Don’t Blindly Accept Everything

My little guy just started to crawl.  With that mobility came the request from my wife to get the locks on the dangerous cabinets in the house.  I immediately put two locks on the cleaning products in the kitchen, and learned it was time for me to get trained too.  Every time I reach for those, now locked, cabinets I don’t remember they are locked until I pull and they don’t open.  Over time I eventually realize that before I even reach for the cabinet door I have to grab “the key”.  Now it comes without thought:  grab the key first, unlock the door, and then pull the handle.
The locks are actually magnetic.  The key when swiped on the outside of the door pulls the lock back and allows for the door to open.  When the magnetic key is properly passed over the lock, a distinctive “click” is heard, announcing the door is unlocked.  If you don’t hear the click, then you know the magnet didn’t release.   Sometimes we have to repetitively swipe the key over the door until we hear the click; there is no visual way to know the lock disengaged.  Or so I thought.
As my son’s mobility AND speed improved, I got more locks on the other cabinets.  I became so “trained” that before I even touch a cabinet I grab the key and swipe the door to unlock it.  I continue to swipe until I hear the click. 
After weeks of training, I was locked into the way to open my cabinets.  Last night I grabbed my key to go open a cabinet.  I swiped and swiped and swiped the key but the lock would just not release.  Here I am sitting on the floor stumped.  I tested all these locks when I installed them to make sure they recognized the magnetic key.  I just could not figure out how to get these two cabinets open.  Then, “Eureka!”  I realized I didn’t in fact check these two cabinets to see if the key would work, THAT is why
they don’t open now.  It turns out; I never even put a lock on these two doors.  I was waiting for a click that was never going to come.  I put the key away, reached down, pulled open the door, got what I needed and walked away.
Then I thought…..I just blindly accepted that every “door” in
the kitchen was locked.  Heck, I trained myself to think every door was locked.  How many other things am I blindly accepting in life?  What if I just tried to open “that door”?  What if I just asked “the question” instead of being too afraid to ask?  What if I made that phone call?  What if I shared the feedback I was worried about sharing?  Sometimes, I think, I need a kick in the pants to remind me to think and act.  This time I kicked myself in the pants with that silly act trying to unlock a door that was not locked.  Next time you see me, feel free to remind me….”Matt pull on the door, its not locked!”

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Growing up as one of 17 siblings under one roof and with two referees had many positive and negatives…or so I thought (on the negative side).  Often growing up, one of my parents would compare one of us to someone else in the household or worse, to some “perfect person” that we as kids could never live up to. 

The day I knocked my brother off the top bunk bed while wrestling to see who would “get the top” was a classic example.  After confirming my little brother was still alive and had nothing broken, my mom would classically say, “Why can’t you behave like your older brothers? Or be little saints once in a while?”

The one thing in life I disliked tremendously was being compared to someone else.  I was my own person right, not like anyone in the world.  Being compared rubbed me the wrong way for years.  Until I learned that the only way to know if I am living up to my potential is to use comparison all the time.   I could not just use any comparison though; I must use the best as the benchmark. 

I will never be a saint but if I keep comparing myself to the best then I can identify areas to get better in.  If I set my sights low and compare myself to the worst then I will always be better.  Right?  If I do what the world champions do and compare myself to the best, then I know constant improvement is available, literally constantly.

I wish I would have realized that sooner.

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Spin Control

I walked into “it”, and I was told that I should blog about myself…teach myself to think!  I agree.

As I walked into the office, my coworker said, “Did you get a haircut?  It looks good.”  I replied with, “I haven’t had a haircut in months, this is the longest its ever been.”  He went on to say, “well it looks like you did something because it looks good.”  I said, “yeah, I combed it today so yesterday I must have looked really bad.”  Because I was so wrapped up in my own view of “how long and disheveled I was” that I missed the compliment. 

What a miss!!

I certainly didn’t miss my foot as it rocketed to my mouth.  Precision motion control…that is what I do!  Foot to the mouth in .25 milliseconds…priceless.

Thanks for helping me to see gentlemen!

Made me think how often the comments are meant as goodness, but my own internal “spin” can mess up that goodness offered.  How many times I have I done that….really?  Too many!

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Watch Your Language!

