottom of his list were the basic needs, food and water. From there, we go to the higher needs. The top needs, the fifth level, fulfillment and aesthetic satisfaction, are beyond the scope of what we're talking about today, but just below that level, lies the need for achievement and recognition. Even a little bit of recognition -- a certificate to hang on the wall, a parking space, a special mention at a company meeting -- makes all the difference in the world, and I believe it's worth at least 20 threats. A company some years ago took some money out of its normal training budget, and purchased some little tokens, that were given out to employees that did a good job. The tokens were good for a free meal at the company cafeteria, but as time went on, the leaders dishing out the tokens found that few were ever being turned in. As they studied the reason, (fearing ptomaine poisoning at the cafeteria, no doubt), they found that people were keeping the tokens as a symbol of recognition. They didn't turn the tokens in because the silly little things meant too much to them. In recent years, some companies, such as Successories, have tokens such as these a part of their recognition product line. Some years ago, I gave out a key chain to a group of employees; that key chain was given to them as a point of recognition for a job well done. That group of employees is long since dispersed, but I have kept in contact with many of those employees over the years, and it amazes me how many have kept the key chains -- and use it as a visual reminder of a little bit of recognition. Of course, I've still got mine.
"I know well who I am"
The title for this week's edition of Monday Motivation comes from the book "Taran Wanderer," a children's book by Lloyd Alexander. In the book, the main character searches to find his niche in life, trying many vocations, none of which fit him perfectly. Finally, his mentor, a man called "Annlaw Clay-Shaper," (perhaps Harry "Potter" is his descendant) says this: "... I know well who I am. Annlaw Clay-Shaper. For better or worse, that knowledge must serve me my lifetime." It's perhaps sad to note it, but most of the people in the world today aren't like Annlaw. Very few can say: "I know well who I am." "Know thyself," said the philosopher Socrates -- and throughout history, that has remained the essential advice to a person who wants to succeed: First off, know who you are. So -- who are you? It's funny -- but many people get to middle age without ever giving a thought to who they really are. One mid-life crisis later, they may have a better understanding of who they are, but they're also likely to have an ex-spouse, a toupee, a family who hates them, an alimony payment, a really cool red convertible, and a "social" disease. Surely there's got to be a better way to gain an understanding of who you really are. May I ask a few questions? 1. Is your work fulfilling? If they didn't pay you to do it, would you do it anyway? This is the first question we have to ask, because so many people tie up their self-image with their profession. Most people labor most of their lives doing a job they hate, for a company they distrust, for a paycheck they think is too small. They never take the time to choose a line of employment that would challenge, invigorate, and inspire them to greater heights, while usually providing a salary that was significantly higher than their current job. People stuck in such a rut don't progress to their full potential; they can't make the contributions they may have otherwise made; they rarely achieve the happiness they should have achieved. Look around you at your friends and co-workers. How many of them appear to be in the right line of work? How many of them appear to be happy at what they do?
83 My late father, God rest his soul, was in a job that he did very well. He owned his own business; he was respected in the community. Still, he sometimes referred to going back to work as "going back to that He_ _ hole." (You can no doubt fill in the blanks). While there are many people who can be happy in any position, anywhere, for a lot of us there's one "optimal" career we "ought" to be following -- at least in this time frame, and it's up to us to find it. My suggestion: most people know inherently what things interest them most out of life. Try and find a way to make a living doing that. It's usually something that comes easily to you, although it may be difficult to someone else. For those people who don't know what interests them, or for those who may not have reasonable expectations (how many people will be chosen to play professional baseball, for example), perhaps some job counseling is a good choice. Most large cities have professional job coaches who make their living by helping people find where they belong in life. If you can't find one, a call to the human resources department of a large local employer may provide a lead. 2. Do you like who you are? If there were one thing that could be easily changed about you, what would it be? This is another two-in-one question, I know -- but it should be an easy one to answer. Do you like yourself? If you are able to answer in the affirmative, it shows you're likely on a reasonable track. Even though you might have to do a little bit of fine-tuning, you're heading in roughly the right direction. The second part of this question is the quest for positive change -- the one thing that would make you better. It's only through constant improvement and change that we truly learn who we are -- because when we discover our "best self," we tend to change and grow even more rapidly. 3. Are you willing to dedicate yourself to becoming better, stronger, and happier? Sure you are -- or you wouldn't be reading Monday Motivation. Commit to this challenge, right now. Write it down on a sheet of paper: "I commit to being all I am capable of becoming." Sign your name to it. Remember it. Each of us is capable of finding out who we are, and what we can offer. It may take work, introspection, and questioning -- but it'll come, nevertheless. Just a word to the midlife-crisis prone out there: in all your introspection, questioning, work, and seeking, don't lose the heaven you have, looking for the Hell around the bend.
83 Sometimes, topics keep bubbling to the top of my list for Monday Motivation. Search results, queries, and news items seem to isolate some topics that just stand out and demand to be recognized. Lately, it's been the topic of "confrontations," and especially how to manage them. I don't know if it's the war news, or the economic news, or the mid-winter blues, but for some reason, this topic has finally bubbled up to where I think it's something we can look at. "Confrontation" is one of those things that people either love or hate -- they either enjoy the whole sport of it, or they avoid it like the plague. People who enjoy the sport of confrontation usually don't seek advice on how to manage it -- so this Monday Motivation is written for the other half -- the people who are trying to learn how best to deal with confrontations in general. Like any other item in this world, confrontation can be viewed as either positive or negative -- and yet we usually lump it into the "negative" camp. Strangely enough, many of the most successful technology companies actually foster a spirit of confrontation in their ranks, in an effort to force great ideas to the surface, and then refine and polish the ideas. In this case, their "positive confrontational" environment seeks to use the process to spur teams and individuals on to greater glory. We confront our fears, our challenges, and our weaknesses. We meet these things head-on -- and in confronting them, we master them. Positive confrontation is a growing experience. It's bringing something to a head; it's putting your challenges behind you; it's making your life better by attacking your problems head on. Positive confrontation is a quest -- a quest to make yourself better, stronger, and more responsive. It's a goal to become more resolute, more approachable, more courageous, and more worthy of success. Like the knights of old, who confronted evil at every turn, our quest is all about truth and right prevailing in our lives. Now, let's discuss the other side of confrontation -- the side that people have been seeking help to deal with. The best example for this kind of confrontation is a yelling customer, an upset co-worker, or a boss with a scowl on his face. For this type of confrontation -- what we usually consider the negative sort, let's look at the "Five D's" of effective confrontation management: Defuse, Drain, Discuss, Determine, and Decide. D1: Defuse: Negative confrontations are like ticking time bombs -- you've got to deal with them, and stop them from exploding. After they've exploded, it's too late.
83 In our examples, we will use the example of a customer, but it can just as easily apply to a co-worker, a spouse, a child, another family member, or the highway patrolman standing outside your car window. To defuse a negative confrontation, accept responsibility to address the concerns. Notice that I'm not suggesting you accept responsibility for customer's assertions. If you work for a company, it's unlikely you are responsible for everything bad that happens. While you may not take all of you should still take the responsibility to deal with the issue. customer's all of the personally the blame,
This is one of the keys of good customer service -- front line personnel have to have the power to address customer concerns. They have to become a customer advocate where warranted -- and if not, they need to make the customer's point of view obvious to those people in power. Even if the customer is incorrect in some detail, she is still a customer, and deserves to be heard. Perhaps you'll find your company is incorrect. Accepting responsibility for the eventual addressing of the customer's concerns will automatically defuse the issue. Be personable, be kind, and talk with a smile in your voice -- but still accept responsibility to get the job done. (This premise also holds true with a spouse, as many men have learned. If a man decides he is 60 percent wrong in an argument, and his wife is 40 percent wrong, he's never going to win if he addresses it in that manner. He has to apologize for 150 percent of the whole thing, no matter what. As the man said, you can decide whether you want to be right, or whether you want to be happy.) D2: Drain emotion from the confrontation. I used to have a friend who loved confrontation -- and hated to argue with me. Why? When she tried to argue with me, I'd say "you're probably right," and move on. Negative confrontation is fueled by emotion. When you cut off the emotion, the confrontation burns itself out. How do you cut off emotion in a confrontation? By forcing yourself to respond in a calm, cool manner, no matter how the other party is reacting. Like all segments of our conscious self, most emotions can be controlled -- and controlling your response to a confrontation is a powerful positive tool in your possession. When you address a confrontation in a professional, self-controlled manner, all the emotion is drained away. Try it! D3: Discuss. Steven Covey has propagated this motto: First seek to understand, then seek to be understood.
83 There are few things that people can't discuss. Most of them have to do with hemorrhoids. Discussion is a powerful means to understand the customer's point of view. Remember this law: Perception becomes reality. Until you understand the customer's perception of the issue, you will not be able to comprehend their particular reality. Take notes while you discuss the parts in question. Refer to those notes, just to ensure you've got it correctly. Repeat back to the customer those areas that he or she has brought up. Not only will this facilitate your getting the facts right, it will prove to the customer that you're listening to what she says. Discussion is a two-way street -- and you should make your point of view known, as well -- but don't beat it into the ground. Your point in discussion is to turn a negative confrontation into a positive one -- not to win points on a scoreboard. D4: Determine: Our fourth "D" is to determine a course of action that will appropriately address the customer's concerns, as well as your concerns from your company's point of view. Determination is a process -- the weighing of good, bad, and indifferent, to form a conclusion and a course of action. Determination should be a means where your negative confrontation rapidly becomes a useful action plan. D5: Decide and proceed: One you've made a determination, decide on a course of action, and proceed to put that course of action into effect. Follow through with the customer as needed, to ensure that her needs are being effectively met through the resolution. Negative confrontation can be easily turned to positive power. All it takes is the "Five D's." You know, in the town where I grew up, there is a business called "4-D Plumbing and Builder's Supply." A one-time partnership, it had eventually turned into a business that was run by one of the "Ds," Dale. Whenever something stopped up in the house, we'd call Dale, and he'd unstop it. I tend to think of the "Five D's" in the same way -- they serve to unstop the clogs that stand in the way of effective communication. Confrontation can be good or bad. Your challenge is to confront your fears, have courage for the future, and turn your negative confrontations into positive experiences, for yourself and your customer.
"I Can Do That!"
Of all the thousands words in the English language, Four little ones can make a whale of a difference. Those words? "I can do that." Those four words are the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The optimist says "I can do that," and then does it. The pessimist, meanwhile, has a number of different phrases to use, all of which say the same thing. I doubt you'd ever use any of these "Can't Do" phrases, but perhaps you recognize them from someone in the office. If you recognize them in your own speech, now's the time to change.
"That's the way we've always done it."
This powerful little phrase can kill a lot of projects, but nobody is ever sure how. Can you imagine the mother of a three-year-old saying it about her still-crawling kid? "Oh, that's the way he's always done it. We don't see a reason why he needs to walk." How about an automobile company, confronted by foreign companies with better, cheaper cars: "Oh, we've always made them badly, and we've made them expensively. I can't see much reason to change." Carry this phrase to its natural conclusion, and you see that it's just "I can't do that," cached in terms to make it sound like you respect history.
"That's not in my job description."
Here is the phrase of the person who spends his entire day watching the clock. He'll be watching it from that same desk until he's gone, because companies promote people who contribute more than they're paid for. The person who stretches a bit, keeps volunteering, and keeps learning is the person a company values.
"We've already tried that, and it didn't work."
This phrase is a bit trickier. It's possible that your idea is a bad one -- but it's more likely that the person who uses it is a "nay-sayer." Just because an idea was tried ten years ago doesn't mean that it won't work now. Of course, it doesn't mean it will work, either, but unless you've got a road map of the future, you might as well give it a shot. Times change, and if the idea is a bad one, it'll soon become apparent. Most of the time, though, this phrase is used against good ideas that are only remotely related to what was once tried, and dropped.
"That's never going to work."
"Never" is a long, long time. What they mean is "I won't make it work."
83 History is full of people who cut the "never" out of this phrase, and made something work. The truth is -- most of the reasons why things "don't work" is because of people. If people don't commit to making something work, they're right -- it'll never, ever work. Face it -- most offices have a few people who are "can do" sorts, and a bunch of people who are "can't do" people. An organization succeeds to the extent that the optimists outweigh the pessimists. Being a "can do" person is largely a matter of deciding you can do it. The noted poet Edgar Guest, in his poem "Equipment," says this: You are the handicap you must face, You are the one who must choose your place, You must say where you want to go, How much you will study the truth to know. For many of us, we are the major obstacles in our life, or the major facilitators. We choose to decide if we "can do" or "can't do." We choose whether we will be the optimist or the pessimist, the contributor or the detractor, the leader or the ballast. Choose wisely and become a "can do" kind of person.
by Edgar A. Guest Figure it out for yourself, my lad, You've all that the greatest of men have had, Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes And a brain to use if you would be wise. With this equipment they all began, So start for the top and say, "I can." Look them over, the wise and great They take their food from a common plate, And similar knives and forks they use, With similar laces they tie their shoes. The world considers them brave and smart, But you've all they had when they made their start. You can triumph and come to skill, You can be great if you only will. You're well equipped for what fight you choose, You have legs and arms and a brain to use, And the man who has risen great deeds to do Began his life with no more than you. You are the handicap you must face, You are the one who must choose your place, You must say where you want to go, How much you will study the truth to know. God has equipped you for life, but He Lets you decide what you want to be. Courage must come from the soul within, The man must furnish the will to win. So figure it out for yourself, my lad. You were born with all that the great have had, With your equipment they all began, Get hold of yourself and say: "I can."
Fighting the bad attitudes of other people
No matter how good an attitude you develop for yourself, you don't live in a vacuum. All around you are people who have negative attitudes towards life. There's really nothing you can do about it. Just as how you are going to find bad drivers, no matter what road you take, you're going to find people who have an unenlightened view of life. The key is not letting people pull you down to their level. Here are six simple rules you can use to deal with people with horrible attitudes. 1. Stay responsible for your own attitude. You are always responsible for your own attitude, no matter what outside stimulus you may encounter. Once you decide that, it's suddenly easier to keep positive. Troubles may come, and troubles may go; nasty people may come, and nasty people may go; your attitude can stay positive, no matter what happens. An easy phrase to use to keep yourself on track by is the famous one used by Alexander Haig, who was secretary of state at the time Ronald Reagan was shot. Haig told reporters, "I'm in charge here." Haig wasn't really in charge, and he didn't last long in the Reagan White House, but the phrase is a good one. "I'm in charge here" means you're ultimately responsible. 2. Realize you don't usually know what's going on with people. It could be that person has a troubled child, a sick spouse, financial troubles, elderly parents, job woes, no friends, health challenges, car problems, or hemorrhoids. You just don't know what's going on, and you shouldn't be judging them. If they're always nasty, perhaps that's the way they get what they want. They haven't tried any other method. Steven Covey has a favorite phrase: "first seek to understand, then seek to be understood." Maybe you could give them a hand, if you learn to understand them. Try to befriend them, realizing that some nasty people will look at this as a sign of weakness, and stab you in the back anyway. In his book "The Greatest Salesman in the World," Og Mandino has several "scrolls of success." One of those scrolls tells you to look at each person you meet, and say (to yourself, of course) "I love you." Sometimes, understanding is the best way to combat a bad attitude. If all else fails, it gives you more to use against them.
