The Power of Thankfulness

Being thankful can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. It may be hard to get started, but once you do get started and it becomes a part of your daily life, you will find that for the most part you will have a new outlook on life. You see, when we are truly thankful for something, we are instinctively placing value on the very thing we are being thankful for; which allows that very thing to become more important to us. And it is hard to be disappointed in something we value. Thankfulness also shows our maker that we can see a blessing, even in the midst of problems and concerns.

When I wake up, I am thankful to start a brand new day that no one has ever lived in before; in the entire history of mankind. It is something liken to a blank canvass, that has never been painted on, no matter what yesterday’s canvass looked like. I am not necessarily a morning person, but because I wake up thankful, I become optimistic for what the day will bring. One benefit is that I am starting the day with a greater outlook than most, all because my outlook matches my gratitude.

As I was leaving work the other night, I could smell garlic from a restaurant across the street from where I work. It smelled amazing! I instantly found myself hungry and thanking God that I could smell this amazing aroma.

When I see the sunrise in the morning I am thankful that God is faithful and on-time every day! Even when it is raining and I cannot see the sunrise, I am reminded that it is still faithfully there each day — even though the storm is in the way. The storm does not mean the sun is absent: it just means that I cannot see the sun visually.

It is hard to complain about your country when you are thankful for the freedoms and opportunity it provides. It is easy to have gratitude in seemingly mundane situations, when we come to the realization that it can always be worse. It just takes a conscience decision to do so.

My daughter took time to smell the roses and took this lovely picture of a butterfly on a beautiful flower. I was thankful for her eye and thankful that we still have people in this world who are willing to put the selfies away and focus on something that adds value to their life.

Do you want to see your boss/pastor/priest/spouse/children/neighbor/job/house/career/town/country in a different light? Are you interested in how to feel differently about these specific things? Are you wondering how you can draw closer to God? How can you get through another day? It might not be easy but it sure is simple; BE THANKFUL.

In order to be thankful, we MUST take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on the very things we are thankful for. And this is the hardest part as we are naturally self-centered. For without the little things that add value to our life that we should be thankful for, we can become pitiful and poor in attitude and spirit. But because of them, we can become more at peace and richer, far more rich than silver and gold can provide.

Actions Have Consequences

Hit your thumb with the hammer, and it will surely hurt. Eat well and exercise, and you are likely to be healthy. Cheat on your taxes, and you will likely be prosecuted. Sir Isaac Newton stated; “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Being in the automotive business, I hear thing like “it wasn’t meant to be . . .” or “the interest rate is not fair” or “I expect top dollar for my (beat up) trade-in.” The truth is, actions, words, and decisions have consequences.

The person who thinks that they can wait to make a decision to buy something, whether a vehicle or a roll of toilet paper: and then due to their inaction the item gets sold to someone else, then states “it wasn’t meant to be”–  is flat out wrong. Their decision to wait caused the desired item to still be available for others to buy. Their indecision is the reason that they did not get the opportunity, and this indecision has nothing to do with — “meant to be.”

The person who is irresponsible financially with high credit card balances and late payments, and spending more than they make is directly responsible for their credit score and the interest rate that a bank will extend. This rate is completely fair considering the individual has proven to possibly default on payments, overextend themselves financially, and overall not be a good steward of their personal finances. The bank is required by law to treat the customer fairly based on their personal credit history, which is direct reflection of either good decisions or bad decisions from the consumer, not the bank.

When a person does not take care of their current vehicle (physical body, home, or otherwise) and allows it to be damaged, smoked in, windshield cracked, rims scuffed, maintenance neglected, excessive miles, and worth MUCH less than they owe because they rolled negative equity from a previous bad decision, their actions create the value of the car, not the person presenting the information.

We have become very comfortable not taking personal responsibility for much of anything in our current society. Personal responsibility breeds good decisions and good decisions will ultimately give birth to good results. Conversely, neglecting personal responsibility breeds poor decisions and poor decisions give birth to poor results. Actions have consequences and the only one to blame is the one looking back at us in the mirror.

Forged in the Fire

The same metal that is forged into a tool, can also be forged into a weapon, or a bowl, or a hammer. Without the fire, there is no possibility of reshaping the hunk of metal into the desired result. Men & women, are also shaped in the “fire” of life. There is no way around it and no possible substitute.

The success we enjoy, is a direct result of the challenges that we have gone through in life and likely persevered; due to a deep rooted commitment and resolve. Likewise, the failures in our life are usually the lack of a deep rooted commitment to succeed and ultimately an unwillingness to go through “the fire”. Why? Because it hurts, and too many people don’t like it when it it hurts.

