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Triumph Over Excuses

None of us like to think that we make excuses, but we do.
One of my business partners, Dustin Hillis, defines excuses in this way: “Any reason you didn’t do what you said you do.”
I love that definition because it’s transparent, powerful, and most important of all, it’s inescapable.
It’s inescapable from accountability.
There’s no way to dodge it.
There’s no way to get around it.
There’s no way to bypass it.
There’s no way to circumvent it.
If you said you would do it and you didn’t get it done, then it’s on you.
And whatever your reason is for why it didn’t get done is your excuse.
It’s easy to hold others to that standard but we don’t like to hold ourselves to that standard.
When someone else didn’t get it done, it’s because they had some lame excuse.
But when we didn’t get it done it’s because…
“I didn’t have time.”
“I decided I didn’t really want to.”
“I need to wait until there is a better time.”
Or, the number one excuse of all is blaming others for failure.
Blaming others is a natural outlet because none of us like to admit when we’re making an excuse.
But what if instead of looking for a justifiable reason, a rationale explanation, or an acceptable excuse, we instead just spent that energy looking for a solution?
That’s what winners do. They find a way instead of an excuse.
To use Dustin’s definition, finding a way means “doing what you said you would do, no matter what.”
Finding a way means you double down on your effort to achieve the target despite the odds.
Finding a way means you get creative about organizing resources to make it work.
Finding a way means you refocus your energy into problem solving and solution finding instead of into excuse-making.
Most of all, finding a way means owning your results yourself.
It means making a decision that you are in charge, you are accountable, and you will not be stopped.
Finding a way means remaining determined to figure it out because failure is not an option for you and excuses are unacceptable.

Which of these two are you?

“You’re either looking for a way or you’re looking for an excuse.”

The late legendary majority shareholder of Southwestern, Spencer Hays, use to say it all the time.

It was part of his life philosophy that led him and so many near him to become tremendously successful.

You’ve probably heard that same quote before and it’s true. In any given challenge you’re either looking for a way to solve the problem or you’re looking for an excuse as to why you don’t have to.

But sometimes when we hear it, we process it as a diagnosis of either we’re “tough” or we’re not.

We’re either “strong willed” or we’re not.

We either have what it takes to be successful or we don’t.

But after reflecting on a conversation I had with one of the world’s leading experts in neuroscience and author of Activate Your Brain: Understanding Your Brain Can Improve Your Work and Your Life, Scott Halford I want to present to you an alternative distinction for thinking about it.

According to Scott your brain is like a computer, “it’s happy to do whatever you tell it to do.”

But if you don’t tell it what to do then it will run its own natural operating system.

What is the brain’s default programming?

Simple: to keep you alive. To survive. And to conserve energy.

Knowing that, hopefully it makes sense to you then why we all start with a natural resistance to change that must be overcome.

Because changing anything requires work. Change requires energy. And any type of change is always considered to be a risk because it’s different than what you know now.

So IF you leave the brain all to itself to decide…

It automatically has resistance to doing the work it takes to be successful because it takes work.

It naturally rejects change because it comes with risk.

It defaults against doing something new because it requires an expense of energy.

This happens not because you’re lazy, weak, or destined for failure.

It happens because you’re human and you have a properly functioning brain.

You’re brain is looking for an excuse. Not necessarily because you’re weak but because that is what your brain is designed to do in order to conserve energy keep you safe.

The problem with success (from your brains point of view) is that it requires the opposite of all those things.

Success requires work.

Success requires change.

Success requires risk.

Because you have to learn new things, let go of
your old comfort zone, risk doing something new and put in the necessary work to make it happen.

And so you have to “teach” your brain, instruct it and get coaching to program it to do what you need to in order to be successful.

Now while the work of being successful might seem “harder”, it only is in the very beginning.

It’s similar to going hiking in the woods. It’s safest, easiest, and less risky to stay on the paved path. That is what your brain defaults to doing – the same thing you’ve always done.

But if you decided that you want to form a new path that would take you to a different, more beautiful destination, you’d have to form a new path.

And the first time you walked that path it would be the hardest because you’d have to knock down trees, move rocks and build bridges.

