It’s Good to be Pushed

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who liked to be pushed around. At least by my definition of being “pushed around.” I think that’s means being coerced into doing something you really don’t want to do for the sole benefit of someone else. Being pushed around can include being threatened with very unpleasant consequences. The worst part is that there is nothing to be gained by the person being pushed…it’s all for the benefit of someone else.

Being pushed is very different than being pushed around. Although it doesn’t necessarily feel better in the moment you’re being pushed. The end result however feels far better because the person doing the pushing is doing it for you and not only themselves.

I’ve frequently benefited from that type of benevolent pushing.

I should clarify what I mean by pushing. I went to a Military High School that promised parents that if they sent their boys to that school they would return them as young men. I felt pushed in that environment but often times that pushing was of the physical kind. Sometimes the “pushing” went well beyond a simple shove but eventually the bruises went away and the cuts healed up and it was all good. In the end the kids benefited from that sort of pushing too but I’m glad that type of pushing is largely a thing of the past.

The kind of pushing I’m talking about here is the encouragement kind, the positive affirmation that you can in fact do more than you think you can. That’s the kind of pushing I, and most people, benefit from.

I’ve always been lucky to have people in my life who believed in me enough that they pushed me to be better. Even very early in my life there were always people who believed in me. And then I got married.

Without boring you with all the details it’s safe to say that pretty much everything good in my life has come about as a result of my wife pushing me to do more, be more, enjoy more, care more, understand more, listen more…you get the drift, it was a lot of more more more. That can sure be frustrating except for this little detail…in every instance she was right. (sure hope she doesn’t see this)

Being pushed got to be such a habit that I actually started pushing myself. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when people believe in you. It’s beyond amazing when one of those people is you.

There is one major similarity between be pushed around and being pushed. For either one to actually happen you must allow it. The good news is no one can push you around unless you allow it. The bad news is no one can push you unless you allow it.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Being pushed around will make you feel inferior, DO NOT allow it.

Being pushed by people who believe in you and care about you can have a lasting positive impact on you life. Allow it despite the initial frustrations it may cause.

When the frustrations are forgotten you’ll be more than you would have been without them.

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!

The Power of Focus

Somebody a lot smarter than me once said “the man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” I don’t recall who said it but it’s absolutely true.

But there is a way that guy can catch both rabbits. He just has to chase them one at a time.

That’s focus.

If you can’t say no to many things then you’ll find it impossible to say yes to focus. In most areas of your life what you choose not to do will determine what you are able to do. If you’re trying to do too much you fall victim to what is known as task saturation. If you fall into that trap you end up accomplishing far less than the person focused on one thing at a time.

That’s the big illusion that multi-taskers present to themselves. They believe they can do many things well and that they can do them all at once. But every bit of research shows without a doubt that they are fooling themselves.

One person doing eight things one at a time will do them better and faster than one person trying to do all eight of them at once. That’s the power of focus.

Some people would tell you they can’t focus. That’s not exactly right. What they can’t do is decide. They can’t decide on their priorities. They are like a kid in a candy store…they want it all and they want it right now.

That “kid in the candy store” mentality causes them to accomplish things right at the deadline. They get them done in the nick of time because suddenly they didn’t have to decide what to do next, a deadline made the decision for them. The problem is, things done at the deadline are seldom done as well as those things done with time to spare.

The most successful people possess laser like focus. They invest a bit of time, well actually some serious time, in determining their priorities and then they go after them to the exclusion of all distractions.

Warren Buffett has laser focus and he has a dependable process to keep it that he shares with people who struggle with their own focus.

He’ll ask them to invest some time to write out their top 25 goals. These can be life goals, 10 year goals or goals for the coming month or year. Once they have that list he asks them to review it and select their top 5.

So now they have two lists, let’s call them list one and list two. Buffett asks what the person intends to do with list two. Most say that they will work on them as time permits because while they are not as important as list one they are still important.

That’s when Buffett gives them life altering advice. He tells them list two is actually their “avoid at all cost” list. He says that list should get zero attention until list one is 100% complete. That’s what focus looks like in practice.

I can tell you from personal experience that focusing is easy when compared to developing the lists. If you want success with your own list one you must be willing to sacrifice everything on list two.

Most people are able to do that but are unwilling to do that. Those 20 things on list two prevent them from achieving any of the things on list one. In their case, ALL the rabbits got away.

Some would say if you’re focusing on more than one thing you don’t really have focus. I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt and say so long as you’re focusing on one at a time you can maybe have five or six things on your radar.

Any more than that and you might as well be Elmer J. Fudd.

Real Decisions Require Action

Making decisions can be a challenge. Making real decisions is even more challenging. A real decision is one that brings about action. Real action.

Real action causes something to change. It may not change much for you but whatever change is caused by your actions sends a ripple effect to those around you. Hopefully you understand that. It means that your decisions and the actions that result from them don’t only affect you, they affect the people around you as well. Your actions can have a big impact on those closest to you.

If you understand that then you should know the reverse is also true. You will be affected by the decisions and actions of the people around you. The closer those people are to you the bigger the impact.

That’s why it’s so important that your decisions lead to action. It’s not really a decision if nothing different happens because of it. Without action nothing different will happen. For those of you who believe it’s sometimes best to not make a decision you should know that a decision to not decide IS a decision. It’s a decision to allow the decisions and actions of others to control and shape your life.

You can make a decision to “stand pat” or “sit tight” or whatever you want to call it but unless virtually ever other person in the world also does nothing then something is going to change for you.

The change may be small and it may take some time for you to realize the change happened but it will happen. The only question is do you want change to happen to you or because of you? Do you want to control the change in your life or are you willing to allow the change to control you?

