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Understanding Success – Part Six

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the sixth post of an eight post series. They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. The goal of this series is not to get you thinking about success, it’s to help you do the things that successful people do and less successful people don’t. The choice of success is completely up to you, always keep that important fact in mind.

While successful people are highly productive they are never to busy to listen. More important they understand the huge difference between hearing and actually listening.

You see, hearing is an involuntary process that starts with noise, vibrations, the movement of fluid in the ears and sound sent to the brain. We hear lots of things that we would just as soon not.

Listening on the other hand is a voluntary act where you try to make sense out of the noise you hear. It doesn’t matter who is doing the talking, if you’re not listening then you’re missing what could be important information that could help you succeed. 

Successful people never fool themselves into thinking they can learn anything while talking. They know that if they are talking then they are not listening and if they are not listening then they are not learning. It’s just that simple!

I think everyone would agree that communication is an essential skill for a leader. What many people fail to realize is that listening is at least 50% of the communication process. Listening is a vital skill for leaders because leaders who don’t listen will find themselves with a room full of followers who have nothing to say and those same poor leaders will mistake the silence for agreement. 

Authentic leaders focus so much on listening that they even hear, and understand, what wasn’t said. That’s outstanding listening!

Effective listening requires making some choices. The most important choice is to decide that you will listen to understand rather than merely listen to respond. Linger on the words of the person you’re speaking with until you understand their meaning. Don’t be afraid of a slight pause in the conversation, allow a moment or two to allow their words to fully register. 

Decide that everyone you talk with has something important to say. While not everything anyone says is important, you never know when brilliance will show itself so listen, really listen, and you just may discover how much other people really know.

One of the kindest gifts you can give to someone is the gift of your listening. Decide to listen as if they were the only person in your world, rid yourself of all distractions, tune out all the noise, look them in the eye and just listen.

Focus on listening rather than just hearing and you will likely be both surprised and delighted by what you will learn.

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Understanding Success – Part Five

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the fifth post of a who knows how long series on those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. I’m not certain just how long this series will go it it’s beginning to look like an eight post series.

Successful people have a bias for action, they seldom procrastinate. But they also understand that all action is not created equal. They know that being busy and doing lots of “stuff” does not necessarily mean that they are productive.

Successful people understand that being productive requires that you act with a purpose and with an end goal in mind.

It’s that “end goal” that will ultimately determine whether or not you were productive. The most successful people in the world have goals, well thought out, plan full, written goals. They also have an executable plan on how they will achieve them.  

They know that unwritten goals are really just dreams and while some dreams may indeed come true, “dreamers” have little control over their future. Goal setters on the other hand have substantial control over their lives and their future. They know what they want and they know that to get it they must have as many productive days as possible. 

Successful people understand that if they didn’t get closer to at least one of their goals at the end of each day then they may have been busy but they were not productive.

That being the case then it stands to reason that if you don’t have goals, true written goals, then you simply cannot be productive….no matter how busy you think you are.

Goals are your roadmap to the life you want. Well thought out goals give you direction and purpose. The goal itself becomes your motivator and helps you push on when “goal-less” individuals have long given up the pursuit of their dreams. Goals give YOU control of YOUR life. 

Decide what you want out of life then set your goals and develop your plan for how you WILL achieve them. The more specific you are the more likely you are to reach your goal so no generalizations are allowed. You need to know exactly what you want out of life or you’re probably going to settle for something less than you could have.

Focus on being productive and leave the busy work to the people in your rear view mirror. 

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Understanding Success – Part Four

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the fourth post of a pretty long series on those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. I’m not locked in on just how long this series will go, it could turn out to be as many as six or even eight posts.

Because successful people are willing to ask for help they are able to get more accomplished than less successful people. Another reason that successful people get more done is because they understand the difference between procrastination and patience. 

They know that the perfect time to act seldom comes so they take action as soon as they can, whether the timing is perfect or not.

Successful people have seen how easy it is for “later” to become “never” so they don’t delay. They know there is no “someday” on a calendar, there is no “free” time in their schedule, and the less they do today the more they will have to do tomorrow. 

If you’re a habitual procrastinator then you should know this absolute fact: procrastination will kill your chances for success, if not today then tomorrow for sure. The best time to do anything is at the first opportunity you have to do it. 

Many people procrastinate simply because they don’t know what to do next so here is some life changing advice…. when you don’t know what to do just do the next right thing. No matter how small that “thing” might be you’ll have made some progress and built some momentum. Momentum creates more momentum. 

Some of you will say that you don’t know the next “right thing” to do but in all likelihood you really do. Never use “I don’t know” as an excuse to not take action. Successful people who really “don’t know” find someone who does and they ask them. Once they know they take action, immediately.

If you’re struggling with procrastination then try this simply adjustment in when you do things. If something takes less than 30 seconds to complete then do it immediately. For instance, if an email can be answered in a sentence or two then answer it immediately, don’t let it linger in your inbox, don’t open and read it several times with the intention of responding “later” because there will likely be something else more demanding of your attention later. That by the way is exactly how later turns into never.

Reject the “patience” excuse for not taking action. If you can do something now then now is the best time to do it. Realize that putting things off is seldom patience, it’s nearly always procrastination and procrastination is nearly always bad. 

Focus on what you can do right now and then do it….right now!

 
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Understanding Success – Part Three

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the third post of a who knows how long series of those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. This series is getting longer by the minute and it could turn out to be as many as six or eight posts.

Just because successful people think they can do “it” that doesn’t mean they think they have to do it alone. Successful people are not afraid to ask for help when help is required.

That said, it should also be noted that successful people understand the difference between a hand up and a handout. They may ask for help in order to succeed but they don’t expect anyone else to make them a success. 

