The Difference Between “I Can’t” and “I Won’t”

I-cant11You have within you enormous potential for success and happiness. There is likely nothing but you keeping you from achieving it. The question isn’t whether you can succeed, the question is whether you will choose to succeed.

Your success really begins with an understanding of the difference between “I Can’t” and “I Won’t.”

There are really very few things you actually “can’t” do. Most of the things you don’t do are because you simply won’t.

I “don’t” play a musical instrument. It’s not because “I can’t” it’s because I choose to invest my time hitting a golf ball into the water or trees. The time I could use to learn to play a musical instrument “I won’t” because apparently I prefer to torment myself on the golf course.

Now, I really “can’t” be the King of England. There are many reasons for this, chief among them I suppose is the fact that I was born in the United States. If you TRULY can’t control something, then and only then, might it be accurate to say you “can’t” do it.

Those things are few and far between. In fact, one of the greatest differences between the most successful people and people who only claim to want success is this: successful people have found a way to control the things that less successful people told themselves were out of their control.

There really isn’t much out of your control if you want to control it badly enough. With every “I Can’t” you sell yourself short, sometimes, incredibly short.

I said “I Can’t” to myself too often and it’s been a long slow process to understand why. There’s really two reasons for it. Fear and laziness.

Fear holds us all back from our goals. Fear of failure, fear of being laughed at, fear of what “other” people will think of us. The only way to really fail is to let that fear keep you from trying. The only real failures in the world are those people who have failed to even try.

Sadly, laziness is another big cause of “I Can’t.” Some people don’t try because they are willing to let other people do the work for them. They weigh out the effort required against the benefit for themselves and decide to just sit back and wait for someone else to make the effort. “I Can’t” becomes their go-to excuse for everything they don’t want to do.

Imagine the world if everyone had that attitude. Almost nothing would have ever been accomplished. If everything you do must have an immediate benefit for you then I’d be willing to bet that you have an “I Can’t” mindset. You settle for far less than you could have.

“I Can’t” leads to settling and settling leads to bitterness. You’ve told yourself you “can’t” so many times even you start to believe it. STOP! Stop telling yourself you “can’t and start telling yourself you will. YOU WILL!

Some people say they would do anything to improve their lot in life but when you observe them, even for a short time, it appears that in fact, not only will they not anything, they won’t even do one thing. They don’t even try.

What would people see if they watched you for a week? Would they see someone who has settled for “I Can’t” or would they see someone who has decided they will?

If you’ve been selling yourself short with the “I Can’t” mentality, even for a long time, you can change it this second. Never let anyone say you can’t and never never never tell that to yourself.

“I Can’t” will stop your success before it gets a chance to start. Give yourself a chance at success, say “YOU WILL.”



Why Customers “Lie”

Customers-LieHave you ever lied to a salesperson? I can assure you I have not! I’ve told a salesperson I wasn’t interested at the moment but that I might be later on, even when I knew there was no chance I was ever going to buy something from them. But I wouldn’t consider that a lie. I’ve told salespeople on the phone that I just had new windows and doors installed last month even as my old door was sticking when I tried to open it. But it wasn’t a lie; I was just trying to get the guy off the phone.

Even if that seems like a lie it really wasn’t because I was telling it to a salesperson.

I can however, truly assure you I would never lie to a salesperson that I believed had my best intentions in mind. I wouldn’t lie to someone who wanted to earn money from me instead of make money off me. I would never lie to a salesperson who I believed was acting as a resource for me; in short I would never lie to a salesperson who had earned my trust.

Have you ever been lied to by a customer? I have and I hate it when they do that because I do have their best interests in mind and I do try to be a resource.

So why do they lie?

Because having their interest in mind and wanting to be a resource are not enough. You must prove to the customers that those things are true. When you do that you will have earned their trust and their reasons for lying dissipate quickly.

I’ve said in virtually every sales training session I’ve ever taught that trust is built from credibility. It is important to realize that for many customers your credibility is called into question automatically, simply because you are salesperson.

I know that’s not “fair” because you may have never lied to a customer, but somewhere along the line, another salesperson likely did and now you’re lumped in with them. You must overcome this lack of credibility as quickly as possible to earn the trust of the customer, it is only then, you can successfully complete the sales process.

Let’s imagine we all have a credibility “bank.” When we follow through on our commitments our credibility balance goes up; when we fail to follow through our credibility balance goes down. Here is a sad fact, our “deposits” are much smaller for following through than our “withdrawals” are for dropping the ball. That is why building credibility with a customer is such a challenge.

It all comes down to this: doing what you say you will, when you say you will do it. You must do that over and over again. Honoring your commitments as a professional salesperson is the foundation for any success you may have.

Don’t earn that lie from your customer, make “deposits” in your credibility bank everyday!


What Makes a Victim?

VictimI should warn you right up front that this post is going to make some people mad. They will disagree and be upset and think that I must be a cold and heartless person.

I won’t take it personally.  I understand it’s just part of their victim mentality.

