Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Over the years one of the things that has amazed me is how people react when they are in an uncomfortable situation. I am talking in a business sense, you know, doing whatever you do not like doing? I remember a boss telling me “We get paid for the things we do not like to do”, that was good advice. So getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is one of the ways to improve your opportunity for success.

In all aspects of our business world there are times that we just do not like doing something, not the lazy way, the uncomfortable way. The call on a tough account, an upset client, someone we owe money to, all tough calls to make. To be truly successful this one area that you cannot dodge, that you cannot avoid, we all must learn to deal with these events. But how?

Here is a 3step process to make it happen

  1. Start Small

Do not push yourself into a huge situation without working on smaller items. Look for places that you feel uncomfortable, write them down and then prioritize them. Approach the ones in which you have the least amount to lose in the situation or ones that you feel most confident in. Go ahead, take action and understand the process.

2. Take Notes

Both mental and written. Notice when you are the customer/person that is upset and how the other person handles the situation. What do they say that makes you feel good/bad, what are the things they do and say that deflates the tension. Observe how some people  do one of two things, fight or take flight and notice how it makes you feel.

3. Reward Success

When you do handle a situation where you have stretched yourself, reward yourself. Even if it is something small, give yourself credit. Feel good about working through every challenge.

We may never get to the point that we feel comfortable in all situations, yet learning how to feel more comfortable when you are uncomfortable will take you a long way in business.

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My Own Way To Rock

When I was in college, a friend of mine introduced me to the music of The Guess Who. A band from Canada that had a couple of mega hits that were more of the “Soft rock” genre. What I found was that they were quite a rebellious and rowdy bunch on stage. The almost twenty minute version of American Woman they used to play in concert was incredible. Over the next 10 years or so I attended many of their shows…some of my favorite songs were ones that never hit the radio. My Own Way To Rock was one of those songs.As I got older and into business the title of this song gained a lot of meaning to me.

Early in my career I was selling radio advertising for a station in Lansing Michigan. I was having moderate success when one year we went to our yearly sales training. The guest sales guru flavor of the year was a gentleman by the name of Jim Williams. If I remember correctly, he was from Oklahoma and he was an “In your face, HARD SELL” person. For three days we were taught how to get bigger orders and close more sales. Alas, it was almost the end of my radio career.

When we got back to our hometowns, we had to adopt this new style, which was the antithesis of my style. I tried, and quickly my sales were dropping like a lead balloon. My customers were not granting me appointments and my sales had tanked. I actually had one client request a different rep, and I had a good relationship with him up to that time. I was looking for different avenues for my future, it was that bad. I had a mortgage on a home in Detroit, I was paying rent on a home in Mason, Michigan and I was a brand new father with a four month old son.

Early in November of that year my boss, Chuck Mefford, invited me into his office. Now you never want to be invited into the BIG guy’s office, especially when you are not even close to your sales budget, I was nervous. Instead he offered me advice, three words that would resonate through my entire business career. JUST BE YOURSELF That was it, just be yourself. I had tried so hard to adopt and adapt that I was somebody that nobody knew.

From that day forward I learned to take what I was taught and adapt to my style or personality. Fortunately for me my career blossomed from that time forward. I continued on that path for many years, learn, adopt and be yourself. No matter what I learned form the guru’s over the years, I had to put it into my own way of doing things. I always worked with a lot of enthusiasm and love for what I was doing, so that was easy to incorporate.

One of the things I see today, in my life of training, are people that forget who they are. They forget to let themselves be a part of the process. If you have the basic qualities of a business person, then letting your own style show is not a problem. What is a problem is when you try to be somebody that you are not. When you try to take on somebody else’s personality or style because you think it is more effective than your own. The only thing that happens is you create a bad replica of someone else. So take a lesson from The Guess Who, and take the motto, My Own Way To Rock….and if you work hard, stay focused and enjoy the process…you may end up like another of their not so famous hits that I love, a Star Baby!

Enjoy the week and inspire others!!!

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The Song Remains The Same

So often I hear that we do not have the poets anymore in our society. Sure the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Poe are some of my favorites, and yes, they were tremendous. It is true also that the modern day poet does not get their due as poets of years gone by. Or do they?

