In Order to Be Successful, You Will Need to Find Joy in Cleaning Up Your Own Mess

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I came across this article on LinkedIn this week and while not profound I certainly could relate given my recent move to Nashville. If you have been following us for the last 20 months you are aware how awful our time in St. Louis (on every level just about) had been.

I found it impossible to not let all the bad things influence my attitude, life choices and overall outlook on life.  It was a pretty quick downward spiral that I stayed in for most of the time I was there (just ask my wife.)  It wasn’t until early June when I finally realized our time in St. Louis was coming to an official end that I once again found joy.

Our journey in life, love and career truly is never a straight line nor does it typically continue in an upward trajectory.  Instead it is filled with moments of heartbreak, disappoint, joy, success and everything in between.  It is how we handle the good and the bad that will determine our outlook on life (yes you can handle the good stuff poorly.)

Okay  I will get off my soap box and let Bruce Kasanoff take over. Hope you enjoy!

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One morning last week, I made myself a bowl of oatmeal, poured an iced tea, and headed towards my home office. But I was already preoccupied with work and not really paying attention. My toe caught the edge of the second step. Wham! Oatmeal and tea splattered everywhere.

At 7:58:01 I was excited about a great new idea. At 7:58:31 I was mopping up a mess.

This is a trivial example, but it’s also the way life is. Fresh out of business school, I took a job with Citibank and headed to Europe to travel for a month before joining the workforce. While I was away, the division that hired me shut down, and I lost my job before it started.

Fortunately, things also work in unexpectedly positive ways. I found the best job of my career by answering an ad that Seth Godin placed in the New York Times. His ad said, “Before you come to our open house, read The One to One Future by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers.”

I bought the book on the way to Seth’s event, intending to skim it in his parking lot, but ended up reading almost the whole book in my car. Weeks later, I was working for Don and Martha’s company.

You walk through one door and a bucket of water falls on your head. You walk through another and someone doubles your salary. (Of course, most times when you walk through a door, you simply enter another room.)

Since people don’t like uncertainty, many of us delude ourselves that we know what’s on the other side of each door through which we pass.

This, of course, is wrong.

Once you understand this, you end up with only two logical strategies:

1. When you fail, act as though success is following close behind: Don’t give up or give into self-pity. Don’t accept that your fate is bleak or hopeless. Just dig in and work your way back towards the light.

In real life, many people get worn down by adversity. They start to believe that their fate is to do badly. Your fate is what you believe it to be, so never accept this conclusion.

2. When you succeed, act as though failure is following close behind: If and when you get to the top of the mountain, do not scream, “I’m king (or queen) of the mountain!” Be as nice to people as when you were working your way up from the bottom. Be cautious with your newly-earned gains. Recognize that this, too, shall pass.

In real life, people love to believe that they are 100% responsible for their success. Not true.

The people around you are largely responsible for your success; never, ever forget that.

My favorite saying, which comes in many slightly different forms, is this: Gain your pleasure from the journey itself, not from some distant destination.

Don’t let your happiness depend on a perfect outcome to your day, year, or decade.

In other words, when you spill your oatmeal, have fun cleaning it up.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Devotional Tuesday – Blindfolded

“The devil prowls around like a hungry lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8

Peter is talking to a group of people going through an emotionally turbulent time, and he does not want them blindfolded in the midst of their suffering.

In fact, any negative emotional state we don’t cast on God leads to anxiety, sadness, suffering, disappointment, loneliness, lust, shame, pride, longing, hopelessness — all must be expressed to God instead of suppressed and made available to Satan. We pray certain psalms for this very reason. They express emotions to God, and as we express them to Him, our feelings begin to change.  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me,” David reflects, “he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant: their faces are never covered with shame”. (Psalm 34:4-5)

A Christian is never told to cover up a real emotion.  That plays right into Satan’s hands.  On the contrary, we’re supposed to live in truth and reality and to experience emotions the way God created us to.  Paul told the Corinthians to mourn and weep with those who are weeping.  In a world filled with trials and suffering, we must have a place to bring our struggles and inner conflicts. God’s man casts his emotions on a caring God; he does not conceal them.  To hide what’s really going on inside is ungodly and gives increasing control to Satan. Take your blindfold off. Open your eyes and see a caring, loving, and un-condemning God that encourages and comforts you through His Holy Spirit who is right there inside of you.

