100 Days of Mask Wearing

If you’re looking for a political fight over whether people should be wearing masks during a pandemic you’ve come to the wrong place. The title of this post is pure clickbait cause I’m not writing about that kind of mask. 

I’m writing about the masks that many people wear everyday. Even people who would say “no one can make me wear a mask” frequently wear masks. 

It’s the masks they wear when pretending to be someone or something they are not. They wear them for a lot longer than 100 days too. They wear them for many reasons. Some don’t particularly like who they really are. Some want to impress people who they believe won’t accept them as they are. Some people seem to be afraid to let others know the person they actually are. The list of reasons could go on and on. 

I gave up on wearing the kind of mask that hides who I am a long time ago. I adopted the thinking of the great American philosopher Popeye. He was very comfortable with who he was and frequently said, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” 

Me too.

Some people don’t like who I am. That’s fantastic! I’ve not invested a single minute trying to fool people into liking me so at least they don’t like me for who I really am. Image making all that effort to wear a mask only to discover people don’t like the person you’re pretending to be. What a waste! I am what I am and that’s all that I am. If people like who and what I am then that’s fantastic too. 

Either way I’m not putting on a mask to try to get more people to like me. Wearing that kind of mask is a lot of work and it’s not particularly effective. People are gonna figure you out sooner or later anyway. You might as well make it easier by showing them the real you. 

I’m more than certain the people who are supposed to be in your life will be in your life. I’m also very sure that you’ll have a more enjoyable life living the life of the person you really are. It’s also likely that wearing a mask to hide the real you won’t make more people like you, it will just make different people like you. But if your mask falls off those people will quickly fall away.

If you need to wear a mask to get somebody to think better of you then you don’t need them thinking of you at all. You also shouldn’t care what they think in the first place.

Be you! Be the best you that you can possibly be. Be “all that you are” all of the time because it’s that authenticity that will ultimately make you a person to be admired. 

And you don’t need a mask for that!

The True Meaning of Mistakes

I must admit I don’t like making mistakes. I especially don’t like making stupid mistakes by overlooking obvious warning signs or mistakes that come from a lack of planning. But most of all I hate making the same mistake twice. 

I also must admit that I need to make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of success. Every success story I’ve ever been a part of needed mistakes to grow stronger and achieve ultimate success. I believe that overcoming mistakes on the path to success helps people maintain that success when additional challenges arise.

People who never make mistakes had better be comfortable with the status quo. They will seldom stumble upon innovative ideas or solutions. They prefer complaining to risking the possibility of a mistake while looking for something better. 

They think a mistake is the equivalent of failure. Mistakes are actually irrefutable proof that you’re chasing after something better. Mistakes are not a sign that you’ve done something wrong, they are in fact the evidence that you’re doing something right. 

Mistakes mean you’re either searching for or are already on the path to success.

I’m not recommending that anyone intentionally make mistakes. I’ve never found the need to be intentional when it comes to mistakes, they just show up on their own. They often show up at the worst possible times and when we least expect them. Well okay,  they don’t exactly show up on their own. I frequently “invite” them into my life by pretending “that” won’t happen to me or thinking I’m too smart to make the same mistake a billion other people have made. 

Never “double-up” on a mistake by denying it. When you’ve made a mistake admit it quickly and if you need help to fix it then ask. Admitting a mistake does not make you look weak. It demonstrates that you have the courage to acknowledge it. It shows you intend to overcome whatever roadblocks the mistake may have created. 

Stare down your mistakes by looking them in the eye. Before too long you may see them smiling back at you and you’ll realize how much help they have been.

Are You Too Concerned With Your Reputation?

I played hockey from about the time I could walk up until… well I’d play now if I could find the time and a sheet of ice. I played with a friend from Peewees right through high school. He was quite the character, whenever he would score a goal, even at 12 years old, he would yell bingo. So we called him Bingo.

We still call him Bingo today. Being a “character” tends to stay with you. So does actually having character. But only having character truly defines you. 

Lots of people, I’d say most people, are far more concerned with their reputation than they are their character. That’s a mistake. 

Here’s why.

Have you ever heard it said of someone “their reputation precedes them?” That’s often considered a compliment. Then when you meet them you’re surprised that they are not at all what you expected. It turned out their reputation was more mirage than fact. It’s not that their reputation was wrong, it was simply a representation of “what” people think they do, not “who” they are. 

Remember this, your reputation may precede you but your character is always attached to you. 

Your reputation can be more valuable than money, there’s no question about that. I suppose that’s why people focus so much on their reputation. What they don’t realize is that their reputation is built upon the foundation of their character. 

The words they speak and the actions they take come straight out of their character. Reputation is who people think you are, character is who you really are. You may be able to hide behind a good reputation for a while but your true character will eventually show itself.

People of good character have no need to hide any part of their life. They take care of their character and their reputation takes care of itself. Your character is reflective of the core values you hold. 

Character is within you. It is even more important than other factors like race, religion, age, and personality in determining how you react during life’s tougher circumstances. Your experiences in life may influence the character traits you have—but it is your character itself that determines how you act.