83 3. Realize it may just be a different way of reacting to the world than you know, and you can learn something from them. I grew up in a little town, and when I started dealing with people who grew up in larger cities, I found many of them had a different mindset. In a small town, you learn everybody's troubles, and it doesn't matter. In a larger city, you learn nobody's troubles, and like it that way. Sometimes, we can perceive a negative attitude in someone when all we're really encountering is a different way of looking at life. Learn more about the person, and learn from their strengths. Use those strengths to make yourself better. 4. Concentrate on content, not delivery. Some years ago, when I was doing some newspaper reporting, I was covering two speeches. One speaker was mesmerizing, but when I wrote down what he was saying, he wasn't saying a whole lot. The second speaker was subdued, but his speech contained a lot of meat in it. The difference was totally delivery. Often when someone has a negative approach to life, they may still deliver a lot of great information in what they say. Learn to ignore the attitude, and concentrate on the content. 5. Always be positive, no matter what. I'm not suggesting you ignore negative attitudes, only that you choose to not respond to it in a negative way. It doesn't really matter what kind of attitude gets thrown your way -- what matters is how you deal with it, and how you perceive its worth. 6. Help them to change, through example. By keeping a positive outlook, and dealing with people in a positive way, (even when their personal approach to life may be negative) you can make a real difference in others' lives. Positive people tend to be promoted higher than negative ones. Positive people tend to accomplish more out of life, and make more of an impact as they go through life. Years ago, I was responsible for a team of people. One member of that team had a real problem with the former leader. He refused to work. When I became the team leader, I chose to ignore the former problems, and take a "leadership through example" approach. It reformed the way the "troubled" person looked at what he was doing -- only because I refused to let my personal approach to team leadership be dictated by what I had been told about that person. Example is a powerful motivator, for both positive and negative change. Negative attitudes only impact us when we let them. By choosing to remain positive, we choose to keep our life oriented toward our needs and goals, and we can impact those around us in a positive way.
Staying "Up" when others are "Down"
It would be nice -- really nice -- if we never had to deal with some people. As one wag was purported to have said, "I love humanity -- it's the people I can't stand." Oh, I'm not suggesting that you move to Central Nevada and make a hermit home among the coyotes, jack rabbits, rattlesnakes, and bombing ranges. I like people -- no matter what you may have heard; and I bet you like them too. But sometimes you can do without some people -- when they're having a "down" day. We're all going to have them from time to time. As my stress level goes up, I notice that my quantity of difficult days goes up as well. Most of us have the occasional downer of a day -- days when we really just want to crawl under a desk somewhere, and count our toes. Other people have them as well. The problem begins when we "catch" a bad attitude from someone else, just as if they sneezed one in our direction. Just as you would take effort not to catch a cough or cold from someone else, so you should make a special effort to keep from catching a down attitude. The problem is that bad attitudes are so easy to pick up. Here then are five easy steps to inoculate yourself against the "downer" attitudes of other people: 1. Keep yourself away from them -- physically or emotionally. It sounds like a nasty trick to play on someone -- but when they're having a bad day, sometimes, the best thing to do is to keep yourself insulated from that "down" attitude. Sometimes this means actually finding somewhere else to work for a while -- or finding a way to occupy your time when they come to call. "Misery loves company" goes the old saying, and it's true. Miserable people love to talk about their misery. Often, it's because they actually want to feel better, and they find that sharing their feelings will help them come around. Sometimes, it's because they are totally unaware of their mood. Occasionally, they do it to try and make you feel like them -- dropping you down to where they live, so they're not so alone. Make no mistake about it. When they're wallowing in misery, they're actually sinking in quicksand. Whatever happens, you don't want to be dragged in there with them.
83 If you decide to listen to their tale of woes, then make certain you keep some emotional space. If you're going to help someone drowning in quicksand, you don't want to climb in there with them. Throw them a line, and pull them out -- but don't get into it yourself. One way to throw them a line is to relate something you've learned -- like Monday Motivation. That brings us to our next method: 2. Build up their mood. After reading the previous method, it may seem like I'm fighting myself with this one. Believe it or not, this is most dangerous of all these methods -- but it's the most noble thing to try. Too often when you attempt to help someone else's mood, you wind up getting affected by their mood, instead. A good way to help change the mood of others is to give them something positive to think about. Sometimes that involves projects, assignments, or tasks that can be assigned. Since the human brain doesn't work well when it tries to think of multiple items, filling up your empty mental space with positive effort can make a difference in your attitude. By the time the project's put to bed, the bad mood is often gone as well. 3. Surround yourself with others. You're more likely to be affected by the "downers" if you're alone. First off, the "downer" is more likely to want to share his misery, secondly, the added numbers of people help diffuse the trouble. Plus, a group helps the "down" person as well. People tend to let others influence their moods -- and if a "downer" meets a group of positive people, their mood is likely to lift. It's harder for a "downer" to bring a group down. 4. Try a diversion. When the going gets tough, the tough go to lunch. A diversion can be a useful method to distract the "downer" from his/her problems. It doesn't have to be lunch, of course -some non-work-related diversion can make a huge difference in mood. 5. Remember your goals. It's easier for you to be diverted into a bad attitude when you forget where you're going. If you've got your destination in mind, it's a lot harder for people to entice you off your path. It's when you don't know where you're going that you tend to lose your way. Bad attitudes come and go -- but that doesn't mean you have go along for the ride. You may not be able to determine if you're going to catch the flu or not -- but you can sure keep yourself from catching the bad moods of other people. With a little bit of preventive medicine, you can keep your mood on track, and you life intact.
You can defeat "I Can't"
The words we habitually use in our daily life have more of an effect than you might think. I'm certain most of you already know this, but simply by choosing different words and phrases, we can remake our life and our moods. For example, we can choose to look on a situation as a "challenge" or a "project," instead of a "problem." Choose one of the two positive words, and our problems suddenly become more manageable, and they take on a whole new, more positive, meaning. In the same way, customers are "quality-conscious," not "picky," and your spouse is "particular," not "stubborn" or "mulish." (Definitely not mulish)! I was talking with an associate one day, and she was down on herself. "I'm too much of a perfectionist," she said. "You're quality-conscious," I replied. "You're looking at this virtue from the wrong side of the tracks." Many of us do similar things. We choose to look at our lives as problem-strewn, not full of possibilities. Like my associate, we look at the events in our lives from the wrong side, and by so labeling them, actually squeeze all the life out of the opportunities that arise. Many of the words and phrases that we use have unforeseen effects in our lives. Studies tell us that the "subconscious" part of our brain listens to the labels that are applied to us. It then uses those labels as filters to view our self-image. This knowledge helps us to understand how simple negative words and phrases can impact our lives in massive, unforeseen ways. When we fall into the "negative" phrasing trap, we bring all sorts of problems into our lives. Of all the negative phrases that we might choose to use in our lives, however, there is one that rules above all others -- the simple phrase "I can't." We usually get into using "I can't" as a defense mechanism. As an example, when I was a child, I was never very good at playing softball. I'm sure it was just because I had never taken the time and energy to become good at it -- but other boys in my school had expended the time to develop a good swing, or had worked on building up their catching and throwing skills. It left me a bit behind the others -- and as a defense mechanism, I decided "I can't" play softball. Heaven knows, I'm still not much good at it -- but pretty soon, I learned that I "couldn't do" other sports, either. Pretty soon, I was saying "I can't do that," whenever any new challenge came along. As a child, that started me down the road to where "I can't" became my watchword -- until I straightened myself out.
83 The big problem with "I can't" is that we really don't know what we're capable of. Our assessment that something "can't be done" is rarely accurate -- and other people will set out to prove that our assessment is wrong. Fifty years ago, men said we would "never get to the moon." They were wrong. Others said the "Iron Curtain will never fall." They were wrong, too. Time and time again, ordinarily people set about attempting to accomplish the "impossible," and, through their efforts, make the "impossible" possible. When you learned how to walk, you couldn't do it right off the bat. You fell, and got up, and fell again, and got up, and fell again, and got up. I've watched babies learning how to walk -- and from the expression on their faces, many of them are convinced that it's "simply impossible." The key in learning how to walk, however, is not in the falling -- it's in getting up after you've fallen, and trying again. When we make "I can't" our watchword, we choose to stay down when we fall. We choose to become a victim. We choose to self-limit our life, and as a result, we limit our future. "I can't" becomes a cancer that takes over our being. A reader sent in a story last week that is particularly useful here, but the terminology takes some explaining for our international readers. In the United States, we refer to a hole in a roadway as a "pothole" or a "chuckhole." I believe other countries use other terminology for it. With that in mind, this reader explained that a small pothole appeared in the roadway in front of their home. At the time the hole first appeared, a simple daub of asphalt could have repaired it -- but as time went on, more and more cars went over the pothole, breaking it a little bit bigger each time. The rains came, and more and more water came in contact with the hole. The rain would hide the hole from the drivers, and more drivers would hit it, making the pothole bigger and bigger. Before long, the hole was massive, and cars avoided it. A simple encounter with such a hole would easily send an automobile to the shop for repairs. Careless use of "I can't," and other defeatist language, is like this hole. At first, it causes minimal damage, but the more we come in contact with the "I can't" pothole, the bigger it becomes. Soon, the hole we have caused in our self-esteem is larger, and we have done major damage. The truth is that we never know what is possible until we've gone beyond it. Sure, there are going to be some things that you don't do very well. It's part of adulthood to recognize areas where we might be weak, and choose to either fix those weak areas, or concentrate on our strengths. There are going to be other things that you're physically incapable of doing -- no man is going to give birth to a baby, for example; he just isn't physically capable of it. Those natural limits are always going to be there -- but they aren't limits that will negatively impact our lives.
83 What I'm referring to is an attitude -- the "I can't" attitude. The more you say "I can't do that," the more you cut yourself out of life. I bet you know people in your office that "can't" do anything. Perhaps you have a friend who "can't" help others, or an acquaintance who "can't" manage his money. Maybe you have a family member who "can't" stop drinking, or a boss who "can't" stop belittling her employees. Perhaps you know someone who "can't" call a customer, or another who "can't" get to work on time. I know people who "can't" stop eating chocolate (I'm one of them). The truth is that all of these "can'ts" aren't "can'ts" at all. They're just plain "won'ts." Face it -- we live in a society where victims seem to get all the press. When we start to whine a lot, saying, "I can't do that," we pour ourselves into the "victim" mold. We expect the people around us to take a look, and say "poor baby." I've said it before, but I'm repeating it here -- when you were learning to walk, your mother didn't say: "Oh, poor baby -- you fell down. You must just not be made to walk. Just stop trying, and I'll carry you around for the rest of my life." No...she picked you up, patted you on the behind, and you tried to walk again. She actively encouraged you to learn. She told you that you could do it. She helped you turn a defeat into a triumph. Never again did you think "I can't walk -- I just can't do it." Contrast this triumph with the sounds you hear every day: "Oh -- I can't do that." "I was never good at that." "I don't know how to do that." "It's not in my job description." "It's not the way we do it around here." When you choose to say, "I can't," you make a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say "I can't" enough, then pretty soon you're right. You can't do it. Soon, you'll find you can't do anything. Henry Ford said it best: "Whether you think you can or Whether you think you can't, you are right" Yes, the words we use do make a difference. They dictate the thoughts we choose, the future we see, and the opportunities we accept. "Change your thoughts, and you change your world," said the esteemed author and minister, Norman Vincent Peale. Choose "I can," and all of a sudden, you'll find your thoughts are positive, your life unfettered. Choose "I can't," and you'll be a helpless victim for the rest of your life.
Seven steps toward greatness
For some years now, I've been a subscriber to Nightingale-Conant's excellent "Insight" series. Insight is a collection of clips from Nightingale's various audio programs, with an occasional additional feature thrown in. This month, Insight celebrated its 20th anniversary. Two hundred and forty issues have been mailed to subscribers. I've got a hundred or so of those. With this month's issue, Nightingale mailed a copy of its original issue. In the audio features on that issue, I listened to an interesting story. Last week, if you recall, we read a quotation from Abraham Lincoln. This story is also about Lincoln -- and I think it has some bearing on our lives. The speaker told of an instance where Lincoln and a friend were leaving church on Sunday. Lincoln's friend mentioned what a good sermon the minister had given. "I just can't agree," Mr. Lincoln said. "But why?" said the friend. "It's very simple," said Lincoln. "He didn't ask us to do anything great." The story could very well be apocryphal, but the observation is clear and remarkable. Whether you're a leader, a follower, or a wanderer, we can always set ourselves on the path to greatness. Lincoln knew all about that path -- he followed it most of the days of his life. His remark to his friend showed that he felt each person, particularly people in positions of leadership, must demand greatness from himself and his followers. After all, who would demand mediocrity? I can hear it now: "All right," a leader would say. "We've gotten just about as lukewarm as we want -whatever you do, don't strive even a little bit more -- if you push us over the top into excellence, there'll be hell to pay." Sounds stupid, and it is. Continued progression in this world demand a striving toward becoming someone better than we currently are -- and yet altogether too many of us settle for far less than the greatness we can one day achieve. Most of us didn't set out to be mediocre -- but time, trials, mixups, stress, money demands, family needs, and other requirements seem to sap our strength.