Father, emotion is real, help me not to forget that. You gave me emotion to honor and glorify You and to complete me.

 

Tell us if you agree or not!

Fashion Friday! Dress to Impress

Happy Friday everyone!

I am not working today and instead am enjoying the day off with my favorite lady.  I hope you have all had an amazing week!  Below’s fashion advice comes courtesy of The Art of Manliness.  The blog is a little long but it has some solid fashion and career advice.  There were even a few nuggets in there that made me realize I need to step my game up.  Hope you enjoy!

Are you intentionally making mistakes at work to make yourself look incompetent?  Are you purposely sabotaging your presentations?

Are you setting yourself up for failure as an instructor? Hopefully, the answer is no.

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Yet the vast majority of men I see who want to be influential fail to master the three tips I’ll share today. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Men spend a lot of time, money, and effort learning to be more persuasive speakers and negotiators. And for good reason — mastering these skills can reap huge returns when it comes to business and personal success.

But what if there were something you could do that would dramatically increase your persuasiveness without any extra effort or training on your part?

Would you take advantage of it?

If the answer is yes, it’s time to start thinking more about your personal appearance and how it relates to the art of persuasion and influence.

Attractiveness and Persuasion

We like to think that persuasion is a matter of good arguments and compelling rhetoric — in part because we don’t want to believe that we can be swayed by anything less.

The research says otherwise.

There have been a number of studies in the last fifty years that demonstrate people’s tendency to be more persuaded by attractive speakers than by unattractive ones.

In 1979, Shelly Chaiken published a paper on her study of instructors in academic settings. She found that instructors rated as “attractive” by their students could generate significantly higher levels of agreement from their audience than ones rated as “unattractive.” Even more impressively, the study also demonstrated that students actually performed better when they had an instructor they found attractive.

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 Why Attractiveness Affects Influence

It’s a little disheartening to think that just being handsome can make people under your leadership perform better, or make audiences more likely to agree with your point of view.

Worth bearing in mind is that it’s not a one-way street. Attractive individuals tend, on the whole, to have an easier time in social situations than unattractive ones. That, in turn, encourages them to be more outgoing and social, which gives them more practice with their interactive skills.

But with that said, there’s also an effect on the viewer’s brain when a person is particularly attractive. Our brains are big into shortcuts. Give them a chance and they’ll save mental energy by categorizing people into simple, all-or-nothing terms like “good” and “bad,” or in this case, “attractive” and “unattractive.”

That gives us a tendency to take a broad, generalized assumption about a person, such as “he looks good,” and then ascribe that quality to specific judgments as well, such as “he’s probably a good teacher,” or “he must be a good father.”

This is called the “halo effect.” It was first studied in the 1920s by a researcher named Edward Thorndike, who had noticed that in military evaluations, officers who were ranked highly in some qualities were ranked highly in other, unrelated categories as well. Similarly, officers with low rankings in some categories usually had low rankings in others.

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What does a squared-away uniform say about a Marine?

Objectively, the results didn’t make sense. Unrelated qualities like physical fitness and mental attentiveness should, in theory, be randomly distributed. You might get one or two high performers very good at everything they do, and one or two washouts who aren’t good at anything, but in general people should be good at some things and not at others.

What Thorndike found, however, was that one strong positive impression — an officer’s physique, say, or his attention to neatness and punctuality — was enough to generate an overall “good feeling” that spilled over into the rest of the evaluation. Once the person filling out the evaluation noticed something good about an individual, he assumed that they were good at other things too. The result was true for negative impressions as well.

Studies have shown, with remarkable consistency, that the halo effect is real and has a statistically significant effect on people’s success, in everything ranging from education to politics to courtroom defenses (one study showed that attractive people received much more lenient sentences than unattractive ones, even when convicted of the exact same crime).

This effect comes into play when you’re trying to persuade, in any setting or situation. The more positive people’s first visual impression of you is, the more positive traits they’ll associate with everything you say. A 1975 study found that clothing had more impact on first impressions in social settings than the person wearing the clothing — powerful stuff when you’re getting up in front of an audience!

How to Dress to Persuade

It should be obvious, then, that anyone who needs to persuade — for a job, a cause, or anything else — wants to look as “good” as possible.

But what is “good,” in personal appearance?

1. Be Free of Imperfections

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Can you spot the imperfections that different clothing exaggerates or masks on the same man?

