How Many Crayons are in Your Box ?

If we were to compare the life we live to a box of CRAYONS, unfortunately, a lot of people will settle for a box of only 8 crayons containing the colors … red, yellow, blue, green, orange, brown, purple, and black. But, to be really successful in life and business, we don’t need to limit our options. There is a box of crayons with 24 color choices and even one with 64 color choices … in fact, there are currently 120 crayon color choices: 23 reds, 20 greens, 19 blues, 16 purples, 14 oranges, 11 browns, 8 yellows, 2 grays, 2 coppers, 2 blacks, 1 white, 1 gold and 1 silver…now we are getting somewhere.

If we stay within the confines of 8 colors (limiting our choices), when it comes to deciding what we need to do next and how we need to do it, we will greatly limit our chances to succeed. To be successful, we need to think freely and not be bound by old, limiting rules, policies or practices (limited colors of crayons). If someone were to start a taxi company, I would guess most people would think they need to go buy some taxis. But Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no taxis. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer has no inventory.

I have heard so many people tell me that they aren’t that creative, imaginative, ingenious, innovative, inventive, original, prolific, visionary, or clever; my response to them is start mixing colors and see what you get. A great chef will come up with a wonderful new recipe by simply adding some different ingredients.  World renowned scientist Albert Einstein once stated: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

There are those who hate to hear the overused statement … “you need to think outside the box.” So, for those who don’t like that statement … would it be better to say: “ You need to expand your horizons, think differently, be more creative, think of other possibilities, or consider alternatives?” Here is a statement that will get people looking for more alternatives (crayon colors): “You either figure out another way to do it or you’re fired or we lose or we go bankrupt.” Necessity is the mother of invention and that statement just created some serious necessity.

Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed the cotton gin.

Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would look at it. People scoffed at       the idea of railroads. They thought that traveling thirty m.p.h. would stop the circulation of the blood.

Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph.

In the early 1980’s, the great consulting firm, McKinsey, forecasted that a worldwide market for mobile telephones would top out at 900,000 by the year 2000. By the year 2000 there were 900,000 people signing up every 3 days.

Research didn’t predict the success of the telephone, radio, television, cable, personal computer, fax machine or mobile phone … unconventional thinking made them happen.

One 3M executive said that more than 50% of their new product innovations in his division came from ideas of complainers … not 3M … but from customers.

Your success is dependent on never confining yourself to one train of thought, one way of thinking, or limiting beliefs. Sometimes, there are different ways to accomplish the same thing; here are 25 ways to do things you may have never thought of.   https://goo.gl/yKSvoR

How many crayons are in your box? Most computers display 16.8 million colors to make a full-color picture, so as far as I’m concerned, 120 crayons just got waxed. (no pun intended). Get out of your box, start mixing colors, looking for alternatives, considering possibilities and never discount any idea as nuts. If everything you ever wanted was one step out of your comfort zone (your box) … would you have the courage to take the step? I hope so.

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit

when there are footprints on the moon.”

Anonymous

SETBACKS

The great writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There are countless stories of people (and companies) having second, third and even fourth acts. Okay, so things didn’t work out the way you had planned, or you failed miserably, or, or, or … I could go on and on with examples of things that have caused people pain, heartache or money. But no matter what occurred, they then had a decision to make … move on or give up. Sometimes moving on is a whole lot easier being said, than done … but it is truly your only option if you want to be successful. 

When bad things happen, I simply define them as SETBACKS. Setbacks come in many forms, but they all take a toll on us in one way or another. Setbacks can be caused by us, by other people, by nature, or by poor health that we did or didn’t have anything to do with. Today, I am not going to get into why the setback occurred, but I would like to address what you should consider doing next. In my opinion, this one point has everything to do with you succeeding or failing in life.

One man decided to climb a mountain that no one ever had made it to the top. Fifteen people before him had died attempting to conquer this 29,028 foot high beast. The first time he failed miserably, but the next year he tried again and succeeded. I guess we should introduce Mr. Fitzgerald to Sir Edmund Hillary; the first man to climb Mt. Everest. But, how about attempting something totally absurd, where 756 men who attempted it, all died. Admiral Robert Peary wanted to stand at the top of the world, the North Pole, and he finally did it on his 8th attempt.

But, these people put themselves in harm’s way, attempting what seemed to all, to be impossible; they caused their own misery. How do you deal with setbacks that you had nothing to do with? U.S. Triathlon Champion, Karen Smyers, had more setbacks thrown at her on her journey to the championship then any human should ever have to endure. A storm window broke-out in a severe storm and sliced her hamstring requiring and operation to repair it. Then she got struck by an eighteen-wheel truck that broke six ribs along with giving her a lung contusion and shoulder separation. But we aren’t done yet. She took a terrible spill on a bicycle and broke her collar-bone. All of those injuries seemed small compared to her then getting diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which required six hours of surgery to remove the tumors. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it all and she had to have a second operation to remove the remaining cancer.  I would call that quite a list of setbacks, but she never gave up.

