Creating Your Personal Reality

It’s very likely that you are far more powerful than you think. So powerful in fact that you have the ability to create your own reality.

How do I know that about you? Well because you’re human. Every human has the ability to create their own reality. Not only do they have the ability, they in fact DO create their own reality. Every person on earth creates their own reality out of their thoughts.

What you think you become. What others think of you matters very little when compared to what you think of yourself. Negative thoughts about yourself linger for a long long time. Self-doubt kills more dreams than all other obstacles combined. Yes, even more than lack of money. Actually, lack of money isn’t much of an obstacle at all, far more dreams are killed by lack of effort than lack of money.

You attract people to you who are often identical to the person you believe you are. If you think you’re a loser than you’ll invite losers into your life. Now the term loser isn’t very nice but I can’t think of a more apt description. Misery indeed loves company and if you think you can’t succeed you’ll attract people who think the same as you.

Since we are all basically a compilation of the five people we spend the most time with you want to make certain your five people build you up. If those 5 people tell you often enough that you can succeed you may start to wonder if they could possibly be right…and that can be the start of something magical.

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

You have to be so careful about what you think. Your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions and your actions become your reality.

You’re creating your reality this very day. Everything you think, say and do plays a part in the future you’re creating for yourself. If you master the discipline of controlling your thoughts there won’t be much else in life you can’t master.

My recommendation is to start EVERY day with five minutes of positive self-talk. Those might be the most vital 5 minutes of your day. Those five minutes will set the tone for the next 1435 minutes of your day.

Those five minutes could very well change your life. Now that’s reality!

Sudden Change

Change can come out of nowhere. As prepared as you think you may be for the unexpected when it arrives it’s still unexpected. But it’s vital that even in the swirl of unknowns you know this one irrefutable fact… you matter.

That means that you must embrace the unknowns and see the incredible world of opportunities before you. Even if at first glance it may look to others as if the rug has been pulled out from under you, always know that you can make the choice to use that rug as a flying carpet to your future.

All change brings with it a sense of loss. That’s perfectly normal. Grab on to that sense of loss, look at it from all directions, become good friends with it, get very very comfortable with it, and then discard it. There are just too many possibilities in the future for you to be concerned about what was in the past.

The world can be a very unfriendly place right now. So make certain that you remain kind. Kind to others of course but also kind to yourself. When sudden, unwanted change comes your way pay particular attention to how you’re talking to yourself. It is far easier to get past the hurtful things others say about you than it is to get over the hurtful things you say about yourself. So do not say them to begin with.

Be kind to yourself. Always.

Whatever you do don’t be mad at the change or the circumstances (or person) that thrust it upon you. Anger is an emotion that burns the precious energy you’ll need for whatever comes next. There is zero return on anger, it is an expensive emotion that no one can afford.

Make thoughtful decisions. Depending on the change you find yourself going through you may be tempted to make quick decisions. Quick does not mean rash. Be thoughtful in your decision making, the future is a long time so try to make your decisions for the long-term. Think things through, the better your decisions today the better all of your tomorrows will be.

Don’t blame others for the circumstances you’re in. Blaming others only slows down your transition to what will be. Change experts describe the time between what was and what will be as the transition phase of change. This is where the rubber meets the road. You will either slip into the past and risk living there or charge eagerly into the future, that choice is entirely yours.

The past presents the opportunity to wallow in a vast pity party. The future presents limitless opportunities for growth and prosperity. I would urge you to seek the future because your next success can only be found there, you’ll never find what’s next by looking behind you.

Many people won’t like to hear this but more than anything else, more than a person, more than circumstances, more then a deadly virus, it’s your past choices, good or bad, that put you in whatever situation you’re in at this very moment. It is the acceptance of that basic fact that will help you make sound choices for your future.

My Grandfather always told me that the most successful people find a way to make a good hand out of whatever cards they are dealt. Play the cards you have whether you like them or not because well, because they are the cards you have. Remember, a pair of threes can beat a pair of Aces if the person with the Aces is afraid to play them.

Now there are some of you who will say “all that’s easy for you to say.” To you I would say nope, not a single word of this is easy for me to say. I would also say listen to what I say but focus on YOU, focus on what YOU think and what YOU do. Remember how this post started…YOU matter.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself because if you’re not taking care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else. That reality will never change.

Not Everyone Will Like You

There are few things in life I’m more sure of than this…not everyone likes me. I think I’ve always been fine with that fact. If there was a time it bothered me it was so long ago that I can’t remember.

I’d would much rather be unliked by some and happy than be liked by everyone and miserable because I can’t just be me. I suppose somewhere in the world there might be somebody who is universally liked and happy too but I’ve not yet met them. And I’ve met a whole lotta people.

I want to urge you to resist the temptation of thinking it’s bad when someone doesn’t like you. I strongly urge you to ignore that little voice in your head telling you that it’s your fault they don’t like you.

There is no fault. Some people will love you, some people will like you and some people won’t like you. That’s neither good or bad, it simply is what it is.