Commitment and involvement are two totally different things. It has been said that you can clearly see the difference between commitment and involvement on a bacon and eggs breakfast platter — The chicken was involved but the pig was committed.

Everyone wants to lose weight, but few are committed. Most people want a strong marriage, but it is only the ones who are committed to see it through, that endure for decades. Some want to have a successful career, but many are simply not willing to sacrifice to the extent that is needed to rise in the ranks. Religious people want to stand strong but seemingly fade away when persecution arises.

Spoiler alert: the sacrifice, pain, sleepless nights, disappointment, tears, set backs, persecution, and more, will always hurt and always be harder than we could ever imagine. But in the midst of these battles, our character is built. Most importantly, after the battle has been fought, the victory is sweet: and nothing can take the place of the feeling you get when you have overcome adversity due to your resolve and commitment to to your core beliefs. Some of the battles we lose BUT we do not quit. Instead we learn and this helps us immensely in winning our next battle.

So, make a decision to stand your ground and to be all-in in your commitment. When you do, some will call you “lucky” or “blessed”. Truth be told it will be because you were forged in the fire.

What You (Diligently) Sow is What You Grow

Sales is hard enough on its own. Nevermind the fact that most salespeople can’t get out of  their own way, which hinders them from achieving success. Keep in mind — everyone is a salesman. You’re selling your mate on getting married, selling your coworkers how much you love football, selling your congregation on giving or the Gospel, selling your friends on the latest Netflix series, etc. Although this blog is written for those who are in a career revolving around commissionable sales, everyone can get something from it if we are willing to apply the principles.

Picture this — summertime is the time for gardens to be bearing the fruit of your labor. Some plant a garden early in the season. They spend time tilling the soil, adding manure, compost, coffee grinds, putting up a fence to keep the animals out, and more. They water diligently and pick weeds every day. This garden will have a crop producing too much for one household, causing the homeowner to give away tomatoes and cucumbers by the basketful. On the contrary, another person plants a garden by simply adding plants to the ground. Some days they water, and some days they do not, and it just doesn’t seem like their garden really produces much of anything.

Many people that are in a sales profession liken it to the lottery; they think if they put in $1.00 worth of effort, they will quickly become a millionaire. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, it is more like a garden. There is planting and much caring as well as a lot of sunshine that is required. But the most painful thing is time. Most people give up before a crop is yielded. In sales, it will be harder; take longer; cause more grief; and disappoint, so much more than most expect. It takes lots and lots of hard work.

The garden analogy is just like a sales career. The one who does more than is expected bears a bigger crop. If you work on having a good product demonstration, study your market, know your product inside and out, want to help someone to buy and not just wanting to sell, have diligent follow-through, are polite, ask for referrals, update your notes, ask for the sale, fight for deal — you will have the proverbial baskets of tomatoes and cucumbers to give away. But if you attempt to have a half-hearted approach you will get a half-hearted crop because what you diligently sow is what you grow.

 

 

All Play and No Work . . .

Okay, let’s face it; the first day back at the office after a nice relaxing vacation can be very challenging. After all, while we were on vacation, we would have taken some time to unwind and refresh and probably slept in and overall we would not have exerted ourselves. Then, the first Monday back to work seems surreal. We are expected to go from a leisurely stroll to a full sprint.

COVID-19 has changed many things but probably the most important thing to notice is our pace at the office. For those of us working in a variable pay environment, we have been forced into a leisurely stroll. Those of us that were not furloughed have had reduced hours, reduced traffic, reduced tasks to be completed and an overall reduction in job related stress. The real danger is settling in and getting used to the results that we are now producing in the slowdown.

Most economists will agree that April was the low point in this economic stand still. Most believe that May will mirror March, and June and July will have a sharp increase, however, even with a sharp increase in June and July, we will be in a recession environment. Not all people furloughed will be asked back to their positions, not all businesses will open back up, and the reality of a long recovery is at hand.

With this said, it is vitally important not to become complacent with reduced hours and production. We live in a capitalistic society that rewards bigger results based on our efforts. It is important to set bigger goals for May than you think are possible and plan for an even bigger June. Do not get lulled to sleep by the March/April business climate. It will only be the new norm if you choose it to be. If you choose it to be, you will be left behind. In fact, for those of us still working, we have people who are depending on us to grow our business back to a resemblance of where it was when they left — and in a short amount of time, so that they can get back to work.

So look back on March and April with gratitude to have been able to hit the pause button in life, which afforded you to be able to smell the roses. But it is now May and we have work to do. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Conversely, all play and no work makes Jack an undisciplined, unproductive member of society. Set your sights high for May and beyond. Reach higher; work harder; FOCUS; stretch; and grow. Learn to have a balance of smelling the roses and being more productive with your time when you are back to work.

