This morning I was listening to Tony Robbins. I went and got a tape of Tony after being with him recently. He was saying a lot of people acquaint happiness with having no problems. He says that’s crazy. It reminded me of one of Norman Vincent Peale’s favorite stories. Norman was walking down the street in New York City when he ran into a friend of his and said, “How are you doing?” Norman thought it was just a casual greeting, but the guy took it as an invitation and he lay down all of his problems at Norman’s feet. After about twenty minutes, he was finished and he said, “Norman, if you can solve all of my problems, I’ll give you a check for $5,000 to give to your favorite charity.” Norman said that he had never turned down such a challenge, so he ruminated and he cogitated and he agitated and he came up with a solution. He said, “I was just at an organization the other day where people have no problems. Would you like to go there?” And his friend said, “That’s exactly where I want be.” And Norman said, “I’ll take you there tomorrow. It’s called Woodlawn Cemetery. The only people I know who have no problems are dead.” Problems are a way of life, so if you equate your happiness to not having any problems, you’re going to be naïve for the rest of your life. Happy people know how to deal with problems. They don’t get bogged down with problems. They solve problems. They work on problems. But they don’t let problems take over their life. You know, sometimes you put a problem on your back and it drags you down. What you have to do is to say, “How do I solve this?” Happiness and problems go together. So as Tony said, it’s your attitude—it’s what you bring to a problem—that can result in a positive solution, So if you have any problems today, great! You’ll probably have a happier day.
My wife Margie and I needed to fly to New York in early September, and we had made a plan that we weren’t going to fly on September 11. But you know, life is not always in your own hands. I learned that from Don Shula really clearly when he talked about the importance of being audible-ready. That means you have to have a plan, but when plans go awry, you have to be able to “call an audible.” You have to go with the flow.
So on September 10 when we were on our way to our first stop in Dallas, there were all kinds of problems with the Dallas airport, and we had to land in Oklahoma City because we had to get more gas. We eventually got to Dallas at about nine o’clock that night. Of course, our connecting flight to New York had already taken off. So we stayed at the airport hotel right there. The next morning, September 11, we flew safely to New York City. I think one of the things that makes you relax and be more easy in life is if you have an audible-ready attitude. Shula said that when you call an audible in football, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan. When things change, you just have to call a different play. You can’t get all uptight and ticked off because you didn’t get to go with your original plan. Some people at the airport were really bent out of shape because their plans were changed. They got themselves all out of whack about something they couldn’t control. So sometimes things change and you have to just go with the flow.
Something that’s so important in changing organizations for the better is the whole concept of trust. As I’ve said before, trust and respect go together. There are some real trust issues that people are dealing with out there. Sometimes people are not sure that the leader necessarily respects them and seeks their opinions. The leader could even be making an effort to do that, but people may be suspicious because of past leaders. It’s so important. It doesn’t do you any good to be concerned or have an issue about something and not let the person working with you, or someone else, know about it, so something can be done about it. As the CEO of WD-40 Company, Garry Ridge, says, everything is a learning opportunity if it’s an issue we can learn from. So I hope you really listen to your people, respect them, and ask their opinions. Treat everyone you work with as teammates in this tough economic time, so you can trust each other and work together toward what you’re trying to accomplish. I love the old saying that there’s no “I” in TEAM, because it’s so true.
I’ve been reading a book by Mick Ukleja, who is one of my good buddies. It’s called The Ethics Challenge: Strengthening Your Integrity in a Greedy World. He says that one of the ways to keep your integrity high is to harness your moods. He says, interestingly, that a study of red-light violations shows a strong relationship between feeling under pressure and breaking the law. Forty-one percent of the people who go through red lights are doing it on their way to work or to school. But only nine percent of the red light violations were committed by people on vacation. He says, “A basic human frailty is that we allow our moods to master us rather than making sure we master them. You’re probably a lot like us. Sometimes we’ve known what to do, how to do it, and that we ought to do it, but we didn’t do it. You discover that your good intentions can be hijacked by your feelings. We speed through a red light, we cut off another driver, we procrastinate, we shut our minds to others because we’re in a bad mood. It’s easy, especially in pressure situations, to let our moods master us. So we really need to harness our moods. When you feel like you’re in a mood, go walk around the building. Go walk around your house. Get yourself back under control so that you can do what you know is right.” So don’t be moody. And if you are, recognize it and get it back under control. That’s a good thought for today.
A great comment I heard recently from our consultant, Tommy Moore, was: “There is no hall of fame for critics,” Ha! I just love that. A lot of times, people are really good at taking shots at what other people are doing. That’s not really very helpful. Redirection is so much different than criticism: Here’s something that has happened, here’s how it has impacted things, here’s what would really help next time, and I’m still excited about working with you. That’s really kind of a nice thing. But we also have to remember, if you do ever get criticism, that feedback is the breakfast of champions, as Rick Tate always used to say. The best response to any kind of criticism, if you get it, is: “Tell me more. Is there anyone else I should talk to? Oh, this is so helpful.” That will really blow people’s minds because you won’t be defensive or anything. You won’t get your ego in the way. Don’t criticize yourself or other people. Give ‘em a hug. That’s what they could really use.