Anchored by Influence

A quick Google search on the success of New Year’s Resolutions, and you’ll find that upwards of 92% of them fail.  Well, the resolution does not actually fail; it can’t.  The person behind it fails to uphold it.  By choice.

Losing weight. Working out. Hitting sales or income goals. Writing a book. More time with family. Less time working. Learning to play the piano. Going to church. Just some examples of actions many people commit to each year in their resolutions and ultimately fail.  

Why such a high failure rate?

The challenge of resolutions, in my humble opinion, is that the owner of the goal has not changed their mindset, despite setting the goal.  They continue with the same habits that have put them in a place where they want to change – hence the goal – but when it comes to execution, they bring the same set of habits they had when they were not pursuing the goal.  The habits are driven by the mindset. If the mindset does not change, neither do the related actions.

In others words, we cannot consistently behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.  Beliefs drive behaviors.  While an exciting goal may drive temporary change through short-term motivation or simple novelty, it will not normally drive extended change. And extended change is required for accomplishing most of our meaningful goals and resolutions.

I believe change – good or bad – comes down to one keyword.  Influence. 

Not willpower. Not focus. Not drive. Not even motivation. All of these are fleeting.

Influence is not. Influence is the resulting impact of consistent experiences.

Take Alcoholics Anonymous as an example. I’m no expert, but clearly one of the great benefits of this program is regular meeting attendance and accountability. 

Influence.

Influence requires consistency.  That’s the biggest factor. 

One of my greatest influencers to change is a longtime friend and mentor dating back to 1990. Being around this remarkable individual significantly impacted how I think – which is the biggest factor in dealing with change.  Another major influence has been, and continues to be, reading. Daily reading – 15 minutes minimum – about subjects that support my goals and priorities.

Interestingly, the reading habit was encouraged and, ultimately, influenced by my mentor. And it wasn’t because he told me; it was because he showed me. 

As much as I advocate group learning, especially if it’s reinforced, nothing beats the value of one to one mentoring, coaching or even just friendship.  The power of other’s influence in our lives is inescapable.

If you’ve set some new goals this year, requiring behavioral change and consistency, I suggest finding that person who can and will provide the influence to support the change you desire.

Choose wisely and purposefully.

A Good Reason

(By guest contributor, Mitch Greene)

Recently I was at my local rock climbing gym where a boy and his father were trying the sport for the first time. The young man looked to be around the age of fifteen, and he seemed very athletic.  But sadly, he just didn’t have the experience to climb to the top of the wall. He tried over and over but kept falling. His dad tried to help, yelling out what to grab onto and chanting inspirational quotes, but it just didn’t matter. Whatever the father said, the son’s response was the same: “I can’t! It’s too hard!” And down he went. I could see in the kid’s face that he desperately wanted to reach the top, but it was obvious that it wasn’t enough. Despite his dad’s motivational efforts, which were quite inspiring I should add, nothing seemed to bring success.

This encounter reminded me of a recent speech I heard by Eric Thomas. In classic motivational tone, Eric spoke about a boxing match that had taken place well before I was born. This was the infamous fight between Buster Douglas and Mike Tyson. Buster’s mother had died just before the fight, and she believed in her heart, and publically shared, that her son would win the fight. Her son would beat the great Mike Tyson. Her death, prior to the realization of the prophetic truth in her words, gave Buster the reason he needed to beat the most feared fighter in boxing history. He won that fight, as Eric Thomas profoundly expressed, because Buster needed to honor his mom’s words, especially in her death. That was Buster’s “why.”

Thomas declared that if your reason to do something is greater than the obstacles you face, nothing can stop you. If your reason is not greater than your challenge, you better find a better reason.

It’s all in your “why.” Is your “why” greater than your “how?” Why do you have a second job? Why are you training to run a marathon? Why did that young man want to get to the top of that climbing wall? Anything and everything you do has a reason.  If you can’t think of what that reason is, then why are you even doing it? If every day of work is just too hard, you obviously don’t have a good reason to be going. Start asking yourself “Why?” Every time you think “I can’t do it” or “it’s too hard” ask yourself why you’re doing it.

After I left the gym I wondered why he wanted to get to the top of the wall so bad. I think that he wanted to know what it felt like to do something that even he said he couldn’t do.

I didn’t stick around to find out. But, I’m guessing, either then or eventually, he’ll find his “Why” and then he’ll win.

 

A Better Version

“A year from today you’ll be one year older. The question I have for you is, ‘Will you be a better version of yourself?’”   This is the question a speaker asked the audience of a business conference many years ago.

She went on to challenge everyone – “Next year, same time: Will you be a better spouse? Will you be a better leader? Will you be a better owner or employee?  Will you be a better parent? Will you be in better health? Will you be a better person?”  

