Are You a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?

There is a great story about a young woman who went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as if she solved one problem only to have a new one pop up almost instantly.

 

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

     

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the daughter replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. The daughter did and noted that they got soft. Her mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the daughter observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, her mother asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she smelled its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. “What’s the point, mother?”

     

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. It’s thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, it’s inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

     

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

     

That’s a fair question for all of us. When “stuff” happens, how do you respond? Do you get weak in the knees? Maybe hard headed or worse, hard hearted? Or do you take control and change the very circumstances that created the challenge in the first place?

 

Every successful person has overcome challenges on the road to success. Many people who failed were just a few steps away from success and only needed to push ahead a little more to succeed. In both cases their outcomes weren’t determined by the challenges they faced but by how they responded to them. 

 

The next time you’re tempted to quit think about why you started and then think about how you’re going to change the circumstances to eliminate that temptation. 

Are You All In?

There are lots of things that can slow down your progress towards success and the more of them that you accept responsibility for the better. 

 

If you’re thinking that some of those things or maybe even the majority of those things are just “bad luck” then you should know that most bad luck comes straight out of bad decisions and worse choices. 

 

Here’s the deal…until you accept complete responsibility for both your success and shortcomings YOU will be slowing down your own progress towards success. You must be all in for your best chance at success.

 

Lots of people are credited with quotes about making your own good luck by working hard. I believe that to be true. But you don’t hear too much about making your own bad luck by not working hard. You almost never hear anything about creating “bad luck” by consistently making bad choices and hair brained decisions. 

 

But that’s every bit as true as the quotes about good luck. We make our “luck” both good AND bad.

 

If success is going to be in your future then you must accept 100% responsibility for everything you say, think and do today. Everything!

 

If some of those things that you say, think and do today are holding you back then YOU must make the decision to change. No one can change you, you can only change yourself. Real change, the kind that can lead to improvement must begin with you.

 

Again I tell you that YOU must be willing to accept 100% responsibility for every decision you make and every action you take… or don’t take.

 

Blaming others for your decisions and actions prevents you from learning from them. It prevents you from growing and it lessons your chance at ultimate success.

 

Please don’t tell me, and most importantly never tell yourself, that you didn’t want to do the things you did but someone made you. No one can make you do anything that you do not want to do. Now, before you start disagreeing with that let me explain. You have almost certainly done some things you would have preferred not to do but someone or something found a way to make you decide to do it.

 

They may have threatened you, maybe they tricked you or maybe they gave you some sort of incentive but in any event, YOU choose to to it rather than the alternative that seemed even less pleasant to you. 

 

You made a choice. 

 

Most of my bad choices were not about doing bad things, they were (and are) about doing nothing. I delay, I hesitate or I downright procrastinate. Usually because it’s easier than doing what I should be doing. So I don’t do what I should, I do nothing instead. 

 

Lots and lots of people are just like me in that regard. We think we can do it later but discover again and again that later all too often becomes never. 

 

I’ve absolutely missed some opportunities in life but you know what? Those were MY choices not anyone else’s. I attribute whatever success I’ve had to the fact that I’ve never blamed someone else for the decisions and choices I’ve made. I’ve never given up the power to improve but failing to accept responsibility for my actions. 

 

Your own chances for success go way way way way up when you accept complete and total responsibility for BOTH the good and bad choices and decisions you make everyday. 


Blaming someone else for what happens to you makes someone else responsible for your success and that my friends rarely turns out well.

When Goals Matter – Part Five

I’ve asked hundreds of salespeople through the years about their goals for an upcoming year and a common answer is “I’m going to sell more.” When I ask how they are going to do that the most common answer is, “I’m going to work harder.” 

 

I know that neither is likely to happen, not because they don’t want them to but wanting to sell more and pledging to work harder are not goals. At best they are hopes. At worst they are just lies we tell ourselves so we can more convincingly tell them to our bosses later.

 

They aren’t goals because they lack most if not all of the elements of the SMART method of goal setting. But most of all they completely lack specificity. Sell more? Wow, what salesperson doesn’t want to sell more? 

 

The obvious question is how much more but even that answer would be missing the specificity to truly be considered a goal.

 

At the end of this post you’ll see an example of a goal-setting form designed to promote the type of specificity required to set true goals. 

 

Pay close attention to every area. Your deadline to accomplish the goal is critical but so is the start date. Successful people know that “someday” is not a start date and neither is tomorrow. Write down the date and even the time of day on that date that you will begin. That’s specificity! 

 

When thinking about the investment you’re willing to make to achieve your goals think in terms of more than mere money. What amount of time are you willing to invest to achieve these goals, money is often the easy part. Time is usually harder to come by, that’s why I stressed “stop goals” earlier in this series. When considering the challenges you’ll face and how you will overcome them think also about who will help you. 