I would like to refer you to the profound words of former President Calvin Coolidge who said: “Press on. Nothing can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘press on’ has solved, always will solve, the problems of the human race.”  If I leave you with anything today, it is for you to consider taking advantage of something that no scientist has ever found, but we all know exists: the amazing power of the Human Spirit.

BAD things are going to happen to all of us, but our success rests on what we do next. You might have to step back, regroup, and heal, while you are regaining your spirit and strength. But, just say to yourself, BAD stands for “Begin Again Determined”. You see…

Winners Look at a Setback as the

Starting Point to Their Comeback

First, Last or Next

We have all had a lot of “Firsts” in our lives; our first step, first day of school, first kiss, first dance, first car and our first job. The list can go on and on with the things we have done for the first time. Some were really hard, some we thought were going to be hard but turned out a lot simpler than we feared and some just happened by accident … but we got through them all. Then we all have had some pretty neat “Lasts” in our lives as well: the last time you had to ask your parent’s permission, the last time you had a curfew on a date, the last time you had to study for a French, trigonometry, or chemistry final …or whatever courses you hated. Life is full of lots of great “First and Lasts”.

But, sometimes the “Firsts and Lasts” aren’t fun or exciting. Sometimes they are sad, hard, disappointing or even heart wrenching. I am sure you all can think of those without me having to point them out. I don’t want to address those today. I want to stay focused and positive about a subject I feel very strong about. I feel that truly successful people, those who stay on top of their profession for years, are always moving forward. They keep relevant, thriving, and successful by looking forward and moving on to the “NEXT” challenge, goal and soon to be another accomplishment. They don’t live in the past talking about previous successes. They finish what they are doing to the best of their ability … take a moment to appreciate what they have accomplished … and then move on; they relish what life has in store for them.

Your life is going to have countless “Firsts and Lasts”, whether you want them or not, but your “NEXT” accomplishment is up to you. The day you quit looking forward to your next goal, project, plan, mission, task, or grand undertaking is the day you stop progressing. When actor/comedian George Burns was 79, his career was resurrected in the 1975 film The Sunshine Boys, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He continued to work until shortly before his death, in 1996, at the age of 100. When he died he still had future engagements booked. He had more “NEXTs” planned out all the way up to his last breath. At 86 years of age, the famous poet Robert Frost recited his poem “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s Presidential inauguration. At 88, Michelangelo completed his sculpture Roudandini Pieta, depicting an aged man holding Christ. At 89, classical pianist Arthur Rubinstein performed his famous concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. At 104, educator/research scientist Ray Crist finally retired after an 80 year career that began at Columbia University.

But “NEXT” is not just for the elderly. Mozart was performing piano concerts across Europe at the age of 6. Bill Gates wrote his first computer program at the age of 13 and at 31 he had made his first billion dollars. At 15, swimmer Dara Torres set the world record in the 50-meter freestyle. Tommy Hilfiger opened his first clothing store at the age of 18, with his hottest item being bell-bottom pants. What do these people all have in common? They all kept moving forward to their “NEXT” accomplishment. 

If you want to study somebody who was really amazing at “NEXT”, take a look at Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He founded the first U.S. hospital, insurance company, police department, fire department, and book circulating library. He invented the Franklin Stove, the lightning rod and bifocals (to name a few). He was involved in founding two colleges. On top of all of those accomplishments, Mr. Franklin was also an Alderman, Governor, Ambassador and one of the founding fathers of the United States. He kept active and working right up until he died at 84 years of age. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral. Mr. Franklin’s entire life was a continuous journey of “NEXTs”. Here is an anonymous quote that I think sums up nicely the point I am trying to make. 

“You can’t start the NEXT chapter of your life, 

if you keep re-reading the last one.”

Personal Communication Filter

One of the definitions for the word “filter” is “a device that is used to filter out something unwanted.” You can buy a pair of sunglasses to filter out unwanted ultraviolet light. There are water purification filters, oil filters, fuel filters, air filters, pool filters, cigarette filters, coffee filters, aquarium filters, and furnace filters. You can filter emails, filter out spam, and put a filter on an internet search engine. You can even put a lens filter on a camera to reduce the amount of wrinkles people see on your face.

But, I haven’t found a filter you can buy for personal communication. There are a lot of people who have ruined their lives, be it on a personal or business basis, by saying something stupid, thoughtless, mean, malicious, despicable, inappropriate, condescending, cruel, hurtful, vicious, painful, and certainly uncalled-for. If they had just had a filter that would have removed their unacceptable statements, things would have turned out so much better for everyone.

