When Discouragement & Disaster Collide

It is bound to happen sooner or later. That is, unless you live in a bubble. There is no such thing as perfection all day, every day. Eventually, the good times pass and disaster strikes in some shape or form. It may come in the form of relationships that have soured. It could come in the form of not getting the promotion, not making the team, or not being included in social situations. It sometimes is related to our health or our finances. Whatever the reason that discouragement comes on so strong, there is a way out; even though we feel it may actually be a disaster.

The first step is to expect it. Just as the daylight comes to end each night and the streak of sunny days is broken by the rain, so shall our smooth sailing be interrupted by a “storm”.

When the discouragement is deep and the disaster grand, the first thing we can do to remedy our situation is to remember that this too shall pass. Good times are not permanent and bad times just the same are only temporary. Even if it feels like a hundred years: it is not.

The next thing is to remember how we felt in the good times. If we can remember how living the “mountaintop” life was fulfilling, then we can have hope to get back there again after climbing our way out of the “valley.” This also gives us strength to get through our current circumstance because we remember just how good it felt to have things going well for us.

Lastly, if we will accept the fact that disappointment and disaster have a way of teaching us, growing us, and making us wiser, then we become open to the bitterness of bad circumstances to be our teacher and ultimately making us greater.

So, the next time discouragement and disaster collide; remember to expect it coming, that it is only temporary, and to learn from the experience.

The Dirty Irish Towns (Make America Clean Again)?

Now that I have your attention; there is nothing further from the truth. After spending a week traveling throughout Ireland, I can’t help myself from continually thinking about a single point. The point is this; there was no trash, or litter, or garbage of any kind — anywhere! Ireland has to be one of the cleanest places on earth. Why? Because the people of Ireland care and take responsibility for their own actions. They do not throw their trash out the window or on the ground assuming “someone else” will take care of it. No, they take responsibility for their own trash and take pride in their land.

Driving on country roads or major highways, you could not spot any litter. Walking the streets of Dublin; same thing — clean. Walking the beach on the Celtic sea, there were plenty of shells and rocks, but no bottles, plastic, fast food bags, etc. Walking through the crowded streets of Galway — spotless.

The point is, when will we as Americans take pride in our country? When will we take ownership of our own trash and actually stoop down to pick up someone else’s forgotten litter? I long for a day where our country is clean and well taken care of — not by the government, the neighbor, the teacher, or someone else — but by each of us the people. Let’s get it together Americans. Make America Clean Again!

When Your Head Sticks Above the Crowd

My colleague was asked by one of his employees, “what do I have to do to get a raise?” This is a very interesting question in general. The mentality that is needed to get ahead at work, in a marriage, in a relationship, financially, spiritually, and more, is — whatever it takes. It is not a simple: do x and y and a raise will follow. It is having a commitment to excellence all day; every day. As it relates to a career, some people seem to need a roadmap, and sometimes they actually want a promotion before they are willing to do more. How can the boss promote someone who has not shown they are capable of operating at the next level? I believe a boss, a manager, partner, share-holder, etc. need to see consistency. Once consistent effort is shown and results are created, it is impossible for someone not to notice and offer you a promotion, or a raise. If you work on commission, your raise will be the additional income you create by doing the right things.

My advice is this; whatever endeavor you are looking to get ahead in, put your head down and work hard. Study your craft, your product, and your competition. Spend time Practicing the things you will need to perform. Desire to grow & learn. And most importantly — don’t stop. A dog is conditioned to performing a trick and then being rewarded. In life, we are not dogs. There is no reward after doing one thing. We must do many things over and over and over again. If there is seemingly no reward; find a way to do it better and do it over and over and over again. Eventually, your head will stick above the crowd and you will be noticed. Just remember it is never a one and done event. It is a life-time commitment to being the best you can be.

Osmosis. It’s an Epidemic.

It has been told that most people learn in one of three ways. First, people learn visually. They need to see it. You can talk to them all day long but if they can’t see something, they are likely to retain nothing. Next, are kinesthetic learners. These are the “feel it, touch it” people (and the highest percentage of people learn this way). Lastly, are auditory learners. You guessed it; they learn from hearing. Auditory learners are only 25% of the population. Coincidently, the other 75% miss the instruction when they are being told what to do.