83 Doing things excellently rarely takes longer than doing a slipshod job, and doing great things takes just a bit of a push beyond mere excellence. It's that extra bit of greatness that makes all the difference in the world -- and in our lives. When we commit ourselves to becoming great people -- and leading great companies, we commit ourselves to becoming the best we are capable of -- and in doing so, sharing our passion for greatness with other people. So, in keeping with our push along the path for greatness, here are 7 simple steps to take each of us further down that path. 1. Have enthusiasm -- be a fire setter. Enthusiasm is so essential -- and sometimes it's something that has to be developed. Each of us is enthusiastic about something -- even if it's Friday afternoon. We need to become enthusiastic about our path to greatness, or it's almost certain that we won't reach our goal. Enthusiasm is something that can be compared to a fire. As a fire starts to burn, it may be only a few flames -- but with enough time and fuel, a fire begins to burn hotter and hotter, kindling other flames as it grows. Although I'm not trying to minimize the great damage they caused, like the forest fires that have been plaguing us here in the Western United States over the last few years, a small spark can kindle a great blaze. In some cases, a single match, carelessly thrown out of a car window, caused a vast wildfire. Our quest for greatness can inspire and inflame an organization -- it can make an organization's enthusiasm flare up, just as the wildfires did. A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting book called "And Dignity for All." The title doesn't really do the book justice, even though it adequately conveys the general message of the book. The book tells of the re-creation of parts of Caterpillar, a U.S.based manufacturer of heavy machinery. More than just that, it's the chronicle of how just a few people reformed long-held ideas, and turned a company toward a better path to greatness. Just as in this excellent book, we all can create enthusiasm in our organizations, and in ourselves. A technique shared by many motivational experts is the "fake it until you make it" technique. In this technique, a person acts as if he/she already has a particular skill, ability, or positive attitude. The real thing follows easily. If you're having a bit of a problem getting started on the enthusiasm bandwagon, just act as if you're enthused. You'll soon get caught up in it.
83 2. Expect great things, and you'll get them. It's an old adage, but it's true -- when you expect greatness, you're likely to get it. Whether it be from yourself, your co-workers, your family, or your followers, when you expect the best, you're more likely to gain it. Conversely, the opposite is also true -- if you expect junk, you're likely to get it. Once you've become inflamed with enthusiasm, decide that only greatness will be good enough. Sure, your organization may take some time to get there -- or you may take time yourself -- but commit to do whatever it takes in order to get the great results you seek. Great things come from great people, who are striving to accomplish great undertakings. 3. Don't settle for less than greatness. Sounds like a bit of a replay of number two -- but it needs mentioning by itself. When you allow yourself to settle for "second best," you are doing yourself, and your organization, a great disservice. Years ago, a commercial had this tag line: "My tastes are simple. I only settle for the very best." Take this commercial line into your own approach to life. Expect the best from yourself -- and don't let yourself settle for less. 4. Encourage greatness in others. There's an old description of the difference between a leader and a dictator. A dictator tells people where to go -- and punishes them if they don't get there. A leader shows people where to go -- and leads them there herself. Don't only use mere words to encourage your organization and yourself to strive for greatness. Include training to give them (and you) the skills necessary to attain the best. Adjust your thinking to bring them onboard your "greatness bandwagon." Lead them, teach them, guide them -- and do the same for yourself. 5. Move steadily. This one item is the step that most people have the most problem with -- keeping going. It's usually easy for an organization to take their group to a "management retreat," where the latest in "team-building games" and "motivational moments" are shared -- but at best, most of these retreats provide a "six-month blip." After the initial excitement wears off, most people just stop moving. Your key, whether it be in yourself or in your organization, is to encourage continual movement and growth. Usually, all it takes is a bit of a push when movement seems to slow down -- but as a leader, you've got to keep yourself aware of those slowdowns.
6. Evaluate progress. An old friend of mine used to say "If something isn't measured, it doesn't happen." It sounds like the old "tree falls in the forest" argument, but it's more true than we may think. If there's no measurement of how an organization or an individual is moving and changing, it's likely there will be very little movement or change. Don't be onerous about it -- but evaluate how well your organization or yourself is adapting to your path toward greatness. 7. Adjust, adapt, and repeat. It's a never-ending quest -- when we become great, we need to become greater. Our newer heights show us greater ones to achieve. Adjust your approach to account for obstacles that may need to be surmounted. Adapt to those challenges, and also adapt to the things your quest has taught you. Repeat your quest for greatness -- and keep on striving to become greater, each and every day. Have confidence in your ability to reach greatness and move your organization toward greater heights.
Erasing our doubts
"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." -- William Shakespeare Most of us have doubts now and again -- we doubt our religion, we doubt our learning, we doubt our government, we doubt our experience. Rare is the person who has no doubts. Sometimes doubts are healthy -- but when we're talking about self-doubts, doubt is like a cancer, eating us from the inside. Few people learn to put self-doubt behind them, but those who do soon realize their doubts were pure lies. We gain self-doubt in ordinary ways. Some of our strongest self-doubt may be rooted in a childhood memory. A dropped ball at a crucial time in a grade school softball game; a childhood "crush" gone awry; a playground bully; a laughter-inducing bad haircut; forgetting ones lines during the sixth grade play -- all of these things can make us start to doubt ourselves -- even twenty, thirty, or forty years later. Weeks, months, or years go by -- we think about our past defeats, mulling them over in our minds. Even though our ball game has improved, our public speaking style has been perfected, and our haircut has become much, much better, our doubts remain, limiting our future and affecting our life. A bad marriage may create lingering doubts that affect a good marriage; a layoff at a job may make us less likely to trust our new employer; a thoughtless word 20 years ago, said by a stranger, may cause us to doubt our abilities. In Dante's Inferno, the entrance to Hades was marked with a sign, which read: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." Many people, bound by self-doubts, take a similar path -they abandon all hope of change -- because their doubts have put them into a living hell. Doubts, though, are like shadows -- they lurk to confuse the reality of what life is about. Like shadows, the key to exposing doubts for what they really are is the same -- shed the true light of day on the doubt, and the basis for it, even if it was formed 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Few of our doubts can stand up to the pure light of reality. With a little bit of light, we find that our lives are remarkably different than they were 20 years ago. We find that our childhood experiences don't matter at all -- in fact, most of the time, they were inaccurate memories. Most of the time, if we look at the experiences that cause self-doubt, we find that with our new-found wisdom, our doubts are exposed for the frauds they truly are. We find our assumptions at the time that the doubts were formed were flawed; we find we lacked
83 information, or wisdom about the experience. Our gut-level reactions were often incorrect; our emotion-laden memories are often inaccurate. How can we erase these doubts? How can we eliminate them? By confronting them. Our doubts and our fears are anchors -- holding us to one place forever after. We must raise those anchors, freeing ourselves to sail to newer, greater destinations. Examine your life -- write down a list of your doubts and fears. See them for what they are -- lies that you continue to tell yourself. Resolve to ignore those doubts, now that they have been exposed. Choose to act in the face of your self-doubt and fear -- after the first two or three times, they will no longer be doubts.
Picking our future
It's a truth that many of us never quite learn: when you make a decision, you choose your future path. Odd, isn't it? It's such an obvious thing when you're driving -- when you choose a road, you choose a range of destinations. Yet, when we look at our lives, many of us learn this lesson only after years of heartache and trouble. Choose to save money, and you choose to gain money. Choose to start saving money when you're 24, and you'll have a lot more money when you're 64. Choose to start saving it when you're 62, and it's going to be difficult to save enough to have much of a nest egg when that gold watch rolls around. Choose to specialize in a particular discipline, and you choose not to look at countless others. With all this uncertainty, it's perhaps easy to see why some people decide not to choose at all. Of course, deciding "not to choose" is a choice in itself. These people choose nothing. A recent "quote of the day" from Nightingale-Conant had this excerpt from Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric: ""Control your destiny or somebody else will." Welch, as many of you no doubt know, controlled the destiny of many people while at GE. When he first started with the company, workers referred to him as "Neutron Jack." When he came into a business, the furniture remained, but the people had all gone. It's odd to think about, but most people who wander blindly through life's trials, never really set a course to follow -- they never really make decisions. Their job is often the first job they secured. Their spouse is the first one who would marry them. Their home is wherever the job -- or the in-laws -- demanded. Their ideas are whatever ideas came over talk radio this morning, and their hopes and desires were formed by undirected daydreams and delusions of grandeur. They never seek their dreams, because they don't know how to start -- they rarely move from their starting place, because they don't have a goal, a desire, a plan, or a need. These are the people who wander aimlessly through life -- not because they like to wander (I enjoy the occasional aimless wander, as long as it doesn't get out of hand) but because they have never decided not to wander. Too many of us have allowed ourselves to be pulled and pushed through life -- never choosing a path, never making our own start, never choosing to make a difference in our lives or the lives of the people we love. Well, for those of us who have been wandering, let me bring up one more truism:
83 You can't limit the future -- you can only limit your part in it. Face it -- the future is going to be there one way or the other (and if it's not, which of us is going to be around to care, anyway). When we avoid making positive choices in our life, for whatever reason, we only hurt ourselves. We limit our future, our joy, and our ability to help ourselves and others. When we "float along" the river of life, we wind up wherever the current takes us -- for good or bad. We may crash on the rocks, or wind up flowing to somewhere wonderful, but the choice is not our own. We have it thrust upon us. It's far better to add a rudder to our lives -- even a small goal will give us direction; even a small decision can make a significant change in our lives. Let's choose to be a part of the future we deserve.
Dealing with downturns
"Into each life, some rain must fall," wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. While it's true, downturns are something few of us look forward to. Economies collapse, companies go under, stock prices dwindle, real estate crashes, jobs come and go. Worse yet, many families face sickness, heartache, even unexpected or early death. No person is ever guaranteed that every day will be sunshine and roses. God didn't give us a warranty that each day would be free from trial, trouble, pain and suffering. It would have been nice if there was such a warranty -- but they just don't happen. Things happen. There's no getting away from it. Sometimes, we see these challenges as good, sometimes as bad -- but one way or the other, we're going to have downturns, challenges, and bleak times in our lives. So how do we deal with the downturns? In a positive way, obviously. A recent news report brought out an unusual statistic. Cancer patients who traveled to a medical facility over 15 miles away from home recovered better than closer patients treated in the same facility, by the same doctors. Odd as this seems, the researches said it seems to prove that those patients who took a more active interest in their therapy, choosing their doctor and maintaining a positive approach to their treatment, had a much better chance of recovery. It seems to be coming out all of the time -- people who maintain a positive attitude, no matter what problems may befall them, do better -- and it's been proven by study after study. The mere act of being positive increases the chance you will survive -- and eventually thrive -- after today's downturn. I know many of you who read this particular issue of our weekly feature will be going through a problem time. I know where you're coming from. I have had difficulties myself. When confronted with problems, it's easy to give up, give in, throw in the towel, or just throw up. None of these options is going to work for you. Giving up is never the best course. It doesn't matter what you're going through -- I know it's difficult to take. What matters is your commitment that you will persist until you succeed, no matter how long that takes, and no matter how difficult it becomes.
83 Some twenty-odd years ago, a one-time friend of mine was climbing a mountain. She had been climbing for some time, and was fairly close to the top when she came across a sign. The sign showed the remaining mileage to the top of the mountain. Despite how far she had come, looking at the remaining miles depressed her. She immediately gave up. She had come a substantial way, but the sign discouraged her. I have wondered through the years what would have happened if the sign had been missing. I believe she may have made it to the top. She took that sign as a discouraging situation. No matter how many miles she had come, no matter that she was long past the halfway point, she gave up, gave in, and turned around. Sometimes in our lives, we reach similar signs. They may be a sign of a disease, or a sign of a layoff. They may be signs of impending change. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that we decide we will get through the downturn, no matter what. Why? Because even if we go through the worst, it'll be a whole lot easier, with a much greater chance of success, than if we choose to look at our situation negatively. Things happen to people. You know it; I know it. Bad things seem to happen to good people, and good things sometimes happen to bad people. Sometimes, it's all you can do to hold on, hope for the best, and keep a positive outlook. Sometimes, your loved ones will be hurt by what happens. Sometimes, you'll be placed in the situation where you have to counsel someone else. Sometimes, it'll be all you can do to keep a "stiff upper lip." Sometimes, it'll be you that faces an uncertain future, or has your life turned upside down, at a moment's notice. When that time comes, remember this: You may not be able to choose your problems in life, but you can choose how you'll deal with them. When the downturns come, you can choose a positive outlook, or you can throw in the towel. You can look at the remaining few miles on your climb, or at the distance you've already come. You can decide to give in to a disease, or to beat it. You can let a layoff devastate you, or you can look at it as a great chance to change careers. It doesn't matter what you go through -- what matters is what you learn from it The great philosopher Epictetus said it this way: "The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths." Into every life, a little rain must fall -- but the rains of today bring the flowers of tomorrow.
Dreaming big dreams, and making them real
I've never been that good of a dreamer -- at least while I'm asleep. My wife has amazing, vibrant dreams, while my dreams are more of the pedestrian variety. While I'm asleep, my mind wanders through work problems, takes drives in the country, or tries to find the right room in a strange convention center. They're really boring dreams, for the most part. Oh, there is the occasional nuclear holocaust nightmare, and every once in a while, I fly across town, simply by flapping my arms up and down, but by and large, my nighttime dreams are mostly work-oriented. I've always been amazed by people who have vivid dreams -- mostly because the few dreams I remember upon waking are usually pretty muted. But wake me up -- and I really start to dream. My most vibrant dreams occur when I'm wide awake, thinking about a challenge; that's when I can actively visualize the answer -- and that's when my dreams really come into their own. Life needs daytime dreamers -- in fact our world depends on them. Let me quote from a few of the really "big dreamers." "People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." -- Leonardo da Vinci Can you think of a bigger dreamer than da Vinci? Did you know that da Vinci, aside from being an amazing artist, also was a visionary? His attempts to draw the future have led some people to suggest that Leonardo was a time traveler. Star Trek aside, it's unlikely he ever saw any part of the future -- except in his mind's eye. "So may of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." -- Christopher Reeve Reeve, injured in a tragic accident, keeps fighting to regain his mobility, even though people keep telling him it's a lost cause. In the last year, he has gained some feeling -feeling others have been telling him would never come back. It's difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow." -- Robert Goddard
83 Back in the 1930s, Goddard pioneered the development of rocketry -- a quest that was later adopted by the German side in World War II. Goddard was dismissed by many in his own nation as a crackpot -- until the early Nazi rockets started to fly. From Goddard, as well as many dreamers, we learn that persistence is the only key to getting your dreams into reality. There will be those who mock your dreams -- and yet those people are never the ones who cause great things to happen -- they are just the ones who follow blindly along after the future has come to pass, looking for something else to declare as "impossible." "Build a dream and the dream will build you." -- Robert Schuller Schuller, a noted expert in living your life in a positive manner, is right. By building your dream -- helping your dream to come to live, no matter what it may be -- you build yourself. Many of the greatest men and women in our world have become great by following a dream -- and then recasting themselves to be worthy of that dream. We should do the same -- dream great dreams, and actively work to become great enough to find a place in our glorious vision. Many people have found themselves caught up in the reality of their dreams -- and as a result, they have made themselves better. As the old adage goes, "It's better to shoot for the stars and miss, than to shoot for nothing, and hit it." If you're not worthy of your dreams -- then now's the time to start to become worthy. "What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -- Goethe We usually don't think of philosophers as the "action-oriented" type. But, the muchquoted philosopher Goethe brings dreaming full circle, where it belongs. As long as your dreams stay dreams, they will be of no use to you, or anyone else. They will eat away at your self-image and reveal you as a sham, to yourself and others. You see, dreams -- at least the kind you have during the day -- are really useless, unless they are followed by action. Dream all you want, but it's only when you actually start doing something that a dream turns into reality -- and despite the emphasis on "dreaming" in this week's Monday Motivation, we're really interested in reality.