You can decide whatever you want but if the decision isn’t followed up by some sort of action then you might as well not have decided at all.

You may be only one decision away from an entirely different life. You may be only one decision away from being able to maintain the life you have. Whichever is the case both require that your decisions include an action step.

The decisions that affect your life are being made ever day. You must decide if you want input into the effects of those decisions or you’re willing to let someone else choose your path.

Happiness requires some control over your life. That control can only come from deciding what you want and then taking action to make it happen. As we head into 2020 I don’t think I’m going to wish anyone a Happy New Year. I think I’ll wish people an Active New Year!

Just Thinking

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Mostly about thinking. Very serendipitously I’ve seen several blog posts about thinking in the last few weeks too.

I think that thinking is good. I wish more people would try it. It really helps when making decisions and I particularly recommend taking a moment or two to think before you speak. It’s amazing what a difference that moment or two can make.

If you think as you look around (I don’t normally recommend multi-tasking but in this case I’ll make an exception) you’ll realize that pretty much everything you see began as a thought. Someone thought about making the device you’re reading this on. If someone printed it out for you to read that was very thoughtful of them. Everything begins with a thought.

So thinking is good. But is it always good? I think not!

Our thoughts lead the way for us. If our thoughts are positive our life tends to be positive. If our thoughts are negative our lives tend to be as well. Henry Ford once thought “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” That was a great thought but it only became great when he said it out loud.

You see as good as your thoughts might be thinking alone is not enough to succeed. Thoughts can begin the process of success but action finishes it.

Mountains of failure are built on the foundation of good thoughts, or as some people might call them, good intentions. But those good thoughts all have one thing in common…a lack of commitment to take proper action to bring them to fruition.

Every person reading this has had great thoughts that they never followed up on. Those great thoughts could have become something special if only….

If only they had been acted upon.

So keep thinking but don’t just think. Take action. Massive, directed, intentional, unstoppable daily action. It may lead to nothing. It may lead to learning what to do differently next time. But it may lead to something incredible that makes a difference for you, for those close to you or maybe the world.

What do you think about that?

Your Best Investment

The best investment a business can make is an investment in their people. ALL of their people, not only the ones who work for the business but the ones who buy from the business as well.

Most business leaders agree that investing in the development of their people is essential to long-term growth. They see their people as an investment that pays limitless returns. Many of those same business leaders however see their customers as almost an expense. They want more customers but they want them with as little expense attached to them as possible.

When a business sees their customers as an expense they provide the lowest level of service possible without losing the customer. At least that’s their goal.

Businesses that see their customers as an investment do market research to determine what MORE they can do for their customers. Businesses that see their customers as an expense do market research to determine how much LESS they can provide them. Hopefully without losing them.

If you don’t think a business would do that “how much less” type of market research then you have been very lucky in avoiding the need to speak with certain companies that 99% of the population loves to hate. Those companies lead the way in what I would call “negative market research.” They bake a certain amount of customer “churn” into their annual plans with the understanding that’s it is cheaper to lose some customers than it is to invest in them.

If you have a cell phone or cable TV for instance you likely understand exactly what I’m talking about.

If you run a company and you see your customers as an expense then your customers will one day see you as a company too expensive to do business with.

Good companies invest in their customers, better companies invest in their people, great companies invest in both.

Providing consistently excellent service isn’t hard. But it takes constant effort and a realization that you’re never “there.” Even if the majority of your people see your customers as an investment if you have just one or two who don’t, the customers will find them. It’s almost like magic…in a bad way.

Are you investing in your people? All of your people? If not you’re missing an opportunity to grow your business at a much faster rate than you probably are today.

Invest in all of your people, it’s truly the best investment you can make.

What’s Your Best Thing?

What do you do better than almost anyone else?

 

It’s amazing and maybe a little sad how many people can’t answer that question. It’s also very concerning how many business leaders can’t answer that question on behalf of their business either. 

 

It’s concerning because the fastest way to grow your business, or yourself, is to build on your strengths. Many people focus on eliminating their weaknesses but the most successful people will tell you it’s far easier to simply overwhelm them with your strengths. 

 

I’m not saying to ignore your weaknesses, you certainly should eliminate them where you can. What I am saying is that if your strengths shine bright enough they will blind people to your weaknesses. You won’t be thought less of because of what you’re not good at, you will be thought more of because of what you’re great at. 

 

There’s some guy named Tom who plays football in the New England area. I hear he’s a pretty good quarterback. Some people say he might even be the best quarterback ever. But guess what, I also hear that he can’t hit a curveball when playing baseball. 

 

Nobody cares whether he can hit a curveball or not because he most certainly can throw a football. He uses his strengths to succeed and he keeps himself out of situations where his weaknesses could be exposed. 

 

You, me and everyone else can do the same thing in our lives and our careers. But first you must know what your strengths are. You must know what you’re better at than most everyone else. You must know what you do best!

 

Don’t mistake what you’re most passionate about for what you do best. Sadly they are often not the same. “Follow your passion” is advice often given during Commencement Speeches. It can be and often is some of the worst advice ever given. 

 

“Follow your passion” is great life advice and you definitely want to have whatever you’re passionate about be part of you life. But following your passion is not sound career advice. “Do what you’re best at” is much better advice for a successful career. If you’re fortunate enough that what you’re best at is also what you’re passionate about then good on ya. Don’t assume that because you’re passionate about something that it’s also what you do best.

 

It may take some time and deep reflection to know for sure what you’re best at. Some people know almost instinctively but most people need to noodle on that a while. But figuring it out is well worth it. Playing to your strengths is rewarding both financially and emotionally. 


So let me ask you again…what’s your best thing?