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.

Who Are You?

Are you who you think you are? Are you who other people think you are? Are you basically the compilation of the five people you spend the most time with?

The answer to all of those questions is yes….sort of. I say “sort of” because you’re likely not exactly who you think you are. You’re also almost certainly not who other people think you are although they might be closer to the real you than you want to admit.

You are definitely influenced by the handful of people you spend the majority of your time with. You likely think and act a lot like them. You believe much the same as they do and you’re most comfortable being “real” when you’re with them.

So the better question is are you who you want to be?

Think of the people you know well that you respect and admire the most. These are not people you read about in the news or see in the movies. These are people you actually know. You know their good side and their not so good side. What are the qualities and characteristics they possess that cause you to admire them?

Think hard, invest some time in this. What is it really that sets them apart from the crowd?

How close are you to possessing these same qualities and characteristics. Notice there is no question mark at the end of that sentence. That’s because it’s not a question for you. It’s a question that you should be asking other people. It’s a question that you should be asking, on a regular basis, your coach or mentor.

The reason I’m not suggesting that you ask yourself is that if you’re like most people you won’t be completely honest with yourself. You’ll cut yourself too much slack and provide yourself with excuses you wouldn’t give anyone else. That’s nice to do for yourself but it isn’t helpful if your goal is to better yourself.

Once you have some sincere and honest input from people who know you well then you can decide if the you they see is the you that you want to be. There are a lot of “yous” in that sentence but this post is after all about you.

You’ll likely hear about a few shortcomings but that’s okay. Nobody’s perfect, not even the people you admire the most. You have to decide if the good qualities and characteristics you possess outweigh those shortcomings. If you have a weakness that you think is holding you back then you know what to work on.

I’m okay with being imperfect. I’m okay with not being liked by everyone. I’m okay with not being understood by everyone. I’m even okay with some people thinking I’m downright stupid.

Sometimes I disappoint people, sometimes I disappoint myself. I could make a pretty strong case that if you’re never disappointed with yourself, either with something you’ve said or done, then you’ve set your expectations for yourself way too low.

But that doesn’t make you a bad person and it certainly doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human. And you are everything that comes with that, good and bad. That is who you really are!