Embrace the Complexity of Options

 
Anthony RobbinsIn a post a long time ago (one of my first) titled “Oh No” I lamented the fact that I was just another motivational author or speaker and I was not happy about it.

I think the reason I don’t want to consider myself a motivational author or speaker is that they are too simplistic in their approach. I, however, want to embrace the complexity of options. Take a simple concept like fear. I just read an article about Anthony Robbins saying how fear holds you back from success and while I’ve written about that very topic, I’ve also written about the benefits of fear. It’s too simplistic to say fear=bad and courage=good but that’s really all Anthony Robbins is saying, and most motivational speakers say.

I keep coming back to something Scott Loughmiller said in What Next, “I don’t take risks I manage risks.” And that concept can be applied to everything: I’m neither afraid nor fearless, I manage my fear; I’m neither under confident nor over confident, I mange my expectations. The fear is there, the lack of confidence is there but we push through it and yes the lack of fear can be dangerous and over confidence can get us in trouble. We constantly fluctuate between emotions and that’s ok as long as we manage to make progress.

This also ties in well with what Gary Vaynerchuk told me when I interviewed him in 2013, that self-awareness was the most important trait for success. If you are honest with yourself about what’s holding you back, you can begin to manage it.

Anthony Robbins and his ilk are the sugar rush of success, it’s a nice rush but it won’t last. Simple sells very well for them, but life is complex and requires complex solutions together with lots of work. Go to a motivational speech or read a motivational book and you’ll feel good for a while. Become self-aware and manage your issues and you’ll be well on your way to sustainable success – but like anything it takes work.


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Is Gary Vaynerchuk a Risk Taker?

 
After a short break I’m back to my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk. There was one question I asked Gary that I wish I had followed up on more extensively, explained a little better and really discussed. With limited time, however, I chose to move on.

Warning! Risk AheadI asked Gary if he felt there was a difference between taking a risk and doing something risky. He didn’t see the distinction. It is subtle but it’s there. At just under 90 seconds this is the shortest clip from the interview but perhaps my favorite topic. Take a listen here:

Vaynerchuk Risk

Gary notes that he thinks someone who takes risks is dramatically happier but goes on to say that he doesn’t consider himself a risk taker. I have found that many highly successful people who other people describe as risk takers or gamblers disagree with that characterization.

In my book, What Next, I talk about risk and what I discovered is that the distinction between taking a risk and doing something risky comes down to management. Scott Loughmiller, an entrepreneur I interviewed for the book, said he doesn’t consider himself a risk taker but rather a risk manager.

When we look at the decisions of the highly successful we only see two points in time. The decision to act and the end result. What we don’t see from our perspective is the thought process, the many sub-decisions, the careful deliberations and strategizing that goes into what seems like a risky endeavor.

And that brings us to the difference between success and failure when it comes to risk. So many people don’t take the time for careful deliberation. So many people rush into really big decisions ill-prepared. That is doing something risky. On a personal level you need look no further than retirement planning. So many people put that on autopilot without enough thought.

When it comes to business, too many people put too much weight on the advice to follow their heart. That’s good advice but it must be backed up by resources, planning, and a strong dose of reality. Doing the research, exploring the many possible outcomes before acting is taking a risk but it’s not being risky and that is a huge difference.

Are you a risk taker or do you do risky things? Share some examples and your thoughts in the comments below.


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The Best Investment You Can Make is in Yourself

 
I’m taking a break today from the Gary Vaynerchuk interview to…to what? I don’t want to complain but I’m afraid that is how it will sound. I don’t want to sound like an old man who thinks this generation is lacking what previous generations had but after reading this, you might think that’s what I’m doing. I don’t want to put my leadership skills (or lack of skills) out there for everyone to see but I have to be honest with myself and I’m choosing to do so publicly.

leader-mdI choose kindness over harshness. I choose conversation over orders. I choose second and third chances over rash decisions. I give the benefit of doubt rather than expecting the worst. All of these seem to be backfiring.

I understand the feeling that a job is just a job. I understand having a job you don’t love, I have one now that I don’t even like. I get wanting to do the bare minimum when there is no motivation or incentive to do more. I get all that, but I’m at the end of my career (yes I’m young but I’m at the end of one career, not my working life).

