Your Greatest Competition

I like competitive people. I like people who enjoy winning. I’d hire people who hate losing. The desire to compete creates the opportunity to succeed. 

 

While the desire to complete is key understanding who your competition is can be even more important. Successful competitors believe their competition is some other person or some other organization. The most successful competitors know that their greatest competitor is the person they see in the mirror each morning. 

 

Too many people try to be better than someone else. The most successful people worry less about other people and more about themselves. They focus on what they can control and the only thing they have complete control over is themselves. They work to be better tomorrow than they are today. They know that even if it’s only a little better that a lot of littles add up to something big. 

 

The most successful people invest in themselves to ensure consistent improvement. They read more than less successful people. They find training, not just to shore up their weak spots but to further strengthen their strengths. 

 

The most successful people have a coach or a mentor because they know a second sets of eyes, a second opinion and a second set of experiences can make a world of difference in competitive situations. 

 

To be more successful don’t worry about what someone else is doing. You have little to no control over them. Focus on yourself, focus on what you can control. Focus on making yourself a little more effective each day. 


Be better tomorrow than you were today because all those tomorrows create for you the opportunity to put distance between yourself and any competitors not named you.


The Challenge of Public Speaking

Most people would prefer not to speak in front of a bunch of people. That might be an understatement. Research shows that on the list of people’s biggest fears death is number five and speaking in front of groups is number one. So when people say they would rather die than speak in front of a group they are very serious. 

 

Years ago when I was with the Dale Carnegie Organization people would contact us looking for help with learning to speak in front of groups. When they heard the classes required them to actually speak in front of the class many of them became uninterested rather quickly. 

 

Here’s the first challenge with public speaking…you must speak in public to learn to speak in public. You may learn how to outline a presentation or how to open or close a presentation from reading a book but learning to speak can only come from speaking. If anyone tries to sell you a public speaking class that doesn’t involve speaking be very careful because next they will be trying to sell you ocean front property…in Montana. 

 

Face it, learning to speak in front of groups will require two things, a group and you speaking in front of it. 

 

So here’s a few ideas to make that learning process a bit less scary.

 

Admit you’re a little nervous but don’t apologize for it. Most of the people in your audience would be just as nervous as you, if they had the courage to even try. Admitting to some nervousness will help your audience be more understanding if a flub or stammer finds its way into your presentation.

 

Understand that your audience didn’t come to see you fail. They are rooting for you to do well. They are on your side and are willing to give you the opportunity to do well without being too critical.

 

Use PowerPoint as it was intended to be used. It is not your notes and it is not a shield to hide behind. It is not your presentation either. It merely compliments your presentation. It should help simplify difficult concepts through the use of visuals. 

 

If a slide is full of words then you don’t need that slide. If you feel the need to apologize for a slide being an “eye chart” then don’t use that slide. If you don’t have a definitive purpose for a particular slide then don’t use that particular slide. 

 

Share the real you. I have spoken in front of groups large and small more times than I could ever remember but I have never given a speech. I simply talk with the people in front of me like we’ve known each other for a long time. Even if I’ve never seen them before.

 

Do not try to be something or someone you’re not. You may fool some of the people once in a while but it is more likely that you are only fooling yourself. 

 

Never try to memorize your presentation. You may pull that off once or twice but the list of things that can go wrong when you try to memorize a presentation word for word is so long I can’t mention them all. 


Above all else know your subject. If you know what you’re talking about you have nothing to fear. If you don’t know what you’re talking about then you have no reason to be talking at all.


The Ethics of Leadership

Here is one irrefutable fact about leadership: an organization and the bulk of the people who work in it will seldom be more ethical than the organization’s leadership. 

 

When key leaders in an organization demonstrate less than ethical behavior it gives permission for the entire organization to behave the same way. (Think Wells Fargo for a current example) 

 

Truly ethical leaders know that ethics are not a part time kind of thing. They don’t talk about business ethics or personal ethics, they simply talk and demonstrate ethics at all times. They know that you either are ethical all the time or you are not ethical. There is no in between.

 

Ethical leaders always do what’s right. There may be some dispute about exactly what “right” is but they do what they believe is right. They do it regardless of the consequences. They don’t seek popularity, they practice ethics.

 

Ethical leaders show respect for their people. They listen to them, truly listen without prejudging what they might say. They value differing points of view and when they must overrule or choose an opposing viewpoint they do so with respect and compassion. 

 

Ethical leaders know that they primarily lead by example whether they intend to or not. They understand that their people will do what the leader does far faster than they will do what the leader says. They set an ethical example in everything they do and hold high expectations that everyone in their organization will do the same.

 

Ethical leaders do not accept unethical behavior from anyone in their organization. They don’t overlook violations in an attempt to avoid confrontations. They are consistent when applying policies even when it’s inconvenient for them. 

 

Ethical leaders hold themselves accountable. They allow everyone in their organization to hold them accountable as well. They are transparent and open with their actions and in their communications. Their actions match their words…always. 


The term “ethical leader” is actually redundant. The fact is, if you’re not ethical then you may hold a position of leadership but you most certainly are not an Authentic Leader.


Compromising Relationships

I’m pretty certain that the biggest challenge when it comes to compromising stems from the fact that no one wants to lose. Ever! 

 

What most people fail to realize however is that true compromise is not about winning and losing. It is about allowing both sides of the compromise to maintain self-respect. A compromise can be found in any situation and it can, in fact it must, be found without sacrificing core values. 

 

If you’re truly interested in finding a compromise in difficult circumstances then you must stop trying to always be right. Admitting you are wrong about something, whether it is a fact, an opinion or some emotion driven thinking is not a loss. It is not a sign of weakness or stupidity. It is a sign of courage and emotional strength. The moment you realize that you are wrong about something admit it and move on. 