Cake, Less Eggs, Ain’t Cake

You have to excuse the grammar; I heard this saying once and it jumped out at me. Building a team in business is like making a cake . . . so to speak. Just the right ingredients mixed just the right way will produce an outstanding cake.

I recently have been interviewing for an open management position I have available, and all of the candidates are good at some things but not good at all things. Some have 20 years worth of experience but their overall automotive IQ doesn’t support it. Others have only a year of experience but have quickly seasoned and have a very high automotive IQ.

Picking the right person for the position can be a challenge as it relates to overall  experience. However, I feel it is even more important is how they fit in with the overall recipe of the store’s culture. Think about it; when you make a cake, you have eggs, flour, sugar, flavoring, butter, and salt. If you put too many eggs in, or not enough sugar, or only use a bowl of flour alone, it will be a cake to forget — if a cake at all. Eggs in and of themselves are not bad at all. But a bowl full of eggs alone will never get you the end result you are looking for, if the end result is a tasty cake.

When I interview, I am asking myself if the candidate will compliment the overall feel (or recipe) of the existing team. I wonder if they will be what we are looking for as we move into the future. I wonder if they will challenge and nudge the team members to be better or will they be argumentative and hostile in general. I am probing to see if I actually like the person, as in, are they kind/well groomed/well spoken/professional/humble/confident. It is even more vital that my existing management team will be assisted to even greater heights by the new hire and not fall into discouragement or worse; discontentment with their position based on the new recruit. It is not always about how many mountains you have moved on your resume or how many awards you have collected. It is also important that the fit is right interpersonally, because when putting a recipe together; cake, less eggs, ain’t cake.

Tune in Tokyo!

In business there is a chain of command and a way for managers to share a message that has been communicated behind closed doors to everyone on the staff.

It is interesting when the message that has been communicated is not the message that gets passed down. The antenna’s job is not to change the channel or change the message. Its job is to make the message more clearer.

Middle management is hard enough to handle in and of itself, but when the message gets distorted from its original intent, I assure you that the middle manager will have even more to handle, especially after the leader discovers the intentional communication faux pas.

The leader depends on the middle managers in the organization to communicate the vision or message clearly, and trusts the managers to waive the banner and plant the flag so to speak. The leader does not expect to find the team they have invested in, twisted and in poor spirits because a middle manager flakes out. Actually, the leader is trusting the manager to be a good steward of the business and a good steward of his or her vision.

If the antenna doesn’t do its job and make the content clearer for all to see, sometimes the leader throws it away and invests in a better product — like cable or streaming.

7 Intentional Sales Steps to a Great 2020

Follow me here through the steps: Pun intended. All kidding aside, if you follow the seven steps outlined below, you will have a better year in 2020 than you have had in 2019. Remember, your steps must be intentional, not an accident. What are we waiting for? Let’s get started today and everyday thereafter.

Decide to Have a Good Attitude — Always

I use the word decide, because it is always a choice, and certainly cannot be a byproduct of your circumstances. Learn to have a good attitude in all situations. Trust me: it can always get worse. And if it were to get worse, you would wish that you were back in this present situation. I am not saying you have to like a bad situation. But learning to control your emotions and your attitude in spite of the situation you find yourself in will pay dividends.

Read Positive Material

Your mind is like a sponge. The same sponge that can soak up clean and refreshing water, can also soak up damaging and dirty chemicals. Your brain is no different. Feed your brain positive material by people just like you and I, who have succeeded or have overcome a tough situation. Read about others who have won awards, or have accomplished something wonderful. Read success stories, testimonials, spiritually nourishing books, and more. Stay away from the negative, such as the news or newspaper — as they all preach that the sky is falling.

Find Positive Reminders Every Day in What You Do

Maybe it is a reoccurring calendar reminder or a post-it note with an inspiring message or quote from a leader you look up to. You can print articles or pictures where you can see them that inspire you. You can keep the thank you cards from your happy customers or family/friends. The method does not matter, but the principle is a crucial step in keeping your focus on your goals.

