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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 154, June 2012 )

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Techniques for balance

  • Don't get upset when someone writes something you disagree with. After one of my several newsletters I sometimes receive an immediate email written as if the sender pounded the keys in anger. Either chalk it up to a differing viewpoint, write a respectful opposing opinion, or write your own article in your own media. Getting angry will just result in your getting ill.
  • If you want a great wine and you know little about wine, simply tell the sommelier to take a certain amount of money (whether $50 or $500) and bring the best value for that amount. They will strive to please you, often with a more expensive wine they will reduce in price, and you'll suddenly be a connoisseur.
  • If you're uncertain of dining etiquette, use your iPhone to take a photo of the table setting at an upscale restaurant and show it to someone who can advise you on which items to use when. (And have a colleague take a quick video of you eating to get a sense of how you actually use them. I'm tired of people who should know far better than to push their salad on their fork with their fingers.)
  • Two great buys for productivity on long-haul flights: an adapter set for powering your computer, and noise suppression earphones.
  • Duty free isn't a bargain if you're purchasing something you would never otherwise have an urge to buy and probably won't use. Think of all those people returning from the Caribbean with banana liqueur.
  • Be careful what you tell your hair stylist or manicurist. He or she might be as silent as a stone, but people around can hear above the blow dryers. I've heard about affairs, cosmetic surgery, cheating, tax evasion, and loathing of certain relatives.
  • You could do a lot worse than taking some time to explain to your kids about rotary phones, manual transmissions, and television pre-cable. Perspective will place anyone at the head of the class. (This assumes YOU are familiar with such items!) I heard a young woman being interviewed in London suggesting that the outdoors be air conditioned to provide relief from the heat. Would you want your son to marry this woman?
  • Fishing makes sense, I suppose, if you release the fish after landing it. It makes sense, I would think, if you're eating the fish for dinner. But it makes so sense to me at all if you're simply killing fish.
  • If you don't think mental attitude, self-worth, and confidence are important in performance, look no farther than Tiger Woods on the professional golf tour.
  • If someone pays you for your wisdom and advice, you're a consultant�a "brain." If someone pays you for your work and delivery, you're a subcontractor�a pair of hands. Both constitute legitimate and respected work, but the former can charge based on value delivered and the latter can charge only on time spent on the job.

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I meet people on a regular basis who tell me why things won't work. When I was primarily engaged in corporate consulting, I met them a lot more often. But even in coaching and mentoring individuals, and in social interactions, I meet them a lot.

They're often logical and efficient. I don't always detect a maliciousness, or envy, or ulterior motive. They simply rationally and pragmatically believe that the "thing" in question should have a "no" precede it: "nothing."

The essence of the problem is captured in Henry Ford's classic observation that if he had asked people what they wanted they would have replied, "Faster horses." He had a different vision. So did Edison, Marconi, Lauder, Bell, Jobs, and Branson. But it isn't simply a matter of the innovative visionaries defying conventional wisdom.

I also meet people, albeit fewer of them, who believe it is their lot, fate, accountability, or pleasure to make things happen. The fact that these things haven't happened before is simply additional motivation. The fact that they've been tried and failed before is more incentive.

Then there are people who don't know that something can't be done because no one has informed them it's impossible. Thus, without preconditioning about failure projected onto them by others, they succeed where others have failed because they had no idea that success was unachievable, and they were right.

How do you make something out of nothing? For starters, you have to have an attitude of trying to make things happen, and not one of explaining why they can't happen. Secondly, you can't allow the failure or warnings of others to dissuade you. Your talents are different from theirs. Thirdly, you have to be willing to fail in a good cause. That's what all those people in the third paragraph above did on numerous occasions.

Of course, there are some who believe this philosophy will never work. That's fine, because I'm not writing this for them.

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The human condition: Fear of rejection

People are such herd animals that rejection by others can seem fatal, as if left to fend for one's self without the protection of the group. My observation is that many people equate rejection with banishment, or shunning, or exile. It takes on a severity far worse than the single reaction involved.

