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Hope is not a strategy

By Burk Moreland April 22, 2015

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“So what do you intend on accomplishing this week?” 

“Well… I hope to get a salesperson hired, get my goals in order, and see my son’s baseball game.”

 “So are you going to do it or not??”

 Hope is never a good strategy for accomplishment.

This dialogue occurs all the time in my world. Clients refuse to commit to achievement due to concern that they might fail. So what happens? Because their goals are merely dreams and wishes, they may or may not get the salesperson hired, and chances are the baseball game is not going to happen. Anyone else have issues like this?

Part of my job is to hold people accountable to what they say they want to accomplish. In some ways I become my coaching clients’ conscience in that I remind them what they said they were going to do. It is not uncommon for me to hear things like, “Will you get out of my head?? Half way through the week all I could hear was you asking me if I am hoping to do it or if I am GOING to do it.”

One of my mentors, Gene Swang, used to ask me, ‘Are you a chicken or a pig?’ The first time, this question left me dumbfounded and I answered, “Neither.” He said, “Then you’re a chicken. You see, it’s about breakfast… The chicken agrees to breakfast. She gives up her eggs. The pig commits. He gives his life.”

This simple Q&A illustrated exactly what I was doing. By not committing to an answer, I gave the minimum effort, and that was symbolic of the effort I gave in my job many times. I remember coming home and telling my wife, “I am going to be a pig from now on!” A blank look and a call to my mother soon followed, but after a bit of explanation, it made sense. From that moment on, one of my Ten Commandments for my teams was always: Be decisive, make a decision and move on. I have often explained to a team member, ‘If I have to make all the decisions, I don’t need you.”

So where are you in your job, in your life? Are you committed or just participating? Are you in the game or sitting on the sidelines? Are you a chicken or a pig? Are you just participating in life? These questions are what separate the truly successful people from the rest.

Another great analogy is floating down a river. Are you in an inner tube with no paddle, your beverage in one hand, just going wherever the currents take you? Or are in a raft, part of team, all paddling? Floating along definitely has an appeal, and there is a time for just relaxing. But when it comes to your business (and your life) is that really the way you want to go? Of course, even when you are in the raft paddling, the current tends to take you in one direction and going upstream seems impossible, but you have a tool and help to navigate the rocks and other dangers ahead. You are committed. There are times you will be dumped in the water, but you are going down with a fight versus just floating along.

I urge each of you to take more control of your life. Make something happen rather than allowing life to happen to you. For many of you, the victim mentality has found its way deep into your mind. Some of you don’t even know you have it. Here are some phrases and thoughts to watch and listen for:

  • Why does this happen to me?
  • Nothing ever goes right for me.
  • You are so lucky.
  • I wish I could do that.
  • I hope things get better.

All of these and many more are powerless phrases uttered by a person who is feeling powerless. Now, listen to these:

  • It happened, now I am going to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again!
  • Didn’t work that time, but I learned another way not to do it.
  • Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.
  • I am going to figure out how I can do that.
  • I am going to make things better.

Do you see the subtle differences in basically the same idea? It is about believing you are in control of your life. A word I like to replace ‘hope’ with is ‘believe.’ Similar words to some, huge differences in true meaning to me. Hope is a word that is powerless for the user. I hope things get betterimplies the speaker is waiting for someone else fix the situation. I believe things can get better implies that the speaker feels at least some control of the world around him or her and is envisioning something positive happening. What you think about is what will become. If you focus on everything falling apart, you will create that. If you focus on how everyone else’s life is better, theirs will be

To make any progress in your business and life, you have to start with belief. Nearly everyone wants to be more successful by some measure – happiness, wealth, contribution, etc. The problem is that few are also committed. We have a whole lot of chickens running around and very few pigs. So next time you are presented with a challenge, out loud utter OINK! Commit to making it happen.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing specific ways to improve your goal setting that will help with your commitment and ultimate success.

The results you want are out there, let me help you find them… Burk

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