Do the Right Thing

In a previous blog I talked about having 20/20 vision, the ability to see the world through someone else’s glasses. It is a powerful tool to build relationships, both personal and business. However, having 20/20 vision isn’t very effective without the right actions. If you want good results then you have to do the right things.

Here are 8 right actions to guide you on the journey to success.

Make no excuses. We must take responsibility for our own life, its successes and its failures. Part of growing up and becoming a real adult is being responsible. It’s not your parents’ fault, it’s not the government’s fault and it’s not society’s fault. It’s your life, your fault and your job to make it better. Step up.

Become wise. Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom. Study hard. Learn in school. Learn from others. Sharpen your knowledge into wisdom by your actions. Get involved. Get experience. See what’s really happening. Don’t skip the details. The devil is in the details. It’s the pebble in the shoe that stops the climber, not the boulders ahead.

Make good decisions. If you want things to get better you must make better decisions. Are your decisions aligned with your beliefs?

Commit to a goal. Plan to achieve something. Set your sights on a target. Don’t give yourself an easy way out. Have lofty objectives.

It’s better to go hunting for tigers and find a rabbit, than to go hunting for rabbits and find a tiger.

Never give up. If you don’t give up you can’t fail. Persistence may be the single most important quality of achievement .

Have faith, not fear. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to succeed. You must believe to achieve.

Enjoy the trip. Don’t take life too seriously, it’s a short ride.

Steve Haberly

Courage in the Face of Covid

After watching Disney‘s Alice in Wonderland, I learned a new word to describe an old concept, muchness. The Mad Hatter said to Alice, “You’re not the same. When you were here before you were muchier, but it seems you’ve lost your muchness.” 

What an interesting thought, losing your muchness. What is muchness anyway? If you go back to the movie you will see what Alice had lost was her courage. Her courage to slay the dragon. 

In today’s environment, muchness might be the ability to achieve your most desired goals no matter what the odds of failure. But what about the dragon? There are no dragons today, right? Wrong.

When you’ve lost your job because of Covid, who do you think is at the other end of the phone line demanding you pay an overdue bill? The dragon. If you listen carefully you can hear the scales rattle as he leans forward in his chair to tell you they’re turning off your electricity.

If you’re a student doing school virtually, you know the dragon. When the lesson doesn’t make sense, but the class moves on anyway, you may think you’re all alone. You are not. The hot breath on the back of your neck is the dragon.

The dragon and I have dueled many times over the years, and I know the one thing that can stand up to the dragon’s flame is courage. Muchness. So the question we must answer is, how did we lose our muchness and how can we get it back?

Losing our courage can begin with destructive thinking. Destructive thinkers believe all problems are huge and probably permanent. The more they focus on the size of the dragon, the bigger the dragon becomes until their mortal size pales in comparison. We can easily be devoured by our own destructive thinking. 

A courage destroyer that goes hand in hand with destructive thinking is having the wrong mindset. Mindset can be divided into two categories: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset don’t try hard enough and therefore they give up too soon. This kind of dragon slayer retreats to what he believes is a safe place and then is devoured by the dragon. Someone with a growth mindset never gives up.  They think of the possibilities and then focus on a solution that will extinguish the dragon’s flame. I want tp be a dragon slayer, don’t you?
So how do we find our muchness? Alice gives us a hint when she says:

In my next blog I’ll talk about each of the things we can do to regain our muchness.  As you may have guessed, the sixth impossible thing Alice believes is that she can slay the dragon.

Steve Haberly

The Covid Disconnect

Sometimes the world seems to be in chaos. This is certainly one of those times. Everything is upside down all because of an organism, so small, we can’t see it without a microscope. 

A year ago, I never would have imagined what I am seeing today. Looking around, you begin to realize the significant impact the virus has had on the planet. It has caused us to change the way we live our personal lives and the way business is conducted. 

In most U.S. states and countries around the world, we’re asked to wear face masks in public. We’re drowning in local mandates and hand sanitizer. We are asked to practice social distancing. We are told to stay a safe distance away from others. It’s this safe distance that worries me most. Staying away from others is not in our nature, but it does seem to be the best approach to slow down the spread of this virus. How can distancing be called social?

How does this concept affect our lives? The dilemma, for most, is that social distancing is the opposite of our greatest need: CONNECTION. If you have been following my blog over the last few years, you know that the core of everything I write about is connection. Connection is the link between people, and is based on sharing ideas, feelings and fears. Connection is the glue that binds people and things together.

Happiness and well-being are by products of connection in our personal and professional lives. All businesses have people at its core. After all, the business we are all in is the people business and the foundation of the people business is connection. Connection is founded on trust and forged over time, one promise at a time. With connection, you can achieve peace, health and wealth. Connection is the foundation of all good and solid relationships.

