Thanksgiving Is Better as a Verb

Once a year the United States stops for a day to give thanks. That day of thanks is known as Thanksgiving Day. In the English language Thanksgiving is used as a name therefore it’s a noun.

 

But in a twist that causes great confusion for people attempting to learn the English language “Thanksgiving” is also an action which means it’s a verb. 

 

Which one is it for you? Is Thanksgiving a day you don’t have to work or is thanksgiving something you do?

 

Stopping for a day to reflect on all we have to be thankful for is fine but living a life full of thankfulness is better. The challenge is, at least for me, is that we take soooooo much for granted. 

 

The fact that a day is set aside to give thanks somehow seems to make it okay to give thanks one day a year. But we all know that’s not okay. So here’s an idea….

 

Since smartphones are such a big part of our life let’s use them to help us remember to live a life of thankfulness. When I open the calendar on my iPhone it says “Thanksgiving Day” on only one day a year. 

 

I’m going to scatter “Thanksgiving Day” throughout the year on my calendar. I’m going to use that device I look at many times a day to remind myself that Thanksgiving is best when it’s a verb and not merely a noun. I’d add Thanksgiving to everyday except for the fact that if I saw it everyday it wouldn’t be long before I didn’t even notice it anymore. 

 

I’d never presume to tell you what you have to be thankful for but I am certain that no matter your situation you have many things and people if your life that you would miss horribly if they were gone. 


Be thankful for them!


What Are You Working On?

“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.” Dale Carnegie

 

When you think of self-help authors in the last 100 years, Dale Carnegie’s name will come to most people’s minds. His influence went beyond those who read his books, and is still being felt today – over sixty years after his death.

   

This particular quote from him speaks to the importance of pushing forward when the odds against your success seem insurmountable.

 

The key part of the quote is the beginning…. “If you believe in what you are doing.” For most people pushing past obstacles is only possible when they are certain what they do matters. When you believe what you’re doing is important and makes a difference you will find a way to get the work done.

 

I think most people, well hopefully not most but too many for sure, never stop long enough to ask themselves if what they are doing is important. They never stop long enough to consider if and how their work matters. They don’t wonder if they stopped doing what they are doing if they and their work would be missed by anyone.

 

Sadly, the quality of their work and their level of success is reflected in their lack of interest in doing something exceptionally well or in doing something that makes a difference in the world.

 

I completely understand that circumstances very often dictate what a person does for a living. I get that many times people simply take a job for the money because they have families to support and bills to pay. In my younger days I too had jobs where I was more interested in putting in my time than in putting in real effort. 

 

But your job or career is not your entire life. If you’re in a place where you can’t make a difference for your organization that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world. Find someplace outside of your job or career where you can do something that matters to you….and others. Something that you can believe in. Something that will leave a part of you behind when you’re gone. 

 

Here are some questions to consider as you look for that meaningful work. Hopefully you will find it right where you are. 

  • Do I believe in my work?
  • If not, what work can I believe in?
  • What work is most important for me to do today?
  • What, or who, distracts me or keeps me from doing the work that is most important to me and my future?
  • What unimportant things should I stop doing in order to invest my time on the important things that can make a difference?

When you have concrete answers to those questions take these action steps to get and keep yourself moving forward.

  • Remind yourself of the importance of your work as you begin each day, and at any time you feel distracted or feel like stopping.
  • Recognize the power of momentum, and get going.
  • Read this quote from Dale Carnegie often to help you stay focused on your key goals and to keep you focused on doing the work required.

Don’t waste time lamenting that your “day job” is less fulfilling than you would like. There are enough hours remaining in the day to “work” on something that does matter to you. 

 

Know what you want to achieve, realize it can happen IF you’re willing to work for it and then get started.  You’ll never finish what you never begin. Why not begin today?


The Reward of Leadership

Managing people might be the most difficult, least rewarding thing a person can attempt.

 

On the other hand leading people is actually far easier and way more rewarding. In fact, leading people is one of the most rewarding things anyone can ever do. 

 

I don’t want to give anyone the impressive that leading others is easy, it’s just easier, far easier, than attempting to manage them. It’s easier because managing people is impossible. It’s impossible because people refuse to be managed. 

 

People need and want leadership not management.

 

Leadership is about people while managing is about things. If you’re trying to manage people then you’re treating those people like things and that doesn’t work. 


