leadership

No One Want’s to Buy Your S#!?

Our brain’s have 2 primary jobs. To keep from being eaten by bears and to save energy. Everything else is secondary.

 

Sales, on it’s face, is in direct contradiction to these two jobs. First, making a new or different decision involves risk of looking stupid, making a mistake, etc. and second it requires the brain to use more energy…because staying with the same old is just so much easier.

 

When you understand this, you know that no one is out there right now looking to buy what you are selling. They just don’t want to buy your stuff. In fact, their brains are more likely coming up with reasons why they should avoid your call, not come to the meeting, or click delete on your email…and that’s all before they have even gotten to the really threatening (brain threatening, that is) part where they have to meet you (especially threatening to the introverts of the group).

 

There is a mechanism, however, whereby the brain can find both safety from bears and the energy it needs to make new decisions. It comes from our brain’s natural desire be part of something. It is constantly wondering if it is in the pack or not, accepted or not, acknowledged or not. It does this because the pack MEANS safety from the bear, being a part of something or connecting to something meaningful can convince the brain to burn energy it would otherwise conserve.

 

The question is, how are you working to get people to be part of your pack? Are you finding out about who they are and what they want? Creating connections with them and understanding, really understanding, their pain? Are you listening to them or are you just trying to sell them stuff?

 

No one want’s to buy your stuff. But everyone wants to be included. What are you inviting them to be a part of? Answer that, and you just might convince their brain you’re not a threat. Answer that, and they just might be open to buying your stuff.

 

No One Depends on You

“People depend on me!”

It’s not just something I’ve heard, it’s something I’ve said, and it needs to stop. “People depend on me” is a phrase we use when we are trying to convince ourselves that we have no choice in a situation. The phrase often starts with statements like, “I have to stay in this job because…”I have to sustain 90 hour weeks because…” or “I can’t possibly do that because people…” and other such nonsense.

But it’s just not true. More importantly, that statement is killing the sustainability of your own motivation, it’s making things harder for you, and causing you to feel more isolated, scared, and powerless.

First off, you don’t “have” to do anything. Period. Full stop. And,second, no one actually depends on you. The statement, in and of itself is dis-empowering to those you are talking about. Your employees don’t depend on you. There are other jobs, they can put their own pants on in the morning, and you’re not god.

What you are, however, is a person that cares enough to create an environment that will increase the chances they can be successful, you are a person who cares enough to help sustain good jobs, and/or you are a person that CHOOSES to work hard to help create opportunities for others.

Acknowledging the conscious choice you are making to be the kind of leader that cares about, and acts on, helping to create better environments and opportunities for others is something you do on purpose. You don’t have to, no one’s forcing you, and you could stop at any time. Sure, they’ll be consequences if you quit, but it’s not the consequences that motivate you.

Deep down, it’s the value you place on helping others, serving others, and working for something greater than yourself the really lights your fire. Inside you is a kick-ass person that drives the ship with an idealistic and hopeful view on the good you can create in the world. Saying that you are doing it because “people depend on you” robs you of the ability to take ownership of that kick-ass person inside of you.

No one depends on you, but they can be afforded greater opportunity because of you. They don’t need you, but can realize greater potential within themselves because of you. They don’t have to have you there, but your being their makes so much difference for them on a daily basis.

And it’s because you consciously, purposefully, and meaningfully make the choice to do this every time you show up. Owning that will allow you to do it more. Acknowledging it will give more fuel to the fire that is your internal awesome-ness. Not everyone chooses to do it, but you do. Not everyone can handle it, but you can.

So maybe, in the future, you stop saying “people depend on me” and start saying something like “Making things better is my priority.” Because only one of them is true. Only one of them acknowledges the choices you make. Only one of them, is you.

 

Leadership Lessons From Yourself

There is no limit to the number of articles about what someone learned about leadership from someone else. Whether that be a historical leader, some successful team, or even some persons relative. And while learning from other successful people will never cease to be important, what I see more and more is our inability to really learn those lessons from ourselves.

It’s not that we don’t keep track of what not to do. In fact, when you ask people about what lessons they might have learned from their own past situations, invariably, the answer you get is all about what they messed up on, a short-sighted decision, or something they won’t do again. Beneficial, maybe, but it’s not the same kind of “lesson” that we generally focus on when talking about someone successful.

