Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 194, October 2015)
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I've become quite fascinated by what I refer to as "mindsets." I believe that people are successful or not based upon what they tell themselves and what they believe as soon as they get out of bed.
There are people I've coached who tell me they love what they do but are "dreading" a required phone call, or meeting, or presentation. Many people don't engage in conversations so much as proceed through "checklists" to achieve the quantity of responses they need, though not nearly the quality.
Still others are deathly afraid to challenge a client (or friend, or family member, or prospect, or social acquaintance) because they are petrified of not being "liked." (It's no psychological accident that social media sites enable "likes" for postings.) I've heard people leave an Uber vehicle and say "five for five," meaning that they will give the driver a five-star rating on the survey if the driver gives them one—despite what the service level was.
One of my favorite Wall Street Journal cartoons was of a man getting out of bed with red-rimmed eyes, beard stubble, and clear pain. His wife, standing nearby, said, "Just imagine—in two hours you'll be giving a motivation speech to help cheer people up!"
We can begin our day as an opportunity to vastly learn and grow or we can begin a long, slow crawl through enemy territory.
I suggest you begin the day with a routine that will guarantee the former if you're not regularly capable of automatically attaining it. You might take two minutes to: be thankful for your life; review what you've done well the day prior; listen to some music you like; listen to a tape of positive messages; say a prayer; meditate. It's vital to begin the day positively, because it sets the course for the remainder.
I don't normally observe people who get better as the day goes on. I often observe people whose energy and zest seem to flag. If you start the day in the dumps, you're going to end it underground.
Keep yourself on the surface or, better yet, soaring above it.
The human condition: Argumentatiousnessity
Have you met people who seem to want to argue with every statement they hear? They seek to find exceptions to everything, the typo-finders of oral communication.
I mentioned on Twitter that consultants shouldn't expect to grow rich from their book sales, but rather from the business the books generate in leads and clients. Some guy wrote back that book sales certainly didn't hurt James Patterson or Danielle Steele. Say, what?
There are people so utterly punctilious that they will find some minor figure or event in the 16th Century to try to disprove your assertion that water flows downhill or cows can't fly. These are the people who memorize the Scrabble dictionary to use words like muzjiks and za. Sort of defeats the purpose of a game testing your language skills, right?
If I use Marie Curé as an example of a famed female scientist, do I really care about the person who has to stop me to point out that she wasn't really French or bred greyhounds? What's the point? Is the person going for a PhD in non-sequiturs?
Don't argue with the waiter over the pronunciation of cordon blue or gnocchi. Stop pointing out exceptions to pragmatic advice. ("You may think that the left lane is the fastest moving, but in traffic congestion of less than 35 miles per hour, you're better off alternating between center and right.")
I find these people pugnacious and punctilious. They are always looking for a fight. I think it's because they think so little of themselves that they overcompensate by trying to undermine everyone else's credibility. The didn't think of an idea first or succeed fastest, so they will try to take the wind out of everyone else's sails. They are, therefore, also highly sarcastic: "You're using a pen and paper to take notes instead of a tablet? Do you also wear pocket protectors?" No, but would you like to see my obnoxious person protector?
I do become giddy imagining these people trying to make a decision they're uncertain about, arguing with themselves. They probably get nothing done while frothing at the mouth and incapacitating themselves. Should be quite a sight. I have no argument with that.
I wanted to be ready for the conductor on the busy train. I retrieved my ticket to be scanned.
But when he reached me, I had misplaced the ticket. I peered into the seatback pocket, checked to see if I were sitting on it, looked through my briefcase.
"I really do have a ticket," I assured him, "can you come back after I've searched more?"
"I can," he said, "but what's that you've been holding in your left hand?"
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