But then even the second time down the path would be exponentially easier. So would the third and then the fourth.

Until at some point you had new (neural) pathways formed that made it easier to stay on the new path than it would be to go back to the old path.

In that instance your brain is still happy to do what you tell it to do. The difference is you told it to do something different; something better – and so it did.

That’s how success is. It’s seems hard but only at first and then it gets easier and easier.

Part of the power of having a coach is the on going accountability helps reinforce thinking that ultimately leads to success.

So we all have a chance for success if we can learn to guide our brain in the direction we want it to.

Creativity working in the wrong direction is fear. It’s coming up with reasons, justifications and excuses as to why you can’t or why you shouldn’t try.

Creativity working in the right direction is problem solving. It’s coming up with answers, solutions, and possibilities.

Either way your brain is happy to do whatever you tell it to do.

It will find you an excuse.

Or it will find you a way.

Choose wisely.

How To Become More Beautiful

This powerful video has an important reminder.

We all have strengths.

We all have weaknesses.

But ultimately you become more of what you see yourself to be.

See only your flaws and you will live into becoming more of your flaws.

But…

See your beauty…

See your potential…

See your greatness…

And you shall become more of all of them.

You were born beautiful. Believe it and live into it.

 

3 Ways to Outperform Your Competition

There is a lot of value for any organization to be gained from being “best in class, #1, champion, or industry leader, etc.”

But with so much competition and so much universal availability of resources, how can you consistently rise above and outperform your competition or even just outperform your own potential?

Simple.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to beat someone else or just break your own personal records, it brings us back to 3 truths that remain timeless and relevant even in a world of constant change and technological advancement.

1. Work Longer – Work more hours than anyone else or than you ever have before. There is so much power in sheer volume. Don’t underestimate it. Find a way to take time from insignificant activities you’re engaging in to reallocate towards your goals that really matter. (Hint: if you’re watching the US average of 27 hours a week of television, start there!)

It’s also not just your own total personal hours (which should of course always be maximized in the direction of your key priorities) but that of your team as well. When you grow your trained staff, you’re growing the total number of hours being invested into the achievement of your mission.

2. Work Faster – Become more efficient. Stay more focused. And increase your sense of urgency to squeeze the ultimate value out of each second out of yourself and your team every single day. If you can eliminate distractions or unnecessary work from yourself and your team that will give you instant lift.

Also, as discussed in our most recent book Procrastinate on Purpose, “automation is to your time what compounding interest is to your money.” So, anything that can be automated, operationalized, or streamlined should be because over the long haul you will get ROTI Return on Time Invested. Most of all though it’s your own internal intention, focus, and discipline that needs to be mastered.

3. Work Smarter – There is such a thing as “a sharper axe.” So, it does make sense to be intelligent and strategic. For example, if you’re in sales, learn to master asking for referrals, prospect by vertical markets, use scripts and get a sales coach.

If you’re a small business owner learn the tools that will help you scale your business and generate leads.

If you’re busy at all, learn to multiply your time by spending time on things today that create more time tomorrow.

If you’re a leader, create the space you need to spend time developing your people. You also could get a leadership coach to shortcut your learning curve.

But never use working smarter as an excuse or justification for working less.

And never use the excuse that if you can’t work longer for some reason that you still can’t find a way to beat your best.

Because it’s not just about working smarter or working faster, or working longer.

When it comes to outperforming your potential, it’s always about a combination of all of the above.

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

Pardon the bathroom setting of this story but I think it’s worth the lesson.

It was just another normal travel day for me as I headed into a Charlotte airport E-Terminal public restroom for a quick stop in between flights.

Like most people, I’ve obviously been in plenty of public restrooms over the years and probably encountered maybe 50 bathroom attendants- but none like the one on this particular day.

I’ve rarely ever given any of them any tip because they didn’t really provide much value to me unless they had a stash of products sitting there and I used something.

But on this particular day I walked in and was enthusiastically greeted with a big presence and a large smile.

“Welcome in sir. You’re looking sharp! My name is William and my goal is to keep it fresh, keep it fun and keep it as fast as possible for you while you’re in here!”

“Fun?!” I thought to myself. “This could be interesting.”