People can “know” your reputation without really knowing you. Character traits like integrity, courage, honesty, loyalty, and perseverance can only be seen by those who truly want to know you. 

Even people of good character can have a less than stellar reputation because other people’s opinions of you and their biases for you and against you can shape your reputation. That’s how reputations become a mirage, they are often made of opinions. Character is based upon actions.

So which are you more concerned with…your reputation or your character? Focus on the long term by focusing on your character. Your character will eventually build a solid reputation made from facts, not opinions. 

Facts and Opinions

I should warn you right up front…this post is going to contain some shocking information. I won’t leave you hanging wondering what it is, I’ll get it out of the way right up front so you don’t have to wonder what it is any longer.

Not everything you read on the internet, and particularly in Social Media, is true. There it is! I said it! I mentioned the unmentionable! 

That’s not new information by the way, many of the things we see online and in social media have always been a little sketchy. It’s just that it’s so much more prevalent lately. It also has spilled over into the media. It used to be safe to assume that if it was reported in a newspaper or a network news program that it was an absolute fact. That may or may not be true anymore. 

Some of you may say that “my network is absolutely true, it’s the “other side’s” network that promotes lies.” That only proves my point…the facts reported on any network may or may not be true.

Anything you see or read on the internet or social media, especially social media, may or may not be true. 

So maybe we ALL need to apply a little more common sense to our beliefs and a tad bit less emotion. 

If you’re like me you tend to believe what you want to believe. If you’re like me you tend to believe things that are told to you by the people you hang around with…the ones who think like you. If you’re like me then when someone you don’t particularly like says something or tells you something you’re incredibly skeptical. So much so that you almost instinctively know they are likely wrong. Or lying. 

People like me and my friends never exaggerate or “create” a statistic or “fact” that helps to prove our point. Only “other” people do that. 

A study done by the University of Massachusetts found that most people lie in everyday conversations when they are trying to appear likable and competent. The study found that 60 percent of people lied at least once in a 10 minute conversation. 

I don’t know this for sure but I’m going to guess that many of those “lies” the study found wouldn’t be considered lies by the person who told them. But they weren’t facts either. They were not supported by any kind of evidence. So if they weren’t facts supported by provable evidence then what exactly were they?

I’m kinda working overtime right now to be more skeptical about the information pouring in from every direction. I’ll eventually decide for myself what’s true or not and I’ll decide with the help of actual evidence, the kind you can see and hear for yourself. I’m working really hard to be okay with being unsure about everything for a day or two until that evidence makes an appearance. If, after a while, no evidence appears then I’ll believe what I want to believe…with the clear understanding that I may be wrong.

That clear understanding that I may be wrong will also cause me to realize that a person who believes differently than me may be right. 

That means someone can be wrong without being a liar. Someone can believe something different than me without being my enemy. Someone can believe something that turns out to be untrue without being an idiot. 

Beliefs without evidence used to be called opinion. We were always told that people were entitled to their opinions but today we act as if there are no opinions, there are only truths and lies. But hanging a sign on a cow that says “Horse” doesn’t make that cow a horse. Believing a different opinion is a lie doesn’t make it a lie either. It’s still an opinion and people are still entitled to their opinions.

One of the things I’ve learned over time is that the people who are “different” than me aren’t really that different. We all have far more in common than our differences would indicate. Find that commonality and you’ll likely find a friend as well.

And who couldn’t use a few more friends in these turbulent times.

Planning for a Better 2021 – The “Follow-Up”

Congratulations! You have a plan. If you’ve followed the steps we laid out in the previous 7 posts you not only have a plan, you have a plan based on your values and goals. There are not too many people who can say that. So good for you.

While your plan is ready to be implemented, or “launched” it is not yet done. In fact, the best plans are never done. That’s why the 8th and not really “final” step in the process is called The “Follow-Up.” 

Even as you work your way through your plan you should be reviewing it periodically to make sure it still “works” for you. If we’ve learned anything from 2020 it’s that life has a not so funny way of turning our plans to mush. 

Mushy plans are not good plans. So constantly be tweaking your plan. 

While tweaking your plan you must keep this undying principle in mind…you plans can, will, and should change as circumstances require. The Core Values upon which you’ve built your plan should remain rock solid. 

Your well thought out and developed plan is a living plan. Do not allow it to die a circumstantial death. As your environment changes, as you change, as circumstances change, your plans must change as well.

The “Follow-Up” step is where you schedule 30, 60, 90, 180 day reviews of your plan. During the 180 day review schedule additional follow-ups as needed. Put these follow-ups on your calendar. Ask your coach, mentor, or accountability partner to review the progress you’ve made towards your plan. They can offer suggestions for adjustments or advise you to stay the course. 

You now have a plan that clearly states who you are and where you are. You have a plan that says specifically who you will be in the future. You have a plan that illuminates the path that you need to follow to arrive at your goals in life. 

Continuously feed your plan with fresh thinking. Provide it with the effort and discipline needed to keep your plan in constant forward motion. 

