5 Very Positive Things that Successful People Do!

5 Very Positive Things that Successful People Do!

thumbs up“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

Successful people have developed very powerful and deeply held habits.

Here are 5 of them:

1. They live for the future and they don’t dwell in the past. They learn from mistakes and errors but they never brood over “what could have been.” Successful people know that the past is history and that taking risks involves the possibility of failure…but taking reasonable risks is also necessary to succeed.

2. They don’t obsess over perfection. It is not attainable in any measurable way and making perfection the objective is a Sisyphean task and sets one up for failure. Successful people are realistic in their goal-setting and apply themselves and do the best they can. When the job or task is done…it’s time to move on. History will judge if it was good enough.

3. They associate with successful people. And avoid people who are “downers” …those who are negative. Just as a positive attitude is contagious, so is a negative attitude. Negative people can poison a team or an organization. Putting up with negative people is a waste of time and energy that can be used to build positive relationships and networks. Associating with winners helps people become winners themselves. You can’t pick all you interact with … but you sure can for a lot of them. If you are a supervisor – don’t tolerate it in any of your reports. If you supervise supervisors, instruct your people to not tolerate it and train them how to eliminate it from their domain.

4. They never stop learning. Successful people learn on two different tracks: first, studying the components of success and failure and secondly learning more about what interests them personally. The first one is the same for all successful people; learning what the dynamics of success are, how to achieve them as well as learning from past mistakes. One way to do so is to study the success and failures of others. What were the habits, practices, mindsets, and strengths of the great successes of history; Winston Churchill, George Washington, Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel that became U.S. Steel),  Steve Jobs (Apple), Jack Welch (GE)…and Michael Jordan, to name just a few. These great success also made mistakes – big ones along the way. Learn from these greats.

The second area of learning will also make you a more interesting and personable person! In my case, it is history – especially of the American Civil War and the two World Wars. My two universes of learning are therefore reading  biographies and military history. The lessons to be learned overlap. Every now and then, however, an Elmore Leonard novel sneaks in!

5. They bring a healthy amount of skepticism to the table when it is appropriate. They have a bit of “Missouri” in them – Missouri being the “show me state”. It helps them separate the “wheat from the chaff” – the useful from the not-so-useful when absorbing information or needing to decide a course of action. The world is full of people with agendas. A certain amount of skepticism helps to get through that minefield. They know not to take things at face value without probing the details and understanding the consequences of the action being considered. They challenge claims that just don’t seem to make sense.

Step back mentally and evaluate how well  you do in these five dynamics. Make them part of your personal planning journal and incorporate them into daily thinking. Good luck!

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Not Too Keen on Making a Speech?

Making a speech is one of the more intimidating and frightening aspects of many jobs and careers. Popular thought is that people fear it more than snakes, spiders, heights, etc.

public-speakingThe library shelves are loaded with books to guide you through the process, and the experts stress that the only way to overcome the fear is to “jump in the water”…make as many presentations as you can in order to get used to the rhythm of doing so and to reach a certain comfort level.

We recently came across a wonderful book by Chris Matthews – “Life’s A Campaign – What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success” – published by Random House, that has a great chapter on speech-making (Chapter 23 – Speak Up!).

 

Chris provides six points to follow for a successful speech:

#1 – The Icebreaker –  a brief comment or observation to start things off. Something like “Good afternoon… and welcome to Washington, DC – your nation’s capital – where parades and protests can snarl traffic just as well as a good snow storm!” …or…“Good afternoon….I traveled here from Washington, DC – 68.3 square miles surrounded by reality!” This opening comment is also to get any cobwebs out of your voice… to be sure your voice is projecting and that the PA system (if you are using one) works properly.

#2 – The Tease – tell ‘em what you are gonna tell them. Something like “After my remarks, you WILL be able to <understand why global warming is not good>”,  or whatever. You want the audience to know where you are coming from and where your remarks are headed. You don’t want anyone in your audience wondering what your point is or what’s the goal of your presentation.

#3 – Anecdote time – these are not jokes, but rather short stories about people, circumstances or perhaps yourself and why you are standing in front of your audience. Of course, they must fit into the context of your remarks as illustrative examples of the points you wish to make.

#4 – Download this is where you “tell ‘em” why you are talking to them…what are the points you want to make, the action you want the audience to take… etc. It is usually helpful to number the points you are making and start off by so stating…”I am going to give you four good reasons to vote for me”…or whatever. Above all, avoid wandering around the verbal landscape!

#5 – Relief – communicate that the heavy lifting is over…summarize the points you made and the logic you used to glue it all together.

#6 – Send-off – you made this speech or presentation for a reason. Re-state it here with whatever call to action is appropriate. Often speakers end with a simple, “Thank you.” Wrong!! No need to thank them for listening. Rather, thank them for the opportunity you had to teach them something, help them better understand an issue, ask them to take a course of action, etc.

Chris notes that most speeches should be between ten and twenty minutes long…notwithstanding the annual State of the Union addresses that seems to go on forever!

Success in almost every line of work requires strong and clear verbal communications, and making presentations and giving speeches is a critical part of that for many a position. Rather than shirk away from them – be determined to become good at them!

For further preparation, read some of the great speeches available online: Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream”, etc. and analyze what makes them great speeches. A simple Google search will bring them up for your review.

For further information about making an effective and non-anxiety producing speech go to:

http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~rbrokaw/speech_anxiety.html

Good luck and may great speeches be in your future!

Enough is Enough!! Stop Talking and Let’s Get on With It !!

stop_talking_tshirtA major annoyance for most of us is a conversation with someone that never stops talking!

You almost have to wait until they take a breath to get a comment or question in!

Learning how and when to “shut up” is both a behavioral habit as well as a leadership trait.

