Memories – Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I shared how fortunate I have been in my life. I have had interesting career positions that enabled me to learn along the way. Education has helped me better myself. Friends and business associates have allowed me to better understand how varied thought helps you accept the perils of life and use that development to make yourself better. I have traveled the world and interacted with powerful people which is not too bad for a poor country boy from Western North Carolina. I have also been faced with a life-threatening medical condition that opened my eyes to what was truly important in life. It has been quite a “ride”  that I pray continues for a long while. As I look back at life and my experience, though not a rich or important man by society’s standards, I can without hesitation say that I follow famed Lou Gehrig’s famous thought:

“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

In all this madness, and yes fun, that I have experienced to date in this wonderful voyage called life, I have found the following to be true (read last week’s post for a full description of #1-6)

1)  Spiritual faith matters.

2)  Let people be people. 

3)  Perfect is not that important.

4)  Though at times you will be off-balance, strong life-balance does matter.

5)  Walk your talk.  word is your bond, you have achieved a true place of honor and respect whether you are totally successful or not.

6) Find your one thing. 

7)  Laughing is good for you. It has been said that “Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.”  I have found that laughing is a good thing. I have a laugh every morning when I get up and look in the mirror. It tells me that even God has a sense of humor. If you can’t have a good laugh and have some fun in the process, it makes life dull. Laughing and having fun doesn’t mean you belittle others or use laughter inappropriately based on the circumstance. It means that having fun, creating an “at ease” atmosphere of enjoyment that people run toward versus running from. Life does not command you to always be so serious. You don’t have to be the “life of the party.”  You simply need to relax and go about having good wholesome fun. Remember, laughter releases endorphins which are more powerful than morphine. Lose the frown and employ a smile. It will make you a much better person.

8)  Be yourself. Each person is unique for a reason. It is important to remember that. Each time I have attempted to be other than who I am, it has caused me great pain. In the big picture, making yourself look bigger than life, impresses no one. Being genuine in your actions, your impressions, etc., will allow everyone around you to understand who you are and what you truly represent. A pig can not be a cow. A horse can not be a cat. You need to focus on being the best “you” possible in every circumstance. You may be able to “con” your way for a short while; but, sooner or later, it will catch up with you. It is not where you are from that matters. It is not the clubs you belong to or the important people you know that makes other pay attention. It is not necessarily the education or the awards you receive that impresses. It is not the car you drive or the house you may live in that captures people’s attention. What truly matters is that the “real you”  is present each and every day. Not that you should not grow or improve your surroundings. Simply never allow what you think you want to be to override the “you” you need to be.

9)  Master your emotions. There have been times in my life when I have done a very poor job with this issue. I allowed my emotions to circumvent my thought process. Each circumstance resulted in wrong life paths being followed as well as very poor decision making. Through the process of “hard knocks” I discovered that you must never allow emotions to outrun your mental ability to think and reason. You will always encounter issues and people striving to push you to make decisions as a result of comments adverse to your normal thinking or business conditions that challenge fairness. To resolve each properly, stop the emotions and engage the reasoning. You may be so mad about a situation you could spit fire upon request; but, you must realize that this option most often only praises the problem. It does not provide the solution you need. As Oscar Wilde said, “The advantage of emotions is that they lead us astray.”  They push you too often to a negative mindset and make as the old saying goes, “Mountains out of molehills.” Master your emotions and you will be able to master your future.

10)  Make people aware you appreciate them. Too often at wakes, I have heard comments from many of how they really appreciated what the individual being honored did for them. I have also heard comments of regret because they never made that person aware. It is funny how a simple “thank you” can change perspective. Every day there are people who do things for you. From secretaries to a loving spouse or child, things are done for us that we take for granted. Learning to take time to thank others not only gives you a feeling of confirmation but more importantly it provides the recipient an injection of appreciation that helps solidify their self-esteem. That is a powerful confirmation. This does not mean that each act demands a “thank you” necessarily because such repetition can become disingenuous. It simply implies that along the way, it is important, no critical, that we make time to let those who help us accomplish the many tasks we face know how much we appreciate the effort. Whether those be a mentor, a parent, child, co-worker or even our sanitation providers, a “thank you” goes a long way to make someone’s day brighter. You will never fall short in life when you stop to make others feel valued.

