I learned the value of honesty at a young age from my mother while at the local go-cart track.
“What are you doing?” My mother asked with her arms folded as she looked down at me.
“Mom, look how lucky I am! They forgot to take my ticket, so I can go on another ride.”
“Is that honest?”
“What do you mean Mom?”
“It doesn’t matter whether they took your ticket or not, you only paid for one ride. If you take another ride, you are stealing.”
“I guess you’re right Mom.” I mean what else could I say? This simple lesson on honesty was hard to grasp at the time, but it has stuck with me ever since. Being honest when nobody is watching is certainly not fashionable, but it is essential to learning to trust ourselves and eventually gaining the trust of others.
Do you take trust for granted? Many business people do, and it kills their chances of building relationships and finding real customers. I spend a substantial amount of time blogging and using other social media tools and I see trust taken for granted on a daily basis. The problem is that most individuals have no understanding of the power of trust. I see this in individuals that try to post comments that are obviously spam, tweets with links that are obviously self promoting, and posts written for the sole purpose of selling a product.
We need to re-think how we start and build relationships, even when those relationships are formed online. As we review the best blog posts on trust from the last month I will uncover some of the biggest mistakes business people make that prevent others from trusting them.
1. How to Gain Trust on Twitter
Twitter has hit the mainstream, and with this mainstream acceptance, a number of questions have emerging about the validity of information on Twitter. This post, “In Tweet We Trust”, outlines some of the issues.
Twitter users can lose the trust of a prospect in a single message. Twitter allows users to send private messages, also called direct messages or “dms.” Here is an example of a direct message I recently received on Twitter that hurt the sender’s credibility:
I have seen variations of this same message over 600 times on Twitter. That starts this individual out on the wrong foot because 1. The individual wants me to click on an unknown link before I know anything about him or her (comparable to proposing marriage on the first date). 2. He or she has a preposterous claim that is not only unbelievable, but puts me on my guard. 3. He or she is blatantly self-promoting. In less than 140 characters, this individual has already put me in a position of doubting his or her credibility.
There is a more complete blog post by Peter Cantelo “How To Lose A Customer *Guaranteed*” that describes in more detail all the ways to start a business relationship off on the wrong foot.
Become A Trustworthy Source
In the Web 1.0 model, websites tried to drive huge amounts of traffic to a site in hopes that a few suckers would bite. That model is no longer effective, especially not for professionals or niche markets. Just a few good clients can make your business thrive, but your business won’t prosper unless others trust you. In the article “Why You Must Focus On Trust More Than Anything Else” Christian Russel explains that trust is far more important in small markets than in the large markets. Mr. Russel also provides 20 rules for blogging, and this is a MUST READ for any blogger as far as I’m concerned.
To become a trustworthy source you must create or locate great content. Tech-savvy users of the Internet are always on the lookout for interesting and unique content. The world of these tech-savvy hounds is described incredibly well by Brett Trout in this post, “Ten Things You Need To Know about Digital Natives”. Most importantly, this post talks about how the most savvy Internet users can sniff out a spin from a mile away. They want good content, not a sales pitch. If you consistently offer good content, customers will keep coming back. If you try to sell them something, you will lose them forever. To make individuals trust you online, you need to make an offering- or truth be told, you need to make multiple offerings of your knowledge and expertise. Professionals need to trust that if they put some of their best information online, in the public domain, freely accessible- that they will get back more in return than they gave away.
For some quick ideas on how to lose trust immediately, listen to this Badger:
You know more than you think. Every professional has unique insights related to his or her practice area to add. You just need to write your articles or blog posts in a digestible format as explained in “Sound too Erudite and Appear Too Simple” and give it away for free. As you give this away on a regular basis, you will eventually become known as a reliable source of knowledge- and people will trust you. As people trust you, your personal brand will grow.
Don’t Be Afraid to Tell People Who You Are
Web 2.0 is all about transparency. They say, here we are- warts and all- engage us or ignore us, but they lay all their cards on the table. The opposite of this is Facebook or Twitter users that have so little information about them on their bios, that it is impossible to tell who they are. There is no link to a blog, no history, not even a geographic location. How are you ever going to trust someone like that? If you happen to trust someone with such little background information, I know a king from Nigeria I would like to introduce you to. He could really use your help.
