Taking control of your life

It is crucial to take control of your life to achieve the things you want to achieve.  It also proves to the world you are responsible for your actions and a citizen worthy of respect. One of the worst things you could do is act like a victim, which means you are not in control.  This means you must hold yourself accountable for any decision you make.  If you feel you are in a bad place with people you don’t want to be around, then it is up to you to find a better opportunity.  Personally, I have felt like the victim and ended up wasting a good amount of time dwelling on the negatives of my situation.  It was not until someone came up to me and told me not to act like the victim, when I really took responsibility for my situation.  I was not being promoted and working for a team that was dysfunctional.  I ended up taking the steps necessary to move into another team within the organization, which paid more money and gave me a bigger title.  In my opinion, this was a smart move and it developed from my actions after realizing I was not a victim.

The overal theme in not being a victim revolves around control.  Are you in control?  How do you get control?  What can you do once you take over control?  These are a few questions you should be asking yourself.  We cannot sit back and expect someone to tap us on our shoulders and say, “today is the day you are going to get everything you ever wanted.”  This simply will not happen and if it does, it would be extremely rare.  There are some people who purchase lottery tickets hoping to hit it rich.  There are other people like me who do not purchase lottery tickets because they are a waste of time and I pay enough tax.  Instead, I put my efforts into generating success through my own efforts.  I would recommend everyone to push themselves hard, take accountability, and make sure they are making smart choices.  Everyday there are opportunities out there for you and you just need to make sure you are keeping your eyes open to see them.  Sometimes opportunities are in places or with people that we would not expect them to be with.

Lastly, taking control of your life also means making sure you are being honest with yourself.  You do not want to tell yourself lies to excuse yourself from truly giving your best.  This sounds funny, but is a phenomenon that does really exist.  As an example, I have been at the gym and told myself that I have worked out enough and should leave.  In reality, I was not 100% complete my workout and my brain is telling me to take it easy.  Life is not going to take it easy on me, so I better push myself to the limits for a better chance to succeed in life.  Think about goals you have and think whether you truly gave your best efforts to hit them in a timely manner.  It is important to understand whether you are giving yourself the best chance of succeeding because if you are not, you are simply wasting your time.

Is the customer always right?

There are these peculiar sayings out there such as the customer is always right, which was a phrase created by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London.  As an owner of a business, I take a step back and ask myself, is the customer always right?  This would be a hard no because I am occasionally a customer and I know for a fact I am frequently wrong.  At the same time, even if the customer is wrong, you will not want to trample over their feelings in the process of proving them wrong.  I would recommend easing into this slowly and if possible, try leading the customer to their own conclusions.  So, why am I talking about this and why should it be considered on http://www.civilaccomplishment.com?

As entrepreneurs and free thinkers we are going to want to understand what to do in a situation where the customer is in fact wrong.  Lets say the customer is very stubborn and disagrees with you.  Lets say you know you are right and the customer is wrong and maybe even very wrong.  By proving them wrong and crushing their ego, you could lose a sale and possible future sales from this particular person.  One technique I have stumbled upon over the years is acting slightly confused about the situation.  Start to ask whether your perspective is right and lead the customer into the correct train of thought.  Talk out loud and ask many questions about the situation to provoke thought.  This will get you and your customer on the same side of the issue, even if you are not yet sharing the same answer.

You may also want to let the customer do 50% to 75% more talking than you.  Remember, the most talkative person in the room is not always the smartest person.  Once your customer starts poking holes in their position on the topic, you can lean in further to sway them to your side of the fence.  You may say, “that makes sense and I also think it makes sense that…” and fill in the blanks.  You will want to stay away from immediate confrontation because a customer will instinctively oppose everything you say once he/she determines you are not sharing the same opinion as them.  The purpose of getting the customer to the same opinion as us, is so we can build that relationship and make sure they continue purchasing from your business.

These techniques can be used in a situation when a customer does not like the product or service you provided.  You need to get to the bottom of their complaint, so you can satisfy their needs and hopefully they will return.  A loss of one customer does not always mean a loss of just one customer because people talk.  A loss of one customer could actually equal 20, 30, or more future customers.  This can be very devastating to your business.  So, I do not believe the customer is always right.  I do believe we can work with the customer to find a solution that works for them.  Business is all about increasing sales year over year, building relationships with customers, and providing great services/products.