You should pay attention to the advice you receive from the people who love you. They may not, in fact they will not, always say the nicest things to you. But if they love you they will have your best interests in mind, so consider everything they say to you, whether you want to hear it or not.

When it comes to the people who like you I’d advise being very cautious about listening too closely to what they say. You may disagree agree with this but “friends” don’t always have your best interests in mind. Unlike the people who love you, their motives may be questionable. I don’t mean to disparage anyone’s friends, I’m only saying to be aware.

But what about the people who don’t like you? Well this may surprise you but you can learn a lot from those people. Their “advice” is often not meant to be advice. It may be delivered in a hostile manner or even through a third party behind your back.

But you would be wise to give it serious consideration because if one person sees a possible flaw in you others may see it too. Maybe not but maybe. The most successful people are willing to consider even the harshest criticism as an opportunity to learn and grow. People who don’t like you may in fact be more honest with you than the people who do like you.

Their intention may be to hurt you but that’s their problem. You still have the potential to strengthen and improve yourself with the very words that were intended to do you harm.

Or, you may determine, as I often do, that their words carry no merit and you can dismiss them. But DO NOT dismiss them without a pretty healthy dose of HONEST self-reflection. You will be better for it.

There’s enough people in the world who don’t like me that if I failed to learn from them I might not learn very much at all. It might be the same for you…just a little something to consider.

Moving Heaven and Earth

My mom used to say that she would move Heaven and Earth to help “you boys” (that would be me and my brothers) any way she could. I was too young to understand what that meant the first couple hundred times I heard it but I came to understand that it meant our well-being was the most important thing in the world to her.

She would, and frequently did, do everything in her power to protect us, even when that sometimes meant not protecting us at all.

Her priorities were crystal clear. She didn’t have to tell anyone what they were, they were completely visible to anyone who cared to look. Her family mattered above all else. That fact was reflected in everything she said and did. Always.

I share that with you as a set-up to a question I want to ask you…

Can people SEE the priorities in your life or do you have to keep telling them what’s important to you? I ask that because the fact is, people DO see the priorities in your life, you show them every day.

What you say are your priorities may or may not be. But what you do in your life are your real your priorities.

People get frustrated with my response when they tell me “they don’t have enough time in the day.” They get frustrated because I tell them that they absolutely do.

What they don’t have are identifiable priorities. They act as if everything in their life is so important when in actuality it is merely urgent.

The most successful people understand that what is urgent is seldom important and what is important is seldom urgent. People who don’t understand that do urgent things that won’t matter two weeks from now at the expense of truly important things that could be life altering.

When you act according to your priorities you’ll discover that you do have enough time to accomplish everything that is important to you.

If I followed you around for a week I could tell you exactly what your priorities are. In most cases you would disagree with me and argue that your actual priorities are different. But they are not.

I know many people reading this won’t like this but you SAY what you want your priorities to be. You DO what your priorities actually are.

For skilled, disciplined and successful people what they say and what they do are one and the same.

What exactly are your priorities? Not what you say they are but what you would truly move heaven and earth to achieve. Watch yourself and you’ll soon find out. If you don’t like what you see then either change what you say or change what you do. When you align your actions with your words you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible…with time left over.

You may not get all those urgent things accomplished but that’s okay because urgent things are only urgent for a short time. You can make a darn good living by focusing on those urgent things. If however you want to make a fulfilling life you’re gonna need to start focusing on the important stuff too.

The Death of Customer Service

I’ve written about this topic before but “new” concepts in Customer Service keep popping up so I have to keep smacking them down.

One of the newest says that customers aren’t really customers….they are personas that have to be “dealt with.”

Wow, that really sounds like the right mindset for providing decent customer service to the people who buy your products so that you can stay in business so that you can feed your family and have a roof over your head.

Those “personas” are the people who pay for everything a business AND their employees own. When a company forgets that the customers, those pesky people who the company exists to serve, tend to go away.

And go away is exactly what they should do!

If you are in business then you are in the people business. If you refuse to acknowledge people are human beings and insist on calling them baggage, personas, problem causers, or whatever else you want to call them you’ll be out of business soon enough. The sad thing is how many people you’ll have frustrated along the way.

If you’re in business stop throwing money away on the latest Customer Service fad. Start treating your customers with the same decency and respect that you expect when you’re a customer.

It’s really that easy. Remember, you are in business to serve your customer. You are in business to help your customers. You are in business to solve problems for your customers. Are you getting this yet…you are in business for your customer’s benefit.

Your business is ALL ABOUT your customers.

Yes, you need to make money but if that’s your primary focus you can’t last. If you treat customers, every customer, with dignity and respect they will tell people about it. Those people will beat a path to your door. You will be making more money than you ever imagined.

You cannot go wrong taking care, showing care, and truly caring for your customer.

If some “professional” Customer Service Training Company tries to sell you or your company on the latest “fad” in customer service don’t even talk to them unless the customer, the real customers who keep your business in business, is at the center of that training.

