Shooting from the Hip: Taking Offence

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The problem with taking offense is that it’s really hard to figure out what to do with it after you are done using it.

Offence is not given, it is taken

Better to just leave it on the table and walk away.

Offence untaken quietly disappears.

Responding to people you disagree with [and in some case trolls] with love,grace and a kind answer is often more likely to affect them and other people watching from the shadows.

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain

“I cannot say this too strongly: Do not compare yourselves to others. Be true to who you are, and continue to learn with all your might.” ― Daisaku Ikeda

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. — Steve Furtick

These are some of the quotes most of us can resonate with. As humans, we are always comparing ourselves to each other. We choose someone else’s standard of living or success, and we attempt to hold ourselves accountable to it rather than focus on our uniqueness or distinct individual characteristics given to us by our Creator. We are made in our God’s image, and He gave us a standard in and through Christ, so ultimately His likeness should be our goal. We should strive to be Christlike, not copycat versions of each other.

If you stop and think about the lack of joy you may be experiencing in your life, likely you will be able to attribute it to comparison.

You might be unhappy about your physical appearance because you are comparing it to someone else’s standard of size, shape, weight, athleticism, etc. You might be unhappy about your career because you are comparing yours to the standard of professional success you witness all around you. Or maybe you can’t find joy in your relationships because you are comparing them to everyone else’s.

Many people are quick to blame the media, TV, magazines, Facebook, Instagram, the Internet, and the list could go on. But, in the end, we get to decide our standards. We get to choose joy or misery. It’s easy to point the blame elsewhere, but we can only blame ourselves for not choosing to live the unique calling we were wonderfully made us to live.

So, are you unhappy? Do you struggle with finding joy and rejoicing with others? Are you always comparing your life’s successes or failures with someone else’s?

If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to do a spiritual inventory within your own heart. Here are some suggestions to reflect upon:

1. Talk to God about His unique purpose or calling for you. God wants to guide you. He wants you to seek His direction.

Ask God where and how He wants to use you, and then open your eyes to where He’s leading you.

2. Spend some time reading and meditating God’s Word. We seem to forget, but God gives us the answers to life’s greatest questions within Scripture. Sure, the Bible may not always be clear or make sense to the complex human mind, but there’s a great consistency throughout the entire message of the Bible. Don’t just chew on a few tidbits, really dive deep into Scripture and wrestle with it. Just be ready for God to wow you.

3. Redirect your worship to God Himself and away from others or the things of this world.There are distractions at every turn, but stay focused on the Lord. Don’t let the Enemy cleverly and cunningly win your full attention and keep you from being able to live a life of worship to God. Offer God the glory for what He’s doing in your life. Embrace an attitude of gratitude daily.

4. Find ways to serve and encourage others.

The greatest joy is often found in investing our energies into serving and encouraging those around us.

Use your words to uplift, not criticise. Celebrate others’ victories and successes rather than allowing yourself to be jealous or envious. As you lift up others, you will also find encouragement for yourself.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Just be the very best version of you.

At best, you will only be a poor imitation of someone else, but you can be the greatest you that has ever lived.

Comparison is a brutal attack on oneself.

Stay in your lane.

Shooting from the Hip: ….and the Angry Habit

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It’s easy to imagine habits like smoking after a meal, biting your nails or saying, “you know” after every sentence. An event or a time of day triggers us, and we go with the habit. It’s easier than exploring new territory, it’s merely a thoughtless response to an incoming trigger.

Like a small drops of water, overtime they become an ocean. Overtime anger can sneak into you unaware.

But emotions can become habits as well.

Distrustful is a habit.

Lonely is a habit.

Attention seeking is a habit.

Being generous and doing work that matters is a habit.

When that stranger does not do what you expect, is your response to assume that she’s out to get you, trying to cash in on you, looking for a shortcut? Or do you default to the habit of giving that new person a chance to explain herself?

Habits are great when they help us get what we want. Bad habits, on the other hand, are bad because the shortcut that satisfies us in the moment gets in the way of our long term goals.

Once you can see that your emotions are as much as a habit as cracking your knuckles, they are a lot easier to work with.

Shooting from the Hip: How loud and how angry?

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Professionals are able to get their work done without using emotion to signify urgency.

When a doctor asks the nurse for a scalpel, she does not have to raise her voice, stamp her foot or even make a face. She merely asks for a scalpel from the nurse.

When a pilot hits a tough spot, as we saw with Captain Sullenberger doing an emergency landing at the Hudson River after having a bird strike, he didn’t yell at the air traffic control or his co-pilot. He described the situation and got the help he needed.

And despite what you may have seen in the movies, successful share traders don’t have to start screaming when there’s more money at risk.

Compare this to the amateur world of media, of customer service and of marketing. Whoever yells the loudest gets our attention. Twitter users who use cutting language to get someone at a company to feel badly. Emailers who should know better who mark their notes as urgent, even when they are not. Politicians who take offence as if offence was on sale.

It should be clear (compared to say, astronauts and surgeons) that these people are not angry because so much is at stake. They are angry because they think it works. Because attention is reserved in those industries for those who decide to demonstrate their emotions by throwing a tantrum.

The problem with requiring people to be loud and angry to get things done is that you are now surrounded by people who are loud and angry.

What happens if you take a professional approach with the people you work with or people close to you, rewarding people who properly prioritise their requests (demands) and ignoring those that seek to escalate via vitriol, rant and anger? What happens if you consistently enforce a rule against tantrums?