Don’t give up on your dreams

Greatness… is not easy to come by for most people including myself.  Not everyone will capture their wildest dreams and although it seems unfair, it is the way life is.  Unexpected things can occur, which can derail you from living your dream.  Since I know this and accept this, I do my best to prepare myself for the unexpected because I want to reduce the risk of not being able to live out my dreams.  There are things we cannot plan for, but planning is the best defense against unexpected risks.  If an issue does arise, which could not have been foreseen, then it is up to us to figure out the best possible solutions to overcome, reduce, or remove the issue (whatever that may be.

Don’t give up on your dreams… is easier said than done!  Over the years, I have come to realization that successful people push themselves to their limits and beyond.  When I am at the gym, feeling tired and not very motivated to keep going, I tell myself, lets keep pushing.  Similarly, when I am working on my business and/or investments and feel exhausted, I tell myself, lets keep pushing.  I want to provide to my family the best life possible and sadly, a lot of this involves money.  When my son wants to play hockey, go on a field trip, or go to college, I want to make sure I am financially stable and can provide him the money to do the things he wants to do.  I also want to make sure he gets a nice start in life because this can make a huge difference in the way he lives throughout the rest of his life after college.

There have been so many times I wanted to give up and just act like this never happened.  It is the difficult times in my career or at my business when I feel like I am horribly failing, when I feel almost embarrassed.  In reality, I am trying hard to get something done and reach my goals, so there is nothing to be embarrassed of.  I am really pushing myself to learn and create a better world for my family.  Similar, when I am at the gym and people judge you, I say, we are all trying to make ourselves better so why would you judge?  Someone who judges you or laughs at your for trying to improve yourself and become better is just an idiot to begin with.  After you realize that, you can realize you do not need to take their opinions into account.

Make sure you don’t give up on your dreams by throwing in the towel.  Make sure you keep pushing, even if you are failing or getting derailed.  If there is something that means enough to you, then you will be able to continue on and accomplish your goals.  I created civil accomplishment.com just for this reason.  Life becomes a struggle and we need to make sure we are driving ourselves to the next level and beyond.  We should be proud of our work and live better from it.  What are your thoughts on this?

Financial discipline – part II

I posted on 04/14/18 a blog titled Financial discipline and today I would like to further expand on this topic.  There are so many products readily available today for purchase, which makes it incredibly difficult to restrain yourself from purchasing crap you don’t need.  There are countless commercials on TV, advertisements on the internet, and billboards all around us showing us products we should buy.  It often seems like we need these products, but there are more products than money to buy them.  I personally love cars, so I am constantly thinking about purchasing them.  It usually starts with me researching about the specific car I like and ends with me talking myself out of buying it.  It feels too good not to have a payment, which is why I do not want to purchase a new car at this point in my life.  I still love my Jeep and feel I can get by with it because it is not that old.

In order to be successful with financial discipline, we need to make sure our goals are clearly defined.  If your goals are well defined and you really believe in them, then you will be able to justify reasons why you should stay financially disciplined.  I know I want to pay off my mortgage and become 100% debt free by 2023.  This goal keeps me driven to make sure I stay on track and remain financially discipline.  I talk a little bit about this in my blog titled Sacrificing for the greater good and Stay focused and keep going.  I have had friends who have had trouble clearly defining goals, so I sat down with them and helped them figure it out.  I said, “these goals are personally, so you need to develop them, but I have not problem helping you get there.”  I felt we were successful in each case and they have been consistently pushing to reach those goals.

If there are any questions on how to clearly define your goals or anything around this topic, please reach out.  I am always available not help out on these types of things.  The better we are as a society in creating goals, pushing ourselves forward, and growing our bank accounts, the better we will be… or at least I would think so!

