It’s Good to be Pushed

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who liked to be pushed around. At least by my definition of being “pushed around.” I think that’s means being coerced into doing something you really don’t want to do for the sole benefit of someone else. Being pushed around can include being threatened with very unpleasant consequences. The worst part is that there is nothing to be gained by the person being pushed…it’s all for the benefit of someone else.

Being pushed is very different than being pushed around. Although it doesn’t necessarily feel better in the moment you’re being pushed. The end result however feels far better because the person doing the pushing is doing it for you and not only themselves.

I’ve frequently benefited from that type of benevolent pushing.

I should clarify what I mean by pushing. I went to a Military High School that promised parents that if they sent their boys to that school they would return them as young men. I felt pushed in that environment but often times that pushing was of the physical kind. Sometimes the “pushing” went well beyond a simple shove but eventually the bruises went away and the cuts healed up and it was all good. In the end the kids benefited from that sort of pushing too but I’m glad that type of pushing is largely a thing of the past.

The kind of pushing I’m talking about here is the encouragement kind, the positive affirmation that you can in fact do more than you think you can. That’s the kind of pushing I, and most people, benefit from.

I’ve always been lucky to have people in my life who believed in me enough that they pushed me to be better. Even very early in my life there were always people who believed in me. And then I got married.

Without boring you with all the details it’s safe to say that pretty much everything good in my life has come about as a result of my wife pushing me to do more, be more, enjoy more, care more, understand more, listen more…you get the drift, it was a lot of more more more. That can sure be frustrating except for this little detail…in every instance she was right. (sure hope she doesn’t see this)

Being pushed got to be such a habit that I actually started pushing myself. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when people believe in you. It’s beyond amazing when one of those people is you.

There is one major similarity between be pushed around and being pushed. For either one to actually happen you must allow it. The good news is no one can push you around unless you allow it. The bad news is no one can push you unless you allow it.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Being pushed around will make you feel inferior, DO NOT allow it.

Being pushed by people who believe in you and care about you can have a lasting positive impact on you life. Allow it despite the initial frustrations it may cause.

When the frustrations are forgotten you’ll be more than you would have been without them.

It’s 2020! Can You See Clearly Now?

I’ve never been clear on whether a year like 2020 is the end of the decade or the beginning of a new one. There are a high percentage of “experts” that would tell you the beginning of a decade is the year ending in 01, not 00.

I remember seeing Hubert Humphrey speak after he has lost the 1968 Presidential Election to Richard Nixon. I was very young but something he said has stuck with me to this day. He said you had to be very careful what you said in your concession speech after losing an election. He said it wasn’t your last speech of the just lost campaign, it was actually your first speech of the next, yet to be officially started campaign.

That’s why to this day I recommend to salespeople that they send a Thank You note thanking a prospect for the opportunity to earn their business after the prospect purchased from someone else. You see, that isn’t the final communication of the just lost sales cycle, it’s the first communication of the yet to be started next sales cycle.

But whether you see the New Year as a beginning or an ending it’s a pretty good time to take stock of where you are currently. Also to determine where you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years in the future.

But the key to determining where you will be in the future is knowing where you are today. Really knowing.

Try getting directions from Google Maps without inputting a starting point. It doesn’t work. Neither does making plans for the future without seeing clearly where you’re starting from.

You must be brutally honest with yourself in regards to your strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t do that then you’ll need to find a coach or a mentor who cares enough about you to be honest for you. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know my thoughts on mentors….anyone, regardless of their level of success, age, or occupation will be better off having a mentor in their life.

Here’s the thing about being more successful tomorrow than you are today. You need to worry less about your weaknesses so you can focus more of your energies on developing your strengths.

If that seems counterintuitive to you don’t worry, you’re in a very large group. It’s the group most often called average. I don’t mean that to be insulting in any way. It’s just that most of us believe being better means turning our weaknesses into strengths. That is not always true. The most successful people invest less than 20 percent of their efforts trying to eliminate every weakness. They invest 80 percent of their time further developing their strengths.

There are times where those percentages won’t hold true. If you have a glaring weakness that is holding you back then you had best deal with it immediately. One example that comes to mind might be substantially below average human relations skills. If that’s the case it could affect your efforts in every other part of your life. In that case some of your strengths development will have to wait.

If you’re in that average group I’m guessing you have not invested a great deal of time over the past years to truly take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. “Truly taking stock” means more than a vague awareness of what you’re good at and what you might not be so good at. It requires a good bit of reflection. Reflecting is the only time I recommend looking to the past. I only recommend looking there long enough to learn what you can from your successes and failures. Then turn immediately to the future because that’s the only place you’ll find additional success.

