Are You a Model of Success?

One of the things that frustrate many people in leadership positions is their people not doing what they are told to do. They don’t follow directions and frequently ignore what the leader says. 

It’s kinda true that many people don’t listen to what their leader says. That’s because they are too busy watching what their leader does. 

Authentic Leaders know that their actions speak louder, much louder, than their words. They know that people will do what their leader does about 1000 times faster than they will do what their leader says. Authentic Leaders know that they are the model for the behavior of their people. Not only are they the model for behavior, they are the model for their attitude as well. 

If you’re in a leadership position then you must be hyper-aware that your people are watching you. Always. They watch to determine if what you say is what you mean. If your actions match your words then they will do what you say. If your words say one thing and your actions another then they typically discard your words and do what you did. 

They know that while they may misinterpret your words they can clearly see what you’ve done. Doing what you do is “safer.” What you do likely helped put you into a position they would like to be in one day. It only makes sense that they would follow the example you set for them. 

You confuse them when you get frustrated because they did what you did. You may not realize that you’re leading by example but you most certainly are. Whether you intend to or not. 

Whatever behavior you “model” for your people is the behavior your people will give you. 

It works the same with the attitude your people display. If you demonstrate a negative attitude to your people then don’t be surprised when your people demonstrate one to you. If you’re leading a group of people with a negative attitudes the source of that attitude most likely looks back at you from the mirror every morning. 

Most people in leadership positions don’t like it, or agree with it, when I say that. They believe they are the sunshine in everyone’s day. Let me encourage you to look at yourself again. Maybe hit record on your smartphone and “listen” to yourself for a few hours. You may be surprised at how negative you sound…if you listen with an open mind. 

As a leader, do you cultivate an atmosphere where negative attitudes go to die or do you allow an atmosphere where negative attitudes can thrive? 

Authentic leaders know that when it comes to behavior and attitudes they will most likely get what they give. That’s why they work to consistently model an attitude of success and the behavior that goes along with it. 

Sure Things

It’s hard to know these days exactly what you can believe. You can find “facts” on the internet to support almost anything you want to be true. But as President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read online.” 

But this post is in fact loaded with truths. No need to worry about checking Wikipedia for this post, these truths are sure things.

The first absolute truth is this…You are special! You matter, you make a difference in this world simply by being you. Never let the words or actions of another person cause you to doubt this indisputable truth. Your self-respect is priceless and always remember that no one can steal it from you unless you leave the door unlocked.

The second sure thing is that you can do more than you think you can. Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” If you’re like most people one of your greatest obstacles to success is your own self-doubt. The most successful people didn’t think they could succeed, they knew they would succeed. Develop that mindset and you’re on your way to the success you deserve. 

One of the surest sure things is that your chances for success are much better when you have a coach or a mentor. The qualifications for a good mentor are many but the best mentors have a long view of life. That means that they know other people built bridges for them to cross. Their long view of life drives them to build bridges themselves, for people just like you. Find yourself a mentor and your bridge to the future will come into focus.

The surest sure thing is this: God believes in you even if you don’t believe in Him. The things you’ve done that you think are unforgivable can be forgiven by Him before you even do them. That means the path is clear for you to forgive yourself. God’s love for you is real. It is boundless and never ending. Remember that on the days you feel unloveable and every day of your life will be better because of it. 

The next sure thing is that it costs you nothing to be kind. The struggles you face are real and every person you meet has struggles in their life too. Being intentionally kind to others helps them deal with their struggles and makes your own seem more manageable too.

The final sure thing is that 2022 will only be a good as you allow it to be. The attitude you choose to carry with you each day will either make everything better or worse. And here’s some great news: your attitude is completely your choice. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl described the last of the human freedoms as the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance. Before you dismiss that as Pollyanna thinking you should know that Viktor Frankl lived a part of his life in the worst circumstances humans have ever found themselves in. Yet he never allowed anyone or anything to rob him of that precious choice. 

When you choose to have a positive attitude every single part of your life will be better. But you must make that conscious choice on a daily basis. The fastest way to building a better life is to build a better you. 

The better your attitude the better you will be! 

