February 13, 2018 – “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat”
“The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat”
Jim McKay, Legendary ABC Olympic Announcer
What would you say to me if I said Failure is Success? I’ve said it and then watched people shake their head, wondering why in the world would I say something so ridiculous. But would you change your mind if I added – as long as you don’t let failure defeat you, you succeeded?
Eagles Quarterback, Nick Foles, said “if something’s going on in your life and you’re struggling, embrace it, because you’re growing.” After a career setback and losing his love for football, Foles contemplated retirement at age 27. Instead of retiring, Foles accepted his fate, regained his passion and embraced life. His persistence for his passion, football, lead to a pivotal turning point for the Philadelphia Eagles-a Super Bowl Victory-and a thrill of a lifetime.
The 2018 Winter Olympic games are under way. A number of competitors have struggled with defeat. Twenty-three-year-old, Sarah Hendrickson, a pioneer instrumental for women’s downhill ski jumping becoming an Olympic sport, finished 19th on February 12th, well out of the metal range, but was she defeated? Since the 2014 Sochi games she has been in constant pain due to four additional knee surgeries, but her passion and persistence lead her to Pyeongchang. And look what she has done for the sport. This is a personal victory.
Shaun White did not whole-heartily embrace snowboarding during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The result? Finishing, but not metaling in Sochi which was a clear defeat in his and many fans minds. The agony of that defeat re-ignited his passion for snowboarding and hunger to be victorious at Pyeongchang. While training in October of 2017, he endured a serious snowboarding accident that resulted in 62 stitches to his head and face. The accident could have derailed his 2018 Olympic ambitions, but he persisted and is in Pyeongchang competing for gold-the thrill of victory.
Foles, Hendrickson, and White all met defeat. They embraced life by struggling. They did not let the fear of defeat-of failing-cripple them or their hopes. They persisted hoping and working for change to achieve the thrill of victory.
Passion saw the competitors through failures and disappointments. Hard work and persistence lead them to success and victory. They endured the agony of defeat for the thrill of victory.
Whether in your personal or professional life, search for your passion and be persistent because they are your Energizer Bunny battery that keeps you going. Passion and persistence help you endure life’s defeats because defeats are part of living. They need to be embraced and accepted. When you get to where you want to be, relish the thrill of victory.
January 9, 2018 – Do…or Do Not. There is No Try.
Luke: I don’t. I don’t believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.
Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: No. Try not. Do…or Do Not. There is No Try.
The Empire Strikes Back
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been inundated with emails about creating business plans, becoming a break though speaker, new and innovative marketing techniques, as well as special offers. Although I peruse the emails, 99.9% are deleted never to be seen again. So, when a client asked me if I had any words of advice for 2018, I was taken back. I was not prepared for the question because as 2017 ended, I was in the mist of recasting the business and my 2018 direction.
After a few seconds, here was my reply:
Do what you love and be happy. Find joy in your work and be passionate about what you do. Many of us focus on surviving and making money but we are not happy. Your emotions are reflected in how we serve others and work with people. Enjoy your life.
Listen to your intuition. If something does not feel right in your gut, normally it is not right for you. Don’t be afraid to discard or, if necessary, fix it because it is important that you align what you love and what you are doing. An annual task of mine is to declutter and reset because it helps me align and focus on what I love. Your intuition tells you there is a problem. Listen to it.
Put fear behind you. Don’t let fear stop you from moving forward. You know what you want and if dedicated, you will get there.
In 2018, believe in yourself and achieve your potential. Don’t doubt that you can be successful because if you trust in yourself you will be successful.
November 14, 2017 – A Little Help From My Friends
“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends with a little help from my friends.”
John Lennon, Paul McCartney
With the holidays upon us, we can be bombarded with requests for donations to help others. Most of us donate money, food, toys, and clothes, but after the holidays is the giving still there?
I expected an easy flight. An early Sunday morning arrival into the Atlanta airport allowed plenty of time to spare before connecting on the next scheduled flight. I would arrive home by early afternoon. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
As I approached the gate for the connecting flight, it became clear the flight was overbooked. I found an out of the way spot to hover and started watching the interesting mix of people—families with kids, a handful of traveling business people, a mix of languages, and the smell of food as people grabbed something to eat. As it got closer to boarding time, the attendant announced “We are looking for volunteers” and “there is limited space overhead…”. Finally, the most important call “we will be boarding”. Sounds like a typical flight, but this is where “typical” ends.