Our society is no longer littered with passive consumers. The new technology allows us to use social media in a way that anybody can take initiative and add value to society as demonstrated in this awesome video:
Take It Personally
Building friendships online is vital to building profitable relationships. This article entitled “Business Friendships” from Paul Ingram of Columbia Business School highlights how some cultures welcome friendship in business while others are more skeptical. I learned from one of the more successful online marketers that in order for people to trust you online they need to connect with you on a personal level. With all of this virtual communication, it becomes tough to know sometimes who is real and who isn’t.
This article by Justin French Top 5 Lessons in Trust relating to Social Media and Social Networking demonstrates why trust transcends industries and social media platforms. Justin lives by a rule I admire: Trust everyone until they prove otherwise. It has served him very well as you can find out in his article.
A world of perfect trust seems like an unreachable ideal, but it is actually closer than you think. In fact, this perfect world may be as near as your neighboring small town. Charlie Green reminds us what small town values are all about in “Trust Lessons from Independence Day in Small Town USA, 2009.”
Trust is powerful on a much larger scale as well. This article entitled “Trust” details the consequences of mistruct on a global scale.
What About Mistakes, Inaccuracies and Lies?
Sometimes technology can lead us astray. Recently a construction company demolished the wrong house because they were, “Just following the GPS coordinates.” The full article “Authenticating Paperwork” reminds us that the old saying “it must be true, I read it on the Internet” should still be a punchline.
Stories like these are terrifying, but more damaging is the fear they cause and the lack of confidence that results. How many large firms and corporations are terrified to engage in social media like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn because of similar concerns? Unfortunately, if they fail to overcome these fears they may be in danger of missing out on one of the most inexpensive, yet powerful tools to have emerged during the recession as explained in “Building a Strong Brand in a Weak Economy” In this article, Rachel Daniel explains that social media is not just a great message tool, it is also a great listening tool.
Attorneys frequently ask me, “What if one of our attorneys says something embarrassing about the firm?” or “What if an employee post pictures of some inappropriate conduct?” The answer to both questions is the same: you need to trust them. You picked those employees for a reason, and although they could go out tonight and get arrested for DUI/DWI – you trust that they won’t. You trust they won’t embarrass you in public, so why assume they would embarrass the firm or the company online? Employers and partners need to extend to their employees the same level of trust online as they do in the office.
Technology has changed a lot since I was a kid out riding go-carts, but the principles that make trust such a powerful concept have remained constant. The lessons I learned on the raceway, and the concepts embodied in this month’s Carnival teach a similar lesson: honesty never goes out of style.
Adrian Dayton esq. is an attorney, author, and social media strategist currently awaiting the publication of his first book The Year of 12 Virtues.
I love kindness, lets be honest- there isn’t anything that makes my day more than a random act of kindness from a stranger. Even beter than a random act from a stranger is the feeling I get when I get that feeling, you know what I’m talking about, kind of a temptation to do something kind- and I follow through with it. Accomplishing a real act of kindness is a great feeling, makes you feel like a decent human being.
Kindness is this month’s virtue, and for those of you that are following the Virtue Experiment, each month we pick a different virtue and we set a personal goal that relates to that virtues. I try and write up a post each month to guide those goals, and hopefully inspire the Virtue Volunteers (who you can join at http://12virtues.ning.com) to make goals that will be meaningful.
But getting back to the topic of this post, when is kindness not kind? To answer that question I think we need to dig deeper into the motivations of kindness. I have put together a hierarchy, if you will, of why we do kind things- here it is.
Level 1. Kindness motivated by charity that expects nothing in return. There are times when an individual may have every right to be unkind, but they choose kindness. They are kind when it is hard to be kind because it demonstrates true forgiveness. This is the best type kindness in my opinion.