I should also tell you that I probably haven’t earned the right to talk about being a victim. I’ve had a pretty easy life. Yes, I’ve suffered loss and been victimized by crime. My brother was murdered and other people close to me have died too young, I’ve been robbed at gunpoint, multiple times. But even though I’ve been victimized I’ve never thought of myself as a victim. So I guess I just don’t get the whole victim thing.

It’s been a terrible week in Boston, 3 people killed and many more injured, some with life altering injuries. They will never be the same. Their lives will be different and that is not a choice they were allowed to make – they were victimized by a couple of loonies.

The choice they do now get to make however is this: will they be someone who was victimized for a time or will they become victims for a lifetime.

Same thing in West, Texas. A horrible week. More dead and injured, apparently in just a freak accident. Many more lives changed forever. But, a “victim” forever? Sorry, that’s a choice.

See, I told you some would get mad.

I don’t know about the rest of the world but I’m coming to the conclusion that in the U.S. it’s easier to be a victim than it is to be anything else. I know this because I heard it on the news, as “reporters” from both FOX and MSNBC spoke of the “millions” of “victims” created by the bombing in Boston. Millions? Really?

The only way millions of people become victims of the bombers in Boston is if they want to be.

Do we perhaps need to be more aware of our surroundings? Yes! Do we need to be more aware in large crowds? Yes! Do we need to consider ourselves “victims” because of this? NO!

We don’t get to decide whether or not we are victimized, there are just too many people and things outside of our control. We do however fully get to decide whether or not we will be victims, and for how long we will be victims. THAT is a choice. If you have been victimized don’t let someone or something victimize you a second time by robbing you of that choice.

There will be incredible stories of courage and triumph that come from the people victimized by the bombers on Boston. The people who create those stories will have done so by choice.

My fellow Americans, don’t listen to the media. These two maniacal idiots that set off the bombs in Boston can make victims for a time, only the people victimized get to decide if they will be victims for a lifetime.

Now, before you start to come completely unglued, I KNOW I’ve way over simplified a very complex issue. I know there are many layers to discuss here. I hope you’ll get the overall drift….continual victimhood is a choice. Taking someone else’s victimization and making it our own is also a choice.

Let’s make choices for the future, not the past.


It Takes More Than a Tweet to Lead

photoGeez, there are so many people who tweet and blog about the subject of Leadership. Some seem to know what they are talking about, some, not so much.

Some have and do actually lead. Others … not so much.

I read lots of the leadership tweets and some of the Leadership Blogs. There are just too many to read them all or even most. Truth be told, I read a very tiny slice of what’s posted each day but I’ve noticed that most of them have one thing in common: tweeting and blogging about leadership can kind of make it sound easy.

Here’s one thing that you should know about leadership and never doubt this for a minute. Leadership, authentic leadership, is not easy. It requires courage, sacrifice, caring, determination, knowledge, sound judgement, experience dealing with people, and perhaps most of all commitment.

It requires commitment because people leading will be an interruption to your plans. Your people’s need for support doesn’t punch a clock. You can have your own “stuff” to accomplish but the moment that you put your people off for yourself, you begin to fail as a leader.

Authentic leaders willingly sacrifice what they want for what their people need. They do it because they care about their people and they lead for others sake, not their own.

Leading requires you to hang in there when it’s tough, even on days you’re not up to it. You can’t lead if you try to take a pass on the hard decisions. You can’t truly lead if you’re going to try to hide from the responsibility that comes with leading.

It’s easy to talk, tweet or write about leadership. Real conversations between a leader and one of their people can at times be the most challenging of conversations. Telling someone the kind of things they don’t want to hear is never comfortable. Telling someone they aren’t performing nearly as well as they thought they were requires delicate compassion and courage to confront the situation as soon as possible. Authentic leaders know that very often the tough conversations are the ones most needed and the ones that can pay the biggest dividends.

Authentic leadership is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week commitment. There will be times when you just don’t want to lead and those are likely the times when your authentic leadership will be most needed. If you’re going to truly lead then you’re going to have to hang in there for everyone else.

I’ll continue to read, think, and write about leadership. I’d encourage you to do the same. Every leader, no matter their experience still has much to learn about leading. Remember this as you learn: real leadership is not about what you think, know or even about what you think you know. Real leadership is about what you do, when you do it and most certainly, it’s about how you do it.



Spring Cleaning for Success

Spring CleaningIt’s Springtime! I know it is because the calendar says so. As I write this post I am in Minneapolis, Minnesota. That’s in the northern part of the U.S. and the calendar is the only indication I have that it’s really spring. The temperatures are running WAY below normal, there is plenty of snow on the ground and not a single golf course is open for play.

It feels like we should still be hibernating but the calendar doesn’t lie. Nature is renewing itself and soon trees will be budding, grass will be growing and flowers will be popping up. It’s Springtime!

Growing up that always meant throwing the windows and doors open and letting some fresh air into the house. It was closed up against the cold all winter and the fresh air somehow made everything seem new again.

Along with the fresh air and nature’s handiwork outside came some serious indoor cleaning. Spring Cleaning! It made the house seem almost new. A fresh start a quarter of the way through the year.

How about you? Could you use some fresh air? A little attitude adjustment? Do you have ideas and dreams that have been gathering dust so far in 2013? Did your 2013 plan get put on a shelf behind some seemingly insurmountable problem?

