Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

Today is the day

September 4, 2015

 

Finding your personal starting line

Finding your personal starting line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is your starting point.

Yes, now. Today it all begins; right now.

Past failures, indiscretions, mistakes or false starts are not important.

They’re a learning curve, life experience and the foundation that allows you to be better now.

This is not a ‘living in the moment’ speech, it’s reality. If you can’t change the past, then you need to make peace with it. Very few people wake up brilliant, super fit, a business genius and have all the answers day one. I haven’t met any!

The people who do succeed are the ones that try and fail, and try again, each time getting better than the last.

Sometimes you can feel like a monumental failure, the sort of person that you wouldn’t entrust to have any success in a new project. So it’s easy not to start. But you can also think better than that.

Because giving up is no fun. It certainly doesn’t allow you to reach your potential, live the life you want or enjoy the satisfaction of breaking old habits and being successful.

And how sweet would that be?

However, don’t set your bar too high. Do what’s right, today, for you. It doesn’t matter what others think or have achieved, or how long it has taken them. They don’t care; most people are too wrapped up in their own ‘stuff’ to give your experiences a second thought. Or even a first one.

Forget about them, and forget about your own ‘stuff’ (those past failures and indiscretions) too. You have a free pass to the future. You know what you do well, so focus on that.

Give yourself another chance, learn from what has gone before and make a start today.

 

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The Power of Personal Perceptions…

July 14, 2015
Do you care what others think about you?

Do you care what others think about you?

Last weekend we caught up with friends and were discussing their daughter’s wedding, held the month before. It was a very pleasant event with an enjoyable reception and nice meal. They told us how I had inadvertently caused a last-minute panic on the seating arrangements, which they confessed was very strange.

A friend of theirs, whom I’d met infrequently over the years, expressed a vehement dislike for me and didn’t want to be seated anywhere near me. He also expressed the same sentiment to someone else at the wedding (who later shared that with me in amazement).

I was bemused by this. I’d rarely spoken to this man and never perceived I’d been in a position to create this level of distain. There’s the rub. For years he’d professed to be the best at everything; he had the fastest car, was the best sportsman, and owned an established business. He surrounded himself with sycophants who worshipped his every move.

I don’t buy into that game, and I guess that must have annoyed him. He wanted to make life a competition and I didn’t feel the need to respond. I prefer to take people on face value: who they are, rather than what they have.

Recently he’d been caught cheating on his wife, his business faltered and he had to sell the fast car. That doesn’t change who he is, but it certainly changed his outlook. He now saw me as ‘winning’ in his game, by his rules. So he found reasons to belittle me to others. He failed to notice (again) that I wasn’t playing. I feel sorry for him; he has some challenges to face.  He’s created benchmarks that define who he is and now, at fifty, they can’t be maintained. Clearly he is unhappy.

As for me, as much as I say I don’t care what others think about me, I don’t think anyone likes to be disliked. But I can’t change this guy’s opinion. And I don’t need to try. I just won’t focus on it.

In a timely post, Seth Godin this week said ‘We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us. Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter. Carrying around a list of everyone who thinks you’re not good enough is exhausting’.

Keeping the faith

June 30, 2015
Find your own way

Find your own way

I love listening to children’s wild ideas about life; what they want to create and what they want to be. Young children are so much fun; they aren’t yet tainted by the naysayers who decry anything beyond the usual as ‘impossible’.

I like a big dose of impossible. We’d be lost without it. Many people say ‘Dare to dream’ but in the next breath tell you why your dream is impossible. We see the results of the out-of-the-box thinkers all the time. We see how they drive the advancements of the world.

So why, as a society, do we expect everyone to conform? My son was telling me how he wanted to make a difference in the world and get rich doing it. He’s a clever boy and I don’t doubt him for a moment.

An older relative who was visiting said ‘That would never work in the real world’ and followed this up with ‘It’s not very nice to say that you want to be rich when there are so many people struggling in the world today’.

Now there’s a massive dose of lack mentality! She didn’t mean to be negative; she was trying to protect him from disappointment by telling him not to set the bar too high. That’s an opinion that’s more common than you think – and one that gives us ‘permission’ not to try.

This ‘real world’ sounds like a depressing place. A place where new ideas, different approaches and enthusiasm are checked at the door. Where real-world inhabitants are filled with negativity and despair. They expect new ideas to fail and change to be rejected. Worse, they want to drag others down with them.

Don’t believe the naysayers. Their world may be real for them, but it doesn’t mean you have to live in it. The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. Don’t go there.