Push through it

Today was a monumental day in my business, which has been years in the making to get here.  We have had many failed attempts, but did not give up trying because we knew we would eventually breakthrough.  Even at the signing for the new building, I was second guessing myself and remembered I need to push through it.  So many times before I have failed because I simply did not keep going.  In my opinion, this is the worst type of failure.  With this being said, it is better to fully assess the entire situation at the start to make sure the reward is worth the risk.  I have worked on many projects that I could have cancelled at anytime, but there needs to be a really good reason not to continue on. I must emphasize the importance of thinking through everything at the start, so you do not run into issues later on that may push you to stop your work.

In my business, we have had a few tricky projects that we could not find a solution to.  We have never given up on these projects, but do have them on hold until a better solution surfaces.  This too can be very frustrating because it is something we cannot close out and move on.  I write about this type of stuff in my blog titled, Closing loose ends and Closing loose ends – part II.  To close loose ends, we need to push through it until the project is 100% complete.  Each project you are working on may be different in the way you approach it.  Each project may require different skillsets and we need to be able to adapt to different scenarios.  Some projects require more clever thinking, where other projects require more bullish hard work.  Knowing what to use and where to use it, is a skill in itself.  These skills can be found and improved over time.  We just need to keep pushing through and make sure we are not stopping prematurely.

No control over decisions impacting you

This is an important topic, which is often misunderstood.  No control over decisions impacting you.  It is very easy to push the blame or formulate a quick excuse of why things didn’t go your way.  For example we can say, “I did not get the promotion because my manager does not like me” or “The project was cancelled because leadership decided it so”.  These may be very good excuses for why things did not go your way, but you can always take control of your situation.  If your manager does not like you and you are not getting promoted because of it, then ask yourself why does your manager not like you?  Are there things you can do to improve yourself or change your manager’s opinion?  You can always look outside your department or company if things are simply not going to change.  If your projects are getting cancelled because leadership feels they are not worthy of moving to the next gate, then you need to better understand why.  Is there something you can do to fix this, so your projects can advance?

At home, maybe you are not able to keep up with your bills or you are not able to please your family.  Ask yourself why these things are happening and how you can change the outcome?  Step one in taking control is understanding the current situation.  Who are the key players and what is your role?  Understand the moving parts and how you can leverage, basically everything you can think of.  Secondly, understand your goals and when you want to achieve your goals.  We know these things do take time and this is acceptable.  If we have a goal in mind and set a plan in place to achieve that goal or reach that goal, and we are working towards achieving the goal, then we are doing good. If we are ahead of schedule in reaching the goal, then we are better than good.

If you think you have no control in decisions impacting you, then I would say you are wrong in most situations.  There are few situations where you have no control and I would say a lot of these situations involve health.  There are certain diseases and syndromes that may not be able to control.  For me, financial stability, physical fitness, emotional balance, social balance, and spirituality to name a few are very important to me.

Building my roadmap to success

Before we had these fancy iPhones or Windows phones with Apple Maps or Google Maps, we used maps made out of paper.  My father would review his map at a rest stop before getting back on the road.  There were specific places my father would want to visit during our family road trips.  For example, on the way down to Orlando, Florida, my father would want to visit Lexington, Kentucky, Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.  We would only make these stops if we had enough time to do so.  Each of these stops would need to be carefully planned ahead of time. Unlike today’s map technologies, paper maps do not reroute you automatically.

When it comes to planning your future, you should build your plan similarly to the paper map method.  You need to carefully plan out each step of the way because there are typically no automatic rerouting features available to us.  Instead of mapping out locations you would like to visit, you would map out short-term and long-term goals you want to achieve.  For example, if I want to work as a marketer for a fortune 500 company, then I would need to achieve my bachelors degree and MBA.  I would also need to go through at least one internship and build my professional network.  Each of these primary goals would be associated with an appropriate timeline.  I may have some other goals I would like to achieve, but if this was really important to me, I would make sure these were my primary goals.

In addition to goals and timing, roadmaps need a final destination or your overarching goal.  Basically, where will all of these supporting goals take you and how fast will you get there?  It is up to us to understand where we want to go, how long it will take to get there, and make sure we can visit where we would like to visit along the way.  We will want to make sure we have enough time to visit the stops along the way.  I have been building my roadmap for quite sometime and adjusting it along the way.  I aim to continuously improve along the way to make my situation better and better.  New experiences and gained knowledge help me better clarify the things I want to try along the way.  These things also help me better understand what I want my life to be one day.  Just because we set out to reach certain goals today, does not mean we can attempt different goals tomorrow if it makes sense to change.