Many mangers and even some leaders “tell” people what to do and how to do it. Then they become frustrated that the very people they are “telling” over and over, are not learning what they are telling them. Some of their telling often includes specific instructions on how to “do” something. Somehow the managers and leaders feel that if they tell them enough, they will most likely get it. Most likely not.

Attention Managers and leaders–Effective managers and leaders teach the way their people learn. I would venture to say that if only 25% of the people learn by hearing, then we need to begin to teach differently than just lecturing. Show them. Show them what is expected and then ask them to repeat it back. If there is a task involved, ask them to perform the task the way you expect them to perform it. I guarantee that they will not perform it the way you want it done the first time. That will be the indicator for you to continue to work with them until they get it right. Considering most people learn by doing, you will need to make them “do” until you are satisfied that they will bear the result that you desire.

If you are speaking to a few people (or to thousands) with information only, PowerPoint works great because it covers the visual learner, the auditory learners for sure. But if you are in need for people to “do” something, you will need to roll up your sleeves and spend time with each person “doing”. By doing so, you will increase your team’s productivity and they will have more respect for you as a leader or manager. In todays business world, you won’t have much competition. After all, osmosis is an epidemic these days, as leaders and managers only seem to talk, and talk, and talk some more.

Are your people safe?

Probably the safest place for a child is in the womb. The temperature is perfect, there is no separation anxiety, and the child is automatically fed first when the mother eats.

If you are a leader in your career, civic group, church or synagogue, a little league coach, a yoga instructor, or any other type of leader from a vast list, are the people that you lead safe?

Is the temperature perfect? Meaning; are you aware of the climate of the room in regards to relationships? Are you consciously making sure your people feel welcomed? Are you aware of body language? Body language screams a statement. It either states; I am comfortable; I am uncomfortable; I feel left out; or I feel welcomed. It does not matter one bit what you think. Someone else’s perception is reality. Leaders scan the room. Leaders are inclusive. Leaders build others up. Leaders recognize everyone.

Is there separation anxiety in the group that you lead? Or are you are more concerned with how you feel, rather than how your flock feels? What is their body language screaming to you? Are their arms crossed? That usually means “I am blocking you out” or “I disagree with you.” Is there little to no eye contact? That can mean “I do not trust you” or “I feel poorly about something in this setting”. Either way, leaders recognize the concern and then go to work to fix it.

Does the child automatically feed when the leader does? This could be physically and emotionally/spiritually. Physically, do you go last when there is food being served? Do you ensure all of your team has eaten or had a drink before you help yourself? Emotional and spiritually, do you have your team in mind when teaching? Are you concerned for their well-being and growth or only how you feel about the message? Do you follow-up after hearing of a concern? Are you humble enough to create an environment of transparency, even if you do not like the feedback? More over, do you act to change the reality.

Leaders lead. Great leaders ensure their people are safe.

Are you locked out?

“There’s always next year.” These famous last words are uttered at the end of every calendar year. This is the last sliver of hope people have of making lasting changes to their life. I’ll do it later; I’ll start tomorrow; There’s always tomorrow. The problem with this mentality is, there is no such thing as tomorrow.

All we ever have is today and the hard lessons of yesterday (which at one point was a “today” and we let it slip by). Remember, when we get to tomorrow, it will actually be called today.

The journey of a hundred miles starts with the first step. Your future starts right now. If you are to be more successful than ever; if you are to be in better shape than you are right now; if you are to save more money than you did last year; if you are to have better relationships; if you are locked out of life and don’t know the passcode, there is good news. The passcode is “today”.

So, start today. Start now. Put all of your focus into today. Get started and don’t stop. Sure, there will be bumps in the road, detours, and the such. But, if you get started on a better you TODAY, you will come to realize that is all you ever have. If you decide to not act now, then you truly are locked out of your future. The unfortunate thing is, you know the passcode but refuse to type it in to your life.

Can You Smell Blood?

If you sell a product or a service, there has to be a certain level of survivability. Timid salespeople have skinny kids (and skinny pets, and skinny bank accounts). When a consumer has decided to “shop” and strolls through your world as you know it, you must strike while the iron is hot or there is a great chance you will never see them again.

