Are You Keeping Score?

Every year in the United States millions of Christmas Cards are sent through the mail. My mom used to send a ton of them. Each year she would keep track of who she sent cards to and who she received cards from. 

 

I asked her once why she kept track of who we were receiving cards from and she said it was so she would know who to send cards to the next year. I guess I assumed we just sent the cards to our family and friends but it turns out that was only half true. The whole truth was that we sent cards to family and friends who sent cards to us. 

 

My dear mom was keeping score. 

 

Dale Carnegie said, “If you do something for someone else never remember. If someone else does something for you, never forget.” 

 

His point was pretty simple, don’t keep score!

 

If you’re giving a gift with the expectation of receiving one in return then you’re not actually “giving” a gift, you’re making a trade. If you do a favor for someone for the sole purpose of eventually receiving a favor in return then that is not a favor, that’s a barter. 

 

I could write a lot more on this topic but I don’t need to because someone else already did. 

 

To me, the bible on pure giving was written nearly ten years ago by Bob Burg and John David Mann when they wrote The Go-Giver. It is a truly amazing book, really a life-changing book if you’ll give it a chance. 

 

It’s a quick read, it’s a great read, it’s an impactful read, it’s a must read. Few books provide a message with the staying power of The Go-Giver and I’ve never met anyone who read it that didn’t agree. 

 

Now, just so you know, this is about as far away from a paid endorsement as you can get, in fact, the authors have no idea I’m writing this. I just believe this book can help you. That’s all that’s in it for me.

 

If you give only to get then you’ll likely never feel that you get what you deserve. It is by giving without expecting a return that we receive far more than we could ever expect. 


Don’t keep score, just give. Give freely, give purely, and you will discover that you’ve been receiving all along.


Are You a Successbut?

I used to work with a guy who always seemed to be getting in trouble with his wife for working during “non work hours.” 

 

He would sneak into a different room after dinner to check his email only to hear her shout to him, “you’re not working in there are you?” I was always surprised to hear him talk about this because his office was right next to mine and I would hear her call him once in a while, most definitely during work hours. I was tempted to go into his office and say loud enough for her to hear me, “that’s not a personal call is it?” 

 

Apparently she was okay with him using work time for personal stuff but using personal time for anything related to work was strictly forbidden. 

 

I honestly don’t think that type of mindset works anymore. Let’s face it, technology, smart phones in particular, have burred the lines between “work hours” and personal time. I cross them ALL THE TIME. For my personal benefit. 

 

I see nothing wrong with taking a few minutes in the evening to check email and even shoot off a quick answer if need be. That helps me start my next day in the office faster because I don’t have a bunch of email to go through first thing. I’ll admit I’m luckier than some in that I enjoy my work and actually like the people I work with. Even if I didn’t however there would still be the benefit to me of not starting my day under the crush of unanswered email. 

 

I’ll look at my email on the weekend in case anything is going on that I need to see or in case a co-worker has a question I can help with. It seems perfectly normal to me. I also don’t have a problem taking a call from my wife or kids in the middle of a work day…that’s every bit as normal. 

 

But, and some would say this is a pretty big but, there are times when I am totally disconnected from work and my precious smart phone. I’m focused on my personal life, to the exclusion of everything else. 

 

Here’s another but…there are times when I’m totally focused on work. Some of the stuff I do is best done in a distraction free environment. So I create one for myself. 

 

It’s all about balance!

 

I once asked one of my mentors who was perhaps the most successful salesperson who ever lived, how he defined success. His one word answer was balance.

 

He went on to explain that while you could be successful in one area of your life without being successful in others, true success, or complete success, required balance. He believed, and I agree with him, that you are kidding yourself to say you’re a success when any part of your life is less than successful. It’s the type of success I call “successbut.” Its like, “I’m a success at work but…” or “I consider myself a true success except for….” 

 

If you’re a leader who expects your team to be available 24 hours a day everyday then you may have some success in your life but it’s most likely successbut. Your team will care more, they will do more, they will do it better, all of it, if you help them achieve balance in their life. 

 

Authentic Leaders help their people become successful….in all areas of their life. If you only help your people achieve successbut then your missing a key component of Authentic Leadership. 


Don’t miss out, find your own balance and then help your people find theirs too.

Success is no Accident

Success is no accident. Success is the result of hard work, perseverance, help from those around you and a solid plan. The more solid the plan, the better. Developing a plan for success increases your chances of success 100%. Yep, a plan doubles, at least, the likelihood of success. I find that statistic very interesting but here is one even more interesting, or scary depending on your point of view. 80% of people go through life with no actionable plan for success. 80%!

     

I’m pleased that everyone reading this has a real plan for success, one that truly drives their behavior. I must admit however that I am a little suspect that everybody reading this is indeed among that 20%. So let’s see if it’s true.