11)  Keep dreaming. I still have dreams. Though retired and entering a very different phase in my life, dreams continue to give me a huge incentive to keep active and involved. Dreams keep you young even though years mirror the reality of your age. You never get too old to dream. Colonel Harland Sanders of KFC fame was in his mid-60’s when he launched his chicken enterprise. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her first “Little House” books which later became a successful television series starring Michael Landon, at age 65. Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as “Grandma Moses” launched her very successful painting career at age 78. These individuals had dreams and never lost sight of those dreams. You see, sometimes it takes a little longer for dreams to evolve to a point you can launch them actively into your life. Remember, one of “Grandma Moses’s” paintings sold for $1.2 million. When you stop dreaming, you stop really living.

12) Strive to make a difference. Perhaps some of this truth is contained in the previous eleven, but it is important to stress the vital importance of this action. Each day someone sees you for the first time. Others may see you for the second, the tenth, twentieth, or the thousandth time. How do they see you? How do you impact what they do, see, strive to become in a different manner? What impression or lasting legacy are you placing before them?  How about your community? How are you impacting your community or even your neighborhood or street for that matter in a positive manner that enables others to better enjoy the wonders of life just where they are?

You see, we have countless opportunities before us, some openly viewed and others obscured. Regardless of the view presented to us, it all boils down to what we do to positively impact the opportunities which will matter the most.  Someone or something needs your special talent to make their view of the world a little more inviting. Differences are made when we decide that hesitation is a hindrance not an asset when addressing matters that need change or improvement. In the end, what will matter most is not necessarily what we did; but, more directly, what we failed to do when we had the opportunity. The greatest gift you can give to others is simply to make a positive difference by how you think, what you do or what you say. You can change lives and situations by striving to make a difference.

So what does all this really mean? What is the lesson or lessons to gain from this vast discovery article? Simply this: life brings happiness and challenge. It provides you only an opportunity. It guarantees you nothing. You make life what it is by what you choose to do or not do. As a young person, you think you know everything. By the time you realize how wrong that was, you find yourself much older and simply shaking your head about the differences that experience has provided. All in all, it is “rush” that you need to exercise each day you awake and discover that you are in fact alive and are able to begin a new day. Life is quite a bit like baseball. You have innings to play and things occur in the top and bottom of each inning. But, as long as you have one more out remaining in your final time at bat, you always have a chance to win. Whatever your definition of winning may be, hope remains eternal.

It is funny about the twists and turns of life. The memories both good and bad have made me and yes you, who we are. It is the crossroads we face depending upon our age and condition in life that is the final determining factor. Just like Alice in Wonderland, if we don’t understand where we are going, it really doesn’t matter which road we take. So my conclusion and final suggestion is this: Enjoy life! You only get the opportunity one time.

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Memories – Part 1

As I sit in retirement, I have had time to reflect on many aspects of my life. I have to shake my head and smile at some of the crazy things I have done to this point in my life; as well as, sit up straighter for some of the accomplishments I have been fortunate to obtain. All in all it goes to show you that life is a training ground and it is up to each of us to make the best use of its preparation.

There were times when I am quite sure that I have driven my wonderful wife, great kids, friends, neighbors,  business associates and some eager politicians to their collective mental breaking point. I was at times demanding, shortsighted, long-winded and uncompromising in my approach. There were also times when I listened well, responded appropriately, influenced well and was a passionate servant leader and understanding father, husband and community member. Those around me would laugh, applaud and at times “lay down the riot act” but all in all,  I have found that as Art Linkletter once proclaimed,

“Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”

I have been fortunate in my life. I have had interesting career positions that enabled me to learn along the way. Education has helped me better myself. Friends and business associates have allowed me to better understand how varied thought helps you accept the perils of life and use that development to make yourself better. I have traveled the world and interacted with powerful people which is not too bad for a poor country boy from Western North Carolina. I have also been faced with a life-threatening medical condition that opened my eyes to what was truly important in life. It has been quite a “ride”  that I pray continues for a long while. As I look back at life and my experience, though not a rich or important man by society’s standards, I can without hesitation say that I follow famed Lou Gehrig’s famous thought:

“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

My mama often told me that a man’s life is marked by what he says, does, or causes to happen. In that spirit I have always attempted to give my best in all endeavors whether it was feeding hogs or delivering a motivational speech to large crowds.  I have strived to help the many communities I have been fortunate enough to reside within and worked diligently in various industry associations to instill a sense of fair play and best practices. Though I have received lots of awards justified or not for the varied accomplishments, the most satisfying award has always been providing hope to others that they can become better or that life is worth living.