To persuade, be meticulous.

Be meticulous about your hair, be meticulous about your shoes, be meticulous about your clothes. Everything counts.

Your goal when you prepare for a persuasive speech or sales pitch is to eliminate imperfections.

A tuft of hair out of place or a scuff on your shoes may not seem like much, and realistically, most people won’t consciously notice something minor like that, but their subconscious mind is still picking up the visual signal of asymmetry, and that tells the back of their brain that something isn’t quite right. The result is a vague, indefinable and off-putting sensation that the viewer won’t even be aware of — but that will be coloring his or her judgment of you.

Our brains evolved to use basic bilateral symmetry as a sign of good health and development, so they easily pick up on anything that deviates from that pattern. Always strive for a symmetrical look — or, when you break it, for a firm and deliberate asymmetry. A bright splash of color on one breast from a pocket square is fine; a faint stain on one lapel is not.

Remember that humans can generally only pay attention to one thing at a time. Our brains and our eyes are good at focusing, but bad at interpreting multiple stimuli at once. If you give people something out of place to focus on, they’re going to zero in on it. Thinking about how your tie doesn’t go well with your pants takes up the brain space they should be using to consider your message.

When you think about it, even things that we recognize as major gaffes aren’t much more than small details done wrong. Showing up at a presentation with your fly unzipped is, in practical terms, a flaw in maybe 1-2% of your total appearance. The rest of your outfit looks just fine! But we all know how big of a difference that one little zipper out of place is — it’s a deal breaker, guaranteed.

Things that logically have nothing to do with your intelligence or with the value of the message can still leave people thinking that you’re unconvincing. So take the time you need to get everything just right.

Aim for perfection. Go for the extra slow shave, the just-right-for-you hair product, the shoeshine in the airport. They end up mattering.

2. Be Well-FittedTailor-measuring-tall-man-clothing-400

The neat, crisp outline of well-fitted clothing serves the same purpose as painstaking attention to detail — it removes subtle asymmetries from your overall image.

You’re never going to look as attractive as you can if you have loose folds of cloth sagging off your body. A too-tight fit is just as bad, since it wrinkles and bunches when you move, so aim for a fit that’s close to the skin, but not restrictive. Click here for a refresher on how a suit should fit.

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Pay attention to your proportions here as well, especially if you’re outside the average build for a man. It’s easy for details like the pockets on shirts and jackets or the length of cuffs to get pulled far enough away from “normal” that the look is off-putting if you’re unusually large or small.

Part of this is avoiding off-putting imperfections. Another part is evolutionary — human brains like straight-limbed, well-proportioned bodies. They look like strong leaders and capable providers. When you look like that, you become the sort of person that other humans instinctively want to have in their group. The urge to fit in with you — and to agree with you — gets stronger.

Having clothing adjusted to flatter your body as much as possible encourages that eagerness to agree with you. If your posture and your outline has already convinced the audience that you’d be a good guy to keep around, you’re halfway to convincing them of anything else as well.

A little tailoring goes a long way. Plan on having the majority of your clothes adjusted by a tailorwho knows you well. The differences are subtle, but the cumulative effect is impressive.

3. Be Dressed Up, Not Dressed Down

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Finding the exact level of formality can be tricky, especially if you’re speaking in a casual or non-traditional setting.

More than one politician has gotten himself in trouble by showing up at a soup kitchen or a disaster shelter wearing a tailored suit and an expensive silk tie.

In general, when attempting to persuade, you want to err on the side of looking like you dressedup for the occasion, not dressed down. Lean toward the more formal end of what your audience will be wearing (but not too much beyond that).

There’s a very simple reason for this: you’re trying to influence, and therefore your clothes should be the clothes of an influential man. The halo effect will kick in for you once again, making people much more receptive to your words and ideas.

For most of the Western world, that usually means a suit or blazer-style jacket. The V-shaped chest opening and squared shoulders speak to our subconscious minds of power and influence— and as an added bonus, they flatter the male physiology too, making you look more dominant.

Don’t be afraid to look a little more dressed up than the people around you. That’s your way of showing them respect. Subconsciously, they’ll assume that your ideas are important too.

There’s a practical element here as well: it’s much easier to correct being “overdressed” than under-dressed. If you show up somewhere in a tie and jacket and you realize that absolutely no one else there is wearing anything nicer than a casual collared shirt, it’s not that hard to slip off your jacket and tie, roll up your sleeves, and fit right in.

