Tips on building and growing your people skills.

How to Successfully Go Through the Minefield

Recently, I had the chance to listen to Tom Kunz, past president of Century 21, tell a story about a fellow who had the opportunity to have a private golf lesson with a certain professional golfer. There wasn’t much to the story but there was definitely a key part that I remember that went something like this:

“(The man) was out playing golf with the professional golfer. The Pro was watching him, trying to find out how the guy could improve his swing. In doing so, the Pro asked the guy what club he used the least and asked for it. The Man gave him the club and the Pro continued to swing the club as he would with one of his.

The ball flew and landed where he had aimed. He then turned around to the Man and said “Well, we now know it’s not the equipment!”

What Does It Mean?

There are various things we can pull from this story. For instance we could have realized that people are professionals because they can do things that most others can’t do as well. To become a pro, he probably had to put a lot of time into his craft.

The obvious thing I got from this story was that most of the time… it’s not the equipment. It’s not anyone else’s fault that you haven’t succeeded. You are a product of your own choices. The man probably wasn’t great with that club because he hadn’t used it.

Association is Key

Even those two things stick out there’s probably a more important aspect that is probably more important that might escape all of us at first. We might miss the forest for the trees. How? Well, this story reminded me that is association is important. Luckily, the man in the story had decided that he wanted to have help with his golf swing and found someone that had success at the level that he wanted. It would have taken him a lot more time if he had tried finding out the problem himself. Heck, he probably might not have ever tried using the club and would have focused more on just changing his swing on other clubs that he was better at. Now he knew that if he spent more time honing his time on this new tool, he might have more success in the future. Which was the better path to take? Personally, I don’t know. I’m not a golfer. However, the Pro had more experience and gave the man a pro’s perspective.

Once you figure out where you want to go in life, association with those that have been where you want to go is very important. It’s better to get experience from those who have already gone through the minefield so that you don’t have to find out the answers yourself.

Thoughts?

Personally I have gotten to associate with plenty of people who are where I want to be in the future. But I still would love to get more time in with those are more successful than me in topics like internet marketing, passive income, and success.

What are your thoughts in finding association. Is there anything that is key that you would look for when you are looking for people to help you?

I look forward to reading your responses. Have a wonderful week and congratulations to the Boilermakers football team who once again was able to beat Ohio State! Boiler Up. 🙂

Cheers!

How To Make or Break a Long Term Relationship

When I wrote about Jim Vaughan’s String Story last week, my intention was to share with you that many times you have to bring in the great by building on the good. There will be times in life you’ll have the opportunity to settle for what is good, but as you might have heard, Great’s number one adversary is not Bad but Good. As in, “that’s good enough”.

One thing that I touched on that I said that I would talk about in the future was a subject I’ve coined “romantic debt”.

Romantic Debt

Today, many people think that Hollywood’s perspective on love and the whole “love at first sight” thought mentality is the way that “love” is supposed to work. They think that they can fall in love with someone right away. This is why there is a phrase called “friend zoning”. You’re either a friend or you’re a romantic interest – especially with young women.

But many times, I see these types of relationships come falling apart in flames. Why? Because the couple hadn’t repaid their romantic debt. Romantic debt is the friendship you have to develop when you’re developing a romantic relationship. The time that you have to put in with the other person to find out who they are and why you would even want to be with them for life. It’s not an easy decision by any means. Especially not one that you can make with the first couple of meetings.

I’m not saying that you can’t fall in “love” with someone right away – but what I will say is that normally that type of love is actually lust. Someone that feels this love for someone else is infatuated with that other person; they can’t get them out of their mind. This is the definition of lust. Unfortunately, this lust or “immediate chemistry” is what most people consider to be true love.

True Love: Filling the Love Tank

I once read a book called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate"" “>The Five Love Languages. In that book, I learned that true love is not only a form of friendship, but it’s also an emotional investment that can take on the form of 5 different types. An investment that both sides will have to put into the relationship for it to work. The problem with confusing true love with lust is that lust eventually ends. If all the relationship has is this type of love and no emotional investment, then it is doomed. Without having putting any investment in the relationship, then there’s no true love fuel for the fire. The Love Tank has emptied and the fire has been blown out due to the winds of life. This is why so many modern marriages end in divorce. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that this is why Kim Kardashian’s marriage was only 72 days long. They really hadn’t formed a real friendship nor put in any emotional investment into one another.