In all this madness, and yes fun, that I have experienced to date in this wonderful voyage called life, I have found the following to be true:

1)  Spiritual faith matters. I know that there are those who do not have a religious position. That is their issue not mine. I have never pushed my faith on others but will gladly tell anyone  when asked how it has positively impacted me. I do feel and have always felt that there is a God who directs life and has us positioned to experience both success and shortfall so that we learn. Doors of opportunity are opened but it demands we have awareness and bravery to walk through those doors. In the larger setting, in good times and bad, spiritual faith will help you stand stronger. It will never answer all the questions about why bad things happen to good people, but through the power of prayer and study, you will eventually find comfort and a clear direction for your life.

2)  Let people be people. Too often there is a tendency to reach out and transform people into “mini-me’s.”  While that intent may be noble, too often the outcome will never be what was intended. You have to allow people to be who they are. In the spirit of the “101% Principle,” you then must find that 1% you can support and give it 100% of your effort. Diverse thought is food for the soul. It enables you and others to think together and not necessarily alike.  Thats’ what builds strong teams and great communication with others. Accept the fact that Uncle Harry will tell tall tales and you can’t trust cousin Susie to keep a secret. It is what it is and that is ok. No need to stress. Learn to deal with it the best you can and move on.

3)  Perfect is not that important. As I grew up and learned to tie my shoes, I had to have each loop the same size on both shoes. This drove my older cousins crazy because they really did try to help me with many things when my mom and dad were not around. But they got tired of having to help me tie shoes three or four times. It wasn’t long that I understood it wasn’t the length of the loop but the fact the shoe was securely on the foot which mattered most. I still chuckle about that early experience but it really helped me in life. Not that there have not been occasions that I continue to want things perfect such as combing my hair, my bow tie knots and my presentations for example; but, if we strive solely for perfection in every aspect of life, we may never leave the house. Even this article isn’t perfect. There are perhaps hundreds of better phrases, examples, etc. that could have been used; but, hopefully its content is helping you understand the message. The message is simple: workable will beat perfection any day.

4)  Though at times you will be off-balance, strong life-balance does matter. At times in my life, I have been called a “workaholic.”  Those who know me best would laugh at my famous quote about the best thing about Fridays was that it was only two days away from Monday. While I said this at times in jest, deep down in some of the darkest valleys of my body there was some truth to the statement. I loved work. Loved it to the point that it almost ended my life. Heart surgery changed my perspective and showed me that you work when it is time to work; play when it is time to play; and, most importantly, you must know when the best time is for both. As you are building a career, yes, you will work diligently so that you can move up the food chain and provide for the family. That is understandable. However, there does come a time when you have to realize that there will never be a second first time dance recital or baseball game. You have to learn to schedule in those items as well as other important matters just like you do with your career. Take it from me: your company will miss your contribution, but within the hour of your departure, they will be evaluating your replacement.

5)  Walk your talk. I have been fortunate to live in state capitols and the Washington, DC area on multiple occasions. I have also been fortunate to interact at the capitols with legislators and on Capitol Hill in DC. It has been unique to listen to comments from many leaders but it has been more educational to watch what each does. You see, words are truly cheap. They can be uttered without meaning or true commitment. It is an individual’s actions that clearly defines reality. If you promise to do something, do it. Whether it works or not in the big scheme of things may not have as much impact as the fact that you followed through with your pledge. People follow and respect those who demand their actions follow their words. This seemingly small suggestion is perhaps one of the most powerful commitments as a business and family leader you can make. When your employees, kids, spouse and business associates know without doubt your word is your bond, you have achieved a true place of honor and respect whether you are totally successful or not.

6) Find your one thing. Billy Crystal and Jack Palance in their movie City Slickers provided some sage advice. That advice, as Palance’s character “Curly” pointed out, was to find the one thing in life that matters and follow that.  That is so true. You have to find that passion and allow that passion to lead you. It is not the same for everyone.  There is no “one size fits all” perspective. You, your business associates, kids, spouse, neighbors, etc. each should find their own “one thing.”  Sometimes it takes a long time for you to uncover that reality. It is there and you simply must be ready to lift the vail and discover what it is. What you may think is that shiny golden ring could only be a ruse. You must dig down deep inside you and challenge your very being to find out what truly makes you happy, makes you strive for greatness, and fulfills the very essence of life for you. Give yourself time to discover this and when you do, give it all you got!  It will allow you to better navigate life and have a viable reason to get out of bed each morning.

