Truer Words May Have Never Been Spoken

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

— Falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln

When I researched this famous quote, I found some interesting facts, great insights about its origin, and who may have uttered some version of this for the very first time. Up until this week, I had always attributed this quote to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

With increased frequency, it seems that many of us these days are finding out that we may have been fooled or misinformed about lots of things over the years. Maybe even in very recent history. Perhaps even today. If we see it, it must be true. If we read it, it must be fact. If we hear it from a reliable source, it must be indisputable. If it appears on social media, there must be no doubt about its authenticity.

“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”

— Falsely attributed to Mark Twain

Sadly, many of us now filter everything we see, hear, read or experience through the lens of potentially being duped. Our trusted sources are no longer trustworthy. Opinions have become facts. And no longer is it just the deemed famously important politicians, celebrities, athletes, and others who previously held the title of influencer, it is anyone and everyone propagating misinformation or disinformation to further an agenda or action whether that agenda or action is good or evil…

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Rehearsing Success Leads to Success

When we anticipate the future, do we see ourselves winning or succeeding? Or do we look into our future and see only losses or failure ahead?

Some could see this as a simple difference between optimism and pessimism. However, it is more than that too. When we dream, we don’t typically dream of the fish we almost caught, the deal we almost won or the meal we almost prepared.

No, typically in our dreams we catch the fish, and it is bigger than we expected; we close the deal, and it’s worth more in commission than any previous deal we had sold; and the dinner we cooked was nothing short of culinary perfection, worthy of qualifying for a spot on a famous cooking show.

Over the course of life, I have yet to find the person who shared a dream where they saw themselves shanking a drive on the golf course, had a big outdoor event like a wedding getting rained out or canceled, or the company they were about to start becoming an immediate and utter failure. When those do occur, those are nightmares, not dreams.

All visions of success are not limited to dreams. As a matter of fact, many people who have achieved their goals in life didn’t passively wait for success to happen to them, they went ahead and made success happen. And the way they contributed to their success was planning, preparing, and rehearsing ahead of time…

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Have You Found What You Are Looking For?

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — Song by U2

Most of us are probably familiar with this song by U2, if not, I highly recommend giving it a listen. This song popped into my head recently as I was on vacation. Yes, vacation, my first trip in 14 months. As I walked along the beach, I was scanning the sand for unusual shells, sea glass, or unique pieces of coral. Something I have always done when visiting a beach.

Over the years I have trained my eyes to quickly identify shells of unique shape and color. On most walks along the shoreline, I will automatically find little treasures where the sea meets the sand. Sometimes I am very casual about it and a shell or piece of coral happens to jump right out at me. And other times, I am head down in full search mode, looking for exactly the right size, color, or shaped shell for my collection.

Well on my recent trip, I found myself looking but not finding, searching but not really seeing anything. After a couple of days of coming up empty, I thought about why this could be happening. And I realized that my mind had not caught up with being on vacation yet. I realized I wasn’t quite relaxed enough to see anything popping out at me, and I wasn’t focused enough to be intentional about seeking out something special. I found myself in a weird state of work and vacation limbo.

Have you ever been there? Are you there right now? Maybe it’s not searching for seashells, sea glass, or coral, but searching for something, something you aren’t quite sure about or haven’t clearly defined yet. And since what we are searching for isn’t always completely obvious, it becomes harder and harder to find. Or as the U2 song goes, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”…

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The One Thing That Has to Happen to Claim Sales Success

Years ago, I was introduced to a concept that I found really helpful in the management and motivation of my sales team, and then as my responsibilities grew, I found it was beneficial to the entire company. It was called “Good News Friday.”  

The idea is that each Friday the team would jump on a call and share the best news of the week. The top performers loved to share the business they had won during the week, opportunities that were advancing, and news about new prospects. We did it in such a way that it wasn’t boasting or bragging, it was done to help inspire others. 

Those who were not performing as they needed to be, both from a personal or company perspective, began amplifying their sales game. No one wanted to show up without something good to report, so they worked hard to make sure that they could participate on “Good News Friday” with everyone else and feel good about what they shared. And everyone knew that they would be called out by peers if they were fabricating their story or results. 