Level 2. Kindness to strangers because of the way it makes an individual feel. Examples of this would be paying the toll for the car behind you, or picking up the tab of the minivan after you in the drive-through lane. You have no connection to these people, but you are kind because of the way it makes you feel. That is a pretty cool type of kindness.
Level 3. Kindness to your best friends and family. You would do anything for these people. Lets hope you are going out of the way to be kind to the people you love the most. Kindness to your family is important, but its also the easiest type of kindness to master.
Level 4. Kindness out of obligation. “Can you help me move this weekend?” What do you answer when an individual you hardly know asks you this? If you were asked this on the phone, you might think up an excuse, but if you were asked in public you might might say ok, because you feel obligated. Peer pressure forces you to be kind sometimes. Not the best of motivations, but nonetheless it still creates an outcome of kindness.
Level 5. Insincere kindness. This is where kindness isn’t kind. There are times where individuals hold back vital information from others because they believe the information might cause hurt feelings. The most obvious example is letting someone know when they have spinach in their teeth or food on their face. The person with food on their face doesn’t need your “kindness,” he needs your honesty. Or how about you friend you ask to critique your presentation that tells you, “Great job, doesn’t need a thing.” Again, while on the surface it may seem like a kind comment, it fails to provide the much needed feedback the presenter is seeking.
For the month of kindness I ask that you set a goal that stretches you. I don’t expect everyone to become level 1 kind person immediately, since I’m not there myself, but the Virtue Experiment is all about incremental improvements. This month perhaps set a goal to that relates to Level 1, 2, and 3 kindness. If you are feeling really ambitious, try and be kind to those who are hard to love. That’s what Gandhi did, and he was able to change the world.
Good luck! Feel free to share you goals with us by commenting here, or by joining our Ning group at 12virtues.ning.com
Generation X Shows Boomers How to Throw a Party (Conference)
-Video game station with a Nintendo Wii
-Flowers and grass displays creating a virtual arboretum
-Young energetic staff
-Great Chicago food
-The man in charge with his shirt un-tucked.
Does this sound like a nice place to hang out?
If you paid any attention to my tweets last week, than you know I wasn’t hanging out. I actually spent this last week in Chicago at the(#GAL09 for those of you on Twitter).
Why was this conference so different? The real difference was the man in charge-The CEO and Founder of Total Attorneys . Not only is he a generation X-er, but he started the conference off with a few profound words:
“When I started Total Attorneys, I had two goals: 1. Ski more days next year than I did this year, and 2. Make sure everyone that works for me comes to work smiling.”
It has served Edmund pretty well. In fact, his company had almost $24 Million dollars in revenue in a recent year according to . He takes life balance seriously, and it seems to have paid off for him. He is number 2 on the list of hottest companies in Chicago.
Sorry, but that type of success story is just far too appealing to Generation X and Y. And to reply to your post, the issue is not that Generation Y has a problem showing up for work; we just have a problem showing up to work for people like you.
I wasn’t just impressed by Edmund Scanlan as a person, but by his unique conference that was highly informative. There were awesome speakers like who besides being a really nice guy also taught how to build a 7 figure law practice, who gave away some great tips on legal marketing, and who had an entertaining presentation, but is also leading the way when it comes to online legal marketing strategy. You can catch all of the amazing content for free here on Ustream.
In wasn’t all good however. There was one speaker whose unprovoked criticism of Twitter as a marketing tool caused audible gasps in the audience. His recommendation to get free publicity? Use the telephone and just call newspapers. How 1970′s can you get? Actually, the unnamed person was , and besides ragging on Twitter he actually had a pretty good presentation about PR.
For those of you following my blog regularly, you know that I have written a book called “The Year of 12 Virtues” and that each month I challenge my Virtue Volunteers to set a personal goal to work on a single virtue for an entire month.
So far we have been through the Months of Integrity, Courage, and Gratitude and so I think it is fitting that this month, in honor of Ed Scanlan and to spite Scott Greenfireld, that we have June be the Month of Balance.
Set a goal to make this the Month of Balance. Choose a goal that helps you put what is very most important in your life first. Feel free to share with us how it goes!