In the comment section, please share your thoughts. This is a very important subject that I know is on a lot of people’s minds and one that I don’t have much experience on myself, so please share what you think because we’re all here to help each other!

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your responses!

The String Story: One Step at a Time

So this is a story that I heard from Jim Vaughan, editor of Learn From the Giants, that I think that anyone can put to use in their life. It’s called “The String Story”. Basically in Jim’s long career, he has done many jobs. He almost sounds like Mike Rowe to me. One of those things that he did was help install electrical lines. In Florida, where he is a native, you might be aware, that they have swamps like crazy down there. Well, one day, he and the group that he was working with was tasked in getting an electrical line across one of these many swamps.

Now, personally, I never thought of how one could do this until Jim told me the story. I mean, I suppose if I had thought about it, I would have assumed that they would have used a helicopter. Well, they might in some places or when they’re installing the tower, but they didn’t when putting up the actual wire. Apparently, instead of taking the entire electrical wire across the swamp (which the size of this wire is ginormous) which would be almost impossible, they have a strategy for doing so. They get in a small boat with a spool of string. They take that string across the swamp to the pole. Next, on the other end, they tied twine to the end of the string and pulled that across, next they tied rope on the twine and then pulled the twine across!

Eventually, they got large enough rope going across that they tied the wire on and then pulled it across. After which, they installed the wire and moved onto the next tower.

Now, this is a rather simple story, but it can be applied to so many things in life. For one, it can be applied to sales in the matter of the upsale. Just get someone buying something for $9.99 from an infomercial and the next thing you know, you have them buying a $100 or more for a deluxe set of knives or $200 or so for jewelry.

Or it can be applied to building a strong relationship. As you might or might not know, I have a “traditional” view on relationships. I think the reason so many people have problems with their romantic relationships is because they put about as much time and effort into a relationship as they do in their finances. Many people are in financial debt and what I call “romantic debt” (which I’ll talk about in a future post). If they would start with a sound foundation, and work on building it up from the ground up, people could get anything they wanted – financially AND romantically. However, society has taught many of us not to think this way. Most of us don’t know how to put off the good for the great.

I’m sure there’s other uses of “The String Story”, but I thought I’d give you these examples so that you can figure out ways to implement it in your life. Speaking of… what are some instances where you might use it?

Personality Temperaments: Mastering the Art

One thing I know is that as a coach, I need to be coached myself – otherwise my knowledge base stays at my current level and due to that, I can only grow so fast if at all. When you bring someone into your life that has a knowledge base that is so different than yours and you’re open to their ideas, then you can grow exponentially as you listen and gain a larger understanding of how the world works.

Personally, I’ve had several coaches in my life and some have been great while others have been not as great. But that doesn’t keep me from searching for more wisdom to expand myself.

Recently I started getting coached by Mark Boersma – president of Synergy Solutions based out of Chicago. Mark’s a pretty interesting guy – early on he reminded me of Rick Moranis and I wondered if I could take anything he said seriously as he’s very sure of himself as well. From my experience, those that are very sure of themselves usually are the most insecure (or as us academics would say, “externally referenced”). But those who ask questions and approach life in that you can learn from anyone… those people I’ll open my ear to. Mark has shown some signs of this from time to time, so he’s getting a little more respect and response from me in return. Never forget that being humble isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. You can never trust a guy who doesn’t cry. 🙂

One of the things that I’ve learned (or potentially relearned) from Mark is more about the art of determining someone’s personality. In the past, I either watched and listened to a person for 20 minutes or I had them take an extensive test. Funny enough, Mark has showed me a way of determining someone’s personality by asking two questions. Those questions are actually a little screwy, but I’ll give them to you anyway!

