10 Priceless Things

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." ~ William Arthur Ward

There are some things that really put life in perspective. We can't buy them and we certainly can't sell them. They are simply priceless. Here are 10 of my personal "Priceless Things". What are yours?

  • Watching the sun rise.
  • Hearing a child laugh.
  • Choking up at the national anthem.
  • Seeing quiet strength in adversity.
  • Listening to a bugler play taps.
  • Being a father.
  • Sharing silence with my wife.
  • Shaking a veterans hand.
  • Smiling when no-one is watching.
  • Thanking the big guy.

A Wonderful World.

"And I think to myself ~ What a wonderful world." ~ Louis Armstrong.



"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."

~ Vince Lombardi

What would you say are the most commonly agreed ingredients baked into the cake we all call success? Many would put Preparation, Practise and Willpower very high on the list. Malcolm Gladwell, in his hugely successful book, said it takes 10,000 hours of practise to become preeminent at anything. Virtually every coach on earth has said the will to win is worthless without the will to practise and prepare.

I would even go as far to say that the difference between success and failure lies in how much we are willing to do and how far we are willing to go to achieve our aims in practise, before the game even starts ~ We all want success, and say so frequently, but are we willing to consistently show up early and work before and after others?

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach, would impress upon his players to always arrive fifteen minutes early for anything. To prepare, compose their thoughts, and pre plan. ~ The players called it "Lombardi time".

The exceptional wide receiver Jerry Rice was famous for his practise regimen. He finished every catch in training by running through the end zone. He showed up before others started and continued training by himself after they had left. He simply drove himself to a higher standard in practise than others were willing to. His philosophy and words sum up the mindset of a consummate professional  ~ " Today I will do what others won't ~ so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't."

And what of Larry Bird who when his high school coach recommended he practised fifty free throws every day got up early before school and went out and practiced two hundred free throws? Then during recess, and again after school he worked well into the night. Larry practised so much that others thought him to be a young man obsessed.

The bottom line is ~ Professionals Practise More.

Teach or Leave.

"By learning you will teach; by teaching you will understand."
~ Latin proverb

Question: If we really want to grow individuals, and organizations, what has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to do it?

Answer: Insist that, as a condition of employment, each person on your team has an obligation and responsibility to teach others.

Why? Because what we teach is likely to be done, at least to some degree, by the teacher who teaches.  Cognitive dissonance creates conflict with our conscience otherwise. Why should we insist that employees teach? Brain studies conducted by Dr. Gary Phillips at National Institute of Brain Research have determined that after one month we remember:
  • 14% of what we hear
  • 22% of what we see
  • 42% of actions that we repeat
  • 92% of what we teach others
Aside from the altruistic benefits and team morale implications of having every employee have a career obligation and responsibility to teach others - the Maslow hierarchy of needs argues strongly that you end up with a more self actualized employee. 

Why don't more companies do it? A short term task /results focus instead of a long term development of the individual focus mainly.

The Worst Words.

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."
~ Benjamin Franklin

What are the very worst words you can ever hear as a salesperson? Well I'm sure you can come up with a few - but I put it to you that the worst words you will ever hear are "You're A Great Salesperson". Usually followed up with a "but". Being complimented on sales skills is probably one of the worst things a professional wants if he, or she, is really honest with themselves. It means - well it means that the buyer feels they were "sold". Now I recognize that all of us take a great deal of pride in convincing, persuading and closing - but if you're really good - all of that should occur inside the buyers mind without your pitching it. They should be convincing themselves that you are the best option - you shouldn't be convincing them. A very subtle difference I know - but a crucial one. So if those are the worst words in sales - What is the best word? I submit the best word is... "If". Once the prospect moves from "Why" to "If" they have moved from "Convince me" - to possibility thinking. Ultimately that is when you can start to take an order - once the person is thinking of the possibilities of you and your solutions fitting their needs. That is when it all falls into place. Once they start asking "If we..." you can truly call yourself "A Great Salesperson". Buyers Want To Buy ~ They Don't Want To Be Sold. Moving away from convincing them, with your great sales skills, to opening up possibilities where they ask "If" - is the key. Listen for if and beware of why. Don't try to convince. Question, Listen, Create and Open up possibilities in their mind so buyers start thinking ~ "If..."

Convincing stimulates and creates more "Why?".

Questions create if - Listening creates If - If stimulates Sales.

When Do We Learn?

"When it is dark enough, men see the stars." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many years ago a young salesman I worked with was facing a bit of adversity and we had a chat. His sales were down considerably and he wasn't taking the actions he needed to turn things around. In business demand slows sometimes and we have to do better, and more, to get the sales that during good times would be just "coming in". We can't just take orders ~ we've got to really work for them. The conversation we were having turned to character and he made a statement that I will never forget. He said - "If I was in a war, I'd be different. My focus would be more intense and I would rise to the occasion." He took great offense when I disagreed and said "In times of war our character is the same as any other time. It is simply more evident to others." Adversity reveals character - but so does the way we face our daily tasks and responsibilities - Difficult conditions highlight the same character that we display each day under less trying circumstances. Most people make decisions when they have to, change when they have to, learn when they have to, or adjust behavior and habits when they have to. Very few take difficult and uncomfortable actions before they have to - but those that do earn enormous respect and rewards. The young salesman looked at me with disbelief and I realized that, no matter what was said, it wasn't yet dark enough for him to see the stars.

When do we learn? ~ When it gets dark enough.

Friends, Demons & Beating Par

"Anybody who plays golf will tell you that you play against yourself."

