Puppet? Or Puppeteer?

Are you the puppet of someone else’s idea of what you should be doing? Or are you the puppeteer making the decisions about what you should be doing? We can take courses, attend webinars, listen to gurus, read books and try to replicate the recipe they are selling. In my experience that does not lead to success. Their recipe worked for them. I’m different. It probably will not work the same for me. Almost, maybe, but perhaps just enough differently that I never get there.

My only hope for success comes when I take all that I have learned from courses, webinars, gurus, and books, and assemble them into my own recipe. I did not say reinvent the wheel or start your recipe from scratch. I need to use all the wisdom that has been shared with me about what works and put those pieces together intentionally, knowing from their training why what I have chosen will work. It’s more about the mindset than what you assemble. Is my mindset that I am trying to copy someone else’s path to success (follower, robot, puppet)? Or is my mindset that I am designing my own path to success, using the best information I can find (leader, entrepreneur, puppeteer)? By designing my own, I move out of the “victim” space where I can blame someone else if I am not successful. I move into the “victor” space where I take charge of my ultimate success. Victors win. Victims do not.

My problem has never been lack of knowledge about what to do to succeed. It has been that I was not sufficiently confident I could pull it off. I believed I needed to know all the details about how they made it work and then do it exactly that way. My faith was in the “recipe.” I did not believe in myself, in my ability to draw on the assembled wisdom of all that learning in the moment I needed it. I doubted that I could make the right move, say the right thing, choose the right path. I wanted templates, examples, more training, samples, case studies, study guides, cheat sheets. Looking back, the list of what I thought I needed was actually endless. No matter what I had, I was convinced I needed more, because I did not yet have it down perfectly. Worse yet, I was afraid to launch out and do something I did not understand perfectly, because I believed I did not yet know enough to do it right. Sure, I tried. I went through the motions, perhaps even believably. The problem was not the motions. It was the mind behind the motions. It was convinced those things I did not yet know held the key to success. All the while, the key to success was to believe I already held the key to success!

So, how about you? How much do you believe in yourself? Are you willing to take that scary leap and do something you’re not sure you can do? Do it and you will amaze yourself. Humans are generally capable of much more than they attempt. It was and is true of me. I suspect you are human, too. Your path to success starts with that next scary step, whenever it shows up in front of you. Be brave! Use all the wisdom you have gathered to take it wisely, but take the step. Your life will never be the same!

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

“You keep saying it is a decision! Everything cannot be about a decision.”

Oh, really! If you fall out of a tree and break your arm, how was that not related to your decision to climb the tree? Or to not be as careful as you could have been about where you put your foot? If you did not make that last sale, how was it not related to your being just unprepared enough so you were unable to meet that client’s needs or to address their objections or to know how to match the benefits to their needs? No matter what you are experiencing in life, if you trace it back, you can find a decision fork where you chose the path that brought you to it instead of taking a different path.

Where you are in life, what you are currently experiencing, whether success or failure, is indeed because of decisions you have made, whether you happen to believe it right now or not. You say you got rear-ended this morning while sitting at a red light and that was NOT because of your decision? Okay, how about this: If you had decided to leave 3 minutes sooner or 3 minutes later, where would you have been when that driver got to that intersection? Probably not in front of him.

That’s a tough one to swallow, isn’t it? However, your willingness to accept your personal responsibility for the things that happen to you empowers you to believe you can do what it takes to be successful, too. That’s the “victor” stance! Your unwillingness to accept that responsibility allows you to blame someone or something else and leaves you in the “victim” stance. Victims never win. Success or failure? Victor or victim? It’s your choice!

(And there I go again!)

Do, too.

Last time we talked about “know” and “be.” We cannot forget “do.” If you do not practice with integrity what you know, you will still not be successful. It takes all three.

But guess what? It sounds easier than it is. Distractions. Conflict. Fear. Excuses. Procrastination. Rationalizing. Shiny, new things. There are all kinds of things that prevent us from doing what we know we need to do. Do you know your favorites? It is important that you figure them out and overtly do something to eliminate their ability to stop you.

It takes discipline to be successful. How much discipline can you muster to stick to your plans, pursue your goal without giving up, to resist your favorite ways to avoid doing what you know you need to do? If you are not getting the results you want, the answer is, “Not enough.” It’s a decision. How much do you want those results? Enough to make the decision to be more disciplined? If not and you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. Will you be satisfied with that?

Decide today what you REALLY want: Success or what you are now getting. Once you know the answer to that question, you will know what you need to do. So go do it!

Know. Be. Do.

