Archives for March 2018

Fitting in is highly overrated

Peer pressure starts when you are young and can impact you throughout your life if you let it. We all want to fit in and be in the “in” crowd, whether it is in high school or in our professional lives. You know what I am talking about.

Fitting in can get you places at times, but in the long run it usually means you are one of the pack and don’t “stand out.” Most leaders do not become leaders by being one of the crowd or a follower.

This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from spending time with the crowd, but if you let yourself get trapped in its orbit, that is how people will know you. It usually means something along the line of people thinking of you as one of a group and not individually.

So what is the answer? Be you.

By being you, it may mean being part of the crowd. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you aspire to be a leader or stand out, you have to do more. So do you want to be part of the status quo fitting in, or do you want to excel? Knowing the answer to this question can help guide you with goals and aspirations.

No matter your answer to that question, if you work on being the authentic you, you will have a better chance of happiness and success, whatever that means to you.

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What is your road to success?

Does your definition of success have to do with money? Job title or prestige? Or does it relate to family or your children? Or maybe it relates to the level of your current golf game. You should be aware of how you define success. If not, how can you tell if you have achieved any or all of what you view as success, whether you have met interim goals or whether you need to change course to reach your goals?

As with all goal setting exercises, it helps to begin with the end in mind. It makes it much easier to chart your course and come up with the steps to get there. Knowing where you are and where you want to be also will help you set interim goals.

For me, success comes from both my professional and personal lives. In my professional life, I work with a great group of attorneys, enjoy the types of clients I work with and am proud of the professional reputation I have in my community. In my personal life I have a great wife and four (mostly) great kids depending on the day. They all are happy and healthy. I am able to spend time with them and enjoy their company even though it all is going by too fast. For me, I view both parts of my life as successful.

But that doesn’t mean I have no goals related to success and am resting on my laurels. You have to continuously set goals that fit within your definition of success. This includes both long-term and short-term goals.

It is important to remember that what you view as success likely will change over time. It is relative to where you sit, what is important to you at that point in time and where you want to be. The point is that it is okay to pivot and shift your interim or ultimate goals.

Similarly, me feeling successful doesn’t mean I am the best or most successful attorney. Similarly it doesn’t make me the best husband or father at every moment. Instead it means I am working to meet what success means to me, and the goals I have set and reset to get there.

It will help you if you write down what success means to you, along with the steps and goals to get you there. Once you do that, don’t file it away. Instead, keep a copy on your desktop on your computer, in some program on your phone or tablet and even a hard-copy on your desk or in your work space. You need to review this information regularly so you know where you are or whether changes may be needed.

Take the time to see where you are on your road to success and you will have a better chance to get there. And remember while you are on that road to enjoy the ride.

Here are some quotes on what success means to a few people you may be familiar with:

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, equates success with personal fulfillment:

“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”

“To me, the definition of success is waking up in the morning with a smile on your face, knowing it’s going to be a great day. I was happy and felt like I was successful when I was poor, living six guys in a three-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor.”

The late basketball coach John Wooden said his definition of success was more about competing with yourself than the other guy.

Warren Buffet says he measures success by how many people love him.

The late poet Maya Angelou believed “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Bill Gates looked at it differently, saying “It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.”

The important thing to note is they each are right, just like your definition of success will be for you.

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Don’t settle for average

Are you an Average Joe? When I think about the term Average Joe, Homer Simpson comes to mind – the person who goes to work and does what’s needed, goes home and does the same, and then gets up and repeats each day of the week. There is nothing wrong with being average, but, if given the option, why wouldn’t you strive to be more?

There are many people who come to mind when I think about above average, both in my personal life and in the world at large. I know the types of people I wanted to emulate, and it didn’t include Homer Simpson. I am not saying I am above average, but I know that I am striving to do more professionally and personally. Trying to break out of “average” isn’t easy and even if you try, there are no guarantees, but the possibility makes trying worthwhile.

Not being an Average Joe means working harder and sacrificing time that could be spent on leisure time and fun pursuits. Average people have hopes and wishes, but people trying to be above average have goals and plans. Do you? Do you work nights or weekends when its necessary? If you don’t, does the person who does, whether where you work or a competitor, do so? If so, its likely you will fall behind and that person will get the promotion or the business.

Sports can provide a good analogy for many business ideas, and that is the case here. The athletes who have the best and most consistent careers do because they are willing to put in time and effort to try and remain competitive at the highest level. A good example is the basketball player who puts in extra time outside of practice shooting shot after shot.

It makes me think if Steve Nash, who was a star point guard for the Phoenix Suns from 2004 to 2012. He was an all-star into his late 30’s. That is old in professional basketball. I remember reading at the time how he changed his diet, the levels of his workouts and the extra time he put in both practicing and recovering from practicing and games, i.e. massages, using ice and heat, etc. He wasn’t ready to retire and he didn’t want to turn into an average player. By putting in the extra time and effort he extended his career and played at a well above average level for more years than he would have otherwise.

To not be average, you have to invest in yourself. You responsibilities can make it hard to have that extra time you need to invest to break out of “average,” but if you don’t find the time you may never know or reach your potential. Don’t settle for average.

Here are a few quotes on not settling for being average that I find inspiring:

“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

“All I knew is that I never wanted to be average.” Michael Jordan

“Never settle for average.” Steve Jobs

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Be relentless about continuous improvement

This is so important for all of us. No matter what you do, you can always improve yourself and your team. In our world it can mean learning related to what you work on or improving processes or procedures for your team.

Constantly evaluate every aspect of your job to find ways to improve. Share what you learn so that others can benefit as well. This type of investing in yourself makes you and those around you better at what you each do.

I continually try to work on organization and making sure I am getting various tasks done timely. I have tried everything from handwritten to do lists to setting appointments on my calendar to a mix of both. Each time I think I have a system I will keep, but when I look at it I always am working to improve it, which is good for me, my team and our clients.

What is it you can learn or work on to improve your time on your business? If you can’t think of anything you are not thinking hard enough. I challenge you to take some time this week to think about something you want to learn about or an aspect of your job or business you can work to improve.

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