The Questions

First off, we need to set some basics here. Mark’s 4 temperaments are slightly different than those found in the DISC model. Even though they’re very similar. The Dominant is replaced by the Driver. The Imaginative is replaced by the Expressive. The Supportive is replaced by the Amiable. Finally, the Calculative is replaced by the Analytical.

The first question that is asked is to rank 4 shapes that someone else prefers. Those shapes are a cube, pyramid, wavy lines, and a ball. When ranking, a shape with a 1 is more preferred than that with a 4. Make sure that you ask in that order of shapes each time. If you’re doing it all verbally, you’ll need to repeat the question a couple of times over. And record your answer in a 2×2 grid on a paper at first… later you’ll be able to do it in your head. The scores are recorded clockwise starting in quadrant 1 and finishing in quadrant 4. Keep those scores.

The second question that needs to be addressed is what brings them more frustration in a given situation. Have them rank four choices in the same fashion as you did with the shapes. “What causes you more frustration in a given situation? Your choices are: out of order, out of control, not fun, and conflict”. Again as you did in the previous ranking, record their answers in a clockwise fashion starting from the upper left quadrant and finishing in the lower left hand.

The Explanation:

Now that you have two two by two grids, place them by each other. Place an empty 2×2 grid next to these two. In this grid you’ll put the sum of the numbers of the two other grids in each quadrant. So, clockwise (starting from the upper left hand corner) add each quadrant and put the result in the third grid. The resulting numbers yield the order of the person’s temperaments. For example if the first two quadrants yield a 2 and a 4, then the person is a strong Analytical-Driver. If the top two numbers are switched, than the personality of the person is a Driver-Analytical. (To know more about the traits, the easiest way is look for the DISC temperaments first and match them accordingly.) If the numbers come out to be rather close to each other (such as all the quadrants having a 5 in them) then the person is a new 5 type of personality – a chameleon. They’re the hardest to figure out but potentially the biggest achievers!

Thoughts, Comments, Questions?

If you have any further questions on how this works, please ask! I’m curious to know how this application affects your daily life in knowing how others tick. Also, if you’d like connect with Mark himself, please feel free to contact him at [email protected] Make sure you refer to New Inceptions so that you get the VIP treatment.

The DISC Profile: Placing People on the Map

When I was growing up and even through most of my undergrad years, I always thought that EVERYONE was competitive. I thought everyone played nature’s game. However, when I was taking an OLS class in 2004, I found out about personality temperaments. Specifically, I found out about the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile test. While studying this I came to find out that there were 16 combinations of 8 different traits that a person could have. At the time, I thought it was preposterous to label people – but as I had to study it more, I found out that it explained quite a bit.

Well, over time, I became frustrated with the Myers-Briggs test (which is the same thing as the Jungian 16 test). In one week, I could be one of the 16 different combinations and then in the next week, I’d be another. I could be an introvert one week and the next week, I’d be an extrovert!

Well eventually I ran across a book called Personality Plus. In this book, Florence Littauer explains how there are really four main personality temperaments: the Melancholy, Phlegmatic, Sanguine, and Choleric. She also explains how to tell what you are as well as what others are and how to interact with them.

Later, I found out about the DISC personality assessment and realized that the temperaments described in Florence’s book could have easier names to remember! DISC is short for Dominant, Imaginative, Supportive, and Calculative (or a combination of similar terms).

At any rate, the point of all of this is that once you have an understanding of what these temperaments are, you can understand where people are coming from. In a very basic form, you can understand what drives people. So, without further adue, here’s a brief explanation of the different DISC temperaments (source: Wikipedia):

The assessments classify four aspects of behavior by testing a person’s preferences in word associations (compare with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). DISC is an acronym for:

  • Dominance – relating to control, power and assertiveness
  • Influence – relating to social situations and communication
  • Steadiness (submission in Marston’s time) – relating to patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness
  • Conscientiousness (or caution, compliance in Marston’s time) – relating to structure and organization

