How You Doin’?

We’re a little bit past the middle of the year and some of you have already decided whether this is going to be a good year or not so good. For those of you who have struggled thus far let me remind you we’re a little bit past the half-way point. You have plenty of time to turn things around. For those of you who have done well so far let me remind you too, we have a whole lot of this year left. If your year has been good so far then there is no reason it needs to stay that way…you can change it into a great year.

The key to moving from not so good to good is the same as moving from good to great. You must know where you are today in order to know what you need to do to be someplace else tomorrow. 

Many people reading this have not yet invested any time this year to determine exactly where they are and how they got there. Now is the perfect time for some self-reflection. 

What have you been doing that is not working for you? What haven’t you been doing that you should be doing? When was the last time you sat quietly and reviewed your goals for the year and your goals for life? Are you spending time with people who feed you negativity or investing time with people who build you up?

NOW is the perfect time to ask yourself those questions. The opportunity to change direction remains yours to seize. The decision to speed up your progress is yours to make. 

Wherever you are at this point in time it’s vital that you understand that you put yourself there. Your decisions, choices and actions have consequences or benefits. If you’re blaming others or blaming your circumstances then you’ve lost control of your year…maybe even your life. 

The most successful people don’t blame their circumstances. They create circumstances that give them the best chance to succeed. They create those circumstances with thoughtful decisions, good choices and taking appropriate action to follow through on both. 

Self-reflection requires that you be honest with yourself. Sometimes brutally honest. It also requires an understanding that you are the master and creator of your future…if you choose to be. 

Invest some time today to take a mid-year assessment of your current situation and your desired situation. Adjust what you must and be fearless in jettisoning the things, actions and maybe people, who add no value to your life. 

You still have time to make this year exactly what you want it to be. Perhaps even better than you could have imagined. Just remember, if it’s to be it’s up to you to make it so.

Keeping Score

I was recently invited to join a Saturday morning golf league. I’ve never been asked to join this type of very unique league before. What made it so unique was that they don’t keep score. Apparently not keeping score is supposed to make the game more fun. 

I know there will be people who disagree with this but I see no point to playing golf…or any sport if you’re not going to keep score. I kind of understand the people who say that very young kids should be allowed to play sports without the “pressure” of keeping score but I’m not entirely bought into the idea. 

But for adults I believe keeping score in most areas of life is essential. 

Professional sales people who don’t know their percentage of wins vs opportunities have no way of truly knowing if their approaches are effective. Companies who don’t track their market share have no idea if they are gaining or losing customers. Retailers who do not track the amount of customers entering their establishments have no clue if their marketing and advertising is working. 

The “score” is simply a reference point on your journey to ultimate success. If you don’t track what actions and tactics are working for you then you’re very likely to get lost on that journey. 

How often do you stop to check your personal success score? Do you invest time to reflect on what’s working in your life? What’s not working? 

Most everyone I talk to claims to want a better tomorrow. They seek improvement in many areas of their life. But many of them want the improvement to come without making any changes. They want to do the same thing today as they did yesterday but they want a better result. That is not very likely to happen. 

Improvement doesn’t come from making changes. Improvement comes from making the right changes and the only way to know what changes will be the right ones is to keep score. 

The “score” is your result. Measuring results informs our decisions on what we need to change in order to have that better result we seek.

One more point, when you keep score make sure you’re being honest with yourself about what’s working and what’s not. Accepting responsibility for your actions or inactions is step one on the road to improvement. 

Denial might get you down that river in Egypt but it won’t get you far on the road to success.

So…do you know your score?

I HAVE to add this very last point. Keeping score in relationships is a losing game. It’s a losing game because believing you can “win” an argument with someone is a fool’s errand. The sooner you realize that fact the sooner your relationships in life will begin to improve. Sorry for kinda tacking that on to the end of this post but I felt it had to be said. 

Are You Necessary?

I’ve never really thought about job security. I’ve never considered that “job security” could or should come from a person’s place of employment. I don’t even think I like the term “job security.” I much prefer the term “income security.”

The most successful people I know do not count on a job to help them feel secure. They count on their ability. If you can do something others cannot do then you will always have security. If you can do something better than most others can do it you will always have security.

No job can make you necessary. You must make yourself necessary. When you make yourself necessary you will always be needed.

If you truly want to be secure then learn to create, innovate or be someone other people can use and need.

