What Einstein forgot…
When Einstein’s Relativity papers were published, the world got a new concept.
Time and space are actually interchangeable!
There is relativity in the way we live our daily lives, too.
I’ve learned that in business, the way that people manage their time and their space seems to go with how much money they make.
Managing Time: Are they punctual? Can they keep a commitment on a deadline? Most successful people that I’ve met and worked with are very dependable. If they say that they will do something, they do it when promised. If I arrange to meet a successful person at a particular time and place, they manage to be there. On time.
Managing Space: Are they organized? Are their important papers and reports available when they want them? Successful people manage to get themselves organized so that they have the time to function. They’re not always looking for something or making apologies because they weren’t able to find something. In general, the successful people I’ve worked with do not have occasion to make may apologies – or excuses.
And now I’ve learned that another element needs to be added to the “Relativity” mix.
I learned this as a result of the experience we’ve just had in moving to a new home.
Our closets were like the clown’s car at the circus – stuff just kept coming and coming out of the shelves, drawers, and corners of our house and garage.
Stuff I thought I’d lost. Things I haven’t had a use for in decades. And we were storing all of these things.
I had to keep going out and buying more packing boxes and tape.
As we got ready for the move and the packing intensified, Vikki’s garage sales and my trips to make donations of our unwanted but useful stuff whittled down the load.
But it still took three trucks to move what was left. I’m really tired of moving boxes of stuff that I don’t really use.
I’ve discovered that stuff owns me – it takes time and space to deal with, and that cuts into my life and work.
It also costs us money. Too many unused things means too much looking for the things that we DO need and use.
I’ll tell you something. It isn’t all gonna find a new home here. We’re going through each box with a very suspicious eye. We’re looking at every sock and tee shirt and book and CD.
We’re asking ourselves, “Do we need this?”
I’m not asking, “Will I need it someday?” because the answer will always be “Yes”.
I’m asking, “Am I willing to store this again in some closet or box or garage, so that I forget I even have it until the next time we move?”
Then, seven times out of ten, that item goes into a box for one of my kids or grandkids, or charity.
We have empty space in our cupboards and closets. We have ready access to the things we need.
And we do not have closets and drawers full of stuff that we don’t use.
It’s a delightful experience.
It really feels lighter. Like we’ve lost weight.
We’re going to keep this feeling. It saves us money and time.
So it looks like the Relativity of Success actually has FOUR elements:
And the Money you save, when you manage the first three elements.
I did a dumb thing the other day. That’s not all that unusual for me, but this one stayed with me for a while and I think something interesting came out of it.
Have you ever whipped out a quick answer to an email and hit the “send” button?
I mean, hit it too fast? And then thought of what you REALLY should have said?
That’s what I did, and it cost me a re-do and an explanation. Minor embarrassment. No biggy.
Here’s what happened. I was going through my emails, trying to answer as many as possible, and I wrote one to a colleague of mine to congratulate him on something he had written. Just a quick note of appreciation was all I intended.
Trouble is, I hit the “send” button just as I was thinking that I hadn’t said what I meant. Even worse, I HAD said stuff that I didn’t actually mean to say. The words just came out wrong.
I really respect this guy, and now I had to go back and say, “Never mind. This is what I was trying to say the first time.” I finished my explanation by saying, “Sometimes the ‘send’ button is just damn too easy!”
Later that night, as I was trying to go to sleep, there was this argument in my mind. I heard a little voice saying to me, “It’s not the ‘send’ button that’s the problem, Tom, the problem is you didn’t even stop to read your email and consider whether that’s what you intended to say. It’s not the “send” button that’s too damn easy, it’s you!”
I vowed that in the future I would reread my emails and consider what the other person reading them might make of what I wrote, before I actually send them.
I went to sleep thinking thoughts about how life is speeding up, there’s too much email in the world, and maybe I ought to reduce my number of email boxes or something.
Still thinking about it over coffee and melon the next morning.
Then I had a really nasty thought. It’s even easier to hit the “send” button when you’re talking! I mean, when you write an email there’s something you can read before you send it. All you have to do is to take the time to do it, and you can send out your best thinking.
It’s different when you’re talking. Once you open your mouth it’s out there, whatever you may have said.
I immediately remembered the last few times someone had misunderstood something I had said to them.
Like my wife Vikki. Or my grandchildren. Or a waiter, or someone on the phone.
You know what? It wasn’t them. I have to admit that when we got to the bottom of each of those misunderstandings, it turned out that they had gotten the wrong impression from something I had said to each of them.
I remember reading somewhere that God gave us two ears and only one mouth so we would listen twice as much as we talked.
Still, what got me into trouble wasn’t talking more than listening. It was talking without saying what I wanted to say.
“So,” went my thinking, “Suppose I treated my verbal communications just like the email. If I wanted to reread my verbal “emails” before I hit the ‘send’ button in my jaw, I would have to think more before I speak.”
I’d have to consider what I was going to say from the standpoint of the person I was talking to – and consider how it might strike them – instead of just saying whatever came into my mind.
Being more thoughtful about what I said didn’t mean I was going to become a stiff robot. It just meant that, before I said something I was going to try to hear it as if I was the other person.
