190. The law is the law, until it changes.

Marie contacted me earlier this week to tell me how last week’s blog reminded her of one of the most embarrassing moment in her professional life and how that experience became the catalyst for her to adopt The Habit of Always Being Current.

Marie is a lawyer who has been in practice “longer than I care to remember” and for many of those years has operated her own general law practice doing “a bit of this and a little of that.”

As a sole practitioner, she did most of her own research and took great pride in always being current until that fateful day, when she wasn’t.

Her client, the Board of Directors of a small, 25-unit condominium complex, had asked her to review and make recommendations to update their existing By-laws.

While this particular assignment was not entirely foreign to her, Marie’s knowledge of the Provincial Condominium Act was a little scanty.

Marie did as she had been trained to do. She carefully reviewed the existing bylaws documents and reviewed the Condominium Act from a copy she had retrieved from the bookshelf in her personal law library.

Her analysis of the Act revealed several weaknesses in her client’s existing By-laws and she dutifully made note of these, along with the recommended changes, in preparing a blackline copy for her client’s review and approval.

What Marie did not know at the time was that a revised and amended copy of the Act had gone into effect the previous month and one of the key changes she was recommending had been amended and was no longer applicable.

It is no mean feat for a condo board to change its By-laws; seventy-five percent of the owners must approve the changes, in writing, in order for the new By-laws to come into effect and to be registered.

For many condo boards acquiring the signatures represents a great deal of work and is not a project to be undertaken lightly.

The client reviewed her recommendations and agreed to proceed to collect the requisite number of signatures.

To Marie’s great fortune, the very next day she was having lunch with a colleague from a major law firm and happened to mention the recommendations she had made for this particular client of hers.

As she tells the story, “I dropped my fork onto the floor and my mouth hung open in horror as my friend pointed out to me the magnitude of the error I had made.”

She rushed out of the restaurant to call her client and to her great relief discovered he was still in possession of the packages containing the new By-laws and the Consent Sheets she had prepared for distribution to all the owners.

Marie was so mortified by possible calamitous consequences of her error that she waived all fees for this project and, obviously, rectified her mistake.

And she learned a lesson that has stood her in good stead in the many years since. The Habit of Always Being Current, naturally, has never left her side since then.

The Habit of Always Being Current is all that prevents each of us from experiencing embarrassment similar to Marie’s. It means paying attention to detail and preventing complacency from undermining our professionalism.

Perhaps, most importantly, it boosts confidence in a way that can only come from the feelings of absolute certainly that accompany the unshakeable belief of knowing that you know.

The Habit of Always Being Current: it costs little to acquire and pays enormous dividends.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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189. For professionals only.

We live today in times that are inarguably more competitive than ever before.  When victory is gauged by millimeters or by hundreds of a second and success is frequently measured by minuscule variances, then finding ways of standing out, being noticed and presenting obvious differences are requisite factors if we wish to achieve any level of victory in our attempts to build successful lives and careers.

Becoming complacent, maintaining the status quo and believing that what has worked in the past will work in the future is not only delusional, it will ensure a fate no one wants to think about.

The Habit of Always Being Current is not optional if we wish to be competitive and prosper in these challenging times.

Our clients and customers have far more choices than ever before and to stand out from the pack requires an ironclad commitment to always being on top of your game.

The world body of knowledge is growing at a dizzying speed, technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and if we don’t stay current then we are falling further and further behind.

This means it is necessary to devote time and effort to The Habit of Always Being Current. It also means that being unprepared and “winging it” is a new guaranteed way of ensuring failure.

I recently read an article on the daily study and work habits of one of the most successful realtors in the US. This lady is reputedly an icon, has blazed new trails and single-handedly raised the sites of an entire industry.

When asked her secret she has a simple response, “I am always better prepared and far more current than any of my competition.”

Her immense success has enabled her to hire a team of researchers who provide her with daily briefings that ensure she is always current on what has sold, what has just come on the market and what prices are being realized. Her team constantly, throughout each day, checks mortgage rates and notify her the second anything changes.

She is a walking, talking encyclopedia of knowledge of everything pertaining to real estate in the areas in which she works.

The only difference between what she does today and her early years in the business is that in those years she had to put in countless extra hours doing her own research.

The day she began her career she made a vow to herself to never be unprepared for any meetings with a client and always be equipped with the most current data available.

This level of preparedness speaks to her dedication as a professional and also signals for us the critical need to adopt The Habit of Always Being Current as an important factor in our lives.

