Ignorance and the Internet

One of the greatest challenges in parenting today is choosing how much to tell your kids.  The internet is a funny thing because it passes on all these words, videos and lessons that you really wish you didn’t have to discuss with your kids until they were older.  In this super-connected world that we live in it’s harder to know when something will come up and even harder to keep something quiet.  We can’t hide everything from our kids because we can’t control what other people expose their kids to, so what’s a parent to do?

I’m all for stories like Santa, the boogie man and the stork.  I think they play an interesting role in our lives and culture, and aren’t something we should stop for the sake of being real all the time.  Simply because there’s a lot in the world that can’t be explained.  But beyond that, sometimes the unvarnished whole truth is just too much for them.

It’s also our job to protect and nurture the next generation.  I don’t want future generations thinking their only options are to lie, cheat, steal and kill, I want them to be empowered to be themselves and know the power of love and knowledge and to know that it’s more than OK to live in a peaceful world.  I will always believe that love and kindness opens more doors than hate or violence.

So back to our question: what’s a parent to do in this super open and connected world?  I don’t think the answer is complete and utter seclusion, that’s bad for us and our kids.  I also don’t think denying things is the right answer.  If your kid has a question about things it’s my hope they would feel comfortable and secure enough in your relationship with them to come to you with questions, or that they have an adult you trust in their life to answer those questions, and not to laugh them off as silly or irrelevant or impossible.  The world isn’t planning on going backwards in communication and connectivity, so it’s time we learn how to work with what we do have.

“To keep a person ignorant is to place them in a cage.” Julian Assange

Mistake Mentors

In life we all make mistakes, I discovered a few of mine in the past few days and have been working to rectify them, so today I thought I’d share some inspiration about not being perfect, about working with what went wrong and about accepting yourself for who you are, mistakes and all.

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Marilyn Monroe

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”  Judy Garland

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer.” Sigmund Wollman

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” Elbert Hubbard

“It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something.” Ornette Coleman

“That’s not serious, it’s just human.” Jerry Kopke

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” John Powell

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”  Harriet Braiker

“It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit to forgive them for having witnessed your own.” Jessamyn West

“Make bold choices and make mistakes. It’s all those things that add up to the person you become.” Angelina Jolie

What are your wise words on making mistakes?

Loving Honesty

On Monday I talked about priorities. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, and one of the things that I’m prioritizing even more this year is the relationship I have with my partner. We’ve been together for a bunch of years, and have had some of the best times of our lives. We’ve also gone through many challenges, all relationships do. But when the chips are down we always choose loving each other over hurting each other or going our separate ways.

One of the reasons I love him is because there’s very little judgment in our relationship, we can say the crazy stuff, talk about intimidating topics, admit needs and ask for help without fear of being laughed at or turned down or rejected straight out. I’ve always had a belief that honesty is the best policy, but not everyone is willing to hear the raw truth, sometimes because it hurts, sometimes because of fears or beliefs we have, and sometimes because if someone else admits it we’ll be forced to face it and do something about it.

Having an open relationship, one built on love and trust like my partner and I have, is something that everyone needs. We all need someone that we can be fully honest with, someone who cares enough about us to hear the crazy thoughts we have, is willing to dream dreams with us and will really listen when we talk. Take time this weekend to thank that person in your life, and if you don’t have that special someone there’s no time like today to start being more honest and open with yourself and others.

“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.” Thomas Moore

Why You Might Really Hate Change

I talk about change a lot because it’s absolutely essential to our continued success.  Not everything changes all of the time, but there comes a time that something will change that will impact your business if you don’t prepare for it with changes or change in response to it.  But many of us struggle with change, simply because we like things how they are or aren’t interested in doing the work that’s necessary if we do decide to change.  Because it’s something that so many of us struggle with I spend a lot of time each week reading and thinking about how to better help us deal with it when it happens.  So this week in my readings I found a statement that totally blew me away because it’s so true and yet says something really ridiculous about us.

“People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of.” Carey Nieuwhof

Yep, that makes us sound really bad.  How immature are we if we only like change because we thought of it? How huge is your ego to think that you’re the only one with any good ideas?  But ultimately it comes back to us being unwilling to recognize how essential to our lives, health, success and finances it is to be willing to trust others and work with them rather than against them.

What if I told you that there was one thing that you needed to do and if you did it it would bring you all the success you wanted?  You probably know where I’m going with this, it’s simply to learn to be a better partner in this great world we live in.  If we learned how to work together we would all end up with more of what we want and need, and less of what we don’t want.

When we all bring our personal strengths to the table, when we all contribute and discuss ideas, when we all take part in making things happen, we have the potential to change the world in amazing ways that have not yet been conceived of because we have not yet been willing to accept the brilliance of others.

This week I encourage you to do some evaluating.  We’re getting into the busiest time of the year for many businesses so now is the last chance you have to set yourself up for success and making a lasting impression on the customers that visit you in the next 3 months.  Don’t dismiss an idea just because it came from a stockist, secretary, intern or customer, instead consider what they’re actually trying to tell you, and the ways they’re trying to help you be more successful.

Who’s Stopping You?

