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Archive for May, 2010

As Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, “I am a part of all that I have met.” I happen to agree.  And that is one of the things I love about myself; the fact that I have taken away little pieces of all the wonderful people I have met in my 44 years.  I guess you can say that’s one of the things I love about other people.  It sounds a little strange saying, “I love that part about me that is made of up other people,” but it is something to cherish.  I also happen to remind myself that taking in all the good stuff and leaving the bad stuff behind is an important part of the process. Receiving knowledge, habits, beliefs, and practices are a good thing…as long as the knowledge, habits and beliefs are good ones.  Oftentimes we pick up bad practices and even bad energy and before we know it, we’re in a funk.  It’s funny, but it is easier to adapt to poor habits than it is to adapt to good ones.  There are countless books and articles out there teaching us 7 good ways to do this or 5 things to avoid, but did you know that where there is good, also can you find bad and of course, the converse.  I’m not saying that every time you see something good, look for the negative; I’m saying that it can be there, so be aware.

Take for instance the way I do business.  I’ve been selling SOMETHING or somebody for almost 20 years.  I have a distinct style.  I am good at what I do and I know what works for me.  When I stay true to that person inside of me that instinctively knows how to close a deal, I close the deal.  But at the very point I start to doubt my abilities; start to think that someone else’s way might be better than my way, I lose my mojo.  And it can happen without fanfare or notice.

And take for another instance your desire to fit in at a new company or meld with a new sales department; their ways may be great for them, but that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily adapt to them, even if they’re good! 

All of this is to say, “be true to yourself;” go with what you know and make a conscious effort to cull through the bad to find the good, cull through the good to avoid the bad, and have confidence in what you know works for you.  You are unique; you are an expert in what you do, don’t start doubting yourself now.  You don’t have to be boastful about it, just aware that your way, even if unconventional or not of the latest techniques and processes, may very well be the thing that made you attractive to your employer in the first place.  It’s your “eye of the tiger” that no one can take away, unless of course you let them.  Here are 7 steps to finding and keeping good habits intact:

  1. Always look for the good in people and acknowledge it
  2. If you try on someone else’s style, make sure to check in with your instinct after a test run and ask, “is this authentically ME?”
  3. Be quick to assume responsibility for your shortcomings and slow to blame
  4. Remember how you got the great track record you possess and stay on course
  5. Be willing to make subtle changes to things like time management without causing a complete overhaul
  6. If you or the people around you begin to doubt your abilities, know that it starts with your feelings about yourself and spreads from there
  7. Be grateful for the lesson learned, but don’t wallow; leap ahead and get back in the groove

New habits are great, but only if they work for you.  If you’re looking for growth and betterment, look around, try some things on for size but be willing to adapt to what fits you best.  And if you believe you’re a sum of the parts of all the people you meet, just remember: keep some of the parts and leave others behind!

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I once heard that success in life is not measured by what we have accomplished, but by the obstacles that we have had to face…and most importantly, the obstacles we have overcome.  I read something similar recently in a book that taught me to assume full responsibility for my life, my circumstances and my troubles; to embrace even the problems in a way that actually makes them dissipate.  I’ve written about this before but it seems we forget.  When reacting to most stressful situations we first turn to our intellect when we more than likely should be turning to our gut for guidance.  We sometimes forget what works because we rely on our rationale instead of our instinct.  The particular “prayer” I practice is called H’oponopono where I assume responsibility for whatever is inside of me that is causing the problem I am facing.  It’s a lot of responsibility for one little person, but it is liberating.  And assuming responsibility for every problem I see is easier when you think of the facts…facts a wise mentor once explained as, “the ONLY person involved in all of your problems is YOU!”  What a revelation.  It’s a new way of being for me, this responsible party thing, but I can say with confidence that it has contributed to some amazing transformations in my life. 

I am writing about responsibility today because the last couple of months have been particularly challenging in my business.  I have had to assume responsibility for the success of my state fair and for my situation. Do I really think that I am responsible for its very existence?  Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.  Do I believe that it is entirely up to me?  No, but that doesn’t mean it’s not within my power to make a positive contribution to the outcome.  I am not one to take failure sitting down, but I am faced with the possibility of disappointing myself and the people around me if I don’t achieve the results we have all set.  Are there factors beyond my control?  Yes.  Are there a million and one excuses I can recite to “justify” my lack of success?  You betcha!  But that way of thinking has a zero percent chance of saving a one hundred and four year old tradition on the brink of extinction. 

It’s an vulnerable place to sit…in this possibility of failure…but it is almost therapeutic to verbalize it and bring it out of the ranks of denial and into reality.  The fact is that I have a choice to make; to sit in this place and wallow or take some heartfelt action to change my circumstances.  If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m choosing the latter.  The results are not in yet and there is a gamble to some extent, but trying and failing is better than never trying at all. 

Let me share with you some history so we can talk about how we get in these places and more importantly, how we get out!  Momentum and hype get us there; things start rolling, people have confidence in our abilities and we make big plans.  Then somewhere along the way we tired or get behind and eventually get caught up in the drama of the “what if’s.”  And then it happens…our what if’s become our realities, and essentially our problems.  That’s when we get in over our head, we disregard our gut and we run – WIDE OPEN into some sort of let down; it has happened to us all.  What makes these stories successes, however is  when we slow down enough to get a glimpse of who we might be blaming for our failure and most importantly, what we might be allowing to control the outcome.  When we look…and then assume responsibility for the outcome (whether good or bad), we somehow develop super powers .