Next week I’ll continue this post with more things I have found to be true in life.

Launching Your New Year Successfully

Good intentions are one of the most sought after commodities in existence. It seems that as every new year begins, virtually everyone finds a way to acquire varying degrees of this powerful item. However, as time progresses, it becomes evident that this prized commodity becomes less valued or at least is not put into a fully activated status. Thus fewer “golden rings” are achieved by the new year’s end. What causes this shortfall? Could it be that the commodity quality is less than satisfactory or is it a lack of understanding as to how to properly put the good intentions to work? Whatever may cause the end result to be less than its initial intent, there are three specific acts that when followed will guarantee you that the road you are traveling will most often lead you to the success you seek to achieve. Those acts focus on planning, people and development.

First, you must have a fully operational action-driven business plan. Fully operational action-driven business plans address the following five questions:

1) What are you actually building?
2) For what specific reason does your business exist?
3) What are the critical results that you must measure?
4) What must you do to build or grow your business?
5) What is the actual work to be done so that you can experience success?

The well-know axiom of people never planning to fail only failing to plan is true. Most often too many organizations and individuals do not devote the time to planning that is truly necessary for ongoing growth and lasting success. There is a feeling that a few common goals simply written down is good enough. It’s not that there is a lack of understanding for the necessity of planning. More directly it falls upon the fact that there are no substantive answers to the totality of the five questions. Therefore, what happens, happens. If things fall short, no problem…the goals set were most likely too high or the business cycle was just not favorable. In the final resolve, they don’t know what they don’t know.

Having a sound business plan that enables you to clearly announce your vision, live your mission, understand your objectives, employ your strategies; and, utilize workable action plans to gain the results you want is critical IF you truly want to achieve all your goals versus hoping to reach a single goal or perhaps two. Your business plan keeps you going in the right direction. It enables you to have a reason for doing what you do; and, you can’t really build a viable business without a fully operational action-driven business plan.

To laugh a new year successfully, develop and deliver a plan that gets you off ground-zero and propelled to gaining lasting growth and achievement. When you know where you are going, your business plan will get you there. As one time president of Home Life Insurance Basil S. Walsh said, “An intelligent plan is the first step to success. The man who plans knows where he is going, knows what progress he is making and has a pretty good idea when he will arrive. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?”

Second, you must have the right people on your team, in the right positions and engaged. Staffing is perhaps the most stress-filled task for any business leader. Success in your endeavors will most often occur through people. Employing the right people to execute the right tasks solidifies a cornerstone ingredient that is vital for any growth-oriented enterprise. To operate effectively, you can’t have people on board to simply fill a space or position.

Having the right people on your team often eliminates many worries. Being able to evaluate their skills and place them in roles which allow them to exercise their strengths is critical. Generally these individuals are self-motivated, readily engaged and carry your company’s brand as their motivating factor to achieve. Your goals are their goals and each desires to help you create a greater highly successful business profile. In essence, you build a team where the strengths of each member enable your wagon of opportunity to travel more smoothly. In doing so, you are positioned to grow great results.

Having the wrong people is nothing short of an economic drain. These individuals may perform a role but it usually comes at a cost. To them it is simply a job not a consolidated effort to better direct your brand. Whether the company falls short in its goals or achieves its goals matters little to them. Either way by simply putting in their time, they will get paid. Their motivational intent never produce results and the environment they crave centers on how to get the work done with the least effort while never short-changing their compensation options. Never allow these people, regardless of how pleasant their personalities may be, to remain with your company. It is not fair to you nor the other right people you may employ.

It is therefore vital to get the wrong people off your team and the right people on your team. In doing so you will insure better results. You must keep looking for the right people and never, never rush to hire. Look at the best people you currently have. What do they possess that matters most to you and your company’s results? Then, go about finding others with similar qualities or strengths you need to make your company stronger. Being selective in your team building efforts may be uncomfortable in the developing stages; but, the rewards of having that team who thinks together for the betterment of the organization in place positions your organization to consistently win.

Third, despite any challenges, commit to continuous learning and development. Too often in today’s fast paced business environment, companies and individual leaders look upon learning and development as an afterthought. There is a failure to effectively comprehend the substantial contribution that investment in professional development can have on the future integration of an organization or unit. In times of business shortfalls, the learning and development area is usually the first area to see economic cuts. There is much more needed than simply handing someone a book to read or requiring an Internet program to be observed for it to be deemed in essence, development.