If you show up in blue jeans and a work shirt and find everyone else wearing suits, that’s a lot harder to correct for. So err on the side of dressing up more than everyone else, and shed accents or layers as needed to bring it back down if you really feel out of place.

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Be Attractive. Be Persuasive.

If it sounds irrational to you that something so unrelated to your other merits can have such a powerful effect, don’t worry — you’re not alone.

The halo effect is just one of many seemingly irrational ways that the human brain processes external stimuli. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Most people, if they really think about it, can recognize at least a few times when they’ve let a public figure’s appearance or charm affect their perception of other, unrelated issues.

It’s why Hollywood celebrities so often get away with extreme behaviors that would be off-putting in others — we already have a perception of them as larger-than-life characters (since that’s how we see them in their on-screen roles), so it seems “okay” for them to behave that way on the streets of Los Angeles as well.

So yes, it can be hard to believe that something as simple as wearing nice clothing can actively improve your powers of persuasion. But have a little faith in the science and in your own understanding of human nature.

It’s not a magic charm. Just having a good suit isn’t going to make people agree with everything you say. For one thing, there are a lot of other guys out there in good suits already, so you have lots of competition for people’s attention!

But you can create a positive first impression by being neat, by having the attractive outline that well-fitted clothing brings, and by looking just a little more dressed-up than the men around you. That edge might just be enough to tip the scales in your favor and get you the job, the sale, the votes — whatever it is you need from other people.

There are limits to the effect, certainly. Even a very well-dressed man isn’t going to be listened to if he’s shouting about the aliens in his head. But a well-dressed man speaking calmly about reasonable-sounding ideas is much more likely to be believed than the same man giving the same speech in a sloppy outfit.

Avoid Shortcuts In Order to Achieve Success!

7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life

“It shouldn’t be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something’s difficult to come by, you’ll do that much more to make sure it’s even harder – or impossible – to lose.”
Sarah Dessen

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48

Today’s post comes to us from our friends at Marc and Angel Hack Life.  Reading this earlier this morning it provided some much need inspiration for me so I thought I would share on today’s blog.  I have added a few inspiration quotes (and of course some YouTube clips to keep it exciting, but otherwise this is pretty much unedited.  Hope you enjoy!

There is no shortcut to anywhere worth going. There is no substitute for doing the work. Meditate on this every day: “I will do the work.” As Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% effort.” You must run to be a runner. You must write to be a writer. You must actively attend to your relationships if you want them to flourish.

By all means, find ways to be more efficient. But make no mistake that it takes diligent effort to build something worthwhile. There are certainly some success stories out there about people who excelled rather quickly, but you will usually find they had put in years of related work long before anyone was paying attention to their seemingly rapid success. In other words, their current state of achievement is simply all those years of work coming together flawlessly in the present.

The most effective way to handle what must be done is to do it. Put in the required labor. Don’t sell yourself short by taking shortcuts like these:

1. Taking the easiest route possible.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Becausenarrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

“Two roads diverged in a woods – and I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference” Robert Frost

Someday you will look back on your life and realize that everything worthwhile you’ve ever accomplished initially challenged you. And that is as it should be, because big challenges often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary success.

Every struggle arises for a reason – for experience or a lesson. A great journey is never easy, and no dose of adversity along the way is ever a waste of time if you learn and grow from it.

Remember, an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards, and such is life. When life is pulling you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to eventually launch you forward in a positive direction. So keep focusing, and keep aiming!

2. Settling for the way things are by default.

The decision to settle for mediocrity is a real killer. If you settle for just anything, you’ll never know what you’re truly worthy of. There is ample time for you to be who you want to be. Despite the struggles that you might be facing, never give up on yourself. Don’t just take the easy way out and settle for less than what you know you are capable of.

Realize that it’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken either. Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something new. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly. Sometimes growing stronger means growing apart from old habits, relationships, and situations, and finding something different that truly moves you – something that gets you so excited you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. That’s what LIVING is all about. Don’t settle.

3. Leaving everything to chance.

It’s not what you do every once in a while, but what you dedicate yourself to on a daily basis that makes a difference in the end. Having a plan, even a flawed one at first, is better than no plan at all.