There are no doubt managers reading this who believe managing and leading are one and the same. I can only wonder how they have time to read anything considering how many problems they create for themselves with that kind of mindset. Could it be they just don’t deal with the problems they create?

 

Most every “people problem” that ends up in an HR Department comes directly from attempting to manage people. The vast majority of turnover comes from managing people. The overwhelming majority of “attitude issues” is directly linked to people feeling managed instead of led. When you keep in mind that over 70% of employee terminations result from some form of attitude issue it seems like it would be a good idea to not create even more. 

 

Managing people may seem easier than investing a part of yourself in leading them but attempting to manage another human being is like attempting to go boating without water. It’s not going to happen. 

 

While leading others requires a greater investment by the leader in the lives of those they would lead the return on that investment can be huge. It can be life altering, for both the leader and the led. It is richly rewarding and it’s a reward that money cannot buy. 

 

Authentic Leaders, and particularly Authentic Servant Leaders, lead because they want to make a positive difference in the lives of those they lead. A simply thank you from their people is worth more than all the tea in China. That thank you is pure gold. Knowing you’ve made a positive difference for someone is why true leaders lead.

 

Okay, time for an aside here….my dad would frequently say something was worth more than “all the tea in China.” Having been to China only once I didn’t notice an unusually large amount of tea. Does anyone know where that saying came from? 

 

Anyway, if you want to make a difference in the life of someone else then try to manage them. It won’t be a difference they will thank you for but it will be a difference they will remember. If you want that difference to be positive then make the effort to authentically lead them. 


Knowing you have made a positive difference in the life of another person is a reward that money will never be able to buy. 


Change the Trajectory of Your Life

A little kid walks into a candy store with his dad and was amazed by the variety of treats to choose from.

 

“What should I choose? What should I choose? What should I choose?” He asked himself.

 

“Come on son, we don’t have all day,” his dad said.

 

“These are my favorites. No wait, these are my favorites.” He walked along the aisles, picking up bags and putting them back. He just couldn’t make up his mind.

 

“Come on son, make up your mind, we have to go,” his impatient dad said.

 

Frantically, the boy ran around the store, his eyes moving from one shelf to another, but all of the options looked so good and he couldn’t make a decision.

 

Eventually, the dad had enough, grabbed his son by the hand and they walked out of the store empty-handed. The young boy had tears in his eyes. He wanted them all, but ended up with nothing because he couldn’t choose just one.

 

At some point or another we have all been that little kid. The world we live in is that candy store and sadly, some people never do decide.

 

There are a ton of decisions to be made but if we don’t make a decision about our career, education, relationships, investments, church or other important issues, we end up empty-handed. 

 

Sometimes we worry about making the wrong choice so we just decide to delay the decision. Well, that delay is a decision. It’s a decision to not decide and that is almost always the wrong decision.

 

You are perhaps only one decision away from changing the entire trajectory of your life. If you’re not where you want to be it’s likely because of decisions you’ve made in the past or perhaps you’re where you are because of decisions you didn’t make. 

 

If you’ve hesitated to make that decision then that’s on you. It’s your life, you should be deciding as much as possible who and what is in it. 

 

Deciding isn’t all that hard. Making a decision however can be very challenging. What’s the difference you ask…well deciding is choosing to do something. Making a decision is actually doing it. 

 

No matter what you decide it’s not really a decision until you take action to make it happen. Good intentions are not a decision. 

 

Making a decision requires discipline. Discipline is best described as wanting something more tomorrow than the something you want today. Think of it like this: you want to weigh less tomorrow but you have ice cream in the freezer today. If your desire to weigh less is greater than your desire for ice cream then you’ll avoid the freezer. If not, well then enjoy the ice cream. 

 

Good decisions come from discipline. Bad decisions frequently come from a lack of discipline.


When you’re ready to change the trajectory of your life you’ll find the discipline you need to do it. Don’t just decide to do something, make the decision to actually do it. 


Where to Find Success

I wrote a post a few years back that I titled “The True Secret to Success” or something close to that. It got lots of views but I suspect many people didn’t read to the end. They quickly discovered that there really is no secret to success. 

 

For as long as there have been people, people have searched for that “secret” to success. They look for shortcuts and the easy way. The reality is that if they put as much effort into working for success as they did trying to “luck” into it they would have had success long ago. 

