Success Strategies - April - 2017

A Life Well Lived

“How’s life?” It’s not uncommon to have friends ask this question when they haven’t seen you in a while. What’s your answer today? How’s “it” going?

Now, before you get tempted to look at the obvious, like checking the weather to see what kind of a day it is, let’s step back and take a wiser look. Even a rainy or bad-weather day can still be a time of profound satisfaction or successful advancement. We aren’t a reflection of the weather, though we’re influenced by it somewhat.

The same can be said about the jobs on your list: The car that’s come back three times now with the same problem. The customers who don’t realize how well you repaired their vehicles and what good prices you gave them. The team member who just can’t seem to master that one, vital job skill. The technology that isn’t giving you accurate readings, despite recent upgrades. Or the coworker who doesn’t seem to care about being a good contributor to the workflow.

In the face of obstacles like these, it’s tempting to say, “Life is difficult right now.” Even world champions on their best days could find something to focus on that seems difficult. The world-record runner could complain about foot pain on the last lap. Winning jockeys can tell you about how a fellow rider tried to cut them off in the home stretch. The world’s richest person could tell you about his losses and the people who cheated or betrayed him.

It’s always easy to swim downstream: excuses and complaints aren’t hard to find. As I often say, “Critics may be smart, but have no heart.” Finding fault is an entry-level skill and isn’t worth much.

So how’s life? About now, you’d expect me to switch to a roses-and-rainbows worldview, right?

I’d rather take a look through the eyes of a winner. How about Tom Brady, the Super Bowl champion quarterback? Yes, he’s handsome, married to a supermodel, rich, and surrounded with success.

But look at how he responded to his 5th Super Bowl win. He cried, he thanked people, he praised his team and coach, and he gratefully hugged his team’s owner. He didn’t proclaim, “I did it!” He said, “We did it,” and “Thank you.”

On a personal level, let’s look more closely at his strategies: He’s a fitness fiend, he eats a very disciplined diet, he works out constantly, he treasures his family time, brags about his kids, openly loves his wife, and he’s humble and even funny. We can learn from that. I’m not asking you to enthrone him as your hero; I just assert that we can all follow many of his examples.

When your friend asks, “How’s life?” I recommend that you answer like my friend, the late, great Zig Ziglar used to: “Super good… but I’ll get better!” Zig was a happy soul. He always chose to focus on what good could be done. He believed in people and possibilities. Though his own youth had been poor and difficult, he crafted a life that has touched millions with inspiring stories and solutions. He was fun to be around, to listen to, and to learn from.

Zig was a voracious student and he truly liked people. I recall I once wrote a critical public letter to Macy’s for removing “Merry Christmas” from their store’s holiday greetings. Zig saw the letter and wrote me a personal note, “Mighty proud of you Jim for standing up for your values.” I treasure that note.

This isn’t to say that you should deny difficulties. I just suggest that you keep them in perspective. Today’s weather or work list doesn’t determine how your life is going. It just influences where you need to put today’s energy.

Keep in mind that your life will someday end, and others will assess it based on what they saw, heard, and experienced. Give them lots of reasons to say, “Now that was a life well-lived.” Make people glad that you were here.