If you see your glass as half empty, pour it into a smaller glass and stop bitching.
In the past three years alone:
- my accountant passed away from pancreatic cancer
- my photographer passed away from too many cancers to count
- three close neighbors died from heart-related surgical complications
- my dad had a catastrophic heart attack and died instantly
- my in-laws passed away within 24 hours of each other from dementia
- my 95 year-old grandmother passed away in her sleep
- a client passed away from a neuro disease
- several former colleagues passed away
- we experienced a flood that caused extensive, expensive damage
- three computers have fried or melted their hard drives
- my doctor threatened me with a statin
Time for a new glass
Appreciation time. My neighbors, Roger and Diane, were lovely people. They had lived in China, Turkey, Finland, and Nigeria. They survived coups, Russian wire-tapping, amputations, and the death of a child.
They hung out on their porch, invited neighbors for a glass of wine, and eventually started a weekly Friday-after-work bring your own wine and tapas tradition. They worked hard to appreciate what they had, their neighbors, and their family.
While my recent three years have been spent on appreciation exercises and expeditions to visit people who have been important in my life, your appreciation time can be with customers, potential customers, past colleagues, or influencers.
I had a colleague once tell me that our most difficult customers made us better. He was right. Appreciate the customers who make you better. The bosses that made you work hard. The colleagues who were difficult.
Be funny. Be memorable. Ed, a client who recently passed away, once told me that I was really funny. He thought his organization needed that humor because he thought that humor would be memorable. We remember humor:
Where’s the beef?
We’re gonna need a bigger boat!
Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into the Olympic Games.
Injecting a bit of humor if your brand can tolerate it (if Queen Elizabeth can be funny, probably everyone can be) is a great way to become memorable.
Do your best, even when you think no one is looking. Actually, Stu Schmill, Varsity Lightweight Men’s Coach used to shout, “Do not allow yourself the luxury of pain.” The first time I heard that I was sitting in the stroke seat of the Women’s Varsity 8 for the very first time. It was a cold, rainy, grey (did I mention wet) morning — I was trying out for the stroke seat, completely nervous (wet and cold) and afraid of failing. Melissa Norcross, the coxswain of our boat, dutifully repeated the chant: “Do not allow yourself the luxury of pain.” Years and years later, at a master’s rowing event, “Coach” who had also been witness to that same practice, retold the story of that morning to his companion, saying “It was the best practice racing I ever saw. Lynore never gave up, she just coming back, pulling even, pulling ahead, and coming back.”
Do not give up. Sometimes we all need help with this. Is it time to out-source a difficult task? Or one that’s not getting done?
– I hired a personal trainer so I could not “allow myself to feel the luxury of pain”
– I found and deployed a new computer back-up system
– I asked everyone I knew for an IT support person referral
– I asked everyone I knew for an accountant referral
– We have a new and improved first floor after renovations
Work hard. In rowing we do what’s called a Power 10. 10 hard strokes. It helps pull focus into the boat; it gets everyone in sync; it gets the swing back to keep working hard.
– I eliminated the bad foods from the house
– I stock and prep good foods to make it easier to eat right
– I enabled the Fitbit feature that tells me to go to bed
– I enlisted my son to help me stay the course
What can you do for yourself or your team that would be your metaphoric Power 10?
It rains on everyone. Today, our ski area has had only 8 inches of natural snow. All of the Colorado and New Mexico ski areas have had paltry snow this year. If the ski areas give up, they go out of business. They are playing to their strengths (bike & ski with the same lift ticket!) — as should the rest of us.
Complaining about the snow is not going to improve the snow, help my skiing, or improve my mood. I am personally using this ski season as my time to get stronger, get better at telemarking, and improve my turns.
Play to your strength or shore up a weakness. Pick one. Right size your glass.