A former president of Drug Emporium, Philip Wilber, once said, “The expense isn’t what it costs to train employees. It’s what it costs not to train them.” The same applies for leaders and managers. A leader who feels his or her learning and development is over due to position, age, cost or skills is a leader who is not only short-changing the potential of an organization; but more directly, shortchanging their ultimate potential as a leader. As the Arabian proverb proclaims, “Learning is a treasury whose keys are queries.”

Learning and development must be a fundamental code of action embodied in the culture of an organization. Such organizations as Disney, GE, SAS, Amazon, AT&T, and Marriott are well-known for their commitment to developing their associates and leadership so that each may take greater ownership for results. As you examine each, it is very evident that their commitment to development are well rewarded in overall results and profits. By allowing associates and leadership to grow skills through knowledge-based performance programs and practical life interaction, those associates become de facto “owners” in their respective enterprises. With that mindset in place, greater achievement is possible.

Regardless the size of the company, when an owner, leader or manager focuses their perspective in such a manner to insure that all associates and themselves are placed in a position to learn and grow, good things usually happen. When those same principals move past cost and look upon their outlay as an investment, the ROI (return on investment) will most often provide results that usher in desired profit levels. As the legendary Henry Block of H&R Block once said, “We are forced to rely on people, which is why we put so much emphasis on training them.”

With a focus on building a workable plan, having the right people on your team; and, having a commitment to learning and development, your business or area can be on the road to greater success in the New Year. All that remains is for you to display a strong incentive to succeed and work with enthusiasm to produce measurable results.

Procrastifear

I once had a pair of shoes that it seemed impossible to set aside. They were dirty, ripped at the soles and discolored. However, I loved those shoes! I would do yard work in them but each time would ruin any socks that I happened to be wearing. Even small trips to the mailbox and work inside the garage would find me wearing those shoes. Despite the dampness, I could feel and the pain of walking on stones piercing the soles of my feet, I simply could not part with those shoes.  I realized a new pair of shoes most likely would enhance my enjoyment of any tasks. Still, I could not set aside so much comfort and known expectation.

So it is with life and business. Too often we get so comfortable in our undertakings that we simply refuse to face the inevitable and do the things we should to enable our lives and work to become better. What is this affliction? Could it be laziness or simply pride or are we simply too “cheap” in thought and action that we refrain from doing the right thing? No, perhaps not. You see, it is a chronic disorder. A disorder that cripples the mind and spirit and which if left unchecked can be fatal. It is simply known as “procrastifear.”

Procrastifear is the disorder that prevents you from trying new things or taking new action because:

  1. You are comfortable.
  2. You are planning to do so, but think you should wait another few days.
  3. You will never be able to match prior satisfaction.
  4. It is too much of a hassle.
  5. What will other people think?
  6. It does not matter that much anyway.
  7. You feel you are too old to try new things.
  8. You will soon win the lottery and all your troubles will be eliminated.
  9. You are afraid.
  10. You just have too much to do to even think about taking time to do something else.

This disorder has done more harm to the well-being of mankind than any war, disease or act of nature. It has ended more promising careers, marriages, lives and business enterprises than the 1929 stock market crash. It comes upon you without notice and destroys your determination and zest for life. It is a great crippler; but, take heart, there is a cure!

The cure lies in an action-oriented focus: activity. There are three (3) must actions:

1)  Make the decision that a change is necessary.  Maybe it is not what you really want to do, but it becomes what you must do to ensure a higher quality of life. If you enjoy eating shrimp but get deathly ill each time you do so, it really becomes critical for you to change to a different seafood to avoid experiencing the reoccurring illness. It is not a matter of want, it is a matter of a must do.

2)  Take the action immediately and boldly. Things will not necessarily change tomorrow. It will most likely take time. Remember, you can not win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. So, take a deep breathe, focus and make the change. It may be uncomfortable and burdensome in the beginning, but you will be on the pathway to a better life soon.

3)  Focus only on your successes, regardless how small. Basketball great Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots he took. He lost over 350 games in his career. He missed 26 potentially game-winning shots in his career. However, he often talks about his lifetime 32.6 points scoring average, his 4 world championships and the fact his last two years in the NBA saw the Chicago Bulls win over 137 games. He never focused on setbacks but always sought to focus on successes. That focus attitude kept him in the game and can also keep you in the game as you walk the pathway of your life and career. Finding that success point is critical if you are to experience the true measure of success you seek.

