To be powerful, you need to take the position that you create or allow everything that happens to you. By create, I mean that you directly cause something to happen by your actions or inactions. If you walk up to a man in a bar who is bigger than you, has obviously been drinking for a long time, and say to him, “ You are really ugly and stupid,” and he jumps off the bar stool, hits you in the jaw, and you end up in the hospital — you created that. That’s an easyto-understand example. Here’s one that may be harder to swallow: You work late every night. You come home tired and burned out. You eat dinner in a coma and then sit down in front of the television to watch a basketball game. You’re too tired and stressed out to do anything else — like go for a walk or play with the kids. This goes on for years. Your wife asks you to talk to her. You say, “Later!” Three years later, you come home to an empty house and a note that she has left you and taken the kids. You created that one, too! Other times, we simply allow things to happen to us by our inaction and our unwillingness to do what is necessary to create or maintain what we want: ■ You didn’t follow through on your threat to take away privileges if the kids didn’t clean up after themselves, and now the house looks like a war zone. ■ You didn’t demand he join you in counseling or leave the first time he hit you, so now you’re still getting hit. ■ You didn’t attend any sales and motivational seminars because you were too busy, and now the new kid just won the top sales award. ■ You didn’t take the time to take the dogs to obedience training, and now they’re out of control. ■ You didn’t take time to maintain your car, and now you’re sitting by the side of the road with your car broken down. ■ You didn’t go back to school, and now you are being passed over for a promotion. Realize that you are not the victim here. You stood passively by and let it happen. You didn’t say anything, make a demand, make a request, say no, try something new, or leave.
Be aware that nothing ever just “happens” to you. Just like the “ yellow alerts” in the old Star Trek television series, you almost always receive advance warnings — in the form of telltale signs, comments from others, gut instinct, or intuition — that alert you to the impending danger and give you time to prevent the unwanted outcome. You are getting yellow alerts all the time. There are external yellow alerts: He keeps coming home later and later with alcohol on his breath. The client’s first check bounced. He screamed at his secretary. His mother warned you. Your friends told you. And there are internal yellow alerts: That feeling in your stomach That inkling you had That fleeting thought that just maybe . . . That intuition That fear that emerged That dream that woke you up in the middle of the night We have a whole language that informs us: Clues, inklings, suspicions The handwriting on the wall I had a feeling that . . . I could see it coming for a mile. My gut feeling told me. These alerts give you time to change your response (R) in the E + R = O equation. However, too many people ignore the yellow alerts because paying attention to them would require them to do something that is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to confront your spouse about the cigarettes in the ashtray that have lipstick on them. It is uncomfortable to speak up in a staff meeting when you are the only one who feels that the proposed plan won’t work. It is uncomfortable to tell someone you don’t trust them. So you pretend not to see and not to know because it is easier, more convenient and less uncomfortable, avoids confrontation, keeps the peace, and protects you from having to take risks.
LIFE BECOMES MUCH EASIER
Successful people, on the other hand, face facts squarely. They do the uncomfortable and take steps to create their desired outcomes. Successful people don’t wait for disasters to occur and then blame something or someone else for their problems. Once you begin to respond quickly and decisively to signals and events as they occur, life becomes much easier. You start seeing improved outcomes both internally and externally. Old internal self-talk such as “I feel like a victim; I feel used; nothing ever seems to work out for me” is replaced with “I feel great; I am in control; I can make things happen.” External outcomes such as “Nobody ever comes to our store; we missed our quarterly goals; people are complaining that our new product doesn’t work” are transformed into “We have more money in the bank; I lead the division in sales; our product is flying off the shelves.” IT’S SIMPLE The bottom line is that you are the one who is creating your life the way it is. The life you currently live is the result of all of your past thoughts and actions. You are in charge of your current thoughts and your present feelings. You are in charge of what you say and what you do. You are also in charge of what goes into your mind — the books and magazines you read, the movies and television shows you watch, and the people you hang out with. Every action is under your control. To be more successful, all you have to do is act in ways that produce more of what you want. That’s it. It’s that simple!
SIMPLE ISN’T NECESSARILY EASY
Though this principle is simple, it is not necessarily easy to implement. It requires concentrated awareness, dedicated discipline, and a willingness to experiment and take risks. You have to be willing to pay attention to what you are doing and to the results you are producing. You have to ask yourself, your family, your friends, your colleagues, your managers, your teachers, your coaches, and your clients for feedback. “Is what I’m doing working? Could be doing it better? Is there something more I should be doing that I am not? Is there something I am doing that I should stop doing? How do you see me limiting myself ?” Don’t be afraid to ask. Most people are afraid to ask for feedback about how they are doing because they are afraid of what they are going to hear. There is nothing to be afraid of. The truth is the truth. You are better off knowing the truth than not knowing it. And once you know, you can do something about it. You cannot improve your life, your relationships, your game, or your performance without feedback. Slow down and pay attention. Life will always give you feedback about the effects of your behavior if you will just pay attention. If your golf ball is always slicing to the right, if you’re not making sales, if you’re getting C’s in all your college courses, if your children are mad at you, if your body is tired and weak, if your house is a mess, or if you’re not happy — this is all feedback. It is telling you that something is wrong. This is the time to start paying attention to what is happening. Ask yourself: How am I creating or allowing this to happen? What am I doing that’s working that I need to be doing more of? (Should I do more practicing, meditating, delegating, trusting, listening, asking questions, keeping my eye on the ball, advertising, saying “I love you,” controlling my carbohydrate intake?) What am I doing that’s not working? What do I need to be doing less of? (Am I talking too much, watching too much television, spending too much money, eating too much sugar, drinking too much, being late too often, gossiping, putting other people down?) What am I not doing that I need to try on to see if it works? (Do I need to listen more, exercise, get more sleep, drink more water, ask for help, do more marketing, read, plan, communicate, delegate, follow through, hire a coach, volunteer, or be more appreciative?) This book is full of proven success principles and techniques you can immediately put into practice in your life. You will have to suspend judgment, take a leap of faith, act as if they are true, and try them out. Only then will you have firsthand experience about their effectiveness for your life. You won’t know if they work unless you give them a try. And here’s the rub — no one else can do this for you. Only you can do it. But the formula is simple — do more of what is working, do less of what isn’t, and try on new behaviors to see if they produce better results.
PAY ATTENTION . . . YOUR RESULTS DON’T LIE
The easiest, fastest, and best way to find out what is or isn’t working is to pay attention to the results you are currently producing. You are either rich or you are not. You either command respect or you don’t. You are either golfing par or you are not. You are either maintaining your ideal body weight or you are not. You are either happy or you are not. You either have what you want or you don’t. It’s that simple. Results don’t lie! You have to give up the excuses and justifications and come to terms with the results you are producing. If you are under quota or overweight, all the great reasons in the world won’t change that. The only thing that will change your results is to change your behavior. Prospect more, get some sales training, change your sales presentation, change your diet, consume fewer calories, and exercise more frequently — these are things that will make a difference. But you have to first be willing to look at the results you are producing. The only starting point that works is reality. So start paying attention to what is so. Look around at your life and the people in it. Are you and they happy? Is there balance, beauty, comfort, and ease? Do your systems work? Are you getting what you want? Is your net worth increasing? Are your grades satisfactory? Are you healthy, fit, and pain free? Are you getting better in all areas of your life? If not, then something needs to happen, and only you can make it happen. Don’t kid yourself. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Take your own