Do Relationships Still Matter?

There is a growing school of thought, an alarming school of thought if you ask me, that Business Relationships don’t matter as much as they used to. Some would say they don’t matter at all.

There is research that shows that could be true. Generation Z, the generation now entering the workforce is said to prefer “digital contact” over face-to-face contact, especially in business dealings.

Some people say that’s true also of Millennials but the research would disagree. Kind of. It’s only the trailing edge of millennials who prefer less face-to-face business dealings. Leading edge millennials felt that way but as they get older they look, act, speak and do much as the boomer generation who came before them.

There is no reason to think the younger millennials and Gen Z won’t age in the same way.

People and organizations who believe they can eliminate or minimize the importance of business relationships do so at their own risk. People buy and do business with other people they like and can trust. TRUST ONLY COMES FROM RELATIONSHIPS!

Without trust a customer is left to make their buying decisions on other factors, like ease of buying, reputation of the product and of course price. Without trust there will be no customer loyalty nor should there be.

It’s a bit of a scary day when I’m called “old school” because I believe relationships matter. At the foundation of that belief is another belief…one that says people matter. Every aspect of life revolves around our interactions with other people. If you can build solid personal relationships and business relationships you’ll simply have a better life and a better business.

If you don’t agree with that today then one day you will. I only hope for your sake you realize the importance of relationships before you let to much of what life is made of pass you by.

Playing it Safe

If turbulent times teach us anything it’s that there is no such thing as “playing it safe.” Some of the “safest” people I know found themselves out of work. They were the “steady as she goes” types, making sure to never rock the boat. They had themselves a nice looking 401k until the stock market tanked and then just to be “safe” they sold much of it at rock bottom prices.

This has always been true but it’s even more so in challenging times… if you want to be safe then take a risk or two. Not crazy, ill considered risk but well thought out and planned risk.

Taking risks minimizes the possibility of looking back and asking, “what if?” Even if you fail, you walk away with more experience and knowledge. Lots of people would say that taking risks in one area of your life will lead to success in other areas of your life as well. I agree with those people.

Research says that people who take risks are far more likely to achieve their goals and live a more satisfying life.

Taking a well considered risk helps you stand out from the crowd of “safers” that settle for the status quo. Leaders accept risk as the price of success, they know that “good enough” is a direct path to mediocrity.

No matter what you hope to achieve in life taking a risk is a necessary step in actively pursuing success. Very seldom does anything of value fall into your lap. You must pursue it and with that pursuit comes risk.

Accept the fact that the appearance of failure also comes from taking a risk but also understand that appearance of failure is only a mirage. It doesn’t become real until you stop taking risks that can lead to your ultimate success.

If you have the courage, and yes it takes courage, to accept the risk that comes with pushing yourself to achieve your full potential then success will likely be yours. If you can’t muster the mindset that playing it safe leads to less then you’ll just have to settle for less than you know you deserve.

Take a well considered risk today and your chances for well earned success tomorrow go way way up!

The Power of Forgiveness

I’ve done plenty of things in my life for which I needed forgiveness. Sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn’t. Obviously I feel worse about the things for which I wasn’t forgiven. But I don’t feel worse only for me, I got over it a long time ago. I made peace with my screw-up, I vowed to not make the same mistake again and I moved on.

I feel worse for the person who didn’t forgive me. They may still be holding a grudge and that’s a terrible burden to carry around. I feel terrible that the original cause of that grudge was me, something I did or something I said. But when someone offends us we have two choices, we can forgive and get on with our lives or we can carry that offense around with us like an anchor.

Anchors are heavy, they slow down and often completely stop our journey towards success.

It is important that we understand that while forgiveness may be good for the forgiven it is vital to the forgiver. Forgiveness frees us to live in the present. Forgiveness allows us to move forward in life without that anchor of anger or energy sapping contempt slowing us down.

Forgiving does not mean condoning whatever wrongdoing was directed our way. It doesn’t even mean forgetting what was done to us. It just means we are not going to allow that offense to steal one additional minute of our happiness.

Forgiving someone flushes the anger, hatred, hurt and resentment out of our system and gives us back the power to control our emotions and our lives.