 

Do we matter?

June 22, 2015
We have a lot to be thankful for

We have a lot to be thankful for

I was walking through the city yesterday and it, despite Melbourne’s cold weather, was alive with people rushing to their next destination. Does anything they do actually matter? Or are we filling time lost in jobs going on day in day out whether we’re there or not?

Of course there are the lucky ones that make a difference, enjoy their work and, as Tony Robbins says, ‘Live with passion’. It’s a great goal but by the look of most people on the street, quite a way from reality.

Now that I’m on the high side of 50, I spend more time assessing the world and my place in it. I’m somewhat over the corporate system, having ‘played the game’ for nearly thirty years. I’m too young to retire and know that I would be quickly bored and want a challenge.

I pursue hobbies and have the resources to enjoy them more now. I want to live my passion and make a difference but I also have bills to pay. Sometimes that makes me feel trapped. And then guilty because I have done very well out of life. And then resentful because the years just fly by. Why am I here and does it matter?

I found a picture of my grandfather and his work colleagues from the City of Melbourne dated 1917. In essential jobs, most were disappointed that they couldn’t go to war; they missed the ‘Great Adventure’. In hindsight they were the lucky ones. Had things been different, perhaps I wouldn’t have been born. They’re all gone now. What was their legacy? What did their lives mean?

Then I realise how hard my grandparents worked to raise a family, to achieve a level of success, and how proud they were of their achievements. The stories my grandfather told me, the values my family embraced, I now teach to my grandson half a century later. I realise that we all make a difference when we work to leave the world just a little better than we found it.

 

Lucky for some

June 2, 2015
How's your luck?

How’s your luck?

Do you know any lucky people: the ones where fortune favours their every move? Are you lucky in love, business, life or at the casino? Are ‘winners’ lucky or is there something more to it?

We see people who win and say ‘What a lucky guy!’ There is, in my opinion, a big difference between luck at the casino or winning the lottery and luck in life. One is a random chance and the other is a measured journey where opportunity meets preparation.

I have friends who gamble and I hear about their luck at winning five thousand dollars at roulette. I don’t hear about the many multiples of that invested to find their ‘lucky streak’. In the big picture, where randomness reigns, anything can happen. Calling winners lucky is simply sticking a label on after the fact.

To examine luck as a concept raises an interesting question: how can we explain what happens to us and whether we’ll be winners, losers or somewhere in the middle at love, work, sports, gambling and life?

Is luck, good or bad, more than a phenomenon that appears exclusively in hindsight, or is it an expression of our desire to see patterns where none exist, like a belief that your red shirt is lucky?

I believe luck, in a predictable form, can be created by our attitudes and actions.

Lucky streaks are real, but they are the product of more than just blind fate. We can make our own luck, though we don’t like to think of ourselves as lucky: a descriptor that undermines other qualities, like talent and skill.

We can see someone with a lovely home and a successful business and say they are lucky. We often don’t see the 20 years of hard work and sacrifice invested by them to be in this ‘lucky’ position.

We may pray for it or wish others ‘Good luck’ but we’d prefer to think of ourselves as deserving; the fact that we live in a society that is neither random nor wholly meritocratic makes for an even less precise definition.

I believe that ‘lucky’ people adept to creating and noticing chance opportunities, listen to their intuition, are confident to act in risky situations, have positive expectations that create self-fulfilling prophesies, and have a resilient attitude about life’s trials.

So, make your own luck and remember – things could always be worse!

The cynical self

May 13, 2015
I want to break free ...

I want to break free …

Yesterday we had a full day business meeting with international visitors. The meeting started at 9.00am, and we had a working lunch and concluded at 5.00pm, at which time we left for an upmarket city restaurant for dinner.

Our distributers were trying to impress us. They’d brought their CEO and Chairman. Our management team was trying to appear superior to the distributors, while also trying to impress our boss and scoring points on each other in the process. And our boss was trying to impress the guys from head office, who were constantly looking at their watches. As best I could make out, no one wanted to be here.

About 3.00pm I wanted the music to stop. I wanted to scream ‘Why are we doing this?’, but resorted to injecting a few thought-terminating clichés to wind it up. Didn’t work. The show rolled on.

After a day of platitudes and thinly veiled assurances of improved support and performance, which remain the emotional capital of the business world, with little to no action until the next quarterly meeting where we do this dance again, it was difficult to look forward to the impending meal.

At dinner, everyone was toasting everyone else; too many times to be comfortable. Big smiles, forced conversation, more platitudes. The Chairman made another speech reaffirming his commitment to us and the greater cause. As if it matters. So that led me to wonder: do we? Do we matter?