These four dimensions can be grouped in a grid with “D” and “I” sharing the top row and representing extroverted aspects of the personality, and “C” and “S” below representing introverted aspects. “D” and “C” then share the left column and represent task-focused aspects, and “I” and “S” share the right column and represent social aspects. In this matrix, the vertical dimension represents a factor of “Assertive” or“Passive”, while the horizontal dimension represents “Open” vs. “Guarded”.[2]


  • Dominance (Choleric / Driver): People who score high in the intensity of the “D” styles factor are very active in dealing with problems and challenges, while low “D” scores are people who want to do more research before committing to a decision. High “D” people are described as demanding, forceful, egocentric, strong willed, driving, determined, ambitious, aggressive, and pioneering. Low D scores describe those who are conservative, low keyed, cooperative, calculating, undemanding, cautious, mild, agreeable, modest and peaceful.

 

  • Influence (Sanguine / Expressive): People with high “I” scores influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional. They are described as convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting, and optimistic. Those with low “I” scores influence more by data and facts, and not with feelings. They are described as reflective, factual, calculating, skeptical, logical, suspicious, matter of fact, pessimistic, and critical.

 

  • Steadiness (Phlegmatic / Amiable): People with high “S” styles scores want a steady pace, security, and do not like sudden change. High “S” individuals are calm, relaxed, patient, possessive, predictable, deliberate, stable, consistent, and tend to be unemotional and poker faced. Low “S” intensity scores are those who like change and variety. People with low “S” scores are described as restless, demonstrative, impatient, eager, or even impulsive.

 

  • Conscientious (Melancholy / Analytical): People with high “C” styles adhere to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. High “C” people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, and tactful. Those with low “C” scores challenge the rules and want independence and are described as self-willed, stubborn, opinionated, unsystematic, arbitrary, and unconcerned with details.

Who said you couldn’t source Wikipedia? 🙂

At any rate, I would like to note that while the DISC profile or any other personality temperament test can give a basic understanding of who a person is, it cannot possibly give an exact representation of who they are as a person. Why? Well think of a particular place on Earth, say Hawaii. Now it is possible to represent Hawaii by a Latitude and Longitude value but that probably doesn’t do it justice. There are so many ways that a particular place can be described, especially Hawaii, that limiting it to a few key words probably isn’t the best thing to do. The same thing is true with people.

So if you do start using the DISC profile (or any personality assessment) in common situations be careful that even if you get a base description of someone, that it isn’t all you use to evaluate who they are as person. But it definitely is a starting point… and that’s definitely better than nothing or just winging it!

happiness

The 5 Pillars of Happiness

Pursuit of Happiness – it’s in the Declaration of Independence, but do we really know what it means? Is happiness something that we can truly achieve? If so, how?

I think it is. It’s in the eye of seeker. No one can define happiness but you. However, they can definitely help you along your journey

That’s what the story of Chris Gardner, the author of The Pursuit of Happyness, has done for millions of people. Personally, I had seen Will Smith’s rendition a few years before I ever had heard that it was actually based on the life story of Chris. But if you think you ever have it bad, I got to say it probably pales in comparison. I mean, he really did. At the time that he was going through so much grief in his life, he really didn’t have anyone to turn to. I mean for crying out loud, he and his son had to sleep in a subway restroom.

But, if you saw the movie, you’d know that eventually he made his goals/dreams come true. Not only did he make them come true, but he far exceeded them.

So what was the lesson from his story? Well, for one… I think the main lesson was to never give up or give in. But I also think there’s more that we can pull from this story. We can see that Chris also progressed in developing his 5 Pillars of Happiness: Relationships, Health, Purpose, Finance, and the Little Things. These 5 pillars is what makes up New Inceptions’ foundation.

The 5 Pillars of Happiness:

1.) Mental (Relationships being a part of this) – In Chris’ story, we find Chris living with his ex-wife who gives him plenty of crap about where they are in life and what he’s doing with himself. It’s not that she’s really interested in him developing into what he wants to be, but what she can get out of her relationship with him. She needs him to do things that at the time he is incapable of doing. They are struggling, but she is definitely not helping the matter any. However, in the end of the story (at least the movie), Chris has built one heck of a relationship with his son.