Bringing your dreams to life

A while back, I was sitting next to a gentleman on an airplane who started, owned, and sold many businesses.  He told me he was the only 28 year old in his town driving around a Lamborghini when he first started.  He ended up selling that business for $40million.  At that point, he traveled around for a little bit and then started another business.  He was very good at starting businesses, growing businesses, and selling them.  The gentleman said to me, “unless you are 100% devoted to your business, then it is just a mere hobby”.  This statement has stuck with me since because it made me think of my own aspirations.  If I am only devoting 25% or 30% of my time to my dreams, then will I ever be able to reach them?

We only live one life (or at least this is what I believe).  Since we are only living this one life, we should devote our lives to something we really want to do and are very proud of.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been dancing around this topic of bringing your dreams to life.  For me, I have a business I would like to run full time.  This business is what I would run for the next twenty or thirty years until I passed it down to my son or sold it to another person.  There are a few things I would need to complete before I felt comfortable quitting my current job and moving into this new business full time.  First, I need to pay off my mortgage.  Second, I need to have built enough industry experience both on the technical and business side.  This may be a little bit subjective because unless you are rating by years, it is difficult to measure experience.  Third, I want to make sure the business has a good future by confirming we are hitting our targets and are planning on hitting our targets for the next few years.

As I mentioned many times before, it is crucial to write down your goals and track your progress.  I treat my shorter term goals along the way as supports for my longer term goals, which are supports for my overall goal or vision.  More to come on this later…

Barriers and your success

There are barriers in this world that can be difficult to overcome.  These barriers can hold you back from achieving your goals.  These barriers need to be dealt with appropriately, so they do not inhibit you from achieving your dreams.  A barrier can be a person, expense, lack of motivation, personal flaw, and so on.  You can choose to deal with the barrier by removing it, going around it, or overcoming it.  It is possible that there are no feasible solutions and the barrier can hinder your success.  If there are no feasible solutions, then you will want to find this out as quickly as possible.

In my personal business, I have found it difficult to find enough time to get everything done because I have a lot of other stuff going on.  The barrier between me and success in this situation is time.  To overcome this challenge, I have prioritized my time and become more efficient in the things I am doing.  I have asked myself the question, what is important to the business?  Since time is limited, I need to make sure every minute spent is spent on something that is adding value back to my business.  I am not spending extra time on things that simply don’t matter.

Another barrier in my life is funding to do everything I want to do.  Similarly to time, I am looking to maximize my money and use it towards things that matter.  For example, I do not feel it is necessary to purchase unnecessary crap such as nicknacks and garden ornaments.  I am using my money to pay off debts and invest into things that will give me a return on my investment.  At some point, I will not have debt and I will have plenty of money to do those things I want to.  If I started spending my money prematurely on the so called fun stuff, I will pay off my debts at a slower rate. When debts hang around for a longer period of time, then I am paying interest for a longer period of time.  At the end of the day, I have less money in my pocket, which does not add more value to my personal financial situation.

Can you think of any barriers in your life that may hold you back from achieving your goals?  What type of solutions can you come up with to deal with them?  It is important to knock out these barriers one by one, so we can proceed to the territory of success.

Check your service providers

From time to time, my internet does not perform at the speeds Comcast claims it should be.  AT&T is another service provider I have had issues with from time to time, specifically with dropped calls and poor cellular connection.  I am the customer and should be completely satisfied.  A few years ago when I was flying on an airplane, I ran into a situation where I did not get what I wanted from the flight attendant.  I asked for a diet coke, but the flight attendant gave me a cranberry juice.  I started to drink it knowing it was not what I asked for.  The gentleman next to me asked, “Did you not want a diet coke?”

I replied, “Yes. I did want a diet coke, but I am okay with a cranberry juice.”

“You should always get what you want,” the gentleman said.  “If you want a diet coke and they give you a cranberry, you need to correct it by letting them know they made an error.”

I never really thought about this before, but it did make a lot of sense.  If I wanted a diet coke and they gave me a cranberry juice, I should have simply told them it was not what I asked for.  From that point on, I started getting exactly what I wanted.  I applied it to my personal life, school life, business life, and so on.  This has helped me get what I want and get more things done.

