You Have the Right to Remain Silent

I’m a big believer in free speech. It may not seem as free as it used to in the United States but in fact nothing has changed. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, it always has and always will. But that’s about the government. The government isn’t supposed to infringe on your right to say whatever you want.

But your employer, your friends and your family are a completely different story. While no one can stop you from thinking whatever you want they can certainly penalize you for saying it. Friends for example “penalize” you by not being a friend anymore.

Companies terminate people all the time for saying things that are not in line with company policy or culture.

Get over it, it’s always been that way it just seems to get more exposure than it used to.

But here’s the thing, just because you think you have the right to say something doesn’t mean you should say it.

There’s a well known guy who lives in a big White House, government subsidized at that, and he has one of the toughest jobs in the world. Maybe the toughest. Yet he insists on making it even harder than it already is by saying pretty much whatever he wants. Which is entirely his right.

You have that right too. So do I.

Sometimes I say some pretty stupid stuff but not nearly as much stupid stuff as I think. You see not only do I have the right to say whatever I want, I also have the right not to. I have the right to remain silent.

So do you.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I knew I would have been better off NOT saying something about a nano second after I said it. That by the way is often easier said than done.

But I’ve gotten better at it. I’ve also got a long way to go. I’m willing to bet a lot of people reading this post are just like me.

So what if together, we paused for a moment before we say anything and ask ourselves if what we are about to say adds anything of value to anyone. Ask ourselves if what we are about to say improves on our circumstances or the circumstances of the person we’re about to say it to.

On the days I do that successfully I say a whole lot less. I and the people around me are often a whole lot better off because of it. I’m going to work at having more days where I say less so that the things I do say will matter more.

Will you join me?

Are You Listening to Naysayers?

There is a story about a successful Hot Dog vendor in New York City. He had a couple of Hot Dog stands and was successful enough to send his son to college. He continued to grow his  business as his son was earning his business degree.

As his son progressed in school he urged his father to be cautious with his business expansion.  By the time his son had graduated the business had grown to 10 Hot Dog Stands spread around New York City. The business and profits were continuing to grow.

The father was shocked when his son told him that he had made a big mistake growing the business so fast. His son recommended that he downsize the business immediately. Considering his son’s newly minted business degree he decided to follow his advice. He quickly closed two of his stands and laid off several employees. Sure enough, as his son had predicted his revenue began to drop and the father was convinced his son knew what he was talking about.

So the father doubled his efforts and closed even more Hot Dog Stands. As his son had predicted the downward spiral continued.

Eventually the father was back to his original Hot Dog Stands and business stabilized. The father was so grateful to his son for “saving” his business that he couldn’t thank him enough. He commented that he didn’t know where he would be if his son hadn’t returned from college when he did.

You could say both father and son made many mistakes in this story but I’d say the biggest mistake was made by the father. His mistake was that he listened to a naysayer. A well meaning naysayer I’m sure but a naysayer all the same.

The father was literally almost talked out of business.

You will have naysayers show up in your life from time to time. Some will be well intentioned as the son was in this story but others will only be looking to bring you down. Down to their level most likely.

It’s natural to hear what they are saying but listening to their words is a choice. You must choose carefully. If you decide their words have merit then act on them. If you decide they do not then ignore them. Just because something was said, even if it was said by someone who may care about you, doesn’t make it so.

You must judge their motives for saying whatever they say. You must weigh what they think against what you know. You must believe in yourself even when those close to you may not. You must listen with your heart but be sure your head has some say in the matter as well.

There will always be naysayers around when it comes to your success and I wouldn’t waste a minute trying to tell them they are wrong. I’d suggest you invest all of your energy in showing them.

Do You Have Standards?

The legendary Zig Ziglar said that “Success is a personal standard.” He explained that personal standards are like a personal constitution which are based on life principles and core values. 

 

Those personal standard become, or should become, the basis for making daily decisions. 

 

Do have have  personal standards? Can you articulate them when asked? Do you review them periodically to be certain you’re living up to them? Are you using them to guide yourself to the life you want and deserve?

 

If you answered “no” to some or all of those questions then here is one more…how the heck do you make decisions and choices that benefit you and those around you? 

 

Here are a few examples of what personal standards look like from Richard Templers’ best seller “Rules of Work.” 

 

  • I will not knowingly hurt or hinder another human being in the pursuit of my career.
  • I will not knowingly break any laws in the furtherance of my goals.
  • I will have a moral code that I will follow no matter what.
  • I will endeavor to provide a positive contribution to society by what I do for a living.
  • I will always try to give something back.
  • I will pass on freely and openly any skills, knowledge, or experience to anyone who could use them to benefit themselves.
  • I will not be jealous of anyone else’s success in the same industry.
  • I will question the long-term ramifications of what I do constantly.
  • I will play by the rules at all times.
  • I will carefully think things through before agreeing to do them.