I’d like to step back for a second from the controversial topics of billable hours and the juvenile behavior of generation Y and tell you about something a little more inspiring. Back in March a group of 16 volunteers (myself included) began an experiment. We call it the Virtues Experiment, and those of you that have been following me for longer than a few weeks know that I have written a manuscript called the Year of 12 Virtues.
I wanted to share a few of the great goals that members of the virtue experiment came up with this month to help them live their lives with more gratitude.
Amberly: There is a song by Darius Rucker entitled, “It won’t be like this for long” that has sparked my focus for the month of gratitude. I have been trying to “be” in the moment more with my children, realizing that they won’t be like this forever and that I need to do better and enjoying this precious time I have with them. I get caught up in wishing time away, anticipating what is to come rather than being grateful for the experiences we could be having right now.The action this month is to enjoy at least one activity with my children each week that is just us, creating a great experience. It may be planned, it may not… this week we dropped everything at the last minute to play at the splash pad for a couple of hours, without any other friends, giving me the opportunity to be grateful for the little people my children are turning into and this time I have with them.I don’t feel like I explained that very clearly, but hopefully you get the point…
Renee: It’s difficult being a care-taker for someone with a chronic disease
and still maintain a good view on life. So this month I am going to write down in my Journal at least one thing a week I am grateful for. (As well as saying, “Thank YOU God for Your provisions,”)
Working on this in every situation, come Clouds or lots of Joy.
Ryan: My goal for the month of gratitude is to spend 10 minutes writing in my journal every night about what I was grateful for from that day.
Susan: Gratitude is something I have, but am not very good at expressing. I have determined to send at least one thank you note every week for the rest of the year. It is a habit I want to have and I know it is just a part of the character I want in my life. How grateful I am for so many who help me accomplish my goals and are an example to me. I feel I need more than a month to work on this one.
Practicing virtues is a lifelong process, and I hope that the goals and challenges that we make each month can stick with us long after the month is over.
Sallee: I’m excited about the month of gratitude. I feel pretty strongly that gratitude is something that changes the way we look at the world. Currently in my life I’ve been struggling being able to be grateful for many of the things I have especially when it comes to work. I’ve taken on a second job for a few hours a week and while I’m really grateful to have it (great resume builder) but I tend to get really stressed out by it.
My full-time job is the same way. Instead of being grateful that I have a full time job, I get stressed by things that happen there. I also feel like I get so busy trying to fit everything in (gym time, garden time, time with my husband, time to relax) that I forget to be grateful that my life affords all of those different kinds of time. I mean really, how great is it that I get to spend at least 1 night a week working in the garden with my husband? Pretty awesome. Not everyone gets that.
So this month I want to work on appreciating what I have instead of having it stress me out. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to measure it yet but I’m driving my best friend to her new home in Washington DC this week and you’ll definitely have a measuring tool back from me on Sunday.
Rachel: I’m going to write in my gratitude journal every night. (I haven’t been very good about it the last few months.)
Tiffany: Don’t know if you want our goals yet, but I have already made mine for gratitude. I have a blog that I stared a long time ago. It was kind of like a gratitude blog and I just started it for myself. Here’s the site
I am going to post on it everyday things that I am grateful for. I hope that this helps me complain a lot less. I feel like such a negative person lately and I hope that looking for the good will help. This is another goal that I have to be proactive about so we will see how it goes. I don’t mind if you post my blog on your site, in fact, maybe you should, that way I HAVE to do it!
What are you grateful for this month? Renee suggested that I start using a hashtag #gratitude on Twitter and invite others to say what they are grateful for. I think its a great idea, so I invite all of you to share what you are grateful for- and I will do the same for the rest of the month.
Its interesting, arguing with Scott Greenfield this last week about Gen-Y made me realize I am grateful I did not become a litigator. On a certain level arguing and good discussion is very enjoyable to me- but I don’t want my life to be spent arguing. I hope for something more.
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’“- Kurt Vonnegut
“Now I should tell you that here in Chile they have a particular way of greeting one another. First, they shake hands, then they hug, and then they shake hands again.” Latimer gave me a hug and a handshake as he showed me how it worked.
