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The Talk: Part 1

This talk will be a little different than the talk about the birds and the bees. This talk is for young adults entering the world on their own. It might also be a good reset for adults struggling to find their place in the world. I have often reflected on my life in an effort to better understand how I arrived at my current station.   Reflection is a powerful exercise for a better future because when we understand what got us here, we will know what might get us there. Wherever “there” is for you. As for my story after college, I was a bit train wreck. After four years at Purdue University, I moved back to my hometown of North Vernon, Indiana. My first job was my dream job because I was working at Cummins Engine Company. As a kid growing up in Southern Indiana, we didn’t have much money, but I realized that the kids that had money also had parents working at Cummins. That became my goal!   Fresh out of college I was ready to change the world and my start was in my department. At the time, the average seniority in the Diesel Workers Union was 28 years.   These folks had seen their fair share of young whippersnappers come in ready to change the way things operated. In the first month, I was written up four times by the union for running machines and transporting tooling. Needless to say, I was not the most popular guy among my working peers. I wasn’t rude, but chose not to comply with their rules. After work, the party never seemed to stop. My buddies and I would either hit the bar or choose to drink and throw darts in my garage. Either way, it was always on. My four-year relationship unraveled, so I bought a Corvette. This is where the debt started to kick in. I had a house and two car payments on an engineer’s salary. To summarize, I had struggling relationships at work, and outside of work, drank and partied nearly every day, and was struggling financially. This was not exactly the vision I had for my life after college. Thankfully, Cummins put me through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course. I began to have perspective that helped to create a vision for my life. Then one day in a FedEx Kinkos, shortly after the 7 Habits course I saw a book titled “Working with Emotional Intelligence”. I bought the book and my life has never been the same. The book taught me how to empathize with others. It turns out that emotional intelligence is the most important skill to develop for your future success. At work or at home, developing EQ enhances every relationship and relationships are the key to your better future. In this article, we explore what I believe to be the key skills overlooked in college, but if developed and practiced, will lead to the highest level of satisfaction with your life.

 

Emotional Intelligence – This is essentially our ability to empathize with others. We put ourselves in the other person’s shoes so that we can gain perspective. If we lack perspective, we are handicapped in the workplace and at home. People who lack emotional intelligence are all about themselves. “What is in it for me” (WIIIFM) is all they care about and this narcissistic view of the world is no fun to be around. Studies have shown that people with average IQ and high EQ outperform their peers with high IQ a majority of the time. People with EQ have the ability to recognize the emotions of others and themselves. EQ is a skill that can be developed and refined. Unlike IQ, it is not fixed. I often explain EQ as our ability to keep one eye focused on the inside monitoring our emotions, while the other is outwardly focused to understand the emotions of others.  Conflict often occurs in relationships when our emotions are left unchecked. Our emotions are most often stirred when our expectations are not met. We expect a person to respond a certain way, but they don’t so we get angry or are hurt. We expect a certain outcome, but it doesn’t happen as we desired so again, we get angry or are hurt. Almost every time we are overwhelmed with negative emotions, they are a result of unmet expectations. When this happens, we need to quickly re-calibrate our expectations. Our original expectations for the outcome or response were not reality. We should quickly adjust to reality to avoid losing our cool and damaging a relationship or putting ourselves and others in harm’s way with road rage. Emotional intelligence is the number one skill to develop if you desire to be a success in business, cultivate amazing friendships and relationships, or just be happier. Here are some resources to help you develop the skill:

  1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves – This book comes with an assessment that will help you to establish a baseline for your EQ and measure progress as you develop the skill.
  2. Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman – This is the book that started my journey to conquering my ego. The journey will continue the rest of my life but where I am today is a result of implementing this book. Somewhere along the way I realized stuff doesn’t matter and people’s emotions toward me or others do not matter.  What matters is my response and it is up to me to choose that response. When we focus on others and the success of others our possibilities are infinite, but if we focus on ourselves our success and satisfaction in life is limited.

 

Delayed gratification – We live in the era of immediate gratification. Technology has put answers milliseconds away. Feedback is nearly instant and expected with every post to our social media accounts. Young people are especially susceptible to an expectation of immediate want for gratification. They have grown up staring at a phone wanting it to ping back at them. That is their reality. Cultivating the ability to wait has been experimentally proven to improve your long-term success. Stanford University conducted an often-cited experiment called the Marshmallow Test in the early 1970’s.  The experiment involved having four-year-olds sit in a room with a small marshmallow in front of them. The researcher would tell the child they were leaving the room and coming back in 15 minutes. If the child has not eaten the marshmallow, they would get a second marshmallow. The experimenters then tracked the children for the next 40 years to evaluate their behavior. They found that the children who were able to muster the self-control and avoid eating the marshmallow scored higher on their SAT, had a lower body mass index (BMI), and in general had better life outcomes. This is not the be-all, end-all study but it is a strong endorsement for delayed gratification. This really boils down to self-control. Self-control is what allows us to overcome obstacles on our way to achieving our goals. It is the difference between quitting and continuing when the going gets tough. One more rep at the gym, or better yet, getting our butts out of the bed in the morning to go to the gym requires self-control. Your success in life will largely depend upon your ability to delay gratification until gratification is earned.

 

Personal Growth –  Every successful CEO, business owner, or otherwise successful person is a student. They are first and foremost a student of their craft and secondly a student of life. Education really begins after the formal studies conclude. I was an average student that had to work hard to be average. My level of success strictly considering accomplishments has far surpassed the majority of my fellow classmates. This was not a result of smarts, but simply a result of continuous study. I have also been a student, then a teacher of my craft. The first steps to my sales success were to identify who the best salesperson was and study them. That was not my idea, I read it in a book. I would never have thought to do that because that guy was my competition. Within five years I was selling twice as much as nearly every salesperson and have been for the last 15 years. Sustained success is no accident. It is a result of study and practice.  Success is not difficult and almost always comes with doing what others are unwilling to do. Here are the keys to personal growth:

  1.  Be a Student – My goal is 40 books per year, varying in subject matter depending on my focus. Some people say read one book 40 times and that is fine too!  There is no right or wrong way to be a student, but to succeed and thrive, you must be a student. Books, audiobooks, podcast, seminars, magazines, blogs, YouTube, etc.  There is absolutely no excuse for not studying, with the amount of free content that exist in this amazing world.
  2. Find a Mentor –  My mentor from an early age was Jim Rohn. I met him only once but listened to his programs on cassette hundreds of times. As I grew older, my mentors were largely oriented to the industry I was in. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. What matters is that you identify one and learn from them. Read my article on finding a mentor for more guidance on developing that relationship to ensure it is mutually beneficial.
  3.  Join a Community –  Humans thrive in community. We learn from others and develop new ways of thinking when we join the right crowd. These groups meet in person or online. Some use Zoom or forums to connect. The key is to engage, contribute, and learn. Give far more than you receive, and your cup will always runneth over.
  4. Healthy Choices –  You won’t do well if you don’t feel well. Our youth is a veil masking the long-term consequences of poor choices. Jim Rohn always said, “Everything affects everything else and not to think so is naive.” This is especially true when it comes to our health. From my perspective, there are three pillars to health:  physical, mental, and nutritional.

 

Understand people and develop emotional intelligence to foster more meaningful relationships. Delayed gratification will ensure deep appreciation for your accomplishments and the accomplishments of others. Personal growth is the key to long-term and sustained success. Develop and cultivate a growth mindset. If you lose your health, you lose everything. Stay focused on the three aspects of healthy living: mind, body, and nutrition.  These skills can’t be learned for you. Master them and you will truly be in control of your destiny.

 

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