 

It’s not a weakness to ask for help and it’s not a bad idea to have that help lined up before you need it. 

 

Lastly, how will you know when you have achieved your goal? Is it really measurable? You absolutely have to be honest with yourself here or the whole goal-setting process is worthless. So be honest! 

 

Don’t forget to spell out what your first step will be. Starting is very often the hardest part of all. Once you get going you have the opportunity to build a little momentum. There’s nothing wrong with starting small, a little momentum is far better than none at all. So get going! 

 

Never ever forget, these are your goals. Pay no attention to the negative people who may just be afraid of your possible success. Listen to those who have your best interest in mind but always make your own decisions. 

 

Decide today that you will be unstoppable in pursuit of your goals and you will not be stopped. You will achieve the life you want and you’ll do it your way. I’d call that a pretty good definition of success! 

 

So, here’s the very simple form to guide yourself towards achieving the life you want:

 

 

 

Using the SMART formula, determine the goals that will help you reach your Vision/Mission.

 

Goal #1   Long-term   Intermediate   Short-term   (circle one)

 

 

Deadline to accomplish:

 

 

Start Date:

 

 

Investment I’m willing to make:

 

 

What challenges will I face?

 

 

How will I overcome these challenges?

 

 

How will I measure my progress?

 

 

The first step I will take is: 


The Need for Feedback

Some people want feedback on their performance and some people don’t. But if you’re a leader you need to understand this basic fact: ALL people NEED feedback. At least if their performance is going to improve in any significant way.

 

As a leader it is vital that you provide that feedback if you want your people to grow. By the way, if you don’t want you people to grow then stop calling yourself a leader. Just sayin’.

 

This feedback must be fairly consistent and very specific. It can be “scheduled” like during an annual review but it can also be spontaneous, occurring in the moment that you think feedback would be helpful. I should also point out here that if you are providing feedback only during those scheduled annual reviews you’re likely not providing your people with nearly enough feedback to be truly helpful. 

 

Let’s talk about specific feedback. “You need to improve” is NOT feedback, that’s criticism. Feedback involves much more detail. Be as specific as possible about where and how the improvement must occur. Let your people know how you will determine if the improvement has happened. Provide a timeline on when the improvement needs to happen and set a specific date and time to provide updated feedback to confirm that you’ve seen the required change. 

 

Do not ever tell someone they need to improve in a particular area by the end of the month and then leave them wondering if you think their improvement has been sufficient. You need to follow up with additional feedback.

 

I wonder sometimes if the reason so many “leaders” are poor at providing feedback is that they feel giving feedback could lead to confrontation. If you’re a leader who feels that way it could be because you see feedback as something you only provide when improvement or corrective action is required. However, the best leaders provide feedback in all circumstances, bad and good! 

 

It seems most every leader understands the some sort of feedback is required when improvement is needed. What many forget is the it’s also great to provide feedback when things are going well. When you give feedback for a job well done you reinforce the successful actions of your entire team, even if the feedback was provided to a single individual. Feedback for successful actions also needs to be specific, “nice job” barely qualifies as a compliment much less feedback. Tell the person WHY it was a nice job, share with them specifically where they went right and encourage them to continue the effort.

 

A couple of key points here; obviously feedback given to promote corrective action or improvement is best given in private, between you and the person you’re trying to help. Feedback for positive reinforcement can and probably should be given publicly to display a model of successful effort. 

 

Now, back to where we started, some people want your feedback and some people will “resist” your feedback so don’t attempt to force your people to drink from the well of feedback rather inspire them to have a mighty thirst for it. 

 

You inspire them to thirst for feedback by showing them you truly care. By showing them that you have THEIR best interests in mind. 

 

When your people know the feedback is intended FOR them and not directed AT them they will likely become much more receptive. 


One last thing for those of you on the receiving side of feedback. I’ve never in my life received negative feedback. The feedback I received may well have been intended to be negative, I simply refused to receive it that way. That’s a choice and it’s one I would encourage you to make as well.

Can You Change You?

Most everyone I know says they would like to be better at something tomorrow than they are today. 

 

That “something” varies widely depending on the person. Some of that desired improvement may be work related, for other people it’s more personal. But regardless of what that “something” happens to be here is an absolute fact: Improvement, any improvement is not possible without change. 

 

People who want improvement but refuse to accept change are hoping for something more but are unlikely to ever see it. People who embrace change, or even better, drive change, have a chance to see consistent improvement, assuming of course that the change is the right change. 