Time to Debrief

When a United States Air Force Squadron undertakes a mission they invest time to plan the mission down to the smallest detail. They then execute the mission according to the plan. Upon their return to base they meet again to debrief. They discuss what worked, they discuss what didn’t and they discuss what they could do better next time. 

These are brutally honest meetings, rank and friendships are set aside. The goal is to learn from every mission. Every mission must be better and safer than the mission that came before it. 

Many of the pilots would tell you that other than hitting the target itself the most critical part of the entire operation is the debrief. All future success comes from those vital debrief meetings. 

As we approach the end of the 12 month period we call 2021 it’s time to think about debriefing the year. 

2021 was another unpredictable and challenging year. But if you’re reading this then it’s likely you’ll survive it to tackle 2022. It would be foolish for any of us to expect a return to the old normal so we need to learn as much as possible from the year that is coming to a close.

How you choose to reflect on 2021 is a personal choice but here are some of the things I’ll be considering. Keep in mind, the goal of my personal debrief is a better 2022.

The first thing I need to consider is who I choose to associate with. I alone can control the content I allow into my mind. The people I associate with put thoughts into my head. There is nothing I can humanly do to change that. But I can decide who I will and won’t associate with. So one of my biggest questions for my debrief is, “did I associate with enough positive people?” Are you allowing too many negative thoughts to creep into your head or are you focusing on the positive? 

You get to make the final decision on whether or not you’ll have a positive attitude but other people influence your decision. Make sure it’s the right people influencing your decision .

I always start with attitude because once you get your attitude right everything else, and I do mean everything, becomes much much easier. 

My other questions are what worked? What didn’t? What did I learn? What will I do stop doing in the coming year? What will I begin? How will I use what I’ve learned to be a better resource for my customers and colleagues? Most important, how will I use what I have learned in this still challenging year to be a better husband, parent, sibling or friend?

Once this year is passed whatever you’ve accomplished or failed to accomplish will be behind you. Guess that’s why it’s called the past. Because it’s in the past it’s far less important than what’s in front of you. 

Even if 2021 wasn’t all you hoped for you can use it to ensure a better 2022 and remember it’s YOUR future, only YOU get to define what better is for you. 

Reflect on that and then reflect on your year. 2022 is fast approaching and how you start the year is a great predictor of how you’ll finish it. 

Forget About It

Many years ago, okay, many many years ago, I was making cold calls with my Sales Manager. We had a solid process (at the time) for cold calling. We would walk into a company and ask to leave some literature with the receptionist. We would then ask the receptionist for the name of the person they would be passing the literature to so we could follow up directly. It was an effective way to learn the name of the decision maker. 

We were part way through a full day of prospecting when we made a call on a paper company. I greeted the receptionist and asked if I could drop off some literature for the person who made training decisions. She cheerfully said sure and I handed her the first piece of literature I was planning to leave behind. As I was taking the second piece of literature out of my folder I noticed the receptionist putting the first piece beneath the desk. 

I handed the second brochure over and the receptionist again placed it beneath the desk. I asked what she was doing with the literature and she said she was “speeding up the process.” I asked what that meant and she said that her boss would throw the “crap” away so she was speeding up the process. 

I was not exactly happy with her answer. So I asked if she thought that was an appropriate way to treat people. She said she would never treat people that way but it was fine for salespeople. 

Before I could “discuss” this any further my Sales Manager thanked her for her time and guided me to the door. 

When we got back to our car I asked my manager if he could believe what just happened. He said he didn’t see anything unusual and I should just “forget about it” because we had lots more calls to make. It wouldn’t be productive to let a poor call affect my effectiveness on the next call. 

As I said earlier that was many many years ago so I haven’t exactly forgotten about it. But I also haven’t forgotten the point my Sales Manager was making. 

The point was do not let one bad customer experience allow the next customer interaction to be negatively affected. The idea was to sell in “call tight compartments” so that each call was “fresh.”

Selling one call at a time protects you from becoming overconfident when things were going well. It also keeps you from bringing disappointment and maybe even anger into your next call. 

That’s not only good advice for a salesperson, it’s good advice for everyone. Do not let a poor interaction with one person carry over to the interaction you have with the next person. This is particularly important for leaders to keep in mind. 

