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19 Things Remarkable People Think Every Day
Each is a small thing, but each also has the power to change your life... and the lives of the people around you.
By Jeff Haden
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from
for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
Contributing Editor, Inc.
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19 Things Remarkable People Think Every Day
Accomplishments are based on actions, not on thoughts--yet the thought is always father to the deed. Achievement starts with an idea, a perspective, a point of view, or even just an attitude. Here are some of the things remarkable people think every day, and how those thoughts spur them to take the actions that lead to success.
"There's a lot more going on here..."
It's easy to view the actions of others solely through the lens of how that behavior impacts us, especially if those actions impact us negatively. Still, most employees don't try to do a bad job. Most customers aren't intentionally difficult. Most investors aren’t focused solely on cashing out. Most people aren't out to get you. Fail to look deeper and you miss an opportunity to make a bad situation better -- for everyone.
"That wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined."
The most paralyzing fear is fear of the unknown. (At least it is for me.) Yet nothing ever turns out to be as hard or as scary as you think. Plus it's incredibly exciting to overcome a fear. You get that, "I can't believe I just did that!" rush, a thrill you may not have experienced for a long time. Try something scary: physically, mentally, or emotionally. Trust yourself to figure out how to overcome any problems that arise. You will.
"No one else would do that... so I will."
Often the easiest way to be different is to do what others are unwilling to do. Pick one thing other people won’t do. It can be simple. It can be small. Doesn’t mater. Whatever it is, do it. Instantly you'll be a little different from the rest of the pack. Then keep going. Every day, think of one thing to do that no one else is willing to do. After a week you'll be uncommon. After a month you'll be special. After a year you'll be incredible, and you definitely won’t be like anyone else.
I can't do everything today... but I can take one small step."
You have plans. You have goals. You have ideas. Who cares? You have nothing until you actually do something. Every day we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Just take one small step. The first step is by far the hardest. Every successive step will be a lot easier.
IMAGE: flickr: will_cyclist
"I need to just shut up."
I used to talk a lot. I thought I was insightful and clever and witty and just plain thought I was a hoot. Occasionally, very occasionally, I might even have been. Most of the time I was not. Truly confident people don't feel the need to talk -- at all. I hate when it happens, but I still sometimes realize I'm talking not because the other person is interested in what I have to say but because I'm interested in what I have to say. Never speak just to please yourself; when you do you end up pleasing no one.
"I need their help."
Everyone needs help. Admitting we need isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of self-confidence and strength. And it’s a great behavior to model. Besides, asking another person for help instantly recognizes their skills and values and conveys your respect and admiration. And while that’s reason enough to ask someone for advice, for an opinion, or for a helping hand, you also get the help you really need.
Of course the opposite is true, even though if you’re in a leadership position--or in a position to impact someone else’s career--other people may definitely see asking for help as a sign of weakness. And they’ll definitely hesitate to ask. So offer. But don’t just say, "Is there anything I can help you with?" Be specific. Say, "I've got a few minutes, can I help you finish (that)?" Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Then you make a real difference in another person's life, and take a big step towards creating a genuine connection them.
"It doesn't matter what other people might say."
Most of the time we should worry about what other people think -- but not if it stands in the way of living the lives we really want to live. If you really want to start a business but worry that people might say you're crazy, do it anyway. Pick one thing you haven't tried because you're concerned about what other people think or say, and just go do it. It’s your life. Live it your way.
"That's not my responsibility...
but I don't care
Job descriptions are helpful--until they get in the way of getting things done. No matter what our role or what we’ve accomplished, we’re never too good to roll up our sleeves, get dirty, and do a little grunt work. No job is ever too menial, no task too unskilled or boring. In a world of relentless delegation, sometimes, "If it is to be, it's up to me," is still the best attitude to take.
"I'll show you."