Making your dreams into reality
When all the dreaming is done, that's where the real work starts -- if you want to be considered "visionary" instead of "dream-locked," what matters is the good old fashioned basics -- making a plan and executing it well. If your dream is great enough, chances are you don't have all the skills necessary to achieve it -- as you currently are. Relax! Ability can be learned, bought, or rented -through learning, experience, and other people. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, had a bit of ability when he first came up with the vision for his company. He had financial know-how, a basic plan, and a lot of guts. But he didn't have everything he needed. He hired people to take the company farther, and as he hired them, he imbued them with a sense of his dream -- his vision for a better way to buy on the web. I was one of the early customers of Amazon.com, and I've been amazed ever since to see what he -- and his team -- have done with the company. It is dramatically different than the way it started -- and yet it still is growing to fit Jeff's dream. That's the way the best dreams are -- they take a bit of growth to achieve. By following his ever-adapting plan, Bezos and his team have created a company out of just a dream -- and yet as soon as he started to work on the dream, it started to become reality. Other great companies are much the same. When Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, first proposed overnight delivery, people laughed at him. I'm old enough to remember the pre-FedEx days. At the time, I had a balky piece of hightech (for the time) equipment -- and every time it needed a part, I wound up having to drive to the airport, after making bizarre arrangements with airlines, freight forwarders, and airline company employees. One night, I locked the keys inside the company van at the airport -- and had to talk a security guard into fishing the doors open with a coat hanger -- which they kept hanging in the trees in the parking lot, for just such an emergency. I'll never forget the day I first had a part shipped by FedEx. I was flabbergasted. It was so easy! As a FedEx customer, I have long been amazed by Smith's drive to turn his dream into reality -- and I have benefited from it time and time again. Like da Vinci, these two visionaries saw something that did not exist. Although da Vinci never built the helicopter that he envisioned, both Bezos and Smith managed to build companies that reflected their dream -- their vision.
83 "Dream no small dreams" is the advice of the philosopher. "Plan no small plans" should be its corollary. Anybody can dream -- what really sets aside the winners from the losers is action. Put a call to action in your life -- and make your dreams into reality Let me give you -- and me -- a challenge for this week: Dream great dreams -- while you're awake -- and then determine a plan of action to make your dreams reality. Then, put those plans into effect.
"Serving customers is a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate kind of activity" -- Leon Gorman, Chairman, L.L. Bean "It is the service we are not obliged to give that people value most." J.C. Penney "The question is, then, do we try to make things easy on ourselves or do we try to make things easy on our customers, whoever they may be?" Niccolo Machiavelli "Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they will always come back for more." Leon Leonwood (L. L.) Bean "There is only one boss -- the customer. And he can fire everyone in the company from the CEO on down, simply by spending his money elsewhere." Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart I was reading the business news the other day, when I ran across a news release from FedEx. As many of you who read these weekly pieces know, FedEx is one of the companies that I admire most. (I don't really play favorites -- I also admire UPS.) Anyway, as a FedEx customer, I have long been able to see their customer service up close -- and I've always been impressed. Anyway, getting back to the new release, the release named a group of worldwide employees who were honored for service. It listed a total of 165 employees who received one of two awards -- one called the "Humanitarian Award," and the other the "Purple Promise Award." One recipient of the Humanitarian Award pulled two men out of a burning helicopter. Another watched a vehicle go out of control, pulled a two-year-old girl and her mother from the wreckage, and then, due to the remote location of the accident, transported the victims to a hospital 25 miles away -- presumably in a FedEx truck. A third saved an infant from an abandoned car that was full of exhaust fumes. These incredible stories are impressive -- and they then were followed by stories of FedEx couriers who rowed across streams to deliver packages when the bridge was closed, and my favorite -- a FedEx courier who took a phone call after normal pickups had ended late on a Saturday afternoon. Learning that a critical shipment of bone marrow from a local hospital had to make the plane, the courier picked up the bone marrow, and took it to the airport, accompanied by a police escort. I'm using FedEx here as an excellent example of customer service at its finest. While I'm certain you have had both good and bad experiences with almost any company, including FedEx, it's likely that you've seen that the companies with excellent customer service are the companies that continue to win in today's day and age. More than ever nowadays, the consumer can easily take his or her business elsewhere -- and often does so at the spur of the moment. Car dealers find their customers now buy
83 vehicles from across the state, not just across town. Book dealers now compete with industry giants such as Amazon.com. Even the mom-and-pop wireless dealer down the street may be in competition with the "big boys" through outlets such as eBay. Never before in the history of our business has the consumer had such a vast variety of choices -- and that means that never before has customer service been so important a commitment. It's odd, though -- in these times where the customer is king, many companies are choosing to make it more difficult for the customer to do business. Call the main number of many companies lately, and you're going to get what's called a "voice mail tree." The voice mail menus give callers options -- and as long as your problem is one of the options, you're likely to get what you came for. Sold as a cost-saving measure, many of the voice mail menus actually drive customers away -- taking their revenue with them. Now, many companies are outsourcing their customer service -- sometimes to other companies located on the other side of the world. As long as the new solutions give superior customer service, then I'm all for them -- but when they degrade the quality of the customer's experience, the company that uses them is gradually cutting its own throat. The reason why many companies can get by with voice mail trees and contracted customer service is that their "normal" standard of customer service never was that good to begin with. A voice mail menu is far superior to a receptionist that ignores your call, hangs up on you, or transfers callers to the wrong extension. An outsourced customer service function can be better, if the servicing company is chosen on the basis of skill, dedication, and quality of service. When it comes right down to it, just as we are all in selling, from one point of view or the other, we are all engaged in customer service. If there is no customer, there is no business. As Sam Walton said in the quotation that started this week's edition of Monday Motivation, the customer can fire anyone, simply by taking his or her business elsewhere -- and many have. Too many employees feel that serving the customer is "somebody else's problem." Their concern is bookkeeping, janitorial work, selling, planning, or the ubiquitous "management." Much like "human resources," to these clueless employees, customers are something to be ignored, or more likely, taken advantage of. Without customers, though, all of the other positions become superfluous. You may refer to your customers by other names. Doctors have "patients," while lawyers have "clients." Hotels have "guests." (Even my local car dealer has started referring to me as a "guest," as in: "Guest states there is a noise in the rear wheel." I think they do it
83 so they can avoid the premise that the "customer is always right.") Universities have "students," banks have "depositors," and municipalities have "citizens." No matter what you call them, though -- they're customers. As the soon-to-be-ex governor of the state of California found, customers can fire anyone. In much of the United States, Wal-Mart has been overtaking some of the more traditional grocery stores. The traditional groceries say it's done with non-union labor (which is true, for the most part) and lower wages (also mostly true), but it's also been done by WalMart keeping its eye on the customer. In their new supercenters, Wal-Mart offers many of the same things as the traditional grocery stores -- but they also offer all of the elements of Wal-Mart, plus banks on the premises, fast food, oil changes, tires, hair salons, gas stations, optometrists, and store employees who will actually answer your questions (for the most part). They have won over consumers through a mix of lower prices and better service; now, early reports in the Wall Street Journal suggest Wal-Mart may be considering adding instore financial services -- the Bank of Wal-Mart. Some months ago, I had a question on a credit card statement from Sears. I've been a customer of Sears for a long time, and carried one of their credit cards. One month, I accidentally underpaid the bill by one cent -- and got hit with a $20 penalty for my trouble. I called the credit card group to inquire about them reversing the charge. "Our computers are down," said the voice on the other end, who then promptly hung up on me. I paid the charge, and canceled the card. I've been back to Sears a couple of times since then, but my heart isn't in it -- so it amused me the other day when I noticed that Sears had started testing a "superstore" concept similar to Wal-Mart. Convinced that customers are going to want to buy milk with their drills, they have constructed a couple of new Sears "Grande" stores, to test the concept. I've got some advice for you, Sears: work on the customer service, then add the milk. Is the customer king, or queen? Yes, they are. The customer can go where he or she wants to go, buy what he or she wants to buy, from wherever they wish to purchase it. They can choose to buy a lot, or choose not to buy at all. They can choose to buy from a different company, choose to move their deposits somewhere else, choose to get a different physician, choose to fire their lawyer, or choose to read motivational articles on a different website. It's this clear: without the customer, nothing happens. With the customer in your corner, everything can happen.
How are we doing? You're our customer. Is this series beneficial to you? Are there other topics you would like addressed? Is there a particular topic you'd like to see in further depth? Drop us a line!
Make your life worth living — today
As I write this piece for this week's Monday Motivation, two events are coming to pass -first, the clock is ticking down the last hours toward my birthday -- that time each year where I pretend I'm not actually getting older, even though the mirror (and the calendar) say otherwise. This Monday Motivation is also dated for the week of Thanksgiving here in the United States, where I am based. For those of you reading this from other countries, Thanksgiving is a harvest holiday, mostly centering on four things: Eating too much, Watching sports (particularly American Football) on TV, Shopping, and giving thanks. Most years, these two events always put me in a reflective mood, and it's the same this year, if not more so. As you may have read a few weeks ago, one of my loved ones has been diagnosed with cancer. Another family member had a stroke. There have been challenges to deal with, support to be offered, and life to be cherished. With all of these things happening so close to one another, it has brought to my mind one overwhelming question: "What is it that makes life worth living?" Let me try to give an answer to that question, at least for me: Life is worth living because of the difference you can make today -- both in your own life, and in the lives of other people. I know people who will argue with me over this -- sometimes for hours. To many of them, material possessions make their lives worth living -- from fast cars and big boats to diamond rings and fat bank accounts. Mind you, I'm not trying to downplay the importance of good financial planning, or working to achieve a financial goal. I'm just suggesting that when you get right down to it, the positive difference you can make in the lives of others is what really makes life worth living. There's a quote attributed to Alfred Einstein where someone asked him what was the purpose of the existence of the human race. The great thinker reportedly (I say reportedly because I haven't found the source for it) said, "To bless the lives of others." I'm likely misquoting him here -- it's been many years since I heard the quote -- but the power of what he apparently said made a difference in my life. If we don't actively work to make the world a better place, we haven't done a great deal of good, no matter how much money we may have acquired, or what letters may come after our name, whether it's PhD, MD, DO, DVM, or OBE. So, as we start to wind down November, let me leave you (and me) with a challenge: Make a significant difference in the life of somebody -- today -- and everyday.
83 That somebody may be your spouse, "significant other" (whatever that means), a coworker, your boss, a stranger, a family member, a customer, or yourself. But you have to make a difference, and it has to be today. Why today? Well, it's my conviction that if we don't start something today -- whether it's a diet, a life plan, a savings regimen, or a change in ourselves -- that we usually don't get around to doing it until much, much later, if at all. Perhaps that comes from years of pushing myself to start something today -- knowing that tomorrow, something is likely to come up. I find that when I start something this very day -- even if it's only a little step on a long path -- that I have a greater chance of succeeding. So -- take my challenge. Make a difference -- today. Only you can identify what that difference will be -- today. Only you can make the movement that will bring it to pass -- today. Only you can change your life, or the life of someone else, for the better -- today. Act today, and make a difference in someone's life that will be felt tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows to come. It's easy to get so focused on the goals, benchmarks, quotas, demands, and rules, that we lose sight of what's really important -- making a difference in a positive way. We should all be agents for positive change -- in our own lives, and in the lives of others. How do you make your life worth living? You live it wisely and well -- and you actively work to make the world a better place, through your actions, your words, your dreams, and by acting on them -- today.
Mastering public speaking
The number of top company executives who never learn to speak before an audience often amazes me. It's said that most people fear speaking before an audience more than they fear death. But you'd think that people who work with the public day in and day out would soon learn the few tricks that make a good -- or even great -- public speaker. I've always done well before an audience. From the time I was eight or nine, I've spoken in front of audiences. Plays, debate, speeches, introductions -- none of them ever faze me -- and with just a little bit of work, they don't have to bother you, either. So -- here's a primer to mastering public speaking. It's not an all-inclusive list, of course; but whether you're the CEO of a public company, a sales manager of a fortune 500 concern, a bank president, a government official, or the owner of a mom-and-pop (but growing nicely) company, it's sure to help you learn to speak better and more confidently. Let me start with the first question: Why should you learn to speak better in public? The answer is an easy one: people who carry themselves well in a public situation are seen more as leader material -- plus, they learn to rapidly motivate others, using only their words and body language. Just think about the people you admire professionally -- are they generally good public speakers? Chances are, they come over well in public situations. They may do better in smaller groups or larger ones, but they have a certain charisma that comes through everything they do. Critically watch one of them the next time you listen to a talk. Examine his or her mannerisms: how he holds his head, how she moves her arms, how they smile as they talk. Watch how they approach the podium (if they use a podium), and how they use words and phrases to win their audience over to their point of view. I've moved away from watching Tom Peters over the last few years, but if you want to watch someone to learn public presentation from, Tom's a good one. He moves all over the stage when he talks. He raises his voice to a shout, and then lowers it to a croaky whisper. Before long, Peters has his audience listening to every word, just because of his style of delivery. When you learn to effectively speak in public, you open up a whole new range of possibilities. From mayor to president, from legislator to queen, each has to develop the ability to speak in public -- and learn the right methods to captivate, interest, and move an audience. Here then are some basic steps to learning how to master public speaking:
83 Gibson's rule of public speaking number 1: Know your audience. This is the first key to crafting an effective talk -- know your audience. Learn what makes your audience tick -- research what items they are most interested in, as a whole. You're not going to be able to look inside the mind of each audience member, but in most cases, you're going to be able to learn what items are most important to them. As an example, if you're talking to a group of hog farmers, you're not going to hold that audience with a talk about forestry management -- unless you can find something in the subject that will appeal to them. No matter how well crafted your talk may be, your audience will always examine it from their own point of view -- and their point of view includes the phrase "What's this mean to me?" To start out with, then, learn about your audience, and ask yourself this question: "Why should this topic matter to them?" The answer to this question should be the feature of your talk. - The one thing that matters most to your audience will be the thing they will be most interested in learning about -- and your success will rise or fall depending on how well you are able to address their needs. Too often, speakers ignore this rule, and they pay for their negligence. Gibson's rule of public speaking number 2: Know what you want to accomplish from your talk. You should have a purpose to your talk, and something you want to accomplish. That purpose may just be entertainment or it may be attempting to start a radical change in your organization. Whatever it is, you should begin by determining your conclusion -where you want to wind up. Craft your speech or talk to arrive at that conclusion within your allotted time. Gibson's rule of public speaking number 3: Know how much time you have for your talk or speech -- and don't go over. Here's a good number to commit to memory: 180-200. What's the number mean? It's a good working average of how fast people talk, in words per minute. Take the number of minutes you have available, times it by the appropriate number (180 if you speak somewhat deliberately, 200 if you speak a little faster), and then write a talk that's close to that number. You're better off planning about a minute or so under the amount allotted. As you get more used to public speaking, you'll get a better handle on how many words you speak a minute on average. Most word processing programs have a word count feature (in Microsoft Word, it's on the "Tools" menu.) You can either write to fit, or you can edit it down to the correct time -- but get used to writing to a particular length.