After a while, I changed it up a bit. “Good News Friday” was still going on in each team or department, but what I added was asking different individuals who needed a little boost to join me on another quick call on Mondays. During this call, I asked each person what they thought the one thing that they could do, and were in control of, that they could look back on Friday and claim the week was a sales success.  

Even top performers who were in a bit of a slump found this helpful.  

Is it a simple approach? Yes. Are others doing it? I hope so. Are they doing it and seeing better results? If they are doing it right. Here is what I mean by doing it right. The goal here is not to ‘tell’ our salespeople what to do during these calls, that guidance comes as part of our coaching and mentoring. The Monday calls were asking each team member what they thought would define their sales success for the week. They needed to own that. My job was to talk them through it and ask clarifying questions so that we both understood the expectation and the metric we would use for achieving a successful sales week.  

This had to be something that they could be proud to share with their teammates and their manager. No fluff, no easy tasks, no ‘get-out-of-jail’ free cards. It had to be quantifiable achievements, specific activities, and results-oriented. As this practice became repeatable, instead of fearing “Good News Friday,” they couldn’t wait to participate and get their turn on the call.  

Final Thoughts: Just as a reminder, sales leadership and sales managers would do well to take off the superhero cape and not jump in to rescue their salespeople. Make it about them. Use the word “You” instead of “I” or “Me.” Resist the urge to retell your own triumphs and successes. They already know you are the boss and how you got there. Make this about them and watch them grow, claiming sales success and earning an income that they may have never dreamed possible.  

Bigger, Better, Faster, Higher, Smarter

Society thrives on one-upmanship. In everything we do, whether we realize it or not, we set a bar. And as we set the bar, more often than not, we try and improve upon whatever it is we are doing.

Sometimes this just happens and we become accidental goal setters. However, there are certain things and times in our life when we become intentional about setting the bar and even raising the bar.

Whatever it is we did, we know that with some extra effort we can do it bigger, better, faster, higher, or farther. If we are a hardwired competitor, we look at what others around us are doing and immediately think the same thing, don’t we? If they can do it, then I am sure I can crush it. Does this happen because we are fascinated with winning or because we are compelled by competition?

Game on. The race is on. The heat is on. Bring it on. These are the things we say or the voice that we hear in our head when we are faced with a challenge, even if the challenge is self-imposed.

Conceivably, there is no competition because the other person, team, or company has no idea that we have become determined, and have set out to not only raise the bar but raise it so high that no one will ever catch us…

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Which Side Are You On?

As I sat outside enjoying my morning coffee and reading the news, the calm and normalcy of my day was interrupted by several people walking in my direction. They were easy enough to notice, as they were wearing hats showing who they supported, and they had big buttons pinned to their jacket making it very clear whose side they were on. And if that wasn’t enough, they marched down the street shouting at all those who they believed were against them.

Thinking that the commotion would pass, and I could get on with a quiet cup of coffee and some reading time, things only became more interesting. Coming from the opposite direction was another group of people wearing hats and buttons, even carrying flags and pennants that made it clear that they were in complete opposition of the first group.

As I sized up the situation, it became abundantly clear that their paths would collide right in front of me. A few people seated at the other tables on the patio became a little anxious. Some seemed ready to jump in and pick a side. Looking at what both groups represented, I realized that I didn’t support either one. I didn’t have a dog in this hunt, as some might say.

As one group drew closer from my right, I could hear the taunting getting louder. As the other group approached from my left, the name-calling started. It appeared that things were going to get ugly and get ugly fast. Those that were a little anxious made the move back inside the coffee shop. And those customers who just a few minutes earlier were sitting quietly sipping on coffee began getting fired up and moved closer to the oncoming fray. With limited options, I was forced to decide. I secured my coffee with one hand, pocketed my phone with the other, and prepared to escape…

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It’s Time for Some Main Street Magic

As the weather continues to improve each week and spring is in full bloom, it is the perfect time to visit and support our local Main Street, experiencing the magic that a beautiful walk down the center of town can provide.

There are certain shops that just seem to provide us with those “feel good” moments. The local florists are usually a great place to start our journey, especially if we want to fill our senses with the fragrant beauty that fills the air in and around the shop. It’s also a wonderful idea to share a little demonstration of love by picking up some flowers for someone special in our life.