Tonight, I called Comcast because I could not take the slow internet speeds any longer and it had become very frustrating.  I ended up getting most of my performance issue resolved and gained a few extra dollars off my bill.  Similarly, I have contacted AT&T in the past and have had similar results.  I am not a big fan of either of these service providers, but feel my options are very limited.  I do believe in calling them up from time to time to make sure they are giving me what I want.  It is also nice when they give you a few dollars off your bill for the inconvenience.  Try taking a step back and evaluate your day to day.  Are you getting what you want?  If not, what can you do to make sure you are getting what you want?  As simple as it sounds, getting what you want will really push you further towards your goals.

Sacrificing for the greater good

Recently, my wife and I took a trip to visit a daycare that was highly recommended by a few of her co-workers.  This daycare was supposed to be one of the better ones in the area and I would hope so for the price they were asking.  As instructed on the phone, the daycare told us to drop by whenever we were in the area.  We walked through the front door to start our tour of the daycare.  There were different rooms for different age groups and even an outside area for kids to play.  Since our baby is an infant, we were most interested in visiting the infant section.  After walking into the infant section, I immediately realized this is not the place I want my son spending 6 to 8 hours per day.  All the children in the daycare looked confused and depressed.  As much as the daycare tried to make it a happy place, it was very depressing to me.

After visiting the daycare I quickly realized, I do not want my son in there or any other daycare.  I would rather have my wife look after our son, even if it does impact us financially.  You cannot slap a price on love and care for your child.  I would rather delay my mortgage pay off until a later date, to have peace of mind that my child is safe and getting the best care possible.  At the same time, it will help my wife build a better relationship with our son as he grows up.  Additionally, I can work extra hard on my business to bring in more money to supplement any loss of money from my wife’s job.  My wife will also try to land a job two to three days per week at night or on the weekends.  I am glad I figured this daycare situation out before rather than later.  If I did not walk into the daycare, I may not have realized how much I hate it.

Maybe not all daycares are the same, but for me personally, I do not want to leave my son there.  If there is the question of socialization, my son will have plenty of socialization with our family and friends’ children.  He will also socialize when he goes to school.  There will be sacrifice of financial progress due to this situation, but I am confident I can redirect and get it back on track within a year.  These are just my personal opinions on daycare and I thought it might be worth sharing.

Fighting fatigue

Yesterday, I blogged on the topic of time off.  The blog was titled, We all need time off in case you are interested in reading more about my thoughts and perspective on that subject.  Today, I am going to blog about the topic of fighting fatigue.  When we do not give ourselves time to rest, we can become overly exhausted.  Stress and exhaustion may weaken our immune systems and leave us vulnerable to illness.  Fatigue is a real issue we can experience when we are not getting enough time to unwind and rebuild.  Many of us will drink a coffee or Red Bull to quickly get a burst of energy, but as we all now this will not be a sustainable solution forever.  A quick burst of caffeine will provide only a quick burst of energy.  We need a solution that makes sense in the long term.  Here are a few options to improve our stamina:

  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stop relying on energy drinks (i.e., Red Bull, Monster, coffee)
  • Stay engaged in your work

Exerciseeating healthy, and sleep will improve your body and mind.  You will be able to think more clearly and perform better in whatever you are trying to do.  You will also feel much better because you will look better.  It is also important not to rely on energy drinks because these will only handicap you.  You may depend on them too much and not be able to function without them.  We do not want to be dependent on anything like energy drinks.  Staying engaged in your work will help you stay awake and want to get the job done.  If you do not feel engaged, then you should probably start looking for another job.

Fatigue is real and can be dangerous to our careers.  We do not want to be the sleepy person in the office or on the job site.  We want to be the enthusiastic person with plenty of energy to get whatever is needed done.  We want to be someone who people look up to and have the power to influence.  We are more  likely to influence when we are charismatic and have a favorable personality.  Someone who is always tired or fatigued may not be someone who people like to be around.  A fatigued person may actually be someone who people avoid and do not want to be around.  Try being the excited and highly energetic person because it is more fun that way.