It is playoff time and the intensity of every pitch can be felt up in the stands.  Each coach is trying to keep the players on the field fully alert.  My daughter was playing 2nd base during the 4th inning of a close game.  Every infielder’s eyes seemed to be glued to the pitcher’s hand to watch the ball into the catcher’s glove, or if hit to watch it come into their own glove.  My daughter’s softball coach yelled to my daughter, “Heads up Gabbie, we have a hitter here”. My daughter didn’t respond she just stayed focused on the pitch and the possible coming ball. The coach yelled it again, “Heads up Gabbie”.  After the foul tip by the batter, I could see that Gabbie relaxed a bit as she waited for the next pitch.  Again, the coach calls out, “Heads up!”  Gabbie now seemed to be a bit annoyed.  She turned to the coach, who happens to be her grandma, and said, “My head is up!”  After the top of the inning was complete, Gabbie walked over to us on the sidelines and asked, “Why does grandma keep telling me to keep my head up? My head was up.”

Does your team know the meaning of the words you use? 

How do you know?

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Are There Things You Can’t Tell People?

     There are members of my household that hate all kinds of crawling, slithering, and climbing “bugs”.  I am typically called for at the top of my kid’s or wife’s lungs anytime one of these creepy, crawly “things” comes visiting our house.  The number of times that I had to exterminate a creature at their request has escaped me long ago.  The reaction though is now known, I can tell when a creature enters the house and they see it just by the way they call me.  Sometimes I play with the situation.  Wadding up a tissue in my hand so they can not see it, I will squash a spider with “my bare hands” and they get grossed out.  Where, in fact, the wadded up tissue squashed the spider, not my bare hand.
     Sometimes the most gigantic, hairyest, and most vicious
looking creature that they scream for help about is a simple house fly.  A fly that they thought was a much bigger wolf spider, but it is typically not so.   Knowing how they will respond, its not worth getting them all in a tizzy when I see a creature….I just go quietly deal with it. 
     Then I got to thinking, it makes my life easier to deal with if I just don’t tell them all the creatures they missed out on.  I stopped telling them about:

  • the slug a found climbing into my daugter’s boot
  • the spider in my wife’s shoe
  • the snake crawling across the garage floor

     If I told them about any of these, then I would have to deal with a very dramatic scene.  Sometimes it can be difficult to share the full story. 
     That led me to think about “what else in life do I avoid sharing to avoid the reaction or the result of our action?” 

Things like:

  • Did I ever not tell someone they had something on their teeth or toilet paper on their shoe to avoid the embarassment?
  • Did I ever avoid giving feedback that really needed to be shared, because the reaction could be bad?
  • Did I ever hold back information because I thought it was best for the other person?

What else have I avoided when the outcome would have changed if I spoke up?
How about you?

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Champions Mind Set

      We have a collection of 1,200 interviews of self-made millionaires and billionaires.  This database contains discussions with Fortune
500 executives, independent business owners, professional athletes
including all stars, all Pros and Super Bowl champs.   One thing is clear, they think differently than the masses; they have a championship mindset every day.  That is the key, every day.

     They use several tools each day as part of their daily MO:

  • If they ever think of themselves as good they are always asking, “Compared to what?”  If they are always comparing against the best then they recognize the areas to improve.  Those are the areas they continually work.
  • They understand with absolute clarity what they are trying to achieve.  The end is locked in their sights, without question.
  • They know how much time they have left, and they maximize every moment against the clarity of their end.
  • They master their emotions, identify the logic in the situation, and make decisions using their critical thinking skill.
  • Lastly, they have a process to achieve their championship level in their profession

Some things to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a “championship level” in your profession?
  • Do you know how to get there?
  • If you knew of a way to reach your championship level in your field then would you take advantage of it?

      Some thing to consider:

Our database supports this last statement, “Nothing will stop a champion.”

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Good and Bad

When I was a kid, I could run circles around other soccer players.  Many told me I must have had a ball on my foot from the moment I was born.  I could juggle the ball without using my hands or touching the ground for thousands of hits.  Traveling the country on select and premier teams, I played against the best and thought I was the best.  Until, I played against players who had a soccer ball in the womb.  Once I started playing against players from England, Canada, and South Africa I quickly realized I was not good at all. 
I was good against a few, but against the many I was not.  Every time I got beat I began to think about that comparison.  I might be good, but compared to what?

I have learned that I can be great, good, and bad all at the same time, depending on who I am comparing myself too.  I will never reach the best until I start comparing myself to the best, recognizing my shortfalls, and working to improve.

Who are you comparing yourself too and what are you doing about it?