Last weekend was challenging for me.  Yes, I’m going to be honest with you: my life isn’t perfect and I don’t know everything.  I don’t want to know everything, and I don’t feel the need to know everything or be right all of the time, I know that no one is perfect, and I don’t expect others to be perfect.  But as we talked about on Wednesday, I do expect a little consideration that we’re all human, do have feelings and need support.  I’m a big believer in helping everyone win, but if one person or group in that circle is not fully on board to everyone winning, it won’t work as well.

One of the things I was challenged by last weekend was something that I discussed with my partner on last Thursday.  It was an important conversation, one that I was initially excited to have because I had, I thought, some good ideas and insights to share.  He was attentive, but after finishing the conversation I felt let down, and I wasn’t really sure why.  So I thought about it off and on throughout the weekend and came to a few important conclusions.

First, I know that I am fully capable of following through on our conversation and getting things done, but I wanted his support as I was doing it.  To not have the enthusiastic response that I thought he would share really hurt me.   I don’t need his approval to be successful, have value or be a special person, but as my chosen partner, I want it!

Second, support is really important.  As I’ve said many times we’re not individuals absolutely isolated on our own islands responsible for every aspect of our lives and without any help or internet or any contact with others.  We’re surrounded by others, and we’re not supposed to do everything on our own.  That’s why we have partners and friends in the first place.

Third, I want his feedback because he is my partner.  I wouldn’t be in a relationship if I didn’t respect and want his opinion or support.  Had he told me that it was a bad idea but I really wanted to do it I would, after making sure I had really heard and thought through the issues he raised.  However, not getting any feedback, positive or negative, left me floundering.

So earlier this week we discussed my feelings after I thought through everything and came to these conclusions. It turns out he was focused on next steps, steps I hadn’t gotten to yet, and didn’t realize or understand that I wasn’t quite at those steps yet, but needed encouragement for the step we discussed first.  So before you stay upset with your partner over something they did or didn’t do, let them know how you feel.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Truth about Unprofessionalism

So this weekend I was doing a write-up for a client and when I had completed it and delivered it to them they contacted me informing me that my report was largely inaccurate, and that I had to do it again.  Why?  Because there was a technical issue on their end that they felt nullified much of my report.  There was no word from them indicating that they were going through a transition when they ordered, there was no emails before the order saying that they would like to work with me but they were planning a transition and could we set things up for after the transition, nothing.  Just a request to redo the work I had done because I was wrong.

In the customer service industry, which all of us are in, we deal with things like this all the time.  There’s the customer who ordered the burger and forgot to tell you they were allergic to something in the sauce so they want a new one.  There’s the customer who pays for house cleaning services before the house purchase has been completed.  There’s the customer who orders something before they have the money for it.  If you’ve been in the business world for any length of time you’ve had at least one customer come back to you with excuses or issues like these.  So what lessons can we learn from this?

First, I don’t believe everything has to be perfect, but you can’t be pushing forward with things that are incomplete or will cause issues for those completing your order.  Yes, the world moves at a very fast pace today but that is absolutely no excuse for rushing things.

Second, communicate!!  If it seems like I share about this on a weekly basis, it’s because I DO!  It’s a big issue for a lot of people.  Some simple communications would fix tons of things, and avoid situations like the one I shared about, altogether.  It’s OK to not have all your ducks in a row, no one does, but no one wants to admit it.

Third, it’s not just that you’re being unprofessional, you’re being inconsiderate and rude.  Just like you don’t want someone sneezing on your pizza, you want the treadmill company to completely install all parts, and you don’t want to be hit by the pushy car behind you, it’s about more than just being in a professional relationship, it’s about the fact that as people we can be so unbelievably inconsiderate of the others in our lives.

As I said earlier, we’re all in the customer service industry, every single one of us, even those of us who don’t own our own businesses.  We deal with people on a daily basis, being just as rude or unprofessional as we want to be.  Why? Because we don’t care?  Because no one told us any better?  Because we think everyone else is less important than we are?  Any of these could be correct, but the simple fact is we have to do better.

Everyone Has Needs

Last week I started discussion of 3 keys to relationship success, starting our conversation with the topic of communication.  Today we’re continuing with talking about meeting each other’s needs.

It’s important to preface this discussion by sharing my firm belief that you cannot depend on someone else to make you happy. Others can contribute to your happiness or unhappiness, but they don’t have the final say, you do. If you’re not happy it can only be in part because of what someone else did or does, not fully.

A truly happy relationship is only possible if both partners contribute. So it would make sense that if you do your very best to make someone else unhappy, yes some people do that kind of thing, your relationship will not be a happy one. It is almost impossible to be part of a relationship in which one partner is unresponsive, doesn’t participate or does the opposite of what you’ve asked, which is one reason why there are so many divorces and miserable couples in our world today. Yes, it does go back to communication, but there comes a point in time that communication has been clearly ineffective and a decision has to be made if you’re going to stay, go or do something drastically different.

One of the other reasons relationships struggle in this area is because the partners don’t learn what does make them personally happy and how to help each other be happy. This means knowing your tastes, your likes and dislikes, and your preferences as well as theirs, communicating those preferences to each other and most importantly being willing to take action on those interests. It’s about more than just compromise, because sometimes you’ll give and sometimes you’ll take in the relationship, and that’s OK, as long as it reverses itself as well and your partner gives and receives too.

