Gems or Gravel?

Gems or Gravel? (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_45482889When people give you advice, it is important to sift through the gravel to find the gems.

I learned this several years ago when I belonged to an association. The members were very friendly, helpful, and full of advice. I took in everything everyone told me and tried to apply it all. It did not work.

I realized that although everything they gave me were “gems” to them, because these things had worked for them, not everything was right for my situation. Of the advice I received, some could be considered precious gems and worthwhile to implement quickly. Some advice was more in the line of semi-precious gems, advice that was worthwhile to implement at some point, but not a priority at the time. And some advice, for my situation, was gravel and best discarded.

I spent quite a bit of time and money trying to implement everything. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I realized that it would have been better had I analyzed every piece of advice first to see if, for me, it was a gem or gravel.

When people offer advice, be careful not to use the gravel. Do not discard everything without analyzing it first, however, because there probably will be some gems in there somewhere.

Adapt

Adapt (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_39505553I have read that the ability of a species to survive is dependent upon its ability to adapt. I think this is true. I think it is also true that our ability to succeed is in part dependent upon our ability to adapt.

The only constant is change. As things change, we need to be able to adapt.

We do this in very simple ways without even thinking about it. If the weather turns cold, we dress warmer. (Well, most of us do. I still do not understand flip-flops in the snow.)

Most of the time, though, adapting to change is not this easy. A new job, a new position, a new supervisor, a new owner, a new corporate culture all creates change and requires us to adapt to the new situation. We need to adapt to remain successful. The way we used to do things may not be acceptable anymore.

Frequently changes in our professional life are the result of changes in the economy and the world in general. We need to adapt to these changes.

We need to adapt in our personal lives as well. Changes occur. Our parents get older and require more assistance. Our children get older and require less assistance. Our lifestyles change and we need to adapt.

Change is often good and adapting can be fun. However, even when we do not want to adapt to a new situation, it is usually best if we do. The only other alternative is to leave the situation. We need to embrace the changes and adapt, rather than bemoaning the past.

“Why” vs. “What”

“Why” vs. “What” (Video Link)

studentI think that why we do things is almost always more important than what we do.

For example, if someone says something to us at work that we do not agree with, we can say something or we can say nothing. Either can be good or bad. The difference is why. If we say something because we want to clarify the issue, that is a good reason. If we say something to embarrass or humiliate the person, that is poor reason. If we do not say anything because it is not that important, that is fine. If we do not say anything because we want to avoid conflict at all costs, that can be a poor reason and may cause other problems later.

Before we do something, it can be very beneficial to ask ourselves, “Why would I do this?” An important follow-up question is, “And why else?” Asking this several times can help us determine the complete answer.

After that it is easy. Are those good answers? If yes, then continue. If not, then think again about what to do and why.

Reflect on the Old Year

hMany people make New Year’s resolutions.  Many of those who make resolutions do not achieve them.

I think one reason is that many of us do not reflect on the old year.  What did we do?  Why did we do it?  Did our decisions and actions achieve the results we wanted?  If not, what could we have done differently?

If you truly want to achieve your goals for 2015, I suggest you first think very strongly and clearly about 2014.  Use that knowledge to develop goals and plans for 2015.

May you achieve everything you want in 2015!

Worry, Friend or Foe?

hWorry, Friend or Foe? (Video)

I worry too much.  I worry that I worry too much!

Worry can get in the way of enjoying life.  If we spend time worrying about the future, we cannot enjoy the present.  Worry takes time and energy that we could use elsewhere.  We can accomplish more if we worry less.

And yet sometimes I wonder if maybe a little bit of worry is good.

If we are a little worried about our future, won’t we plan a little better?  Won’t we do a little more like get an education, work hard, put money away for emergencies, for retirement?

I know that I need to manage my worry.  I spend too much time worrying about things that never happen, and are not likely to happen.  But I think I will hang on to enough worry that I still feel a need to plan for the future.

Clean House or Change Oil?

hClean House or Change Oil? (Video)

In a previous blog I discussed work, hobbies, and required responsibilities.  Required responsibilities are those things that we are responsible to do for ourselves.  If we own a business or are self-employed, we have professional required responsibilities as well.  These are things that we need to do, but no one is going to pay us directly for them.  For example, we need to have a website, but no one is going to pay us directly for our website.  We need to work our costs into our selling price to cover our business expenses.

With required responsibilities, we can either do them ourselves or we can pay someone else to do them for us.  It is my responsibility to clean my house.  I have decided not to pay someone else to do it.  I am capable of doing it myself and it does not take that long to do.  It is also my responsibility to change the oil in my car.  I could learn how to do it, buy the necessary equipment, and determine where to dispose of the oil.  I have decided that it is a better use of my time to pay someone else to change the oil.