I'm ashamed to admit it, but one of the best ways to motivate me is to insult me... or for me to manufacture a way to feel insulted, regardless of whether I'm actually justified in feeling that way or not. Justified is not the point; fueling my motivation to do whatever it takes to prove that person wrong and, more importantly, achieve what I want to achieve is all that matters. Call it artificial competition or manufactured anger; call it childish and immature; call it creating perceived insults… but it works for me. (Hey, it worked for Michael Jordan.) And it can work for you.
"It's not perfect... and that's okay."
Yes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Yes, perfection is the only acceptable outcome. Unfortunately no product or service is ever perfect, and no project or initiative is perfectly planned. Work hard, do great work, and let it go. Your customers will tell you what needs to be improved, and that means you'll get to make improvements that actually matter. You can't accomplish anything until you let go. Do your best, let go – and then trust that you’ll work hard to overcome any shortcomings.
"I think I'll try it their way."
We should set our own courses and follow our own paths...most of the time. But sometimes the best move is to eliminate all the trial and error, eliminate all the angst, and simply adopt what made someone else successful. Try it. Pick someone who has accomplished what you would like to accomplish and follow that path. Confident people are able to recognize excellence in others, because it does take self-confidence to admit someone else is smarter, better, faster, etc. than we are. Don't feel the need to reinvent perfectly good wheels.
"I'll step up."
Whenever you raise your hand, you wind up being asked to do more. Bummer, right? Actually, no: doing more creates an opportunity to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships, to do something that you would otherwise never have been able to do. Success is based on action, so the more you volunteer, the more you get to act, and the more opportunities you create. Raise your hand. Step forward. Step up. You'll be glad you did.
"They're no different from me."
Most successful people don't succeed simply because they're smarter, more talented, or genetically gifted. Usually the one thing that makes them different from us is the fact they have done what we haven't done yet. Under the Armani and Wharton School and name-drops is a guy or gal just as nervous and insecure as you. Symbols of success are often just a mask. The playing field is always more level than it seems.
IMAGE: flickr: kinnigurl
"I could have done better."
We've all screwed up. We all have things we could have done better. Words. Actions. Omissions. Failing to step up, step in, or be supportive. Successful people don’t expect to be perfect, but they do think they can always be better. Think about your day. Think about what went well. Then think about what didn’t go as well as it could have. Take ownership. Take the blame. Take responsibility. And promise yourself that tomorrow, you will do a lot better.
"I shouldn't... but I'll still say yes."
You're busy. Your plate is full. There are plenty of reasons to sit tight, stay safe, and keep things as they are. But sitting tight also means that tomorrow will be just like today. Say yes to something different. Say yes to something scary. Say yes to the opportunity you're most afraid of. When you say yes, you're really saying, "I trust myself." Trust yourself.
"I could... but I'll still say no."
Still, you can't do everything. You can't help everyone. You may want to, but you can't. Sometimes you just need to say no: to a favor, to a request, to a family member. Sometimes you really need to be able to focus on what is important to you. Say no at least once every day, the harder it is to say the better. And don't worry that you will seem selfish. When your heart is in the right place, what you accomplish by spending more time on your goals will eventually benefit other people, too.
"It's not about me.'"
We're all servants (in a good way) and our customers, peers, bosses, and direct reports all have needs. Meeting their needs -- on their terms -- is more important than somehow "staying true" to ourselves. Maintaining your integrity is vital, but there's a big difference between staying true to yourself and "just being me." Recognize the things you do or say with the sole purpose of showing you’re an individual – and then vow to do those things on your own time (if at all.) What you “are” is defined by what you do. Stand out through what you do for others.
"If nothing else, I will succeed on effort alone."
Jimmy Spithill, skipper of America's Cup-winning Team Oracle USA, says, "Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy." "If nothing else, I'll win on sheer effort." You may not be as experienced, as well funded, as well connected, as talented... but you can always out think, out hustle, and out work everyone else. When everything else seems against you, effort and persistence can always be your competitive advantages -- and maybe the only ones you truly need.
Last updated: Dec 23, 2013
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