“Thanks for the tip,” I said.
“If you are going to survive here, I want to teach you something.” Latimer than erased the white board in his office and drew a little dot, probably no bigger than a penny on the white board.
“What do you see?”
“I see a dot.” I said somewhat perplexed.
“Really?” he asked, obviously not too impressed by my answer. “What else do you see?”
“I guess I just see a lot of white space and a dot.” I said, thinking I had really improved my answer.
“Adrian, in life we have a choice, there will always be a clear clean white board in front of us and we can choose to notice the tiny imperfection, the black spot, or we can simply enjoy the practically perfect white board.”
I soon learned just what he meant.
One of the first cities I lived in was Antofagasta. This city is built on a mountain that forms a big bowl as it descends to the ocean. In the U.S., the most expensive houses are up on the mountain side, but in Chile no bus lines serve the mountain side, and taxi’s are too expensive, so up on the mountain side live the squatters. Completely impoverished people that have pieced together tiny houses out of chunks of ply-wood and card board. There was no plumbing, so there was always a stench in these neighborhoods. This day was particularly hot, but we were helping a man overcome his drug addiction, so we knew we had to go see him.
I had already worn through an entire pair of shoes in my first six months in Chile. Walking all day on those dusty roads took its toll on shoes and on me. By the time we arrived at the top I was sweaty, and completely exhausted. After sitting down and resting for fifteen minutes, we decided to make the final 50 yard climb- the steepest part. We knocked on the door, no answer. We called through the window (as if he couldn’t hear the knocking in their 4′ x 6′ house.) He wasn’t home. What a waste, Antonio had probably relapsed again, and it might be weeks before we would find him again. What a day, with our heads down we began the slow death march down the huge hill. At that moment something caught my eye, and as I peered at the horizon past the large cargo ships making their way into port- and there was a fantastic red-orange glow on the horizon, it was one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen.
I stopped for just a second, took in a deep breath, and just stared at the panorama. As I gazed at the amazing burning sky in front of me, I realized that this view was mine. This tremendous display was the big picture, and no matter how difficult things got in my life, I was lucky to be living and be allowed to witness the miraculous setting sun.
Stop for a second. Slow down and notice the big picture, the everyday experiences that give life flavor and make it worthwhile. There will always be black dots to constantly bring us worry, but if we spend too much time thinking about them, we are going to miss the sunset.
The challenge this month is for the Volunteers to focus on the good in life, and savor every minute.
We are just finishing the second month of the Year of 12 Virtues experiment. This has been the month of courage, and the volunteers chose their own goals to help them practice this virtue. They have some great stories to share- these are some of my favorites:
I planned an intimidating lesson for my high schoolers and had the courage to present it. I dressed up as a Puritan judge (wig, robe, and hat), and I forced them to reenact a witch trial. It was intimidating to stand up in from of 115 seventeen year olds and willingly make a fool out of myself–and I felt a little sick about it the day before–but it ended up going great. The students loved it, and they really lost their own inhibitions because I was willing to lose mine. I’m sure some of them thought it was stupid, but I’d say the majority were much more engaged than they would have been if we had simply READ about the trial. And they will probably never forget it!
A small goal, for sure, but a worthwhile one just the same…it’s so easy as a teacher to get “stale” and stop having fun with your students. To be honest, I felt too tired to plan and execute such a lesson, but I am glad I did!
That is awesome Rachel! Your students are lucky to have such a great teacher.
Here was a comment from Tiffany who made a goal to share her beliefs with 20 other people:
#1. I took my sister to church for the first time in about 7 years. This took a lot of courage on my part, because it’s been so long. During the meeting, I stood up and bore my testimony to her. This in turn inspired a number of old friends of hers to do the same thing. She sang the hymns with me and then I was blown away when she offered to stay for the full 3 hours. We stayed, and it turned out to be one of the most spiritual meetings I have been to in a long time. She even told me after that she would like to go again. It was such a great experience.
