Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Learning Success from a Child

Have your ever watched a child learn? It is amazing to me the persistence they have. My 7 month old daughter is just mastering rolling over. It has taken her weeks to get it down. Even last week she was still rolling over onto one arm which would put her face in the carpet and no arm to push her up. She didn’t like that very much.

From one small accomplishment to the next, children continue to succeed. In a few more months, my daughter will start to get up on her hands and knees, then shortly after she will learn to crawl. Next comes walking. This is where things start to get interesting: the bumps, the bruises, and the pain. I almost hate to take my kids out in public during this learning phase. They look so bad! But they fall, get hurt, and then get back up until they get it right. Sometimes it takes weeks or months, but they persist until they succeed.

When we set our sights on a goal and start pursuing it, what happens the first time we “fall down” and get a bump and bruise? We tend to quit; or at best, we try a couple of more times, then quit.

As we begin life here on earth, we have a large potential and inclination for success. Without it, many of us may still be crawling around today, and maybe some wouldn’t be toilet trained yet either.

What happens to us to change the unconquerable spirit that empowered us to success at all costs? Let me share a story. My 8th grade year in school, I was talking in English class when I shouldn’t have been. My teacher singled me out in front of the whole class and stated with emotion, “Steven! You will never amount to anything!”

Whether she was right or not is irrelevant to this discussion. But as we become more aware of our surroundings, we begin to put more value in the comments of others, and strive to live up to other’s views of ourselves, and little by little, the unconquerable spirit is whittled away and we become less and less believing in ourselves and our potential.

Two things I think we should learn from this. First, how do we interact with the children around us? Do we encourage them and build up their belief in themselves? Or do we contribute to the taking away of their inherent capacity to succeed?

Second; the next time you set a goal and have a setback and want to give up, get down on your hands and knees and crawl around for a minute; the ability to succeed never left you. Then get back up on your feet and get after it again, and again.

Your potential to contribute to your family, your neighbors, and society is great! What legacy are you leaving? Someday in the future, we will all leave this life. When that day arrives, will you have completed everything you wanted and needed to do? When that day comes none of us know, but we do have NOW! The gift of NOW is only valued by how you use it. Start NOW the dreams you have always had, and do those things that will leave the legacy that is fitting of you and the success you realized as a child.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Learning from Our Mistakes

Just over a year ago, I received a call from one of my clients to sit down and visit. Upon arrival at his home, I could feel a level of tension; I knew there were issues. At the conclusion of our discussion, I had been fired, and I had deserved it. Nearly a month earlier, I had promised to contact him every week and I had not lived up to the deal. We had interacted via the internet several times and on the phone multiple times since that promise in regards to a pending offer and negotiation. But of the phone calls, only two were originated by me. It doesn’t matter that we had over 40 showings and two offers on the property, I failed to live up to my commitment and promise.

Why do I share this experience with you? I do so in the hope that you can learn from it. My initial response was to try and “justify” the situation. I recognized this early in the discussion and quickly realized that approach was wrong. I then asked for specifics, took notes, apologized, and then promised to work with the next agent in getting the property up on the market quickly.

Had I kept that defensive attitude, I would have lost an opportunity to learn. I had a miserable weekend. I stewed, worried, didn’t sleep, and stressed. I hate to let people down. But as I went through this process, I started to ask myself questions. If I am failing with this client, am I failing with others as well? What about my family? What about my friends? What about myself? As I took this inventory, I discovered that this same trait was bleeding into other areas of my life as well. Not a good thing.

I am now in the process of correction. It may take a while, but identifying the problem has been the first step. So I also ask each of you to hold me accountable to this, as well as I apologize if you have been the recipient of this mistake.

As stated earlier, our natural response when we make mistakes is to “justify” and put the blame somewhere else. By doing so, we dismiss accountability and loose an opportunity for growth and correction. I once read a book that stated criticism is like a bucket of water being thrown on you. There is an initial shock of impact, followed by some irritation of grains of sand in your eye, but if we look carefully, we may find a small piece of gold which will help us grow and improve.

I wish I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to learn, but I am grateful for the education I have taken from it. Let’s look at life with open eyes. Take the mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. I anticipate each of you are imperfect like me. I doubt I will even get close to perfect during my life, but I hope to improve continuously.