When you get right down to it, we’re a miserably ungrateful lot. We have so much convenience, ease, security and access to luxuries, we get fussier than a colicky baby with a diaper rash when we have to wait in line for 10 whole minutes to get our triple-shot, almond-milk skinny latte that is conveniently handed to us through our car window so we don’t even have to go to the trouble of getting our butt out of the car – and nothing is more mentally draining and counterproductive than a lack of gratitude for what you have and the opportunities available to all of us.
Last week I took the family down to a new beach house we bought in Florida – a dream I’ve had for some time now but wouldn’t allow until I reached certain financial goals I had set for myself. As I walked my dog Rocket one evening along the beach, I was reflecting a lot on all the things I have to be intensely grateful for. Of course, the usual come to mind – my health, my family (who are also healthy, thankfully), my clients and the business I’ve built, the fact that I live in a country that provides me the freedom to pursue wealth, and the sacrifices made by so many to give me that freedom. I was grateful for the fact that we have running water, indoor plumbing and the ability to simply hop on over to the grocery store to get our food instead of having to survive off the land. The list was long.
But another thing I’m very grateful for are the mentors, coaches and teachers over the years who have shown me how to develop the skills I possess to design a successful life rather than just accept what shows up and be miserable about it.
Not too long ago I got into a friendly argument with a family member. We were discussing my niece’s graduation and future career opportunities, which she had not yet finalized, and what type of money could be earned in the various professions she could choose. After listening to the conversation, I chimed in, “Or she could just start her own business and make a hell of a lot more money.” The response was, “Well, not EVERYONE has your talent.”
I laughed and pointed out that 1) I have no real “talent.” What I have are highly developed skills that I intentionally and purposefully worked on for the last 30 years. 2) Skills can be learned. I wasn’t born with a natural “talent” to run a multimillion-dollar business but learned it like I learned all the other skills I have. 3) Even if I had talent, talent alone isn’t a guarantee of success. You still have to make the decision to wake up early every day and put that talent to a profitable use. And 4) holding the belief that only those people with a natural talent or birthright gift can succeed in business, make a lot of money or accomplish anything of significance is nothing but head trash that will stand directly in your way of achieving great things. Of course, that went over like a turd in a punchbowl. (I should know better than dispensing free advice to family members, but like Ron White quipped, I had the right to remain silent, but I didn’t have the ability.)
Yet how many people actually pursue the development of such skills? A better question: How many are appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to learn them? Kids cry to their parents, “Do I HAVE TO go to school?” My response is always, “No, you GET to go to school.” Many parents would agree with me, yet how many of them feel the same way about the opportunity to go to industry events and workshops to learn how to be better at marketing? Selling? Growth and leadership? How many of them are investing in their own education in all of these areas on a WEEKLY or even DAILY basis? If they aren’t, they can’t double talk and try to sell me on their gratitude for learning.
Similarly, I get the same question asked about marketing. “Do I HAVE to make all those phone calls? Do I HAVE to pick a target market? Do I HAVE to have a USP? Do I HAVE to constantly update my website? Do I HAVE to do ALL this work?” (The last is often disguised by asking, “What’s the most important thing I should be doing?” as if there is only one most important thing.)
My answer is the same: You don’t HAVE to do anything. You don’t have to have a successful business. You don’t have to get more clients. You don’t have to make a lot of money. You don’t have to run a business at all. You can sit at home and collect a free check from the government if you so choose.
Years ago, when I had Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk star, onstage, he commented that he LOVED the hard training and heavy reps because he knew that with every one he was one step closing to winning the title of Mr. America in the IFBB competition. Success requires us to do a whole lot of things that aren’t fun or pleasant, but if you bring a crappy attitude of ingratitude to the doing of it, you’ll be miserable AND won’t be nearly as productive as you could be.
Never forget, you GET to run a business. You GET to earn a living and do meaningful work. You GET to have employees and clients to take care of. You GET to develop yourself, improve, overcome and achieve. If you change just that one word…and mean it…life opens up.