When Does Integrity Really Matter?

This integrity stuff is pretty complicated. We can’t have enough of it. We need integrity for work, we need some more at home, maybe a little with friends, and we sure can’t forget about the people at church, we sure want our church friends to know we have integrity. 

There are apparently different “types” of integrity too. There is work or professional integrity. There is personal integrity and the integrity we display with family and close friends. Some people have that “special” integrity they use when they really want to impress people with their honesty.

Integrity gets complicated when we have to determine which “kind” to use and when to use it. There is really no point in using the “special” integrity with the people closest to us because they will see through it in about 10 seconds. 

Sometimes we forget we’re at work and our personal integrity slips out. That’s not good because often times our personal integrity is not up to the standards of our professional integrity. When that happens the people we work with could start to question whether we have integrity at all. 

And they should!

You see, integrity really isn’t complicated at all. You either have integrity all the time or you have no integrity. Integrity and ethics go hand in hand. When you sacrifice your ethics for any reason your integrity goes right out the window with it.

Integrity isn’t complicated because you don’t need several “kinds” of integrity. If fact, you can’t have more than one if you wanted to because there is only one true “kind” of integrity. It’s the kind where you do the right thing solely because it’s the right thing to do.

Most people know the right thing to do. They have a hard time admitting that because often times doing the right thing means not doing the thing they really want to do. 

If you struggle with what’s “right” here are two ideas:

Get yourself a mentor. Find someone who cares about you, who is someone you trust and admire and hopefully someone who has achieved some level of success. A good mentor helps you look at things from more directions than you can see them alone. They can provide you with clarity that’s hard to achieve on your own. They will help you discover “right.”  By the way, your current level of success makes no difference, you will be more successful if you have a mentor.

Know and understand your core values and principles. Who are you really? Do you even know? It’s amazing to me how little time most people spend understanding themselves and determining the principles they will fight for. It’s your core values and principles that help you determine right from wrong. Those core values help you to know where your lines are that you won’t cross. Your core values and principles guide you to sound decisions and help you to eliminate regret from your life.

Integrity becomes easier to find, nurture and grow when you know your core values. Discover who you are today and every one of tomorrow’s decisions will be easier. 

So when does integrity really matter?  It matters every minute of everyday. It matters at work, at home, with friends and with family. Most of all it matters with you. Everybody else may be fooled by the appearance of your integrity from time to time but you never will.

You know, in your heart of hearts you know, if you have integrity or not. 

Listen to This, Not This

Yes, that’s what I said, I said NOT to listen! I suppose you think it’s kind of odd that I would say don’t listen, especially considering how many times I have blogged or tweeted about the importance of listening. 

The most successful people listen well. The most successful salespeople are some of the best listeners you’ll ever find. When you listen you learn. You can learn more in a minute of listening then you can learn in a lifetime of talking. 

The ability to build strong relationships with another is directly related to your ability to listen. So many people just want someone to listen to them. If you’re that someone who is willing and able to listen then you could make yourself a new friend in a big hurry. 

I have a friend who was flying from Minneapolis to Miami and before his flight even took off his seat-mate had struck up a conversation and they talked all the way to Miami. Well, “they” didn’t really talk, his seat-mate actually did 95% of the talking while my friend simply listened, talking only enough to answer questions and keep the “conversation” going.  

At the end of the flight my friend’s seat-mate noted how enjoyable the trip had been and commented on what a wonderful conversationalist my friend was. I always knew my friend, Mark, was a great listener and that flight proved it. 

People who listen well use all their senses to listen; they listen with their eyes, with their heart, with their experience, and of course they listen to understand not just to respond.

People who listen well focus on what the other person is saying and they linger on their words, not responding until they are certain what was said. Most of us are frankly afraid that if we hesitate too long to respond we will look dumb so we often respond too soon and prove that we are. 

Always listen well and you’ll succeed….. or will you? I’ve already said I’m a huge proponent of listening well but now I need to qualify that a bit by adding this:

Be careful what AND who, you listen too. There will be people in your life that tell you that you can’t succeed. Some of them will just be making a “throw-away” comment, having nothing to base their comment on. Sadly, some will simply be hoping you fail because they failed before you and really sadly, some of them do not have your best interest in mind. DON’T listen to any of it. DON’T listen to people who say you cannot succeed and for heavens sake, never say that to yourself. 

Don’t listen to negative people, their negativity IS contagious, you may think they can’t affect you but if you listen to enough of their garbage you will be affected. Just do yourself a huge favor and stay away from them. Hanging around people of limited success is the fastest way to limit your own success!

So, listen up but be careful what and who you listen to. It’s great to be a good listener but only if what you listened to is equally great! 

Are you listening?