#2. My dad is in jail. I haven’t seen him or spoke to him since I was fifteen years old. I wrote him a letter explaining what I believe, and I sent him a copy of the “Book of Mormon” and a book entitled “Our Search for Happiness.” I am also sending him some pictures of his grand-daughter Maddie, who he has never met. This scares me to death because its been so long, and I have hardly shared anything with him. Now, to share this will be interesting to say the least. I hope it brings him happiness.
Good for you Tiffany, often in life the hardest things we do are the most important.
Susan, who is the President of a not-for-profit had this to say-
I have spent this past month trying to get sponsors for the preparedness expo our community is putting on at a local mall. Boy it is hard to get out of the house and go ask people to do things. This is the kind of thing I like to put off. It was easier if I just scheduled a day and didn’t come back until I had made the rounds. What I learned from this experience was that I needed to keep my courage up. I just couldn’t give in to the feelings of failure. I kept saying to myself “failure is not an option” and “just do it.” It often took two times speaking with each business or organization before they took me seriously. You should know that I am not in sales and do not make a living doing this kind of thing, but it gave me a lot of confidence to figure out how to make it work. Thanks for the challenge. It helped that I had to get back to you with some kind of success.
The common theme running through all of these experiences is that when people strive to have courage, they are able to accomplish things that are incredibly meaningful to them. Hopefully their stories have inspired you to make a goal of your own for the Month of Courage. This Thursday we will talk about the virtue for the next month, kindness.
This month 16 individuals set out to better understand what integrity means. They were all asked to think about integrity, and make a personal goal to have the Month of March be their Month of Integrity. The variety of goals were instructive, showing that integrity means very different things to different people. Here are some of the great goals individuals from the experiment chose:
- Never criticize another person when they aren’t around, unless you are willing to criticize them to their face.
- Train for a half marathon: show integrity by keeping to the goal of running 6 days a week.
- Goal for lent- eat no cheese for 40 days- and be 100% faithful to that goal.
- My word is my bond, follow through on 100% of my commitments, if I say I’d like to watch American Idol with my neighbor- I will watch American Idol with my neighbor.
- Learn to speak Spanish, specifically- learn 60 new words per week.
- Truly live my religion, seeking after things that bring me closer to God.
I am hopeful the members of my virtue experiment will achieve all of their goals, but if not, the process of picking these goals, and sharing them with the group has already created a vision of their potential that will hopefully create unexpected opportunities and serendipitous results.
Here are a few tips I would like to share for setting powerful goals this month:
GOAL SETTING TIP #1
Trees grow because they reach for the sun. For personal growth to occur, we have to leave our comfort zone- explore undiscovered country. The best goals will terrify us a little, demanding we take a step into the unknown.
GOAL SETTING TIP #2
Expect discouragement. Nobody can be perfect in accomplishing their goals, and we must anticipate falling short sometimes. Be honest with yourself in setting goals, but also be honest with yourself in your shortcomings- do not be discouraged if you fall short of perfection.
I want to invite anybody reading this to join us for the month of integrity. Think about what integrity means for you, and set a goal to make this your Month of Integrity. Feel free to comment below, (publicly or anonymously I’ve changed the settings) and let us know what your goal is!
I just finished having a meeting with the publishing house Shadow Mountain, an imprint of Deseret Book. Like most publishing houses, they are slow, but when it comes to traditional publishing that is the name of the game. The meeting was awesome, they are sold on my concept and they love the product I have put together. They had a lot of critiques for me as well, and it made me think a lot about a big question people have asked me lately:
Are you going through a traditional publishing house, or self-publishing?
Now I know that self-publishing has made some great strides in recent years, and that many authors have made a lot of money through self-publishing, but that is the exception certainly not the rule. Here is my list of reasons why going the traditional publishing route (especially for the first book) makes so much sense.
1. Validation- publishers validate the quality of your manuscript. They get thousands of submission, and if they pick yours- it must be good- or at least significantly better than a lot of the junk they receive. By publishing it, they also send a message that THEY believe it is good. Its as if the book has already passed the “peer review” step.
