69. Try, try and try again.

In the mid-1800’s W. E. Hickson, a British educational writer, coined the proverb;

Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.

The second stanza, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again” has found its way into modern usage and reminds us all of the need to persist.

Persistence, the opposite of quitting, serves as a powerful reminder that giving up is an assured way of failing whereas determination, while not a guarantee of success, will always drive us closer and closer to where we want to be.

Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity is “doing the same things over and over again and expecting the results to be different.”

If we take Einstein at face value then we need to question the wisdom behind “try, try, try again.” If “try, try, try again” represents doing the same thing over and over, it would suggest that W.E. Hickson was seriously misleading us down the winding pathway to craziness.

Does this mean that when our first attempt at something fails to produce the results we desire we should simply give up?

Of course not. When something we try does not deliver the results we expect, it does not mean we have failed, it merely means that we have discovered a way of doing something that does not work.

Does that mean we try the same way again?

Or is it a sign to try a different way?

The Habit of Flexibility reminds us that when we are not getting the results we want, we must simply find another way, then another, then another.

The Law of Requisite Variety teaches us that in any situation the person with the greatest flexibility will ultimately prevail and if we “always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got.”

Sometimes, engaging in flexibility requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and it is not uncommon for the level of our discomfort to exceed our desire to get the sought after result, and we quit.

In other words the discomfort of flexibility can make reaching our goals seem unimportant.

If anything, adopting The Habit of Flexibility helps bring increasing urgency to those times when our discomfort overrules our ability to try different ways.

Flexibility is the cornerstone upon which achievement rests. Our willingness to try new and different approaches, to experiment with the untried, and to take a chance on the unproven is the reason we are living in the most technologically charged time in history and our ongoing boldness in attempting the unknown will yield ever greater advances in the development of our societies.

The Habit of Flexibility is vastly superior to the habit of giving up. The Habit of Flexibility reminds and encourages us to keep trying new ways until we succeed – even in the face of crushing adversity.

The more we embrace The Habit of Flexibility the easier it is to reach the conclusion that the reason we haven’t achieved the success we seek is because we haven’t found the perfect approach.

Yet.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S.My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure.

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68. Grandma knows best.

Graham called to tell me that my last two blogs have reminded him of his grandmother.

She passed away two years ago at the age of 93 and not a single days has passed that he has not remembered the enormous debt of gratitude he owes her for teaching him the most valuable and important lesson of his life.

He described his grandmother as being stoic – a person who remained silent and uncomplaining regardless of the obstacles life placed before her.

Life heaped challenge after challenge upon her and she resolutely dealt with each one.

Graham’s life altering lesson was taught to him shortly after his 23rd birthday.

He had been unceremoniously fired, from a job that he really enjoyed and which was helping him finance a lifestyle he had long sought.

He felt humiliated and devastated by the loss of his job. He knew it would be very difficult to replace the income he had just lost and he was panicked at the thought of not being able to maintain his car and loan payments.

In short, he was depressed

And then things got really bad. Two weeks after he was fired he was diagnosed with bone cancer and learned that he would lose his left leg below the knee.

And he transitioned from depression to absolute despair.

And that’s when Grandma Rose came calling.

She offered no sympathy for his plight. She told him to  “snap out of it”,  “deal with it” and “suck it up.”

She told him that no matter how sorry he felt for himself he would still remain unemployed and still have only one leg.

She told him he could wallow in self-pity or he could take charge of his life. She told him he could not grow a new leg but he could grow a life rich with fulfillment – the choice was his.

She told him she would love him forever and would “pity him for never.”

Graham said her words jolted him back to reality. He realized in that moment that life had dealt him two really crappy hands. They were not the hands he would have chosen but they were the hands he held and how he played them would determine how long and how well he stayed in the game.

Graham recently celebrated his 40th birthday. In the years since “grandma educated me” he has built a successful career, has a wonderful wife and three fabulous kids, is a competitive golfer and athree months ago received his black belt in tae kwon do.

He attributes much of his success to Grandma Rose. Not only did she teach him the importance of The Habit of Sucking It Up she also taught him, regardless of the situation, to take time and appreciate all you have to be grateful for.

After she told you she would love him forever and would “pity him for never” she spent time reminding him of how loved he was and how much support he had and how fortunate he was to live in a time when an illness this serious could be so easily diagnosed and how lucky he was to live in a you country where he could receive the finest treatment available and not be burdened by years of debt in order to pay for it.