Your relationship shouldn’t be a tug of war between the two of you, it should be something you enjoy.  But there can be no enjoyment if you’re not working together to do what’s best for all involved, which includes meeting each other’s needs.

Holding out for Honesty

I’m a big believer in honesty. I always have been, ever since I was old enough to recognize that funny feeling in my stomach for what it was. It isn’t always easy to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, our lives are so public thanks to Facebook and Google that we want to keep some things hidden away. Sometimes we hide those things because we’re scared of the thoughts and judgments of other people on our choices, but as those who have influence over kids, there are a few things we should never lie about.

1-love. It’s a tough topic, one that causes a lot of pain when things go south. But love isn’t something to lie about to a kid, they need to know almost more than anything else that you love them unconditionally.  Too many kids go to bed wondering if they’re loved and wondering if it’s their fault their parents don’t love them, don’t be that parent.

2-a better tomorrow. When we choose to live with the attitude that tomorrow and the day after and the month after and the year after will just get worse and worse, we’re setting our kids up to see life with the glass-almost-empty perspective, rather than letting them draw their own conclusions. If you can’t believe that the very next day will be better, you have to be confident in a better day very soon.

3-people are not evil. Yes, there are some bad eggs out there. But if you raise your kids to believe that everyone is bad, there are no good people, all people are stupid, or any other refrain you wish your kids will believe that. You may have had some bad experiences, but that is no reason to taint every relationship your kids will ever have, personal or professional.

We can bend the truth a little when it comes to money, sickness/death, sex and jobs for a time, because causing your kids to worry more than necessary isn’t right, they’ll have plenty of worries soon enough. The older your kids get the more it will be important for you to be more honest with them, because if you, their parents, are lying to them, you whom they’ve always trusted, what’s not to say that the rest of the world isn’t lying too?

A Fresh Future

There are several blogs I enjoy reading often, one of which is Seth Godin’s. It always interests me that some of the conclusions he shares are things I’ve been considering or resonate with things I believe about life and business. Lately he’s been commenting along the topic of leaving things in the past and rather than basing the future on the past, and creating a future all its own.

We spend a lot of time looking back, considering our mistakes and considering ways to improve life as it is. And I believe we’ve made some good improvements over the years and have some good things in the works. However it is interesting to consider that rather than improving the wheel we could be doing something entirely different and totally changing the course of history in a good way. It can be hard to imagine, but I’ve got a few ideas to get us started.

1-honesty. All new ideas must start on the premise of honesty because I know I don’t want anything but honesty in my future. I don’t want people who lie to save a few bucks, I don’t want people who deny their own value, I don’t want people trying to cheat others out of time, money or life.

2-I thrive because I know I matter. Last week I shared on my other blog about the serious lack of perceived and accepted value in ourselves. In many ways we’ve gotten past the underappreciated, overworked, scamy lifestyle of several years ago, but some people are still stuck believing they can get something for nothing. These people will stay stuck in their unhappiness (and spread it), and that’s not something that belongs in a new future.

3-we thrive because we know we all matter. In honesty, I can’t truly thrive if you don’t thrive. My success, my net worth, my accomplishments seem insignificant when there is so much suffering and inequality around the world.  I don’t believe we all need to be rich as kings, but I do believe we need to all take care of each other better.

This week, take the time in your business to be honest, see and express your value, and make sure others know they matter to you too.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” Thomas Jefferson

The Power of “No”

I say “no” to potential clients on a daily basis.  Yes, I’m serious.   No, I’m not independently and permanently wealthy, so if I was in business just for the money I wouldn’t be turning them down. I have standards and requirements when it comes to who I agree to work with.

I do have a bit of a helper complex; I like to help people fix things.  It’s a big part of who I am.  While I might fantasize about what the world would be like if everyone were “helped”, I do know it’s not realistic.  And in starting this business I made it a point to work with clients who remind me what I love about the world, not the not so great stuff in it.

So I say “no”.  And you know what?  It makes me feel good and terrible at the same time.  I don’t like turning down a potential sale, I don’t like not helping someone, but knowing I don’t have to deal with their high-and-mighty attitude, overbearing personality, and control freak nature makes it worth it.  I don’t need to work with everyone, just those who genuinely have a heart to thrive in business and do their part to impact the world.

“I found developing the ability to say no expanded my ability to say yes and really mean it.” Susan Gregg

Saying no to things that don’t make me happy, don’t help me fulfill the mission and vision I have for my business, aren’t things I’m very skilled at, or things that I don’t feel comfortable doing allow me to excel at doing the things I do enjoy.  Saying no gives me the opportunity to help more people get clear about who they are and what they’re here on earth to be doing.  Good leaders know how to say no so they can say yes to things that not only help their bottom line, but are best for all people involved.

This week I encourage you to say no to things that don’t feel right, things that aren’t right for your company, and things that make you less of a person or leader.  It’s important to have standards, you’ve got a right to enforce them too.  What have you said no to lately?