Practicing good manners will serve as a filter, or possibly your experience will help to filter out the things you shouldn’t say. One simple way to protect yourself is to say nothing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “ Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.   Or you may want to follow the advice of the Canadian educator, Laurence J. Peter, who said, “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret”.  

Just as a water filter removes the impurities from water … I feel we all need a personal communication filter so we can filter out the impurities from our speech such as: complaining, anger, gossip, cursing, nagging, idle chatter, egotism, condescension, ridicule and hurtful criticism.  I wonder how many people you know would want to filter out certain things you say. Ask yourself this question: Do I brighten the mood of a room full of people when I enter the room or when I leave the room? Maybe you should consider filtering some of the things you are saying.

 Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something.”  Since there are no personal communication filters available for sale, it is going to fall to us to filter our words. So, let me give you a few rules that might help: Only speak what you know to be true, speak with integrity, before speaking ask yourself would someone be pleased with what you are saying about them, avoid at all costs speaking when angry, and when in doubt, stay silent. My final advice is this simple poem:

Be careful of the words you say,

and keep them soft and sweet.

You’ll never know from day-to-day,

which ones you’ll have to eat.

Well … I’ll Show You

There are two sides to rejection: those who got rejected and those who did the rejecting. Instead of crawling in some hole and giving up when you get rejected, making the REJECTERS right about you, why not see it as a challenge and simply say to yourself, “I’ll show you.” There is no law that says REJECTERS are always right. In fact, there are countless examples of the REJECTERS being terribly wrong. The REJECTERS were the ones who made a HUGE mistake. The REJECTERS turned out to be the ones who were REALLY SORRY for the decision they made.

One of my favorite stories on being rejected is about the famous cartoonist, Charles Schulz, who created the world-renowned comic strip Peanuts. Charles asked his girlfriend, Donna Johnson, whom he had dated for three years, to marry him and was REJECTED. Yep. She turned him down and married a person who had a more stable job, rather than marry a cartoonist. The Peanuts comic strip went on to be published in over 70 countries and earned Mr. Schulz approximately $40 million annually. Mr. Schulz immortalized his rejecting girlfriend by creating the little red-head girl in his Peanuts strip, who always rejected Charlie Brown. Mr. Schulz … showed her.

Marilyn Monroe was REJECTED by Twentieth Century-Fox production chief, Darryl Zanuck, after just one year under contract because he thought she was unattractive. Well … Marilyn showed him. Tom Cruise was REJECTED by the casting director for the television series FAME because he wasn’t pretty enough. Well … Tom showed him. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, originally owned fifteen Ben Franklin Hardware Stores operating under the name, Walton’s Five & Dime. He went to the executives of Ben Franklin Hardware Store franchises and suggested opening discount stores in small towns. The executives rejected his idea. Well … Sam showed them.

The manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Elvis, “go back to driving a truck because you will never make it as a singer.” Barbara Walters was told by the executive producer of 60 Minutes to “stay out of television.” Jay Leno applied for a job at Woolworth’s but failed the employment test. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, took the original idea to the executives of CBS, NBC and ABC and was REJECTED by all of them. They all thought the idea of a 24 hour news network was stupid. Decca Records rejected The Beatles, saying, “We don’t like your sound, and guitar music is on the way out”. Authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who wrote, Chicken Soup for the Soul, received 134 rejections from publishers. Other famous authors such as William Faulkner, John Grisham, E.E. Cummings, Rudyard Kipling, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were all rejected by publishers. Well … they all showed them!

It looks like, to me, that when you are rejected you have now joined a pretty elite group of people … if you decide to prove the REJECTER wrong. Yes, the chronicles of world history are littered with REJECTED people, ideas, concepts, manuscripts, songs, paintings, and patents that later turned out to be someone or something special. So, if you want to take it to the next level, put three words in your arsenal that will dispel all failures, ridicule, mockery and rejectionI’ll Show You.

Just imagine a convention where all the STUPID REJECTERS in the world showed up and you got to meet them. You probably wouldn’t remember their names, only the fact that they were the ones who REJECTED Elvis, or Marilyn or, The Beatles. Those REJECTERS are all kicking themselves in the butt because “the rejected” proved them wrong. Elvis sold over 1 billion records with eighteen #1 hits … we are all glad he didn’t go back to driving a truck.

The famous movie actor, Sylvester Stallone, once said, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” Take rejection as a wake-up call … someone sounding the alarm for you to recommit yourself to prove them wrong.

Detractors, Critics, and Rejecters are Only Right

If You Let Them

Ride For The Brand

A few weeks ago I asked you all to send me in your favorite quotes and the response was overwhelming. While I’m deciding how I am going to use all this great material, I thought I would share one quote that really stood out to me, because:

  • I had never heard it before  
  • I didn’t know what it meant and  
  • When I found out what it meant, I really liked it.

