I still hear many stories about companies treating their employees like commodities. I personally know some extremely talented people who are being used and abused by their managers simply because they think they can get away with it in this economy. Having people work night and day and at your beck and call puts more money in the pockets of these very short-term thinking types. Or, so they think. If they can operate with a drastically reduced head count that means a bigger bonus for them.
I also still watch companies cut back on the level and quality of interaction with their customers in order to save money. In my experience that type of management occurs when the CEO is really an accountant who never should have made it to the top position.
“Times are tough. We can’t afford the client appreciation program any more.” for example.
This type of thinking is going to bite many of these companies and managers in the ass someday soon. I call them managers because they sure as hell aren’t leaders.
The two greatest assets your company has are your employees and your customers. You don’t have one without the other.
Take them for granted and they will leave. The very best ones have probably already left or are making plans right now. That goes for both your employees and customers. Employees are tired of doing the work of two or three or more without the compensation. Hell, without as much as a thank you.
Your customers are also experiencing the same difficult economic times. Now is the time to do everything you can to help them. You need to listen to them and let them know you understand what they said. You need to be there for them if you want them to be there for you. The entire concept of short-term profits to satisfy stockholders and multimillion dollar bonuses for managers who are clueless about leadership is one of the biggest reasons this country is in the mess we have right now.
You need to let both your employees and customers know they are valued and that you appreciate them.
My wife is diligent about expiration dates on food, medicine, etc. Me – not so much. I use the sniff test on food and I figure meds all have some extra time engineered in them.
But what about personal expiration dates. We all have one but we just don’t know when it is coming due.
Think about this. What if we were also born with a built in Life Gauge that tells you how much time you have left?
It might look like a simple gas gauge with a needle that moves from full to empty. And, what if we could change the expiration date by “filling up our own tank?”
How might we do that? Well, we could do that by how well we live our lives.
Are we taking good care of our physical bodies. Are we living a good life? Are we do the right things for ourselves and others? Are we making the world around us a better place or are we taking from it and not replenishing it?
From a very early age the majority of human beings know the difference between right and wrong.
But, too many of us compromise the way we live at times during our lives. We make excuses for lying, cheating, or being a Fox commentator. “Everyone else does it.” Or, “What’s the use. I’m going to get mine now.” “If you’re not looking out for number one, you’re a sucker!”
Other people give up on themselves. They spend hours each day in front of the TV. Or, they are afraid. They stop living and wait for the tank to empty. They quit learning and loving.
Then there are the folks who almost always have a full tank. You can recognize them by how they walk across the street. It’s almost like there is a cape flowing from their shoulders because their heads are high and they are LIVING.
They are the people who stop to talk and give a few bucks to the homeless guy on the street. They are the woman who organizes an Internet Fund Drive to build water wells in some of the poorest places on the globe. They are the old man who volunteers at the food pantry, the pet shelter and the nursing home. They are kids who build lemonade stands to help sick children they’ll never meet.
They spend their extra time learning new skills to help themselves and others. Eating right and moving is important to them.
Doing the right thing is the most important thing to them.
And, so the needle on their life gauge stays near full.
Now here is the good news!We already have a built-in Life Gauge!
It is your heart! Listen to it and you’ll know if you’re running full of life, getting low, or running on empty. When we were kids we knew this to be true. That’s why it is easy to live such full lives as a kid. That’s why a kid will just blurt out “I love you!” to everyone.
But, over time some hearts harden and are more difficult to hear. It’s not always your fault this happens. People do senseless and sometimes terrible things to kids and to each other. And, that can have the affect of blocking us from what our heart is saying.
But you can get unblocked. It’s starts by looking in the mirror and smiling and telling yourself that you are worthy of love, that you are lovable and that you can love others. And, then you begin with one act of kindness. Make it random if you want. Volunteer at the soup kitchen. Ask the priest or minister of the church down the street if you can do anything to help them out. Call a pet shelter and ask them what kind of pet food you can donate and then go buy as many bags as you can afford and personally deliver them.