 

To find compromise you must be willing to let some things go. Humans say and do the most regrettable things when they are emotional. You most certainly have and it’s likely that you are willing to cut yourself a fair amount of slack for saying or doing whatever. You cut yourself that slack because you realize that you were emotional. You must also realize that the other party to your compromise is an emotional being as well. Cut them some slack!

 

You may enter into a discussion with one set of expectations but that doesn’t mean your expectations can’t change as a result of the discussion. Be willing to change your expectations, again that is not a sign of losing. It is a sign that you’re strong enough to realize that sometimes the only way to get something is to give something. 

 

Hiding your true feelings when searching for a compromise does not work. Share how you feel and value the other person’s feelings as much as you want them to value yours.

 

Finding a compromise requires that both parties keep an open mind. Personally I try to remember that I can be wrong about most anything at almost any time. That’s probably true for you too. 

 

Relationships are what make life worth living. When we forget that we put every relationship we have in grave danger. A long time ago a great friend of mine gave me some life changing advice. I was struggling with some issues with our daughter and this very wise man asked me a simple question.

 

He asked what was more important, proving I was right or my relationship with my daughter. That simple question changed my approach to every relationship I have.

 

There is no such thing as a neutral human interaction. Every time you interact with another human being you leave them feeling either better or worse about themselves and their life situation. Every single time!


Find a compromise that makes them…and you, feel better about each other. You will never regret it!


Your People NEED to Know

Most organizations know how important it is to provide feedback to their people. That is why they schedule an annual review for all of their people. In some organizations it is a very formal process and in others it is far more casual. 

 

Good leaders will keep track of the strengths and weaknesses of their people throughout the year so they can provide meaningful feedback during the review process. 

 

Great leaders would never do that. 

 

Great leaders wouldn’t do that because they provide feedback for their people constantly. They don’t wait for a review process. They help their people grow everyday. They don’t just tell their people how and what to do, they show them.

 

Great leaders are models of successful behavior. 

 

These same great leaders know that their people not only want to know how they are doing, they need to know. They need to know whether or not they are meeting the expectations of their leader. They need to know that their performance is making a difference for the organization. They need to know they would be missed if they were to leave. 

 

And they need to know all of that more than once a year. Way more. 

 

If you’re a leader who waits for an annual review to give feedback to your people then you’re limiting their potential for success. You’re causing unneeded stress which often leads to lower productivity. 

 

I recommend you schedule time in your day to provide consistent meaningful feedback in a casual setting. Your people will appreciate your insights. They will appreciate the consistency. They will appreciate knowing… knowing that they are making a difference and knowing that they are doing it in a way that is recognized. 

 

They will even appreciate knowing where they may be falling short. 


Don’t wait to provide feedback because your people need to know!

New Thinking

Most people like to hang around with people who are like them. They listen to people who think like they do. They talk to people who talk like them. They believe people who believe the things they believe. 

 

It is reassuring to have someone tell you that your thinking is correct. It is confidence building to have someone you think is often right tell you that you also are most often right. 

 

It is comfortable to not have your thinking or beliefs challenged by someone who thinks or believes differently than you do. 

 

It is also very limiting to your success. 

 

The most successful people listen to new ideas and concepts as often as they can find them. They listen to opinions different than their own with as open a mind as they can muster. They do not dismiss another person’s ideas because the person “is not like them” or because they have a very different background. 

 

The most successful people know that everyone they meet knows at least one thing that they don’t know. They are always on the lookout for that one thing. 

 

Successful people understand the reality that they will learn far more from people who think differently than they do then they will learn from people who think and act just like them. 

 

New thoughts and new ideas come from new listening. They come from interacting and conversing with people who might never be your friend but who can certainly be your teacher. 

 

Who knows, you might discover you have more in common than you would have ever imagined. If fact, you may have a new friend in the making. Get out of your comfort zone and reach beyond your circle of like-minded friends. If you want to expand your thinking then you will need to expand the type of people you let inside your head. 


New success seldom comes from old thinking. Refresh your thoughts and you just might discover a whole new level of success. 


Your Attitude is Your Choice

It’s tough to figure out which news is worse. Maybe it’s the severe flooding around the United States. Maybe it’s the incredible damage from the Typhoon in Mozambique. Maybe it’s the man made disaster in Venezuela. Maybe it’s the Brexit mess or the ugly political climate in the United States. 

 

Take your pick. It’s not hard to see how easy it is to develop and maintain a negative attitude.      

 

Lots of people have kind of thrown in the towel and are waiting for “things” to improve so their attitude can improve too. 

 

Think about that – they want something or someone else to fix their attitude. I hope you’re not one of the people waiting for someone to fix your attitude, but if you are here is some advice: Stop waiting, it ain’t going to happen. The only person who can improve your attitude is the one who looks back at you when you stand in front of the mirror. That means if you’re going to have a positive attitude it’s up to you, and you alone to make that happen.

 

Expose yourself to positive people. Surround yourself with positive information. Stay away from the nattering nabobs of negativism. Stay close to people who believe in you and will help you choose a positive attitude. 

 

I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand, I’m just saying to make sure the positive “inputs” in your life outweigh the negatives. That’s something you have complete control over.

 

Don’t wait for someone else to provide you with an attitude adjustment. The only attitude adjustment you need, and the only one that works is inside you waiting to be unleashed. Let it out and you can overcome any challenge that comes your way.


A positive attitude is a choice and it’s a choice that must be made. Failing to intentionally choose a positive means you will subconsciously allow “stuff” and other people to choose your attitude for you. And that attitude is not likely to be positive.