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Lifes Most Important Lessons

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*     Do everything you do with style, on time, every time, on purpose.

Do you know someone who is a certifiable class act? Sure you do. Maybe you are a class act yourself. If so, you have three techniques down pat. First, you are an original. Your style and approach with people and situations are your trademark. Second, you are not on-again, off-again. you are always uniquely you. Third, and here is the key, it’s no accident. To most people, you make it seem easy and natural; but there are those special few who understand and appreciate how hard you work at it.

*     Only follow the lead of people for whom integrity is a bottom line commitment.

The leadership elite provide a value-added benefit for their followers they can’t get from the merely competent. Others may have their occasional flashes of brilliance; but the creme de la creme work their wizardry consistently, creatively, and in virtually every situation. Of course, there is their uncanny ability to anticipate problems and opportunities and their simply taking it for granted their followers are trying to do what’s right; but their secret ingredient is always remembering and owning everything they say, agree to, and do.

*     Always be willing to at least try.

It doesn’t matter what your particular challenges and opportunities are. The question is, “Are you up to it?” If so, you have avoided being caught in the vicious circle trapping some people. They think they can’t do it, so they don’t try. Since they don’t try, they fail; and their lack of success proves they can’t do it.

They are caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I can’t, therefore I don’t, therefore I fail, which proves I can’t,” and around-and-around they go. If they can’t, they can’t; but¼.

*     Your success is best served by helping others succeed.

Imagine your future as you hope it will be, your vision for yourself. Can you get there on a “do it yourself” basis? If not, your challenge is to get the aid and support you need from those who can contribute to your success.

Your best strategy over the long-haul is to understand where they want to go and help them get there. You do this by talking with them about what aid and support they need from you and being sure they get it. It may seem more expedient to charge full-speed-ahead and others be dammed; but being too self-serving ends up, in the long run, serving no one.

*     “Did that help?” is the question to ask.

You ask, “How can I help?” No matter how well-intentioned, your offer to help is usually turned down or the response is, “I will let you know.” If your offer to help is sincere, don’t ask what you can do to help or wait to be asked. Think about what the person’s problem is or what they want to accomplish and then do something helpful.

Pro-actively helping is most always much more helpful than help merely offered though it does take a little more time, a little more thought, and a little more effort.

*     Know when your turn is and then be sure you take it.

Finding ways to help and then helping include being sure you are holding up your end of things, day-to-day, every day as you live and work with other people. This starts with understanding keeping track of your turn matters a lot. You may belatedly have this brought home to you when you find yourself saying, “Did you expect me to do that?” or “I thought someone else was taking care of it.” or maybe “No one told me I was supposed to handle it.”

At home, at work, and most everywhere else, people are counting on you.

*     Don’t just leave it to luck when it comes to your family and other things that really matter.

Holding up your end and Pro-actively helping are important but aren’t enough. This reality can jump out at you whenever you tinker with this or adjust that until it’s hopelessly messed up. This is the “I’ll fix it myself principle.” It applies to unimportant stuff but also applies to marital problems, troubles your children are having, and to other difficulties inevitably coming up at home, at work, and most anywhere else you happen to be. You say, “I’ll fix it myself. I don’t need anyone messing in my business.” Suit yourself and tinker away. You may get lucky; but then again¼.

*     Don’t passively stand by and let anyone screw things up.

Have you ever gone to a lot of time, bother, and effort to do something that didn’t work, only to learn later a co-worker or someone in your family knew you were going to do it and knew it wouldn’t work?

An even more important question is, “Have you personally ever watched someone making a mistake but didn’t say anything?” When asked, “Why didn’t you say something?” saying, “It was none of my business,” or “I figured you would ask if you wanted my two-cents-worth,” won’t cut it.

*     When you drop the ball, don’t assume others are all that understanding or forgiving.

Do you forget things or frequently overlook important details? Do you often just not have your act together? Life is a juggling act and it’s hard to keep organized, remember everything, and keep all your balls moving. Nonetheless, you promised not to drop the ball. People were counting on you and now have to deal with the consequences of your not having your act together.

You can let a ball bounce now and then if you are careful you don’t actually drop any.

Does keeping every ball in the air every time seem impossible? Is everything happening at once? Are things piling up? Is there too much to do and too little time? Are you juggling faster-and-faster and still barely keeping all the balls up and moving?

If you are saying “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” here is some great news. Carefully examine your balls. Some are glass and some are rubber. You can’t drop any of them; but you can let the rubber ones bounce a couple of times now and then. You don’t have to keep them all in the air at once.

*     Unless you have something to do that is truly important and really urgent, a little R/R is often your best choice for what’s next.

When you are having trouble deciding what’s next, make a list of the top ten things you have to do. Now put an X beside any that are actually important and a Y beside any that have to be done right now. Next, make a list of the X-Y things to do. Since they are all important, do the most urgent one first; and if There are no X-Y’ers on your to-do list right now, it may be time to kick back and relax.

*     Bring the same level of energy and commitment to whatever you are doing, whether things are going sour or going great.

Can you tell how things are going simply by people-watching? You don’t have to actually know whether projects are on-track or activities are going well. It’s enough to see how people are acting.

High energy levels and smiles mean things are going fine. Tension you can cut with a knife and a halfhearted approach to most everything mean all isn’t well; but you know that. The real challenge is setting the emotional pace for those around you.

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