Those are just examples. They are not the standards you need to live by but I think a lot of them would be pretty good standards for most anyone. But here is the deal….your standards are just that, YOURS. 

 

YOU have to decide what you will do and what you won’t do. Social norms will play a part. Laws will play a part. But most people know right from wrong without needing society or a judge to tell them. 

 

The bigger question is do you live by your standards? It’s a lot easier to say what your standards are than it is to live by them. But if you can’t even say them then you certainly can’t live by them.


Determining your personal standards takes some real effort and a substantial investment of time. It takes some serious self-reflection. But you’ll discover lifelong value in making that effort. Once you start using those standards to make decisions in your life then people around you will notice that value too.


Disagreements are Perfectly Normal

There are disagreements in every relationship. It makes no difference if we’re talking about a personal relationship or a business relationship people bring their own point of view into the relationship. When those points of view are not in sync then disagreements happen.

 

Most are easily resolved. But sometimes those disagreements can only be overcome by a mutual and conscientious effort to find some kind of common ground. The key here is “mutual” effort. If only one of the parties to the relationship is interested in finding a solution to the disagreement the relationship is unlikely to survive for long. 

     

You are far more likely to be successful in resolving the disagreement if that effort takes place in a non-adversarial environment. If your goal is to resolve the disagreement then you have a chance to strengthen your relationship. If your goal is to “win” the argument then your secondary goal, even if only subconsciously, is to make the other person a loser.

 

How much value do you really place in the relationship if your goal is to make the other person feel as if they have lost something? Before you allow any discussion to become an argument I’d suggest you ask yourself if the relationship is more important to you than proving yourself right. You won’t find too many people who like being in a relationship with someone who makes them feel like a loser.

 

It’s far more productive to think of a dispute as a difference that can be resolved, not a battle you have to win. Even people with conflicting viewpoints should be able to find solutions that work for all parties if they are truly interested in trying.

 

Here are some other ideas to help you with what can be difficult conversations:

       

Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Ask for clarification when you need it. Never guess at what they mean. This ensures that you understand how the other person sees the problem. It also sends the message that you are reasonable and gives others the opportunity to voice their views. Misunderstandings only escalate the disagreement. Again, never guess at what the other person means. 

       

Explain your position clearly, providing clarifications that are requested in a non-emotional way. Everybody needs to be as sure as you are about the point you are making. Do not attempt to provide clarifications as to why something makes you mad while you’re still mad about it. Anger is an emotion that is tough to hide. Let it subside at least a bit before tackling the issue.

       

Figure out why the other person is taking a different position. Get to the heart of the issue and know why a certain outcome is being argued. No matter how unreasonable you may think the other position is don’t forget that if you were that other person you would feel exactly as they do. If your life experiences and history was the same as theirs you would be arguing for them and not with them. 

 

Their viewpoint doesn’t make them a bad person, it makes them a different person than you. 

       

Stay on the subject. You won’t settle one disagreement by rehashing another one. This tactic derails the discussion. It puts the other person on the defensive, making it even harder to reach an agreement.

        

Refrain from verbal cheap shots. Don’t embarrass yourself by suggesting that others are unable to see the big picture or incapable of thinking through the situation. You may not have ever said the word but have no doubt that the other person just heard you call them stupid. 

       

Be fair. I know it’s pretty common for people to want to “win” the argument. But understand that your best hope of successfully overcoming the disagreement is in allowing the other person to maintain their sense of self-worth. When you demonstrate fairness you’ll keep the other person engaged, calm, and open minded.

 

The person on the “other side” of the disagreement is not your opponent. If the relationship is important to you then understand that the disagreement itself is your common opponent. Attack the disagreement, not each other. 


Disagreements can actually strengthen relationships or they can easily destroy them. It’s all about how they are handled. I’d suggest you handle them with care.

 

 

Two Words to Change Your Life

Yes or no? That seems like such a simple question. Except the results that come from the answer are often anything but simple. 

 

The answer can literally change your life. 

 

Most people focus on the “yes” side of that question. That’s because they often assume that their success will come from what they decide to do. That’s often a correct assumption. It’s also often not a correct assumption.

 

Your success will just as often be determined by what you don’t do as what you do. The things you say no to, the thing you choose not to do, some of the things you’ve been doing that you decide to not do anymore can have every bit the impact on your success as the things you say yes to.

 

It’s common to assume that to have more you must do more. Every day business people talk about the need to do MORE, often with less resources. We hear more more more all the time. 

 

But here’s the problem with doing more…and more and more. You don’t get more time to do it. You can only do so much and by saying yes to everything you’re asked to do you will eventually wear yourself out. 