In our daily lives, questions of personal worth are recurrent, if rarely articulated. We’re so defined by work that our identities without it are in question. Unless we have something else to anchor us, we’re in danger of becoming what we do, not who we are.

We find that ultimately unsatisfying. Because as we get older, time spent at work consumes a proportion of our lives we can rarely afford. We go home tired, eat, sleep and do it all again. Holidays come rarely and when they do we wonder why life can’t always be like this.

I want to rebel. Just a minor revolt. I want to grow my hair long, become a hippy and follow the sun surfing. My wife says I can, for one week in the second half of each year. I can’t do more because of ‘commitments’. Commitments that will get me committed.

Deprived of a clear sense of purpose, apprehensive about the significance of our lives, we’re desperate for reassurance that there is a reason behind what we feel we must do. Are we working for the weekend or living in the now?

I don’t know. I’d rather have it all, and now. So I keep working while I search for the answer. I’ll let you know if I find it.

Save me from corporate speak

April 4, 2015
Keep it simple ...

Keep it simple …

Having just returned from four solid weeks of customer and international collaboration meetings, I’m up to pussy’s bow with corporate speak.

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or, at the end of the day, move into a new space, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it like that.

No longer the province of consultants and business-school types, the annoying corp-speak trend has infused businesses everywhere. Used as a means of corporate elitism, such talk, along with obscure acronyms, make people feel part of the club.

Well, here’s a cliché to kick us off: talk is cheap.

Because sincerity requires more than lifting something from a business magazine in an airport lounge. Anyway, to get you up to speed (sorry), here’s a far from exhaustive list of corp-speak, with a few [comments] along the way. Some on this list are clichés, others are aphorisms, but they’re all equally irritating. I’m sure you’ll have many more.

  • What the mind can conceive, it can achieve [But can you fly like a bird?]
  • Winners never quit [But to become winners, they do change their approach – a more subtle argument.]
  • What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger
  • Teamwork to make the dream work [Pass me the bucket.]
  • Money can’t buy happiness [Oh yes it can.]
  • There’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’ [What about healthy teams that appreciate constructive individuality? By the way, there is a ‘me’ in team.]
  • Good things come to those who wait [Why wait?]
  • It was meant to be [Then why did we bother trying to make it not be?]
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results [Sometimes you have to do the same thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice.]
  • Let’s take that offline [Are we really that digitally focused?]
  • We’re moving into that ‘space’ [It’s not cool when everyone is saying this.]
  • Everything happens for a reason [Who decides the reason?]
  • Innovative, solutions orientated, service focused [You get the picture … blah.]
  • We’re going from ‘good’ to ‘great’
  • Blue ocean, red ocean
  • People are our most important asset [Yet most businesses certainly don’t act like they are.]
  • It is what it is
  • Live each moment like it’s your last
  • Follow your bliss
  • It’s just my personal opinion [No, tells us what someone else thinks.]
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  • I’m a thought leader [Not if you have to say you are.]
  • It’s not rocket science [Unless you work for NASA!]
  • It’s all good [Usually said when it isn’t.]
  • The time is now! [Of course it is. When else!]
  • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Bespoke solution [Great for Rolls Royce, silly for almost everyone else.]
  • Don’t assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME [Another bucket please.]
  • What’s done is done
  • Greed is good [Finally, one I agree with.]
  • Pushing the envelope [Air Force to Corporate, a giant leap …?]
  • Nice guys finish last
  • Paradigm shift [Has no meaning but people like to pretend it does.]
  • Go with the flow
  • No offence, but … [We know what’s coming next.]
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • We’re all in this together [Group failure is always so much better.]
  • Everything always works out in the end
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • It could be worse [From whose perspective?]
  • Think outside the box
  • The best things in life are free [Do you really believe that?]
  • Work hard, play hard
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same [No they don’t!]
  • Fail harder [Whatever that means, but I’m not inclined to try it!]
  • Perception is reality [What about when your perception is psychotic?]
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm [How about winning occasionally. Talk about a negative mind set!]
  • At the end of the day [My most hated. Never again.]

So, there are a few phrases to throw into the mix and see what sticks so you can transition your brand trajectory, without offshoring, to leverage your core competencies to drive efficiency and ensure client-centric solutions for a valued added experience.

Please, try something new.

The naivety of youth and where to find some

March 23, 2015
Recapture your youth ...

