Leading a movement

Everyone wants to see change.

Few are actually willing to change.

And no one wants the responsibility to lead.

The door is wide open to stand up and say, “Follow me.”

The moment, the opportunity you have been waiting for, is right now.

Yesterday would have been a good time to start. Today is the next best thing.

It would be a shame to waste another second.

Originality is overrated

Writing a book isn’t an original idea. Books have been vehicles of change for over 500 years. What you write in your book could be new, but you and I know you probably borrowed some of those ideas too.

It is very difficult to have a completely original idea. That doesn’t happen much anymore. You borrow the best parts of other people’s ideas and repackage them into something new.

If your work is good, people will copy it. That’s okay, as long as credit is given to the artist who created it.

Understand there is a difference between someone who writes (or paints or tweets) and artists though.

Writers write what they are told to write or what sells. Or worse, they try to write what readers want to hear. Writers write when they are in the mood.

Artist, on the other hand, work to do something bold and daring. They challenge the status-quo. They write when they feel like writing and when they don’t. They strain the work to change the recipient. And, most importantly, they give it away generously. Artist are out there doing the impossible, making something that has never been done before in a world that isn’t original anymore.

It is okay to write like your heroes but at some point, we need to hear your insights and your twist on the work that has come before us. We need your genius.

Discursive thoughts

Often it isn’t our circumstances that are causing our pain and suffering, it is our thoughts.

Did I forget to lock the door? How am I going to support my family? I will never be a great writer. I’m too old for this. She doesn’t love me. If only I was taller. Why don’t we spend more time together? I’m sorry, I’m not sorry. I used to be fitter. This economy…

Like a freight train, our mind is moving faster than we can keep up.

The trick isn’t to cement ourselves into our thoughts or to flood them with manufactured happiness, but to channel them into one specific goal.

Focusing on one thing at a time, surprisingly, allows us to feel more present and more aware of what is going on around us.

Did it help?

We’re quick to observe that the boss is looking over our shoulder when sales are down or that our neighbor is leaving the music on too loud.

It’s easy to accept that he’s a micromanager or she’s obnoxious and that the world is conspiring against us.

The question is: Did it help?

Did choosing this narrative help you become the person you are trying to be? Did it help you feel better? Did it help us build a culture we can be proud of?

Probably not. And zapping revenge doesn’t make us feel much better either.

How you choose to interpret the actions of others is your responsibility, not someone else’s.

Decisions

It has been proven that our brains can only focus their attention on one task at a time.

Therefore, decisions are made one at a time.

One after another, quite quickly.

Big decisions, however, rarely come down to making one choice, but rather a million small and seemingly insignificant decisions over an extended period.

(Until one day, they are no longer small or insignificant).

Do the hard thing first

Today, tough decisions are hard to make.

Tomorrow, they are even harder.

Someday, we will need to fix the mistakes we have made.

But that can only happen when we start living the consequences of tomorrow, today.

Or we can keep pushing our problems further down the road, until one day our children will be the one’s cleaning up our mess.

By then, it might be too late.

Who do you want your customers to be?

When we cut costs in our budget, why are we surprised when customers call and want a discount?

And when we cut the sales staff by 10%, why are we shocked when customers call and complain we made promises that we can’t keep?

That is assuming they can get through, because we switched to an automated system to handle any complaints (and stretched call times by 18%).

If all you are doing to be better than the competition is cut costs, then you are on a race to the bottom.

Eventually, you are going to hit it. Then what?

The alternative is to race to the top, to make something more daring, more generous, and with more care than the competition.

You can focus on every detail to provide a unique experience for your customers. One where your customer service department shrinks because you don’t have any complaints. An experience where sales makes big promises but is given every resource to deliver. A product that is expected to cost more because it is worth it.

You get what you pay for

A gallon jar of pickles from Walmart can be purchased for $4. Incredible!

This is one of the crowning achievement of the industrial economy: Stuff is cheap. Now more than ever.

But there are hidden costs for every gallon jar of pickles.

The service is lousy. The wait time to talk to a customer service rep is longer. The shopping cart wheels are falling off.

For stuff to get cheaper, companies need to find ways to shave a little here and little there. Until, one day, they don’t even recognize who they are or what they stand for.

If you are not happy with the service or the product, that is fine. No product or service is for everyone. But don’t complain when the checkout lines are long and the cashiers are not friendly. You are paying for that privilege.

Three reasons why people fail

1. We fail to plan.

2. We fail to follow the plan.

3. We fail to revise the plan when the circumstances change.

The tactics rarely have anything to do with why we fail. Buying fancy exercise equipment is fine but it does not actually work by itself. You have to pedal.

Tactics can change as new information is gathered. The cost of failure for starting with the wrong tactic has never been cheaper. What is essential is learning to decide. We have to decide to push through the dip—the hard part—where most people quit.

We also need to decide how were going to make things better. And there is no way to make things better without first doing something different.

Many of us have been suckered into seeing only what the world has given us. We are fixed. Worst, we are stuck.

The world is full possibilities. They are endless. We just need to stop living a status below our potential.