Sign-up for a class in something you’ve never tried. Buy a banjo and find a teacher. Tutor for free. Hold a child’s hand.
Stand up to the bullies in the world and not just the ones in the playground. There are plenty of adult bullies masquerading as teachers, politicians, bankers, lawyers, judges, and consultants. Don’t let them get away with making the world worse and sucking some of your life energy away.
Do the right thing!
And, little by little, your Life Gauge will send a stronger and stronger signal.
Eventually it will fall to empty but it won’t be because you haven’t lived. You will have lived a rich and full life. And, you will have left your world – our world – a better place for having been here.
Peace and love to all of you this season of joy and remembrance.
How many times a day do you have that type of exchange with someone either in person, on the phone, or in email? It’s already happened to me a half-dozen times this morning. I always assume the initial question is a social greeting and not really a question. I don’t think most people really want to take the time to listen to me – to find out how I really am feeling. And, that’s okay most of the time.
A lot of people aren’t really fine right now. And, they have been better. You might count yourself in that group. You might be wondering if you’re really doing the thing in life that makes a difference for both yourself and those around you. It’s easy to wonder when you hear and see so much negativity around you. However, I’m here to tell you that with over 60 years of experience as a human being, I find that there always will be negative people, negative stories, and those who have given up on making a difference and want you to join them. Ignore them. Run from them.
Running your own business, working in sales, shipping a new project, and making a difference are all challenging not just for you but for all of us. Don’t let the experts tell you any differently. It’s hard work. That’s why it’s called work. But, it can be fun and rewarding and you can make a difference. I bet you already are making one with someone.
But, maybe you’re feeling dissatisfied and scared. It’s good to be dissatisfied otherwise we’d never strive to make somethign even better and scared is normal. You were successful at something before you started this new project, career, or business. What was it about you that allowed you to be successful in the first place? Are you doing what led to that success now? You might be harboring assumptions that are stifling you now. Do you have a list of “shoulds” that are holding you back. What could they be?
Now, please go find a quiet place, sit down and relax and then ask yourself this question. Or, better yet, sit with a trusted friend or two and let them listen to the answer.
The question is, “How are you?”
And, now, give yourself and them the honest answer.
Talk about why you’re dissatisfied, why you’re scared and why you’re worried you might now be doing the “one thing” that will make a difference. Or, maybe how you’re afraid of the idea of even doing one thing.
Listen to your answers. Write them down – especially the assumptions and the shoulds. Ask yourself if you’re trying to force things to happen. Are you focused on the right thing?
And, what is the right thing? I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not:
Proving something to someone else or proving them wrong.
Getting the award, the recognition, the trophy.
Focusing on these things will only lead to failure. I suggest focusing on one thing for the time being.
Focus on providing extraordinary value to the people you come in contact with every moment of every day. Ask yourself:
What kind of value can I provide for this person?
How can I make their lives better without consideration for my own agenda?
Who can I connect them with who will bring more value to their lives?
That’s it. One primary focus and three questions.
And, now will you do me a favor? Will you answer these two questions for me? You can do it in the comments or send me a private email but I promise you that I will listen.
How are you?
What can I do to help you get what you want in life?
Do you like politicians? I’m curious because I’ve done my best since I knew what one is to stay away from them. I don’t hate them but in my first 60 years on the planet I made it a point not to invite one home for dinner. And, now I pretty much find them all to be dishonest and/or incompetent.
But, YOU must like them. How do I know that? Well, I’ve read it twice in the last few weeks in two different esteemed US newspapers. Both times the writers said, “Most people like politicians.”
Seriously is some PR agency starting a “Hug a Politician Today” campaign?
Thanks to some Supreme Court justices who are trying to bring back a 1950 version of America (rural and small town with the men in charge, women who did what they were told, and kids who were seen but not heard) corporations can spend as much as they want on ads for or against specific candidates.