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Truth vs Fact

There is a break down in performance when Truth and Fact are not clearly defined.  From the surface these two words can easily be confused as one and the same, however that is the beginning of the break down.   Let me first provide my definition of these two words:

Fact:  a piece of information that cannot be disputed no matter who is reviewing the information.  For example, if two people took a measurement of the outside temperature on a typical early December  Buffalo NY day with a calibrated thermometer (by a respected calibration house of course) both people would see that the outside temperature for an average day is 30 F.  Both can agree on the temperature that is being displayed by the thermometer.  They cannot really dispute the measurement.

Truth:  a piece of information that can be disputed depending on who you are.  For example, let’s consider the origin of those same two people above.  One person is from Bermuda and the other person is from High Level, Northern Alberta Canada.  The person from Bermuda would be cold because their average temperature in December is 68F and the person from High Level would be warm because their average temperature in December is 0 degrees F.

What does this mean?  A “situation” can be blurred by the perceptions, experiences and background of the individual, because multiple people can claim their own Truth to impact the situation.  This is not being presented as a good or bad thing.  This is being presented so as to understand maximum performance, that perceptions can impact communication (both positively and negatively) and decisions that need to be made.

The best and most successful performances in the world recognize this over and over, and are able to distinguish Truth and Fact.  They make their decisions on Fact, while considering all the Truths involved.

Our data has shown that over 80% of the population has difficulty separating Truth from Fact on a regular basis.  As a result, poor decisions are made and communication breaks down.  The reason perception gets in the way is because people either refuse or don’t know how to separate the Truths and the Facts.

There is a process to learn how to do this.  It can be learned!

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JFK and the Road Home

All the hype about JFK airport’s hustle and bustle is not true.  I found it no where near as busy as people claim it to be.  I found it rather barren and desolate albeit it was only 5am after landing on the red eye just moments before.  The amazing part was that although I had the ability to walk the entire airport unobstructed of passengers, bags, and carts; and get to any location I wanted inside the airport I could not find the one thing I needed.  Having walked from end to end a few times, and after checking every monitor along the way, I could not find my connecting information.  You would think an airport would want its passengers to know where to go so that they can ultimately reach their final destination.  Walking the concourse multiple times, the thought began to occur to me that my final destination was going to be JFK airport.
     A funny thing happened at that point; I found an elusive creature
inside the walls of JFK.  Being one who just covered the entire floor plan of JFK on foot and seeing virtually no life, I was not sure if I should be shocked at finding this creature or shocked that there was only one to be found.  After walking for 45 minutes I finally found an
airline representative, actually a baggage handler who happened to come in to warm up from outside on the ramp.  With one simple question, I found the bit of information that I needed to escape the city.  With one little question my problem was solved.  And to think I was hesitant to ask because, “he wouldn’t know the answer to my question; he was just a “baggage handler”“.  Well, that baggage handler saved my bacon, made my day, and provided a lesson:

  • Be willing to ask questions, even from sources you think won’t have the answer.
  • Be open to any answer that is provided, the new direction could lead you home.
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Are You an L3?

    For as much as we know, there is even more that we do not know or understand.  In this world there is a pretty clear line, based on an
individual’s behaviors and thoughts, between those that are making things happen,  and those that are not.  This blog post is going to focus on JUST one of those things that we can change to possibly get on the right side of the line.  It starts with a question, “are you an L3?”

     Understanding that we do not know everything is not as common as you might think.  The human being does not easily admit when they do not know.   The concept of “not knowing” leads one to feel dishonor or a lack of intelligence among peers, when in fact; admitting that one does not know is the first step to knowing.  This is one of the clear distinctions I suggested earlier, those that are making things happen know they do not know, and as a result expend quite a bit of effort to learn, research, listen to others and ask questions themselves.  That admission of lack of knowledge, allows the individual to drop the pretense of having to be a
know it all, and allows for pursuit of knowledge.  One who thinks they know it all will not pursue knowledge and lock themselves into a stale state.

     Almost half the adult population of the US will not pick up a book
this year.  Reading is not the sole way to learn, however it does open up the mind to new ideas, new thoughts, and new views….which leads to new ideas.  Reading does take discipline and it represents a significant behavior that those that are making things happen possess.  Plus reading across topics, industries, fields of expertise is a significant way to combine ideas, innovate and create.

  People who are L3 do this regularly.  I am guessing by now that you are puzzled as to what is an L3.  When you didn’t know at the beginning, did you get frustrated and give up, or did you have a desire to learn what it means?  The answer:  it is a “Life Long Learner”.

     Life Long Learners:

-Are naturally curious
-Read broadly
-Read specifically
-Ask questions and Listen to Answers
-Are open to ideas (really)
     “Are you an L3?”

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