When I think of the modern day poets, or at least those of the last 50 years, I think of names like Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Chapin, Croce and many more.I like to think that the poetry is still there, the genius still is given to us…it just has music behind it. Think of some of these lines;

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on
And it makes me wonder”

“When this old world starts a getting me down,
and people are just too much for me to face.
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs and all my cares just drift right into space.
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be and there the world below don’t bother me, no, no.”

“You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer”

“Some of it’s magic
Some of it’s tragic
But I had a good life all the way”

“I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes/ You’d know what a drag it is to see you”

So those are the words of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and their Stairway To Heaven. Gerry Goffin and Carole King took us Up On The Roof. Helen Reddy had a life changing song with her hit I Am Woman. Jimmy Buffett penned one of Bob Dylan’s favorite tunes with He Went To Paris. Lastly, Mr. Dylan himself with a line from Positively 4TH Street.

Just thinking about that brings to mind one of my frustrations with people today. That is, that we tend to see what is not there anymore, rather the good that is there. Think about. We hear things like “It sure isn’t the way it USED to be”. “I remember when you could get a candy bar for a dime” or this one “They sure don’t make em like they used to”. Hey, I have been guilty of one or two of those in my lifetime too.

If you look at it from the other side, the POSITIVE side, I am writing this blog not on a machine that needs white out for every mistake (I would have used a bottle already). I can send this out into cyberspace to be read with just the push of the button. Then I can go to my phone, that has no cord, and read it myself.

There is so much good in the world today, and yet we are fed a mouthful of hate every time we look to a news source. After awhile you start believing that is all there is, hate, violence and death. The edited soundbite is the gospel today…think if we only read the parts of the Bible that had violence in it, we would look at the good book in another light. Right?

So what is the purpose of this piece? Well the title is from a Led Zeppelin song “The Song Remains The Same”. My thought on that is that we remember the more happier parts of life gone by, we say that is was slower, and more gentle. It still is, all you have to do is look in the right places, television is not the right place…find places that have words, with meaning and are there not to exploit, but to be shared. There are a lot of avenues out there to experience.

So I will close with this thought. School starts today in our county here in Florida and our youngest is starting the 11TH grade….I hope that she does not take to heart, literally, Mr. Springsteen’s song with these lyrics, “We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school” Ah yes, “No Surrender” Enjoy, and inspire someone today!

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Inspiration

I was asked by a class member the other day if it bothers me that people on my Facebook page are copying me and starting to post inspirational messages just like I have been for years. At first I told him that I do not own a franchise on posting quotes on Facebook, then I thought the question was just a joke, but he started talking about some of the people and posts that he had seen. This took me for a little nostalgic trip, which I shared with him and now would like to share with you.

 

About 6 years ago I thought that I would turn my Facebook page into one that let me share what I did for work with other people. I began to write little quotes on my page on a daily basis, and continued that for a period of time. After a while, I started getting criticism from people about it, so I quit. One day talking with my former franchisee in his office, Buddy Folkner, he said to me that he missed my posts and that I should start doing them again. I explained about the criticism and he just glared at me….I got the message! Why let others dictate what we do? Especially when what we are doing is intended to lift others.

 

So that next day I began my current journey to put a quote every morning on my page. I search for quotes that are relatable to things that I have seen and/or heard. Most of the time, they are generated by an incident discussed inside a class or at a speaking engagement, other times they are inspired by family or friends that are going through a tough time. My message is always the same, LIFT OTHERS UP!!!

 

So when I see other people- family, friends, graduates and others- doing the same thing that I am doing, I absolutely LOVE IT!!!! I believe that we live in a world that has way too much hate. We live in a world that has way too much criticism. We live in a world that is desperate for people to find the good in each other instead of pointing out all of the flaws. I am not sure how many Facebook friends I have, but if every one of them started putting a positive, uplifting quote on their page every day, I would applaud it! All we have are each other, we are all connected, and helping each other get through every day with a smile is always a good endeavor to try to accomplish!!!