~ Martin Sheen

We tend to make life hard on ourselves don't we? We complicate things. Rather than take a look at ourselves and what we need to do to improve our life we look at the course, conditions, clubs and competing characters. Whether in business or life we stroll along hitting the same strokes that we have now become familiar with, getting about the same old score as we always do and stopping, every now and again, to congratulate ourselves on a good shot. Then ~ When we stumble occasionally into the rough we... Well we tend to look around everywhere except where we should - within. We all tend to put our lives on auto pilot and never take a moment to break down what we really need to do ~ To Consistently Beat Par. So what do we need to do? To beat par in business, and indeed life, we need to look at:

P = Psychology

We need to get out of our own way. The person who beats us in life and business is always us - period. Whether it be resistance to learning, changing or modifying our behavior - We beat ourselves.

A = Actions

Do we adjust and change our swing, our habits, our follow through and our focus? Do we keep score of ourselves and how the changes we have made to our swing bring better results? Do we constantly strive to perfect, measure and both honestly and truthfully score ourselves?

R = Relationships

We need coaches. We need someone who can watch our swing with a critical eye. No matter how good we think our self appraisal is - it's biased, prejudiced and fraught with rationalizations. We need Friends and Demons. Demons that will hold us accountable to strive, drive and deliver. Demons that will help us deliver on a performance we can be proud of. Naturally, we need friends to enjoy that performance with.

Business and Life Is All About Beating PAR ~ Enjoy It.

The Finest Man I Knew

"Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
~ John W. Gardne

Have you ever been truly humbled by a fellow human being? I don't mean impressed or stood in admiration of - but truly humbled? As a child I grew up reading works of Tennyson and Kipling - The Charge of The Light Brigade, If and Gunga Din made an indelible impression on this young mind. So I suppose it was inevitable that when the time came to serve with Quiet Professionals in the United States Army I would be swayed by the notions of honor, duty and courage in the face of daunting adversity. It was then, many years ago, that a wet nosed ego met his marvelous mentor. Let's call him 'Stevie' to protect his wishes. Stevie was a teacher of men. He was a quiet professional. You'd never find him on facebook or twitter. For Stevie lived by a code that rejected self promotion. His was a selfless path. The job, the quality of the end product - the men he molded spoke to his success. His wife knew. His children knew. The men whose lives he saved knew what kind of man he was. The finest man I ever knew? Well ~ "e put me safe inside, an just before 'e died..." Stevie taught me "Tain't what you do - but how you do it. That makes this life worth goin' through it." But go ahead - keep tweetin' and keep posting away but when all is said and done - We must do our job and do it well - 'cause we've all come across people like Stevie and ~ "We will meet 'em later on - in a place where they have gone". And they will know how well we've done.

Tiger Blood.

"By blood a king, in heart a clown".
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Some people think they have "Tiger Blood" and others really do. How can you tell the difference? When evaluating anyone for possible promotion, additional responsibility, to employ, or work with ~ I've found a very simple acronym works for me. The acronym is P.A.W.  Oftentimes this acronym will tell you whether they really do have tiger blood. But don't be fooled, one component is nice, two is even better, but all three means you've got someone with real tiger blood.

How do you know? ~ Take a look at their PAW.

P = Performance 

A = Attitude 

W = Work Ethic 

Many claim to have Tiger blood - Few Do.

Leadership & Likeability.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." ~ Bill Cosby.

Think about the leaders you respect the most. Whether from history, business, or personal experience. Were they like-able? I'm not talking about the idiosyncrasies of personality - everyone has those. I'm not talking about those jerks who callously disregard the human equation.

I'm simply asking "Were they like-able?" We can all agree upon the common denominators of like-ability ~ People who listen, care, are selfless, giving and amusing, tend to do well on the like-ability scale.
People who do what we want, when we want, and accept us unconditionally are very like-able. People that don't judge us ~ or hold us accountable to their unreasonable standards are usually like-able.

We like people like us ~ and people who like us.

Are the greatest leaders we know like-able? Is it necessary for us to like them? I've known and worked with some great leaders, in both business and the military, over the years, and from my perspective likability was always a bonus - respect, however, was a necessity.

Me? ~ I tend to like those I respect ~ even when I don't like them.

But then again ~ I guess it all depends on what you like.

The 5 KPI's of Life

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
" ~ Albert Einstein

Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) drive performance.  Best business practices dictate that we continually measure what we manage and constantly strive to improve Products, People and Profits with an unrelenting focus. In business we attempt to ascribe metrics to improving these because we need to substantiate and quantify how well we are doing. That's good and that's how we measure growth.

But what about the KPI's of life?

What about the key performance indicators of life that are more difficult to measure? What are they and how do we know how well we did each day? I humbly submit there are five questions we should ask ourselves.
  • Did I Make A Difference?
  • Did I Selflessly Give?
  • Did I Accept Responsibility?
  • Did I Care Enough?
  • Did I Do Enough?

Life Is Like A Cup Of Coffee

"A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life."
~ James Allen

10 Things All Leaders Need

"Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders."
~ Tom Peters

So You're A Leader. You have an ego the size of Mount Rushmore. You have the unshakable belief that you can make a difference. You're cursed with the disease that others call pathological optimism and you possess a drive and determination that would make Vince Lombardi proud. What else do you need? You might also need A...

  • Vision ~ That drives you and inspires others.
  • Dog ~ 'Cause you're gonna need a friend.
  • Cat ~ To teach you what it's like to be ignored.
  • Customer List ~ To keep in touch with who you work for.
  • Prospect List ~ To communicate & refine your value proposition.
  • Mentor ~ Because their hindsight will give you foresight.
  • Sage ~ A wise friend. Because two heads are better than one.
  • Sarge ~ You need a drill sergeant to kick your ass now & again.
  • Successor ~ Don't be arrogant. Replace yourself.
  • Sense of Humor ~ To remind you that "This too shall pass".