The Biggest Mistake You Don’t Have to Make

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Mistakes happen, everyone knows that. Your own next mistake might be just around the corner. People don’t usually like to think about making mistakes buts here’s a couple of thoughts that may just help you avoid the terrible fate of the biggest mistake of all.

The first thing to keep in mind is that it is not a mistake to make a mistake. My dad used to tell me that the only people that never make a mistake are the ones that never try. Mistakes, almost any mistake, provide us will a real learning opportunity. They can show us what not to do and sometimes provide us with clues on what we should do.

Here is what I think are the keys to learning from a mistake: we must admit the mistake to ourselves. No one has ever truly learned from a mistake they were unwilling to admit to themselves. We don’t learn because we don’t ask for help, and we don’t call on experts that have already learned from their own mistakes. Since we haven’t admitted a mistake we are much less likely to review our actions and decisions to see where we went wrong. (after all, we DIDN’T go wrong)

Here’s the second key to “mistaking well” – when you make a mistake, and have admitted to yourself, then admit it to others as well. Don’t hide it, accept personal responsibility for it then and there. If you’re honest with yourself, a key to success all by itself, you know when you’ve made a mistake. The sooner you admit it to others the less likely you are to make the biggest mistake of all; blaming someone else for your mistake. So admit it to yourself and then admit it to everyone else. (they know it about the same time as you do anyway)

Denying your mistake or even worse, blaming your mistake on someone else almost always makes things worse. It closes off your support network, you are on your own and the first mistake now looks easy to fix when compared to the new one you just created by denying responsibility for or even the existence of the first mistake. What’s more, every time you deny the initial mistake it gets bigger too!

Never make that biggest mistake, admit the first mistake and reach out for help. People admire people that have the confidence to admit they can be wrong and the confidence to admit that someone else may know something they don’t.

Do you have the confidence to mistake well? I’ll bet you do!

On Purpose or For a Purpose?

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When asked the question what is your purpose in life, the majority of people simply do not have an answer.

Successful people know that there is a world of difference between doing something on purpose and doing something for a purpose. The people that do things for a purpose do them better, with more passion, with more intensity, with more focus and with more success.

Determining our purpose in life begins with a thorough and complete goal-setting process. The goal setting process begins by determining our core values in life. Our core values are those things that we believe in with every fiber of who we are. These are beliefs that are not negotiable, they are the rock solid principles on which we build our life.

Those core values guide every decision and judgment we make, when we know our core values, tough decisions are made much easier. The decision either fits into one of our core values or not. In essence once we determine our core values our decisions are already made, we only need to apply those values to any question that comes up.

Once our core values are determined we can begin to set goals in our life, short range goals of perhaps only a day two up to as much as 30 days, midrange goals of 30 days to a year and long-range goals of up to 5 to 10 years.

Each of those goals should lead us to our purpose in life, once everything we do, or perhaps nearly everything we do, leads us towards our purpose in life our stress levels go down, our enthusiasm levels go up our excitement and enjoyment levels go way up.

It’s only when we’re working towards our goals and purpose in life that we are truly productive, anything else is just busy. It’s almost impossible to be happy when we’re busy but when we’ll working towards our goals for a purpose we can be happy no matter how much we have to do.

So here’s your question for the week: Do you know your purpose in life? If not, don’t just make one up, we don’t decide our purpose in life, we discover it. Discover yours and absolutely everything you do, you’ll do better!

An aside: I should write an entire blog on goal setting but here’s a couple of points: if it’s not written down it’s not a goal. If you don’t have a specific plan to achieve the goal, you won’t. Less than 5% of people have a formalized goal setting process in place! (that’s why I need to write about it)

Managing or Leading?

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This is a post I originally wrote for the LeadChange Blog. For some reason I’ve had this discussion several times this week and I thought it was worth another look!

If you’re doing it for your business, it’s managing. If you’re doing it for your people, it’s leading.

We would be hard pressed today to find many people complaining about being “over-led.” We would not however have to look very far to discover groups of people feeling as if they are “over-managed” on a daily basis. It seems amazing to me that after decades of discussion about the difference between managing and leading most companies today remain over-managed and under-led.

Much has been written regarding the differences between managing and leading. There is still an ever-shrinking minority that would say there is no difference, that it is just all semantics. Most successful people however, followers and leaders alike, would say that without a doubt there is indeed a difference.