Your reward will be a life full of the things you earned while working your plan. Pay particular attention to that previous sentence. Your reward will be the things you EARNED while WORKING your plan. 

You have an awesome plan but it will not work for you if you do not work for it. Work your plan and enjoy the life it helps you earn.

Planning for a Better 2021 – The “Launch”

The “Launch” is the seventh step in our planning process. It’s also one of the most frequently skipped steps. It is amazing to me how many times I’ve seen a person or a company invest time and in the case of companies, huge amounts of money, to develop a great plan and then do nothing with it. 

Years ago I was working for a company and we were contacted by one of the largest banks in the world. While they were already huge, their growth was stagnant and they wanted a plan to begin growing again. 

We advised them that the first step of developing a plan would be determining where they were at right now…we needed a crystal clear idea of their “As Is.” As I said this was a large bank and the most effective way to determine their current situation was to conduct a needs assessment throughout all levels of the organization. This would a seven figure investment and they would receive an actionable plan that would lead to a return to growth for the organization. 

We delivered the plan to the bank on time, which was four months after the process began. They were a little overwhelmed at the amount of detail we provided but they agreed wholeheartedly with our findings. They were excited to be moving forward. 

We scheduled our first follow up meeting (The Follow Up will be the 8th and final step in our process) for 90 days after they put the plan into action. 90 days later when we called to confirm the follow up meeting they asked to reschedule. They were still preparing to launch the plan “in the very near future.” Remember they paid over a million dollars for the needs assessment and the plan that came out of it. 

The bank NEVER did actually launch the plan. They had the best of intentions. They invested heavily to make certain their plan was actionable and that their desired outcomes would be achieved. But they failed to launch!

The “Launch” is where having a coach or a mentor can make a huge difference. Without someone to hold you accountable you may never begin. Or, you may have a few “false starts” and then never get going again. 

Think of all the time you’ve invested to this point. You likely know more about yourself then you ever have before. You’ve dreamed your dream and made a plan to make it become real. You’ve done the hardest part. 

All that’s left is to implement the plan. 

You need to take that first step. Some of us, okay, most of us will still need a little push. That’s what your coach or mentor is for. If you think coaches or mentors are only for big shots then don’t get one.  But find yourself an accountability partner and ask them to hold you accountable. The only requirement for an accountability partner is that they care enough about you to actually hold you accountable. 

I can’t say that strongly enough…whoever you ask to hold you accountable MUST truly CARE for you. That is a must must must! They need to be willing to keep encouraging you, pushing you, even scolding you in that’s what’s needed. Your accountability partner needs to stay along side of you when you tell them you’re done. They must care enough to not allow you to be done. 

Some people seem to misread the title of this step. After completing their plan instead of going to “launch” they simply go to lunch…and apparently never come back. Lunch can wait, your future will not! Implement your plan ASAP…as in today because in you’re always waiting for tomorrow, tomorrow never comes. 

Planning for a Better 2021 – The “Time Table”

Some people use time as an excuse. Highly successful people use time as a tool. 

Now that you know what you’ll stop doing in order to succeed and you know what you’ll start doing to achieve your goals you need to commit to a time table. This is such a critical step in the planning process yet many people skip it completely. 

Years ago when I would present Goal Setting Workshops for Dale Carnegie people would present truly outstanding goals. They presented them with such passion that it was obvious they wanted to achieve them. 

But when I asked when they would begin the pursuit of those goals they were completely flummoxed. They had not considered a starting date and time, they were simply going to do it. Except I knew they likely wouldn’t. Because they would most probably use time as an excuse for never actually beginning. I’ve seen it happen again and again. 

So for everything you committed to stop doing you need to add each one of those individually to a time table. EACH ONE, INDIVIDUALLY! If you think you can lump them all together and stop them all at once you need to be more realistic. 

Keep in mind you’re using a TIME table, not a date table. When adding a “stop action” to your time table list the date you will implement the stop action AND the time of day. Specifically. Exactly. Then put that in your calendar. In ink. In all caps. 

Tell the world about your commitment. Ask them, ask everyone, to hold you accountable. 

Use exactly the same process for everything you committed to start doing in order to achieve your goals and bring your plan to life. Specificity is key. You need to determine the exact date and time you will begin….or you’re unlikely to begin…ever.

Setting an exact date and time to begin your journey to goal achievement is an example of using time as a tool. Having an exact date and time in your plan and on your calendar gives you the tool of accountability. It helps you hold yourself accountable. Sharing that exact date and time with others might even give you more accountability than you want. 😀

One a word of caution about adding action items to your time table. The farther into the future you plan to stop or start an action the less likely it is that you’ll do it. The best time to begin is today. The second best time is tomorrow and the third best time is the next day. You can imagine how effective it WON’T be to start something 6 months from now…that’s almost as bad as having no start date at all. 

Today is the best day to take control of your life. If you begin today then all of your tomorrow’s will have a much better chance of going according to YOUR plan. If you don’t have a plan then you’ll have to settle for whatever happens to come your way. 

Don’t settle…plan!