     

First let’s determine what an actionable plan is not: It is not, “I’m going to work harder” or “I’m going to work smarter” or any variation of the same. That is not a plan; it is a dream, a dream that turns into the nightmare of the same old thing.

     

A plan that succeeds has action built into it, the actions are very specific, and the actions have measurable standards that leave no doubt as to whether they have been accomplished. Each individual action has its own deadline, a deadline which is critical because you’ll never find “someday” on a calendar.

     

Here is an 8-Step Planning Process that has been proven time and again to help people achieve success if they are willing to put the plan into action:

 

1.  Clear picture of current situation – we must know where we are before we can know where we are going

 

2. A clear understanding and vision of the desired situation – specificity is a key here

 

3.  Development of short, medium and long range goals – it is perfectly okay to adjust your goals as circumstances change

 

4. Develop your program – how will you succeed – what will you sacrifice – remember success is not just about what you will START doing, often what you STOP doing is just as important

 

5. The investment you are willing to make (time & money) – the commitment of time is frequently harder to make than a financial commitment

 

6. Time Table – When will it all happen – just like it says, Time Table, specific dates and times, giving yourself a range of dates is giving yourself the opportunity to delay your success

 

7. Implement the total plan – no plan is more worthless than the plan never put into action

 

8. Follow-up – Check back often on how you’re doing – and while you’re checking back find someone that cares about you enough to hold you accountable to your plan, this is a lot of work and is almost impossible to accomplish alone

     

So there is your planning process, and before you start telling yourself you can succeed without doing all this “work” let me tell you something else: What you call success today will pale when compared to the success that is possible when you execute a real plan.

     

Your plan is not work, it is an investment and it is one of the greatest investments you can make because it is an investment in yourself. You matter, your success matters and if you will commit to a plan you will see results almost immediately. 


So, what’s your plan?

How to Know Yourself

Who you are determines how you view other people. It also determines how you respond to life’s typical ups and downs. When you know yourself you’ll have a much better understanding of why you react the way you do to the people in your life and the circumstances those people create for you.

 

So the question becomes how exactly do we truly know ourselves? There are a number of factors that make you who are but here are the two with the biggest impact: 

 

Your experiences in life. Every person you’ve ever met, everything you’ve ever done, both good and bad, everything you’ve learned and everything you believe has helped shape who you are. 

 

The people and events of your life have a huge impact on your self-image. That’s why it is critical that you make good choices about the people you allow into your life. No matter how strong you believe yourself to be, no matter how principled a life you think you live, no matter your level of self-discipline, you WILL be influenced by the people around you. Those people will determine, at least to some extent, what, when and how you experience the events that make up your life. 

 

Choose your friends & associates well because they help make you who you are. If you really want to know yourself then watch the people who are closest to you. You are basically a compilation of the four to six people that you spend the most time with.  Watch and listen to them and you will know yourself.

 

The second major factor that determines who you are is your attitude about those life experiences

 

Most people don’t think about this often enough but the fact is that your attitude is your choice. It’s ALWAYS your choice. ALWAYS! 

 

Bad things can happen to good people. The most successful and happy people CHOOSE to look for the good in nearly every life experience. Even the bad ones. 

 

For those of you who sometimes doubt whether your attitude is really your choice I fully understand. It can be really challenging to maintain a positive attitude and easy to forget that it’s a choice. It’s even harder when the people you spend the most time with aren’t helping you. 

 

If you’re hanging around with people who refuse to choose a positive attitude then you are very unlikely to have or be able to maintain a positive attitude yourself. And that’s a big deal! 

 

It’s a big deal because the attitude you keep has perhaps more impact on your success than any other single factor. If people, like your boss maybe, are telling you that you need an attitude adjustment what that really means is you probably need to change the people you consider friends and associates. 

 

The hard truth is that most people find it nearly impossible to make the choice of a positive attitude when fed constant doses of negativity. It’s possible but highly unlikely. 

 

No one wants to be thought of as negative but if you’re too often expressing negative viewpoints then people may begin to see you as negative…and they may just be right. Hang around with positive people and they will let you know when you’ve forgotten to make the choice of a positive attitude.


You may not like to hear it but it is a vital part of truly knowing yourself.

Are You a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?

There is a great story about a young woman who went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as if she solved one problem only to have a new one pop up almost instantly.

 

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

     

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the daughter replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. The daughter did and noted that they got soft. Her mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the daughter observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, her mother asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she smelled its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. “What’s the point, mother?”

     

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. It’s thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, it’s inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

     

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

     

That’s a fair question for all of us. When “stuff” happens, how do you respond? Do you get weak in the knees? Maybe hard headed or worse, hard hearted? Or do you take control and change the very circumstances that created the challenge in the first place?