How clearly you see yourself, your current situation, your current weaknesses and your current strengths will determine your level of success in the future.

But hey, it’s 2020, if you can’t see clearly now I don’t know when you will.

Being the Best Isn’t Good Enough

If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse! Even if you’re already the best improvement is still a possibility, not just a possibility but a requirement.

Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Fame baseball player said….”The minute you’re satisfied with where you are you’re not there anymore.”

As soon as you stop trying to improve the inevitable slide towards mediocrity begins. No matter how good you are at something the moment you lose the drive to improve is the moment you’re no longer the best.

Some people will say they are “satisfied with where they are at and have no need to be the best. They are good at what they do and “good” is good enough. What they don’t realize is that when they don’t try to improve they also begin the backwards slide to being less than good.

The most successful people never stop trying to be better. They never stop trying to learn more. They never stop looking for a better way. They have no idea what their potential is because they are always working to accomplish more. They know that where they are today is only a starting point.

Where you are tomorrow matters far more than where you were yesterday.

If you’re not doing something, learning something, or making something that will help you be better tomorrow than you are today then you’re short-changing yourself. You very well may be costing yourself the future that you deserve.

Stop making excuses about why you can’t______________, (the blank is for you to fill in) and just start doing it. Stop settling for less than you deserve and push yourself to earn what you want.

You’re not too old to learn and you’re not too young to accomplish great things. In almost any realistic goal you can think of accomplishing the greatest obstacle you face is your own self-doubt.

So the heck with the doubts, to heck with the people who have told you that you can’t. You absolutely can be better tomorrow than you are today. You absolutely can know more tomorrow than you know today. You totally can do more tomorrow than you did today. You only have to make the decision that you will.

Never settle for being the best, you can be much better than that!

An Apology Can Change the Future

The very best time to apologize is the moment you think an apology is due. Waiting can dilute the sincerity of the apology. It can also make it harder to give because it gets blocked by something called pride.

A “qualified” apology is almost as bad as no apology at all. In case you‘re wondering, a qualified apology sounds something like “I am sorry if anyone was offended by something I said or did.” You might as well have said “sorry you’re such a sensitive wuss, I’ll try to avoid you in the future as much as possible.”

If an apology is due then give an apology…an unqualified apology that makes it clear there is no “if” or “but” and no chance the apology is insincere.

Apologies can’t change the past. If you said or did something that offended someone an apology isn’t going to make that offense disappear. It will likely also take some time for the hurt of the offense to pass. But a sincere apology might change your future with the offended person or people.

IF…. if the apology is sincere and is backed up with changed behavior.

You can apologize for the first transgression. Maybe even the second but repeated offenses are not mistakes, they are a choice. If you make the choice to repeatedly offend someone, whether consciously or subconsciously then you likely do not deserve forgiveness.

An apology not followed up with changed behavior is no apology at all. If you mean what you say in your apology your behavior will reflect it.

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, a sincere apology is a sign of strength. It demonstrates that the apology giver is confident enough to admit their mistake and smart enough to know it was a mistake in the first place.

When an apology is due it is never a mistake to offer one. There is also no expiration date on an apology. Even if you’re way late in offering one for something that happened in the past, remember as with most things, better late than never.

Adjust Your Own Mask First

I spend a fair amount of time on airplanes. So much time in fact that I think I could do the pre-flight safety announcements from memory. In you’ve ever flown you may recall the part of the safety announcements where they say, “in the unlikely event of loss in cabin pressure oxygen masks will drop from a panel above you.” They also say to adjust your own mask before helping others with theirs.

Have you ever wondered why they say that? For instance, think it would be almost instinctive to put your child’s mask on before your own. Yet, the experts advise otherwise.

That’s because they know you won’t be able to help anyone if you’re not conscious to do so. You can’t go long without air so you must help yourself first. It somehow seems wrong to do that. It seems kinda selfish. But if you truly want to help others you must make sure you’re in a condition to help. Unconscious is not a very helpful condition to be in.

The same holds true in everyday life. You must take care of yourself first if you’re going to be in any condition to take care of others. That may seem just as selfish as putting your oxygen mask on first but the same principle applies.

The more caring and giving person you are the greater the danger that you’ll forget about caring for yourself. The problem is you wear yourself down to the point where you can’t help anyone, not even yourself.