Since connection brings happiness and success, disconnection brings loneliness and turmoil.  I believe we now live in a largely disconnected world that has been made more disconnected by this virus and our reaction to it. Let me explain.

It’s hard to stay connected to others when we feel we must blame someone for our situation. In the case of this virus, we blame everybody from other countries to our own government. Since no one wants to take responsibility, we distance ourselves.

In most societies, people move closer to each other when they want to connect and farther apart when there is fear or distrust. The scientists tell us that transmission of the virus is increased the closer we are to those who are infected, so we stay away. How far? Six feet or more. With that in mind, our social distancing says, “I’m afraid of you and I don’t trust you.” The truth is, we are saying, “Stay away or we could make each other sick.” Our heart is saying connect, but our fear is telling us to distance ourselves so connection doesn’t occur.

In most places we go we are asked to wear a mask. It is the right thing to do, no doubt, but what message does the mask send? Think about what kind of people wear masks. Yes, doctors and nurses, but so do the thieves and criminals who come to do you harm. The mask says, “I don’t want you to know who I am.” Distancing and mask wearing send the same message and it’s not one of connection.

I’ve found that one of the most powerful connection mechanisms is the smile. When I travel internationally I may not speak the local language but I can send my friendly intentions with a smile. The smile translates well, no matter where you are. But what about the smile hidden behind a mask and from 6 feet away. It just doesn’t work, does it?

By choosing to isolate, to stay away, to social distance, we have chosen to disconnect. Being disconnected too long is dangerous. Disconnection breeds misunderstanding and misunderstanding leads to conflict.

What can we do? We need to understand the importance of connection and realize in tough times many don’t know what to do, so they do nothing.  Don’t be one of those people. Take the initiative and find ways to bridge the gap. Make a list of all your relatives, friends and even customers, and then call, email or send a hand written letter. Maybe all three. Acknowledge the tough situation and tell them how important they are to you. Work together to find ways to stay connected. It’s better to be a great listener than an overpowering talker. Friends listen, politicians talk.  Be a friend. 

This is not a time to spend all day worrying. It is however, a time to reconnect with those we care about while keeping their safety and ours the first priority. We will get through this by following the scientifically sound guidelines we’ve been given, but we can not afford to lose our connections on the way.  Find a way to reach out.  

Stay connected and be safe.

Steve Haberly

The Covid Disconnect Trailer

Before I publish my next blog let me explain my obvious absence from blogging and most everything else. In January, the final episode of a three part project, The Man, the Lady, and the Tiger was published. Catching the Lady asked the question, “What are you running to and what are you running from?” 

The ideas in my head for the next blog were numerous and I was excited about putting them on paper.  Then, news of a fast spreading virus appeared.  Management cancelled my meeting in China but the seminar in Korea was still on. Two days later that was also cancelled and travel outside the U.S. was shut down. Then, all hell broke loose.

I’ve worked in most parts of the world over the years, so my circle was rather wide. Now, my circle became small. As the days and weeks passed, the circle became even smaller.
I have always been able to reach inside myself and find feelings or passions to write about. But suddenly, this invisible enemy occupied nearly every thought and emotion. I somehow lost the path to inspiration.

But once again, my soul cries out to be heard. So, I reach out to you, my friends, and ask that you read my next blog, The Covid Disconnect. Coming Monday, November 16th.

Steve Haberly

Catching the Lady

Catching the Lady

The man finally catches the lady, they enjoy a moment of sublime bliss, and then, the tiger who was chasing him, devours them both.

In my previous blog we wondered if the man was chasing the lady or running from the tiger. I then proposed that catching the lady without dealing with the tiger first would mean certain death as they would enjoy a moment together, but then both would be caught and devoured by the tiger. This happens because the tiger that pursues us never rests.

Do you think catching the lady is worth being devoured by the tiger? Maybe. But terminal bliss is not what most would chose, understanding that the word terminal is final.  I believe we must first face our fears before we chase our dreams.

However, isn’t it possible to chase a dream and actually catch it? It certainly is. But don’t forget what was said in an earlier blog, the fantasy of the conquest is almost always better than the conquest itself. It is the chase that brings the rush. But putting that aside, how can we catch our dream?

We should first make sure our dream is one we can really catch, and is within our capabilities to accomplish? I have one and only one repeating dream. I dream I can fly like superman.

It’s a great dream but not one that is within my capability, no matter how hard I work or how long I try. So, I have learned to just enjoy the dream. 