When I was at the beginning of my career the concept of work hours was foreign to me. I stayed and worked and improved my skills because I wanted to, because I was curious, because I knew that some day I’d advance and grow to higher levels. I did this without overtime pay and when overtime was available, I often wouldn’t put in for it because I wasn’t working, I was learning.

What I see of my staff is that, so early in their working lives, they’ve already checked out. I don’t see the curiosity and interest in honing their skills, learning new things, going beyond (or even living up to) their job description. The sales associates want to be managers, and the manager wants to be the general manager but none are excelling (or are even adequate) at their current position.

My pep talks haven’t worked. My pep talks with a dose of reality haven’t worked. My honest assessments with consequences behind them haven’t worked. I know business people have to fire staff and I’ve had to as well, but when you see potential in a person in spite of their lack of effort it makes the process that much harder.

I can’t help but think that a young Gary Vaynerchuk did well because he is someone who is invested in himself. I am someone who invests in myself. I don’t see my staff investing in themselves – they’re just picking up a paycheck.

Do you see the same of your staff, of the employees you deal with at a store or on the phone? What do you do to get them to see that investing in themselves pays the best dividends?


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Gary Vaynerchuk Knows Himself Well

 
It’s no secret that I believe strongly that curiosity is essential for success. If you read this blog or read my book, you’ll find curiosity hailed throughout. You will also find that I speak of other traits that amplify curiosity and lift ordinary success to higher levels. Those traits are a sense of adventure, willingness to try things, a healthy understanding of risk, and self-confidence, to name the ones I think are most important.

Gary_1In my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk he added one trait to this list that is often needed to balance out the others, that trait is self-awareness. You have to be a good judge of your own strengths and weaknesses and that requires self reflection. Listen to the conversation about self-awareness here:

 Vaynerchuk SelfAwareness

In my book, What Next, I interviewed an entrepreneur, Scott Loughmiller, who, when I thanked him for answering the questions so thoroughly said, “That’s ok I like this self-reflective kind of stuff.” That’s why he’s successful, because he is able to take stock of his own abilities and concentrate on the things he’s good at while hiring the people to do the things he’s not.

Loughmiller was trained as a programmer, a coder, but he doesn’t code much any more because he has the bigger picture to worry about. He knows there are people who are better at coding and can devote all their energy to it so that he doesn’t have to spread himself too thin and micromanage the project.

Gary said something that I suppose would sound ridiculous to a normal person. He said there was a time that he thought he should win an Emmy, Tony, Grammy, and Academy Award, really believed that he had it in him to do it. That made sense to me because I’ve had those grandiose ideas myself (In What Next I call them delusions of grandeur). It was self-awareness that brought Gary back to reality.

Do you take the time to think about your strengths and weaknesses? Do you understand yourself more than anyone else? If not, why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Gary Vaynerchuk and the Escalator Question

 
EscalatorPicWhen I found out I was interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk I had an opportunity to test a theory of mine. I believe that successful people, entrepreneurs in particular, like motion, would rather keep moving than stand still. They also don’t like other people getting in their way, blocking them from their goals.

I think successful people walk on escalators rather than stand. Gary confirmed that, sort of, but he also surprised me. Take a listen here:

Vaynerchuk EscalatorQuestion

It seems his default strategy is to walk on escalators but the surprising part was when he said that he stands when he’s late. That seemed odd to him (I think a lot of people would think it’s odd that he even gave it much thought, have you?). His belief is that he likes to be contrarian and I suggested that maybe, when he’s late, he needs that extra moment to collect himself, take a deep breath and know that those extra few seconds walking aren’t as important as those extra few seconds of calm.

The last point about the question is a bit less obvious but interesting and informative just the same; who thinks about how they interact with escalators? I don’t think normal people give that much thought. Gary and I do, however, and that says a lot about two traits we spoke of in the interview, curiosity and self-awareness.

Being curious means you look at things a little differently than other people, that what most people take for granted, you dissect to discover why. Being self aware means you are always assessing your actions, beliefs, and values, being just as curious about yourself as you are about others.

Do you walk on escalators? Do you prefer motion over stagnation? Are you self aware enough to answer those questions? Are you curious enough to discover your true habits? Please share in the comments below.


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