How Coachable Are You?

They say that in football (okay, in American football) defense wins games. That seems to be the case, especially in the big games.

It’s a very different story in the game of self-improvement. Defense loses. Loses big as a matter of fact. The more defensive you are when someone is giving you advice the harder it will be for you to succeed.

Every long-term successful person I know has had or does have a coach or a mentor. It’s usually someone that they admire. Perhaps it’s someone they aspire to be like. Whatever the case, it’s always someone they trust and they trust them enough to let their defenses down and really listen to what they have to say.

If you’re going to be coachable enough to accelerate your chances at success you’re going to have to accept that pretty much everything your coach or mentor tells you is possible.

It’s possible you’re not as good as you think you are in some areas. It’s possible that other people see some things in you that you don’t see in yourself. It’s even possible that you’re better in some areas than you think you are.

If you’ve chosen the right coach or mentor then LISTEN to them. Not only is it possible they are right, it is likely that they are right.

Here’s a little test to determine if you’re really listening – after you’re offered advice do you respond with a quick “yes, but?” That quick “yes, but” is a good indicator that you’re not listening. Now, you crafty people that never say that – if you’re thinking it then that is another good indicator that you’re not really listening.

Coachable people are great listeners. They are willing to learn from anyone. They consider all advice; even the advice they eventually discard was considered for it’s possibilities.

If you are fortunate enough to have a coach or a mentor then follow their advice. They have your best interests at heart. Listen to them, watch them, learn from them. You can take years off your journey to success if you’re willing to accept the fact that other people may just know some stuff that you don’t.

One last thought – some of those people that might know something you don’t…. well some of those people might just be people that you don’t trust. They might be people that you don’t like.

If you’re open minded you can still learn from those people. They may not intend to help you but if you pay close attention you can learn from them. You may learn what to do or you may learn what not to do but either way you learn. All knowledge is useful when you’re striving to succeed.

The most successful people learn something everyday and they are willing to learn from anyone.

Are you coachable enough and successful enough to do that?

Why Winners Win

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Whenever I hear someone described as a born winner I always wonder what “the born winner” thinks. They very well may have been born with some advantages; wealthy parents, good environment, etc. are a couple that come to mind. But this much I believe is certain, they were not born winners. They worked to become a winner. Even people born with those advantages can lazy the advantages away if they refuse to work to maximize them.

People that win have invariably formed the habits of doing the things that people who don’t win simply don’t like to do. Winners don’t necessary like to do them either but they do them anyway. They do them to win!

Winners make better choices, sometimes hard choices but they make them anyway. People that don’t win often make only the easy choices or worse yet they make no choice at all.

People that win take risks. Not crazy risks, but well thought-out calculated risks. People who seldom win believe they can play it safe and still win. That may have been true at one time but it’s absolutely not true in today’s world. In his latest book, “Risky is the New Safe” Randy Gage explains this concept in pitch perfect detail. If you’re going to beat the competition these days you’ll going to need to take a risk now and then.

Winners have goals. The real kind, the ones that are written down with a detailed plan on how to achieve them. They do not think in terms of “if I can” they think in terms of “how will I.” People that seldom win have dreams, wonderful dreams that way too often begin with the phrase “if only.”

Winners work to make a difference in the world around them. They care about much more than themselves. They think long term and plan ahead, they know that a set-back is not the end of the world, it is just the beginning of the next success. People that seldom win work simply to pay the bills.

Winners live in today for tomorrow, they learn from yesterday but refuse to live there. People that don’t win too often seem to be talking about the good old days. Winners know the best old days haven’t happened yet.

Winners always, always, always control their attitude. They shun people who might bring their attitude down. (Yes, they will try to positively impact other people’s attitude but not at the risk of their own.) They don’t let other people and things set the altitude at which they operate, they maintain control of the precious resource of a positive attitude no matter what.

People who struggle to win also struggle to control their attitude and there is no coincidence there – it it nearly impossible to win once you tell yourself you can’t.

Now here is the best part… Every thing that winners do can be done by anyone. These are simply (yes, I know, simply to say, hard to do) choices available to anyone willing to make a commitment to win.

