Oak Tree vs. The Microwave

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second best time is now.” ~Chinese Proverb

There are so many young adults today completely lost. Totally disillusioned and frustrated. So many fine young men and women in their 20s, 30s, and even 40’s who’ve lost touch with the natural maturation process of personal development and personal success. These individuals seek instant gratification. They want success, and they want it now! The phrase, “paying your dues” unfortunately, doesn’t register or doesn’t apply to them . . . or so they think.

Why? I’m thinking you can go ahead and blame it on the microwave oven. Yes, the microwave oven. Think about it, these same “kids” are now adults and they’ve only known one thing — instant gratification! Need a quick meal? Pop it in the microwave. How about some leftovers – throw it in the microwave. The trusty microwave has now made the concept of “waiting” obsolete.

Consider that on some Freudian Esque level, one of our most basic needs – food (warm food) has been relegated to a 30 second episode. There are now multiple generations programmed for instant gratification.

For the last 30 years, the microwave has subconsciously programmed millions of youth to think that they can have anything right away. Whether it’s a piece of pizza or, I humbly submit to you, success!

So what happens to these poor souls? Continue reading

Win Friends & Influence People: Four Images You Need to Know

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All photos Flickr: Titanic by moore fun, Smooth Handle by Weeping-Willow
Harp By Canonsnapper, Shoes photo by 7-how-7

YOU need everyone’s help to become successful – to realize your ideal future (period).

Since “no one is as smart as everyone” and inter-dependence (TEAMwork) is the highest form of maturity, (see maturity continuum, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey) you will, at some point in your life – come to recognize this truth, hopefully sooner rather than later.

The great news is, everyone will make you successful much faster than no one. So, if you think you can go it alone – you’re in for a rude awakening. This is elaborated upon fully in “The 3 C’s” – a sobering lesson for me indeed!

Respectfully submitted for your review are four images (above) to be mindful of as you interact with other people (yes, relatives are people too) on a daily basis. These four images are tied to various interpersonal anecdotes which provide sage guidance and insight for you along your way to creating your ideal future.

Titanic

Simply put, has there ever been a bigger ego than the titanic? “The unsinkable ship.

Ooops… they probably shouldn’t have called it that. Talk about catastrophe! On your personal course to success and as you interact with people – try to become a different ship, try to become the “USS Non-Ego” that is, remove your ego to enjoy stress free sailing through the waters of life. To reiterate that point, I once heard, “It’s the whale who spouts off that gets harpooned.” Both suggest the very same thing – control your ego! Ego – in nearly every instance breeds friction and if you want to get to your destination faster, smoother and with energy to spare I highly recommend you remove the your ego. The next time you are feeling the urge to boast about some great accomplishment – the next time you are feeling “unsinkable” just remember the Titanic!

Smooth Handle

“Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.” Thomas Jefferson.

Initially, the brilliance of that quote escaped me. However, if TJ is talking – probably makes sense to listen. So, upon further review, that bit of wisdom has stuck with me for the last fourteen years. I used to be a very argumentative person and I loved it! Look, I knew I was right. The best part is, I would always defend my point to the end. Looking back, this tip alone could have accelerated the realization of my goals and ideal future by a few years and I’m a little disappointed i didn’t learn that one quicker.

Always seek ways to find the smooth handle in personal relationships and, in particular when friction does arise in any particular discussion or argument just remember everyone has an opinion. As I heard a General say in an interview being questioned on Iraq,

“The great thing about and opinion is you don’t have to know anything to have one.”

So many people have gotten into the habit of arguing just for arguments’ sake. Consider that, if anyone can have an opinion and you don’t have to know anything to have one – how about just detaching – WHO CARES! Reconsider what you are arguing about. How important is it? Seems important I’m sure – I’d humbly suggest you reconsider your motives – is there ego involved? Do you really need to convince her that “meat is bad for you”. Do you really need him to know that “we’d be so much better off with nuclear power plants.” What I’ve learned to say now is – instead of arguing, “interesting, I guess that is what makes the world go round.” Truly, when you can embrace the diversity and detach from the opinions and an argumentative state – you will be grabbing things by the “smooth handle” as TJ recommended.

HARMONY

Has there ever been a greater band than the Beatles? (good job, that is an opinion – so let it go). The point isn’t whether the Beatles were the greatest band – really, but for purposes of illustration would like you to consider they were one of the most harmonious bands ever. Literally, phenomenal harmonies. So what? So, this is the learning image for us to consider (us visual learners) Harmony – harmony in ALL affairs. I just recently heard a brilliant young entrepreneur speak about the greatest danger to any company – particularly a startup is internal friction. Seeking harmony – finding harmony in all relationships goes a long way to ensure your individual success and that of your team or company.

