Henry Ford has a famous quote, ‘if you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t do a thing, your right.” I believe this sums up most of life quite nicely. Self-confidence and self-belief do matter. So much about success and happiness is related to your mental attitude and emotional resilience. Some of us may have a harder time than others or start out with more baggage, but the history of civilization proves that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things and overcome great obstacles in the process. While it may seem easier at times to give up or give in, you must fight these feelings, forge ahead and persevere. Never embrace failure and unhappiness as your default reality.
Month: November 2011
Giving up on an idea isn’t failure. It can be basic common sense. Both time and resources are finite. If you spend them on something that has little chance of working out, then for all intensive purposes you are wasting your efforts. This doesn’t mean you give up on the idea of taking risks or pursuing long shots, but it does mean you do so carefully with your eyes wide open and a willingness to pull the plug if and when needed.
As I’ve stated in previous blogs, I am strong believer that a leader’s role especially in fast growing or relatively large organizations is to think. And, to think effectively you need to be well read. You need to have broad understanding of many things including behavioral psychology and general business management issues. It’s also important to be well informed of market realities including local, regional, national or international trends that affect your business. Moreover, as a leader you should leverage the experience and knowledge of past leadership figures and become a student of leadership behavior.
There are way too many things competing for our time as adults. It’s easy to get lost in the fog of responsibility and fall behind. If we are honest with ourself, we end up using our time very inefficiently and often make it up as we go along. As a result, there is usually some level of imbalance in our life as we prioritize what is most pressing or convenient. The problem is that gaps unattended only grow with time and at some point the chasm becomes too difficult to navigate. The very thing we value most, our own independence and freedom, becomes victim to the personal stress created by not being disciplined about our decisions, time and activities. Paradoxically, we end up with the outcomes we most wanted to avoid.
While personal independence and self-reliance is a good thing, we live in a society that requires interdependency and cooperation. Children and the elderly are dependent based on the very nature of their situation. Physical and emotional vulnerability is a reality that confronts us all at the beginning and end of our lives. In addition, many close adult and professional relationships are co-dependent because we need other people to both experience life fully and get things done. You can’t just flip a switch and expect it to be there.
More often than not, the biggest barrier to our success is ourself. I’ve noticed that people can talk themselves out of just about anything. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes it is not. When it comes to limiting your perspective on what’s possible for you in terms of your work life I find this to usually be a bad thing. Happiness and self-fulfillment in your career shouldn’t be viewed as optional. The history of the business landscape is full of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things.
In business and life it is important to understand what motivates you. There are good motivators and bad ones. Striving to make a positive difference in the world and/or building a great company is a much healthier objective than simply accumulating personal wealth or power. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reap the rewards of your efforts. There are few things more valuable than a person working hard and doing well at something they consider to be meaningful and important. However, be wary of seeking money just for the sake of it. Wealth should be the outcome not the objective.
High performing businesses often resemble their sports counterparts. Starting at the top, there is predictability to their concentration and effort. Nothing is taken for granted. People know what is expected of them and they do it on a daily basis. Crises are few are far between. Business units don’t beat themselves and are quick to notice and leverage performance advantages. Individuals are self-motivated and do not require external stimuli. Winning is an expectation not a surprise or the result of an imbalance of effort. With all truly great teams, victory is a foregone conclusion.
Every once in awhile you come across a song that just resonates with you. I knew nothing about the band South until iTunes referred me to them based on my preference for another artist. I was immediately taken in by the song”A Place In Displacement.” Beside having a great title the lyrics and music mesh perfectly. I was also pleased to come across the official video and never get tired of listening to it.
Don’t be so quick to rush to judgment. It is sad how much self-righteousness, anger, fear, jealousy and resentment lurks beneath the surface of society today. It takes very little for the media to create a feeding frenzy where everyone jumps on the bandwagon and denigrates another human being. Even though in this country we have a standard of innocent before proven guilty, the court of public opinion often makes up its mind before it has all the facts or evidence. And, guess what sometimes it is wrong – just ask Dr. Steven Hatfill or Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Bottom line is that we all have assets and liabilities as individuals. There is a school of thought that given this we should focus just on what we are good at (leveraging the assets) and minimize everything else. I believe this mindset has the danger of being short-sighted and self-limiting. Too much of anything is never a good thing. The only way we evolve is through learning and experience. Personal growth happens with time as we stretch our perspectives and challenge individual conceits and preconceptions. If we narrowly focus our growth opportunities, we aren’t fully living. Weaknesses also exist and must be dealt with, not just circumvented or fortified with self protective behaviors. Adversity and challenge are a regular part of life and require some level of personal vulnerability if they are to be successfully navigated
Life does not reward those that hesitate. One of the hardest things to teach young athletes is to get them to think before they act. They often are used to just plowing ahead regardless of the consequences or the rules. It is a difficult balancing act because if you are not careful they will begin to think too much and lose their natural athletic instincts. In addition, you will play into their natural fears of making a mistake or being wrong. And, in any sport, once you hesitate or pause, you give the other person the advantage by moving into reactive not proactive mode.
As far as I am concerned, Ray Davies is the best songwriter of my lifetime. His body of work is amazing and he is still going strong well into his Sixties. He may not have achieved the same level of notoriety of his peers over the years, but I challenge anyone who is a fan of rock music to sit down and listen to the vast collection of songs created by The Kinks and his solo work and not come away impressed. Pete Townshend has been vocal with his praise over the years and Bruce Springsteen and John Bon Jovi are avid fans. He recently released a collaborative album called See My Friends in which many top artists (past and present) covered his hits with him.
Leaders have to be careful about becoming too close to their employees. It is easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s personal life especially if you’ve know someone for a long time. There is a big difference between being a friend and being an employer or boss. The nature of the employer-employee realtionship is transactional – people are paid to do a job. Without the exchange of time for money the relationship probably wouldn’t exist. Moreover, it is much more difficult to hold a friend accountable or if necessary fire them.
In work and life it’s important never to forget that everyone has value and should be treated that way. I find that how someone regularly treats other people, regardless of their status or physical appearance, is a good barometer of that person’s character. In our society we have come to worship fame, beauty, power and wealth much more than we should. In all walks of life results should and do matter, however, they are not all that matters. Allowing a fellow human being to maintain his/her dignity and self-respect regardless of the circumstances is equally important.
I see people get themselves in trouble all the time by be unwilling to admit they don’t know something. At minimum, they make their lives harder than it has to be. They also make things more challenging for the people around them because someone usually has to pick up after them or cover up the mistake. Politicians are notorious for speaking confidently about things they know very little about (have you watched any of the recent debates). Rather than look uninformed or stupid they prefer to spin the truth or some version of it. Why we continue to reward this behavior in the voting booth is beyond my comprehension.