As I stood in line, my eyes connected with a woman who asked in a meek voice with a heavy accent “right line?” However, before I could respond there was a new announcement—”Boarding is delayed due to mechanical problems”.
The woman’s apprehensive facial expression indicated she was clueless as to what was occurring. As she spoke in her native language–Portuguese, I realized we had a communication challenge. She kindly provided me her itinerary enabling me to see she was on the third leg of her journey from Brazil. Arrangements had been made to escort her to each gate. After a discussion with the attendants, I realized she was now on her own. The airline would not provide more assistance.
Using hand gestures and drawings, we communicated. She knew a little Spanish. Earlier I noted a business woman who spoke Spanish and recruited her assistance. Over the next four plus hours and two gate changes, the traveler and I became “friends.”
Oh, there is much more to this story but I would like to highlight two take-a-ways. Communicating, whether in business or in your personal life, can be a challenge but if there is a will there is a way. Communicating effectively can be hard but if both parties try, communication obstacles can be overcome.
The other take-a-way is this. Take the time to observe what is going on around you and listen to the world around you. In my business, I tell consultants that they need to listen and analyze what their clients say. But we also need to do the same thing in our daily lives. I know we get busy, but a silent, quite neighbor or coworker might need a helping hand. Or maybe it is an elderly person in a store or a kid struggling with school work that could use that hand.
A final note about the Brazilian traveler, as she exited the plane she gave me a big hug and Thank You. You see she was a mid-wife on the way to help with the delivery of her first grandchild. She just needed a friend to help her in a strange county where she knew no one and did not speak the language.
September 2017 – Apple Did It Again
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks.
But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”
Apple did it again. Although Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm, the culture he built lives on. I remember when the iPhone was introduced 10 years and thought – What are they nuts?? $500 for a phone?
But Steve Jobs was not selling a phone; he was selling an experience. The iPhone X unveiled on September 12 with a steep price tag continues to build on the Jobs’ culture by focusing on the experience waiting you. Think about it–no cords needed to charge the phone, your face unlocking the phone, and an edge to edge display are just a few of the “experiences”.
Jobs was a disruptive thought leader who focused on the user experience. He transformed and changed the world for many of us. He started by understanding the experience customers desired and he wanted to leave with them. Then, he worked backwards developing the iPhone as well as computers, iPads and even the Apple Store to support the customer experience. He instilled in his people the belief of experience first, technology second.
Although Apple develops technology, they are not opposed to using technology of others to support their needs. Have you ever said “Hey Siri?”. Siri is an app purchased by Apple in 2010. Apple was also open to looking outside the technology industry when it came to building the store experience.
I could go on because I believe there are numerous lessons to learn from Steve Jobs and Apple’s product and service success (iPhone, iPad, computer, and Apple Store) but this is a short Food for Thought article. Start with the end in sight. Think about your customers, start with the end in sight, and ponder the below:
What experience do your customers desire?
What experience do you want to leave with your customers?
Are you providing the right experience to your customers by understanding what they desire and building your products or services to support that experience?
Although I highlight Steve Jobs, there were many thought leaders who focused on the experience of their product or service. Think about how Henry Ford who wanted his employees to be able to afford and experience a car or Sara Blakely who focused on the desire of many women–a figure that looks better.
Footnote: Some of you reading this might say, but I work for a corporation and I don’t have customers. You do. Everyone has customers of some kind whether they are internal or external. And some of you work with both.
August 2017 – Is the Benjamin Franklin 5-Hour Rule of part of your lifestyle?
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin set aside five hours a week, one hour every weekday, to expand his knowledge. He improved himself by starting each workday reading and writing. Personal goals were set and progress tracked. During the week, he experimented with his ideas and daily he reflected on what he had learned. He even established a “tribe” of like-minded people interested in improving themselves and their community. Franklin was a life-long learner and a respected statesman, world famous inventor, creative author, as well as a successful entrepreneur and businessman. He believed the time he spent investing in himself was his best investment and just as important as his ventures.