What is the difference? Let’s begin by explaining what leadership is not. It is not about a great personality or striking charisma. While a great personality and a bit of charisma can certainly help a leader’s cause, they are not absolute requirements for a leader. Leadership is also not a replacement for management. Both leadership and management are essential for success and that is even truer in difficult business environments. Finally, leadership is not a set of intangible skills that are hard to describe. Leadership skills are every bit as tangible as those of the most successful managers.

Managing is about coping with the current. Good managers use processes and control systems to make certain things “run” as designed. Managers follow the plan.

Leadership is about creating the “should-be.” The should-be comes straight out of vision casting and an insatiable desire to be better. Great leaders know that good enough never really is and they know that without a doubt; good is the certain enemy of great. Leaders develop the plan.

Managing is about helping good people do well. Managers “assign” tasks to achieve planned for results. Managers spend time with their people to ensure the tasks are accomplished. Managers organize their people according to the task in the hope that they succeed.

Leadership is about helping good people become great. Leaders “delegate” tasks to help their people grow. Leaders invest time with their people to enable them to excel and surpass the requirements of the task. Leaders align their people according to their strengths to ensure that they succeed.Well-managed people and organizations can survive in tough times. Well-led people and organizations can thrive in tough times. Good organizations have people that excel as managers and people that excel as leaders. Great organizations have people that excel as managers and leaders.

True success as a leader is only possible when we realize that what makes us a good manager will not make us a great leader. The most successful people have developed themselves in both areas.

Have you?

You Have No Right to Judge

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No matter where we are in life, no matter our station in life, no matter where we live or where we were born, you and I have this much in common: We have no right to judge anyone else.

There’s a story, which I’m told is a true story, about a man who gets on a subway early one morning in New York City with three kids. There’s no mom in sight and dad appears as though he couldn’t care less what the kids were up to.

As the dad sits on the subway, the kids basically terrorize the other passengers. They run up and down the aisle, knocking people’s newspapers from their hands and spilling their coffee in all directions. All this as the dad sits there staring into space.

After a short time one of the passengers has had enough, and finally shouts at the dad. He yells that the dad should get his kids under control, and asks what’s wrong with him. (If I had been on the subway I might not have been that shouting passenger but I sure wouldn’t have had a problem with what they was saying)

The dad awakens from his stupor and begins to apologize profusely. He tells the passenger that he and his kids are just on their way home from the hospital, where the kids mother and his wife passed away earlier that morning.

Wow!

So, what do you think of the dad now? How many of you were just like me? How many of you judged the man, to be a poor father or an irresponsible father? I did! I’ll bet if you’re honest about it, many of you did too.

Here’s the worst part, I’ve heard or told that story dozens of times, and I still judge. Even though I know how the story ends, I still judge. I say well maybe that father has an excuse but that doesn’t excuse everyone else that takes their kids to a public place and just turns them loose. Don’t you just hate that when people let their kids interrupt your day and disrupt what you’re doing?

I judge with little or no evidence on which to evaluate the person, I judge by applying my beliefs and values to the person I’m judging. My built in bias says if they don’t share those beliefs then there is something “off” about them. I’ll bet there are a ton of people reading this post that are just like me.

It’s taken me many years and it’s still a BIG work in progress but here’s what I know for sure. When I judge someone I almost always get it wrong. When I seek to understand someone, I almost always get it right. Here’s something else that’s almost always true; when I understand, there is no longer a need to judge.

This week let’s first seek to understand. Let’s talk and think in terms of the other person’s interest. Let’s value their differences, let’s see what we might learn from them.

You just might be surprised at how “un” different people are when you really get to know them.

So no judging, let’s leave that to the people in the robes!

Are you Committed?

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It’s an interesting issue, the whole Commitment vs. Compliance thing.

Which are you, committed or compliant? Commitment is a big deal, it separates less successful people from the very successful ones. Commitment is an attitude that helps you drive toward your purpose.

Of course it’s kind of hard to be committed when you don’t know your purpose, so step one to becoming more committed is to discover your purpose, that “thing” which will inspire passion into your everyday actions.

