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Solve Your Own Problems

It is amazing to me how quick we are to talk to other people about their issues and their problems yet we seem to be incapable of recognizing the problems in ourselves. It’s sad because we spend so much time and attention and energy on changing something that is completely outside of our control when the real power comes from changing the thing that is entirely within our control – ourselves.

I get it. It’s easier to focus our attention elsewhere than it is on us. If we flip the mirror around and take a look at where we’re falling short, it leads to work and effort to do something about it.

If you’re talking with people about getting in shape but haven’t stepped foot into the gym in years, what right do you have to cast stones at another human being who is neglecting their health. One scenario I see all the time (because of my experience in the financial planning industry) is advisors who are giving financial advice to others while living in complete poverty themselves.

It’s disingenuous, at best, and flat out deceitful, at worst.

The thing that I think really gets in our way more than anything else when it comes to our tremendous ability to underestimate everyone else and overestimate our own abilities is this fragile little thing we all possess – our ego.

I’m here to tell you that I believe one of the biggest barriers to your success is that ego. It’s pride. It’s arrogance. It’s un unrealistic assessment of how good you actually are.

I was once in a conference room with roughly 50 other investment advisors. The man speaking at the time asked us to raise our hand if we believed that our performance was better than average. Guess how many people raised their hand? Everyone. Including myself.

And this just proves the point. Statistically only half of the room should have raised their hand but all of us did.

Why? Because we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. When we do, we create blind spots and overlook any ability to actually improve in our areas of weakness. And, isn’t that what we should be after anyways? Improvement in our own lives?

Now, I’m not talking about an unhealthy level of criticism. This is not an opportunity to beat yourself but an opportunity to take an objective look at where you fall short and how you can improve.

That’s point number one.

Point number one is this idea and notion of influence. I think it’s safe to assume that most of the men (if not all of them) listening to this podcast have a desire to be more influential.

The first thing we do when we want to influence the way others think and or behave around us is lie. We lie about how much we actually know. We lie about our experience. We lie about our track record. We attempt to deceive people into believing more highly of us than we should.

But here’s the trap: that only works for so long until you’re caught and you end up looking more foolish than you would have if you just told the truth. You lose credibility. You lose influence. And, you end up sabotaging your own efforts.

If you really want to be more influential in your life, you’re going to have to do some things differently. You cannot continue to focus on other people and their shortcomings and you cannot continue to manipulate the truth about your performance and/or knowledge.

Here’s the good news: it’s entirely under your control. It is impossible to change another human being. You can only change yourself. And, once you do (positively or negatively) that is what people will respond to – not your weak attempts to manipulate, strong-arm, and coerce.

That’s not being influential. That’s being a dictator or tyrant. The last way to get buy-in from your family or team is to act that way. You all know what I’m talking about. Everyone listening to this has had a boss that he feared more than he respected. I’m willing to bet, when that was the case, you did the bare minimum required to keep the job – nothing more, nothing less.

On the other hand, we’ve all had bosses we’d gladly follow into battle (voluntarily) because of how that individual showed up.

Every single person understands this and yet we continue to believe the best way to create change is to get other people to see the errors of their ways. What if instead, you decided to recognize the error of yours – not to undermine your authority but to increase it.

I’d love to live in a world where more men accepted responsibility for the own faults before casting the burden of blame on others. I’m not here to tell you I’ve got this 100% pinned down myself. I certainly don’t. But I do make a conscious effort to recognize when things go wrong, it typically has more to do with me than initially thought.

Recognizing your own inadequacies does not make you a weak person. It gives you the ability to become stronger by accepting reality for what it is and doing something about it.

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