Focus on Opportunity, Not Failure

Every customer is your opportunity. The town you live in is your opportunity. The state you live in and the country you live in is your opportunity. The world-wide-web is your opportunity. What you decide to focus on becomes your reality. Focus on failure, and get more of it. Focus on opportunity, and the more of it you will see available to you. Think it through; the person who has the money to spend on your product is asking you to help them spend it. They are never a nuisance. Ever. Yes, customers can be a royal pain, but if you can only sell to nice people, your pool of opportunity shrinks dramatically. Think of it another way — picture walking down a very long corridor with hundreds of doors that are all closed. Many are locked but some of them are unlocked. If there was a hundred dollar bill behind every unlocked door, you would simply run down the corridor twisting door knobs. You would never stop at the first locked door. Therefore, just start twisting the proverbial door knobs, as sales is simply a numbers game. Some doors are locked but the reward is only found behind the unlocked ones. Focus on the opportunity.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments, No Matter How Small They May Seem

When you were a baby, your parents or guardians celebrated your constant attempt at walking, even though there was more falling down than walking going on. They were encouraging you to keep trying, knowing that if you failed enough, you would eventually succeed, as long as you didn’t give up. Take the time today to celebrate your accomplishments and learn to focus on progress, not failure. As I have said in the past; inch by inch its a cinch but yard by yard its hard.

Develop a Cheerful and Outgoing Personality

Simply put — Be cheerful. People like to do business with people they like. AND, they buy more frequently and spend more money per transaction with less hesitation from happy people. Be that happy person. I have found that if you count all of the things you have to be thankful for, being cheerful and positive is much easier. Also, your associates will appreciate the breath of fresh air. It is easy to like someone who smiles, is happy, and is thankful.

Remember to Take Care of the Customer

Do you enjoy the niceties in your life? If you boil it down, the customer paid for it. Without the customer, we all have nothing in a free enterprise market. In my entire career, I have fired less than 7 customers. These customers were not fixable, they were toxic, and they were opportunists who were looking for someone to extort. So, I fired them. Most customers who seem unreasonable just want to be heard and helped. So, take care of the customer. Thank the customer. Appreciate the customer. Honor the customer.

Dick Chitty from Lexus had three rules that he shared with the dealer network to become successful in the car business. Rule #1 – Take care of the customer. Rule #2 – Take care of the customer. And rule #3 — you guessed it.

Happy New Year everyone. Let’s get intentional in 2020. It will be well worth it.

Average + Passion = Above Average

Never underestimate the power of passion. I am not talking about a fabricated rah-rah session; rather genuine passion that come from down deep. Passion always tips the scale. Passion changes history. Passion starts a movement. Passion is a game-changer.

Passion starts from somewhere inside and cannot be hidden. In fact, it is like trying to hide the proverbial elephant in the room. When you are passionate about a thing — it shows. You tend to talk about what you are passionate about; think about what you are passionate about; and dream about it all-the-more. You literally live it and breath it every hour of every day. And when these things happen, the work becomes easy because someone who is chasing their dream never feels like the work load is too heavy. The work never seems to too big, if the dream or reward is bigger — much bigger.

Many average people have been considered great in their field because they lived day and night for their passion and by doing so became great in the process. But what is the genesis? Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round and was the 199th overall draft pick — meaning no one really thought he would be anything special. Walt Disney was fired from an advertising agency for not having enough creativity. These men had a different idea of who they were, and they were determined to make their dreams come true. Their dreams were fueled by a passion that was deep inside of each of them. And the rest is history.

It is rumored when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor that Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack wrote in his diary, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” The same goes for Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and Tom Brady — someone awoke a sleeping giant in their life, and its name was Passion.

So be careful not to squash your dreams or count yourself out. Because if you have a measure of passion, the odds just might be in your favor because average plus passion equals above average. Not passionate? Get a bigger dream and get passionate about accomplishing that dream.

Want to be Unknown?

Recently I paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. It is not the first time I have visited this location, but I will tell you, it never gets old. I grew up in a patriotic home and have always had a reverence for this nation. It dawned on me as I was watching the guard perform his duties flawlessly, that we are all called to a similar mission.

On the tomb itself, it reads –HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD. Although the cemetery is filled with heroes, there is an emphasis on the ones that fulfilled their duty in an unknown fashion.

In business, there are too many of us clamoring for the next level, and waiting for the bronzer to call to ask which pose we would like be cast in, for the statue on the front lawn of our local town hall. Harry Truman said “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” If we put our heads down and look to the common goal without looking for a continual praise parade from those below, around, and above us, we could and would accomplish so much more.

If we would take this approach in our church, and fulfill our duty as a Christian without looking for the recognition, imagine what could happen. As Christians, we are all called to die to self and follow Christ, but too many times, we are too worried the cares of this world. If we were focused on His life, His things, and His agenda, there just might be more light in the world. The Bible places a special  emphasis on those in Heaven who have been martyred for their faith. Now that is something to be celebrated — The tomb of the unknown Christian — if you will.

So, whether in protecting our nation, moving up the corporate ladder, or standing in the gap in our local church, I encourage all of us to take a sober look at ourselves and be willing to be unknown. It just may not be as bad as we imagine. After all, the least will be exalted over the greatest in end.