Just like Franklin, successful leaders and entrepreneurs are life-long learners. Successful people have a thirst for knowledge and build learning into their lifestyle. They spend time reading on any number of different topics to broaden their knowledge base. Personal goals are set and they reflect on what they learned. Sometimes that reflection triggers their creativity resulting in an abundance of innovative ideas. Experimentation ideas occasionally is successful; other times the experiment fails. But does it? Isn’t failure success as well? A lesson was learned because it reveals what does not work or enables a person to determine what additional knowledge is required. I’m sure you can name a number of successful leaders and entrepreneurs who embrace learning. I can think of many current day successes-Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Orpah Winfrey, and Jeff Bezos-that read, reflect, and experiment. I can also think of one famous deceased entrepreneur who failed many times before he succeed-Thomas Edison.
Embracing learning means preparing and learning before jumping in. Most of us have attend a networking event. Many of us research the anticipated attendees before arriving. However, some of us overlook practicing our elevator speech before attending. Afterwards, we tend not to reflect on how the message was received let alone ask someone for honest feedback. Feedback helps move you from ordinary to the successful.
The 5-Hour Rule is a great rule, but I believe the most successful people spend more than 5 hours a week developing themselves. What is the right number of hours to spend improving yourself? I don’t know because I believe everyone learns and develops differently. I also believe successful people realize the importance of taking responsibility for their own fate and they build their own learning culture. Goals are established. Habits and behaviors are infused into their daily lives enabling them to reach goals. Time is set aside to read, write, take classes, talk to like-minded people, reflect and contemplate ideas, experiment, and learn.
We can all be inspired by Benjamin Franklin. We can start by flipping our focus and build deliberate learning into our lifestyle. We can stretch ourselves making each of us a better person and a life-long learner.
July 2017 – Do you defy gravity?
Something has changed within me; Something is not the same; I’m through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game;
Too late for second-guessing; Too late to go back to sleep; It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap!
It’s time to try; Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you won’t bring me down
Last week Independence Day was celebrated in the United States. Our Founders, both men and women, defied gravity by fighting for their beliefs and ideas. A number lost their lives in the struggle for freedom but they trusted their instincts and fought on, providing us the independence we have today. It is that freedom that enables us to live our lives to the fullest. Ask yourself, are you defying gravity and living life to its fullest? Are you taking advantage of the freedoms provided by the forefathers of your country and enjoying life?
Occasionally, I hear “I’m too old to _________”. I’ll let you fill in the blank. But I’m reminded of Clara Barton whose passion lead to the founding of the American Red Cross at the age of 60 and actions that resulted in the field known as volunteer service. She continued as president until she resigned at 83. Really? Are you too old?
Periodically I hear “I was told I’m too young and don’t have enough experience”. Where would we be if Steve Jobs had not followed his heart and passion-his intuition? He was young, but he gave it a try and did not think about limits. Today we have the iPhone and iPad. I’m sure there were failures during his adventure but he lived his adventure and defied gravity. Really? Are you too young?
Amelia Earhart literally defied gravity by becoming the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic in an era when the majority of women didn’t work outside the home. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court, defied gravity as a civil rights crusader whose actions were instrumental in the ending of legal segregation. Ronald Regan defied gravity moving from sports announcer to actor to United States President. J.R. Rowlings, a writer at heart, defied gravity while struggling with a number of personal crises. The result is a rags to riches story with the with the best selling book series in history, Harry Potter.
Although I noted a number of well-known people who defied gravity, there are many people ‘ordinary’ people defying gravity who you see as you live life. They are not famous nor do not want to be but they have followed their intuition-their passion. They have a vision for what they want and they put the noise of others, rules, and limitations aside. They ignore their age, gender, and nationality. Whether it is their work or personal life, they take a chance at life.
Life is too short. Listen to your intuition and your voice. The future is unlimited. Make yourself happy because if you are happy, your happiness will rub off on everyone around you.
Defying Gravity (from Wicked)
If you are interested in listening to a version of Defying Gravity, check out this YouTube link to Idina Menzel-Defying Gravity (from Live: Barefoot at the Symphony). https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=defying+gravity+youtube&view=detail&mid=9B1E0E840DE34CAC47D09B1E0E840DE34CAC47D0&FORM=VIRE OR listen to the version by Beau Dermott, shy 13-year-old young lady who loves singing and defied gravity by entering Britain’s Got Talent 2016 contest. She finished fifth in the contest, but has since signed a major record deal, sung for the Queen, and the Glasgow Philharmonia.https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=defying+gravity+youtube&&view=detail&mid=D8B199CEE6F0C7A70D11D8B199CEE6F0C7A70D11&FORM=VRDGAR