When someone hurts you in some way tell them. Tell them why you feel the way you do and explain why it’s not acceptable. That’s an important step in forgiveness because in that moment you’re teaching that person what you will accept and what you won’t. Tell them as well that you forgive them, whether they think they need forgiveness or not. Remember, this is more for you than it is for them.

There is tremendous power in forgiveness but you must forgive in order to experience it. When you experience the pain of wrongdoing YOU have to make the choice of carrying that pain with you or letting it go.

Holding on holds you back, let it go and set yourself free!

Your Best Day

What exactly would it take for this day to be “your best day ever?” Maybe winning the lottery? Being proposed to? Getting that huge promotion you’ve been working for? Maybe the birth of your first child? Or better yet, the birth of your first grandchild?

There are so many things that can make a day great that we can’t even think of them all. But here’s one that we don’t think of often enough… that we should.

To make today great decide that today will be great!

I know that sounds a bit simplistic however it’s anything but easy. There is no more important a choice you can make to begin each day than the choice of a positive attitude. That’s not always an easy choice.

For starters it must be a conscious choice. If we don’t intentionally make a decision to choose a positive attitude then other people and other things WILL make the choice for us. They seldom make a positive choice.

When trying to make that choice focus on what’s going well. Think about what you have and not on what you don’t. If trying to focus on the “good stuff” doesn’t work then remember the immortal words of Yoda, “No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try.”

Then DO make the choice of a positive attitude!

If you can start your day on a positive footing it makes every thing else you’re going to do that day easier. If fact, a positive attitude makes everything better. It makes everything easier. It energizes your thoughts and your actions. It supercharges your relationships and helps you positively influence others.

When you choose a positive attitude you can turn what looks like a rough day into a positively great day. You see, all it takes to make any day your best day is a decision.

What will you decide?

Are You Necessary?

I’ve never really thought about job security. I’ve never considered that “job security” could or should come from a person’s place of employment. I don’t even think I like the term “job security.” I much prefer the term “income security.”

The most successful people I know do not count on a job to help them feel secure. They count on their ability. If you can do something others cannot do then you will always have security. If you can do something better than most others can do it you will always have security.

No job can make you necessary. You must make yourself necessary. When you make yourself necessary you will always be needed.

If you truly want to be secure then learn to create, innovate or be someone other people can use and need.

It’s a stressful time for people out of work. But only for people who count on a company or someone else for their income security.

There are people who have made themselves necessary and those people are getting multiple job offers in the middle of a pandemic. So I ask you…are you necessary?

It’s entirely possible you’re more needed than you know. It’s all in how you look at it. If I ask most salespeople what they do for a living they would tell me “I’m in sales.” While they may be very good salespeople that statement puts them in the very same pool as a gazillion other people who try to make their living peddling who knows what to anyone who will buy it.

But if the same salesperson has a mindset of success, the mindset of sales professionals who have made themselves necessary, they will answer my question by saying something like. “I help people overcome challenges and succeed. I do that through selling and by representing only the finest products and services. The kind of products and services that make a difference in the world and in the lives of real people.”

If I ask a person in a leadership position what they do for a living most will answer “I manage the….. and then tell me what department of what company they work in. There’s lots and lots of people like that…they aren’t all that necessary.

But if I ask an actual leader what they do for a living I’ll almost always get some variation of, “I help people grow in their careers so they can help their companies grow as well.” They very often DO NOT mention where they happen to be working until I ask a follow up question. Their income security does not come from where they work, it comes from what they do.

Making yourself necessary requires you to constantly be improving. Necessary people do not wait for an employer or company to help them get better. They make themselves better. They study. They learn. They have a coach or a mentor.

No one can make you necessary but yourself. It begins with a change of attitude. Develop an attitude that you’ll be better today than you were yesterday and you’re on your way to becoming a necessity. Even if it turns out you are not a necessity where you’re at today, you will be a necessity wherever you are tomorrow.

The Envy Monster

Envy is an emotion. It’s a very dangerous emotion at that! If you allow that particular emotion into your life you run the risk of being overtaken by it. Envy will consume you. It will diminish every other part of your life. Envy is a destroyer of all that is good.