OLD SHOE

Finally, there’s the old shoe. Is there anything better, more comfortable and inviting than the old shoe? Consider all you’ve been through together. They don’t say too much. They don’t talk behind your back, they are just there for you when you need them. They are easy to put on (frictionless) and they are highly reliable. Norman Vincent Peal wrote about his in The Power of Positive Thinking. When you have become the old shoe to other people, that is; easy to be around, comfortable, trustworthy, reliable and non-threatening, you will have strengthened your interpersonal skills putting you on the fast track to creating your ideal future.

BON VOYAGE

So there you have it, four images intended to aid you in your interpersonal dealings and relationships. It was said earlier but is worth repeating, you will need everyone’s help to realize your ideal future – your success. Ego creates friction and friction prevents you from arriving at your destination and goals either on time or altogether. As Lao Tzu put it thousands of years ago, “The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world,” recognize that you don’t have to fight, argue, bully to get your way. Slow is fast when you are dealing with people as Mr. Covey points out and, you can only be efficient with things and effective with people.

So, in order to advance most rapidly toward your success, you will find many a time that it’ll make sense to take a step back in your old shoes while listening to The Beatles and grabbing the smooth handle on the “USS Non-Ego”.

To your continued smooth sailing… enjoy.

~MWS

So, YOU Want To Be Successful? Here’s a thought… Define It!

Words of wisdom all around
but no one ever seems to listen
They talk about their plans on the paper
Building up from the pavement
mm hm
there’re shadows from the scrapers on the pavement
mm hm
It’s enough to make me sigh
but that don’t seem like it would make it feel better
The words are all around
but the words are only sounds
and no one ever seems to listen
~ Jack Johnson “Traffic in the Sky”

Do you have a definition of success?
I’ve taught hundreds of students for over five years. Every time I ask this simple question: “Who wants to be successful?” every single person raises his hand. At this point, I actually have inverted the question to simply be, “who does NOT want to be successful.” Just to verify that not a single person will raise their hand. Obviously, it is unanimous, EVERYONE WANTS TO BE SUCCESSFUL. This of course is where the “fun” begins…

Then, I ask them to define success.

Can you say deer in the headlights… pretty much a room full of blank stares. The students kind of squirm in their seats, perhaps a little concerned I might pin them down and actually ask them for their definition.

Wild isn’t it? Throughout the years, I’ve discovered that only about 3% of my students actually have a working definition of success.

You may have noticed this too? Everyone wants to be successful, yet, how many have defined it?

There seems to be lots of people searching high and low for “answers”- for “shortcuts” to this elusive “success.” You’ve seen the headlines and the advertisements, no doubt:

“Be Outrageously Happy in Three Easy Steps”
“Seven Secrets to Riches”
“Be the Success You’ve Always Dreamed Of”

The crazy thing is . . . if you ask them what “success” truly is they – just like 97 percent of my students — would probably be at a loss for words.

Try it sometime. Ask someone to define “success” for you. You’ll probably be received with a blank stare. If not, you’ll get some vague definition that sounds something like:

“Success is waking up with a smile on my face.”
“Success is knowing that someone loves me.”

Now, this brings me to the question of the day: How in the world can YOU hit a target when YOU can’t see it . . . or worse yet, does not even exist?

Creating your personal definition of success

Welcome to Exercise #1. You guessed it! Time for you to write out your definition of success!

Think about it. It seems only logical that the first step to success is to at least to resolve in your mind what exactly success is. What it ought to look and feel like! You must first have a definition for it if you plan to attain it!

Ideally, your definition of success should be no longer than two or three sentences. In fact, the shorter the definition, the better. One time I asked a person to give me his personal definition of success. He gave me a description a mile long. “Success,” he said, “is when I’m happy, my dog is fed and when my girlfriend is happy and we have a lot of money and no financial worries.”
what!? – why not just add when the cat is sleeping and the baby isn’t crying!

I could probably fill several posts here on success theory alone. However, for now, what is most important is to identify an acceptable definition – one that has stood the test of time. Here, humbly submitted for your consideration is the one I teach in every class…

SUCCESS = CREATING YOUR IDEAL FUTURE.

Be sure to leave comments and share your thoughts. Really looking forward to some quality success definitions posted here. Let’s see it!

cheers!

~ Mitch W. Steel