Like many of us Graham has faced numerous challenges along the way and each time Grandma Rose’s voice has played in his head reminding him of The Habit of Sucking It Up.

Graham has “sucked up” many adversities and emerged stronger each time.

He will tell you that if you want radical, rapid and powerful change in your life then make The Habit of Sucking It Up an inseparable part of who you are.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Set Free the Champion Within. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

67. The vote is in – we need to do more of this.

My blog last week on The Habit of Sucking It Up must have struck a chord with a number of readers as I received more calls and emails than I have from any of my previous ranting’s.

It seems my new friend Jerry – the combat veteran – who called and suggested (demanded) the topic for last week’s blog – is not the only one who feels surrounded by whining, sniveling wimps whose lives are so difficult that they are left with no choice other than to complain incessantly.

Usually the calls I receive are either from readers calling to share their support for the topic or to inform me that I’m an idiot and do not know what I’m talking about.

That was not the case this past week as every call was from a person mirroring Jerry’s concerns about us becoming a nation of whiners.

One my favorite comments was from a lady I know well, and for whom I have enormous respect, who shared with me that it never fails to amaze her how often people will spend an hour of their lives complaining about a task that took them 10 minutes to complete.

It seems the The Habit of Sucking It Up has not integrated itself into our culture as readily as my callers would like and that all of our lives would be enormously enriched if we could all adopt this habit as a cultural norm versus the existing one of constant complaining.

The theme of each call and each conversation was this: into each life a little rain will fall – so what? It is what it is. Suck it up. Deal with it.

How true! Every single one of us, regardless of the severity of the stresses and challenges we face in our lives can, with minimal effort, find many people who would gladly trade their stresses and challenges for ours.

Several months ago in my Saturday blog I wrote of a neighbor – an Iraqi immigrant – who shared with me how frequently he has to bite his tongue when listening to his colleagues at work describe the unbearable stresses of their lives – the pressures of meeting deadlines at work, the stress of raising kids and all those other things that make them feel like they are living inside a pressure cooker.

He explained to me that it is impossible for him to participate in these conversations as he cannot relate to their definition of stressful events.

Prior to moving to Canada with his family he witnessed violence, cruelty and brutality of an indescribable nature. He shared with me stories of spending days locked in his own home with no food to feed his children while it was too dangerous to leave the house in search of food.

He told me that he understands that what these folks describe as stress is nothing more than their perspective and that they will never know how truly fortunate they are in being able to be totally stressed out by such minor events.

He also told me that he believes that each of his colleagues could bring far more joy and happiness into their lives if they would be willing to adopt The Habit of Sucking It Up as a way of life.

His philosophy is straightforward: Life happens, suck it up, deal with it, move on.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Set Free the Champion Within. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

66. Not just for princesses.

Jerry called and he sure had a lot to say.

I have not spoken with Jerry before and he felt it was time we had a little chat.

He told me that he reads my blog from time to time and that he thought it was time to write about, what he described as, the most important habit of all.

Jerry is a combat veteran. He did two tours of duty in Afghanistan and has seen and done things to horrific to describe.

He has been out of the service for almost 3 years and is working feverishly at building a career in the private sector.

His call to me was not to discuss any part of his military career, but rather to share his experiences back in the “civilian” world and why he thought it necessary for me to write about the habit he was calling to discuss.

He calls it The Habit of Sucking It Up and he believes that this is the principle habit required to enjoy success in life.

On a daily basis he interacts with people, both clients and colleagues, who do nothing but “bitch whine and complain” about the challenges in their lives.

He explained that no matter the circumstance, somebody will always be unhappy and will complain about how unfair their life is at that very moment.

He tells me he is surrounded by people whining about how early they have to get up in the morning, how hard they have to work, the stress of ferrying the kids to and from activities, being too tired to go to the gym, how difficult it is to lose weight, how gut-grinding it is to deal with rejection in the workplace and everything else in their lives that may require some effort or cause some discomfort.

And he’s sick of listening to the never ending complaints.

Jerry’s a firm believer in putting your head down and doing whatever it takes to get the results you want. He pushes himself to the limit in everything he does because he has taught himself to “push through the pain to get to the gain.”