I have heard it said that if you want to be happy, buy an ice cream shop. Well, the next best thing to owning an ice cream shop is to stop in and grab a frozen treat. It’s almost impossible to visit an ice cream shop and not smile. One of my very favorite things to see is the joy of families and children sharing the joy that ice cream can create. And the ice cream faces of the children as they work through the deliciousness melting all over their hands, face, and clothes is always so much fun.

And if it’s not the flowers or ice cream that helps create a little magic, I am pretty confident that pizza might do the trick. Or starting the day with a breakfast at one of the local diners, coffee shops, or restaurants. And if it’s a midday visit, our local eateries always have something to fill our hearts and bellies with sensational meals. And there is possibly no better way to wind down the day of shopping on Main Street than stopping in for a little liquid refreshment at happy hour or sticking around for the dinner specials created by our favorite local chefs.

It is said that it is better to give than to receive. There is probably someone in our circle of friends or in our family that has a birthday, anniversary, or other milestone coming up in and where a thoughtful gift is in order. As we stroll along Main Street, there may be a few shops that we haven’t visited in a while, and they just might have that perfect gift we have been searching for…

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Finding Consistency in a World of Inconsistency

“I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and lows.”

Drew Barrymore

There have been some very famous people who have provided us with quotes about consistency. Some will argue that consistency will compromise creativity, while others believe that consistency plays a vital role in the achievement of success for individuals and teams alike.

For those seeking a little more peace and normalcy, it would be nice to experience the soft currents of the ocean. This is in direct opposition to the desire for constant turbulent seas and thunderous crashing of the waves. And with the ever-present tumult of life coming at us from every direction, like Drew Barrymore, I believe more and more of us are in search of consistency as opposed to the extreme and often volatile highs and lows.

Trying to keep pace in an often chaotic race can be exhausting as we often hear contradictory statements and see inconsistent actions from those in a leadership role or position of trust. As we try and make sense of what we hear and see, what to do and how to do it, or what we can do and what we can’t do, it all leaves us longing for some level of consistency in the messaging we receive…

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Celebrating the Construction Zones of Life

We all know that feeling of entering a construction zone while we are driving, don’t we? Whether it is a major highway or just a single-lane road that gets shut down, we are either forced to find a detour or accept the delay and ride out the traffic until we get past the construction that is currently underway.

Although we know that when the construction ends, the improvements made will make our commute easier in the long run, we can’t help but feel a little frustrated and inconvenienced in the moment.

The other day I found myself on such a road. It was a beautiful scenic drive and then suddenly, the orange and white, yellow and black signs started to appear: Construction Entrance; Begin Construction; Road Work Ahead; Road Construction Ahead; Entering Work Zone; Construction Zone Begins; Entering Construction Zone; Slow Down Construction Area Ahead Trucks Entering. Well, maybe I didn’t see all of these signs on this particular drive, but I am sure I have at some point over the course of my life. And I am fairly certain you have as well.

I decided to ride out the traffic and just accept the delay. And then the other signs started to pop up as I began to resume the normal speed limit: End Active Work Zone; End Construction; or End of Construction. And as I approached those signs, I realized I had a great appreciation for the men and women who are out there each day building, rebuilding, or repairing our roadways so that we are safer, and our future drives are made so much easier. Kudos to all those who work so hard to make our lives better in the long run. And maybe we can all do our part in being a little more patient so that we can keep them safer each day too…

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The Whispers of Success

This past week I was reminded of something as I once again experienced the intimacy, joy and power found in a whisper.

Although it is just my wife and I who live in our home now, for some reason I paid particular attention to how we were saying goodnight to one another. I noticed that our voices were low as we whispered softly, “Goodnight, I love you.” This caused me to think about how we wake up together as well, another whisper and soft greeting of good morning.

No one else can hear us. Even if we raised our voices, there is no one in the house that could possibly hear what we say. Yet we whisper. It’s not because we are worried about anyone else hearing us, the whisper just seems to intimately connect us as we begin and end each day.

When it comes to effective communication skills, we know that there are several things that we can do to help people hear what we are saying.

We can speak faster, which will have some people paying a little closer attention as they try and keep up. We can speak louder, and that sometimes helps bring others back to a conversation if they have drifted off for a moment. Or we can speak quietly, even whispering, which can help those we are trying to reach lean in more to hear what we are trying to say…

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