We cannot be prepared if we are not current. Another master of this was the legendary Ben Feldman who did much the same in the life insurance industry as this lady is doing in real estate. He raised the bar of possibility and did so by dedicating enormous amounts of time to studying and ensuring his preparedness for every meeting.

These levels of commitment to The Habit of Always Being Current do not only apply to sales people, they apply to us all.

And committing ourselves to always being current should, for us all, be a commitment we gladly undertake because we are all professionals, aren’t we?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

 

188. This one is not optional.

Fifty years ago when you graduated from high school, college or university you could close the book on education and get busy with your life.

Back in those days if you simply married the knowledge gained from education with the experience gained from years of life you could coast through most careers and progressively climb the ladder until you reached your desired success.

Certainly the world was changing at a rapid pace, but the pressure on you to stay current was not overly intense, and as long as you produced at an acceptable level your life would inch along just fine.

Many years ago I read an article that claimed 54% of North American adults will never read a book from cover to cover after they graduate from their last academic accomplishment.  Yikes!

Fast-forward 30 years and the world is indeed a different place. The collective pool of knowledge is growing many times faster than ever before and technology is advancing at a rate that seems to be making next year’s model already obsolete.

The Habit of Always Being Current is no longer optional for those who wish to reach higher and higher peaks in their chosen fields.

For many of us, daily life is filled with what is seemingly a never-ending battle of things competing for our time and attention.

It seems as if there is always something we need to drop everything else for in order to do right now. There does not seem to be much respite from the demands on our time.

And in addition to meeting all these demands we must devote time every day to staying on top of changes and new developments in our chosen fields.

I was chatting recently with a physician friend of mine who admitted to spending upwards of seven hours each week – at least one hour daily – studying the latest findings and familiarizing himself with the newest discoveries and techniques in medicine.

So rapid is the growth of knowledge in his field that he confided that despite spending that amount of time each week, he felt he was still falling further and further behind.

Along with my sister and brother, I was raised as a reader. To this day I never have a day in my life that does not include at least one hour of reading. For me, this is an addiction, and it is one for which I am truly grateful.

And yet I often feel I am not spending nearly enough time reading and studying as I frequently find myself feeling left behind when I engage in conversations with others in my field and hear, for the first time to from them, of things brand-new to me.

Despite subscribing to, and devouring, numerous business magazines and reading everything I can get my hands on regarding human behaviour, the sheer volume of new information often leaves me feeling bewildered.

The Habit of Always Being Current must be front and centre at all times if we wish to continue to get better and stay relevant in our fields of endeavor.

Heraclitusa Greek philosopher who spoke of change being central to the universe, authored the quote, “change is the only constant in life,” which, over the centuries, has been re-engineered as the only thing constant in life is change.

And as change constantly marches on, so must we adopt to The Habit of Always Being Current if we wish to remain relevant, competitive and credible.

The term lifelong learning entered our lexicon in the last 20 years and could not have come at a timelier moment.

Committing ourselves to being lifelong learners, into doing all we can to be current is not an option we can choose, but rather a requirement we cannot ignore.

And if we do choose to not stay current, we do so at our own peril.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

187. Don’t take it anymore.

That infamous quote from the acclaimed 1976 movie Network, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore,” serves as a very commanding reminder of the power available to us when we embrace The Habit of Intolerance.

While the movie is about a television network cynically exploiting the crazed rantings of a deranged anchor, the above scream became a rallying cry for people all over the world to no longer tolerate a status quo they didn’t want.

The professionals tell us that the most powerful catalyst to permanently changing anything and any part of our lives seldom begins until we reach the point of intolerance when we just can’t, and won’t, accept the status quo for one second longer.

By no means is this the only agent of change, but it is the one many of us can identify with when we think back to the straw that broke the camel’s back and directed us onto the road to change and then encouraged us to stay there.

Professionals who specialize in conflict resolution tell us whenever we are faced with conflict we have three options to choose from.

The first one, and the only one we will be referencing in this posting, is to accept things the way they are.

Unfortunately, far too many people misinterpret this to mean that in order to keep peace and harmony, or to avoid or prevent uncomfortable conversations and run the risk of deepening the conflict, accepting things the way they are means outwardly enduring them and no longer complaining about them while, on the inside, they are eating themselves alive.

The true meaning of accepting things the way they are means just that. It means you are not bothered or adversely affected in any way by the events which means there is no longer any conflict.

