Authors: Robin Sharma
The things that drive you crazy are actually giant opportunities. The people who press your buttons are actually your greatest teachers. The issues that make you angry are actually your biggest gifts. Be grateful for them. Love them.
The people or circumstances that take you out of your power have extraordinary value: They reveal your limiting beliefs, fears and false assumptions. The celebrated psychologist Carl Jung once said: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Powerful point. How much would you pay someone who promised that they could pinpoint exactly what is holding you back from your greatest life? How much would it be worth to get intimate information and intelligence on why you are not exactly at the place where you’ve always dreamed of being? The things that irritate, annoy and anger you are entry points into your evolution and elevation as a human being. They are signposts for what you need to work on and the fears you need to face. They are gifts of growth. You can blame the people who trigger you and make it all about them. Or you can do the wise thing and look deeply into yourself to discover the reasons for your negative reaction. Use the challenges to grow self-awareness. Because how can you
overcome a fear you are not even aware of? And how can you transcend an insecurity you don’t even know you have?
As you begin to shed light on your personal weaknesses and take responsibility for them, you actually begin the very process of shedding them. Shadows exposed to the light begin to disappear. You become stronger. More powerful. More of who you were meant to be. You begin to see the world through a different set of eyes. People really can evolve into their greatness—I see it every day.
The people or circumstances that take you out of your power have extraordinary value: They reveal your limiting beliefs, fears and false assumptions.
Kahlil Gibran, one of my favorite thinkers, once wrote: “I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am grateful to those teachers.” So the next time a co-worker sets you off or your teenager gets you going, or the next time a rude waiter in a restaurant makes you angry, walk over to them, give them a hug. Thank them for the gift they just gave you. Because, in truth, they really did.
The words you use determine the way you feel. The language you choose shapes the way you perceive reality. Your vocabulary drives meaning in your life. Please think about this idea. I believe it’s a big one.
The superstar businesspeople who I’ve coached are among the most high-spirited people I’ve ever met. And the way they talk reflects that devotion to being an uplifter and elevator of human beings. They wouldn’t dream of calling a setback a “problem”—they’d call it an “opportunity to create something even greater.” And then, as if by magic, their positive language provokes a set of positive sensations within them that supports them in playing victor versus victim in the seemingly difficult situation. The great ones among us would never express information about an upset customer as “bad news” but instead would label it “a challenge that will help us grow.” Rather than using negative words, they prefer winning words that inspire those around them to dwell in possibility and keep their heads focused on the dream. The words you use influence the life you live. Select them wisely.
I have a little exercise to offer you. Pull out your journal or a clean white sheet of paper and record an inventory of the words you most frequently speak. The more aware you can
become of the quality of your language, the more choice you will give yourself. And writing things down dramatically raises your self-awareness. Then, once you have identified your most commonly used words, do another list. Articulate a series of spectacularly positive words that will serve you—words that you imagine a superstar in your field using. Bring them into your daily vocabulary. You will discover that speaking these words will make you feel better. More powerful. More passionate. And when you feel great feelings, guess what? You’ll do great things.
The words you use influence the life you live.
Select them wisely.
There’s a cure for aging that no one talks about. It’s called learning. In my mind, as long as you learn something new each day, stretch your personal frontiers and improve the way you think, you cannot grow old. Aging only happens to people who lose their lust for getting better and disconnect from their natural base of curiosity. “Every three or four years I pick a new subject. It may be Japanese art; it may be economics. Three years of study are by no means enough to master a subject but they are enough to understand it. So for more than 60 years I have kept studying one subject at a time,” said Peter Drucker, the father of modern management who lived until he was 95. Brilliant guy.
Last year, I had the joy of spending a couple of hours in conversation with Shimon Peres, the former Israeli prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was nearly 82 at the time, and I couldn’t help but notice that his eyes actually sparkled as he spoke of his love of books, big ideas and learning. I asked: “Mr. Peres, when do you read?” His reply: “Robin, when don’t I read? I read when I get up in the morning, when I can during the day and every single evening. Most of my weekends are spent reading great books. Books are my constant companions.” He then added with a smile: “If you
eat three times a day you’ll be fed. But if you read three times a day you’ll be wise.”
Too many people never pick up a book after they’ve finished school. Unbelievable. Too many people spend more time watching TV than getting deep inside the minds of the greatest people who have walked the planet. Too many people have closed their minds to new insights and powerful thoughts. One idea discovered in one book can change the way you see the world. One idea read in one book could transform the way you communicate with people. One idea found in one book could help you live longer or be happier or drive your business to remarkable success. Never leave home without a book in your hand.
There’s a cure for aging that no one talks about. It’s called learning.
Any good psychologist will tell you that one of the deepest needs of a human being is the need to belong. We are happiest when we feel connected to others—when we are part of a community. Top performers in business make it a priority to build relationships with their teammates and their customers. Connecting with the people who surround them is not seen as a waste of time; instead, it is an exquisitely wise use of their time.
As a leadership development specialist, I work with our corporate clients to build cultures where people and relationships come first. This promotes communication, collaboration and strong business results. When people feel appreciated, they shine. Here are 10 deceptively simple ideas for building your human connections that have helped employees of the companies that engage us for leadership coaching get to a whole new level of high performance:
Be the most positive person you know.