Stated another way…envy sucks!

I may not have everything I want in life but I can say with great confidence that I have everything I wanted badly enough to work for.

You see here’s the thing, successful people simply outwork less successful people. They work smarter, harder, and longer than less successful people. Yes, luck also plays a part but the most successful people put themselves in a position to be “lucky” through hard work and determination.

If you’re going to be envious of other people don’t be envious of their “stuff.” If you insist on risking your own happiness by being envious then be envious that they have the discipline to do what you are unwilling to do.

I know that sounds pretty harsh but until you accept that as fact you will continue to limit your own potential for tremendous success. You will also struggle with envy until you define what success looks and feels like in YOUR life.

The life we live comes to us as a result of our choices. Some people choose to sacrifice relationships, family, life balance, and pretty much everything in the pursuit of success. Now I can’t know this for a fact but I’d bet most of that type of person measures success in terms of titles and sizes of bank accounts. If that is how they define success then good for them.

But why in the world would I be envious of them?

One of my life choices was to sacrifice a fancy title and bigger bank account for other things. Faith, family, friends, fun, and health among them. I am 100% certain I’ve made the right choices for me. If given the chance to do my life over I’d make the same choice 100 out of 100 times.

Understanding that what you have, or don’t have, is the logical outcome of your choices in life should help keep The Envy Monster away.

You see, I have no reason to be envious of anyone’s success. I’m as successful as anyone I know, I just define success differently than some others do. I could have easily had the other kind of success, so can you. You can have anything in life you’re willing to work for.

So that means envy is also one of the silliest emotions to carry around with you.

So here’s a huge question for you…How do you define success? I would submit to you that you cannot be successful until you can answer that question. When you can answer that question you may discover that you’ve already achieved all the success in life you’ll ever want.

Listening is Free

I’m not sure if anyone has noticed but the world, yep, not only the US but the entire world seems divided right now. Never in my lifetime has the divide between different groups of people been wider.

Even in times of World Wars the divide was not as great as it is right now. Even during the World Wars people agreed on more things than they do today. Governments started those wars, not the people of the countries that were dragged into them.

But today is different. The universal language is one of hate. We throw the word hate around as if it almost has no real meaning. People claim to hate people who hate. “We” all hate all the hating going on these days.

We make slogans and signs about who and what matters. We talk about what must change and who must change. I’m struck by the number of people who “demand” immediate change yet refuse to look in the mirror to see if there is any change they could make personally.

Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying many things but one thing he said might be more applicable today than even the day he said it. When commenting on someone he was not particularly fond of he said, “I do not like that man. I need to get to know him better.”

Lincoln knew what too many people today seemingly have forgotten. That is that we human beings have far more in common than we give ourselves credit for. We can focus on the things that draw us together or we can focus on the things the push us apart. That’s a choice.

But that won’t happen until we do something else that seems to be a thing of the past.

That “thing” is called listening.

I mean real listening. Not reading someone’s social media posts. Not hearing some filtered version of what somebody thinks or what someone said someone said someone said. It’s a sad commentary on the world we live in but if you didn’t hear someone say it yourself then you might want to have some doubts about whether or not it was actually said.

Plus…don’t only listen to people who agree with you! Invite conversations with people who have vastly different views and life experiences than you. Do not think them wrong simply because their views are different than yours. Don’t talk to them, talk with them to determine where your views overlap. Build on that overlap!

I take great comfort from talking with people who share my views and beliefs. I like talking to my family and friends. But whatever growth I experience at this point in life comes from talking with people who frankly might not be my first choice to talk with.

You and I do not have to like the people who see the world differently than we do but we do need to understand how they view their life. We need to understand that if our life experiences were identical to theirs that our views would likely be identical too.

Most of all we need to get to know them better. The more we know about people the less chance there will be that we judge them. I want to say that again….the more you know about someone the less chance there is that you will judge them.

Listen more. Listen with your heart and your mind WIDE open. Listening is free but it just might be that it liberates you from hate. Listening is one of those things that while free it is also priceless!

Listening, really listening to different views could save you great pain. It could save your Country severe turmoil. Listening, truly truly listening to one another might even save the world.