Heading back to a new work week is tough. It can be worse when the new work week is also the first of the year. Along with our preexisting roles and responsibilities, the pressure to be better in a new year is mounting as well. Like others, I want to stand out in 2018. Normally, I don’t write about or reblog time-sensitive topics. But, I believe my exception to the rule in this instance will hold me accountable throughout this new year. So here are four (4) ways that I can build an outstanding year for myself.
I. Making Introductions
I love introducing people. I love connecting people; especially people who can potentially meet the needs of one another. My challenge has often been introducing myself to others. It’s become a fad to be considered an introvert. And while I do have characteristics that are not inconsistent with that of introverts, it’s not an excuse for not saying “hello” in social settings. I believe in order to be outstanding, you have to know your mission and vision. I believe that I have a good grip on those. And like most introverts, I don’t mind talking when it’s mission or vision driven. Saying “hello” to others in organized, social settings can be my way of fishing for connections with other people who can help my causes. It also allows me to see who I can align with that has a cause that I’d like to help. Above everything else, I feel that simply introducing myself more can make me memorable to others. That’s what outstanding is; standing out. It’s doing what others won’t. It’s not standing apart. It’s being a part of the movement of the group of people you are among.
Recently, I was invited to a gathering at a house of a friend. I was quite proud of myself. I had to leave early. There was a group of invitees that were huddled up talking. Before leaving, instead of saying “goodbye” to the host and quietly leaving, I took steps toward that huddled group and stated “I have to leave. I wish I could’ve chatted with you all. But be safe and enjoy yourselves.” This is a very small thing for most, but a big thing for me. The huddled group seemed to appreciate my sentiments. For some in the group, it may have been just enough for them to remember me in the future. Maybe nothing will come of it. But for me, it allowed me the practice I need to walk into a setting and speak to an unfamiliar audience with more confidence. In work settings, I push through to get the job done. But in social settings, I’m much less likely to do so. But, I am learning that the social settings often allow breakthroughs to get more work and to get more work done. And the work getting done leads to bigger rewards.
II. Offering Direct Help
My wife is a mortician by trade. She deals with death every day. The rest of us don’t and when we do, we don’t want to deal with it. A friend has a relative that dies and we don’t know what to say. A family member of ours dies and we don’t know what to do. The conversations and engagement with the bereaved are surface level and mostly superficial. We don’t know what to do or say. So we make empty promises. “If you need help, let me know.” “If you just need someone to talk to, let me know”. “I’m here, just call me”. And while a death is an extreme example, there are other situations where we offer ourselves to be called on, but for what?
What can we do? What do we do well? Going from “How can I help” to “Hey, here’s how I can help” allows us to have an impact. The people who help during very hard times in the lives of others are never the people who say “Let me know how I can help”. The ones who pitch in see a void and they fill the gap. If they can’t fill the gap, they find someone who can. Being proactive in helping others means you know how or if you can help others with a simple inspection of the challenge at hand. If you can’t help, you can identify that early. This eliminates waste of time. Offering direct help allows you to determine what you can do, how much of it you can take on, and if you can be of any assistance whatsoever. The worst thing to do is open yourself up to being of assistance and then you find out you can’t be of any assistance.
III. Use Language as an Instrument
Recently, I’ve been reading “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss. In this book, Ferriss deconstructs the habits and routines of world-class performers in a variety of industries. He interviewed Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn. Hoffman is widely known in business circles as a level-headed leader with very thick skin. In the book, he refers to his ability to communicate as a reason for his success. He is considerate of others and he talks about his ability to use language as an instrument.
I found that statement to be very interesting. When thinking about it, I realized that most of us use language as a weapon and not as an instrument. Weapons being used on us cause us to do one of two things: retreat or fire back. When instruments are played, we are more inclined to stop and listen. Mastering the use of a weapon protects you. Mastering your performance as a musician captures the hearts of others. Weapons don’t inspire others; they threaten others. Instruments inspire and create memories. When used correctly, language and communication can help us stand out among those in our circles. We all need assistance, we must learn how to use language as an instrument to communicate what we need from others.
IV. Solving Core Problems
I was reading an article about successfully launching a startup company. One quote stood out to me: “You have to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes”. This was referring to the idea that you have to look at your customer’s day and see how your product fits into their day. You have to know how far you are from your customer. What does it take for your customer to get to where your product is? You have to know what your customers are interrupting in their lives to consume what you have for sale. This is walking a mile in their shoes. It’s an inspection of all the things around them and how you and your product will fit into that scheme of things.
As a person involved in social change and civic activity, I have learned that in order to make a real impact, I must find ways to solve core problems. 2018 can no longer be about restricting my efforts to surface level, low-hanging fruit. Giving away turkeys to the needy on holidays, passing out gloves and socks to the homeless, or book bags at the beginning of school are needed. However, with the needy, homeless, and school kids in the inner city, there are core problems that put each of those groups of people in those situations. I know that I cannot resolve those issues alone. But my desire is to dig deeper and begin presenting ideas to allow those in this fight with me to get to the core. Eradicating these problems should be the focus. Getting to the core does that for us. This can be used beyond the social impact realm. In all that we do, we need to search for the core. Asking detailed questions and attempting to walk the mile in the shoes of others can get us there.
What are some of the things that you will do to commit to an outstanding 2018? Leave a comment and let me know…