Commitment isn’t really about you—it’s about the purpose. It’s about making things better, consistently and always moving forward. True commitment will not allow us to merely “get by” – commitment means we must do more, much more. Doing only what we’re supposed to do is simply compliance.

Compliance is dull…incredibly dull. It’s right in the zone of “same ‘ol, same ‘ol”. It’s a lot like a cost of living salary increase or setting goals that deliver “only what’s expected.”

At the end of each day look back for a moment and ask yourself if your actions indicate you are compliant or committed. Don’t go through the motions just so you can say you were busy, committed people could care less about “busy” they care about “productive.”

Remember that nothing truly great ever comes out of compliance…nothing, but commitment almost always makes a difference.

Make only a living or make a living and a difference….you decide!

If Only We Were As Smart As Our Smartphone

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I love my Smartphone. It is perhaps the single greatest tool I have ever seen when it comes to increasing my productivity. There is hardly anything my laptop can do that my phone can’t. It has almost everything. Almost. The one thing missing is common sense. I guess Apple figures the operator will supply that. Unfortunately I must admit that too often, when it comes to using my phone, I leave my common sense at home. I would never ignore a customer, a co-worker or anyone for that matter.

Well… except for when my “smart” phone signals me that I’m “needed”. It is just so easy to sneak a quick look at an e-mail or send a quick reply. The people who send me messages deserve my attention too, don’t they? My smartphone now makes everything urgent. How dumb is that?

When we begin a discussion with a customer, prospect, or colleague, we must give that individual our complete attention until the issue at hand has been fully addressed. As a professional salesperson, that is just good old fashioned common sense.

Every single discussion, every single interaction with every single person requires our complete focus.

Not only will it help us maximize our time by minimizing miscommunication, but also it’ll send the right message, the message that tells the person that they matter, that our sole focus is on them.

We can’t let a phone call interrupt an in-person conversation. We can’t let an email distract us from a phone call. We can’t let a passerby, instant messenger, or BlackBerry take our attention away from someone standing right in front of us (or on the phone).

Sales and Leadership are interpersonal professions. Anything less than our full attention sends a message of arrogance – a message of condescension – a message of which no one (including ourselves) enjoys being on the receiving end, (and certainly not when we’re with a prospect or one of our people). For those who lead a team, you should set the example.

Give your full attention today, and every day, to one person at a time, the person in front of you, and watch the difference it will make.

How to Succeed While Being Lazy

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I’m still experimenting with this whole blog thing, determining when it’s best to blog, how often to blog, stuff like that. An experienced blogger told me I needed more “catchy” titles for my posts. The kind of title that would really “grab” people and make them want to read the post.

So… how’s this title? If I’m right, there will be a bunch of people here that have never seen this blog before. And I promise to share with you all everything I know about succeeding as a lazy person.

I’ve also been told that a good blogger will “tease” the readers by leaving the best for last so I figured before I got to the good stuff (succeeding while being lazy) I’d share a bit of info on a few of the things that non-lazy people do to succeed.

Non-lazy people invest their time developing a plan. They build contingencies into the plan so when things go wrong they are prepared for that as well.

Non-lazy people continually seek to improve themselves. They never stop learning, they push themselves to try new things. Here’s an interesting fact: the most successful people tend to read more than less successful people do. It always kinds of surprises me that lazy people just can’t find the time to read but non-lazy people, the ones who “seem” busier, do find the time to read. Go figure…

Non-lazy people work to control their attitude. The same negative “stuff” happens to non-lazy people as it does to lazy people. The difference is that non-lazy people actually think that they have some control over their attitude and WORK to make sure it stays positive. Lazy people see the fallacy in that and just “go with the flow”. The “flow” often resembles a toilet, but hey, they’re lazy so what can you expect.

Speaking of expectations, non-lazy people expect great things from themselves. They hold themselves to a higher than average standard and thus, they achieve much more than most people.

But enough with the “tease,” it’s time to share how to succeed while remaining lazy. As we transition into this part of the post I will hold nothing back. I’ll provide you with everything I’ve ever learned about how to succeed while being lazy.

So, here we go…

Well, that’s about it for another post. (I guess I didn’t know that much on the subject after all) I’m not sure I like all this catching and teasing stuff. I might just go back to the straight-forward kinda stuff. It actually seems easier and after all, this post is sort of about being lazy.