Mondays with Mac

Mondays with Mac: It's not about you!

Why do some people act the way that they do? What I mean is that, sometimes when we find someone in the wrong, it's easy to think of it as all their fault. However, it could have been something outside of their control that made them act a certain way. Therefore, when someone offends us, it's good to take a step back to think and...breathe

That's what this story is all about...and how it relates to your happiness:

One of the most common ways we get in the way of our own happiness is by taking things personally when they're not personal at all.

So many people seem to be sensitive creatures—taking affront at being "disrespected," jumping to conclusions that someone else is being "rude," and quick to outrage over any perceived slight.

Here's a common example: You call a friend on the phone but he's not there, so you leave a voicemail message Hours roll by and your friend doesn't call you back Th e day ends and still no call Where does your mind go? If you're like most people, you wonder, "Why hasn't he called me back?"

Another day goes by and still no call Now you're worried, "What's wrong? Why hasn't he returned my call? I wonder if something happened to him?" A week goes by and still no call Now you're furious "What a jerk! The least he could do is return my call!"

The conversation in your head may be slightly diff erent, depending on who you're waiting to hear from—but it's always negative When someone doesn't call you back, you think something negative about yourself ("He must be mad at me," or "He doesn't like me ") or you think something negative about the other person ("He's rude," or "He's a jerk," or worse.) Either way, you let your happiness be diminished by your interpretation of someone else's behavior.

The truth is, you have no idea why your friend hasn't called! He could be out of town; he might be ill or injured; he could be up to his ears in work; he might be on a tight deadline with no time to call; perhaps his voicemail isn't working and he never got your message; or maybe he simply forgot to call. There are a hundred possible reasons why he didn't call—reasons that have nothing to do with you!

Here's a simple, effective happiness tip: Don't take things personally. Don't speculate on why people do things until you have actual facts; don't attach meanings to events until you know the whole story; don't make up stories in lieu of real information.

All that happened is your friend didn't promptly return your call. That's all.

You can free yourself from hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and crossed communications by simply noticing what happened (or didn't happen)—but NOT attaching any meaning to it. You'll find freedom and happiness that way.
May 16, 2011

Mondays with Mac: Choose Financial Freedom

Here's a story from one of the newest Simple Truths books, One Choice. Often, a change in your life can be traced back to a single event. At that time, you made a choice that changed your life.

That's what One Choice is all about...those watershed moments that make all the difference. Enjoy this excerpt:

Whether you're born rich or not, the power to be rich is within your control. You have to make the choice… and then follow through. That's the advice of financial counselor David Bach. In his book, Start Late, Finish Rich: A no-fail plan for achieving financial freedom at any age, he relates the story of one of his clients who appeared on the Oprah show, sharing how she made the choice and successfully accumulated $1.6 million in a brokerage account...starting in her early fifties. Her name is Lynn Haley, and Oprah explained that she came to my first "Smart Women Finish Rich" seminar when she was in her early fifties, put a plan in place, and took action. Now here she is a decade or so later, having retired a multi-millionaire. Lynn is beaming with pride—as well she should. Although she got a late start, she didn't let that stop her from taking action to catch up. She wasn't poor when I met her, but she didn't have a plan in place to really finish rich. I told her as much during our first appointment. "Lynn," I said, "with what you have now, you won't starve during your retirement. You'll be able to enjoy the 'early bird special.' But you won't be traveling to Europe or taking any cruises. If you want to finish rich, you are going to need a new plan of action." I made it clear to her that this new plan wouldn't involve anything particularly fancy or complicated. It would all be based on common sense. The thing was, she would have to apply what I taught her. Not just pay it lip service, but actually do it. "The choice is ultimately yours," I told her. "If you want to retire rich, we can work together to make it happen. I'll guide you, but you'll need to follow through. Otherwise, it won't work." Lynn was up to the challenge. "Tell me what I need to do, David, and I'll do it," she said. Fewer than 10 years later, Lynn took early retirement—rich enough to do what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. And getting there wasn't all that difficult. In fact, the hardest thing Lynn had to do was what she did that first day we met: deciding—and then really believing—that it wasn't too late for her to be able to change her destiny. Which life will you choose? When you contrast the bad news (the paycheck-to-paycheck struggle that kills freedom) with the good news (the phenomenal wealth and opportunity that is all around us), you begin to realize that life is not fair. The fact is, you don't get in life what you wish for. You get in life what you go for.

What have been your watershed moments? How can you make those hard choices? What advice do you have for others?

May 2, 2011

Pulling Together for Teamwork Success...

Peter Drucker, the legendary management consultant and author says this about teamwork:

"The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I." And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I." They don't think "I." They think "we;" they think "team." They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit...This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done."

The bottom line is that it's easy for any organization to say..."we value teamwork." However, saying it versus committing to the principles to grow it can be two different things.

And that's what Pulling Together is all about! Author John Murphy presents the ten rules for high performance teams in an engaging way that every person in your organization can understand.

John is a highly recognized author (7 books), speaker and management consultant who has helped some of the world's leading organizations create environments that value and reward teamwork.

