“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
— John Lennon
Three days ago, I gave a commercial truck training class and as I was preparing for it, I stumbled across some writings I’ve carried around for many years in a binder. As I read some of the entries, I had a strong feeling to ask the GM at the dealership if I could come the next day and do a little motivational talk.
There wasn’t much time to prepare, but I did the best I could in the time I had and I got off my notes a couple times and perhaps some of the talk was a bit disjointed, but I think I said the main things I meant to say and expressed the feelings I wanted to express. With more practice, it would have been exceptional. As it was, it was okay. It wasn’t the kind of rah-rah pump up talk, but a thought provoking talk. Maybe it will hit the target as some time passes. . . Nonetheless, I thought I would share some of it here in at least three pieces to keep it short.
These are things that I have distilled from 40 years of study, reading hundreds of business books and biographies, and my own practice. It has to do with doing well, which we generally all say we want, yet most say they cannot seem to find. I know that well, for I searched for the Holy Grail of Purpose and Prosperity most of my life and it eluded me all the more. The reasons are on a short list and how to change it is even shorter. Making things simple is something I am passionate about because that way, I understand it!
At the start of this talk, I read a two page letter I wrote in 1992 about the perfect auto dealer and what that would look and feel like in much detail. I used to think about that all the time. I focused on what was not right or what was not right now. I focused on how the dealers, managers and others failed, or missed the mark of excellence. Partly I learned this from the book, In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters. I used excellence as a benchmark; a gauge; a standard against them. Let me repeat: against them. Now I look back on this letter as total bunk. Not because I wouldn’t like to see those idyllic things, because I would, but for a different reason and that reason is this:
My success, or doing well has nothing at all to do with anyone else. If it did, I could never succeed, or do well, unless they allowed me to by being what I need them to be to achieve this. So, the letter is bunk. It doesn’t matter. It keeps me from doing well, because I am focusing on the wrong thing: What other people do or don’t do. Where should the focus really be? On me and only me. My success, or doing well has nothing at all to do with anyone else. Period.
Now that is sort of part 1a. The rest of part one is how I get the focus right and how I can learn to do well. Yes, I must accept responsibility. That is a given. Realizing that my success has only to do with me is accepting responsibility. The rest of part one is similar to the John Lennon quote above (or, at least the way I feel this quote), “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” That is what happens when there isn’t a decision. Making plans is rather like hoping until a decision is made. Without a decision, there is nothing but empty plans.
People go to work to make money, to pay the rent, to buy a car, to live. So many take what they will and learn to make do. They don’t decide to do well, they are just hoping to do well. The difference is everything. I deal with a lot of businesses and I see it in so many of them. They want to grow their business, but. . . they want more sales, but. . . they want to hire some people to help, but. . . and then there are sales people who want more sales, but. . . want more money, but. . . wish there was more traffic, but. . . want more respect, but. . . I think they are all “butting successes.”
Whenever the word but is used after a statement, a decision isn’t made, is it? There are no more but’s when a decision is made. I have to inject what my definition of decision is here: It is turning a corner and going a different direction. It means commitment. And, this is where the rubber meets the road, the wimps take a hike and the bold take the lead. This is part 1b about creating success, or doing well: make a decision about what you want.
So, part one of this talk is to realize once and for all, and to stop making excuses by understanding that our success has nothing at all to do with any one else, and that in order to open the gates, we must make a decision about what we want.
Part two tomorrow. . .
If It Weren’t For ____, I Could/Would ______. . .
Spread Some Joy Today–Think about any excuses you are making for not being where you think you should be but aren’t. Think about how that minimizes you. Now, accept responsibility instead, accept that it is what it is for the moment, and make some new decisions.