2. Experience- publishers have a full team of editors, copy experts, and business people. These people can sift through your manuscript taking out all the typos, and making sure it is ready for the big time. They don’t charge you for this either, so that means no out of pocket for you.
3. Publicity- well let’s assume your book is GOOD. If the book really resonates with people, then you need to get the word our. A NYC publicist will charge $20,000 to publicize your book. A good publishing house however has their own in-house publicists. Again, no out of pocket, and it is in their best interest to get as much publicity for the book as possible. (I have read many articles claiming Publishers won’t promote your book unless you are a big name, but that doesn’t make sense- publishers run a business, and for the business to be profitable your book needs to do well.)
4. Money- unless you are Malcom Gladwell or Stephen King, you won’t make a ton of money on book sales. A book is more of a stepping stone to bigger and better things. It gives you success that you can leverage into more books, speaking engagements, and whatever else you can dream up. Well known authors can make from $5,000 to $50,000 a pop for a 1-hour keynote address. The Today Show, Oprah, Dr. Phil, and CNN won’t take you seriously if your book is self-published, and that is the type of fame that can turn into something big.
Now going through a traditional publishing house may not make sense for everyone, but it has some huge advantages. For authors and agents that have tried both, I would love to hear your opinions.
We see courage quotes all over the place. One courage quote makes us feel like we can take over the world, while another quote makes us feel wise and accomplished just for having read it. But the truth is, the quotes aren’t going to change us, only our actions will. An all time great act of courage in action is shown in this now famous picture of one of the Chinese students standing up for what he believed in, and forcing the Chinese tanks to turn back in Tienanmen Square. We may not keep tanks back, but we can still be courageous.
My participants in the Virtue Experiment have set some great goals that I am sure will bring action. The Courage goals haven’t come easily for the participants, and I think that’s because they want to make sure their goals are meaningful. Here are some of the thoughtful goals:
I think my biggest fear is the fear of failure. I believe that the fear of not succeeding prevents me from beginning many things for fear I will fail, either myself, others or the project. It does not take courage for me to be myself with others, to be honest in a relationship or to get up in front of a group of people. Those things aren’t things I have a hard time with. I took a look at the different aspects of my life… physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. and the one I accomplish the least due to lack of courage is physical. My body is capable of much more than I allow it to accomplish because of fear. Fear of failure. I am also quite a wimp when it comes to physical pain and pushing myself past the limits of comfortable to reach a new physical milestone takes courage for me.
I am registered to run a half-marathon in the fall. I have plenty of time to train and be prepared, but have delayed getting serious about it. I need to pick up my courage and make significant progress this month. I have set a certain number of miles that I’d like to be able to run by the end of April. Perhaps running doesn’t require courage for most people, but it’s the getting started and sticking with it that takes it for me. I will overcome my fear of failure and open the door to great things by having the courage to begin.
I sure hope this works for you… I’ll keep you posted
Don’t we all deal with this same fear of failure on some level? By recognizing it, I think Amberly is shining a bright light on her fear. Often, simply recognizing our fear helps us realize how ridiculous it is.
Here is another participant who included a brief report of her Month of Integrity:
As for the month of integrity, I’m happy to report that I have not eaten a shred of cheese since the start of Lent! I made the commitment and although it has been extremely difficult, I have stuck to it! I’m very proud of myself and have realized many other unintended side effects – this month I have gone to the gym more frequently, which paired with abstaining from all cheese has helped me to lose 5 pounds! I guess that I feel healthier although I miss my cheese terribly…
(Great job! I am so happy to hear when people keep commitments. You can’t accomplish your goals if you aren’t true to yourself and what you believe in.)
For the next month, the month of Courage, I’m not completely sure what my goal is. I often think that I am too nice and let people take advantage of me more than I should. I have a hard time saying no to others and often spread myself too thin because of it or wind up taking on other peoples’ problems when most of the time I can’t even tackle my own. Since I always want to make everyone happy I have a hard time doing what I know is best for me. I guess if I could integrate courage into this month in any way I would want to have the courage to speak up for myself, make myself a priority, and have the courage to know that I cannot make everyone happy but that if nothing else, I have to make myself happy. In the end, true strength and courage is being happy with who you are and shedding the idea that what other people think is paramount. Hopefully this month will help me to discover my voice and give me the courage to use it. We’ll see how it goes….