Today, I'd like to share on excerpt from John's Rule #1...Put the team first. Enjoy!

At the center of every high performance team is a common purpose - a mission that rises above and beyond each of the individual team members. To be successful, the team's interests and needs come first. This requires "we-opic" vision ("What's in it for we?"), a challenging step up from the common "me-opic" mind-set. Effective team players understand that personal issues and personality differences are secondary to team demands. This does not mean abandoning who you are or giving up your individuality. On the contrary, it means sharing your unique strengths and differences to move the team forward. It is this "we-opic" focus and vision - this cooperation of collective capability - that empowers a team and generates synergy. Cooperation means working together for mutual gain - sharing responsibility for success and failure and covering for one another on a moment's notice. It does not mean competing with one another at the team's expense, withholding important data or information to be "one up" on your peers, or submitting to "groupthink" by going along so as not to make waves. These are "rule breakers," that are direct contradictions to the "team first" mind-set. High performance teams recognize that it takes a joint effort to synergize, generating power above and beyond the collected individuals. It is with this spirit of cooperation that effective teams learn to capitalize on individual strengths and offset individual weaknesses, using diversity as an advantage. Effective teams also understand the importance of establishing cooperative systems, structures, incentives and rewards. We get what we inspect, not what we expect. Think about it. Do you have team job descriptions, team performance reviews and team reward systems? Do you recognize people by pitting them against standards of excellence, or one another? What are you doing to cultivate a team-first, cooperative environment in this competitive, "me-opic" world? To embrace the team-first rule, make sure your team purpose and priorities are clear. What is your overall mission? What is your game plan? What is expected of each team member? How can each member contribute most effectively? What constants will hold the team together? Then stop and ask yourself, are you putting the team first?

Pulling Together captures the essence of teamwork better than any book I've read. It takes what can be a complex topic and presents the ten rules in a way that anyone can understand. If you have each member of your team read it, and then discuss how each rule applies to your organization, your chances of "pulling together" will be greatly improved!

March 15, 2011

Mondays with Mac: Rule #1...It's Golden

I grew up in Trenton, a west Tennessee town of five thousand people. I have wonderful memories of those first eighteen years, and many people in Trenton influenced my life in very positive ways. My football coach, Walter Kilzer, taught me the importance of hard work, discipline, and believing in myself. My history teacher, Fred Culp, is still the funniest person I've ever met. He taught me that a sense of humor, and especially laughing at yourself, can be one of life's greatest blessings.

But my father was my hero. He taught me many things, but at the top of the list, he taught me to treat people with love and live the Golden Rule. I remember one particular instance of him teaching this "life lesson" as if it were yesterday. Dad owned a furniture store, and I used to dust the furniture every Wednesday after school to earn my allowance. One afternoon I observed my Dad talking to all the customers as they came in...the hardware store owner, the banker, a farmer, a doctor. At the end of the day, just as Dad was closing, the garbage collector came in.

I was ready to go home, and I thought that surely Dad wouldn't spend too much time with him. But I was wrong. Dad greeted him at the door with a big hug and talked with him about his wife and son who had been in a car accident the month before. He empathized, he asked questions, he listened, and he listened some more. I kept looking at the clock, and when the man finally left, I asked, "Dad, why did you spend so much time with him? He's just the garbage collector." Dad then looked at me, locked the front door to the store, and said, "Son, let's talk."

He said, "I'm your father and I tell you lots of stuff as all fathers should, but if you remember nothing else I ever tell you, remember this...treat every human being just the way that you would want to be treated." He said, "I know this is not the first time you've heard it, but I want to make sure it's the first time you truly understand it, because if you had understood, you would never have said what you said." We sat there and talked for another hour about the meaning and the power of the Golden Rule. Dad said, "If you live the Golden Rule everything else in life will usually work itself out, but if you don't, your life probably will be very unhappy and without meaning."

I recently heard someone say, "If you teach your child the Golden Rule, you will have left them an estate of incalculable value." Truer words were never spoken.

If you're a newsletter subscriber, you may have already read this story. However, with less than a week left before Father's Day, I wanted to share how my father taught me some of the most important lessons that I've learned in my life. Therefore, it made me want to know what lessons did you learn from your father? What examples do you follow from him? What habits will you try to avoid? What are some principles that you want to pass to the next generation?

June 14, 2010

Honoring our Service Men and Women This Weekend

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

~Joseph Campbell

With Memorial Day approaching this weekend, I'd like to send a special note out to all of the service men and women, past and present, whom have sacrificed for their country. I think we can all agree that it takes courage to join the armed services, and not charge to be taken lightly. Therefore, here's a movie to honor those whom have made such a bold commitment.

I especially appreciate Lt. Gen. Hal Moore's commitment to reconciliation. As he said, "[General An] went from face-to-face combat to arm-in-arm friendship; [and] unity was restored by our efforts to come together." Reading about how two old enemies could forgive each other and become friends gave me goosebumps. If two opposing generals can put the past behind them, then I think there's hope for reconciliation for everyone!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

To Life,

Mac Anderson

May 25, 2010
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