Success and Service

Serving others should be the core to all we do, particularly in business. In every interaction we have whether it’s the management team or the person cleaning the toilets, we must remember that all business is people business and the medium of exchange are the products and services we provide.

The truth is that most people are willing to help and serve when given the opportunity to do so. But when they feel less valued for who they are and the gifts they have, they will tend to withdraw from others and not be so willing to share. They won’t perform as well as they used to and your interactions will become more strained.

The more you seek to gain from others the less they will be willing give of themselves, causing a disservice to both you and the customer you’re seeking to find as a result. You’ll start to find they start acting indifferently, all the people you interact will pick up on it that they are no longer as important to you.

On the there hand, seeking to serve others shows a very different style of leadership. When we’re looking to see how to help others, it’s amazing how many come to give more freely of themselves in return. All of our lives are expanded for the efforts we put forth and success becomes a natural consequence in our lives and business.

Don’t hesitate to provide service when called upon and be sure to look for opportunities to serve whether you are noticed for it or not.

Live Out Your Imagination

Think on this statement. Your history is what got you to where you are based on all the decisions you’ve ever made. If you’re 100% happy with where things are, then there’s little reason to read any further.

However, if there are things out of place, keep reading.

In a nutshell, thoughts are things. There is nothing in this world that was first an idea in somebody’s mind. The electronic device you’re reading this on, the clothes you’re wearing, the cars we drive in, the buildings we erect… There was much energy expended to create these things and make them a physical reality, but the energy wouldn’t have had anywhere to be directed if it didn’t first start as an idea, or more specifically in someone’s imagination.

You have access to the same forces of imagination. You can dream of anything you want to do and putting the proper energy behind those ideas you can make them a reality in your life as well. It doesn’t even matter if things didn’t go perfect in the past. They are behind you and that’s exactly where they need to stay. We still have the undetermined future ahead of us and we can craft it any way we desire.

So let your imagination run wild. Craft an entire new world in your mind and see what fits you best! Then get to work.

On Character

January 15, 2009 is certainly not the greatest day in all of history. There are no national holidays, no special sporting events on television, or anything that could be counted as a big change in the annals of human history.

Well… that might actually depend on who you are. For 155 people, their lives were forever changed on account of a flock of geese. More specifically, US Airways Flight 1549 struck the flock of birds right after take-off, disabling both engines and rendering the airliner a giant glider. In an act of extraordinary professionalism, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger guided the damaged aircraft to a smooth landing in the Hudson river, saving the lives of all 155 souls on board.

In this single act, “Sully” became a household name even though he claimed he was just doing his job that day. In reality that really is all he was doing and that day just happened to be the day the job got a whole lot tougher.

Yet it also highlights today’s point: this one single act is what he is now best known for. Of course he deserves the accolades for his actions when the stakes were so high and for the lives he saved, but they pay little attention to the decades of experience he gained leading up to that moment. They don’t count how many times he got a plane off the ground, the other landings he performed, the number of times he went through his checklist and walkarounds before even turning on the engines…

His character was indeed revealed in such a great moment, but it was all that time leading up to it that truly defined how well he would perform when the moment finally came. Even Sully’s own comments from on particularly interview  suggest this: “One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”

Don’t ever get sucked into the mistaken thinking that it’s the great things that define your ultimate success. Those moments certainly come, but instead focus your energy and thoughts on your daily routine as you build your character over time. Hopefully you won’t ever have to ditch an airplane in the Hudson river, but it’s in your daily routine you will find your true character, and that is what will carry you through when the big tests do come your way.

The Value of the Unknown

In the grand scheme of life there really aren’t any unknowns, only that which we haven’t yet discovered. For example, the principles of flight have always existed since the dawn of time, yet it was barely over 100 years ago that the Wright Brothers uncovered the one trick needed for controlled flight and now we’ve been to the moon.

Or how the transistor first came into existence in 1947, which has lead to the incredible world of computers, cell phones, tablets, even medical devices like pacemakers have microprocessors in them.

It’s no different for the laws of success in whatever field of business or any other endeavor you set your mind to: when you uncover the one critical piece of information you need, everything else after that just seems to flow so effortlessly. All that you’ve worked for drops into place naturally and your progress in inevitable. The satisfaction that comes with knowing all the work pays off, the validation for all the struggles, the late nights and bumps along the way… How do you put a price on that?

You can’t. Making money is fun, but once we’ve mastered the money and the bills are paid and we’re getting the toys we want, it becomes something far deeper. We learn there is literally nothing we can’t accomplish when we set our mind to the task, and THAT… is priceless.

Faith and Fear

Fear and faith are opposite sides of the same coin. They are both based on our belief systems and are driven by the same energy. The difference is in whether we use that energy to build walls or foundations.

To suggest we don’t have a choice is to give away the single greatest gift we have, which is our individual power. If we could only fully understand just how creative we really are, that our ability to think makes us limitless, there would never be a reason for us to ever fear anything again.