 

Unless…

 

Unless you say no to some of the things you’re already doing. When I offer that “say no” advice to people in workshops or presentations I’m told “but I can’t stop doing anything, it’s all important.”

 

Well not exactly. If you would stop for a minute or two and actually evaluate how you use your time each day I’d bet you would discover LOTS of things that you do that add no value to you or anyone else. Maybe they did at one point but they don’t anymore. Yet you keep doing them because you’ve “always” done them. 

 

What actions or activities do you preform on a daily or almost daily basis that give you no return for your investment of time? When was the last time you asked yourself that question? 

 

You have 1440 minutes in a day. No more and no less. Exactly like every other person on the planet. 

 

So how is it that some people seem to have so much more time than you? Well they don’t automatically say yes to anything and they say no to far more things than less successful people. 

 

It’s probably true that if you want more you’re going to have to do more to get it. But don’t forget, in order to do more productive things you have to stop doing less productive things first. 


Say no more often so you can enthusiastically say yes more often too. One no or the yes that follows it could even change your life. 

Tomorrow I’m going to…

Tomorrow I’m going to write a post about the dangers of procrastination. It will say something about how harmful procrastination is to your chances for success. I’ll probably write something about how procrastinating makes easy things hard and hard things almost impossible.

I could put some stuff in there about how to avoid procrastinating by doing immediately everything that takes less than 30 seconds to complete. People will be surprised when they learn that something like 90% of the things they procrastinate on take less than that 30 seconds to do. (It’s somewhere around 90% I’ll look up the exact percentage later)

I’ll think I’ll call it “the 30 second rule” and encourage people to try it for a solid week and see the difference it makes in their productivity. I don’t know, maybe I’ll save that for a post I do at some point in the future.

I’ll almost for sure put something in the procrastination post about a “Prioritized Daily Task List.” That’s like a do-to list except everything on it is prioritized in order of importance. Successful people use those all the time, like on a daily basis. (guess that’s how it got it’s name) They also don’t allow themselves to work on the second highest priority until the highest priority task is complete. 

That takes some pretty strong discipline which is another topic I should post about someday. 

I would write the procrastination post today except I’m really busy. There are a whole bunch of decisions I need to put off. I also need to come up with excuses for why I didn’t get yesterday’s work done and my fantasy football team needs work too. 

Plus, I’ve got to get to the gym. I’ve been putting that off too long and the last time I was there I left my brand new iPod Nano behind. I hope it’s in lost and found…they wouldn’t throw it away after only 14 years would they? 

I’m thinking I’ll close the post by reminding people that they won’t find “someday” on a calendar. They won’t actually find tomorrow either. 

I learned that whole tomorrow lesson thing by attending baseball games in my hometown in Minnesota. All the beer vendors wore t-shirts that said “free beer tomorrow.” I went to something like 18 games in a row until I finally figured out that if you always wait until tomorrow you’ll be waiting one heck of a long time. Alas, there would be no free beer for me. 

I can only hope people will read the post on procrastination as soon as they first see it but something tells me many of them will put it off until later. What they won’t be able to answer however is exactly when “later” is. 

 

I also hope you’re not one of those!

Actually, You Most Certainly Can

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

 

I’ve written before about the damaging attitude of “can’t”. Telling yourself that you can’t do something is about the most limiting thing you can say to yourself. Believing something is beyond your capabilities almost certainly makes it true. Even thinking you can’t do something is enough to stop your progress or at least slow it down.

 

Thinking you “can” on the other hand is often enough to push you past obstacles, whether real or imagined. 

 

Telling yourself that you can’t is habit forming. Once you convince yourself that you have limitations you’ll actually behave as if you have those limitations. But you most likely don’t. In fact you’ve probably blown past those limitations at other times of your life. You’ve already proven than you can do it, you only have to remind yourself of your past success. Sometimes you have to remind yourself often. Again and again. 

 

You may not have overcome the exact obstacle in the past that you are currently facing but you’ve overcome so many obstacles in the past that one more new one hardly matters. You blew past the other ones and this one is more of the same. 

 

Remember how tough those past obstacles seemed…..before you ran over them? Think of how many things you do today that you once thought you would never be able to do. Think of all the times in the past when you thought you couldn’t only to discover that you actually could. 

 

Thinking that you can’t do something causes you to forget about all the things you CAN do. Thinking you can’t tricks you into not even trying. Imagine all the things you can do that you wouldn’t be doing if you had fallen for that trick in the past. 

 

People of unlimited success think in terms of CAN! People of more limited success think in terms of CAN’T. Which one are you?


It matters that you know the answer to that question because while you won’t ever just think your way to success you most certainly will think your way to failure if you’re thinking in terms of can’t.