The American military apparently has used those 3 words in their training of troops. They are also the keys to our success.

Your knowledge is but one contributor to your success. It is relatively easy to acquire, but you must keep acquiring it.

Who you are is another important contributor to your success. You need to be yourself. People buy from people they like and trust. Are you trustworthy and likable? The problem with many of us is that we pretend to be who we think we are, not who we really are. It takes some people years of therapy or coaching to help them figure that out. You may be fortunate in having a good friend who regularly tells you the truth in love, while you willingly accept it as such and choose to do something about it. Either way, you need to actively work to learn more about who you really are and to be that person. You will NEVER be as trustworthy and likable as you need to be if you are faking it. Other people can see through pretense.

Here’s a test: When you are with family and something does not go your way, how do you respond? If you are willing to accept that how you do one thing is how you do everything, you can use that response as a warning about the real you at this point in time. The form of your response to the family may be different from your response to a client or a stranger, but the emotions, attitudes and beliefs behind that response will be the same and are the real you right now. Do you like that person? What are you willing to do about it (including seeking outside help from a friend, coach or therapist)?

On A Scale of 1 to 10…

When you go to the doctor or a hospital with pain, they ask you to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. I believe it is as much a test of your attitude as it is of the pain level. My wife’s 10 is probably the equivalent of my 50 or 100. She knows pain and lives with it every day. I do not. I’m not quite at the level where a sliver in my finger ranks as a 10, but I’m sure my idea of bad pain does not compare at all to what she knows.

None of likes pain, but the level beyond which we believe it is not bearable, is a decision. It is an attitude we have about how much pain we should have to tolerate. It is a sort of negative entitlement. “I am entitled to not have pain that is like that.”

I have determined that “hard work” is a pain. It’s not a physical pain, but I think it acts like physical pain relative to our tolerance for it. My attitude determines what level I’m willing to tolerate. Am I going to be like my wife and be quite happy to work as hard as it takes to meet my goal, even if it is painful? Or am I going to take the easy route, “self-medicate” by choosing to not work any harder than I think I can get by with? Mere adequacy when it comes to hard work is the road to failure. Doing enough so I feel I’ve done what I need to do is not the same as doing enough so I get the results I want.

In that regard, hard work is nothing like pain. You cannot calibrate your pain level 10. You can calibrate your hard work level 10: Are you getting the results you want and need? If not, tune your hard work scale down. That “10”-level hard work may actually be only a 2 or 3. Step it up! Step it up until you get the results you want. Set that as 7 or 8. That leaves you room to stretch into even more success!

Based on the results you have been getting, on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you realistically rate your hard work level? What are you willing to do about it?

Not Good Enough

Have you ever wondered if that is true about you? That you are not good enough to succeed, or to tackle something you’ve never tried, or to share what you’ve learned with someone else, or whatever it is you deep down inside wanted to do, but were able to convince yourself that you were not good enough? I suspect it has happened to more folks than just me.

I looked around and saw people succeeding at what I wanted to do. What did they know that I did not? What were they doing that I was not? I could not make sense of it other than to believe that in some way I did not know, I was just not good enough. Worse yet, I was afraid I’d never figure out what it was. Maybe I was a fraud, pretending to be something I was not, or to knowing something I did not.

That is a place you do not want to wallow for very long. That’s what it is, wallowing. I was wallowing in self-pity rather than seeking help to figure out a solution. Fortunately, I knew I was wallowing and that I needed to get up out of the pity and do SOMETHING, anything, to move in the direction I wanted to go…despite how I was feeling. Get help!

In my case, I had stepped into a pity pool before and had friends that cared enough about me to intervene. I consider those friends to be some of the best I have. They made a difference. They ordered me to meet them for lunch the next day…and then spent 90 minutes disabusing me of my feelings of inadequacy. That was over 10 years ago. I use memories of that session to pick myself up, dust myself off, and DECIDE to stop wallowing and to start solving.

That’s what it is, a decision. The barriers between you and your goal are generally mental rather than real obstructions. You just need the guts to call your situation what it is and DECIDE to change it, to go after that goal no matter what.

Do you have what it takes to DECIDE to change? Then you ARE good enough! If you can control your brain enough to make that switch, then you can do whatever else you need to do to get to your goal! You will learn what you need to learn, do what you need to do, and be who you need to be.

And as Winston Churchill once famously said, “Never give up!”