Sam Bertelsen, sent me the quote, who had it passed on to him by his Dad. Sam describes the company that he works for as … a small, fly-by-night company, called FedEx.  Sam is a real character, who lives in Montana and is fan of cowboy traditions and that is where the quote he sent me came from. The quote was, “Ride for the Brand.” It is an expression of loyalty to a cowboy’s employer or the particular outfit he rode for. I was now very intrigued about the expression, so I did some more research.

Most cattle on a cattle ranch are given a brand, a unique mark burned into the tough hide on the backside of the cow; it means that cow belongs to that ranch. But the expression, Ride for the Brand,” was more than just a mark that determined ownership of a cow. It became a symbol for those who lived and worked for the ranch and was a visual representation of the values and principles that ranch stood for. Cowboys were expected to dedicate themselves to the boss and the group of cowboys who worked for the ranch. The cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. I was really liking what my research was turning up, so I kept digging.

I then came across … Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West – by James P. Owens. Mr. Owens listed these points to follow:

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start 
  4. Do what has to be done 
  5. Be tough, but fair. 
  6. When you make a promise, keep it.
  7. Ride for your brand 
  8. Talk less and say more 
  9. Remember some things aren’t for sale 
  10. Know where to draw the line

Mr. Owens even notedRide for your Brand”, in his list. The reason why I share the quote with you is I think it is as fitting today as it was in the old west. Loyalty to your company should be a given. The company you are working for deserves your best, all the time. Sam said his father also told him  … to work every day hard and ask yourself would your company hire you again tomorrow based on your performance today?  I suggest you use that quote to measure your performance every day!

If you want to advance your career with your company, then Ride for YOUR Brand.”  People will sense the pride you have for your company and the appreciation you have for working there. Remember, the cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. If I was your boss and knew that was the way you felt about our company, wild horses couldn’t pull you away from me. I would do everything I could to keep you. But, for you bosses out there, you need to understand that employee loyalty comes from employer loyalty. If your employees are delivering for you, you need to always have their back, be in their corner and singing their praises.

Being Loyal Gains Loyalty

Ride For YOUR Brand

Don’t Confuse Them

Your boss uses the following words in a meeting: sanction and temper. Did you raise your hand and ask, “Excuse me, but I am confused about your sanction comment; does that mean you approve of it or we are to boycott it? And then you told us to temper our comments, so do you want us to soften them or strengthen them?” Or, did you think to yourself:

  • No way am I going to risk advancing my career by questioning my boss.
  • I am going to let someone else fall on the sword and ask the questions.
  • Hey, I’ll find out later what my boss really meant.
  • Not a chance in the world will I ever point out to my boss they just used a two words that have totally opposite meanings.

How employees handle this dilemma is a very telling sign as to the leadership qualities of their boss. I believe if no one says a word, then we are dealing with a difficult person to work for; a boss who might be best described as a mean, belittling, oppressive, and over-bearing person. If that is the case, a roomful of employees just walked out of the meeting having no idea which definitions they should use.

What if you are a global company, with multiple languages being used to communicate. The “context” of what was said (or written) can easily get lost in translation. The next thing you know you have employees moving in opposite directions all thinking they are doing the right thing, which is a true formula for disaster.

Our English language is riddled with puzzling words that are potential traps for confusion that can lead to problems. The examples I used in the first paragraph, sanction and temper, are called “Contronyms”, which are words that have contradictory meanings. Another area of confusion can stem from the use of “Homophones”. A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot. Other examples are … break / brake … blew / blue … by / bye / buy …fair / fare … hear / here … witch / which … and … would / wood. In fact, the list of homophones is quite extensive. So, for you scholars out there, I have a short quiz for you; all the answers are homophones so let’s see which ones you can answer.

Example:   If four couples went to a restaurant, how many people dined?  

Answer :   eight ate.

  • 1. What would we do if we found bad plants spoiling our lawn?
  • 2. What would you say in the evening to a soldier in shining armor?
  • 3. What are groups of sailors on an ocean pleasure trip?
  • 4. What is a group of musicians that isn’t allowed to play?
  • 5. If they are not here, where are they?
  • 6. What is the name for a weird street of shops that sell incredible things?
  • 7. What do you call a bucket that has seen a ghost?
  • 8. If a devil is completely sinful, what is an angel? 

Can’t you sea that the answers to these questions are as plane as the knows on yore face.

In a world of global communication, when a click sends a message for all the world to see,

may I suggest you choose your words wisely, or what a fool you could appear to be.

 Leaders who confuse people, aren’t Leaders for long.

 

Homophone Answers

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