In today’s electronic world, the consumer has already researched the item they are interested in to death. They have read reviews on the product, your location, and maybe even on you personally. When they show up to “look”, that is code language for “I am buying something very soon”. The consumer might say they need to think about it. What? They already spent hours online, already have an agreement with their significant other, and have already narrowed down exactly what they want and are ready to buy. The soft salesperson meekly says “ok, call me if you might, ever, someday, might think of buying my product”. The consumer stops at the next competitor and buys on the spot. Why? Because the next salesperson took the lead.

It is not unethical to lead people. It is not wrong to ask the consumer for their business. It is not against some moral code to strongly suggest, or consult them, or speak highly of your product, or to remind them how valuable their time is and that they probably don’t want to prolong their decision.

For Pete’s sake; ask for the sale. Your kids and spouse, or pet/hobbies/charitable organizations you support/vacation DEPENDS ON IT. Remember the consumer walked into your house and inquired. You did not go on a door knocking crusade. A shark can smell the blood in the water, can you?

You Can’t See?

In the colder regions of the country, the windshield gets frosted over during the night. In the morning, it should not be a surprise when you can’t see out of the windshield, but for many it is. A typical morning starts by rushing out, starting the car and realizing there is not enough time to defrost the windshield. We have all been guilty from time to time using the washer fluid (not so successfully), or simply driving away despite not being able to see clearly. The real answer is preparation. This would include waking up a bit early and starting the car a few minutes before it is time to leave. In doing so, the windshield would be clear as day when we were ready to leave.

To be successful in any arena, preparation is one key component. Some people rely on luck, winging it, or simply hoping for the best. None of which associate with success. The 5 p’s seem applicable; Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Going into a new year, let’s plan ahead. Let’s prepare for what lies ahead.

In business (and in personal finance) there are many components that need attention to have a successful recipe. One of which is planning for growth and another is planning for cost cutting measures. I once heard someone say “good habits are formed in bad times and bad habits are formed in good times”. In order to navigate the volatile market conditions and the unpredictable business growth within that volatile market, one must begin to plan for a market slow down by being responsible with expenses. If a slowdown happens, the good times will be over. By intentionally preparing now, one will be forming good habits as it relates to expense control. They will be ahead of the curve by being proactive and will be able to see clearly when others cannot.

Time For a Change!

Our family has a tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. This year was no exception. After roaming the field and finding that ‘perfect’ tree, it came time for me to cut it down. My teenage children certainly did not want to get ‘dirty’ and possible get a grass or mud mark on their pants, never mind sap. As I was using the hand saw, it was getting stuck in the trunk making it nearly impossible to saw. I asked one of my kids to press on the tree, hoping it would open the trunk enough to keep the saw moving. SUCCESS, as the tree is now in our house. I obviously had to change my approach or I would still be lying on my back with the saw stuck in the trunk.

We have sales people who have not sold what they would like to have sold by this point in the month. If what they have been doing up to this point is not producing the kind of results they desire, how long will they continue to do what is not working until they finally realize that something needs to change in order to produce the results they want? Sounds like a tongue-twister.

No matter the industry you are in, the circumstances you find yourself involved with, the odds placed against you, or more, you must change your approach if you want different results. If not, you will get more of what you have been getting. So, if your relationships are not what you’d like, change your approach. If you are not selling like you should or could, change your approach. If you are unhappy in an area of your life, change your approach. Too often we feel others are the problem, when really it is in us that is time for a change.

A Simple Acknowledgement

I find it interesting when dealing with adults, especially adults in any form of professional capacity. When we were kids, our Moms would butt in to a situation and say “what do you say?” when they wanted us to say thank you for something. This would also be a code phrase when they wanted us to say excuse me, I’m sorry, or some other form of basic courtesy to another human being. Simply said, they were teaching us to acknowledge a situation.

When someone stops to let us cross the street, we wave and smile in acknowledgement for their yielding. When we walk into a place of business and someone employed there motions to us that they will be with us momentarily, we nod our head or say thank you in acknowledgement. When someone sends us a text or an email with some sort of information or direction, we respond in some fashion to acknowledge the message. When someone asks if we are ready, or if we are OK, we might give a thumbs up as an acknowledgement as well.

I can only come up with 3 reasons why someone wouldn’t acknowledge another person. First, it is plausible that they feel superior and find no need to express the common courtesy to someone they feel is socially beneath them. Second, they are intimidated with the message or the person, so they feel avoiding it is the best possible solution, which we all know never ends well. Or third, their Mom never taught them the importance of a simple acknowledgement.

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