I remember when I was a teenager; there was this old black lady who was a waitress in a coffee shop I used to hang out in when I was a kid.
Everybody in the place loved her and was always asking her advice. Whenever two people were discussing something important, the answer I heard over and over was, “Ask Hildy.”
I couldn’t figure out why she was so important to all of these people. She was just a waitress in a coffee shop, but businessmen and even the owner of the place would go “ask Hildy” what she thought — about a new menu, a new girlfriend or a new job.
I asked her one day why so many people liked to talk with her.
“Well, Tommy” she said. “Every time I start to say something, I just stop and taste the words before I let ’em out of my mouth.”
Hmmm. Forty years ago, before anyone had ever even heard of email, this wise woman knew about checking her messages before sending them out.
In the future, I think I’ll review more than just my emails before hitting the “send” button.
I guess I was in a bad mood to begin with. My wife and I had had a little misunderstanding in the morning just as I was leaving for my appointment and that never sits well with me.
So I was grumpy when I arrived in downtown San Jose, and then I saw there was no street parking in the area. Great, just great!
All the parking garages were not charging by the quarter hour like they do during the business week. On weekends, they were charging by the day.
So, although I was only going to be in the accountant’s office for thirty minutes, I had to pay the whole day’s fee to park my car. Six bucks!
I fished out the money and paid the Ethiopian guy wearing earphones at the gate to the garage, but I was boiling inside by the rip off of a system that forced me to pay so much for so little, in this deserted downtown on a Saturday morning.
I tossed my wallet, loose bills, sunglasses and parking ticket into the passenger seat and wheeled into a spot near the elevator in the almost empty garage.
I got out of my car and put my things in the proper pocket. Sunglasses in shirt pocket, wallet in hip pocket, bills in right front pocket and parking ticket…
Where was it? I remembered it was pink. I checked to make sure it wasn’t stuck in my wallet. No. Or in among the dollar bills in my front pocket. No. And not in any other pocket either.
Huh. Under the car? Nope. And when I stuck my head into the car and looked around I didn’t see it either. Must have slipped under the seat, where I couldn’t see or retrieve it.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just go back to the guy at the gate and tell him what happened, and get another ticket. I just paid him and I’m sure he’ll remember me.
No luck. I explained to him what happened, he remembered me, but said that he was helpless.
“The rules say you must find the ticket or buy another one”, he said. He seemed indifferent to the obvious unfairness of the situation.
I told him what I thought of his “rules” and left for my appointment.
Twenty five minutes later I was back. I had decided to tear my car apart and find the ticket. No way was I gonna pay another six bucks for a twenty minute appointment!
I took my time with the car. I moved both front seats all the way forward and all the way back. I got down on my knees on the concrete and took a flashlight to look in every crack and crevice. No dice.
I DID find a couple of pieces of gum, an ink pen and two of our grandchildrens’ toys. But no ticket.
“Okay, this is taking more time that it’s worth,” I told myself. “Just accept that maybe it blew out the window or turned invisible. Pay the money and go home.”
I sighed and let go of my frustration. I opened the door and put the flashlight away, then eased down into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
Something above me caught my eye. It was something pink, sticking out from the sun visor over my head. It was the ticket. I had stuck it up there when the guy gave it to me at the gate.
Boy. Dumb Tom. I wondered how much my irritated mood had poisoned my morning, in addition to maybe wiping out my short term memory of putting the ticket up in the visor. The whole episode probably consumed fifteen minutes of my time, and pumped me full of bile.
I drove back to the gate and handed my ticket to the guy. “I’m sorry, Man”, I said, “I feel so stupid. I put it right up here and didn’t see it until I got back into the car.”
“No problems, Mister, lots of peoples do that.” He smiled and said, “Have a good day.” Then he put his earphones back in.
I drove home and apologized to my wife, and told her how my short temper had lowered my I.Q. in the parking garage.
Then I decided to tell you about it.
Who knows? Maybe it’ll save you a similar “brain burp” sometime.
I’ve lived through eight recessions and run businesses during four of them. I’ve learned that some people thrive while the majority just panic. You don’t have to roll over for this recession; you can create your own “upturn during the downturn”. Then when the tough times are over, you’ll be stronger and more successful than before!
It’s just going to take more knowledge about human nature – both yours and the other guy’s. How you see the world and how he or she does. What words mean to different people can make thousand of dollars of difference to you.
Which brings us to my interest and expertise in NLP. Why did I take over three thousand hours of training in NLP during the last fifteen years? I did it because I’ve found NLP to be the most useful skill – outside of direct response marketing – that I have ever acquired.
I’ll be writing about Applied NLP (neuro linguistic programming) beginning in 2009. It deals with what really goes on inside our heads, and how we can influence that from outside. I’ll be covering everything from the difference between “this” and “that” (yeah, to your unconscious there REALLY is a difference between “this” and “that”). I’ll be teaching about body language, and about how our brains are at the center of it all.
I call it “Playing The Inner Game”. It’s an easily learned mindset that can change your entire business outlook. It’s especially useful for those who want to be more effective in self-management and in communicating with others.
Wait for it, wait for it…