When I am trying to determine the best use of my time and money related to business, I often ask myself if it is similar to cleaning the house or changing the oil.  Some things, like writing and posting blogs, is similar to cleaning the house.  I have the capability to do it and can make the time to do it.  I also enjoy it.  (I enjoy writing; I hate cleaning house.  I just want to be clear on that.)

Other things, like designing a website, are similar to changing the oil.  I might be able to learn how to do it, but it will never be as good as if a professional did it and it will take me much longer to do it.  If I am designing a website that is time that I cannot spend elsewhere.  The money I would save doing it myself would probably be small compared to lost revenue.  And I would still have an inferior website.

In business, we have to decide what we can and should do for ourselves and what we need to hire someone else to do.  Too often I think people see only the business “expense” and try to do it themselves.  Many of these expenses are also investments in our business.  If we are going to make an investment, it should be the best we can afford.  This may mean contracting with someone else who can do it better and faster than we can.

Are there tasks you are doing that would be better contracted to someone else?

Business, Hobby, or Required Responsibility?

Business, Hobby, or Required Responsibility? (Video)

hWe do many things.  Most, perhaps all, can be divided into three areas:  business, hobby, or required responsibility.

The business area includes everything that we do for others that they are willing to pay us to do.  If we have a job, we get a paycheck in return for what we do.  The work we do has value to our supervisor or the company where we are employed.  If we are self-employed, our customers pay us to provide goods or services because these goods and services are valuable to them.  In my case, people pay me to speak at their conferences and they pay me for my book.

The hobby area includes those items that we do because we enjoy them, but no one is going to pay us to do it.  Or, they will not pay us very much.  Something to keep in mind is:  “Businesses are in business to make money.  If it does not make money, it is a hobby, not a business.”  (This is the best piece of information I learned at the University of Louisville when I got an MBA.)  I love to hike, but no one is going to pay me to go hiking.

Required responsibilities are those things that we are responsible to do for ourselves.  This includes everything from feeding ourselves to cleaning our homes to taking care of our pets and/or children.  No one will ever pay me to clean my own house; it is my responsibility.  And I will never pay someone to clean their own house; that is their responsibility.

With required responsibilities, it is our responsibility to see that they are done.  We can do them ourselves, or we can hire someone to do it for us.  We can clean our house, or hire a housekeeper.  We can mow our lawn, or hire a lawn service.  It does not matter which, so long as it is done.

How would you divide what you do?  What tasks are business, what are hobbies, and what are required responsibilities?

Routines

dreamstimefree_199618Routines (Video)

Routines help us until they hurt us.

Routines can be very helpful in that they assist us be productive.  They help us be efficient.

However, there are times when we cannot follow our routines.  We get sick, family members need us, customers want something last minute, and we need to adapt.  For some of us, however, it can be very difficult not to follow our routines.

Routines can help us immensely.  However, we must remain flexible enough that when the routine cannot be followed, we adapt quickly and do what needs to be done.

 

The Success We Think We Deserve

The Success We Think We Deserve (Video Link)

Have you seen the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower?  There was a line in the movie that still resonates with me:  “We accept the love we think we deserve.”  I think this is true.  I think we do accept the love we think we deserve.  We accept the treatment from others we think we deserve.  Unfortunately, some of us do not think we deserve very much. 

This concept can also have an impact on our success.  We achieve the level of success that we think we deserve, not the level of which we are capable.  If we do not think we deserve to be successful, it will be extremely difficult to be successful.  People are very good at self-sabotage, and they generally do not even realize it.

I encourage you to think carefully about what level of success you think you deserve.  From there, think about why you do not think you deserve a higher level of success.  This exercise can give you great insight on those thoughts that may be holding you back.

Embrace Yourself While Improving Yourself

Embrace Yourself While Improving Yourself (Video Link)

It is important that we embrace who we are.  Each of us is unique.  We need to appreciate all our good aspects and accept our areas that need improvement.

At the same time, we need to strive to constantly become better, to improve ourselves.  This is a necessary step in achieving professional and personal success.  It is the old “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” 

We may need to improve ourselves by gaining additional knowledge or technical skills.  We may need to improve our interpersonal skills.  Whatever it is, we need to become better each day.

It can be difficult to balance embracing who we are with becoming who we want to be.  Just remember that who we are today may be perfectly fine for today, but if we want to continue to succeed, we may need to be even better tomorrow.