You get the picture.

It was and still is an excellent question. It challenges the fallback mentality of maintaining the status quo.  Staying the same.  Not possible.  If we are not deliberate in defining areas for growth, and goals for growth, we’ll likely fall into “coasting” mode – status quo.   And there is no coasting in life.  We’re either growing or dying, as a longtime friend often put it.

My wife and I were in attendance that day, and unbeknownst to the speaker, that question has continued to have a tremendous impact on my life. In many ways, it has been the driving factor behind our company’s mission – Building a better versionhelping individuals and teams build better versions of themselves to present to their families, workplaces, and communities.  

Let’s start with the person in the mirror. In what ways can you challenge that person to be better? Start now by thinking about what’s important. Define that better version – one year from now – and start the journey.

Imagine if we all did this. If we all chose to challenge ourselves to become better versions…imagine the impact on our workplace, on our community, on our lives.

As Andy Stanley states in his Your Move podcast tagline, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets.

A better version.

Bowling Ball Battery

I’m not a mechanic by any stretch.

Years ago my wife and I were driving to Maine. Our car had been having some issues…the battery cells were constantly drying up.  Probably means something to many reading this, and it likely did at the end of our adventure to me.  Anyway, this was one of our broke stages in life – been through a few – so money was really tight. I got pretty adept at popping the battery top and filling the cells as needed, which is why I kept a water jug in the car.  Again, not likely a good thing.

As we were making our way north you could see steam coming out from under the hood. That was the indication to stop and refill the cells. We did this several times along the way.  At one point it had been raining for a while and I had already used up all the water in the jug. So, upon entering a rest stop, I literally stood under a leaky part of the building’s gutter, holding the water jug up in order to catch enough water to refill the battery cells. It was awesome!

The final stop was particularly disturbing to Amy.  First, you should know that each time I stopped, the steam was stronger, and the pressure in the cells was greater – in that, whatever water was still in the cells would kind of bubble out as I popped off the case. I didn’t think much of it…until the last stop.

I popped the hood. Amy was still sitting in the passenger seat.  A few moments later, Amy saw water, acid, something wet, spew out from the hood. She could not see me as the hood had me blocked, but you might imagine what she was thinking. It didn’t look good from her view. Mine either, though I did anticipate the eruption and was clear of the fallout, at least my skin was, mostly.   My clothes eventually had nice little holes throughout the sleeves and some on my pants.

We called it at that point. Probably more like Amy called it, and I relented. We got ahold of a local mechanic and somehow got the car there. When the mechanic called us back to the car to take a look - I’m telling you straight – the battery was shaped like a bowling ball!  I don’t remember what he said, but I suspect it was pretty bad. 

Eventually, we got it fixed, got to Maine, began making some money and replaced the car. Good times!

My question: Was this a bad day or an exciting adventure?

My answer: Though it could have turned bad…we both saw it as an exciting adventure (and learning experience!)

Have a great adventure soon, and be safe, enough.

That's Your Job!

One of my past careers had me in the role of a salesperson for a waste/recycling company. It was my second career job, about 4 years out of college.  As a salesperson, my responsibility was to call on commercial businesses and gain the contract for their municipal waste and recycling removal contracts.  It was a messy business. Figuratively and literally. I did it for 2 years.

Near the end of my tenure there, I had a defining moment with our Operations Manager – I’ll call him Dave since that’s his name.  Dave was not my direct boss, but certainly, he held a much higher position of authority.  We got along fine, yet our views were often different. As a field guy, my customers complained to me a lot about inconsistent pickup, recycling container rejections, driver issues, etc.  This didn’t always sit well with Dave.  I think he was fair, but also very loyal to his crew. 

At one particular occasion, I was complaining to him about something related to having to go to the customer site and verify why we had rejected the recycling container – as contaminated.  This was not the first time I would be digging in a recycling bin to render it worthy of pick up.  I had had enough and let him know about it by whining and complaining to him.  I didn’t grasp it at the time, but his response was epic in my leadership journey.  He said to me, “Mike, that’s your job!”

Maybe it was, maybe not. But, ultimately, it was my responsibility to keep the customer happy, and I could complain that the driver who rejected the bin was unfair, too picky, whatever. Didn’t matter, and the driver, nor anyone in operations, was going to go out and clear the bin. It was my customer, and it was my responsibility, right or wrong. Fair or not. Someone had to be responsible, so it might as well be me.

I don’t know if he was imparting this great life lesson of responsibility to me or just being an #$%.  I did go clear the bin and, though I brooded over his words for a long time, I eventually gained the real message:  Take ownership.