In their classic book, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone noted the following: “You are a mind with a body.”  They said, “When you make the discoveries that are awaiting you, they can bring you:

  1. Physical, mental and moral health, happiness and wealth;
  2. Success in your chosen field of endeavor; and,
  3. A means to affect, use, control or harmonize with powers known and unknown.”

Setting aside the status quo and directing your focus to a “grow” reality will enable you to unleash your potential and gain a higher level of uncompromising achievement.

Setting aside or avoiding taking necessary action on issues is a certain pathway to failure. You must employ boldness to enable you to be positioned for action.  Defeat the crippling disorder of procrastifear by not sitting idly by and directly deciding to do something now. Hope is never a strategy. You must decide to keep moving and understand that action speaks louder than words. 

A Milky Attitude

 

Growing up in a rural farming environment,  I can truthfully tell you that COWS DO NOT GIVE MILK!  You must take every drop from them.  Sometimes it is easy and other times it can be one of the most difficult and fustrating jobs that you will ever face.

Cows as a whole are very moody.  Sometimes they will gently lick grain from your hand and other times they will do their best to make your day miserable.  I suppose it boils down to the approach you take.  If you rush your process and attempt to milk without warming your hands especially in cold weather, boy oh boy are you in for a surprise!  However, if you take time, think through your actions and carefully warm your hands, as you talk to the cow and gently pat her side in the process, chances are great you will be successful in your task.

The same process is true in our daily work.  Not only does our attitude determine our success but it also has a chilling affect on how you are viewed by others.  Do you approach each day with enthusiasm and excitement, glad to be alive or do you wake up and curse the fact that it is morning?

We are all born excited.  Take a look at new babies.  Have you ever seen an unenthusiastic baby?  I bet not.  Somewhere along our life pathway, we at times lose that excitement.  The great thing is that we can get it back.  Former baseball great Pete Rose was once asked which goes first on a baseball player, his eyes, legs or his arm?  He responded, “None of these things.  It is when his enthusiasm goes that he is through as a player.”

How you approach a situation is crucial.  You can make difficulties you may be facing boulders of distress or you can make those difficulties stepping stones of grandeur.  It all depends upon your approach and how you choose to see what confronts you.

There is seldom a day goes by that too many people doubt themselves and their abilities in some way.  Each looks upon themselves as being unable to gain even the smallest margin of success.  Past failures or promises of starting anew just as soon as situations change often abound in their intentions. The challenge though seems to remain because situations never truly change for them.  The real secret is to step-over those situations and approach life in a manner that says, “I don’t care how many times it takes, I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN!”

Yes, your approach is important.  You need “warm hands” to milk a cow; and, you need a positive “can do” approach to get results.  How do you see yourself?  What approach are you taking? Are you doubting your abilities? Are you challenging whether you are good enough or deserving at all?  Eventually you may get either a wonderful bucket of milk or a challenging bucket of &*#@! It all depends on you!  Your approach and your attitude will clearly determine your path!   Best wishes for a successful journey!

 

Getting “IT” Back

Everyone has an “IT” that has provided the incentive for achievement, energy and enthusiasm. However at times, that “IT” can disappear from your reality. When this occurs, most often you will find difficulty facing your attempts to replace its lost vitality. That is why it is so important to utilize the 4 R’s to enable you to restore the “IT” in your life.

First R: REKINDLE. Life and career are exciting when you are seeing your goals fall in place. This success can often cause you to become somewhat complacent in your endeavors. It comes about because of your mastery of events which have led to your pinnacles of achievement. Discouragement and frustration sets in as complacency kills enthusiasm and supplements itself as a daily norm. If left unchecked, it will destroy a career, a company, an individual and the collective “IT” that enabled success to arrive. Therefore, it is imperative that you stop and access your situation. Afterwards, challenge yourself to think upon the activities which originally brought forth success each time you begin to see complacency gaining a foothold. You must REKINDLE the spirit of achievement and determination so that you uncover the fighting spirit necessary to recapture your “IT.”

Next R:  READJUST. It is so easy to praise your problems versus seeking solutions to them. When you focus on problems, they always seem to grow more complex and larger in status. But when you are able to shift your focus to evaluating potential solutions, you most often find answers that enable you to solve or reduce the problems you face. Diverting to this specific action allows you to fundamentally focus on what truly matters. When you are able to have your primary focus on the key activities that are conducive to accomplishment, clarity of vision and mission surface. As author Grenville Kleiser pointed out, “To every problem there is already a solution, whether you know what it is or not.”