He feels the The Habit of Sucking It Up has been lost in our society and rather than “sucking it up and getting on with it” we have become far more comfortable with protesting and complaining.

Jerry also has a part-time business as a personal trainer and is astounded at how few of his many clients truly push themselves beyond their limits to reach their goals while the majority, having paid him “really good money” constantly negotiate with him to go easy on them.

Jerry laughingly told me that when he becomes king he will mandate military service for all high school graduates because “we’ve become a weak nation of whiners who quit as soon as things get tough and a little bit of military discipline will be the greatest gift the country can ever bestow upon its youth.”

And those who drop out of school prior to graduation, well, “they just get to begin their military experience a little earlier.”

Jerry does not consider himself to be a tough guy but did express his disgust at how weak he believes so many of his fellow citizens to be. He thinks The Habit of Sucking It Up could well be their salvation.

He cited the example of one of his colleagues who had to get up at 4:30 in the morning for a month in order to complete a work project. Apparently this associate was driving those around him to distraction with his incessant complaining about the ordeal of getting up so early before Jerry explained to him – “in a less than polite manner” – that the 30 days would pass whether he complained bitterly or not and that all of his work friends would be greatly appreciative he could simply allow the 30 days to pass without a daily reminder of his suffering.

In other words, “just suck it up.”

I thought some of Jerry’s words were a bit harsh but I cannot disagree with his message.

Sometimes life deals us lousy cards. The Habit of Sucking It Up teaches us to play the hand as best we can, silently without complaint, because it is what it is and all whining does is embitters us and causes those around us to become unwilling recipients of our misery.

Whining doesn’t cause the reason for the whining to go away.

The Habit of Sucking It Up and “just doing it” is the secret sauce that separates the champions from all the rest.

Thanks for the reminder Jerry.

 Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Set Free the Champion Within. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

65. A salesman made, not born.

My friend Mark is a fourth-generation salesperson.

His great-grandfather raised a family of five children by selling pots and pans door to door in the 1920s and 1930s during the great depression.

His grandfather was an extremely successful life insurance salesperson who too raised a family of five.

Marks father provided very well for his three children through his efforts as a realtor and Mark, with two young children and a pregnant wife, is determined to carry on the proud tradition of being a salesman.

Mark, like his grandfather, is in the life insurance and financial services business.

When Mark told his father and grandfather that he was going to enter into sales career their first piece of advice was for him to purchase a notebook to carry on his person at all times.

They counseled him to use the notebook for two specific functions. After each sales call – regardless of whether it was successful or not – he was to find a quiet spot, pull out the notebook and write his thoughts on how he had conducted himself during the meeting and make a list of three things he could improve upon.

The second function was to list every objection presented to him by the potential customer and to develop three well-thought-out responses that he could use the next time this same objection presented itself.

Their advice did not end there. They advised him to spend time in front of his bathroom mirror practicing his newly written answers to those objections until he felt that he had mastered their delivery.

Mark was smart enough to know that success leaves clues and that the sage advice given him by his father and grandfather were the same actions they had both used to excel in their sales careers.

Mark knew that in order to become a great salesperson he would have to invest an unlimited amount of his time working at it and so he incorporated The Habit of Working At It into his daily routine from the first day of his career.

And it didn’t take long for The Habit of Working At It to start producing results for Mark. He made his share of early mistakes and used each of these experiences to learn from and become a little bit better.

And each time he became a little bit better, he sold a little bit more. And the more he sold, the harder he worked at the job of selling. And the harder he worked, the more he sold.

Mark appreciates how fortunate he is in having two powerful mentors to help them accelerate his career and he also is deeply grateful that both these mentors “pounded into him” the absolute necessity of adopting The Habit of Working At It in everything he does.

Mark has already broken several long-standing rookie records in his company and is on track to becoming one of the top producers within his first three years in the business.

He attributes much of his success to the work ethic instilled in him by both his parents and his grandfather. He also realizes hard work alone is no assurance of success but hard work coupled with constantly getting better is a sure way of advancing early success.

He’s working diligently towards acquiring professional designations and, despite an extraordinarily busy schedule, still devotes one hour every day to The Habit of Working At It – becoming just a teeny bit better each day than the day before.

A pretty good strategy, don’t you think?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

 P.S My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Set Free the Champion Within. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure