The REAL reason, and one that sounds good.

JP Morgan used to say that people usually have two reasons for what they do: the REAL reason, and one that sounds good. Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, tells us to appeal to the one that sounds good in order to get people on our side. As effective as that is, I’l have to admit that Carnegie’s suggestion always seemed like manipulation to me rather than genuine engagement. Does it work? Sure, but it’s a philosophy based on the Western tendency to believe it’s okay for people to use each other.

That being said, when you want to pursue a business or personal vision, having a real reason that is different from the one that sounds good may not interfere with its success if we measure by profit, but it can affect the legacy of that vision. Ulterior motive also tend to lead us toward manipulation, deceit, and under-handed tactics which in time may very well poison our relationships. I’m all for success and profitability, but in the end there is no substitute for authenticity and integrity.

As you build your vision, a great way to protect that vision’s integrity is to periodically as yourself if there’s a ‘real reason’ behind your decisions that differs from the ones that sound good. As I discuss i my book, The Million Dollar Hustle, your real intention will influence your decisions, and your decisions will determine your results… and their consequences.

What can you do today to refine the integrity of your vision?

The power of your thoughts

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” – Ancient proverb

Your thoughts are immensely powerful. SO powerful that they shape your very reality. Now, I’m not talking about some belief that your thoughts communicate with the universe and then the universe gives you what you’re thinking about. Being a more practical man, I’d like to share with you  my observations on how your thinking affects your intentions and decisions, which in the end shape your life.

First you continually think about, and how you think about it,  will ultimately affect your perception. When I was in the US Marine Corps, my commanding officer said to me, “Medina, perception is reality. No matter what the truth is, whatever people perceive will be the truth to them.” In the years since then I’ve observed this to be true. When we constantly think a certain way, be begin to persuade ourselves that what we’re thinking is true. In reality, much of what we think is comprised of firmly held beliefs rather than truths, but in time our mind stops seeing the difference. Once we perceive something to be true, we tend to form our intentions based on that perceived truth.

These intentions then direct our decisions. For example, I grew up thinking I was profoundly ugly. So, throughout high school and college I never had a girlfriend. This perception led me to the intention of not bothering to try to engage any woman in conversation, even if I was very strongly attracted to her. After all, what was the use? The decision not to bother even trying to talk to the ladies resulted in a rather dull and lonely social life. It wasn’t until I served in the Marine Corps that I made a shocking discovery.

I was sent to deliver a message to the female platoon, and so stopped outside their barracks (males could not go past the first entryway).One of the young women went inside to tell the platoon that there was someone from 4th Platoon with a message. Another female voice asked who it was, and the woman I’d spoken to said, “Medina.” At this point, it sounded as though the entire platoon said, “Awwww.”

Apparently, all 50 of them thought I was a cute little bugger. Who knew?
This discovery changed my thoughts, which then changed my intentions and decisions concerning women, and my social life became less lonely and a lot more interesting.

So, my challenge to you today is to begin to examine your habitual thoughts and start eliminating the ones which are pointing away from your dreams. When you confront a thought habit which seems to do so, ask yourself whether it’s really the truth, or just a belief. When you find that it’s just a misguided belief, make a decision to eliminate it from your thinking. You owe it to your vision to do so.

To this day, when I’m about to shave, I sometimes look in the mirror and say, “There’s a good-looking brother!”

-Sam

Success: Passing the ‘show up’ test

Most of us who are in business have heard it again and again. Usually it’s some smug successful person telling an unsuccessful person that success is 90% ‘showing up.’ Most of the time this comes with bland advice about working hard, being yourself, etc. In my unsuccessful days, I often found myself wondering why almost no one ever went into any detail as to just how to do these things, so today I’d like to share some simple insights on how you or anyone else can ‘show up.’

  1. Use strong, decisive language. This doesn’t mean to be rude. Rather, become a student of communication and learn to say what you mean, mean what you say and make sure that whatever you have to say, it’s good, useful, inspiring, or all of the above.
  2. Be confident, not arrogant. Trust the value of who are you are what you have to offer, but at the same time understand that you’ve got room to grow, and that you aren’t the best answer for everyone.
  3. Be kind, not weak. It’s bad enough that some people will take your kindness for a weakness. There’s no need to let your kindness become a weakness. Balance compassion with judgment in your words and actions.
  4. Be bold, but not a bully. Fortune favors the bold, people often say, and it’s true. However, you don’t need to run roughshod over everyone to be bold. Have the courage to express yourself, but the humility not to try to impress. Sow respect and expect to reap it.
  5. Be humble, but not timid. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. Understand your value, but know that it’s purpose is to serve others. it’s not about you.
  6. Recognize reality, but be ready to change it. There are times when you’ll need to be realistic, but the truth of living with purpose is that we are all here to change reality in some way. The person who can grasp the realities of a situation but see the angles for change can usually recruit others to their vision.
  7. Take action. Never let an idea just sit. An intention without a decision is just a wish, and if you haven’t taken action, you haven’t decided anything. One thing I’ve observed over the years is that there are often tremendous opportunities sitting right under our noses, unnoticed because we haven’t taken action on our intentions. Some time ago, I wanted more speaking engagements. So, I went to a writing seminar, and volunteered to share my story during one exercise. It was the tale of a platypus taking over a country. I ran out of business cards, and my calendar is full, even though I’d deliberately told the dumbest story I could think of. Remember, there are people, places, and organizations who need what you have to offer, but until you take action, they may not even know you exist!

I DARE you to try applying these six steps for two weeks and see what happens.

 

How to understand your own intentions

 in·ten·tion [in-ten-shuhn] noun. An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.

Intention, we must understand, then, occurs in the mind, wherein reside our will, emotions, and intellect. To master our intentions, you must then gain a better understanding of your own intentions.

First, think of something you did (or didn’t do), or something you said (or didn’t say). If you find this first step a bit tricky, try to remember a specific action or decision of yours which included one or more of the following:

  • Being “good,” or “nice”

  • Telling someone “No.”

  • Agreeing to do something that was asked of you.

  • Using force.

  • Telling a joke, or bring funny.

  • Giving someone “feedback” or criticism.

  • Expressing your disapproval or annoyance.

Now, on paper, describe what you said or did, and the intention you had at that time. Then, think of whether you may have had other intentions and write those down. As J.P. Morgan was fond of saying, people usually have two reasons for what they do: the real reason, and one that sounds good.

Were any of your intentions different from the one that “sounds good?” When you realized one of your intentions, did you want to change it or your action? Did you start “justifying” what you said or did? Write down any thoughts that come to mind while you consider this. As one wise man once said, if you have to justify something, you probably shouldn’t have done it. While that’s not a universally applicable maxim, as some situations and actions are justifiable, it’s a good rule of thumb to use when reviewing your intentions and your decision-making process.

Particularly for those of you who are stuck in your vision, or even frustrated with what seems to be an inability to get to that next level, this exercise will help you to get a better understanding of the decisions you’ve made up to this point. I would recommend using this method to review the major decisions you’ve made in the last year at the very least.

-from The Million Dollar Hustle, by Sam Medina