Everyone will have negative experiences involving other people. No one has to allow that to make them negative. Staying positive in the face of negativity is a choice. It’s a choice we should all make everyday.

Looking for Problems

Someone told me recently that looking for problems is not a healthy outlook. I suggested to them that at least in business, not looking for problems was a fatal outlook.

I suppose it all depends on why you’re looking for problems. If you’re looking for problems so that you always have a fresh supply of things to complain about then obviously that is not helping anyone. Especially you. 

If you’re looking for problems so they can be changed from an obstacle to an opportunity well then that’s a completely different story. 

I think everyone looks for problems. I also think everyone looks for problems for both of those reasons. The question is, how much time do you spend looking for problems to complain about and how much time do you invest in looking for problems to solve? 

The answer to that question provides a huge clue about the level of your success. 

We all sometimes fall into the trap of complaining about problems. The most successful people don’t complain for long. 

The most successful people look for problems with the intent to solve them. They may solve a problem for others or they may want to solve a problem for themselves. They may also want to solve problems to make money cause making life easier for others can be very profitable. 

Here’s the difference between looking for problems to find problems and looking for problems to solve. One leads to a healthy outlook on life and one leads to permanent attendance at the world’s largest pity party. 

When successful people walk into a pity party they immediately start looking for a door to get themselves back out. Walking in may have felt good but they just can’t tolerate the atmosphere once they are inside. 

The exit door they are looking for is labeled “Positive Attitude.” It is labeled that way because it is impossible to wallow in problems when you have a positive attitude. 

Maintaining a positive attitude is step one in solving any problem. A positive attitude widens your vision. It allows you to not only see the problem but all the potential solutions orbiting around the problem. 

There has yet to be a problem discovered that doesn’t have a solution. There are only problems that have yet to have their solution discovered. 

I have also yet to see a problem that was solved by merely complaining about it. There are likely enough people reading this that one of you will one day solve what today is thought to be an unsolvable problem. Of that I have no doubt. 

One of you will cure an incurable disease. One of you will invent something that will make the world more livable, even if we don’t know we need it today. It’s not that hard because even if the problem you’ve solved only makes the world better for one person you have still made the world a better place. 

That all begins with making the choice to solve a problem rather than complain about it. 

Will YOU make that choice today?

The Promise of Tomorrow

Every year holds it’s own set of lessons. Those who study history know that the years teach us many things that a single day will never know.

I don’t think we’ll need much history however to understand some of the lessons from the year 2020. For too many families around the world one of those lessons is that tomorrow is promised to no one. No one can know if their own tomorrow will actually arrive. 

But we also know that if our tomorrow does arrive we have much more control over it than we often choose to take. Many people let their days unfold as if they have no say whatsoever in the events of that day. They let the day happen. 

The happiest and most successful people never let a day happen “to them.” They make the day happen “for them.” 

They may not be able to choose each of the “events” that come their way each day but they are able to choose exactly how they will respond to them. They choose very very frequently to respond with a positive attitude.

That positive attitude allows them to take something good from every experience. It allows them to learn from even their least favorite event of any given day. It allows them to constantly be looking forward to the promise of an even better tomorrow. 

You have the same choice. The only question is whether or not you’ll actually make it. 

I know people who make the choice of a positive attitude 100% of the time. They are happier than me. I am happier than people who make the choice of a positive attitude less frequently than me. 

I know people who choose to look for opportunities in every problem 100% of the time. They are more successful than me. I am more successful than people who look for opportunities in problems less than I do. 

It is very clear that happiness and success come from our choices and no choice we make is more important than the choice of a positive attitude. Choosing to look for opportunities inside problems is a close second. 

Yet I’m tempted to tell you it’s not possible 100% of the time cause it seems impossible to me. But I know people who prove me wrong. It’s not only a possibility for them, it is a reality. So I’m going to keep trying to make it my reality too. 

The promise of tomorrow doesn’t wait. You need to go get it. Your choice of a positive attitude is the fastest ride to those promises you’ll ever find. You willing to hop on board with me?

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?