I’m not saying that with a blink of an eye and a wiggle of the nose the outcome is instantly reversed, but being a part of the solution in the instant it becomes a problem increases your odds for success by 100%.  The next step in H’oponopono is to say “I’m sorry” for my role in the “what’s ifs” that have become realities.  Then it teaches us to be grateful for the lesson and for the opportunity to grow.  It’s hard to be grateful when staring failure right between its beady little eyes, but it’s imperative if you want to have a chance at success.  Remember it’s easy to blame and statistically, it’s even easy to fail but the person who stops blaming and starts assuming responsibility for the issue at hand may also have a hand in its success.

Stop for a minute to think what problems you’re facing.  Then observe whether you’re allowing for failure through excuses or blame.  Now look a little deeper and ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Am I perpetuating the problem
  2. Can I assume responsibility for it
  3. Even if negative can I take credit in the end

Sometimes we have to take credit (or responsibility) for unfavorable results, but again, assuming responsibility for the problems is the only true way to see it through to success.  This may seem like an odd way to approach life and others may say that it’s not your “job” to fix things or affect the outcome.  But the bottom line is this: success is there for the taking.  The success stories we hear about are not a result of an individual placing blame or accepting their circumstance; they are ones of a character who faces adversity and overcomes it in a way that separates them from the ordinary.  They are ones of a simple decision to assume responsibility for the problem by becoming the solution-maker.  They are people like us that won’t take failure sitting down.  Let’s stand up!

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Every day you hear or see someone networking; working the room for future business prospects or referrals.  It’s one of those things that you get, but you sometimes get turned off by it.  Oftentimes we are inundated with these community-building tactics on Facebook, Twitter and Emails.  There are many less than complimentary things we can say about people who annoy us through our phones, Blackberry’s and in boxes.  Until we’re the organization trying to muster fans we forget how annoying we are to the people in our lives we now call “friends.”  BUT we now have some incredible evangelists; not the Pat Robertson types, but the Joe’s and Sara’s and Bob’s who care, who give, and who spread the word of need in our very own communities and across the globe.  Because of the incredible viral effect of social networking, we now experience worldwide reach by these social-evangelists.  These people are the new activists of our generation; these people are marching in protest or support of a cause half a nation away, these people may very well be the same people that saved Music City!

Last week I did not post my weekly article for the first time in over 52 weeks.  I didn’t feel compelled, nor did I even know it was Monday. On Friday May 1st, Nashville, Tennessee was hard hit with rains that were unprecedented in their length and fury.  On Saturday we added another 5 or 6 inches onto the total…and by Sunday we were at widespread panic level with our rivers, creeks, and tributaries.  Before anyone knew what had happened, Nashville had already suffered its first loss of life.  As the waters rose so did the death toll.  As the death count rose, so did the heartbreak across Tennessee.  By Monday morning the local news was broadcasting 24/7 coverage to an audience that was awestruck at the power and magnitude of the devastation.  It wasn’t until the photos of the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Hotel were released that we received nominal national coverage.  It seemed that there was an oil spill and an attempted terrorist plot that was of paramount importance…that, and maybe we didn’t need the public broadcast because the people of Nashville began taking care of their own.  Make-shift organizations began to dispatch pockets of volunteers, high school football teams traveled to remote areas to aide in the rescue efforts and help right over-turned vehicles and buildings.  Churches held “high ground” cook-outs and began dispersing meals to those of us in the field working on clean up efforts…and it was then I witnessed a community grow into something I will forever be proud of.

Without getting into the details of my own personal tragedy, I can tell you I watched not only people taking care of their own, but people taking care of complete strangers, and people giving everything they could for the benefit of a neighbor they had never had the chance to meet.  It’s been said that the fall of community was when neighborhoods were built without sidewalks preventing families from walking their own streets anymore.  I hadn’t felt that neighborhood feeling since I was a kid. Sidewalks make communities strong, this is true, but I understand something much more poignant now: true communities are built when people are in need.  A cities’ true character shines in a time like this.  A champion spirit forges through and people lend a piece of their soul to help a neighbor. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and an even richer thing to be a part of.

And what was most interesting was the social networking frenzy that occurred in building this revived community we call Nashville.  I think without it, our own neighboring states would not have had a clue we were even washing away.  I watched a transformation and a compassion swell like nothing I’ve ever seen in my 44 years.  I saw humanity in its finest hour.  I cried every night as I read posts and received comments from people in New Mexico, California and as far away as Canada asking how they could help.  I received emails from friends requesting links to share with their networks and communities to aide in the fund raising.  People who once visited and people who one day will could not bear the thought of the rich history of the Nashville Music Scene being in jeopardy and its people being in need.  I am still in awe.

And while I may not have said it enough or even eloquently, I am forever changed.  I am forever marked by this tragedy and I am forever grateful for people who genuinely care about other people.  It is inspiring and gives me hope for this world!  Thank you all for your love and support.  Thank you for your prayers.  We are a long way from recovery, but we are Nashville…and we will be back!  Come visit us next summer!

For more information on how you can help in the Nashville Recovery Efforts, please go to: Community Foundation of Mid TN or Nashville Red Cross

Here Comes The Sun – Nashville Slide Show

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