Archives for May 2024

Embrace failure to achieve success

Failure is an important part of success. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” How true. This true statement recognizes that people are seriously afraid to fail. Similarly, people are seriously afraid to have someone tell them they failed or did something incorrectly. The fact is that most people are afraid of criticism, even when it is constructive criticism.

Because of this a large percentage of the population would rather live in a bubble where they do enough to get by, but not take risks that can lead them to another level and greater success. You may ask why would people not try their best to succeed but many people are comfortable flying under the radar only doing what is needed and nothing more. Again, people do not like to hear negative feedback or reviews regarding their work or actions, ignoring that it is as hard to provide constructive negative feedback as it is to take it. You can learn from constructive negative feedback in ways “success” from maintaining the status quo will never provide.

The truth is that if you have not failed you are not trying to be your best self. If you are okay with maintaining the status quo, but not improving, keep doing the same thing and you will continue to have the same results. But you do so at your own peril because while you stay in your bubble, someone more aggressive, willing to take risks, younger, etc., will come along and pass you by. Maybe this won’t bother you, but will you really be okay with it when those people pass you by and later leave you in the dust?

Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” What scares each of us is different. Maybe it is setting aside five to ten minutes each morning to call someone from your list of contacts or who you want to connect with just to say “Hi” and stay in their mind. Maybe it is setting a coffee or lunch with someone you met, but don’t really know, who could lead you to new business or good connections. Maybe it is agreeing to be a presenter at a seminar. Maybe it is asking people for business. It can take limitless forms, but each day you don’t do something that scares you is another day you stay in place not striving to do better. Is that what you really want?

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Unraveling Conscious and Unconscious Bias Through Personal Connection

This morning I was clearing out old email and found a link to video from a number of years ago. The video is titled “Millennials Show Us What “Old” Looks Like” ( I was reminded about what I thought when I first saw it years ago, which is the big picture idea that people judge others based on their own biases and lack of knowledge. It could be based on age, as in the video, or on appearance or some other shallow reason that has nothing to do with who the person is. We all do it even when we are conscious of the idea that we generally have more in common with others than difference.

What I’m referring to are the conscious and unconscious biases we all have. For some watching the video it will be hard to hear twenty and thirty somethings say they consider people in their 40’s to be old, but it caused me to think about conscious and unconscious bias in broader contexts including in my professional world. Spoiler alert: in the video they introduce the millennials to “older” people and they realize some or all of their perceptions of age and what is old were wrong. Of course, the biases we all have are about more than just age and can impact your professional and personal network in a negative way.

What crosses you mind when you are at a restaurant and a gentleman at the table next to you has earrings or a woman has a nose ring, or someone has sleeve of tattoos on their arm. Some of you are thinking “why would they do that to themselves” or “they clearly aren’t on a professional business track.” Others are thinking nothing at all because to you it is within the range of norms for people you know or deal with. The difference in perception may be because of your age, how you were raised or something else in your background. But the person you may think has a low level or blue collar type job may be a doctor, a nurse, an investment advisor, own a successful business, etc. This goes back to the old adage about what happens if you assume.

What comes into your mind first is unconscious, and we all do have biases, whether we want to admit it. Making assumptions without knowing someone is problematic on many levels. By doing so, you may avoid a person at a social or business event who would be a great connection for you or someone you would connect with on a personal level. And remember, everyone has these biases and it may cause them to avoid you too.

So what can each of us do about this? I urge you to try to be more open minded and embrace other’s differences. Next time you have an opportunity, start a conversation with the person you usually would avoid. The worst that can happen is they are not interesting or a good connection. If so, it is easy to say “nice to have met you” and move on. It is better to waste a few minutes than miss an opportunity.

I always say “if we were all the same the world would be a boring place.” I believe that to be true. Put this into practice by branching out beyond your comfort zone and see what happens.

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Consider the behaviors necessary to live your values

We all have values we live and work by whether or not we actually spend the time to think about it. Stopping to consider the behaviors needed to meet your values is an important exercise because values are abstract concepts such as quality, timeliness, or integrity. On the other hand, behaviors are concrete actions we each take or don’t take.

I saw one definition of values as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” Whatever values you have require certain behaviors to meet your values. The flipside is that there are many behaviors that are in direct conflict with your values. The challenge is to work to behave in a manner that is in line with your values at all times. Of course, this is harder than it seems.

For example, I pride myself on producing quality legal work in a timely manner. I can draft a quality contract or legal brief within the time frame I need to only if I set behaviors to allow me to meet these values. It may be calendaring when to start work on a project, not just the due date. It may be blocking time to focus only on the project by closing my office door, ignoring emails, and putting my phone on do not disturb (I know this goes against the multi-tasking world we all inhabit these days, but be honest, can any of us truly multi-task well?). If I take these types of actions it is more likely I will meet my values related to work quality and timeliness.

It is a worthwhile exercise to spend time thinking about your values and how you work. Once you can outline the values you have or want to achieve, you then need to spend time on outlining the behaviors that will help you meet each value you have identified. After you take the time and energy to do this, I suggest you keep a list or document of the values and related behaviors where you can review it easily and often. Doing so is an investment in yourself, will help you focus on your values and behaviors, and will give you the best chance to do so successfully.

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