 

Every successful person has overcome challenges on the road to success. Many people who failed were just a few steps away from success and only needed to push ahead a little more to succeed. In both cases their outcomes weren’t determined by the challenges they faced but by how they responded to them. 

 

The next time you’re tempted to quit think about why you started and then think about how you’re going to change the circumstances to eliminate that temptation. 

Are You All In?

There are lots of things that can slow down your progress towards success and the more of them that you accept responsibility for the better. 

 

If you’re thinking that some of those things or maybe even the majority of those things are just “bad luck” then you should know that most bad luck comes straight out of bad decisions and worse choices. 

 

Here’s the deal…until you accept complete responsibility for both your success and shortcomings YOU will be slowing down your own progress towards success. You must be all in for your best chance at success.

 

Lots of people are credited with quotes about making your own good luck by working hard. I believe that to be true. But you don’t hear too much about making your own bad luck by not working hard. You almost never hear anything about creating “bad luck” by consistently making bad choices and hair brained decisions. 

 

But that’s every bit as true as the quotes about good luck. We make our “luck” both good AND bad.

 

If success is going to be in your future then you must accept 100% responsibility for everything you say, think and do today. Everything!

 

If some of those things that you say, think and do today are holding you back then YOU must make the decision to change. No one can change you, you can only change yourself. Real change, the kind that can lead to improvement must begin with you.

 

Again I tell you that YOU must be willing to accept 100% responsibility for every decision you make and every action you take… or don’t take.

 

Blaming others for your decisions and actions prevents you from learning from them. It prevents you from growing and it lessons your chance at ultimate success.

 

Please don’t tell me, and most importantly never tell yourself, that you didn’t want to do the things you did but someone made you. No one can make you do anything that you do not want to do. Now, before you start disagreeing with that let me explain. You have almost certainly done some things you would have preferred not to do but someone or something found a way to make you decide to do it.

 

They may have threatened you, maybe they tricked you or maybe they gave you some sort of incentive but in any event, YOU choose to to it rather than the alternative that seemed even less pleasant to you. 

 

You made a choice. 

 

Most of my bad choices were not about doing bad things, they were (and are) about doing nothing. I delay, I hesitate or I downright procrastinate. Usually because it’s easier than doing what I should be doing. So I don’t do what I should, I do nothing instead. 

 

Lots and lots of people are just like me in that regard. We think we can do it later but discover again and again that later all too often becomes never. 

 

I’ve absolutely missed some opportunities in life but you know what? Those were MY choices not anyone else’s. I attribute whatever success I’ve had to the fact that I’ve never blamed someone else for the decisions and choices I’ve made. I’ve never given up the power to improve but failing to accept responsibility for my actions. 

 

Your own chances for success go way way way way up when you accept complete and total responsibility for BOTH the good and bad choices and decisions you make everyday. 


Blaming someone else for what happens to you makes someone else responsible for your success and that my friends rarely turns out well.

Invest in Trust

All leadership is based on trust. If someone doesn’t trust you they simply will not be committed to truly following you. They might comply with you, they may do what you tell them to do, they may even kind of like you but they will not commit to you.

 

Building trust takes time. When I hear someone say “you must earn the right to lead” what I really think they are saying is “you need to build some trust before anyone will actually follow you.”

     

Authentic leaders know that their title or position does little in the way of building trust. People don’t trust titles, they don’t trust positions, and they don’t trust names. People trust people.

     

Trust building must be intentional. It should happen every day. If you’re a leader, or someone in a leadership position, (of course you know that holding a leading position doesn’t mean you’re actually a leader) then you should be aware that your people are watching you. They want to see if your actions match your words. They want to see if you honor your commitments, and not just to them but to others as well. If they are going to trust you then they expect you to honor your commitments, period.

     

Every leader, every person really, has what I call a “credibility bank.” Every time we do what we say we will a small deposit is made into our bank. Every time we fail to do what we say we will do a large withdrawal is taken from our bank.

     

If that doesn’t seem fair get over it. Building trust takes time and real trust doesn’t come easy for most people. The next time you’re tempted to blow off a commitment just remember your credibility bank and maybe the temptation will pass.

     

If trust building must be intentional as I’ve already said it must, then how do you plan to go about it? Seriously, I’m suggesting to you that you don’t just let trust happen, don’t just assume that people trust you. I’m suggesting that you become intentional in building trust.

     

Take tons of notes about the commitments you’ve made, block time on your calendar to honor those commitments. Return phone calls, answer emails, if you say you’ll do something then by any and all means possible, do it! Always, every time, no exceptions and no excuses. 

     

Virtually everything you say and do sends you to your credibility bank, the only questions is; will you be making a deposit or withdrawal?


Think about that for a while and then get busy adding to your credibility bank!