 

The only place to find success is in hard work and honest effort. Anyone who tells you that you can succeed without thinking, without planning and without working will also try to sell you ocean front property in Montana. (They might also ask for your vote but that’s another story) 

     

If you’re thinking you don’t have what it takes to succeed then think again. If you have enough desire and discipline you can be or do almost anything you want.

     

Actual research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. Even when you are talking about people like Tiger Woods and Warren Buffett natural talent takes a back seat to hard work and practice. Not just any hard work and practice but painful and demanding practice and hard work. Hard work again and again. Practice and more practice, over and over again. 

 

Yes, talent helps but hard work always beats talent when the talented person doesn’t work. 

     

We need to understand that talent doesn’t mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It’s an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well. British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, “The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the notion that excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.”

     

You can make yourself into almost anything you want and you can even make yourself great.

     

One thing all the “greats” have in common is that no matter how “great” they are, they never stop trying to get better. They strive to grow each day and they never substitute good enough for great.

     

If you’re like most people, including me, and you can’t readily identify your innate gifts don’t worry about it. Get to work and you’ll soon pass up those people who were resting on their “gifts” while you were busy making the effort required to succeed.

When Mistakes With a Customer Happen

Mistakes happen… what matters most is what you do to correct the mistake. If you or your company does in fact make a mistake it could actually improve the relationship between you and your customer.

 

When you attempt to ignore mistakes, you lose the opportunity to maintain or rebuild a trust in your relationship. When that happens it doesn’t take long for the relationship to reach the breaking point. 

 

When a mistake does happen there are some steps you can take to lessen the negative impact.

 

The first thing you must do is acknowledge the fact that you or your company did indeed make a mistake. Owning up to it will show people your human side. It will bring the interaction to a more personal level. You should let your customers know that you are working on their behalf. That helps build trust. 

 

Be sincere when talking to your customer about the situation and assure them that you will take steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

 

Just an aside here; don’t try faking sincerity, the only person you might fool is yourself and even that won’t last long. 

 

Second, you must put any conflicts aside. Move as quickly as possible to the actual issue which is fixing the mistake. You will never win an argument with a customer, or anyone else for that matter, so don’t make the situation worse by trying. 

 

Don’t let pride get the best of you, being defensive only makes a small problem bigger and it makes a big problem possibly too big to resolve.

 

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will help you better understand where your customer is coming from. It may help you realize that they, in all likelihood, also have someone to answer to within their own company. 

 

You know what they say about stuff running downhill….well when you make a mistake you put yourself at the bottom of the hill. Live with it. 

 

Mistakes happen but they don’t have to be the end of good customer relationships. It’s vital that you act to resolve the problems caused by the mistake. Not only do you stand to lose one customer but possibly all the people that customer may talk to as well.


Plus, and I believe this is most important, fixing your mistake and making things right for the customer is simply the only honorable thing to do. 

The Smartest Person in the Room

If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re likely in the wrong room. If you’re always the smartest person in the room you’ve got a big problem. 

 

Smart people work hard to make certain they invest their time with people smarter than they are. They also know that there are a whole lot of people smarter than they are. 

 

You may be the smartest person in a particular topic but that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn from other people. 

 

If you ever actually are the smartest person in the room then you had better find a different room or fill the room you have with smarter people. But it’s highly unlikely you’re really the smartest person in the room. Believing you are is a problem, it’s a problem because more than anything else that arrogance is an attitude issue. 

 

Believing you’re always the smartest person in the room is reflected in how you speak with, or more likely speak, at people. What you say will often come out with a level of snark that everyone notices … well, everyone except you. 

 

Believing you’re the smartest person in the room also affects how effectively you listen. Actually, it completely prevents you from doing anything that remotely resembles active listening. You may think you’re fooling people into thinking you’re listening but you are not.

 

If you’re a leader with the smartest person attitude you have an even bigger problem. The most effective leaders interact with their people in a way that makes their people feel as if they are the smartest people in the room. The least effective leaders interact in a way that leaves no doubt they believe their people are less intelligent than they are. That’s no way to help people grow. 

 

You can’t grow, professionally or personally, without people in your life who are smarter than you at times. Once you find those people listen to them, watch them and always be open minded about what they say and do. 


It may not make you the smartest person in the room but I’ll guarantee it will make you smarter.