So the question isn’t whether or not you’re a born winner. The question is will you decide to be a winner today!

Steps to Success

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Successful people are as varied as can be but there are some commonalities amongst most all successful people. Here are just a handful of the commonalities but I believe them to be some of the most important of all.

Consistency
This includes not only consistency of the quality of our product or service, but also consistency of attitude (positive!) and consistency of integrity and reliability. Nothing will destroy your personal brand faster than lack of consistency.

Work harder and faster than you think you can
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher summed it up well when she said; “I do not know anyone who got to the top without hard work.” You’ll never get maximum results from minimal effort. When you believe you can’t do anymore then do just a little more. That “little” may turn out to be very, very big.

Take care of all your todays and all your tomorrows will be just fine
Those who succeed have a vision of where they’re going and have the patience, flexibility and persistence to stay the course. They have goals and oftentimes the mere fact of having them makes all the difference.

Don’t let other people or “stuff” get you down
No matter what you do, you’ll encounter criticism and disappointment during your career. Don’t let anyone discourage you or stop you from moving forward. Remember, one of the most important choices you make each and every day is the choice between a positive and negative attitude. Always choose positive!

Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain.

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It’s the first principle in Dale Carnegie’s Book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Of all the 30 principles of the revised edition (the original 1936 publication had some additional principles and chapters) I believe it is the hardest principle to live by. It is also the most life changing.

As a Dale Carnegie employee for several years I read that principle repeatedly. I taught it in classes and workshops over and over. I believe in that principle. Yet… I criticize, condemn and complain with great regularity.

I complain about the same stuff again and again, I have to because I have so little in my life to actually complain about. I criticize other people for doing the same things I do (it’s okay when I do it) and I condemn people and things after making judgments about them with little or no information – just my opinion.

Gee, I as read what I just wrote I realize how bad that makes me sound. However, I take comfort in this fact: the odds are overwhelming that almost everyone reading this is just like me!

We focus on what is wrong rather than what is right. We waste time worrying about all the things we can’t control while failing to control the things we can.

We miss so much of the good in the world and our lives when we think and talk about the bad. On our worst days, 99% of it is still great.

My dad is one of the oldest surviving heart transplant recipients in the world. He received his new heart in 1986 and since that time he has had a unique philosophy on life – if he wakes up, it is a great day. That’s a philosophy we can all live by.

So, as you begin planning for your successful 2013 (you will plan, won’t you?) remember to block out a few minutes each morning (YES, every morning) to reflect on the positives in your life. When you force yourself to do that you will likely be surprised at just how much there is to reflect on.

One of the most important choices you make each day is the choice of your attitude. Reflecting on life’s positives makes choosing a good attitude a whole lot easier.

How Much Does a Lie Cost?

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I was asked once how much a lie costs and I didn’t know how to answer the question. I decided to find out and began to research the cost difference between truthfulness and lying.

There is a surprising amount of research on the topic and I was pleased that by doing some relatively simple analysis I was actually able to determine the actually cost of a lie.

Clearly there is a difference in cost factor depending on the size of the lie. It’s kind of like purchasing a house, typically a bigger house will cost more than a smaller house. So it is with a lie.

I should point out for my friends around the world that my analysis was done in dollars so you’ll need to do the conversion to your currency yourself. The cost, in dollars for a small lie, the kind we might call a “white lie” was as you can imagine, pretty small, coming in at $4.13 per lie.

The amazing thing, the cost of a huge lie, a friendship breaking lie, or the kind of lie that can land you in jail is a whopping $21,843.21.

I imagine that many of you would like to know how I came up with those numbers so let me explain. I made them up… I lied!

So, you mad? Feel like a sucker? How is my credibility doing? I had you for a while, didn’t I? You’ve read a rather long way into this post, invested some time and trusted me. All that, just to be lied to.

The way you’re feeling now is the same way other people feel when you are less than honest with them. It hurts, the hurt is hard to shake. The hurt lasts, sometimes a very long time.

When you lie you damage your credibility and credibility just might be the hardest thing in the world to repair. I’d bet people would lie a lot less if there was actually a dollar cost associated with each lie. Too bad they don’t realize how much their credibility is really worth.