83 Gibson's rule of public speaking number 4: Use anecdotes to make your points. There are people who contend that the use of anecdotes in your talks is unneeded, and for some talks, they're right. For most talks you'll give, though, using anecdotes will liven up your talk and add heart to it. Why is this? Well, if you look back at your earliest childhood experiences, one of the things you likely loved best was "story time." Dad or Mom may have read you a bedtime story, or you might have listened to your first grade teacher read to you on Friday afternoons (like I did). You got used to those stories -- and although you're grown up now, your brain still likes to hear them. Anecdotes -- particularly personal anecdotes -- serve to draw your audience into your talk, because they give the audience something to relate to. The more universal the anecdote (Christmas, New Year's, birthday, mom and dad, childhood homes, first kiss, first pet, first day at school, first day at the company, lost loves, lost dogs, lost opportunities), the more likely the audience will buy into it. There are some talks where anecdotes do not serve you well: calls to action (like Churchill addressing the British people), bad news (just blurt it out, then follow up with "buffering phrases" to lessen the shock), radically good news (also just blurt it out, then add congratulatory phrases and stories later), and a few others don't lend themselves to anecdotes. For the majority of the speeches you will give, though, anecdotes serve to draw the audience into your talk. Get used to looking at your life's experiences and asking yourself: "What can I learn from this?" It's amazing how rapidly your supply of anecdotes will fill up. If you don't have sufficient experiences in the area, use anecdotes from other people and publications, but always be certain to attribute the source correctly. Gibson's rule of public speaking number 5: Vary your speaking rhythm and volume. Some professionals who make their living doing this sort of thing refer to this as "cadence." We all know speakers who speak in a constant monotone, constant voice level, and at a constant speed. Do you listen to them? Me neither. A few months ago, I was listening to an audio program from a person proclaimed as a noted "vocal coach." I hadn't listened to him for more than a minute before I pulled the tape out. I could tell from his delivery style that he didn't know a lot about speaking -- I was falling asleep just listening to him. He might have been the best coach around, but I wasn't going to pay any attention to what he said, because of the way he said it. Until you get used to doing this, it helps to mark your "script" with timing and volume marks, just like they use in sheet music. Mark where you should provide emphasis -- and then vary your voice to provide that emphasis. Mark the areas where you can speed up a bit -- just a bit, mind you; this isn't a race -- and the areas where you should slow down, either to make a point, or because the subject matter requires more "respect."
83 Practice the talk a few times -- recording it is helpful -- and then pay attention to how the varying cadence makes a difference. There's a great secret to this: you know how to do this already; you already do it in everyday speech. When you get excited about something, your voice speeds up, and the volume and timbre of your voice changes. For some reason, though, when we "give a talk," we forget how to talk. Gibson's rule of public speaking number 6: Write your talk out in advance. I suggest a method called the "four step method." You can stop at any step in this method, and give your talk -- but the longer you continue, the better you become. Step one: outline your talk. Mark your conclusion, define the anecdotes you'll use, determine how you're going to get there. Step two: Using the outline, put your talk into written form. Flesh out the outline, write down the anecdotes, put the conclusion into the best possible phrasing. Edit it to the proper length. Mark it for speed and volume. Practice it until you feel comfortable giving it. Stand up when you practice it. Concentrate on making your speech sound "normal." Solicit help from your family, friends, co-workers or spouse. Have them listen to your delivery and make suggestions. Step three: Using your written talk, prepare a revised outline, with markers to remind you of each point and anecdote. Mark the page number each item appears on in your written talk. Include your written conclusion at the bottom of the outline. Practice giving your talk from the outline, only, and check for time and emphasis. Step four: Give the talk, from the outline. Keep the written talk in your briefcase or your coat pocket. (If you're nervous, put it on the podium, but only refer to it if you get rattled). Gibson's rule of public speaking number 7: Use jokes sparingly. Some of us can get away with using a lot of humor in our talks. If you're one of those, go with it. For the others, leave the jokes out, and include stories and anecdotes. You're usually trying to motivate an audience, not entertain it. Gibson's rule of public speaking number 8: Get used to looking at your audience. A lot of occasional speakers will tell you to look "over" the audience at the back wall -- or look at them and imagine seeing them all sitting there in their underwear. The problem with both these suggestions is that it isolates you from your audience -- you can't get a good read on how well they are following your talk. Look at your audience if possible (for some people, it'll take a few times before they get the guts to try this step). Many speakers pick five or six different people in various parts of the room, and then address their talk to those five or six. Before long, you'll find you actually "draw" energy and power from looking at your audience. Soon, you're right in there with them -- and you'll find the very nature of your public speaking will change.
83 Gibson's rule of public speaking number 9: Craft "sticker" phrases that people can hold on to. People don't remember all of Churchill's, Kennedy's, Reagan's, or Roosevelt's talks -they only remember the phrases that were crafted to stick in their minds: Churchill: "This was their finest hour" Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you" Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Roosevelt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" You can craft such phrases, even if you don't employ a speechwriter. Just take your basic belief and conclusion, and put it in such a way that it sounds forceful. (Obviously, it's not that easy to do, but it's a good place to start.) Add in some dramatic pause, a bit of volume change, and then "drive" it home. (For example, in the Roosevelt quote above, he would have paused after the first fear, so his audience would be listening for the end.) It takes a bit of a trial, learning to do it, but it's really not that difficult in the end. Plus, the more you do it, the better you become. There are a lot of names for this phrase. Personally, I call it a "sticker phrase," and I'll tell you why: When I was a kid, I'd wander almost anywhere around the neighborhood. I wore these blue jeans with turned up cuffs. I was growing so rapidly that my mother would buy them several sizes too large, and then let the cuffs down as I grew taller. Anyway, after a hard day playing, I'd come home and pull the "cockleburs" and other "stickers" out of my pant cuffs. I soon learned that this is the way the plants reproduced -- their seeds stuck to whatever person or animal that wandered by, hoping to catch a ride to somewhere it could start a new plantation of cockleburs. Your phrases have to be like those "stickers." They have to stick with someone -- so even if he or she won't remember all of what you said, (and they won't) they'll remember the sticker phrases. Gibson's rule of public speaking number 10: Sum it up, and sit down. Some public speaking books will give you this advice: "organize your talk like this: tell them what you're going to say, then tell them, then tell them what you told them." It's probably a useful bit of advice, but most people take it too literally -- rather than building to a conclusion, they wind up telling the audience the same thing three times. At the end of the talk, though, you've got to sum it up -- you've got to "tie it up in a pretty red bow," so to speak. Briefly (less than a minute) review the concepts, then make your point, hit them with your "sticker phrase," thank the audience, and sit down.
83 Gibson's rule of public speaking number 11: Practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute for practice. Many people try groups like the Toastmasters; others start small, speaking in front of the local Kiwanis Club, or a local church. Others practice before the mirror, or in front of a video camera, or before their family. However you do it, do it. Practice makes perfect.
A fight for our souls
To introduce this week's topic, let me borrow a recent "Thought for the Day" from Dan Galvin's daily mailing: An Old Cherokee describes an experience going on inside himself.... "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
(Submitted to Dan Galvin by Willie Weiss)
We could add much to this story -- the "good wolf" would include enthusiasm, vision, excitement, happiness, and positive thoughts, words and deeds. This little story easily illustrates the battle that many of us fight every day -- the internal battle for our very souls. On one side, wearing the "white hat" (the "good" cowboy always wears a white hat) we've got our good side: positive, caring, growing, always working toward the future. On the other side, there's our "black hat." This side of us sees the cloud, not the sky and the difficulty, not the opportunity. This is the side that sees the weeds, not the wildflowers. How successful we are in life depends greatly on which side of our soul takes control, most of the time. Earl Nightingale's famous "strangest secret" deals with this: we become what we think about. The person who thinks in a positive, caring, enlightened manner becomes a positive, caring, enlightened individual. His neighbor, who continually sees the darker side of the world, finding the shadow in every sunny day, is the person who takes on all the darker sides of life -- and misses the great joys that lie within. I hate to use Star Wars metaphors, but it's particularly useful here. As Yoda said, "Once you start down the dark side, forever will it control your thoughts" (or something like that).
83 Once people get into the habit of looking at life from its negative angles, they soon find that life has lost its joy, meaning, and excitement. While the positive neighbors are greeting each day with excitement and joy, those on the dark side regret each day's worth of life -- they do not "greet" the day, because the day has no promise for them. We all know people like this -- in fact sometimes we are people like this. Frankly, we all have bad days from time to time -- it's a fact of life that few people are constantly "up." But if you're seeing more "down" days than "up" ones, it's time to take a look at which side of the street you're habitually walking down. Aside from chocolate (did you see that news item that talks about the wonders of dark chocolate?), one of the best ways to stay on track is to develop positive habits. Habits can be our master or our slave; we can choose to be driven by bad habits, or choose to develop and use good habits to keep us on track. If you're having difficulty staying on the brighter side of the street -- if you're losing the fight within your soul between the dark side and the light side, now's the time to make some changes in your daily life. Leave the TV set off, and start your day with something new: a good book, a talk with your spouse, a morning walk, an early drive to the office (before all the scary drivers wake up), or a leisurely breakfast. Habitually choose to temporarily set aside those things that would move you from your positive path. I know nobody can exist in a vacuum -- there are bills to be paid, laundry to be done, clothes to be mended, kids to be fed, and lawns to be mowed. All the everyday minutia that invades on our positive state can wait. Set aside a schedule early each evening after work to address the bills; get up a little bit earlier to undertake your morning chores; schedule a time on the weekend where you take care of items that need your attention -and then only depart from that schedule when emergencies arise. It's odd, but true -when we schedule a time to take on the more distasteful things we need to accomplish (things such as paying bills, cleaning the bathroom, washing the clothes, or cleaning the yard), it not only makes the task seem easier, but it gives us our lost time back. When we set up a "positive schedule" to our lives, we soon find that we align our thoughts along with our time. By spinning a positive slant to challenging activities, we soon find we see "chores" as "activities." As an example, a friend of mine looks at cleaning the house as a fun challenge -- each time she does it, she attempts to do it faster and better. (For those who wish to be infected with such a disease, I recommend Don
Aslett's books teaching professional house cleaning techniques to make everyday residential cleaning faster and more efficient).
Face it -- you're much happier when your "light side" is in control; I know I am. With that in mind, why would any of us choose to let our dark side rule? Why would anybody give extra control to the side of us that would choose to destroy us? It's a fight -- that's for sure -- a fight for our soul. It is, however, a fight that we can win.
Simple steps with big payoffs
As August winds to a close, we're about to start the last three months of this year. It's a good time to review some simple steps we all can follow to make our work more productive -- no matter what work we might happen to do. You've heard all of these from me before -- but if you're anything like me, it helps to sometimes hammer them home again. So here we go -- simple steps that yield big payoffs (with hardly any extra effort). 1. Keep and work a daily task list The story is told of an efficiency expert who visited steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was quite busy running his empire, and had little time for the man -- but let him pitch one idea -- his "top" idea -- and that if he liked it, he'd send him a check for what it was worth. One idea? The expert told Carnegie to do the following: Each day, write down the day's tasks on a small card. Order them in terms of importance, work through the list in that order, and then check them off when he was done. "This one idea alone will revolutionize your life," the expert is reputed to have said. Carnegie tried the technique. Two weeks later, he sent the expert a check for $10,000. It's a simple little idea, and it's so simple that most people breeze on by. We all believe we can stay on track, no matter what diversions may come our way, without using this simple trick. Truth be told, even though I know the worth of this trick, there are many days when I need to be reminded -- and I know that those days where I do this, I accomplish far more than on days where I let the day's flow take me wherever it wants. There are a lot of programs, publications, binders, planners, and websites that may facilitate this process -- but whatever you use, the key is still the same. No matter how you do it, doing this one simple thing will pay off big -- just the same as it did for Carnegie (and the consultant as well -- $10,000 wasn't chicken feed at the time). 2. Make a list of everything you're good at, and like to do Seems a bit strange at first glance -- but we all need to take inventory from time to time. Spend a few minutes and make up a list of your talents/strengths/abilities. Why? One
83 reason: When you know what you're good at doing, it's more likely you'll move toward doing those things. The lessons of time have shown us that we're usually more successful at things we good at, particularly those things we like to do. It's one of the strangest parts of human nature -- we often spend our working hours doing things that we hate. The person who has a job he or she loves is a rare person indeed -- much of the world's people hate each hour they're at work, every day of the year. Sure, we're not all going to be able to find work in our strongest areas -- there aren't that many jobs out there for people who want to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos all day -but we should concentrate on areas where we have a talent, and have an interest as well. 3. Concentrate on the positive aspects of your life, not the negative ones. Sure -- that's obvious, too. Yet, many people spend the majority of their waking hours concentrating on the negative side of life -- particularly on the negative side of the problems that turn up. Mike, a friend, died last week after his kayak overturned in a river. At his funeral today, his friend Ed spoke of how Mike had "loved problems." Mike looked at problems, Ed said, as "mental arithmetic." He saw problems, no matter what they may be, as something to be conquered. We all have problems and challenges of one sort or another -- but if we look at them in a positive way, we soon find they are chances to grow. When I look at a field, I can concentrate on the flowers, weeds. When I look at the sky, I can look at the clouds for them with the dread of an upcoming storm. When I look at as a friend or a foe. When I look at a setback, I can see stepping stone. or I can concentrate on the their beauty, or I can look at a person, I can look at them it as a stumbling block or a
Many of the great companies that exist today once faced major challenges as their product line matured or went extinct -- and yet they looked at it as a possibility for future growth -- and decided to change and grow. Many other companies didn't change -- and went out of business as a result -- because they saw the negative side, not the positive one. 4. Put up "Self Signs" -- reminders to yourself to keep on a positive track. This is a odd little technique I learned from Dr. Maxwell Maltz' book Psycho-Cybernetics -- write yourself signs to keep yourself on track. Here are some easy ways to write this little reminders: A Post-it note on the dashboard
83 Dry-erase marker (or china marker) on the bathroom mirror (also good for love notes to your spouse). Notes written on each day's planner Daily thoughts via e-mail Notes on the refrigerator door Keep the notes positive and upbeat. Keep them goal-oriented, and change them often. One other technique I use from time to time is a Velcro strip on the steering wheel. You likely have seen the Velcro strips that are used for binding computer cables. I find when I'm working on something important, and want to make a "mental note" for myself, putting one of those strips on my steering wheel helps me to remember it -- particularly if it's barb-side out. As I turn each corner, it comes in contact with my hand, and I think about the note. Obviously, this technique is only good for the occasional item -- or it becomes commonplace -- but it's a really good technique for important items that have to be drilled home repeatedly. 5. Daily or weekly progress assessments Many of the top producers do this habitually -- they take a few minutes at the end or the start of the week and assess their progress toward their goals. It's often not a comfortable thing to do -- we all would prefer to pretend that all's going OK, even when it's not -- but it's an important step. It works better when you set aside a particular time each day or week -- and then stick to that time, as much as possible. 6. Put habit to work for you -- instead of working against you Habits are hard things to break -- so why not make them work for you, rather than against you? Substitute good habits for your bad ones -- keep doing the good ones day after day until they are drilled into your daily routine. Some people think that all habits are bad -- but that's only because they don't have any good ones. 7. Continually refresh your goals Can goals get stale? They sure can! Sometimes, people work at a goal for years, only to achieve it and then realize that it's no place they want to be. We need to refresh our goals -- make changes when it's helpful, so our destination continues to be somewhere we still want to go.