William’s first act though was that he sprayed a very pleasant air freshener in the general direction I was heading.

Then before I had a chance to even react he said “please allow me to help” and gently grabbed my bags from my hand.

Once he saw where I was headed he actually walked over in front of me and sprayed the handle I would be using with disinfectant spray and quickly wiped it off. He smiled again.

At that point he then wiped down the handles of my bags and placed them near the exit of the restroom.

As I prepared to exit, he beat me over to the sink and turned on the faucet for me so it was running warm before I arrived and then held out a bottle of soap to squirt some right into my hand and smiled again.

Before I was done rinsing my hands, he tore off a couple paper towels and patiently waited with them standing by for when I was ready.

As I dried my hands he grabbed my bags (with a towel covering his hand) and brought them over to me with a big smile and said “my guess is you’re a busy guy with not a lot of time to spare. Can I answer any questions for you about where you’re headed in the airport?”

I simply smiled at him and said “thank you for your wonderful service William.” I handed him $5 and walked out.

Not only did I tip him, but he managed to pull off the same routine with every person as they walked into that restroom.

In the few minutes I was there, William must’ve earned around $15 in tips.

As I walked out I thought “what an incredible guy!”

And I asked myself what was it about William that made my experience so wonderful and unique that I would literally give him a $5 bill for doing things I could’ve easily done for myself?

Sure, he was positive, enthusiastic and pleasant and that counts for a lot. But I’ve met other pleasant bathroom attendants and never felt compelled to tip them.

And then I realized what his key service difference was…

He anticipated the need.

He didn’t just serve my needs. He anticipated them.

A clean bathroom with all the necessary items you need to do your business is meeting the need.

But when they’re each presented and activated for you on your behalf just moments before you need them, that’s special.

It’s special because it’s useful.

It’s useful because it’s helpful.

Because it’s helpful, that makes it valuable.

Delivering what your customers want is good customer service.

But great customer service is anticipating their needs before they come up.

It’s knowing what they’re going to need and supplying it before they even think to ask for it.

That’s what creates a great experience. And that is a part of what creates a unique experience.

It’s thinking through “what could make this experience better for my clients?”

“What could we do that would over deliver on their expectations?”

“What could save them time?”

“How can we be more useful?”

“How could we provide for our clients in a way that would far exceed anything they’ve ever experienced?”

Those are the types of questions that bring about remarkable customer service.

If William can do it with the ultimate commoditized experience, then surely we can all figure out a way to pick it up a notch for our own customers.

 

A First Step of Solving Almost Every Problem

A First Step of Solving Almost Every Problem

One of the biggest reasons why people struggle with solving problems is because they often overlook this critical first step.

Because no matter what the problem is or what the circumstance, you’re best hope for solving it almost always requires the exact same beginning.

You have to take ownership of the problem.

You have to internalize responsibility for your problem.

You have to resolve that regardless of how the problem came to be, it’s both your duty and your ability to find the solution.

It’s not something that you rely on someone else or something else to solve.

Because until you own your problem you can’t own your solution.

When you encounter a problem that you believe is the result of something outside yourself, then you will never be able to have power over that problem.

It is something that is happening to you of which you are just a bystander and a spectator.

By definition, its outside your control.

But when you own your problem, when you take responsibility for its existence, and when you decide that you’re in charge of fixing it, things start to change.

You stop viewing it as something that is occurring to you and you start viewing it as something you can maneuver.

You stop experiencing it and you start influencing it.

You stop being affected by it and you start affecting it.

Once you own your problem, you create the opportunity to find the solution.

Because if it happened to you through no fault of your own, then you are just an unfortunate victim of circumstances that are beyond your control.

But If you decide that you played some part in creating it, and you own it as your fault, then you can play the lead role in solving it.

And even if you didn’t create the problem. Even if the problem did result from something outside your control. You can still do something about it.

There are always things within your control that you can do. So do those things and never let any problem be an excuse for why you don’t focus on what is in your control.

While you can’t always control whether or not problems show up, you can always control how you respond to them and what you do about them.

One way or another, your life is your fault.

So own the problem.

Then own the solution.