Many of us are affected by the way things are. We are continuously frustrated by our inability to shed that extra 30 pounds and by the person in our office who constantly “borrows” the stapler from your desk and never returns it.

We cannot accept things the way they are; the longer these frustrations continue the more intensely they affect us.  By not adopting and acting on The Habit of Intolerance, we run the risk of forming a new undesirable and sad practice, the Habit of Expecting Nothing to Change.

I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” is the forerunner to The Habit of Intolerance and our best reminder that the fastest way to bring repeated failure and frustration into our life is to tolerate it.

The day we make an irrevocable commitment to only tolerate what we want and to never tolerate what we don’t is also the day we claim ownership of our life to begin the exciting journey of carving out the quality of life that only intolerance to what we don’t want can bring.

The Habit of Intolerance is not about selfishness; it is about selflessness.  Remember, we can never become all we are capable of being while remaining tolerant to all that prevents pure selflessness from becoming ours.

This does not give us license to be rude, disrespectful and intolerant of others; it simply empowers us to raise the bar of tolerance to the level of accepting only those things that bring us feelings of joy, happiness, success, victory and fulfilment.

Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves and for those we love?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

186. When enough truly is enough.

My friend John is a long time adherent to The Habit of Intolerance. I did not know this about him until he called last week, after reading my blog, to tell me how vital a role The Habit of Intolerance has played in him becoming the successful person he is today.

He further explained that in order to bring The Habit of Intolerance into his everyday way of doing things he had to initially use it to replace another habit that had plagued him for many years.

John called it The Habit of Coasting and defined it as the closest thing to being completely lulled into a false sense of security, over and over again.

John is an extremely successful financial planner. He has been in the industry for more than 25 years and has spent the last 20 building an ever-growing empire of success.

His call, though, was not to talk of his successes but rather to share with me those first five years when his constant adherence to The Habit of Coasting caused him many sleepless nights and days filled with stomach churning stress that left him drained and terrified.

Like so many others, John fell victim to the plague of pain/pleasure motivation. He understood inherently that we do what we do for one of two reasons: to gain pleasure or to avoid pain.

The financial planning business is one that can, and most likely will, cause a great deal of pain as the early years are often filled with experiencing great amounts of rejection and, as John learned, not being able to deal with the pain of rejection was the number one cause of people failing and consequently, leaving the business.

John fell into the fatal trap that has snared so many others. In order to avoid constant rejection, he delayed making the calls necessary to set up the sales appointments needed to build his business.

Instead, he busied himself doing “busy work,” code word for finding anything to do other than placing himself in a position to face more rejection.

As each month came to a close, his situation would become more and more bleak, desperation would kick in and, in a frenzy of activity he would do everything necessary to close enough sales to meet the minimum requirements for job retention, and to create the tiniest income to survive another month.

And then, The Habit of Coasting would kick in. With (barely) enough money to get through the next few weeks he would, once again, do anything to prevent putting himself in the position of being rejected while he coasted on the few dollars remaining in his bank account.

This pattern continued month after month. Coasting, followed by a desperate flurry of activity, then more coasting became a way of life for John until the day arrived that he discovered The Habit of Intolerance.

That was the day he confronted the truth and decided he would no longer tolerate the stress, panic, despair and misery that The Habit of Coasting was making part of his everyday life.

He resolved to never again accept mediocrity along with its inevitable negative impact and to tolerate nothing less than measurable growth and success in every facet of his life.

His intolerance for the way he was managing his job helped him permanently overcome his fear of rejection and suddenly his career took off in ways he’d only previously dreamed of. He soon realized that rejection brought pleasure not pain when placed in the correct perspective and his sales began to soar.

He became intolerant of his weight and lost 60 pounds over a 10-month period. To this day he has not regained a single ounce.

He became intolerant of being out of shape, joined a gym, started working out and this spring completed his 17th marathon.

He became intolerant of his own moods swings and began studying ways and means to master his emotions. Today a bad day for him is one he describes as “only semi-terrific.”

John is now a lifelong devotee to The Habit of Intolerance and has learned that if we refuse to tolerate it, we will take the necessary steps to banish it from our lives.

Many of us can identify with John’s story. He speaks for us when he talks of “not taking it anymore” as being a call to action, and not a string of words to be used in moments of frustration without any intention of taking action.

Understanding that we get what we tolerate is the statement that was the crucial first step in John’s transformation.

Let these five simple words do the same for you.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.