If that so called training company calls a customer by any name other than customer you don’t need that kind of help. A customer by any other name will not feel valued the way they should.

Your people don’t need tricks, fads, or buzz words to help your customers. They need Human Relations Skills, also known as People Skills, because if you’re in business then you’re in the people business.

The day you forget that isn’t only the day your Customer Service dies, it’s also the day you start going out of business.

The Danger of a Defensive Mind

But.

That single word has prevented more learning than all other words. Whatever language you speak as your primary language there is a word comparable to “but” and that word is just as destructive.

But is a defensive word. When you’re in a conversation with someone and your response begins with but, or any form of but like “however” then you have likely not actually been listening to the other person. You’re only waiting for your chance to respond.

“But” indicates a defensiveness to your reply. And that’s almost never good.

Because a defensive mind is closed to possibilities.

Many people in leadership positions fail for the simple reason that they have a defensive mind. They somehow came to the conclusion that they can’t be wrong because they are at the top of the org chart or because they head up their department.

As a young engineer in my twenties I was already considered one of the brightest minds in the new field of Electronic Currency Validation. Some even said I was the best.

I made a terrible mistake when I decided to listen to those who said I was the best. Since I knew more than anyone else I had nothing to learn from anyone. That meant that when someone came up with a new idea that I hadn’t already thought of they must be wrong.

The company I worked for created a new position called “Sales Engineer.” They decided that I should do it because I could explain new and challenging technology better than most.

The “sales” part was very humbling at the beginning because people didn’t respond with the clarity of a microchip or voltage regulator. I learned very quickly that no matter how much I knew that I could be wrong about anything at anytime.

I learned I had a defensive mind and I was using it to prove I knew more than other people. Of course, I thought that required me to prove them wrong in which I took great delight.

Unfortunately it prevented me from learning essential sales and leadership skills like empathy. I mean, why try to see anything from the other person’s point of view when they are so completely wrong.

Fortunately for me along came this woman named Vicki who til this very day is willing to point out to me exactly why and where I’m wrong. Which it turns out is pretty often. 🥴

What about you? How many of your responses in a conversation begin with a “yes but?” If even a few of your responses have a “but” near the front of them I can almost guarantee that you’re listening with a defensive mind rather than an open one.

And defensive minds have a much smaller opportunity to learn.

So before you even begin a conversation with someone set a goal to learn something new from it. This is critically important in conversations with customers or the people you lead.

I’ve grown comfortable with being wrong. It’s actually developed into one of my greatest strengths. Even though I’m comfortable being wrong I hate it. The good thing is that it forces me to learn so I’m not wrong about the same thing again and again. Sometimes, I’m even able to compassionately show someone I was right after all.

That’s far easier to do with an open mind than it is with a defensive mind.

I can’t think of a single good thing that comes from being defensive. It lulls you into thinking you know more than you do. It prevents you from learning. It stops empathy in its tracks.

There is nothing wrong with listening to different thoughts and opinions. There is nothing bad about discovering you may be wrong.

I have seen a hundred times over that there are people who don’t know as much as me but are still smarter than me. And thank heavens for them because they are my only hope of learning new things.

Leading With Integrity

So let’s get this out of the way right up front. If you’re not leading with integrity then you’re simply not leading.

You’re not leading because leading requires that someone is following you. A true follower will have some level of commitment to their leader. People can be forced to comply with someone in a leadership position but they cannot be forced to commit.

In fact, they cannot commit. It is not possible for one human being to truly commit to another human being that they do not trust. Integrity is the foundation upon which trust is built. Where there is no integrity there can be no trust.

Having integrity is a choice. It’s a choice to do what you said you would do, even if you no longer feel like doing it. You may have never thought of it like this but you have an “Integrity Bank.” Every time you do exactly what you committed to do you’ll receive a small deposit into that Credibility Bank. When you fail to honor a commitment, any commitment, you suffer a substantial withdrawal from your Credibility Bank.

That may not seem fair but that’s the way it works. You don’t need to have too many withdrawals to reach a zero balance in your bank. That means zero credibility and that means zero committed followers.

Authentic Leaders know that their most valuable “currency” is their credibility. They know that without it that can not have a positive influence on those they hope to lead. So they honor their commitments. They follow through. They keep their word. They don’t say yes when they need to say no.

Their people know that they can trust their leader. Their people know that their leader is committed to them so they can commit to their leader.

Every committed relationship is built on a foundation of integrity. It’s the single most important foundation in any relationship. What Authentic Leaders understand that many lesser leaders don’t is this one irrefutable fact….you either have integrity 100% of the time or you do not have integrity.

Integrity is a full-time gig. It’s not something you do at work. It’s not something you do at home. It’s not something you do with people who matter to you. It’s just something you do because it’s who you are. It’s part of your DNA.

Or it’s not. The great thing is that it’s a part of your DNA that you get to control. The only question is, will you choose to control it.