In the Relationship Pillar of Happyness, as with all the other pillars, there is a scale.  If a person is too heavy on one side of this scale vs the other, their life will be more difficult. As with everything in life, it’s all about proper moderation – these scales need to be properly balanced. In this particular scale one would say that there is side where a person is all about themselves. On the other side of this scale, they are all about other people at the expense of themselves. Neither extreme is good for building healthy relationships. If you’re too into yourself, no one will be able to trust you. If you’re too much into aiding others, then you’ll eventually be taken advantage of by them and made to do what they want you to. You need to know what you want out of relationships or it won’t be meaningful for any of the people involved.

To balance this scale out, it helps to understand why you keep the company you do and how to recognize those that are good for you. It also helps to know how to win the trust and friendships of those that you want in your life.

2.) Health – In Pursuit of Happyness, at least the movie, we never really deal with Chris’ health too much. However we would be mistaken to think that he was doing fantastic in this pillar. Little money = little food. Little food = malnutrition. Malnutrition, especially between a child and an adult, doesn’t usually equate to good things. The way to balance this pillar here is pretty obvious based on the focus of health in today’s society. To properly handle this pillar, one must balance out a fair amount of activity with proper nutrition. It’s all about proper maintenance and meeting the needs of your body. You can’t beat natural design.

3.) Spiritual (Purpose and Mission being a part of this) – In Chris’ story, he wants to leave the medical sales world behind and become a somebody on Wall Street. The movie is basically about his dedication in making this a reality. Obviously his dream to do this is to provide more for himself and his family which, at the beginning of the story, he’s not doing such a great job of. However, we shouldn’t get the pursuit of a “career” confused with the purpose of a person. A person’s career is just part of their purpose. Everything that a person chooses to constructively do with their time is part of their purpose. Everything that a person chooses to do that is not constructive use of their talents, is nothing more than a distraction of who they are.

However, too much of either side can’t be 100% good for you. Someone being completely constructive all the time in life might find it hard to have fun. Someone that lives 100% for fun, can not be happy because they aren’t fulfilling who they really are. In either extreme, a void is created and the person tries to fill that void with more of the same action. That’s how we get workaholics vs party animals. Those that do their research of who they are as a person, can figure out how to have fun while being constructive. This automatically balances you out. That’s how you can have a job where you don’t ever feel like you’re actually working.

If you can’t have fun when you’re being productive, the way to balance yourself here is choosing when to be purposeful and when to have fun. My suggestion? Work before play, but make sure you get to have fun.

4.) Wealth (Finance being a part of this) – Finally in Chris’ story, we need to realize the importance of money in his life. At the beginning, he doesn’t have very much of it. In the end, he has the opportunity to make plenty. Getting the chance to live his dream and be a player on Wall Street, definitely comes from his need to make a better living for himself and his family. There is nothing wrong with having this as a goal. However, we shouldn’t confuse this with just being rich to be rich.

In the Bible, it is said that “the love of money is root of all evil”. This is correct. To pursue money just to have it, is probably not the best thing for a person as it’s probably an addiction at that point and at the same time, they’re probably not doing too much with it. Instead, money should be considered a tool that amplifies the person that is using it. Good people will use it for good, while bad people will use it for bad things. Chris using his money to help his family move forward was a good thing. If used correctly for good, money can have a lot of impact – more than any one person can have in physical labor alone. Therefore the more money you have, the more people you have the potential to benefit.

2015 Edit: 5.) The Little Things – Since 2010 when I originally wrote this, I’ve realized that there is more to life that makes one happy. The fifth pillar could be referred to the little things. Each of us has particular small things in our life that we kind of geek over. For example, if you’re into sports, you might be into stats of pitchers, QBs, goalies, etc. You might attend games. You might even be into ::gasp:: Fantasy Football!

This pillar is as important as the other pillars. However, that said, it tends to be the one that people focus on the most. This is where you find all the little distractions in life including social media, gaming, and other new technology. While these things are great to have, too much of them can definitely be a bad thing. You need to equally be spending time with each pillar.