Here is the one absolute truth in this post….your credibility is priceless. There is no amount of money that can buy it back once it’s gone and there is nothing in the world worth trading your integrity for.

When you lose your integrity you also lose your opportunity to lead. There are clearly dishonest people in leadership positions but there are no dishonest authentic leaders.

Think about that the next time the truth seems to hard to tell.

The Election of 2012

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I have very purposefully stayed away from the news since the Presidential Election of 2012 was called for President Obama shortly after 10:00 p.m. central time. I haven’t seen a bit of CNN, FOX, MSNBC or even my local news. I have not listened to my local talk radio station as I usually do on my 30 minute drive to and from the office.

I just didn’t want to hear the “analysis” from either side. What went right or what went wrong is information that won’t be needed until the next election. The information we need now is what comes next.

Suffice to say the election, both on a national level and a local level, did not turn out exactly as I had hoped. In fact, every single person and issue I voted for lost.

But even if they had won I would still be wondering what comes next. I’d have to wonder because even the people I voted for were less than specific regarding their plans for our future.

In the Presidential election we were left to vote for a person whose record could indicate the future might not be so bright or a person who promised a bright future but who wouldn’t or couldn’t explain where the “bright” would be coming from. Not a great choice either way.

So what are we to do?

Let me speak first to the victors and let me start with a hearty congratulations. You won and deserve the respect of all Americans because of it. At the end of the day we are all Americans and we share similar interests and goals. The fact that we may not agree on how to get where we want to go should not be cause for hatred or anger.

But let me also say to the victors; do not be cocky. Do not believe that the slim margin of victory equates to a mandate “from all the people” and do not attempt to convince yourselves that you now have the “authority” to ignore 50% of the electorate. Authentic leaders seek to work with those they vanquish in order to eliminate future disagreements. You have earned the opportunity to prove yourselves authentic leaders, I hope you use it well.

Now, to my friends who weren’t the victors.

Don’t quit! Never quit! Stayed involved and keep working for those things you believe in.

It is never wrong to work for the things you believe in but we must also face the facts. The other people got more votes. The fight against the other side is over. In fact, there is no “other side”, we should no longer “fight against” because we must “fight together.” We face so many challenges that the only way to overcome them and return the United States to full prosperity is to work together. Working together there is very little that can’t be accomplished. Working against each other gets us…. well look at the last four years, that’s what we get working against each other.

So I’ll return to the news, I’ll plug back in to the information flow. I’ll share my thoughts on how to lead and work to ensure my voice is heard. I’ll give the victors their chance to truly lead. I’ll give them my support and my open mind. I’ll give any help I can and I will hold them accountable to the Constitution as our founding fathers intended us to do.

I will not despair, I will not surrender my principles and I will not minimized.

I hope all my fellow Americans will do likewise.

All News is Good News!

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I keep hearing about all the bad news on TV and in the newspaper. I’m a little stumped by that characterization. How can news be bad? I’m pretty sure that while the reports might be about tough times or difficult conditions the news is never bad. It is simply informative, nothing more nothing less.

What can be bad is how we respond to it. Yes, the media is very helpful in making certain we respond to their “information” in a negative way. There clearly has been a “sky is falling” mentality around for a long while now and most of the 24 hours news outlets continue to offer us a fresh helping of gloom each day.

While we don’t have input into what they report, we do have a choice in how we respond. We can choose to take the information provided and use it to be more empathic to those immediately affected. We can change our own plans as a result of economic conditions or predictions. We can listen and then decide for ourselves how much we will let the “news” impact our lives and our circumstances.

We can use the news as a learning tool to understand the challenges our countries face and the challenges our companies face as well. We must use the news to adjust our plans and likely our goals along with them.

Obviously, pure optimism or positive thinking, without a well thought-out plan of action, is not the way to go. Instead, we need to focus on what is possible and then move forward with a clear strategy for success.

We can’t let “the news” cause us to plan for failure. Progress, profitability, and prosperity remain our only options and they are just as available to us today as they were in the past.

Success is all around today, though it is sometimes well hidden in news stories about failure, corruption, and despair, it is there nonetheless. All you need to do is be open to finding it and looking a little harder and longer than normal.