So fight the instinct to put everybody else’s oxygen mask on first. Put yours on first. That means resting before you’re overwhelmed. That means carving time out in your busy schedule to do something just for you. That means understanding that you, and the world, deserves the best of you, not what’s left of you.

Just to be clear, I’m not recommending that you do less for others. I am recommending that you do more for yourself. Taking care of yourself is the surest way to be certain that your in a position to take care of others. Don’t forget that simple fact!

How to Give a Sincere Compliment

When talking about giving compliments I suppose I have to get this part out of the way right up front. “This part” is the part about when to give a compliment. I also suppose we have to talk about what to compliment…and maybe what NOT to compliment.

This has gotten much tougher over the years. Let me give you an example. A friend of mine works for a large medical device company. He has worked there for a number of years, he is a well regarded engineer and has a spotless employment record. Not too long ago he was suspended for complimenting a female co-worker on her appearance; specifically how she looked in a new sweater she was wearing.

The woman he complemented seemed to appreciate the compliment. His problem started when a person who was not even a part of the conversation overheard the compliment and was offended by it. They thought it was inappropriate and offensive that he was commenting on another employees appearance.

They thought it was so inappropriate that they complained to the HR department. After a short “investigation” my friend was suspended. That might cause a person to swear off giving compliments entirely.

Did I mention that the co-worker my friend complimented was also his sister? Did I mention that he had given her the sweater for her birthday a few days before?

Even though situations like that might cause some people to completely stop the practice of giving compliments I still recommend giving them.

But give real compliments.

A real compliment has two parts.

Part one is the compliment itself. “I appreciate the extra effort you put in to help that customer work through their technical issues.”

Part two is the evidence that supports the compliment. “The reason I say that is I watched your interaction with the customer. Many people would have become frustrated with and dismissive of the customer. You kept your cool and turned a negative customer experience into a positive one.”

Have you ever received a compliment that caused you to wonder about the motives of the person giving you the compliment? It’s likely that they didn’t provide evidence to support the compliment. That evidence leaves no doubt as to the sincerity of the compliment.

Don’t give half a compliment. Always attach supporting evidence so no one has to wonder about your motives. If you can’t think of any evidence to support the compliment then ask yourself if the compliment is really worth giving. I’d suggest that it’s not.

In the politically correct world in which we now live I’d also suggest keeping your compliments focused on performance and abilities. It’s not “safe” to comment on things like appearance anymore and the reality is that in many cases it probably always was inappropriate.

But real compliments can change a person’s day. Maybe even their life. So look for real reasons to compliment others. As Dale Carnegie said, be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Be Better Soon

If you’re a leader then hopefully you know that one of your prime responsibilities is the development of the people you lead. Unfortunately not everyone in a leadership agrees with that thinking.

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve had conversations with two such “non leading” leaders. One told me that their sales team didn’t need any sales training and the other told me that their leadership team was “set” when it came to developing their leadership skills.

I wish I could say those conversations were unusual but they are not. Over the years I’ve had those types of conversations hundreds of times. Way too many people in positions of leadership do not accept any responsibility for the development of their people.

What makes that worse is the fact that I’ve had even more conversations with the people those “non leading” leaders are supposed to be developing. In those conversations the “un led” people say that it is not their responsibility to develop themselves. If their boss or company want them to grow then it’s the company’s responsibility to develop them. They won’t do it on their own time and they certainly won’t invest in themselves if it’s for the benefit of their employer.

So there is a whole bunch of people who have no one accepting responsibility for their development. That’s a shame because it’s never been easier to find information, online training or presentations that are very effective in helping people improve themselves.

There will likely always be people in leadership positions who either refuse to lead or think they are leading when they really aren’t. Maybe some of them really think that their team is “set” but I’ve never seen a salesperson or a leader who couldn’t get better.

If you’re one of the people waiting for somebody else to make you better then here’s some advice….stop making excuses. Start accepting responsibility for your own growth and the increased success that will come with it.

Do a bit of research to find a blog or podcast that focuses on an area where you could improve. Commit to invest a few minutes every day to learn something new. Always have a book nearby on a topic of interest to you and set aside time on a regular basis to actually read it.

Develop yourself for yourself. There is a reason it’s called self-improvement….you do it for yourself. There are far worse things in life than your employer benefiting from something you’ve done for yourself. Never allow the fact that your boss or company won’t invest in you stop you from investing in yourself.

Make 2020 the year YOU make the world a better place by making a better you. Start now and you will be better soon!