Weekly Wisdom

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Assumptions

There are four professions everyone thinks they can do – everyone is a Psychologist, interpreting the reasons why people do things. Everyone thinks they’re a Designer – tweaking logos, websites, and brochures based on nothing other than their own taste. Everyone is a marketing professional, setting a marketing plan on social media, sending newsletters and creating meaningless blogs. And everyone thinks they’re a Coach – they wake up one morning and say, “Hey, I can do that! I can tell people how to live their lives or run their businesses.

Well guess what! Those four professions require credentials and ability. When you’re a pop-psychologist or a self-proclaimed marketing person or coach, you make assumptions. Ninety nine times out of 100, your assumptions are totally wrong. You never really have an idea about why someone does or says something. Here’s an example.

I was reading a nonfiction book for my book club. I really didn’t want to read it, being a fan of fiction and storytelling. I took the book to bed one evening to give it a try, thinking it would be boring and it would put me to sleep. Well low and behold, it grabbed my attention and I wound up reading until 2:30 am. I had a client at 8:00 am the next morning, which meant I’d be getting up in just four hours. I thought, “I’ll just close my eyes for 5 minutes, get up and set the alarm, and get some sleep.”

The next thing I knew it was after 9:00 am! I totally missed my client meeting. I picked up the phone and retrieved her 6 messages. The first said, “I hope you’re OK.” The second said, “I worried.” The third said, “Did you forget about me?” The fourth said, “This is so unprofessional that you didn’t even call me. ” And so on.

When I called her she went through the other 20 or so assumptions she had about why I didn’t meet her at 8:00 am. They were progressively angrier and angrier. Even if she had made 99 assumptions, she couldn’t have known the real reason – I fell asleep and didn’t set the alarm – I overslept!

Assumptions are worthless and crazy. So much of the time we talk about what motivates people. And 99 out of 100 times, we’re totally wrong.

Stop making up reasons for other people.

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What You Think and What You Say

So many of think we know ourselves so well that we’re sure we know how the business world marketplace and workplace perceive us. We have logical thoughts and plans and ideas, and we think that we’re presenting them so that others know them and know us. Then we go out there and talk about what we think. We explain, we profess, and we give our outlooks, opinions and thoughts. We’re sure as we leave the building that everyone got us. That we know what they’re thinking. That they heard us and understood us and have a very specific perception of us.

Well guess what. It’s never about what we think and what we say. It’s about what we DO. Our behaviors. For example, a woman who owns a restaurant says she cares about world hunger. She takes canned and boxed goods over to the food pantry every week. But when she rented a house while on vacation, the rental agency suggested that if she had food left over after her week-long stay she could donate it by packing it up and bringing to a shelter. The address was provided as well as directions. Since she wanted to get the most out of her vacation, she felt it would take too much time to pack all the leftovers up. She threw the food out. She thinks she’s about giving back. She talks about giving back. But her behavior is about something else.

I also knew a woman who had amazing credentials. She was a quintessential leader. She ran successful projects. She makes tons of money. And one day, after a meeting I heard someone say, “Which one was Sally?” Two women turned around and said, “She was the one who kept pushing the hair out of her eye.” She had huge ideas. She said amazing things during the meeting. But it was a behavior that was remembered.

You have the power to create your own perception so be sure that what you DO matches what you think and say.

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Let it Go

Do I need to copyright that title? Everyone and his brother are humming it, covering it, and talking about it. It’s the song from the animated movie Frozen.

For an entire week, we follow our plans, stick to our calendars, and show up when and where we’re supposed to. If it’s all working, we have an expectation about how stressful it might be. We can expect things to take a reasonable amount of time. We expect that they’ll happen as planned.

And then we might have an unexpected call. Or an upsetting email. Or news about someone we care about that’s worrisome. And our tight and logical schedules seem almost impossible. The stress mounts. We lose sleep. We’re trying to solve, fix, change and neutralize.

My wise son had the answer. If you can do something about it, do it. If you can’t, let it go. Don’t get stressed or sick or worse. Take a deep breath and let it go.

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Guts and Minds

There’s a delicate balance between following your gut and following your well thought-out strategy. There are so many times we have an intuition about something, but we go with our strategized plan because it makes good business sense. When we look back after the decision pans out we might say, “I should have followed my original instinct.”

How do you know when you should follow your gut or your intelligence? The truth is that BOTH are forms of intelligence. For example, when you’re hiring someone or negotiating with a vendor, you may have a momentary hesitation. Then the process begins and during the interview or the meeting, all the facts stack up really well. So we make the job offer or we hire the vendor. Then months down the road we remember that original hesitation – why, because it shows up again. And you realize that all the things that have transpired all go back to that moment in time your gut said, “uh oh.” One is Emotional Intelligence (our gut or our heart) and the other is Thought Leadership (our mind and our logic). You need to listen to both. You had that hesitation for a reason. Guess What! That reason is still there. It doesn’t disappear. Even if everything else is A+, that little voice told you that something was amiss. It might be true that the thing that made you pause can be fixed. Or perhaps it can be remedied or overlooked.

The question is, do you want to spend the time and is it worth it?

The best thing we can do in business or in the workplace, is to listen to BOTH – our gut and our mind. United they will serve us well.

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Main Street and the World

If you drive down Main Street in any town, every few feet there’s a sign for a business. Nails and Spa, Hunan Place, Vitamin Experience, Best Bagels, Debbie’s Dance Studio. Every single one of those signs represents the pursuit of a dream. Someone said, “I can do that.” Think bigger! How about Walgreen’s and Best Buy? How did they start? As one small store? That became two? And then four and then more? They also started with someone saying, “I can do that.”

But if they’re succeeding, and if they’ve been there for years, and if they’re growing, I assure you it isn’t just because they had a wish and a dream. They also had a plan. They had to have a plan for funding, from a bank or a family member or a partner. They had to have a plan for pricing and following the market. They had to have a plan for a location and their financials and the way they’d promote themselves.

I’ve seen so many businesses open in one location that it’s like a revolving door. What did they do wrong? How did they let people know they were there? How did they decide on the demographic that wanted their products or services? Did they guess or did they plan.

There’s a quote rumbling around the business world: Success is not a wish. $ucce$$ is a plan.

They next time you ride down Main Street, or travel the world, look around and see the empty stores that have “For Rent” signs. They’re the businesses that may not have had a plan. And the others? The ones that thrive? Stop in and ask them how they did it. They’d probably be proud to tell you.