Recapture your youth …

There’s something refreshing about the naivety of youth; a time of not knowing it all and having the opportunity and the excitement of finding out. There are so many new experiences, taking nothing for granted and enjoying the moment; enjoying the journey as well as the destination.

It’s ironic because this is exactly what many of us ‘older’ people are searching for. I saw a great example this morning. As I waited in the airline lounge for another flight, I made my way up to the coffee station and there was a young man of 16 or 17, my son’s age, standing there looking at the machine.

He clearly didn’t know what to do and looked like a fish out of water. There were huffs and puffs from the handful of business types behind him, frustrated by the multi-second delay this was causing to their day.

Excruciatingly absorbed in their self-importance, these men and women in their power suits, sporting permanent scowls that scream ‘I’m so important’, were clearly desperate to secure that next coffee with minimal downtime.

I said to the young man, ‘These machines are so complicated, far too many buttons for my liking’ as I helped him to make his selection. He said he was new at this. ‘Great, where are you going?’ He was off to Sydney to race go-carts in the national championships.

‘Wow, that sounds great’, I said as I handed him his cup. I saw him eyeing the biscuits so suggested he’d better grab a few of those to keep him going. We headed back to our seats in the same direction and he told me how happy he was, how this was a great opportunity for him, how excited he was about flying and being allowed to use the lounge.

I wished him luck, told him he was unquestionably the most interesting person in here and that I hoped to see him in F1 one day. I was much better off for talking to him and glad I’d had the chance to meet him.

Here was a young adult that was excited by life, chasing his passion and enjoying every aspect of journey, even the flight. I thought back to my first few flights and how excited I was too.

Many people in this lounge have big jobs, high salaries and flash cars but have lost the passion and excitement. I looked over at the young man talking enthusiastically with his parents, almost bouncing off the walls, while the ‘blue suits’ had their noses buried in the latest Richard Branson article on their iPads.

When you recapture the wonder, you capture the world.

Where to find success

February 18, 2015
The zest of success!

The zest of success!

Work in a corporate with more than 100 people and you’ll find such a diversity of people, performance levels and expectations. There are great people, top performers who are well rewarded and provide excellent value for the business. However, there are many who expect to be rewarded at a level far above their effort and results. Their self-perception is mismatched with their performance. Often it’s not ability, but effort and motivation that holds them back.

So where does success meet personal power? Here are some tips:

In order to succeed you need ambition, which means you need to work hard, make sacrifices, and keep going when things aren’t going well. It’s easy to get discouraged or side-tracked; success comes in the last 10% that most people aren’t prepared to do.

Successful people are energetic. They act and talk with passion, bringing people along on the journey. Stamina counts: you have to be willing to work harder and longer than those around you. ‘Wanting’ and ‘doing’ are very different; be your own action hero and people will feed off your energy.

Ambition and energy need to be channelled toward a clear goal. ‘Busy’ and ‘efficient’ are two very different things. There are many choices when focusing on what’s important, so don’t make the mistake of not choosing.

The drive toward success must include ongoing analysis and assessment. Many people think they have 10 years of experience, but they really have one year of experience repeated 10 times. In order for experience to lead to growth, you must review your progress objectively and be prepared to make appropriate changes.

Successful people exude confidence, which increases their influence and power. Confident behavior is often associated with actual power, so you’ll have more influence if you come across as confident and decisive.

Do you have the capacity to tolerate conflict? Most people don’t; they prefer to avoid difficult situations and difficult people. Since change often provokes resistance, standing up for your beliefs can be challenging. Sometimes you need to fight for what you want.

To find success, I’m not suggesting you dedicate your life to your ambition. Balance is important and provides perspective. Use your time wisely and, when working, be present, focused and motivated. Don’t expect others to provide this, it comes from within. Take initiative. Do more than expected. Do this and you’ll stand out in a world where striving for mediocrity is the norm.

New Year: a time of change

January 30, 2015
How do  we achieve meaningful change?

How do we achieve meaningful change?

Often the most important things in our lives remain hidden in plain sight, obscured by the rush of routine or the pull of commitment. Sometimes, the most we can do is simply focus on the next task, whatever is most urgent. In so doing, we slowly become oblivious to what’s most important.

At other times, we succumb to the temptation of believing that progress means change. If you haven’t yet started then you will need to change; however, it’s easy to forget that, in choosing what you have already chosen, you may have chosen well.

Sometimes you choose badly and embrace the wrong set of values or pursue the wrong purposes. When that happens, you need to have the confidence to make other choices.

But we also need to learn the value of staying true, of choosing again what we chose before.