83 8. Put your family first in your life What good is it to reach the pinnacle of success, when you don't have anyone to share it with? Your family needs to stay on top -- even when your time evaporates and life gets a bit crazy. So many people achieve monetary success -- and yet never gain true happiness, because they leave their family out of the equation. 9. Don't spend everything you make Do you make a million dollars in a year, and yet spend two million? I'm trying to do better on this one, myself. In the end, it doesn't matter how much you make -- it's how much you wind up with. Cut back, save, invest, learn. An excellent set of books and tapes on this is Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series, or George Clason's book "The Richest Man in Babylon." 10. Spend an hour a day on personal improvement -- more if possible Spend your hour reading in (and out of) your field. Touch up your skills, look for new possibilities, and force yourself to think about new ideas. That hour can change your life, if you let it. There you go -- 10 simple techniques that all deliver a big payoff.
Combating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. This phrase, well known to the technical world, refers to when one company uses phrases designed to sabotage a competitor's product. By inspiring fear, uncertainty, and doubt, either about the product or the company in general, the attacking firm tries to run off their competitor's customers, without contributing anything positive themselves. In our discussion today though, we're going to look at how these three de-motivators combine to stop progress -- even when progress is the obviously correct thing to do. I was reading a book last night by Dr. Murray Banks, a psychologist during the 1960s who made a living out of giving popular talks on the lecture circuit. The book is long out of print -- I happened across a copy of it when an Amazon.com customer put one up for sale, and Amazon.com sent me a note about it. $5 later, I've got the book. The book is full of Banks' famous humor lines, ("our cows aren't contented; they're working to do better") some of which haven't aged well, but it also contains some interesting insights into human nature. One of those insights was about the things that make people refuse to act, even when action would be in their own best interest. What is it? Our old friend FUD: fear, uncertainty and doubt. I found his insights to be quite interesting. As an observer of human nature, I've always been amazed at how many people actively work against their own best interests. I've watched how the lives of my friends and myself have been harmed by this nature -- to avoid doing taking the correct course of action, because of an almost paralysis against taking that all-important first step. I believe that wisdom is formed by experience, knowledge, and introspection. We can have the one or two of these, but without the third, we don't really gain wisdom. Whatever wisdom I have gained over the years has taught me that often, I have to push myself into moving on items where the FUD factor is high. What kinds of high-FUD items would this be? For a salesperson, it may be fear of being rejected by a customer. That fear might be grounded in the fears of adolescence, where a young man or woman worries about being spurned by a prospective date. It may be grounded in the past, where a customer turned away from buying your product. It may be grounded in the present, where a family member may spurn your love. For an overweight person, that high-FUD item may be the fear of failing a diet: that fear may stop the person from even trying to watch their eating. For a person stuck in a nonsatisfying job, high levels of FUD may mean that a desired career move may never happen. This person will continually think, "The devil we see is better than the devil we don't see."
83 Give in to FUD, and all of a sudden, the shadows under your bed turn into monsters, every passerby is an enemy, and the future becomes a terrifying experience. Fortunately though, there's an easy remedy to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Rather than giving in to the FUD factor, we need to give in to the GUTS factor. It'd be nice if I had a nice little set of words that "GUTS" could go with, making it into an acronym like SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) or RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging), but I don't. Guts means just what it sounds like -- having the internal drive and desire to get going, while all around you are sitting still. Guts means getting up in the morning and going to work, even when your mind is telling you to call in sick. It means learning how to speak before a crowd, even though you're terrified of public speaking. It means balancing your checkbook, even though you don't have much money left in it. It means actively working for the future, even though your present life may be uncertain. If you've got guts, you do something that you're afraid of, because it has to be done. You actively seek truth, to eliminate your uncertainty. You seek information, so you can make your doubts vanish. In the final analysis, having guts means to act, even when your stomach says "stay put." A currently-running ad for a car company shows a groom trying to decide whether to get married. The ad shows him alternately driving to the church and fleeing from the church, and finishes with him hitting his head against the plastic door panels of his new car. I don't know how well it sells cars, but it succinctly shows the difference between FUD and Guts. Anybody who remembers their wedding day (some people block it out, others were intoxicated at the time) is likely to remember the FUD they may have felt, leading up to the wedding. Most of us had the Guts to go through with the wedding. A few let the FUD overtake them, and never show up for the ceremony. Firefighters, police, and military members are taught to manage their FUD, never letting it overtake them in a dangerous circumstance. It's something that we can learn for our everyday lives. So that brings us to our rule for today: No matter how much FUD you feel, you can manage it, get through it, and put it behind you if you remember one key: You have the guts to get going. We all have our bad days, and I have the occasional bad day were all I want to do in the morning is to lay back on the bed and stare at the ceiling. Obviously, that's not a good thing to do with the rest of my life. Before too long, the little voice inside of me takes charge, and with one phrase: "Get going, Daryl", I get off the bed, turn off the light, and get on with the day. You probably don't stare at the light on the ceiling, but you likely have your own avoidance behaviors: solitaire, freecell, pinball, talking by the water cooler, reading the newspaper, or answering e-mail are all well-worn avoidance behaviors.
83 Whatever it is, your FUD Factor can be instantly reduced by just saying to yourself, "get going." You have the Guts to get going and overcome FUD. You don't have to have the Guts of a John Wayne-style character. You just have to have the Guts to believe that you can do it, FUD and all.
Trust and honesty
Business schools teach a lot of things -- managerial economics, accounting, marketing, and retailing, among others. Nowadays, they're also trying to instill something they should have been teaching all along -- plain old fashioned honesty. They call it "ethics," and a few of them call it "business ethics" (as if that was a something different than "regular" ethics), but they are all trying to counteract the loss of trust that has been formed by the massive business frauds of the last few years. One telecommunications company, which will remain nameless here, was recently barred from competing for new governmental contracts -- because the company apparently engaged in -- let's use a softer term here: "unusual accounting." I got a call from a "representative" of this company the other day. She was trying to sell me long distance service. "I will never purchase anything from your company," I told her, like I told the person who called me from the same company some six months ago. Why not? Because companies who intentionally use misinformation, misrepresentation of facts, and "creative" accounting to talk with their customers, shareholders, and competitors, don't deserve anybody's business. And it's that way with people too. Let me ask you a question -- are you honest? Are you trustworthy? Do you tell the truth? Do you do what you say you'll do? Are you someone people can count on -- or someone they stay away from? Trust is a big thing -- and it's big in business. Thirty years ago, the small town where I grew up only had one bank. It was the "local bank," until it was purchased by a bank holding company from 100 miles away. One day, a new bank came to town. This bank didn't build a new office, with brick and mortar, and a big steel safe. They banked out of a large Winnebago, which moved among several small communities. When they came to town, they'd go over to the old bank and get their money out of a safety deposit box -- odd, but true. The new bank never seemed to make much penetration in our little community. As I thought about it, I could see why -- their storefront, interesting though it was, didn't provoke a feeling of trust among the locals. It was sort of like banking with with Greyhound. I always had the feeling they were going to drive away with my money, and never come back.
83 Eventually, the new bank stopped coming -- they said there wasn't enough business for two banks. A few years later, though, another bank came to town, built a location with brick and mortar, and did great business. Our little town soon became a two-bank town, as it remains today. The newer bank understood something that the Winnebago bank didn't -- that in banking, as in life, trust is everything. Can people trust you? Do you "stretch" the truth a little bit, to make your product sound better? Do you tell people something that you really don't believe? When I purchased my current car, I went back to see the salesman who I had dealt with before. As part of evaluating the "trade-in," he looked at the rear tires of my car. "Looks pretty good," he said. "You must have bought new ones, huh?" "Nope," I said. "Those are the original tires -- they've only got 56,000 miles on them." He was astounded. "You're kidding," he said. "I've been telling people that 'these here' tires will last for 60,000 miles, but I never believed it!" Will he get my business in the future? Probably not. He was cooking the books, and that makes me wonder what other tales he was telling me. Of course, to tell you truth, the only reason I kept going to him was because I liked negotiating with him -- I found he would eventually give in to what I wanted. Perhaps I shouldn't expect a car salesman to be honest -- but I do. In one of his radio programs, Earl Nightingale once said that to companies, honesty was such a strong business advantage, that the business advantage it provided alone was enough justification to be honest. It's all about our "trust" level. Think of yourself as an example -- would you prefer to purchase a product from an honest company, or a dishonest one? Would you be more likely to purchase a product from a company you trust, or one you mistrust? Let's get more personal here -- would you prefer to marry someone you can trust, or someone who is not trustworthy? Would you prefer your spouse to tell you the truth, or to lie through his/her teeth? Would they prefer the same thing, you think? Like the Winnebago bank, trust is something that can be lost easily. It's something that takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to acquire -- and yet it can vanish in a moment, never to be found again. For some time now, my car's oil has been changed by the local branch of a giant oil company. I drive a lot, so I'm a pretty good customer for the store. I'm not quite up to "fleet" rates, but I usually give this store about $500 worth of business in a typical year. They've always been a good place to go -- usually pretty fast, ordinarily quite honest.
83 A month ago, though, I ran into their "upsale" man, and left with a nasty taste in my mouth. For the last eight months or so, this franchise has been using an employee to try and sell you more than just an oil change. Although this technique irritates me a bit, I don't really mind; I'm usually bored to death waiting for the oil change, anyway. This time, however, the employee irritated me. Trying to sell me on a transmission fluid flush, he told me the transmission fluid "smelled burnt." I've heard this one before; I change the fluid on a schedule, but what he didn't know was that the fluid had been changed by the dealer two days prior. I pointed his error out to the guy. "Well, I'd say they either cheated you or did a bad job," was his response. Now, I'm left with a decision -- do I trust the factory-trained mechanic, who has 25 years on the job, or do I trust this nineteen-year-old, who's being paid a commission for each upsale he makes, and who wasn't the person who serviced the car (I watched). It's obvious. I trust the professional who has earned my trust. The other day, I decided to give the place one more chance. The kid wasn't on that day -perhaps the manager got wise. The person I talked to said, without prompting, that the transmission fluid looked "very clean." Temporarily, this place has retained my business -- but it's a good example of how one slipup can eliminate a customer. On a personal level, one "little lie" can destroy a marriage, a job, a career, even a life. Trust is such a fragile item -- it doesn't take much to damage it. How then do we earn the trust of others? Simple -- we do what we say we'll do. We tell the truth, even when it's difficult (except when a wife asks "Do I look fat in this dress?" -she doesn't want to necessarily know the truth; she wants to be told that she looks nice). If we work for honest companies, and are honest ourselves, in our business and personal lives, we will earn the trust of others.
The art of staying on track
The date of this Monday Motivation is June 30, 2003. It's halfway through the year: 6 months prior, six months coming. It's a good time to recommit yourself to achieving your goals. If you, like most of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and friends, have long since forgotten about your resolutions for the year, it's an especially good time to recommit to achieving those goals. Most of us have a need to recommit ourselves once in a while. It's a healthy thing -- and something we all need from time to time. It's a good time for reflection, analysis, and renewed dedication. There is a real art to staying on track toward your goals. Some years ago, when I worked for a weekly newspaper, I was sent out to take pictures of a derailed train. For whatever reason, several cars of the train had jumped the track, leaving behind a mass of twisted metal and deeply scarred earth. So many times, our lives become like that twisted train -- we move away from our track to success, for only a moment, and destroy much of the good that we've accomplished already. So -- here's the question: What do we need to know to practice this fine art -- the art of staying on track? It's not going to be the same for everybody, but I find when I start moving away from my goals -- moving off the track, these following four phrases help, and help a lot. Remember who you are Remember where you're going Don't give in Don't give up You say them just like that, in that order. Two "R" statements, two "D" statements, two "remembers," two "don'ts." It's an easy little phrase, but it can keep you on track. Why? Remember who you are In order to remember who you are, you need a pretty good understanding of it all, don't you? You need a good self-image, a positive approach to living, the knowledge that you're worth something.
Remember where you're going Remember where you're going? It's been estimated that 95 percent of the world has no idea where they're going. If you're in the 5 percent who do, you've got high chance of achieving it. Too many people are like drivers who follow the car in front of them, never asking where they're going, and never really caring, even after they get there. Don't give in Here's the place for the right word: stubborn! Be stubborn in pursuit of your goals. Be stubborn in fighting for what's important. Be stubborn at keeping your abilities up to date. Don't give in to laziness, self-doubts, or second-guessing by other people. Be stubborn in your pursuit of quality. Don't give in on your standards. Don't give in, unless it furthers your goals. Don't give up There's one important marker of the successful person: persistence. Like Calvin Coolidge wrote, "Nothing in this world will take the place of persistence." You only lose when you give up. Don't give up. You can change directions if you want, but don't give up. Don't ever give up. Really, I suppose these rules are more science than art, because when you follow them consistently, you will get predictable, successful results. I use these extensively when I'm having a down day -- they energize me, get me focused, help me to recommit to my work -- and they're so simple, anyone can memorize them and use them, just like I do. How are you doing halfway through the year? Have your plans derailed? Do you need to get back on track, and then stay there? Just remember your Ds and Rs. Remember the four points to staying on track, even when times are tough.