We could build anything we desire. We could go anywhere we want. Just look at the course of human history to see how the power of our curiosity has literally opened up the entire globe for us to explore. Heck, we’ve left the surface of the planet and we’re on the hairy edge of another space race which will take us to Mars and beyond.

Think on these things as you consider your goals and dreams. Because you are limitless. You can build anything and go wherever you want.

All it takes is a little faith.

In The Beginning

It’s easy to find people that will talk about the great things they intend to do: bigger dreams, bigger plans, some way of making an impact on the world. Many will even get started only to find out their goal is going to take more work than expected, they don’t have the right resources lined up, or some other issue they didn’t first anticipate.

When we find ourselves in this position, it’s almost invariably a lack of clarity or vision. It’s not uncommon and certainly not a reason to give up or throw out the plan for what we want to do. The first stages of a new business are always going to be the most challenging because there is no demonstrated routine and not everything is obvious to us just yet on where exactly the business is going.

And that’s totally okay. The early stages of business are also when we have the most flexibility and can more easily adjust as we get better focused on our intended goals. Obviously the faster we can dial in our focus the better, but getting our foundation solid should be the higher priority. Doing so plays better to the long game, and in business, longevity counts.

On Superiority

We each have our own unique talents and gifts that can help us perform at levels well above our peers in our chosen fields. We invest vast quantities of time and energy through years of training and practice, and maybe even advanced degrees from a prestigious college to show how well we know what we do.

But let’s be blunt. Such knowledge and training does not make us better than another. No matter how good we may be at our chose professions, this is not enough to make up the total definition of our character. The way our world works anymore it would be impossible for any one person to have superior knowledge in all areas of life. It requires us to combine all of our unique talents and skills to keep the whole thing running.

We can absolutely be proud of our achievements and what we’ve learned along the way. Hard work should be recognized for the value it provides both ourselves and others. Let’s also keep a sense of humbleness and remember that the only true feeling of superiority we should feel is over former versions of ourselves.

It’s Never Too Late To Get Started

How often have you heard “I’m too _____ [fill in the blank] to do what I want to do”?

Too many of us think we’ve past a certain age or some other perceived limit to keep us from pursuing what it is we most want to do. It’s a shame, too, because if we spent even a bit of time we could rekindle that spark of inspiration not only for ourselves but for everyone around us as well.

Think of this: Colonel Sanders was 62 before he first successfully franchised his fried chicken recipe.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when the first of the “Little House on the Prairie” series was first published.

After being mocked countless times at singing competitions, Susan Boyle blew away the judges on Britain’s Got Talent at age 47 to launch her singing career.

The late Alan Rickman had limited success in his acting career before he landed the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies at age 42.

Ray Kroc was 59 when he purchased McDonald’s and turned it into the largest franchise before his death.

The moral? You’re never too ____ [fill in the blank] to get started. Take all you’ve learned, your experiences and use it all to your advantage. The only limits you ultimately face are the ones you place upon yourself.

Self-Esteem

There are merits to being humble, or even soft spoken. When we are difficult to provoke to anger or frustration we can weather difficult challenges and come out of them stronger than ever. Of course this requires determination and the will to keep going no matter what might be thrown at us.

It’s also possible to let the challenges get to us until they start dragging us down. When we start to internalize what’s going on around us, start blaming ourselves for situations, it can harm our self-esteem until we think we are worthless or incapable. This doesn’t mean we pass off responsibility for mistakes we make as none of us are perfect. But when we’re doing the best we know how to do, make corrections, and continue the process of improving ourselves, there’s no reason for us to dwell on such things. We can instead recognize we’ve made tremendous progress and are still moving forward.

It’s okay to recognize we’re awesome! We feel better when we achieve our goals and move on to bigger and better things. It’s validation for the work we do and is to be celebrated. We also can’t let it go to our heads and think that somehow we’re better than others. That’s ego out of control which isn’t any good either. That and we still need to get the work done!

So go ahead. Give yourself the credit you’re do and keep going. You’ve got this!

Your Growth is a Choice

Have you ever spent time getting something totally figured out only to have it change?

How many times have you thought you figured something out only to have it completely change? Time and energy invested, plans made, and then some other factor takes over and completely redirects where and how we make our next move.

We are constantly finding new technologies, better and faster communications, more specializations, refined strategies… It might sound like a bad thing, but if we’re paying close enough attention, it’s actually excellent news! It means we’re getting smarter on the whole, even if it seems a bit chaotic at times. And whether we like it or not, change is inevitable.

That part might be beyond our control, but our ability learn and adapt isn’t. So many will sit back, let the changes control them, and get lost in generalities. But we don’t have to.

If we’re paying attention to the coming shifts we can learn how to apply them to our core expertise and increase our value learn new ways of doing things the more our fundamental expertise increases in value. When we understand what the new technologies and methods are truly for, we see they are not meant to be shortcuts. They won’t ever be able to replace human interaction (and they shouldn’t!), and instead serve to help us serve one another just that much more.