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JUNE 1999
Success Harmony Newsletter


Any job, no matter how ordinary, can have a purpose or a mission behind the job description. Granted, sometimes it can be easier to assume a purpose behind a job where people "save people's lives" and to downplay some more "mundane" task.

Today, I ran into someone who manages to bring purpose into a job which many would consider very ordinary. I was going downtown to meet with a client and, as I dislike the parking nightmares of downtown Vancouver, I took the bus. I was fairly introspective when I was getting on the bus and I got a surprise when I heard a loud, cheery "good afternoon". The same greeting followed for every person who got on the bus. I thought this was fabulous and so I talked to the driver, Bob McGivern about his greeting. He said "Oh, yes, I started to do this 9 years ago. All the other drivers and people said I wouldn't last more than six months. I get about 10-20% smiles, and about 5% of people actually come up and say something. I love it. Most of all, I feel I make a difference." I must say, his smile made my day!

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How often do you promise something to others that you don't intend to do anyway? Maybe a salesperson calls you and you don't want to be rude. Maybe you don't want to go out on a date but don't want to appear insensitive. Maybe a client has asked you for a favour and you're afraid to lose the client if you don't agree to it. So you say "yes" but hope that the other person will forget to call you on your promise.

Your "politeness" is wasting your time and theirs. It also kills trust. Say a clear "yes" if you really mean it and then do as you said. Otherwise, realize that if you give a clear, yet diplomatic "no, thank you for asking but I cannot do this", you let them know where they stand. If you don't intend to follow through anyway, it is better if they know now so that they can make alternate arrangements sooner!

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I heard a speaker colleague of mine, Dov Baron, say in a seminar that "a smoker doesn't make a decision to die of lung cancer, he just makes a thousand decisions to smoke lots of cigarettes, one at a time."

Life and business works the same way. Successful businesses, successful relationships, fat bank accounts, healthy bodies - they all come as a result of a small but daily commitment to do what needs to be done. When it needs to be done, how it needs to be done, whether one feels like it at the time or not.

Dale Carnegie courses teach their sales course graduates to make 5 new contacts per day. That's it. It isn't much but it makes a big difference. It may not always be fun but the rewards are always there. Far better than the long-term results of NOT making the calls!

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Remember how it was to jump on a curb as a kid and have contests with other kids about how far you can walk on that relatively thin curb? Actually, most of the time, it wasn't that hard. Maybe the curb was thin but it wasn't a big deal if you fell off. You'd just get a few laughs from your friends and you could try again. Come to think of it, it was pretty easy to stay balanced.

Now imagine that you would be trying to walk on the same curb, but that the thin solid line would have nothing around it other than space. You step off the curb, you fall all the way down. All of a sudden, what seemed like an easy activity to accomplish on the ground, becomes an almost impossible task to accomplish. Most of us would be overcome by the fear of the vast void into which we could fall.

What is the difference between the few people who would be able to walk the thin line from one end to the other safely, and the many who would worry so much about the void that they would fall into it? It is not the ability to walk the thin line, since most of us can accomplish the task when there is no pressure. The difference is the ability to focus in the right place.

When a problem (ie. the void) arises in our lives, it is easy to focus on the problem. What we focus on, grows. The more we focus on the problem, the bigger it gets. We fall in the void. Instead, if we focus on the solution and the vision of what we want to see happen (ie. focus on the curb line), we will likely arrive to the other side safely.

For those of you golfers: when you are thinking "please, NOT in the sandtrap!" - the ball goes in....yes, the sandtrap. Focus on the green!

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Feedback is an extremely important part of growth. When given gently and constructively, it helps people grow. It helps people do more of what is working and it gives people the opportunity to change what isn't.

Unfortunately, sometimes feedback can kill someone's initiative or dream. This can happen especially when the feedback is being given by someone in a superior role, such as a boss, teacher, or parent. A dear friend of mine, a talented composer, stopped composing for a number of years because a trusted teacher said "forget composing, all great music has already been written". I had avoided music for about 20 years because a teacher told me at 5 that I had no talent and should never do any music. Words are very powerful.

Does this mean you have to sugar coat everything? Not at all. The truth works just fine. Make it obvious, though, that your opinion is just that. An opinion. Make sure that the other person knows you care and want to help. Don't make vague "do better or else" statements which instill fear and confusion. Whenever possible, give specific ways to improve. Then make sure to acknowledge progress as it happens!

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It is rare for us to realize our full potential without some external event pushing us outside of our comfort zones where we get to learn how strong we really are.

Animals have one advantage over us "intelligent humans" - a very short memory. Our ability to remember serves us well in many instances but it can get in our way of forgiving the past and living in the moment.


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"Relationships, business or personal, are like sowing a seed. We cannot force the seed to grow but we can provide the right conditions. Kindness, honesty, respect, loyalty and openness are to relationships like fertilizer and water are to the seed."

Pavla Michaela Polcarova, Power Thoughts Journal






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