Sailing through life's storms
I was driving in the remnants of a snowstorm the other night, when I passed a truck on the freeway. As the spray from his wheels hit my windshield, temporarily obscuring my view, it reminded me of a time almost 20 years ago when a similar experience happened -- and what I learned from it. Almost twenty years and 500,000 miles ago, I was meekly following a truck, caught in one of the most blinding storms of my life. The windshield wipers, turned to full power, were just barely holding their own against the onslaught of water. I couldn't see in front of the truck, and I wasn't really sure where I was. Worried about my aging car, and concerned about the storm, I sat behind that truck, knowing that at least he could see where he was going. This all went fine until the truck came to a hill. As the truck slowed down to take the hill, I moved to the passing lane, and moved past the truck. As I came out in front of the truck, I suddenly found that my storm had vanished -- my storm had been made up totally from the spray of that truck -- which in retrospect, should have had mud flaps or something. As I thought about the experience over the years, I have come to the conclusion that most of the personal "storms" in our lives, which seem like such typhoons when we're in the middle of them, are no more real than my "truck storm" of that night. Many people are this way in business. They get into a little bit of stormy weather, and they condemn themselves to "existing" in that storm -- rather than moving on to something better. Worse yet, some people make up the storms themselves. I was reminded of this experience Sunday night, because I was expecting to drive through 200 miles worth of a snowstorm. I've driven through 13 other snowstorms this season, and I wasn't looking forward to another one. I went mile after mile, expecting the storm to appear, but it had long since blown on by. I finished my trip without seeing any more than just a skiff of snow -- and yet I'd worried about it almost the whole trip. "I've had a lot of problems in my life, and most of them never happened," said Mark Twain. And that's the way it is for many of us. Either we dread the storms of life so much that the dread and worry is far worse than the actual storm, or like my experience with the
83 "truck storm," we get caught up in a little bit of trouble, and rather than pushing on and out of it, we give up and stick with it. In our lives, of all the problems we'll see -- all the storms we'll go through -- there are few problems that can't be solved, or at least improved, by a bit of concentrated work. Too many cavities? Brush more. Money worries? Spend less. Too heavy? Eat less. Too skinny? Eat more. Dead-end job? Study and look around. Difficult boss? Get to know him/her better. Low bonus? Sell more. Sure, these are some simple problems that I've listed. Some of us have real storms -real challenges in our lives, and a simple fix doesn't work. Some of us have challenges, like health problems, that are beyond our control. Some people who are reading this note may be looking at the death of a loved one, or may be staring their own mortality in the face. For you, who have the real storm to look at each day, let me give this advice: Look for something you can learn from the experience, and then teach it to someone you love. Some of the storms in our lives are so intensely emotional, that it's hard to find anything positive about them. Who can find a positive thing in the death of a spouse, a parent, or a child, or in a deadly or debilitating disease? And yet, reflecting on the experience, we often see that great insights come out of the worst times. As some of you know, I'm a photographer. Over the years, I have become enamored with "bad weather" photography. The reason is because when the sky is darkest, somewhere there is a pinpoint of light as the storm starts to clear. Or, in the darkest of nights during a raging thunderstorm, the flash of lightning illuminates the sky, providing a brilliance unseen in sunnier days. Some of the most beautiful pictures I've ever photographed have been shot either in the midst of a storm, or when the storm has just barely passed. A calm sea does not require a skilled mariner -- and a new mariner will gain skills only from a stormy sea. No matter how bad the storm gets, I can usually see something beautiful in it -- as long as it's not a 200-mile snowstorm that I have to drive through. So here's the moral of this week's Monday Motivation: Sometimes, storms come into your life. Don't spend all your good days worrying about them. If they do come, first make certain you're not in a storm that exists only in your mind, and second, look around for the beauty the storm brings with it. Sure, storms will come, and storms will go. Troubles will arise, and they'll go away. Sometimes the troubles will be of your own choosing; other times, they'll be thrust upon you.
83 Either way, remember the "truck storm," and try and find a way out of your trouble -- and look around for the flashes of brilliance and insight you'll find while you're still in the storm.
Take ownership of your life
This week's topic comes from a reader who wrote that she was looking for something to inspire her followers to take ownership for their successes and failures. While I never pretend that Monday Motivation will inspire anyone, her question made me think about the topic. If you've been reading Monday Motivation for some time, you'll notice that this is a topic we've touched on lightly before -- but never addressed fully as a topic of its own. It's the fashion nowadays to assess blame -- and then shift it to somebody else. You can hear it in the terminology -- rather than saying "Yes, I made a mistake," you hear "Well, I'm sure mistakes were made." It's as if a man from Man from mars had dropped in, made a mistake, and then took off again. Sure -- when things go wrong, nobody wants to have the blame fall at their feet. Face it -nobody wants to make mistakes; plus, we don't want to get penalized for the ones we do make. It's just human nature -- but it stands in the way of our progress. In order to maximize our abilities, each of us has to become seriously realistic about what we do, and how we do it. We have to get to the point where we know our abilities better than anyone -- and then work to maximize our successes so they outweigh our failures. A former associate of mine used to quote a neat little phrase: "If you can't measure it, you can't change it." It's that way with our life. If we never really measure our lives, we cannot hope to make our lives better. And the first step in that path is to determine realistically where we are, and what we bring to the table. Fans of the excellent movie and book "The Princess Bride" will remember a scene where the hero asks for his compatriots to list their assets and liabilities. When one asset is left out, it changes the possible solutions -- and the inclusion of that asset renders a solution involving a giant, a wheelbarrow, and a cloak that can be set on fire. Certainly, our solutions will never be quite so interesting -- or so entertaining -- but it illustrates how we never can quite understand our possibilities until we can understand our inventory. If you're a retail shopper, you no doubt have come across a time where the local food store was having an "inventory." Around here, the stores hire a group of "counters," who
83 come into the store and count -- that's all they do. They count cereal, milk, meat, noodles, soup, pickles, and mustard, plus everything else that's in the store. The inventory is usually spurred by tax reasons, but we should take a few minutes from time to time to have our own little inventory. So believing there's no time like the present, let's stop and take inventory of our assets and our liabilities. On a sheet of paper, make your balance sheet. List your abilities, including things that you may ordinarily overlook, like your ability to get along with other people, or an enthusiastic attitude, or a knack for learning new concepts readily. Be certain to list each and every asset. Include your family, your friendships, your financial assets, your skill set, your knowledge of business, and every other asset that you can wrap your mind around. List them all. If you do this correctly, you should have a pretty long list. Next, on the opposite side of the sheet, or on another sheet of paper, list the areas where you need work -- the things that are holding you back from success. While on our asset list, we listed family and friends, here we're going to concentrate on just the elements that we can change about ourselves. You may find yourself listing items such as a bad temper, a negative outlook (doubtful if you're reading this), an over-fondness for food (always on my list), stale job skills, shyness, lack of training, or skills that need to be learned. It's my guess that while you're writing your "liability" list, you're going to think of additional assets. Add them to the asset list. When you're done, examine your balance sheet. Many people never learn how to read a balance sheet at a company -- after all, that's what accountants are for, right? But if you ask them whether they've got enough money in their checking account, they can usually give you a pretty solid answer -- and if you ask them to add up their assets -- their house, their car, their furniture, and so forth -and compare them to their loans and their financial liabilities, they can figure out whether they're ahead or not. Our personal balance sheet is similar to that -- when you look at your assets, and then your liabilities, you can easy see which direction you need to take. More importantly, you can see how to take ownership of your life. You may wince when you write them down, but are you able to objectively look at your problem areas? More importantly, are you able to objectively look at your strengths? We tend to think that people will "up-play" their good parts, and "down-play" their bad areas, but I often find that people tend to discount their abilities far more than they should.
83 My wife tells me that I'm this way (everyone should have a spouse or friend to set them straight occasionally). Strange, isn't it -- many of us will give someone else the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes to ourselves, we're our own worst critic. Take a look at your balance sheet again -- is your list of liabilities longer than your list of assets? It shouldn't be -- we purposely weighted it so your abilities would stand out. If it is longer, perhaps you need to take a look and see if you're giving yourself the break you deserve. Anyway, back to our balance sheet. Now, you have in front of you a long list of your assets, and a (hopefully) smaller list of your liabilities. If you've been honest with yourself, you hopefully have an idea of what you can bring to the table. The next step in our exercise is to determine a plan of attack. Looking at your "asset" list, determine which assets are most marketable, which assets are most important, and which are currently being underused. Mark each asset with a "M" for marketable, an "I" for important, and a "U" for underused. It should be quite common to see some assets marked with two or more marks. Determine from your list what assets you wish to maximize in the future. Look at your liability list, and determine which liabilities you wish to eliminate in the next year's time. Decide what plan of attack you can use to minimize your liabilities, by using your assets, then put your plan into place. Have your spouse or a trusted friend look at your list. He or she may suggest others, or suggest modifications. Perhaps you're being too hard on yourself. Perhaps you're not hard enough. But in this exercise, make certain you concentrate on the assets you can bring to the table. Each of us has abilities and disabilities. We all have the chance to maximize our assets, and minimize our liabilities. It's not that difficult to identify which way we should go, when we look at the balance sheet. When we take personal responsibility for the good and the bad in our life, we take "ownership." When you're an owner, you take responsibility for what you own, no matter what happens. An owner can't be locked out of his property, the way a renter can. Which person do you think takes better care of an automobile -- the owner of that vehicle, or the person who rents it for the weekend?
83 Sure -- the owner will take better care of it. It's his car. The renter will probably use it to teach his 16-year-old kid how to shift a manual transmission. If you rent a condo, and something goes wrong, it's the landlord's responsibility to fix it -but if you own that condo, it's up to you to fix it yourself, or hire it done. When you own something, you take responsibility for it. When that "thing" you own happens to be your life, you gain more power than we realize. Taking ownership of your life will maximize your abilities. You no longer blame the downturns in your life on "fate," "chance," or the person down the hall. You realize the upturns in your life as opportunity or the product of great preparation. When you lack ownership, you continually cast yourself as a victim. You whine about what others are doing to you. You spend your time "wishing," not "working." Want to bring in more sales revenue? If you're the owner of your future, you realize you've got to get out there and sell more! Want to lose weight? Well, you're the owner of that body -- you realize that weight isn't going to come off by itself. Want to become healthier? When you take ownership, you realize that you have to exercise, eat better, and avoid sickness. Want a secure retirement? When you're the owner of your future, you understand you've got to prepare for retirement, not just expect your employer to do it for you. Want success in the business world? Well, as the owner of your life, you realize you've got to keep your skill set up. You've got to keep your inventory fresh. Few things are as exciting (or disconcerting) as realizing the truth of that old adage, "If it's meant to be, it's up to me." Become an owner -- and own your future success.
Becoming strong at the broken places
As I've noted before, I keep an eye on the search terms that visitors enter into our search form. Why do I do this? Because it helps me to see what people are looking for. Occasionally, I will pull out one of the more prominent search terms, and do a week's Monday Motivation, using it as a topic. A couple of weeks ago, a reader entered the title of this week's topic into the search box. When I saw it come up on the statistics, I was intrigued. A couple of days later, I was intrigued even more, because of something I had read in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal article I read said that a new study showed that individuals with chronic back pain did much better when they made it hurt more. Now, that phrasing isn't quite accurate -- it said when back pain sufferers exercised, doing those things that made their backs hurt, that they were more likely to gain relief from their pain than were those people who "took it easy," as the ubiquitous phrase in English reads. Coming in closely behind the search request, it struck me how true this is -- not only with back pain, but with every part of our life -- and how much the two topics have in common. Think of your own life as an example. If you are a runner (I'm not), when you started running, you no doubt hated it. Your legs hurt, your feet hurt -- I've heard some people say even their hair hurt. If you're still a runner, you worked through it -- and pretty soon, your body started hurting less and less -- finally, you actually started to like it. It's the same with almost every physical exercise -- when you do more exercise than you're used to, your body complains. When you go to bed at night, the body repairs itself, making itself stronger, just in case you try and do it again. If you feel the pain, and quit because of it, the pain will subside -- but you're never going to become stronger -- because you never put forth the effort. The study showed that those people who were told to "take it easy" had longer bouts of back pain. Some of them actually got to the point where they were in constant pain. Those people who exercised probably had more pain at the beginning, but less pain as they went on. For some of them, their chronic back pain vanished entirely. I'm afraid I've got an example of this that will make some of you cringe. For anything short of a full root canal, I refuse anesthetic at the dentist's office.
83 The stuff makes me sick to my stomach, and I decided a long time ago that I prefer less than five minutes worth of pain to four hours worth of misery. Many of us choose the other way in our lives. We put up with years of misery, rather than submitting ourselves to a few days of discomfort due to change and growth. It shows us one very important lesson: human beings are not built to give in to adversity -- we're built to rise above it. Every time we give in to our troubles, our troubles defeat us. Every time we decide to "accept" a weak spot in our physical self, or in our character, that weak spot will widen. That means, improbable as it seems, that when we take the "safe road" where challenges are concerned, that we're actually taking the risky path. When we seek security, we rarely find it. When we seek challenges, we usually attract security -- and change. Earl Nightingale used to talk about security. "The only time you have security is when you're dead," he used to say. (I'm paraphrasing him here). True security comes from challenging yourself, seeking to change and become better. Staying in the same old job may appear to be secure, but it's actually the riskier choice, in most cases. I added a quote from the World War II general Omar Bradley to our quotes page today. I was struck my the way it rang true in this circumstance: "We are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live." It's also important for us to make our mind whether to give in to our "broken places," or to work on them, until they are broken no more. Sure, there are physical and emotional areas in each of us that are going to be impossible, or near-impossible to fix. Many physical infirmities cannot be wished, worked, or exercised away -- but even in those cases, sitting back and waiting for death to claim its prize is not the smart way to proceed. Look at Christopher Reeve, who, despite being paralyzed, kept working, and now sees some feeling returning, many long years later. He is quoted as saying this: "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." Life is about living -- and never giving in, no matter how difficult the circumstances. J.C. Penney, creator of the retail giant that bears his name, said this: "I would never have amounted to anything were it not for adversity." Without problems, people never become problem solvers. Without challenges, people do not "rise to the challenge." Without a reason to grow, many people will never actually grow. Do you have areas in your life where you are weak, broken, or troubled? Do you have parts of your life that cause you great pain and distress?
83 When you give into your pain, your weakness, your adversity, you tune out your strength, your winning nature, your ability. When you choose to make those weak areas strong -- repair the broken parts of your life and yourself -- you create new strengths, platforms from which you can rise to even greater heights. When you give in to your weak spots, those weak spots forever limit you. When you make yourself strong, those strengths forever help you -- and me.