 

I love the feedback, the little notes I get, and the people who say that the post hit them in a good spot that day. I do not think of the criticism anymore, I just do it. It does not matter if I get one like, no likes, or one hundred likes, I just do it. It feels good knowing that in my heart and my head, my main focus is to lift the spirits of others and to inspire one person to a better day is well worth the effort.

 

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Who Are You?

A great question, can you answer it? As we enter the new year most people are trying to start fresh- to renew themselves- and I have a word of advice. Whoever you decide to become, become YOU.

You might be thinking that I was sipping a little too much of the bubbly over the weekend, yet it is something that I see in many walks of life. Salespeople who find a mentor, or a successful person, and they try to totally become them. The way they talk, dress, and sell…usually that ends up in mediocrity or worse.

Managers who read the latest and greatest book on how to engage people in the most successful way, totally abandon their own style to emulate another and then they crash and burn, making their team lost and dysfunctional. The manager is left struggling to hold on and cannot figure out why.

I am all for starting fresh, for renewing one’s lot in life, but spend your money and time looking inside and finding the BEST you! We are all unique, and we have our own special talents. One of these talents is just our personalities- the inner you that is driven to succeed. So, if you are searching for that magic formula to enhance your career and your life, look deep inside at who you are. Take the time to discover how the things that make you unique can be an asset to your company and to the world.

Believe in YOU!!!

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Lesson From My Mom

One of the incredible things I learned from my mother was to “Enjoy the process.” Now she did not come out and say “Bobby, you have to learn to enjoy the process.” No, she taught me through her actions and words. It is just unfortunate that it took me over 50 years in order for me to understand- let me explain.

When I was young, I learned how to fly fish. Between my Grandfather and my Dad, I learned quite slowly, mostly by watching and, when nobody was looking, by practicing. There were many occasions that I was fishing the hook out of the back of my leg and many occasions that my time fishing consisted only of untangling a snarled line, yet I learned. It was not too long that I had the rhythm and the patience to be able to let that line flow so softly onto the water. It was a majestic thing to see and it felt so good that I was the person making it happen.

So when I would go out to fish, my mother was always my biggest fan and coach. Her last words to me going out the door were always “have fun” and her first words coming back were always “Did you have fun?”. Notice there was never any talk about catching fish! Usually, in our conversation following, I would hear things like “You really love fly fishing don’t you?” or “It looks like you enjoy being out on the lake like that.” We never discussed the catching of fish unless I brought it up…and I never really did. I would talk about the sounds, the calmness of the water, or just the beauty of the evening.

A few years later, when I got serious about playing golf, I noticed the same type of banter with my mom. Before I would go out her last words were usually something like “Have fun; enjoy yourself”, and when I came back her first words were “Did you have fun?”. I do not ever remember my mom asking me what my score was or what I shot. Her questions and conversations were always about the enjoyment of the sport and the beauty of the course. It was always a conversation that I loved having and one that stuck with me throughout my life.

Years later, when my children were born, I did not know it at the time, but I instinctively said and did the same things I learned from my mom with my own kids. Winning and losing were not the end all and be all; I concentrated more on the enjoyment of the activity. Whether it was sports, reading, or working on chores, my goal was to make it fun so that they would enjoy themselves. It is funny that I remember this one incident. After my kids’ mother and I were divorced, I went to watch my son, now about 20, in a wakeboard tournament. As I was sitting there watching him, his stepdad came up to talk to me and proceeded to lecture me on how I had been too tough on my son. I did not say a word, out of respect to my son, yet the guy had no clue. He had never talked to me in his life, had never known a thing about me, other than what others spoke of, and he was lecturing me. Then he went on to tell me that my son had a great work ethic, he enjoyed practicing and doing the things that were needed to succeed. It seemed to me that he had learned to enjoy the process.

My daughter was the same way. We always loved to read, and we all read a lot. We talked about books, about writing, about stories and I can never recall either of her parents ever telling her that she MUST read. She just naturally learned to enjoy the process. She went on to get her degree in Journalism at The University of Florida, and to my knowledge, continues to enjoy reading even now in her early 30’s.