The Value of Appreciation

One of the best ways to build strong, positive relationships with friends, relatives, business associates, or customers, is to show appreciation. Going out of our way to tell AND show people how much we appreciate what they have done, regardless of how unimportant or little it might have been, puts us in the minority of people.

I can virtually promise that someone in your life has done something for you that deserves a simple thank you or some small sign of appreciation. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Call at least one person a day, everyday, to thank him or her for something.

2. Send out five thank-you notes a week. There is power in the written word and a written thank you carries a ton more “weight” than even the hardiest verbal thank you. 

3. Don’t wait to show your appreciation. Do it now. Even the best of intentions isn’t as good as the poorest worded thank you. If someone deserves your appreciation then give it, the sooner the better.

4. Do what you do for others without the expectation of appreciation. When you want something back, that is not a gift – it’s a barter.

When you are appreciative it makes other people feel they want to do more for you even though that was not your agenda. When we fail to show appreciation, it makes others feel they want to do less or nothing for us.

Someone in your life feels a word of appreciation has been earned. Can you guess who it might be?  You have absolutely nothing to lose? A simple thank you doesn’t cost anything, and it can mean so much to people who have gone out of their way for you.

Don’t wait another moment, be thankful and show thanks now! 

How Hate Takes Over

“No one has ever gained a thing by hating.” 

That was a tweet I sent out last week. It was the truth as I saw it and I didn’t think that there could possibly be any controversy over it at all. It was “harmless” and a simple fact.

Boy, oh boy, oh boy was I wrong! 

To be sure, the majority of people who RT’d or commented on the tweet agreed with it but it was not a very big majority. I was shocked by the number of people who disagreed with it, some vehemently.

Some said I was just naive, they said that some of the most successful people in the world got that way by hating. They said their hatred “allowed” them to basically violate any law or any societal norm for their own purposes. Hatred was how they “gained” an advantage over people who didn’t hate.

As surprised as I was at the responses I was most surprised by the person several people held up as an example of “successful” hating. 

Adolph Hitler. 

They listed his “accomplishments” and said they could only have been “achieved” by hating. When I pointed out that he killed millions and then eventually killed himself two people said his suicide was his greatest accomplishment. They said he “got to” choose when and how he died and took that choice away from the allies. One person said only people who truly love themselves could kill themselves.

The responses came from all around the world but I was surprised by how many of these “Hitler” responses came from Europe. How soon people forget? 

One woman from the UK said that “Hitler had made Germany the greatest world power ever” and the Americans “ruined” it by destroying Europe. Another person from France said that Hitler didn’t die at all, his “death” was just American propaganda and that Hitler is STILL alive today. (I assume he’s working as a mechanic in Detroit with his friend Elvis Presley.)

I just started blocking some of these people and eventually gave up and turned Twitter off. I didn’t block them for disagreeing with me, I blocked them because I refuse to let hate win. I refuse to let hate take over my timeline. I refuse to let hate take over anything.

(I am going to violate a basic Human Relations Principle here but this must be said) To the people who think they have something to gain by hating, let me say this: YOU ARE WRONG! Believing that there is ANYTHING to be gained by hating allows hate a place in your life. That is how hate takes over!

Hate destroys. Hate destroys and that is all it does. It destroys families. It destroys friendships. It destroys countries. It destroys companies and teams. 

Most of all, hate destroys people. 

If you have bought into the idea that something good comes from hate then get rid of that idea now. Get rid of it before it gets rid of you. Get rid of it before it costs you valuable relationships and maybe even family members. Get rid of it before it costs you your self-respect. 

Haters ALWAYS lose more than the hated. It may not appear that way at first, it may take some time for hate to destroy but destroy it will.

Only you can keep yourself from becoming hate’s victim. It’s a decision you must make. Make it today, make it tomorrow and make it everyday.

The Dangers of Procrastinating

The most successful people seldom procrastinate. If something needs to be done today then today is the day they will do it.

Procrastinators tend to work from behind, always trying to catch up because of the too many times they did the easy thing rather than the necessary thing. Successful people have developed the skills and discipline required to avoid procrastinating and because of that they tend to work from the front. They always look to be a step ahead and because of that they accomplish more with less stress on their lives.

Think about that for a minute. Procrastinators accomplish less and have more stress. People who don’t procrastinate accomplish more and have less stress. 

So why would anyone procrastinate? I guess we all have our individual reasons. I can tell you I seldom put off doing the things I like or the easy things in life. It’s the challenging stuff, often the most important stuff, that I put off.

But I’ve found ways to limit my procrastinating. Here is a couple of ideas that might help you do the same:

Set goals that matter! It’s amazing what the average person can accomplish when they really want something. It’s almost a certainty that if you don’t have goals that matter to you then you are not as productive as you could be. You most likely use procrastination to keep yourself from doing things that matter to other people but not to you. 