Reaching The End of Your Rope
Periodically, I write special Monday Motivation pieces for some of the things people seem to be searching for. Unfortunately, this is one of the oft-queried topics. What do you do when you reach the end of your rope? If life has gotten too difficult for you to handle well, follow these simple little steps. Don't worry -- you can do it. I know all about it -- I've been there before. Step number 1: Never give up. There's a popular saying that says: "When you've gotten to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." I'll give you a couple of extensions to that advice in a second -but to begin with, make a decision that no matter what, you'll not give up. The main difference between success and failure is Persistence. Losers give up, and by doing so, lose. Winners never stop trying, no matter how difficult the situation becomes. Winston Churchill said, "Never give up. Never, never, never, never." In the darkest days of The Battle of Britain, Churchill pulled a nation together with his dynamic words -- and that island nation defeated one of the greatest air forces of all time. No matter how dark things become, no matter how difficult your life may be, this is your first step: never give up. Step number 2: Take responsibility for your future. This brings us to the next "end of the rope" advice: "When you've reached the end of your rope, start climbing." Frankly, it doesn't matter how you got to where you're at. The past is behind you. The trouble you were going through a minute ago is already part of your past. What matters is the following question: Where are you going from here? Difficult situations happen -- they always have, and they always will -- at least as long as people are alive. It doesn't really matter what's happened to you -- what matters is what is going to happen. If you've reached the end of your rope, hanging on is fine -- but it doesn't fix the problem. Start climbing -- even if you slide back down, climb again -- and again -- and again. Rest if you must, but take the responsibility for your future, and pull yourself out of your troubles.
83 Step number 3: Look for better alternatives Once you've decided to survive, and decided to take responsibility for your actions, now comes the final step toward your recovery: look for other alternatives, and for the opportunity in any situation. Most people, when caught "at the end of their rope," hang there until someone helps them. Some people decide to climb. Fewer still look around to evaluate their situation. Let me explain. If you're hanging at the end of a rope, and that rope is 500 feet above the ground -- well, you've got an entirely different problem than if that rope is only three feet from the ground. If you're in a situation where life seems dark and dreary, and it seems you're at the end of your rope -- re-evaluate your situation. Life is rarely that dark, and even when it is, usually the dawn is on the way. Our lives are cyclical -- we have "good" times, and we have "bad" times. It's only later that you realize you learn more from the "bad" times than you do from the "good" ones. If you're having a difficult time, ask yourself two questions: 1. What can I learn from this that can help me in the future? 2. What is the best way I can turn this difficult situation into a better one? Why do you ask yourself these two questions? They focus on the positive, not the negative. They focus on growth, not stagnation; they focus on the future, not the past; they focus on resolving and learning, not sitting and weeping. Sure -- bad things happen. They happen to all of us -- but that doesn't mean you have to let them control your life. Look around you and see if there's a positive way out of this predicament. Turn your difficult situation into a learning experience. See the value you can gather from what you've been through -- you may only be able to offer advice to people, but if you help someone else, it'll be worth it. Step number 4: Learn from it and put it behind you. When you've outlasted your situation, remember to learn from experience. Wisdom is gained through two elements: experience and reflection. Examine where you went wrong. Determine how you can do better in the future. Don't let your introspection turn into a set of "what ifs" -- just learn from it and move on. Don't dwell on your mistakes -- but learn from them. When you get right down to it, the only rope whose end you should ever worry about is a rope with a noose. You can survive any predicament that comes your way -- and with a bit of work, some luck, and some introspection, turn it to your long-term advantage.
Overcoming the fears that stop your success
Over the last few weeks, we've been talking a bit about those things that stand in the way of our ultimate progression and happiness, success and growth. Oddly enough, one of the biggest stumbling blocks is a reflex we naturally possess, which under the best of circumstances will save our life -- and under the worst of circumstances, may actually help end it. That stumbling block is fear. Fear is a natural response to a usually unseen foe. When confronting dangerous situations, fear often works to our advantage. It keeps us from doing really stupid things, and it helps us moderate the stupid things that we eventually decide to do. Fear our body's response to something it thinks will harm it. Sometimes, it's rational, sometimes it's irrational, sometimes, it's even psycho. One way or the other, it's something we have to learn to deal with, especially when there's a lot of change in the air. What are you afraid of? Most people have one or two fears, lurking around in the back of their minds. For example, did you know that more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of death? Given a choice, they may choose to be hit over the head with a microphone, rather than have to stand before that same microphone to give a speech. Others are afraid of dogs, spiders, lizards, lightning, small children, bees, people of another color or background, heights, open spaces, closed spaces, groups, loneliness, roller coasters, falling and mother-in-laws. Fact of the matter is, most fears don't help people -- they paralyze them. Even ones that have beneficial side effects are more likely to harm than help. Therefore, it's important to get a grasp on what you're afraid of -- and put it behind you on your road to success. We're not going to fix everyone's fears today, but we're going to look at some of the fears that may be standing in your way, and what to do about them. 1. Fear of Failure. This pervasive fear is one shared by many people.
83 It appears, at first blush, this would be a good fear to have. If you're afraid of failure, you're going to succeed, right? Wrong! Too often, people who are afraid of failure never do anything at all. Chief among the paralyzing fears, the Failure Fear stops people right in their tracks. Few who have this fear ever take the first step toward success. Why is this fear so damaging? Why is it so paralyzing? People with the Failure Fear quickly learn it's easy to slide along without taking that first important step. Plagued by thoughts such as "It'll never work out" and "I can't do that," FF'ers choose inaction, rather than taking a chance on their future. They go by the motto, "If I never try, I can never fail." Unfortunately for the FF'ers, choosing to never try is choosing to fail, right out of the box. Sure, you may fail when you try something new -but then you didn't learn how to walk by staying in that crib all of your life. "Behold the turtle," the old adage goes, "He never gets anywhere unless he sticks his neck out." In this case, we should all be turtles. Like most fear-holders, FF'ers can learn to deal with this fear by forcing themselves to take action. A task list is a good method to use. Form a task list, put the feared action at the top of the list, and resolve to take the first step before moving onto anything else. If you're a leader, you will likely find that FF'ers will make good followers, but poor instigators. They'll do all right, as long as their butt isn't on the line. With training and enough success, though, FF'ers often turn around, and start to believe in their abilities. It can take a lot of work, hand-holding, and caring -- but if they're turned around, they can become successful -- and they're usually loyal workers in the meantime, if you can afford the time to help them out. 2. Fear of Success. You wouldn't think that people would have this fear, but it's a common one, as well. Like many fears, including the Failure Fear, Success Fear seems to have its root in a poor self-image. In fact, it's likely that a poor self-image is more at the root of this fear than any other. SF'ers may actually contribute a lot of good to a company. They're usually able to start doing something -- but rarely finish it. SF'ers will get part way through a project, and seemingly lose interest in it -- but what they're afraid of is the "end game," and they're secretly afraid they won't measure up. SF'ers have good ideas, but they have poor follow-through. If you're a leader, you can use them well as instigators and "Idea People." Give the actual follow-through to someone else, with a bit of oversight by the SF'er himself. When the idea proves successful, many of these fearholders will learn to trust more in themselves -- they need the rush that comes with external praise and motivation. Soon, they will develop a core competency in their areas of expertise. If you're the SF'er, you have to learn to treat yourself like a leader would. Realize that you've got a slight challenge here, and then when it manifests itself, learn to deal with it.
83 Breaking a project into smaller parts may help. You might be able to get through the smaller parts, without having your fear response kick in. Few people have an overall SF for all areas of their life. If you're the SF'er, then work in areas you feel comfortable in -- or learn to leverage off those areas to develop new competencies in other areas. Once you know you're good, you'll be more prone to choose to succeed. You depend on external motivation -- so ask opinions of friends, customers, and co-workers from time-to-time during the timeline of your project or goal. If you're doing a good job, they'll tell you, and that motivation will help you continue to your successful outcome. (Just don't keep bothering them too much.) 3. Fear of the Unknown UF'ers are our most recognizable fear in our little discussion here -- and it bothers most of us to some extent. Change is difficult for most of us to take -- and the more radical the change, the harder it may be to accept. Still, when you get right down to it, change is inevitable -- and the future is always unknown. Heck, the past was unknown until you lived through it. Today's status quo was yesterday's "change." Life is change and Change is not necessarily bad. Most changes eventually work out to be for the better -- even when they appear to be bad on the face of it. UF'ers are the ones who have problems traveling at night, because they can't see that far ahead of the car's headlights. They worry about every dark alley, every strange face, and every odd sound -- but most of all, they worry about changes. UF'ers are usually all right with the change, after it's been implemented. They often become its most ardent supporters. They are inherently supporters of the status quo -and since once a change has been implemented, it become the status quo, as a leader, UF'ers are your friend. They require a bit of handholding over the hump, but beyond that, they rarely need any help at all. If you're a UF'er, just keep telling yourself that "it'll be all right." If it's not, and your worst fears are realized -- well, at least you were prepared. You can't say that for the other people on this list. If things get worse, you can always try something else -- and it may be just what you're looking for. 4. Fear of Confrontation. This fear could also be known as "Fear of embarrassment," because they're two sides of the same coin. This fear is the bane of salespeople, politicians, and reluctant fund raisers. CF'ers who are salespeople will spend a lot of time talking to the customer, but never ask him/her to buy. They will happily golf and schmooze, but never actually say "Jim, I'd like to get your business -- how about it?" CF'ers are the politicians who hate to ask for money or for votes (unfortunately, there aren't that many of them who get elected). They apologize when they ask for funds for a worthy cause -- even when the cause needn't apologize.
83 There are two neat ways to deal with this problem for you CF'ers out there. The first involves looking on the process as a game. When the object is to win a game, gamers often do things that are otherwise out of character. Mild-mannered accountants suddenly become raving, competitive fireballs, when they are in a racquetball game. Housewives suddenly turn into plutocrats when they play Monopoly. Truck drivers become strategists when they watch or play football. Gaming is a useful solution when change is in the air. If a leader or a CFer can turn it into a game, it often makes change an invigorating experience, instead of a potentially debilitating one. Our second method for CFers among us is the Actor approach. If you just can't deal with closing the sale, look around you at someone who can do it. Mimic their techniques. Model your approach after them. Perhaps ask to go on sales calls with them. When the time comes for you to close that sale, pretend you are them -pick one of their physical quirks, for example, and mimic it (as long as it's not too bizarre) for just a second. A second is usually all you need to throw that mental switch and "become" them. It's silly to think about it when you first consider it, but for many of us, choosing to emulate someone else through the Actor approach is a useful method to learn how to defeat your CF-ness. Tony Robbins, for example, calls this approach "modeling" and uses it extensively in his life-changing seminars. It's a very useful method, and can streamline your growth in this area. Fear is not our friend -- not now, not ever -- but neither is it anything to be "afraid" of. We can put our fears behind us, simply and easily. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain."
Positive Mental Attitude
The world tells us that we are to have a positive mental attitude; however, what the world is talking about is "faith". However, faith must always have an object. The humanistic view is to have faith in your self. The providential view is to have faith in circumstances (lady luck). The brotherhood view is to have faith in your fellowman. The problem is that all of these will sooner or later fail. However, there is a type of faith that never fails because it it based upon Someone who never fails. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary: and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:30-31). We should begin by seeing what faith is not. (1) It it not just a wish or desire. I could wish that I was someone else, but that would never happen. (2) Faith is not "knowledge" in the natural. If we intellectually know something, it is knowledge, but not faith. Faith is seeing beyond the natural. (3) Faith is not hope. Hope is truth not yet realized. I have a sure hope in going to Heaven when I die, but I have yet to realize the experience. (4) Faith is not an unfounded "belief". As a child, I was taught to believe in Santa Claus. However, Santa Claus does not exist. (5) Faith is not a repetition of thoughts or words such as, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." Even Christians sometimes do this in "claiming the promises" of God. (6) Faith is not a leap across a wide, deep chasm of the unknown. We just don't walk up to the Grand Canyon of life and leap across it having an faith experience. However, some of us, at times, look forward to such experience expecting, standing at the edge of the canyon, expecting God to magically come and take us across, somehow. (7) Faith is not a random picking of the promises of God. Sometimes we play the open the Bible to the promise game expecting God to hop when we point to a promise. The only true positive mental attitude comes from God.
What Faith is:
1. It is a gift of God. "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). 2. It is based upon the Word of God. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). 3. It brings us victory over the world. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4).
83 4. It is our shield against the fiery darts of the enemy. "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). 5. Faith comes out of a relationship and daily fellowship with God. "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). 6. It is substance (spiritual concrete). It is something solid (spiritually) that we can stand upon. It is evidence or proof as a court case. It is like a deed to property. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). 7. It is extremely powerful. "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matthew 17:20). 8. It is often based upon past experience with God. (see Hebrews 11:1ff) We can grow in faith. Our faith may be tested. We can stretch and increase our faith. "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). 9.It is a confident expectancy that God will perform His Word. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in the faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Romans 4:20-21). 10. It is active and requires action. "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (James 2:17-18) 11. It is a belief in that which is impossible for man, but not for God. "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all thing are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23). 12. It brings security and prosperity. "And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chronicles 20:20). 13. It enables us to work the works of God. "Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:28-29). 14. It is the only way to please God. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6)
83 15. Faith works through love. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). 16. Faith is required for prayer. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed" (James 1:5-6).
Faith is a walk.
1. We are to walk by faith opposed to walking by sight. "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" (II Corinthians 5:7). 2. When we walk in faith, we are walking in the Spirit. "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:4). 3. When we walk in faith, we are walking in resurrection power. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). 4. When we are walk in faith, we are free from sin. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). 5. When we walk in faith, we fulfill our calling. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1). 6. When we walk in faith, we are walking in light. "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:6-7). 7. When we walk in faith, we are walking after Jesus. "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (I John 2:6). 8. When we walk in faith, we are walking in love. "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (Ephesians 5:2). 9. When we walk in faith, we are walking in truth. "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father" (II John 1:4).
83 10. When we walk in faith, we are walking in divine knowledge "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen" (II Peter 3:18). 11. When we walk in faith, we are walking in Jesus. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:" (Colossians 2:6). 12. When we walk in faith, we are walking in the fear of the Lord. (The fear of the Lord is knowing that God will discipline his children when they do wrong.) "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). 13. When we walk in faith, we are walking in humility. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). 14. When we walk in faith, we are taking one step at one time. (It is not a leap or jump.) "And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised" (Romans 4:12). 15. When we walk in faith, we are walking in obedience. "But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26). A true positive mental attitude (faith) proceeds from God and causes God to intervene in our lives in a supernatural way as we receive it and act upon it.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.