It’s a stressful time for people out of work. But only for people who count on a company or someone else for their income security.

There are people who have made themselves necessary and those people are getting multiple job offers in the middle of a pandemic. So I ask you…are you necessary?

It’s entirely possible you’re more needed than you know. It’s all in how you look at it. If I ask most salespeople what they do for a living they would tell me “I’m in sales.” While they may be very good salespeople that statement puts them in the very same pool as a gazillion other people who try to make their living peddling who knows what to anyone who will buy it.

But if the same salesperson has a mindset of success, the mindset of sales professionals who have made themselves necessary, they will answer my question by saying something like. “I help people overcome challenges and succeed. I do that through selling and by representing only the finest products and services. The kind of products and services that make a difference in the world and in the lives of real people.”

If I ask a person in a leadership position what they do for a living most will answer “I manage the….. and then tell me what department of what company they work in. There’s lots and lots of people like that…they aren’t all that necessary.

But if I ask an actual leader what they do for a living I’ll almost always get some variation of, “I help people grow in their careers so they can help their companies grow as well.” They very often DO NOT mention where they happen to be working until I ask a follow up question. Their income security does not come from where they work, it comes from what they do.

Making yourself necessary requires you to constantly be improving. Necessary people do not wait for an employer or company to help them get better. They make themselves better. They study. They learn. They have a coach or a mentor.

No one can make you necessary but yourself. It begins with a change of attitude. Develop an attitude that you’ll be better today than you were yesterday and you’re on your way to becoming a necessity. Even if it turns out you are not a necessity where you’re at today, you will be a necessity wherever you are tomorrow.

Be the Very Best You

You are more, way more, than good enough. There is no need to try to be something you’re not just because some fool may have told you at some point in your life that you weren’t good enough.

You are special. You are unique. You are the way you are for a purpose. If other people don’t know your purpose then that’s their problem. If you don’t know your purpose then that’s your problem…and it’s kind of a big one.

It’s a problem for you because not understanding your purpose will often prevent you from accomplishing it. Not knowing, and living, your purpose in life can also cause you to attempt to live a life you’re not meant to live. It can cause you to pretend to be something, or worse, someone you’re not.

This is a pretty big statement but I’m going to say it anyway: you are always better off being yourself then you are trying to be someone that somebody else thinks you should be. I do not believe it possible to be truly happy living solely for other people. I do not believe life-long happiness can come from chasing other people’s dream for you. No matter how well meaning their dreams for you might be.

To stop any temptation to try living out someone else’s idea of what your life should be you need to discover your purpose in life. That can be a life long journey and it can change over time. That’s okay. If whatever you’re doing today is on purpose and for a purpose then it doesn’t matter if that purpose is different from last year or next.

People discover their purpose in life in different ways. Some kind of stumble upon it and some are very intentional about finding it. Some people are living it and not even realizing it. But living it and not realizing it still makes it possible for someone else’s judgment about your life to knock you off the track of a purposeful life.

So I recommend the intentional route.

Try to discover what drives you. When I was a younger salesperson I loved chasing a deal. I especially loved earning the business of a customer who had previously said they would never buy from me. Sales kinda came naturally to me.

But what was even more fulfilling to me was helping other people chase down a deal that I believed they could get even when they didn’t. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked seeing other people succeed with my help, even if I didn’t get “credit” for it. I admit that hasn’t always served my career well but it has served my life well.

Discover what you’re willing to sacrifice to live a life of purpose. It sounds like a generality but if you’re not making any sacrifices to live a life of purpose then the life you’re living might not be all that purposeful.

Lots of people want to do things. But out of all those people it’s the ones willing to make a sacrifice to do them that will actually accomplish them. Most everyone you ask would say that they would like to make a difference in the world if only they could. But when asked what they would give up to make that difference too many lose interest pretty quickly. Those people will always struggle to live a purpose driven life.

When I think of living a purpose driven life I’m reminded of a poem I first heard years ago. Here it is: “Your task is to build a better world,” said God. I answered, “how? The world is such a large, vast place, so complicated now. And I, so small and helpless. There’s nothing I can do.” And God, in His great wisdom said, “just build a better you!”

One of the most effective ways to discover your purpose in life is to focus on building a better you. If you’re living the life that someone else wants you to live or if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, the process of building a better you will stop that in its tracks.

Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not. Be the very best you that you can possibly be and you’ll have success and happiness all the days of your life.

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!