If you like politicians then you must be really happy right now.
We have campaign ads running on television 24×7 now. And, the ads which always were pretty much bullshit have reached the point where someone running for the Senate can just lie. Who’s going to call them on it? Not the media from the same networks and newspapers that make billions off their advertising.
There is never a deficit of people who want to be a candidate for election to office in our cities, counties, states and federal government. Some of them even have good intentions (other than feeding their narcissism and lining their pockets) when they first run for office. I believe that. Stop laughing. I do believe it. But, then something happens when they are elected. They become politicians.
And, lying their way into office has become accepted. Creating hate by lying and instilling fear has become acceptable. You are either part of this problem or you can be part of the solution. Continuing to sit on your ass and not vote has been acceptable for way too long and makes you part of the problem. Don't let the liars and hate mongerers continue their tactics. Hold them to the truth.
And, I suggest you read this column by Frank Rich to see what some of the lies and fear is doing.
I like to always keep in mind what the character in The Hunt for Red October,’ Dr. Jeffrey Pelt, National Security Advisor said to Jack Ryan. I figure this is when fiction is the truth.
“Listen, I'm a politician which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies I'm stealing their lollipops.”
They still don't get it. What is it about companies that still insist on doing everything the way they've always done it? Do they think that it's safe? It's not.
They're still doing things like buying air time instead of providing personal value. And, when they do dip their toes into any new marketing like social media they either spam or hire a PR firm to do it for them. Ask B.P. (British Petroleum not Bob Poole) how that worked out for them.
When they look for help with this new marketing they run to the same old entrenched big consulting, legal and accounting firms for answers. Or, they have a PhD from a big name business school put on a seminar.
It's like having a corporate pacifier. But, a pacifier is just that. It makes you feel good for the moment but it doesn't get you what you want and need.
Go ask some twenty-something-year-olds who are running their own businesses about marketing today. They can teach you more about what to do and what you CANNOT do than any of these big name firms.
But, that would be taking a risk. Instead they continue to follow the process they've always taken. Forget creativity. Forget standing out. Forget leading. Just suck on the pacifier.
There is a belief amongst these companies that nobody ever gets fired for hiring IBM and the other big name firms.
“Stop the plane at the end of the runway. That last landing was a little hard and I want to check the tire.” With those words my flight instructor jumped out of the 1938 Luscombe 8Ataildragger turned around and smiled at me and said, “Make three take-offs and landings. When you’re done pull it up to the pump.” He shut the door and walked away never looking back as he strolled back to the hanger.
If you to fly there comes a day when it is time for you to solo.
My day occurred nearly 34 years ago on November 11, 1976. My thoughts turn back each year to that day when the signs of fall appear with the squirrels around my house going crazy gathering acorns and leaves starting to swirl at my feet as I walk along the creek.
So what does this have to do with business? Well, today a lot of people are considering or have already started up their own businesses and if my email is any indication – many of them are afraid. I was thinking about fears I’ve faced in my own life and pushing that throttle in and heading down that grass strip runway while knowing I was the only person in the plane could have been an extremely fearful experience for me.
But, I wasn’t afraid.
Oh, I’ll admit to a lot of feelings as I pulled back on the stick and watched the ground disappear. Euphoria and butterflies hit all at the same time – but not fear. I had been practicing for that moment and had put in twenty-hours of flight time with my teacher flying in all kinds of conditions, practicing stalls, emergency landings, and anything else I might face when I flew solo.
Running your own business is a lot of hard work and it is easy to get discouraged. You can start focusing on failure when things aren’t going according to your business plan. You might begin to think that you’ll never succeed – that it will never get off the ground.
But, you’ve been practicing to do this all your life.
Are you ready to solo? Are you ready to stop being afraid?
There is only one way to find out and that’s to do it. Activity is critical for you. Analytical processing, asking others for advice, planning, reading books, and studying the masters have their place but even more important is the doing.
You are ready.
No more fear.
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