Part 1: How can I be better?

by Sam on July 12, 2011

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

This message could be re-titled, “Finding a more excellent manner of traveling.” There’s nothing fancy here—simply some valuable tips, which I hopefully practice myself, for discovering a wider path to personal success.

First, you’ll be affirmed to find prescriptions that you already embrace. Congratulations on those! Second, you’ll be challenged by some that don’t resemble your behavior as completely as they could. I hope you’ll be encouraged to add at least one of these to your behavioral repertoire.

Two dozen of these nuggets are arrayed across three consecutive weekly emails, with this being the first installment.

1. Be 20 minutes early. When you beat the crowd, you can connect meaningfully with people before the appointed time. There’s time for last-minute prep. You get kudos for punctuality. And when construction traffic delays your arrival, you can still be on time.

2. Remain in your lane to the merge point. Have you ever noticed drivers who when encountering a reduction in driving lanes panic to move out of the lane that will be closed as much as a mile ahead even when traffic engineers have erected signs advising them not to do that? Why do they skirt over so quickly? Out of fear that no one will let them beg in at the last minute. Take this same aversion to risk into the rest of your existence and you’ll lose time in the traffic of life.

3. Be reliable, yet unpredictable. There is little that your colleagues prize more than to know that you will deliver, speak the truth, and be there for them. At the same time, they want you to look at each situation fresh and respond to it out of its uniqueness rather than out of your rhythms. Unpredictable people are fun, creative, and tough to pigeonhole.

4. Expect what you’ll inspect. When people let you down, the bottom line is that they’re not fulfilling your expectations. If you could get into their brains at the time of their disappointing behavior you’d discover one of two conditions. Either they don’t respect your expectations or far, far more likely they don’t understand them as well as you assumed. An expectation that has not been clarified, verified, and, yes, written down will be met only by chance.

5. Speak like a winner. Replace “no problem” with “my pleasure”; “I’ll try” with “I will”; “I blew it” with “I just learned how not to…”

6. Carpe diem. Honor and learn from the past. Plan for and hope for a good future. But live in the present. Don’t be so mired in yesterday or so excited about tomorrow that you miss out on the opportunities and the joys of today.

7. Admit to 51%. Whether a disagreement you’re enmeshed in, a failed relationship you’ve experienced, or a goal you’ve undershot, readily admit to your share of the responsibility. Assume it’s more than half—perhaps even 100%!—and learn from it. “I know I’m right” is not in the vocabulary of winners.

8. Appoint an Advisory Board. Locate four or five people from different spaces in your life to help you develop a realistic assessment of your talents and ambitions so that you can make smart choices for personal and professional development. Invite board members who can advise you how to take full advantage of your unique strengths and leverage them for the greatest good of your career.


The Leader You Ought to Be. A new class is forming for the second Sam Deep Leadership Academy at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Hotel. It begins with a two-day session on September 29 & 30 followed by five one-day classes in November, January, March, May, and June. If you want to prepare yourself more fully for higher levels of management responsibility, call Sam at (412) 487-2379.


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