If you go first, by consistently rewarding thoughtful exchanges and refusing to leap merely because it’s raining anger, the people you work with will get the message (or move on).

A pitfall of throwing tantrums is that sometimes, people throw them back or leave you.

Shooting from the hip is never the best way to get your point across because you may discover that after some time, there is no longer anyone across, they left because they couldn’t take your rant.

Professionals are able to get their work done without using emotion to signify urgency.

What have you failed at recently?

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Are you better at what you do than you were a month or two ago?

A lot better?

How did you get better? What did you read or try? Did you fail at something and learn from it? Does that mindless stuff you do at work when the boss is not looking (or all those meetings you go to are all those emails you answer) make you better or just pass the time?

If you got better faster, would that be a good thing? How could you make that happen?

I have friends every time we meet we talk about what we failed at since the last time we met. If I have an appointment with one of them in a few days to come and I haven’t failed at anything, I know I need to go out and fail at something so what when we meet I have something to contribute to our discussion. The more you fail, the closer you are to success.

Don’t fail for the sake of failing. Fail smart, fail fast, fail cheap and fail forward, learn from failure and don’t build a tent and camp on failure. Fail your way to success.

What have you failed at yesterday? What have you tried and didn’t work last week? What have you learned? What are you going to try today or next week that you might fail at? If you knew that nobody cared whether you succeeded or failed, what would you do?

A lot of questions so early in the morning, but the truth is that entrepreneurship rewards improvement. It didn’t used to. It used to reward stability. Corn Flakes are Corn Flakes.

The Change We Seek: Seeing what is vs. Seeing what you are hoping for

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Looking at the world, you either see what is or see what you are hoping for. Our temptation is to see what we are hoping for. At the Vuka Advisory Board for Entrepreneurs we get to see some entrepreneurs who look at the world and see what they are hoping for.

Entrepreneurs bury their heads in their dreams. They rarely look at the reality and see the world for what it is. Hence most entrepreneurs don’t prefer to look at their financials because numbers tell them their reality. If you don’t like your reality, you won’t like your financial numbers because they remind you of your reality.

Let’s take a couple of industries as examples: For 15 years the people in the newspaper business should have seen the writing on the wall when the internet started. The chances that 10 years from now we are going to chop down a lot of trees and a delivery guy drops newspapers at your house for you to read even if you are not home because you paid for it months ago and then only read it for 15 minutes and then recycle it are zero.

What the newspaper industry saw is that people are getting information from all sorts and manner of places and what almost everybody in the newspaper business has done is to say “we don’t like that future, we are hoping for a future that’s a lot like the past, so we are going to ignore what is happening at the moment. This is just a fad, it will pass.” When you make a decision like that you make it at your peril.

This is the same decision that music executes made when Apple introduced itunes. Instead of embracing what was happening, embracing the change in the industry, they decided to ignore the changing reality because they were hoping for a future that’s a lot like the past.

This is the same decision Kodac made when Apple introduced smart phones with digital cameras, the same decision that the South African Post Office (SAPO) fails to make to see that their business model cannot remain the same in the face of all sorts of electronic devices that people use to send messages and information. Traditional bricks and mortar bookstores struggled to adjust to the introduction of ebooks, some even closed shop.

Industries change, either we adopt the change, better still we anticipate and lead the change or we look at the changes in the industry and hope that the future be like the past.

Industries change every five years. Whether we like it or not, in every industry, change happens on average every five years.

You either defend the status-quo or you create the future.

Too often we forget that the future doesn’t care whether or not you believe in it, what the future is doing is that it’s coming, either you are the one who is leading it or you are left behind and have to play catch-up.

Some entrepreneurs say “we don’t want the future to come because we are happy where we are,” unfortunately a little startup will come and change the rules and you will be left behind.

Do you see what is or do you see what you are hoping for, hoping that the future will be like the past?

Change before you have to. – Jack Welch

The Change We Seek: Two Ways to Get Married

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Our society has shifted and every company needs to make the shift if it wants to grow.

Either:

  • You are going to spam the world, yell at them, run promotions, distribute flyers, cold calls, send emails, and send sales people screaming pick me! pick me! yelling at everyone to get some attention; or
  • You can choose to get some permission from your clients, talking to your customers with a voice that they anticipated, a voice that’s customised, personal and relevant to them. You can chose to know your customers by delivering messages that they want to hear before selling to them.

It’s a fork on the road; you are going to have to do one or the other as you grow your company.

Either you are the property estate agent with your picture on your business cards sticking it out under every windscreen of every car you can find or you are a marketer who is showing up when you are welcomed, talking to potential customers who want to listen to you.

The following is simple way to remember this principle: There are two ways to get married:

  • First way to get married is to go to a party where lots of single people are, walk up to the first person you meet and propose marriage. If that person says no, repeat the same proposal on every person in the party until someone says “I do.” That’s really not the smartest way to get married.
  • The other way to get married is to go on a date, if it goes well, go on another date with that person. Wait until the fourth date before you tell them you are out on parole. Meet their parents, they meet your parents, get engaged and get married. This method has worked for a lot of people.

It’s always advisable not to yell at every customer proposing marriage to them, instead figure out how to earn the right to whisper to them.

“Date” your prospects, know what they want and then marry them. Don’t propose “marriage” to everybody.

Know your customers first.