Balance is a key to avoiding procrastinating. Without balance in your life the hard jobs get harder. Work can only “matter” for so long and if you’re only working because you have to work then the hard jobs soon become nearly impossible. So set goals in all areas of your life, not only work related areas.

Reward Yourself! When you accomplish something worthwhile, especially something challenging that you may have been putting off, then reward yourself. Give yourself a little treat, just make sure that the “little treat” doesn’t include putting off another challenging task.

The most successful people procrastinate far less then the average person.  They do the hard jobs first. In fact, they do the hardest job, the thing they least want to do, before they do anything else. They subscribe to Brian Tracy’s theory that once you accomplish the hard job, everything else becomes easier to do. 

If, at any particular point in time, you’re not doing the most productive thing you can be doing then you’re not doing the thing you should be doing. You might just be procrastinating.

Success waits for no one. If you can do “it” today, then make today the day you do “it.” 

Do You Do the Waffle?

Effective use of language is the start of effective communication. While there are additional tools like our eyes, heart and experience that we use to communicate; it all really begins with the language or words that we use.  How well a person communicates will often determine their level of success. You can have the greatest idea in the world but if you can’t find a way to communicate it to others it will likely never get off the ground. 

Successful people know how to talk with their audiences when giving presentations. Even if it’s a one-on-one meeting, you are still giving a presentation, and the same rules apply as if the meeting was a large keynote before hundreds of people.

All too often, our speaking skills distort our images as capable, knowledgeable professionals. We hem and haw, trying to find the right word. We may even discount ourselves and our ideas without realizing it, or we might unknowingly offend others with our language. Descriptive, simple language and short sentences are best.

One key to effectively using your language, whether it’s English, French, German or Pirahã, is to avoid the use of waffle words.

Certain expressions, phrases and words can rob people of their “communication power.” These “Waffle Words” should be avoided. Verbal communication shortcomings can detract from your confidence, authority and professionalism. A few examples of waffle words are:

“I guess”, “I hope”, “I think”, “Maybe”, “Sort of”, “Kind of” and “Probably” 

It’s pretty easy to get into the bad habit of inserting these waffle words into our sentences as “filler.” If you pay attention to what you’re really saying you may be surprised how often you use these Waffle Words. 

Instead of saying these things out of habit, be aware of what you say and create new, more effective habits when you speak. 

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” 

Make sure your habits are good ones.

Are you a Success?

Isn’t that an interesting question! Of course, that question begs another one; if you’re not a success then are you a failure? 

Have you ever considered exactly what it is that makes someone a failure? When do they cross the line from “struggling” to actually being a true failure? 

There are a lot of easy answers to that question. I see the easy answers to that question in motivational quotes all over the web, some of the quotes even come from me. Wherever they come from they all have the same “theme,” – “you only really fail when you fail to try again.”

I suppose that must be true, it’s said by so many, so often, that it must be true. Right?

Well what if it’s not true? 

Maybe in fact, it’s okay to not try again. Maybe the “never give up” and “never quit” mantras expressed so often are the very thing that leads people to believe they are failures. 

I believe that nothing is impossible but I know for a fact that some things are impossible for me. I could try forever and still never be able to dunk a basketball. I could live to be a thousand and never throw a perfect game in baseball. I know those are kind of over the top examples but sometimes we just have to know our limitations. 

Let’s be clear on this, not knowing our limitations is not what really leads to failure. What really leads to failure is not knowing our strengths. When we don’t know our strengths we potentially keep “trying” to succeed at things outside our strength zones. When we do that long enough and often enough we start to think of ourselves as failures. 

We’re not of course, we’re just applying ourselves in the wrong way, to the wrong things. It’s hard to say definitively that applying your energies to areas of your life that are not your strengths will lead to failure but this much does seem certain: it will not lead to success.

So, back to the original question; are you a success?  

That’s really a very personal question and one that you can only answer for yourself. Success means different things for different people and it’s a mistake to let anyone else define success for you. There are certainly some “societal norms” which come into play; there are ethics involved as well. You can cheat to come in first but you cannot cheat and be a success. If your mom wouldn’t be proud of your “success” it probably doesn’t fit the concept of success as society defines it.

Your success will clearly be determined by what you do, everyone understands that. But… your success may also be determined by what you don’t do. Perhaps by what you quit! 

The moment that you  determine you’re expending efforts into an area of your life where you cannot succeed then the successful thing to do is quit. Don’t let others goad you into “pushing on,” they may well be trying to apply their definition of success to your life.   

So let go of the guilt of quitting. Make sure you don’t quit too early, success will certainly come with challenges but also be certain you don’t quit too late. 

Knowing your true strengths will help you know when to keep pushing and maybe when to not even begin!