They have their support network lined up before they need it and they know that a great place to find that help is with their mentor, coach or anyone who cares about them. It may also be with an already successful person or maybe they just have to do research themselves to find the answers they need to succeed. 

Whatever the case, they don’t just wait around hoping someone gives them what successful people earn. They expect to have to work to get what they want and work is what they do. They control their destiny by controlling their thoughts, words, behavior and actions. 

If you are truly seeking success then feel free to raise your hand to ask for help, just don’t put your hand out and hope success will magically land in it.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the legendary comedian Bob Hope, he said “I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.” Of course he steered himself into a position to succeed, that’s what successful people do.

All truly successful people will accept a good break now and then but more often than not, their “break” came as a result of hard work over a substantial period of time. They put themselves in a position where success was possible. 

Focus on what YOU need to do to put yourself in a position to succeed… and then do it.

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Understanding Success – Part Two

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the second post of a who knows how long series of those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. The series will be at least a few posts, maybe as many as six. 

Once successful people have made the choice of a positive attitude it makes it much easier to understand the difference between “I can’t” and “I won’t.” Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Mr. Ford obviously knew something about what it takes to succeed. 

He also knew about the unbelievably destructive nature of thinking that you can’t. It’s really not possible to simply talk your way to success but it’s pretty common for people to talk their way out of it.

Do you talk to yourself? You just proved that you do when you asked yourself that question. Talking to yourself isn’t bad but negative self-talk kills dreams so be VERY careful about what you say to yourself. 

Every time you say “I can’t” you willingly give up a measure of control by telling yourself and others that you are willing to surrender your success. They more often that you say “I can’t” the more likely it becomes that you won’t. 

It’s perfectly fine if you willingly choose not to do something, just be certain that “I won’t” is a conscious choice and that you’re not unconsciously forcing it upon yourself by repeating “I can’t” over and over. 

Successful people find a way to say, and think, “I can.”

Remember, pretty much everything that’s ever been done was at one time thought impossible yet it was eventually done by someone who said “I can” and they quickly followed it up with a big “I WILL.” 

Nothing is truly impossible until every person on the planet agrees that it’s impossible. Never agree that anything is impossible…. be the one who proves it isn’t.

One more thing….be certain that your “won’t” isn’t simply coming from the fact that you don’t like doing something because here is one thing that nearly all successful people have in common: successful people have developed the habits of doing things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. 

Focus on the fact that YOU CAN!

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Understanding Success – Part One

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the initial post of a who knows how long series on those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. The series will be at least a few posts, maybe as many as six. 

First and foremost successful people understand the role that attitude plays in their success. They awake each day with the same choice to make as everyone else in the world and the choice they make is to have a positive attitude. It’s not that less successful people choose a negative attitude, they simply make no choice at all and allow the nattering nabobs of negativism to choose their attitude for them. 

If you want success and happiness in your life (by the way, each of our definitions of success may vary but I personally believe that if you’re not happy then you’re not successful) then begin each day by making the choice of a positive attitude. No matter what else is going on in your life it’s your attitude that is the one choice that no one can ever take from you.

Never doubt for a moment this absolute fact of success: Your attitude is a choice and it’s yours and yours alone to make.

By the way, just a thought here: if you’re a leader who desires to have a positive impact on your people then you should know that it’s pretty tough to have a positive impact on others unless you first have a positive impact on yourself.

Focus on your attitude.

 
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Are You Leading by Example?

Okay, that’s actually kind of a trick question because there is really only one answer. The answer is of course yes! If you’re actually leading then you’re leading by example, whether you intend to or not.

You’re leading by example because your followers are always watching. They are watching to see if your words match your actions. If your words and actions don’t match then your people will be required to make a choice. Should they do what you say or should they do what you do? In virtually every instance they will do what you do far, far faster than they will do what you say. 

The reality is that most of your people, regardless of their skill, desire, and natural abilities simply don’t know how to succeed, especially early in their careers. They can be told how to succeed but the most effective method by far to help them succeed is to show them. 

 That makes you their model of successful behavior.

So, here’s a few questions to think about as you go about “modeling” for your people….

Are you the type of leader who models a consistently positive attitude for your people?  You probably won’t like this and likely might choose not to believe it but in fact your people’s attitudes are most often a reflection of your own. Don’t criticize others for reflecting the attitude that they see in you. Check your own attitude before you check the attitude of your people.

Are you the type of leader who models the work ethic that you expect from your people? This one gets more challenging as the workforce gets younger. One of the more common expectations of the millennial workforce is a flexible work schedule. Just to be clear, they don’t expect to do less work than their more experienced co-workers, they just expect to be able to do more of the work in the hours they choose. 

You as a leader must model the drive, the urgency, and the motivation to perform at a high level until the work is complete. As a modern day leader you must also adapt to the reality that not everyone will be willing to perform at that high level with the identical schedule as you. Keep the end result in mind and focus on the goal, it should matter more that a project is completed on time than what time of the day a project is completed.

It will be nearly impossible to motivate your people to do more than you’re willing to do yourself. When you ask for more from your people than you’re willing to give then you’re modeling unsuccessful behavior and your leadership is doomed to fail.

Are you the type of leader who models the importance of caring? You’re people won’t care what you know until they know that you care. An Authentic Leader will do much more than say that they care, they will show it. They will show it by investing time to get to know their people. They will show it by risking a bit of the “aura” of leadership and showing people their true self. When your people know you care they also know it’s okay for them to care.

When your people care for one another, when they truly value different perspectives, when they genuinely value uniqueness as much as similarities then you’ve got yourself a team. 

You are most certainly leading by example. The only question is what kind of example are you. It’s your responsibility as as leader to make certain that the example you set is one that leads your people to the success that they seek. 

So, how will you answer the questions today?