Every goal is so different, but that’s because people are so different. Here are a few other brief goals that my participants made for the Month of Courage:
-start driving around my neighborhood. This may or may not include my scooter bike.
-share my feelings on faith with 20 new people
-find a new apartment, and MOVE OUT!
-I have decided to move forward on getting information to be certified as a personal trainer. I plan to talk to at least 3 trainers at the gym I go to to find out where they received their certification and what they recommend. By the end of the month my goal is to have an action plan in place.
-This month my goal has two parts. 1) Don’t put off having difficult conversations 2) Don’t be afraid to tell people no. I have a hard time with both of those things. Just this week the symphony called me to ask me to buy season tickets. I couldn’t tell him no so I said I would think about it. That’s not true. I’m not going to think about it I just didn’t want to say no. This month I’m going to say no when I mean no.
I will update this with other goals as they come in. The thing I love about these goals is this: these participants OWN their goals. They chose them, and that makes them personally comitted to them. Own your goal for the month, and feel free to share it here.
“There is an infinite quantity of confidence available in the universe- feel free to take all you like.” -unknown
What is the one thing that terrifies you more than anything else in the world? What great things could you accomplish if fear was not holding you back? Why are you afraid?
Fear. Just hearing the word causes a visceral reaction. What are we so afraid of?
This past month has been the month of integrity, and I am confident in saying that the Month of Courage will be much more challenging. It is not easy to develop integrity, but at least we understand it. We know what it means to be honest, for the most part, though living honestly is a challenge. Courage is different. Both courage and fear are such abstract concepts that they can be hard to wrap our minds around.
For us to understand, and properly implement the month of courage we must eliminate the fear factor. The more you try something that terrifies you, the greater your capacity to beat with that fear. Here are a few pointers to help you overcome your fear, and set good goals for the month of Courage.
1. Sometimes it helps to scream. I used to love jumping off of cliffs in Lake Powell, Utah. When the cliffs were higher than 30 feet, it was impossible to convince myself logically to jump. But, if I screamed some goofy quote like, “the only thing to fear is fear itself” or “give me liberty or give me death” as I jumped, it would help me override my natural instincts. Our natural instincts are very powerful, but they are extremely outdated.
Think about the lest few thousand years of human existence. They have been filled with famine, war, and numerous other terrible threats to our lives. The vast majority of these threats have completely vanished. When you stand up to give a speech in front of a hundred people there is zero chance you are going to be mauled by a tiger, or harpooned by a rival hunting gang (although I don’t know the actual statistics on that), yet your mind doesn’t get that- it still sends you this fight or flight response. You need to scream (even if it is silently to yourself), and use that adrenaline to give you strength to override your fear.
2. Abandon irrational fears. As a society we have been programmed to fear all strangers. This becomes a huge liability for us. Say I am taking an elevator up to the 8th floor of my building, and there is a man in a suit standing next to me silently- why on earth should I be scared of this person? It makes no sense. I should not be afraid to strike up a conversation. So I speak to him. The same holds true with talking to strangers in almost any context, what is the worst that could happen? If you try and start a conversation with a stranger, or even someone you are hoping to meet, and it doesn’t go anywhere, what have you lost? What did it cost you? This is the month of courage, so stop fearing strangers.
3. If we are prepared, we will not fear. Have you ever done a group project where one member of the group does not want to practice the presentation out loud? They make an excuse like, “I will be ready, I just don’t like to practice in front of people.” If they are too afraid to practice in front of their own group, how will they possibly be ready for the real thing? Practice out loud over and over again if you are making a presentation, sales pitch, or important call. Before I give a talk I practice out loud as many times as possible within 24 hours of the presentation. There is nothing that helps overcome our fear of speaking more than being prepared.
Hopefully this provides everybody with some good ideas for their April goals. Good luck, and I hope the Month of Courage can be a meaningful one!