Studies have shown that interviewers are as afraid of rejection as the interviewee, and therefore often don't make a job offer to someone they fear may reject it—and therefore reject them. I've seen people agonize over a single newsletter subscription cancellation—of thousands of subscribers—as if the inability to retain this one person's attention is a personal failure.

There are authors who collapse at the publishing of a single bad review. People in business often refrain from honest and objective disagreements for fear the other person may no longer like them (and woman are far more guilty of this than are men). Poor sales people are constantly caving to outrageous demands by buyers, or contenting themselves with pleading to non-buyers, since they'd rather obtain poor business than be rejected in the pursuit of proper business.

I've seen people sacrifice personal desires, needs, and objectives just to please someone else's mere whim. People allow themselves to be bullied by everyone from head waiters to fund raisers, just so they won't be thrown from the herd.

It is neither selfish nor rude to have personal opinions and needs, and to express the former and pursue the latter. Unlike a school of fish seeking mindless anonymity in protection from predators, we needn't twist and turn just because our colleagues do so. In Groucho Marx's immortal logic, do you really want to be a member of a club that would accept you as a member?

It's refreshing to go through life without seeking constant approval. I don't go to lengths to ensure people don't like me, but I don't especially care if they like me or not. I do my best, try to help others, and try to help myself. But I am not defined or validated by the immediate approval of others.

Not everyone will like what we say, write, or create. That is their right. Don't take it personally.


The Resolve Event

June 6
Marriott at Los Angeles Airport

Travel beyond accountability, discipline, and organization to that state where you repeatedly and accurately obtain results, complete projects, and maximize time use. Merely being accountable doesn't result in actions unless you acquire RESOLVE in this one-day, unique event.


June 7
Marriott Hotel, Los Angeles International Airport

We drew over 250 people when this was presented in Boston, and this is the West Coast edition, with 50 people already signed up. For a fee that's "almost free," join Alan and a few of his Master Mentors for a day devoted to the fundamentals of business growth, marketing, and higher fees.

Thought Leadership Symposium

October 22-24, 2012
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, FL

Our third annual event, this featuring Margaret Wheatley whose seminal book, Leadership and the New Science, is being re-released at the time of our session. Join us for three days of intense work to help make you the thought leader in your field. Ten places remain. Meals and lodging included.

The Super Language Practicum

November 12, 2012
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, San Francisco, CA

Learn how to use powerful, concise language in oral and written communications, including rapid rebuttals, reframing of issues, metaphor, analogy, and examples. Control every subsequent conversation and impress people in email and correspondence. Nothing else like this in the world, only 25 people admitted, 15 seats remain.

Million Dollar Consulting� College

December 3-7
Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI

The only one taking place in 2012 and there are none scheduled for 2013. This is the 18th such offering over the years of a full week of intense work in all aspects of professional services development, from marketing to implementation. Small group, incredible property, includes subsequent mentoring.

And this terrific session authorized by Alan:

How to Acquire Clients, Value Based Fees, How to Write A Proposal

October 2, San Francisco Bay area

Learn from Linda Popky, who has mastered and applied Alan's approaches, the fundamentals of smart professional services business growth. Extensive interaction and wonderful learning from someone who can share her immediate experiences.


Digital Empire Creation
Provided by Chad Barr and his team

Work with the strategic technological genius, Chad Barr, Master Mentor and Mentor Hall of Fame member, who is behind all of my web activity (and co-author with me of Million Dollar Web Presence coming out next year). His team will create "instant" intellectual property from your material and place it in a variety of forms on the Internet on a continuing basis.


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Because of my wife's knee replacement, she was prohibited from traveling on planes for 90 days, and the train could sometimes throw you off your feet on curves, so we took a limo to New York and back. On the ride home, we stopped for gas and the restrooms in Connecticut.

I was reading the newspapers and I absent-mindedly acknowledged my wife telling me she was leaving the car to visit the women's room. Meanwhile, the driver returned from pumping gas, and I vaguely felt the car starting. Suddenly we began to move, and the divider between me and the driver was up. I frantically stopped him from entering the Interstate just before my wife emerged from the coffee shop.

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