Yes, that is what my mother taught me, to enjoy the process. If she would have asked me if I caught anything when fishing, which most of the time I did not, then I would have judged my fishing on catching or not! Instead, she taught me to have fun, enjoy the beauty, and, because of that, I got better and caught a lot of fish. When golfing, if my score was the only marker on how well I was doing, I would have gotten discouraged and quit when I was shooting around 120. Yet, she helped me to learn the process- to enjoy the practice and the beauty of the game- and the results were that later in life I was a single digit handicap golfer and had many rounds in the 60’s during my life. Not bad for a guy that took the game up in college and never had a lesson. Oh, I take that back, my lessons came from my mom- mentally.

So what does this all mean to you? Whatever you choose to do in life, learn to enjoy the process and you will be better at what you do. I can hear the sarcasm out there now- the naysayers and the doubters- let their words fall on deaf ears and forge ahead. When you learn to enjoy the process you will look at things as less of a task and more as an enjoyable activity. When I read about great athletes, they enjoy the game that they are in and, what’s more, they enjoy practicing to hone their skills. They get it; they enjoy the process.

As I sit here writing this blog, I am taken back to my youth once again, to recall how my mother used to buy me books, take me to the library, and encourage me to read. She never told me I had to read, yet someway she helped me to LOVE reading, which I do to this day. I do not know how many books I read in a year, yet I find myself always searching for new stories or styles. Some people just smile no matter what their job in life is, I am sure that they are thoroughly enjoying themselves and the process.

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A GOPRO View

I was fortunate enough to have been able to play some major college baseball back in my days at The University of Detroit. It gave me the opportunity to go to college and to meet a lot of interesting people. About five years ago, I met up with one of those interesting people who I had not spoken to for over 3o years.

When my teammate and I spoke on the phone it was very pleasant. We shared work history, family history, and talked about friends and family we had lost. Then, one thing totally consumed our conversation- an event that happened at the University of Michigan in 1978. I was a graduate assistant coach for the team that year, and was closely involved in ALL aspects of the game. My friend was totally consumed by every little detail about this event, where as I had absolutely ZERO recollection of that day at all. I mean, I remember not one thing he discussed, and he assured me, I WAS there….

Now, what happened that day 37 years ago now is not important, as a matter of fact, I still do not remember it. What is important is how one person can be effected by an event and another person experiencing the same event is phased so little that they do not remember it all. Why can some people see the beauty of an incredible rose and the other see nothing but thorns on a stem? Where one can smell the incredible fragrance of the flower and the other can only smell the pungent odor of the fertilizer- the manure that was used in the flower bed?

All this brings me to Mr. Carnegie’s Human Relations principle #17: Try HONESTLY to see things from the other person’s point of view. This does not say to walk in the other person’s moccasins, though many align those together. That can only make your feet hurt if their shoes do not fit you. What this says is to SEE things HONESTLY from that person’s point of view, because, as the story above shows, we can experience the same stimuli and come away with a completely different take.

In life and in business, we are subject to events on a constant basis- little incidents that make up every day of our lives. We experience those incidents with many others, yet too often we judge them solely through our own eyes. “Why doesn’t she want to buy my product?”, “Why does that cost so much?”, “What does that person think they are doing driving so slow?” It is a constant barrage of decisions that need to be made, of thoughts that stream through our brains like the crawl at the bottom of the Weather Channel. So why do some of us react so differently than others?  I cannot answer that, and yet, I write a blog about it. Herein lays my point.

It is NOT important to know the why; it is important to try and see the point of view. We need to use our minds to see life from someone else’s vantage point, much like viewing life from that person’s GOPRO camera. The key is to do it HONESTLY. Don’t just look at their point of view and immediately decipher it through your view, spend some time thinking and pondering the reason they may have had that reaction or response.

I am approaching 60 years of age really quickly and I work with people in their mid 20’s. If the only way I saw what we were doing was through my BABY BOOMER view, I would be lost! The 20 something millennial has a completely different take on the same stimuli. I must spend time looking at their point of view. Do I have to agree? No, just try hard to understand their way of seeing life.

So, when you see things from the others point of view, and you do it honestly, the benefit to you will be that you may have a better understanding of the other person’s view on the issue at hand. You also might inspire that person to spend more time trying to understand your point of view. As Mr. Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

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