According to  Mike Staver of The Staver Group – www.thestavergroup.com – many people don’t know when to talk and when to put a brake on it.

Here are a few questions to determine whether you know how to keep your mouth shut or not:

  •  After you make your point, do you just have to add a few other (unnecessary) comments?
  •  Do you say “in closing” several times before you really close?
  •  Do you have to have the last word in an argument or disagreement?

Here are some communications tips from Staver:

  •  Be clear about what you are attempting to communicate.
  •  Share with the person you are communicating with what you want to accomplish.
  •  Avoid getting distracted by other issues, ideas, points, stories, etc. (I refer to this as “wandering around the verbal landscape”! With folks that do this, you just want to scream “Stick to the point”!!)
  •  Use “talk-ending” techniques such as “So what are the next steps?” or use an example to wrap things up.
  •  Learn to tolerate silence. It is effective…and it won’t kill you, Staver says!

“Leadership – never stop learning”

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Your First 90 Days on the Job

I wrote earlier about four critical things you must do when you start a new job (July 17 ‘13 post).

90-day-plan-300x206To recap:

1. Figure out who the key players are in your arena…and spend serious face time with them.

2. Determine how you will be evaluated.

3. Determine what the really important things are.

4. Be on the way to becoming a “Go To” person.

They are critical and should be your first priority…but there a few other very important things  you need to pay attention to during the critical “break-in” period….your first 90 days on the job.

1. Create a personal game plan…. and update it weekly. This personal game plan will be very short term initially… you can’t make plans for what you don’t know (yet). It is essentially a “To Do/To Follow Up On” list broken into groups – the groups being different direct reports (subordinates), different projects, different things you are waiting for something to come back your way for additional action, etc.

Although there are all sorts of online and smartphone/PC applications for such things, I have always preferred to keep this very simple – an 8 ½ x 11 lined pad with pages devoted to each “group”. Makes it easy to refer and write to it day and night. The top sheet is blank except for my name and tele # and a request to get it to me if found – it is really important to me… and while I have never lost one… that doesn’t mean I won’t someday <smile>!

Just label each page as to who/what it applies to…when full… go the next blank page. Number the pages by group.

Much of it will truly be “To Do/To Follow Up On” things.. but the reason I reference it as a “game plan” is that it will also have a series of personal objectives there as well. I use a few sheets at the very end of the pad to jot them down and update/revise as necessary.

By putting it all on one pad, it is easy to stay on top of your entire breadth of responsibilities…and it goes with your everywhere! And when it is full – don’t throw it away for a year or so… you might be surprised to see how often you go back and refer to it.

Finally – due to the nature of what you have recorded here – you need to safeguard it very carefully!!

2. Create a reference guide…and update it as frequently as daily. This is a continuing list of “stuff” you will refer to from time to time – such things as procedures, names , tele numbers and email addresses, driving directions, tax ID #s, important deadline dates for whatever  – you get the idea – the stuff you don’t want to have to look up or ask about a second time.

As of this writing, there is a neat pc program called “Evernote” that can really make life easier in this regard.  http://evernote.com   Install it on your PC and your smart phone.. and synch them. That way you can do data entry and retrieval from either. Of course names with tele numbers, addresses and email addresses go into whatever program your employer has set up – usually Outlook.

3. Get a grip on whatever numbers are important to your sphere of responsibility.

You gotta know the numbers. Sales, margins, costs, profits, percentages, ratios, benchmarks. Whatever is important to the objective of getting it done on time and on (or under!) budget.

Every business has ratios and relationships. For example a friend in the hotel business tells me that she staffs housekeepers based on 14. One housekeeper per 14 rooms to be cleaned. Every sales position has a ratio of contacts to presentations to closes. Find out which ratios are relevant to your job, your department, etc.

4. Determine who the external resources are and establish contact with them.

If your job requires you to deal with others external to your organization, make a point to determine who they are and make contact with them.  They might be customers or vendors. They may be outside resources such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, auditors, etc.

Talk to your boss to determine who they might be and be pro-active by reaching out to them. Introduce yourself and let them know they can count on your for whatever role has been the norm in the past.

OK… you now have some guidelines and marching orders for your first 90 days in your new job!

Feel free to post here for the benefit of others your thoughts and ideas you have found successful in this regard!! Thanks!!

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The World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity — former U.S. Presidents

“The world’s most exclusive fraternity” is the tagline of a wonderful book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy entitled “The President’s Club”.

The President's Club book coverIt details the relationships between ex-U.S. Presidents and the incumbent. Regardless of what is said on the campaign trail, those men (and hopefully a woman one day soon!) all recognize the rigors of the job and that the advice and assistance of those that have walked the halls of The White House before can be both helpful and comforting.

The book is a great read – with “aha” stuff you never knew and a broad sprinkling of humor. It also details what happens when an ex-president outruns his blockers as Jimmy Carter did on more than one occasion!

Why do I devote space in this blog to it? Because it is also a series of great leadership lessons and illustrates that “only time will tell” how wise were certain decisions and how history now views former presidents compared to what the public thought in their first years out of office.

I strongly recommend the book…and you will learn from the successes and mistakes of these former presidents.

presidentsAnd while you are at it… take a look at the wonderful piece by David Shribman in The Salem News entitled “The new George H.W. Bush.” It talks of the work done by presidents after they leave office – their so-called “second lives”. John Quincy Adams served in Congress for several terms after leaving office…and with nothing to prove was at times a real pain to the incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Shribman’s article coverage also includes U.S. Grant, Harry Truman, James Garfield, Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Bush 41.

http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/x1912998280/Shribman-The-new-George-H-W-Bush

Leadership – never stop learning!

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