In the articles about other people, we focus on what they did well, how we can emulate their winning strategy, or the mindset they created that led them to the goal they were seeking. When we talk about our own, however, we only seem to talk about what we need to stop doing.

It’s not that we don’t talk about the challenges of the other people. It’s just that, when we discuss “lessons” from others, we talk about their challenges in the context of their success; the hero’s journey, the Phoenix rising from the ashes, or the courage to move forward despite the set-backs. And yet, too often, we don’t create the same story for ourselves.

There is a ton more information to learn about your potential for leadership in your own story than their will ever be in the story of someone else, if you are able to focus, like we do with others, on what you do or did WELL. Where were you successful? Where did you pull through? What fantastically, awesome, amazing, kickass trait did you showcase even in the midst of horrendous failure? These are the “lessons” that give you power, that acknowledge your greatness, and that should inform your next choice in “leading” your next decision.

Learning from others is great, and yet it will always be limited by the “I’m not that person” voice in the back of your head. Learning from yourself, becoming an expert of your rad-ness, and answering the question about lessons you’ve learned from your past with solid positive evidence, is much more powerful than 1,000 biographies of other great leaders and teams. It’s the only kind of learning that allows us to believe “that could be me” because “this is who I am.”

Failure Has no Value

Fail fast, fail forward, get good at failing, failing is the secret to success. These are just a small smattering of the mini-mantras about failing that I see flash across my computer screen too many times a day. And, while they might have the best of intentions, I believe they miss the point. Failure has no value. It is the things we do that are associated with the failure that we should be writing about, focusing on, and learning to develop.

 

Despite so much writing to the contrary, failure has nothing to teach us. Failure, in and of itself, is simply a painful experience that highlights our, well, failures, insecurities, insufficiencies, our lack of planning, our listening to poor advice, poor choices, and directional shortcomings. It’s simply the stuff we did not get right.

 

Failure is not a skill, it is an event. Often times it can be outside of our actual control. And, because of this, I think it’s important to highlight a few of those things that we can control, things often associated with failure, that actually do have value.

 

  1. Getting up after you’ve been knocked down has value.

 

Failure hurts. If it doesn’t, then you don’t care and shouldn’t be doing whatever it is you are doing because you lack the connection to it and will not be responsible with it. And, because it hurts, getting up and trying again is hard work. It’s also the kind of work that has immense value. Get damn good at getting back up, at shaking it off and charging forward, at inspiring others through their own sense of loss, at swallowing your pride, being honest and having the humility to acknowledge your part and make a change.

 

  1. Separating idea from ego has immense value.

 

Seeing failure before it happens and changing course often takes a level of emotional strength that, if it took physical form, would be some combination of Hercules and the Incredible Hulk. Separating idea from ego allows people to make a change, shift tactics or strategies, killing our favorite ideas, and alter the plans we fell in love with before they fall completely on their face. Doing this requires the humility, confidence, and strength in character built in hard-earned experience.

 

  1. Understanding the psychological pain of failure has value. If it directs our actions.

 

Perhaps we would be less fascinated with failure if we were honest about the things that often follow big failures. Depression, alcoholism, anxiety disorders, abuse, rage, and even suicide. Sorry to show the dirt under the rug, but acting like it does not exist, that failure doesn’t challenge our own confidence, self worth, and sense of value, is not only irresponsible, it borders on insanity. If we are honest about the potential psychological effects, then we can have compassion for ourselves and others, we can avoid it if possible, we can support people when it does happen, and we can provide the tools, structure, and strength to help people get back up on the other side.

 

There are more vary valuable skills and strengths we can build that are directly and indirectly associated with failure. Pushing our limits enough to find the limit, having the courage to push all in when we need, stepping out to take a chance, doing the things that no one thinks is possible, and being the trend-setter just to name a few. But none of these find value from failure itself. The value is ALWAYS found in choosing to do something before or after it happens.

 

Maybe this whole focus on failure thing is just a great way to get viewership, the whole if it bleeds it leads idea, but it’s not something I want to support. I don’t think anyone should look forward to failing any more than they would to a car wreck, the flu, or falling off a cliff. Our words matter, our focus is important, and what we strive to develop in ourselves should have value.

 

So please, when you read about failure, know the value you are building does not come from the failure itself, but in what you choose to do around it.