Don’t trap yourself, endlessly, in a state where you are unable to ask for directions, even though you’re terribly lost, simply because you don’t know your destination. Figure out what you want. When you get real about the true feelings you crave, you end up surprising yourself with an abundance of new opportunities and possibilities.

Bottom line: One day your life will flash before your eyes. Do your best every day to make sure it’s worth watching. Work towards something that brings meaning to your moments.

4. Following the crowd.

Allen Ginsberg once said, “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” In other words, in this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to be your incredible self.

Never let what other people expect from you dictate what you expect from yourself. Clarity about your true desires is so liberating because you get to stop proving yourself to everyone, including yourself.

We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own way, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life. So stop being ashamed of how you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion that comes to you, and to follow a path that makes you happy. Don’t compare yourself to others, or get discouraged by the success of others. Follow your intuition, never give up on yourself, and stop expecting others to understand your journey, especially if they have not walked your same path.

5. Putting things off.

Be frank with yourself. The things you say you will deal with later rarely get done. It’s time to get up and make an immediate difference in your life. You know all those things you’ve been meaning to get done for the past month, year, etc.? Pick one right now and start doing it. Get your hands dirty, challenge your mind, and get sweaty if you have to. Break out of your comforting lull and get involved. If you feel crummy, it’ll make you feel better. If you already feel good, it will make you feel great.

Ultimately, you will not be judged by what you say; you will be judged by what you do. Wake up each morning determined, so you can go to bed satisfied. Have the courage and discipline today to do what is needed instead of simply what is convenient. Or as Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

6. Ignoring people instead of forgiving them.

Forgetting people who hurt you is your gift to them; forgiving people who hurt you is your gift to yourself. Always forgive others, not because they necessarily deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace of mind. We are all one, so when we forgive others we forgive ourselves, which is the first step in the healing process. Without forgiveness, the potential for true happiness in your life is limited.

In addition, we often tell ourselves that we’re better off without some people in our lives, and while this can be true, you should also build forgiveness into your character. Keep in mind that some relationships will temporarily split, only to come back together twice as strong as before. Forgiveness alone makes this possible.

7. Cutting too many corners with your important relationships.

It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what hurts even more is to love someone and never find the time to let them know how you feel. There is no greater sadness than holding on to the loving words and deeds you never delivered to those you love.

The people you take for granted today may turn out to be the only ones you need tomorrow. So make plenty of time for those who truly matter. The best gift you can give them is the purity of your full attention. Just be present with them and pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone, you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together.

Afterthoughts

The journey begins when we are born. The destination is death. So the journey is far superior to the destination. Don’t sell yourself short! Make your journey worthwhile every single day, because the distance we each get to travel is a mystery.

Getting where you want to go in life is not about finding a shortcut, it’s about putting in the required time and effort. You have to set goals and fulfill your commitments, even when no one would notice but you, and know in your heart why doing so matters.

Your turn…

What would you add to this post? When have you cut yourself short by trying to take a shortcut in life? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

Until tomorrow make it a better day!

Andrew

@ACSloss

@BetterMenNow

Devotional Tuesday – Special Forces

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

The spirit of these warriors is like the spirit of God’s men.  In fact, when God finds a man who is passionate for His purposes, trained in the Word, filled with the Spirit, humble in heart, He will send that man into situations unsuited for others.  The men, like the missions, are different, even odd, but they are custom trained for these jobs — jobs only they can do.  Wondrously stunned God’s men have said to me, “If you’d have asked me ten years ago if I’d be doing this, I would’ve said you were crazy or something real close.”

Today, we’re called on to do certain missions that only we are trained and equipped for.  God tactically places us  in certain groups of men whether it be seats on an airplane, at work, at home with our family, in cars, in offices and countless situations to help others see God or experience His plan in their situation. God would have us love this kind of life, not be fearful of it. How often have we condemned ourselves for not doing or saying such and such?  These are times when God has us take inventory and his Spirit reveals to us the need to reach out and gives us sensitivity and knowledge on how to step up and deliver in the situation we find ourselves in. Our hearts are humbled and open to our response to his ability.

You’ve been saved from yourself, connected to God’s Holy Spirit, and inserted tactically into life and relationships to accomplish these missions. Remember it’s not all about you; it’s all about Him and his view of you. The truest thing about you is not what you think of you but what He thinks of you.

Father, you will make me a fisher of men.

Tell us if you agree or not!