Maybe you need some Spring Cleaning for yourself.

Spring is a great time for reflection on how your year is going. You’re far enough into it to see how it might finish if you stay your current course. It’s early enough for a course correction if where you’re heading is not the direction you intended to go.

Dust off your plan, if you haven’t looked at it in a while today is the perfect time to renew your commitment to get it done. If you just can’t get yourself going then remember why you made the plan in the first place.

Re-dream your dream!

When the year started remember all the great things that were going to happen in 2013? You have three-quarters of the year remaining to make them happen. Three-quarters! Today is the perfect day to start!

If some “realities” have set in and it’s clear some stuff is happening (or not) that you didn’t anticipate then maybe your plan or your dream needs a little adjustment. That’s perfectly okay. There is not a single thing wrong with making changes to your plan when things outside of your control change as well.

Maybe you’ve just changed your mind about your goals, dreams or objectives. That’s perfectly okay too. Just remember, just because your original thinking changed doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go through the remainder of the year without a plan. Make a new one! You’ve got a ton of valuable time left in 2013 and it’s WAY too early to begin your “coast” into 2014.

Have I mentioned that TODAY is the perfect day to begin anew?



How Important are You?

vip2012Are you an important person? Are you perhaps even a Very Important Person? Are you more important than someone else?

If the answer to those first two questions was a resounding yes then good for you. Understanding that you have value in this world and to those around you is healthy and in fact necessary for success.

If however, your answer to that third question was also a yes, even a hesitant yes, well then not so good for you.

It’s great to know that no one in this world is more important than you. It’s only useful to know it if you also know that you’re no more important than anyone else. As you’re sitting on the bus in traffic looking at the person in the back seat of a limousine you may be tempted to think that person must be pretty important. They are – just NOT MORE important than you.

They may have a more important job, the decisions they are required to make may be more impactful than the decisions you have to make in yours. They may get paid more, they may have a bigger house or even houses than you. They are NOT however more important as a person than you or anyone else.

Leaders are people, just people. They begin to fail as a leader the moment they begin to think they are something more. They begin to lose touch with the world and the people who make them a leader. Their view of reality begins to cloud over and they begin to believe that they “deserve” more than the people they lead.

Leaders who think they are better people than those they lead build walls between themselves and their people. They kill the morale of the people that both the leader and their people will need to succeed. Leaders who think they are better people than anyone else are poor leaders indeed.

They miss the most vital part of leadership: an understanding that leadership is about people, people and only people. Anything in business, or life, not related to people is just management or process. When people are involved, it’s leadership.

Anything that someone in a leadership position does that separates them from their people makes them a less effective leader. ANYTHING!

No one is more important and you’re no more important than anyone else. When you live your life with that simple balance, people will be drawn to you and your leadership experience will be one that makes a difference for everyone it touches.

Should You be Reading This?

20120812-185949.jpgYes this, should you be reading this blog? I wish more people would read my blog. I wish more people would read my tweets. But that’s just me.

In reality, it’s possible that this or any other blog just might be a complete waste of your time. In fact, it’s possible that the whole “Social Media” thing might be one gigantic waste of time.

It might be, but it doesn’t have to be. Social Media is like everything else in your life, it’s more productive if you have a plan and an objective for using it.

Here’s an idea for you, I’ll tell you right now you’re likely not going to like it, but it will be very informative for you. Keep a time-log for a week or even just a few days. Log how many minutes or heaven forbid, how many hours, you spend each day on various forms of social media. BE HONEST!

You are the only judge as to what is the “right” amount of time. Once you have an honest answer as to how much time you’re spending on Social Media then recall your life before Social Media. What did you do with that time then?

Was it a better use of your time? Did you spend the time in real conversations with people face-to-face? Did you procrastinate less? Did you accomplish more at work? Did you worry less about “having so much to do?”

No one but you can answer those questions. I can however, encourage you to answer those questions honestly for yourself. Keeping a time-log for a few days will help you do that. It’s so easy to burn an hour or two on Facebook or Twitter that a whole morning can get away from you. Your time-log will prove to you how often that happens.

Once you really know how much time your spending on Social Media then and only then can you begin to determine if it’s worth the time you’re committing to it. Once again, be honest with yourself. What do YOU get from it? How does it help YOU?

This is YOUR call, only you can say for sure if it’s worth your time. Only you can measure your Social Media ROI. Your ROI (return in investment) will be determined by your plan and objective for Social Media. If your objective is to just burn several hours a day then you should be able to reach your objective rather easily.

If you use Social Media to learn from other people then you must be able to state what you learn and how you USE it. Somehow I feel the need to mention that honesty thing again here…

If you’re using Social Media to sell then you should be able to measure what you’ve sold that you wouldn’t have sold if you weren’t online. Honestly?

There are many uses for Social Media and I could go an and on but I think you get my drift.

Social Media can add value to your life or dilute the fullness of your life. It depends on how you use it. I’d be a knucklehead to think I have any idea of the “right” way for you to use it, it’s a very individual decision. I can however, tell you there is a right way and that means there must be a wrong way too.

You need to know the difference.