Be candid and speak truthfully.
Be on time.
Say please and thank you.
Under-promise and over-deliver.
Leave people better than you found them.
Be friendly and caring.
Be a world-class listener.
Become passionately interested in other people.
Smile a lot.
One of the deepest needs of a human being is the need to belong.
Here’s a bonus point: Treat people with respect—always. I’ve discovered a very powerful law that just may change the way you lead as well as the way you live: To get respect, give respect. I sometimes share a story of a respected consultant who was engaged—at a great sum of money—to reveal his many years of wisdom with the management team of a large organization. The consultant walked into the meeting room and looked intensely at the group. He then reached for a marker and wrote four words on the whiteboard behind him: “Treat people with respect.” He smiled at the executives. And then he left.
I love music. I find music just makes life better. Add a little music to an ordinary experience and it becomes extraordinary. I just drove my kids to school before I wrote this chapter. Played the new Our Lady Peace CD as we drove. My daughter, Bianca, looked up at me and said: “Daddy, music makes me feel like dancing.” Her eyes sparkled as she said it. Perfect.
Last night I had a thoughtful conversation with an interesting friend. He makes his living in the financial markets. But he lives his passion spinning turntables as a DJ. Cool combination. He loves music. Makes his life better too. We talked about Morcheeba and Thievery Corporation and U2 and the Dave Matthews Band. That got me thinking. Music can connect us, giving us a shared language, whether we live in New York or Bogotá, Tel Aviv, San Juan, Bangalore or Beijing. Music has the potential to elevate our lives, enrich our societies and uplift the world.
Here’s what I really think: Musicians are artists, no different from painters or poets. They document our culture, cause us to think, provoke us (sometimes) and introduce us to new ideas. And the good ones are philosophers. Seriously. The best share wise insights through their songs that inspire us to see the
world through a new set of lenses and step out of the ordinary—into the realm of something special—if only for three minutes.
Bono of U2 said in an interview that he sees himself as a traveling salesman. He crisscrosses the planet selling a message, evangelizing his values, spreading the silent whispers of his heart on a stage in front of tens of thousands. Bono’s a poet. Just read some of his stuff. It’s deep. Alanis Morissette also comes to mind when I think of lyrics with philosophical weight. So does Dave Matthews. Even Eminem’s words, when not profane, have power. Listen to them sometime. The guy gets life.
Musicians are artists, no different from painters or poets. They document our culture, cause us to think, provoke us (sometimes) and introduce us to new ideas. And the good
ones are philosophers.
So let me ask you: Do you fill your moments with music? What songs make you think or laugh or cry? What music makes your heart soar and reminds you how beautifully blessed you are to be walking the planet today? What tunes inspire you to reach higher, dream bigger and get to the greatness that you are meant to be? Oh, and let me ask you one final question: What is the music that makes you just want to get up and start dancing?
True innovators have a mantra: “The enemy of the best is the good.” They are constantly daring to make things better. What others call impossible they see as probable. They live out of their imaginations—not their memories. They live to challenge the commonly accepted. They assume nothing. They see no limits. To them, everything’s possible.
If you want to be a leader, I have a simple suggestion: Just keep innovating. Innovate at work. Innovate at home. Innovate in your relationships. Innovate in the way you run your life. Innovate in terms of the way you see the world. To become stagnant is to begin to die. Growth, evolution and reinvention sustain life. Sure it can be scary. But wouldn’t you rather feel your fear than play small with your life?
There’s no safety in being the same person today that you were yesterday. That’s just an illusion that ends up breaking your heart when you get to the end of your life and realize that you missed out on living it boldly. Lasting fulfillment lives out in the unknown. When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me: “Robin, it’s risky out on the limb. But, son—that’s where all the fruit is.” And to play out on the skinny branch, you need to innovate. Daily. Relentlessly.
Of course, the more you innovate and refuse to be bound by the chains of complacency, the more you will fail. I mentioned that in an earlier chapter. Not every risk you take and not everything you try will work out as planned. That’s just life happening. Failure truly is essential to success. And the more you stretch, the farther you will reach. Failure is a gift anyway. Failure has been so helpful to me. It’s taken me closer to my dreams, equipped me with more knowledge and toughened me up so I’m more prepared. Success and failure go hand in hand. They are business partners.
There’s no safety in being the same person today that you were yesterday. That’s just an illusion that ends up breaking your heart.
One of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s organizing values is “disturb.” Love it. Makes me think of the words of Motorola CEO Ed Zander: “At the height of success, ‘break’ your business. Companies that don’t innovate don’t survive, so the key is driving this innovation. The lesson is especially important when things are going well. Though it’s counterintuitive, successful companies actually need to be more innovative than the competition. It’s like kids playing king of the hill—everyone aims for the kid at the top. Leaders that don’t innovate are displaced by those willing to take risks.” So go to work each day and refuse to do the same thing you did yesterday—just because it
was what you did yesterday. Keep challenging yourself to think better, do better and be better. Shake thinks up. Confront your limitations. Refuse to be average. Stand for what’s best. Commit to being breathtakingly great in all you do. And that’s what you’ll become. Sooner than you think.