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. 😉

 

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. 

Money Hours

“Time Management” is a bit of a misnomer since time most certainly cannot be managed. We all have exactly the same amount of time in a day. We get 1440 minutes in a day whether we use them or not. Nobody gets more, nobody gets less. 

Successful people don’t actually manage that time better but they do manage the events that use that time better, often much better. They prioritize the events doing the most important ones first. They set aside time during a day to work uninterrupted on an important event or events to make certain that the event is completed within a given 1440 minute period, what most of us call a day.

It’s important to understand that when I say “event” what I actually mean is all the “stuff” that you do during a normal day. A phone call is an event, making a decision is an event, answering email is an event, lunch is an event, driving to and from work is an event. Whatever activities or tasks you do in a day should be considered an event and prioritized according to what’s actually important to you. 

Most people, and yes that is a generalization but the research is overwhelming, most people do their best work and make their best decisions early in the first half of those 1440 minutes. If an event is important to you or particularly challenging then consider doing it early in the day. Truth be told, many of the hardest things I do and my biggest decisions of the day are completed before most people’s alarm clock goes off.

Without getting real deep into using your time more effectively let me share a concept that I think will help you immensely. It’s the concept I call “money hours.” 

The concept comes from my years as a full-time salesperson when using my time effectively could be the difference between a successful year and a year far less than successful. (By the way, that’s true whether you’re in sales or not.) 

A salesperson’s 1440 minute period is loaded with various tasks that must be completed on a timely basis in order to be successful. The problem is most salespeople like some of those tasks a lot more than others. So they do the things they like more often than they do the things they don’t. I think that’s called “being human.”

The most important thing a salesperson can do is be face-to-face with a customer. There are a limited number of minutes within their 1440 minutes when that’s possible. If your customer is only in their office from 7:00am to 3:00pm then those eight hours are your “money hours.” If you’re doing anything other the being face-to-face with a customer during those hours than you’re not being as productive as you could be. 

I know there are other important things as well, getting those quotes out, responding to phone calls, answering emails, and of course those exciting call reports are all important. The question that successful people are constantly asking themselves however is “what’s most important?” 

Even if you’re not is sales the odds are overwhelming that you have some sort of “money hours” within your own 1440 minute period. You almost certainly have things to do that are more important than others, things that the require the help of other people that can only be done at certain times of the day, those are your money hours. 

If you don’t have any of these limitations then it’s important to know which of those 1440 minutes you are performing at your peak. That portion of your 1440 minutes make up your money hours and it’s in those minutes that you should be making your biggest decisions and undertaking your most challenging tasks. 

While we all get 1440 minutes everyday it’s vital to understand that those 1440 minutes are not equal. Some are far more important than others. When you use your money hours more effectively you’ll see a big difference in your productivity, even if you’re not so effective at using the rest of your day.

Are You Responsible?

I saw an advertisement for a law firm on television the other day. The ad said that if you had lost money in the stock market or other investments that you “shouldn’t blame yourself,” you should sue your investment advisor. It said “you’re not responsible.” 

That pretty much sums up where many of today’s problems come from. No one blames themselves for anything. Nothing is anyone’s fault. Responsibility, for way too many people, is a thing of the past. 

When kids mess up it’s not their fault, it is the parents. When parents mess up it’s the “systems” responsibility. When the system is screwed up it’s the politicians inability to get anything done that’s the problem. When the politicians don’t get anything done one party blames the other….and on and on it goes. 

Where there is no responsibility there is no success. Responsibility removes productivity blocking excuses. Responsibility leads to learning and the elimination of mistakes. Responsibility is a direct road to success. 

Fewer and fewer people are willing to stand up and accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong. If you’re not a fan of long lines then step right into the line of responsibility because there will be almost no one in line with you. Meanwhile the no responsibility line goes on forever these days.

Sometimes, rarely, not accepting responsibility can be a sign of humility, especially when it is responsibility for something that went right. It was interesting watching the New England Patriots celebrate their amazing comeback victory in this year’s Super Bowl. It appeared most of the team, even their biggest stars, were playing a game of “hot potato” with the credit for their success. Every player interviewed claimed someone else was more responsible for the comeback than them. 

But here’s where their true success comes from. If they had lost I’d bet you nearly every player on that team would have accepted responsibility themselves. Authentic Leaders and successful people accept more than their share of  the responsibility for a failure and giveaway virtually all the credit for any success. 

If you truly want to be a leader then admit your mistakes, accept responsibility for your actions, and never never blame someone else for something you did wrong.

Accepting responsibility for your decision making, choices, actions and their outcome indeed adds pressure to your life but that’s not a bad thing. A bit of pressure helps you excel. Accept the pressure of responsibility and the odds are you will be more successful as a result. 

 

Who is Influencing You?

My last post concerned your level of influence with the people you lead. This post is about who is influencing you.

You are shaped and influenced by the experiences of your life and the people you share them with.

If you have ever responded to someone by saying, “I had never thought of it like that,” then you have been influenced by that person. If you’ve ever changed your thinking to match someone else’s then you have been seriously influenced by them.

I don’t think I’m going to like how this sounds but here’s the thing….if you want to be more successful then don’t hang around with less successful people. It’s a sad reality that you just can’t afford some of the people who may be in your life.

You, your life and your level of success are very likely the average of the five people you spend the majority of your time with. Many things and many people can bring you down but they need a whole lot of help from you to keep you down. Don’t help other people keep you down, stay away from those who do not have your best interests in mind. 

Now, there is an argument to be made that you help less successful people by hanging out with them. That may be true…IF your influence on them is greater than their influence on you. In every relationship you are involved in you had best be very honest with yourself about who is the greater influence. The other person’s negative influence may be more powerful than your positive influence, especially if your own success and self-confidence is a bit immature.

The key to determining who is influencing you is to realize that most everyone you interact with is influencing you to some extent. There are virtually no neutral human interactions. Every interaction causes you to feel better about yourself and your circumstances or it causes you to feel worse. 

You are a product of your environment, there is just no escaping that fact. If you want to be more positive and successful then place yourself in a successful and positive environment. You may need to leave some people behind but it’s not likely that they were true friends anyway.

It’s a hard but true fact.

What Not To Do

Strategic thinking has as much to do with deciding what not to do as it does with deciding what to do. I’ve sat in literally hundreds of planning meetings where the discussion centered on what we should do to increase our success. I’ve seldom, if ever, heard a discussion on things we should not do. 

The reality is that what you don’t do can contribute as much to your success as what you choose to do. When we do not strategize about the “don’t do” activities we end of doing them without any consideration of the cost. 

Many of the costs are “opportunity costs;” when we are doing things we shouldn’t be doing we’re not doing things that we should. It’s at that point we use the always popular “time” excuse as in “we just don’t the time to do everything we planned to do.” 

Well, you might if you stopped doing the things you didn’t plan to do. 

Authentic leaders understand the difference between the “need to do” things and the “nice to do” things and they work hard at NOT doing the nice to do until the need to do things are complete. 

The real challenge is, and this is a big one for me, the “nice to do” things are usually easier and more fun to do than the “need to do.” Because the “nice” things are indeed nice we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve accomplished something when in fact we’ve skipped over something we had planned to do.  

While doing the “nice” thing might even be productive in some way truly effective leaders know it probably wasn’t the most productive thing they could have done. 

If you want to improve your productivity, and your level of success then stop yourself every now and then and ask, “is this the most productive thing I could be doing at this very moment?” If you’re like me you will likely be shocked at how often your answer is NO! 

The answer to that question may not always tell you what to do but it will certainly help you understand what not to do.