Third R:  RENOUNCE. When you are down and find yourself struggling with a negative mindset, it is easy to become a victim of your circumstance. False assumptions and ill placed fear subconsciously penetrates your mind. You find yourself hearing, “You can’t do this.”  “Nobody cares.” “Why not throw in the towel?” In essence, it is not what happens but what you think is happening that matters. When these events begin to unfold, you need to recognize all these negative thoughts for what they are: False Evidence Appearing Real. Face the reality of your dilemma and don’t allow the negativity to take hold. Realize that you can turn negative experiences or perceived negative experiences into very positive outcomes with a clear focus on the reality of the moment. Never give up hope or give up on you. Be persistent. Push ahead. As the German proverb proclaims, “No one is either rich or poor who has not helped himself to be so.”

Final R:  RETREAT. The normal pressures of the day, the week, the month or even the year can be very demanding. That is why it is so vital to build in quiet time on a regular basis for you to unwind and unload your mental and physical wagons. Step away from the phones, the computer, the mail and the constant barrage of people to rekindle your true you. Even 30 minutes of quiet time during a day will do wonders for your mind and body. Such individuals as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison and Ronald Reagan were firm believers in daily quiet time and the universal benefit it provided each of them. A clear mind and a rested body help to energize the creative juices that enable you to more succinctly focus on key issues and resolve challenges. As was once said, “Periods of wholesome laziness, after days of energetic effort, will wonderfully tone up the mind and body. It does not involve loss of time, since after a day of complete rest and quietness you will return to your regular occupation with renewed interest and vigor.”

Yes, it is inevitable that at some point your “IT” stands to be overshadowed. The ultimate challenge you will face is whether you respond to its displacement or allow its demise to continue. By properly utilizing the 4 R’s, you can provide a valuable safeguard that will enable you to regain your “IT” and move your life and career forward.

You Can Make It Happen

Recently, I re-read an old article about Stedman Graham, author of the book, You Can Make It Happen. I was fascinated by his “rules of the road” in guiding his personal life. Those rules apply to virtually everyone in their daily actions as well. Read and reflect upon his rules and strive to examine how the rules might apply in your life.

First, be honest. You have no value to other people if they can’t believe what you say. This is especially true in the business world. Your customer must believe in you and in your counsel.

Second, do the work that is required. What you put into a project or plan or endeavor is reflected in how it turns out. Is this not true? Your thoughts and your aspirations can be bountiful; but, if you do not elect to devote the work energy it takes to make those thoughts and aspirations reality, it becomes a “mind activity” of waste and folly.

Third, maintain a positive attitude. Being positive begins with eliminating the negative. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times, but it is so true! Yet, too often many have so much mental challenge in accepting this simple truth. When you seek to find something good, something that went right in your activities, it stimulates the endorphins of the mind and the creative juices can flow. That is not to say that positive thinking will allow you to do absolutely anything you desire in life; but, it will allow you to do more in your life than negative thinking.

Fourth, take the time to think things through. Those who take the time to think and plan out their lives are the ones who get the greatest benefit out of whatever they are involved in. Here lies the value of a specific, measurable, attainable and workable business plan. The value of putting your direction on paper and committing to it is limitless in its success potential. That is why road maps become valuable assets in travel: they enable people to have before them, all the available pathways to travel for the purpose of reaching their designation.

Finally, look at the big picture. When you operate from this perspective, you offer leadership to those around you. Being a leader attracts greater opportunities to you. It has been said in many ways for many years, you truly must become “stewards” or business CEO’s in every professional endeavor. Your leadership goes much further than simply going to your business locale each day. Your leadership spills directly or indirectly into the community, into your peer groups and also to where you possess that critical edge: your family. You must focus on long-term effects and be open to look to the future and embrace change. This commitment is needed to obtain your goals. Every activity you embrace, whether successful or a learning experience, allows you to place a “piece of the puzzle” on your life board. You must decide if that picture is one to be displayed publicly or hidden in a dark corner away from view and unapproachable.

As you prepare for the challenges of the upcoming weeks and months, utilize these simple “rules of the road” so that you may be able to build your dreams and make your vision a successful journey in your life!