Excuses, excuses, excuses! (Part 3)

Two posts ago we started writing about excuses and their impact on your success. If you have not done the exercises in those posts, please go back and do them before reading further. If you did them and are still reading this one, you actually may be cut out for success and just need a little fine tuning. To get there you have some hard work ahead of you. No, not that kind of hard work. Doing the hard work to be a successful entrepreneur, whether that is as a real estate investor or something else, is a given. The hard work I mean is in disciplining yourself to change from excuses to results.

How old are you? That’s how long you’ve been working on getting good at making excuses. You cannot flip a switch and change all those years’ habits in an instant. It will take hard work to change, but the harder you work at it, the sooner you can put it behind you. Consider getting a coach to speed up the process. Make sure at the very least that you use a proven process for changing old habits and have someone who will hold you accountable. While a good coach will automatically provide those both, you may be able to find another alternative.  We’ll talk some other time about changing habits. Search the web. I’m sure you’ll find lots of suggestions. Take the initiative. Go for the result. Don’t make an excuse about why it is not convenient right now. That’s the old habit. Start practicing the new habit. Prove you have the self-discipline to do it now, no matter what.

If you are STILL reading, congratulate yourself. THERE’S HOPE!! You did not make an excuse about why you did not want to finish reading. You have shown enough commitment to your success that you really ought to go for it! Best wishes! (Now go do the web search!)

Excuses, excuses, excuses! (Part 2)

In the last post we created a list of at least 3 times in the last week when you planned to do something that needed to be done, but when the time came to do it, it was inconvenient to do it at that time. Now, for each one, write down the strategy you used to deal with each conflict. Be very specific. What did you think, decide, adapt, or whatever? Don’t read any further until you’ve finished this step.

Okay. Now look at the list. Do you see any pattern? Did you decide to postpone the task without specifying when? Did you explicitly reschedule it and block out a time for it on your calendar? Did you generically put it off until “tomorrow”?

If you did ANY of the above or anything like any of the above, your success will continue to elude you. Don’t think you get partial credit because you postponed it responsibly, carefully rescheduling it.

Dan Kennedy says, “People good at making excuses are never good at making money. The two skills are mutually exclusive.” If you did anything other than to do the task anyway, no matter what, then you are not sufficiently committed to your success. If YOU aren’t, who is? You need to decide if you prefer the status quo to success or vice versa. Now is a good time to decide. So decide! Now!

If you pick the status quo, quit whining, quit chasing something you’ll never get, and quit yammering about the book, webinar, guru, boot camp, mentor, whatever, that failed to make you as successful as they promised, no matter how much you spent. Admit you are not cut out for this and go find something else to do, preferably where someone else will tell you what to do and demand that you do it or else. That’s where you will fit best.

(More next post….)

Excuses, excuses, excuses! (Part 1)

Is success a bit more elusive than you expected? Are you blowing by your goals stunningly or blowing them off as you once again missed that last batch?

If your goals are getting bigger and your successes piling onto each other, read no further. This is not for you. If not, read on. You and I need to chat.

First, let’s start with a simple exercise: Think of at least 3 times in the last week when you planned to do something that needed to be done, but when the time came to do it, it was inconvenient to do it at that time. Write them down. Don’t read any further until you’ve made your list.

Do you have at least 3? Good. If not, stop and finish your list. Your integrity matters to your success.

(More in next post….)

Confused…or Clueless?

I listened to an amazing example of confusing the cause and the effect. A woman called into a talk radio show to obtain their support for a campaign she was waging. She had written letters to editors, congress members, state commissions, et cetera, but was not getting any support. Her cause? She wanted to have them move the deer crossing signs off freeways and highways to pedestrian crossings and lesser traveled roads so the deer would cross at some place safer. She was serious. She sounded educated and was quite articulate…but totally clueless, even as the hosts queried her.

This would be funny, if not so sad. And maybe scary. She probably votes.

But anytime I run into something like this, I try to catch myself and use it as a mirror on myself. In this case I might ask: What don’t I know that I don’t know? Where am I clueless? Where am I confused?

I obviously cannot always answer something like that, but sometimes I can and do raise such questions in conversation with those who know me. I also make sure folks with whom I am in relationship know that it is okay to confront me about such things. I want to make the hurdle as low as possible for someone who sees my cluelessness to tell me about it, for example. Other times it could be words I misuse or mispronounce, unrecognized bias, self-defeating words or attitudes, or any number of other things that could come up.

Read up on the Johari Window model in psychology. It relates to the four combinations of things you do and do not know about yourself with things others do and do not know about you. My point is not to send you off on that tangent, but to help sensitize you to WANTING to know more about yourself and to be more transparent with those around you. Transparency breeds trust. Trust breeds success.

What can you do today to learn more about yourself or to help others know more about you?