Then we need to decide if our dream is aligned with our mission statement. Would it help reach a life goal? An example, in my own life, is to start a charity to help underprivileged families and especially children. So let’s see if that fits my two criteria. Is it within my capability to accomplish? Yes, I believe it is. Does it support something in my life’s mission? Yes, again. My mission statement is to live such a life that other’s lives are made better by their relationship with me. I think this type of charity would fit well here, so it would be a good dream to pursue.

Am I saying that all dreams must be noble and selfless? No, of course not. It’s okay to reach for a dream that benefits only you. Sometimes it’s good to be selfish. Just don’t make it all the time and don’t be selfish to the extent that others are hurt.

To achieve a dream you must have a plan. Hoping or wishing for your dream to come true is not a plan or strategy.  If you do not define and describe your dream, how will you know when you’ve reached it? I like what Stephen Covey says in his Seven Habits book ‘Begin with the end in mind’.

I believe we are all born with natural talent, perhaps a gift from God or the act of providence. It’s much easier to reach your dream if you use some of the talent you were born with. For example, I have no natural talent for opera singing so pursuing that dream might not be wise. Although talent can be nurtured and grow to great heights, it can also wither and die if not fed and watered. It helps if your dream pursuit allows you to use one or more of your talents. 

Next you must have the skills to achieve your dream. Although talent is a gift, skill comes only through hard work. The great thing about skills is they can be learned if given time and commitment. I’m not a great runner, but could I learn the skills that allow me to reach a goal of running a marathon? It’s possible. 

Finally, we must have the fuel necessary to develop the skill. This fuel could be called energy. Attaining enough fuel might take long hours and very tough practice. Fuel is what we burn on the road to our dream. Although desire lights the match energy keeps the fire burning. 

Lastly and most important is execution. Nothing happens until we start something.  And starting can be the hardest step.

Taking the first step in your plan takes courage and commitment. It’s your race, what are you waiting for? 

The time is now. Go catch the lady.

Steve Haberly

The Lady or the Tiger

The Lady or the Tiger

In my last blog we see a man running. A closer look shows he is chasing a beautiful woman. Zoom in and we realize that the man is being chased by a tiger.

What are we really seeing? Is the man running from the tiger or is he chasing the lady? Is there a difference?Running is running, you must admit. So, is running to catch something better than running away from another thing? It might be even worse.

I read an article by Leonard Kim in which he says, “When you decide to chase something, what you decide to chase starts to run away.” So with that in mind, can the man ever catch the lady? And, if the man does catch the lady, will he be happy? 

What if it’s the chase that brings the rush and not the conquest? What if the conquest usually ends in disappointment? One of life’s rules is this: the fantasy of the conquest is almost always better than the conquest itself. Do we run because we believe we can, or run because we believe we must?

Let’s suppose that the man catches the lady and they stop to enjoy the bliss of the moment. As she falls in his arms, her kiss is everything he hoped it would be.

As they enjoy the fantasy fulfilled, they are eaten by the tiger.

The tiger did not stop to rest. The tiger that chases us never rests. Was catching the lady worth being devoured by the tiger? Most would say no. With that in mind, it would seem that we should face the tiger before we ever chase and catch the lady.

I’ve been lucky to achieve most of my life goals. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I have a wonderful marriage, three talented and loving children and a great job. I work for a company that puts people ahead of profit. Within this corporation I’ve been able to build a company that has grown from $5 million in sales to nearly $300 million.

I’m not boasting, well maybe just a little, but I’ve been able to grab almost every brass ring as the carousel of life went around.

What’s your tiger? Maybe it will help you identify yours if I tell you mine. I am one of those individuals that never stops running. I really don’t know how to rest and relax. In many ways it is my strength but someday it will probably be my undoing.

We will talk about both the hows and the whys, but for now, let’s discuss the whys. Let me start out by telling you, in my case, the why was the tiger. My motivation to succeed was my fear of the pain that comes with failure. To be first, for fear of being last, and at times in my life, to be first, for fear of being second.

My personal life is not much different. Every day I feel I must accomplish something because I do not want the pain of accomplishing nothing. So I run. Not literally, but figuratively. I get up early every day and I look for projects. I need something to do and something to accomplish. If I do nothing, it makes me an easy target for the tiger, and the tiger never rests. Neither do I.

There are three ways to live in the jungle. The most common situation is we forever run from the tiger. Second, we can turn and fight the tiger, but the injuries we would suffer could be terrible or even fatal.

But there is a third option. We can turn and embrace the tiger.

We can discover what chases us and instead of fighting it or running from it, we can use it to our advantage. If we no longer fear the tiger, and use the tiger’s pace to quicken our own, we might indeed catch the lady.

So what’s the moral of the story? Only by facing our tiger, and using that fear to our advantage, will we ever be able to catch the lady.

Steve Haberly

Don’t miss my next blog, Catching the Lady