 

Here’s my problem, I love change, I know of many many people and many more things that would benefit from change….I’m just not one of them. πŸ˜‰

 

I struggle to embrace change that has a direct impact on me! I do not think I’m alone in that challenge because change is hard. We tend to, at least subconsciously, associate change with loss. We are giving up the familiar and moving to something unknown or something we are not sure of. 

 

I remember as a young salesperson calling on a customer who had equipment that was frequently breaking down. I was selling equipment that was far more reliable and yet the customer was reluctant to make a change. As I asked questions to uncover the reason for his reluctance he finally told me that while his equipment was always breaking down he knew how to fix it. He wasn’t sure he could fix mine if it did ever break down. The devil he knew was better than the angel he didn’t. 

 

For him change meant giving up the knowledge he had acquired through the years on his product, flawed as it was. Psychologically the benefit of no longer having to fix his equipment couldn’t outweigh his feeling of loss. 

 

We all face those psychological limitations when it comes to self-improvement. It’s tough to accept change so very often we tell ourselves that we are “good enough.” We rationalize why change isn’t really needed in our lives. We need help to overcome those limitations because way too often it’s simply too hard to change ourselves.

 

In this season of commencement addresses let me tell you what I wish someone had told me years ago at my own graduation. I think this single piece of advice could do more to change the trajectory of the lives of this year’s graduating classes than perhaps any other piece of advice.

 

Here it is: get a mentor. 

 

Find someone who you trust enough to listen to, a person who cares enough about you to be honest with you. Find a person who will invest real time with you and commit to invest your time with them as well. 

 

No matter how well you did in school, no matter how smart you believe yourself to be, no matter what path you’ve chosen for your life, you WILL have a greater chance at success if you are open to accepting change in your life. A mentor can help you do that. Bigly!


One more thing, no matter where you might be in your career, no matter how much success you’ve already experienced, you will be better off with a mentor than without. Everyone does better with a mentor, everyone. 


The Mixed Messages of If

I could be the wealthiest person on the planet “if only” I had been the one to invent computers. Of course I would have needed to know what a computer was but let’s not get bogged down in facts. 

 

I could have invented Facebook “if only” I had that darn computer.

 

“If only” I could have gotten a break here or there everything could have been different. 

 

When I hear people using “if” in that context, followed immediately with “only,” I frankly feel kinda bad for them. I feel bad for them because they apparently didn’t have anyone to tell them that “if” in that form is a self-created obstacle that the most successful people don’t allow to enter their vocabulary.

 

This is a hard reality but the fact is less successful people use the “if only” phrase way too often, I suspect they think it even more than they say it. “If only” absolutely crushes possibilities and binds us with limitations. The mindset of “if only” provides a ready excuse and I don’t know about you but when I have a ready made excuse I tend to use it.

 

The most successful people use if from time to time as well but they don’t have only behind it they have “what” in front of it. As in “What If.” 

 

“What if” opens up a world of possibilities. I can’t imagine a good idea that wouldn’t have began with at least the thought of “what if” even if it wasn’t spoken out loud. When you develop the “what if” mindset you give yourself the opportunity to accomplish anything.

 

“What if” you weren’t afraid to fail? What would you be doing differently this very day?

 

“What if” is the start of change, it changes the status quo and is the beginning of the destruction of every limitation there ever was. “What if” you just decided to risk showing the world exactly who you are? “What if” the real you was the best person ever? 

 

“What if” explodes a world of opportunity from the “if only” shell that hides it all away. 


The next time you hear someone say “if only” do them a huge favor and ask them “what if” in return. You just might change their life! 

Don’t Quit

Do you want to succeed? Then don’t quit! There you have the most well known “secret” to success….you can’t be beat if you refuse to quit.

 

It seems so obvious but it’s amazing how many people actually do quit and they quit within site of their ultimate of success. Perhaps they were doing such a good job of “keeping their head down” that they just couldn’t see it but it was there none the less. They only needed to keep moving forward and they would have found their success. But they quit instead.

 

You can’t be beat if you never quit. No matter how “down” you are you still have a chance if you don’t give up. 

 

Look the world over and you won’t find a successful person who quit. They may have slowed down, they may have even stopped for a time, they may have backed up, they may have had an interim failure or two or three but they tried again. Every single one of them.

 

A common trait of successful people is that when tempted to quit they remember why they started. They “re-dream” their dream and often times that alone is enough to motivate them to continue. Other times they call on their support network; family, friends, or mentors to provide them with the courage and encouragement they need to press on. 

 

Two things seem certain when it comes to your success: only you can make the decision to quit and only you can make the decision not to.  


Never expect success to come easy but know without a doubt that when you quit, it doesn’t come at all.