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!

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!

Learning is Never Wasted

I had just finished up a large project. By every measure it was a tremendous success. I was proud of the effort I had put into it and especially proud of the efforts of my fellow team members. 

 

A person a little higher in the organization than me told me the event was a huge success. I commented that I had learned a lot and they said “that’s too bad cause we’re never doing that again.” The implication was that whatever I had learned would go to waste. 

 

They were wrong about what I had learned going to waste. They were wrong because learning is never wasted. All learning, I repeat, all learning is beneficial.

 

I had an outstanding teacher in the 7th grade. His name was Cyril Paul. He was a life changing kind of teacher and I’ve never forgotten him or the lessons he taught me. I tried finding him several years ago to give him a proper thank you and to let him know how he changed my life. My search unfortunately did not succeed.

 

I remember complaining to him one day about some junk (in the infinite wisdom of a 12 year old I was certain it was junk) he was teaching in math class. I said “I’m going to be a baseball player, I’ll never use this.” 

 

He said I could be right, I might never need that particular knowledge. But he quickly added that learning how to solve problems would benefit me the rest of my life. He said that every class I was in was serving two purposes. Teaching me whatever the subject was and teaching me how to learn. Every single class was teaching me how to learn! I’m not sure when I discovered he was right about that, I think it came upon me slowly. But he was absolutely right.

 

I am still learning today. I hope you are too.

 

No one can take your education from you. Don’t think for a minute that something you’ve learned will be of no use to you in the future. You never know when some tidbit of knowledge from your past will come in handy. 

 

It’s never been easier to add to your base of knowledge than it is today. There are tons of good online classes and many of them are available at no cost to the learner. Remember, the most successful people learn something new almost every single day. 

 

Don’t use lack of time as an excuse for not learning. If educating yourself is a priority then time won’t be an issue. 


So, what are you learning today?


The Better Choice

Life is all about choices. The fact is, regardless of the circumstances you were born into better choices result in a better life. 

 

While success is a relative term the most successful people simply made better choices to get there. Your own level of success is clearly impacted by your starting point in life. If you’ve added on to whatever you started with then you’ve experienced at least some measure of success in your life. That is most likely due in part to the choices you’ve made in life. 

 

But here’s a choice many people don’t too often consider…it’s the choice to be better everyday. It’s the conscious choice that says today I will do something to be better than I was yesterday. 

 

What did you do today to better yourself? What are you planning to do tomorrow? What about yesterday? How about the day before that or the day before that? How many days has it been since you could specifically say what action you took, intentionally, to improve one area of your life? 

 

Even if it’s reading one page from a book it can help. Even a 5 minute walk is better than no walk. Skipping that coffee stop on the way to work a couple of days a week could have a significant impact on your overall financial well-being. 

 

Choices that look little can turn out to be huge. 

 

One choice, even a small choice, to take action each day to improve yourself could add up to a gigantically better life and ultimately huge success. 


So start making that choice this very day. It’s the choice I call the better choice because it’s all about being better, even just a little better, today than you were yesterday. When you make that choice today then tomorrow will be better because of it. 

Who is Responsible?

I’ve been trying to help people be more successful for a long time. In all that time I’ve seen people fall into two major categories; those who accept responsibility for their own personal development and those who affix the responsibility for their development to someone else.

 

That someone else may be a teacher, their employer, their boss or someone close to them. The “someone else is responsible for me” group all have one thing in common. When I say all I really mean ALL, as in every single one of them. What they have in common is that they are less successful than they could be, usually much less successful.

 

Successful people accept full responsibility for their own personal development. They look for, and find, ways to improve their skills and abilities on a continual basis. 

 

They do not expect their employer to pay them for learning. They don’t expect time to be provided to them during the work day to take a class or attend a workshop. They will certainly accept those benefits if offered but they throughly understand the difference between accept and expect. 

 

Successful people are willing to invest both their own time and money to close whatever skill gaps they have identified. They realize that their development is their responsibility and no one else’s. 

 

Less successful people wait. They wait to be offered, for free, the training they need to succeed. They wait for the training to happen on company time. They maintain the attitude that if they are going to improve themselves then somebody else is going to have to take the lead in their development. 

 

Even if all those conditions are met they still don’t do as well because the motivation to succeed just isn’t there. They are improving to keep a job, not advance their own abilities. 

 

If you want to be more successful then invest in yourself. An investment in yourself is the surest investment that you can make. Invest in yourself for yourself. Invest in yourself because you’re worth it. 

 

If you believe you have what it takes to be successful and that all you need is for someone to believe in you then YOU should be that someone. Never wait, not even for a second, for someone else to take the lead in your self-improvement. 


Keep telling yourself, if it’s to be it’s up to me. Then stop talking to yourself and start doing for yourself. 

Your Greatest Competition

I like competitive people. I like people who enjoy winning. I’d hire people who hate losing. The desire to compete creates the opportunity to succeed. 

 

While the desire to complete is key understanding who your competition is can be even more important. Successful competitors believe their competition is some other person or some other organization. The most successful competitors know that their greatest competitor is the person they see in the mirror each morning. 

 

Too many people try to be better than someone else. The most successful people worry less about other people and more about themselves. They focus on what they can control and the only thing they have complete control over is themselves. They work to be better tomorrow than they are today. They know that even if it’s only a little better that a lot of littles add up to something big. 

 

The most successful people invest in themselves to ensure consistent improvement. They read more than less successful people. They find training, not just to shore up their weak spots but to further strengthen their strengths. 

 

The most successful people have a coach or a mentor because they know a second sets of eyes, a second opinion and a second set of experiences can make a world of difference in competitive situations. 

 

To be more successful don’t worry about what someone else is doing. You have little to no control over them. Focus on yourself, focus on what you can control. Focus on making yourself a little more effective each day. 


Be better tomorrow than you were today because all those tomorrows create for you the opportunity to put distance between yourself and any competitors not named you.