Things to Mention:

The thing to mention is with any of the pillars is that the less balanced one of them is, the more you think about and worry about it. Just like you’re suffocating and need air. Why? Because you feel that something is wrong – but you just can’t figure out what it is… or how to solve it. But you sense it. For example, if you have subpar relationships, you probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get better ones. Or, if you have little money, you probably spend more time thinking about how to get it. You see the pattern.

Something else I want to mention here is two words we hear so much in society today. I used to wonder what the terms “shallow” and “deep” meant when describing a person. What I have found is that when a person is said to be “shallow” it’s because they are actually balancing very little. They typically are only interested in that very little – and that’s generally why they have little to talk about. On the other end, a person who is “deep” is one who has learned how to balance all their pillars and are fine tuning them on a regular basis.  They have probably spent time learning about the different pillars (while they might not have realized it!) and have more to talk about with more people. If you want to have more friends… deeper friends… here’s a suggestion: get deeper into yourself. Find out what you are passionate about in life and learn how to share that passion with others.

So what do you think about the 4 Pillars of Happyness? Is there another pillar you might not be aware of?

Eliminating the Good Guy Contract – Enabling You to be Your Better Self!

New Inceptions’ goal has always been to discuss some of the “taboo” topics that are not covered in places of formal education. Those taboo topics are generally seen as developing the overall intelligence/common sense of a person – not just their book smarts. As you might have seen, I tend to write more about goals, success, and wealth development. Why? Because that’s what I’m interested in. When I pick up a magazine and flip through it, I usually read articles that deal with how a person or group of people overcame something, are fixing problems, or how a journey was started and where those people are today. Be that anywhere from a science magazine to a recent edition of Sports Illustrated, or Inc. Magazine.

However, ever since I started NI, I wanted to do more than talk about these topics alone. While they are important to me, I also wanted to bring in more information on building meaningful relationships, and specifically romantic relations. For many in the intended audience of 20/30 somethings, love can be a confusing thing – especially in the 20’s. While I don’t claim to be an expert in this field, (and I’m still searching for people with better credentials to write on these topics who would like to write for NI) there are some things that I have learned and I fully plan on sharing them. After all, NI is all about the pursuit of happiness- and developing love and relationships in general is a vital part to that happiness.

So here we go.

I recently read an article over at a blog called “Happiness in this World” where the author was talking about Eliminating the “Good Guy Contract”. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with “The Good Guy”, let’s just say that this type of person is generally the type that goes out of his or her way to befriend people, just because they want to be liked. Many times they don’t care who they’re friending, just so they have someone that “appreciates” them. Now, I completely understand why someone could be like that. For the most part, society forces many of us to think that we need to be approved by people in life to be socially viable. The more people that like us, the better off we are… right?

Wrong. So so so wrong. The problem with this view is that those who are typically considered a “Good Guy” have a low self image. They care so much about what other people think about them that they don’t know what they want for themselves. Therefore they never make a values list and many times they end up negatively affecting one group of people that they want to be a part of while being nice to another group.

Good Guys (also known as “Nice Guys” in Romance and Pickup Artist (PUA) circles) are wishy washy to say the least. Think of it for a second – how many politicians do you know that flop from one side of an issue to another side just based on who they’re talking to? How many people in general do you know like that? These people are people pleasers (just as the article said) and probably a Good Guy!

To be successful with relationships and to be an effective leader, people need to know where you stand. You need to make standards for yourself and for others. Otherwise, in the end, you’re going to lose. If you feel that you’re being tugged from one feeling to another just because you’re trying to please everyone, maybe you’re guilty of being a “Good Guy”.

“If you’re a chronic People Pleaser who can’t stand to disappoint others when disappointing them is appropriate, then you have a great opportunity to become happier.” To become less of a good guy, practice disappointing people when it’s needed. Draw that line in the sand. But don’t do it so much that you are seen as a bad person. If you can balance it appropriately and let your feelings and boundaries be known before the fact, then ultimately you will be respected.

So what do you think? What are your experiences with “Good Guys”? If you’ve been a Good Guy in the past, how did you overcome it?