Competence Breeds Confidence

Competence Breeds Confidence

I’m going to let you in on a secret.

Depending on the circumstances of us meeting, if we’ve met, there will be two dramatically different responses to this revelation.  Very opposing responses.

If we were introduced socially, you’re already in on the secret.  If someone were to ask you “did you know this about her” your reply would be “isn’t it obvious, everyone knows that about her”.

Suppose our meeting happened in a professional setting.  Revealing this truth about myself would receive a much different reaction.  “No way”.  “It’s not possible”.  “Not her”.

Here’s the secret

I am not just a little bit shy.  I am deathly shy.  My preferred role in a social setting; wall flower.  The thought of having to introduce myself to total strangers and be able to make small talk with them gives me the same pit in my stomach as having just ate some bad sushi.  I can’t do it.  I won’t do it.  I remember being on a bus trip and someone yelled out “why don’t you ever talk”?  My valiant hero responded “she never talks”.  Shy.  So shy.  Paralyzed with fear.

In a professional setting a totally different persona comes to life.  A hostess with the mostest,  A larger than life very social figure.  Someone who is outgoing, approachable, even . . .  LOUD.  Put her on a stage and let her speak to the room and she shines. Who is this person?  Where does she come from?

It wasn’t always this way.  I remember early on in my career I would have to do morning sales meetings.  As I began to speak I would feel it.  The burning red creep.  It would start on my chest and the warm burning sensation would climb.  I would think “don’t be visible, don’t be visible” as I felt it creep up to my neck.  “Don’t be visible”, now my ears are on fire. “Don’t be visible”, my cheeks are certainly crimson with the burn.  The horror.  Complete terror.

What is different now?  Competence.  Studying your craft, becoming an expert and doing something over and over again until you build competence.  Action builds competence.  Competence then breeds confidence.  Look at the athletes about to take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics.  As they are about to begin their event they radiate confidence.  It wasn’t always there.  There was fear.  Confidence came with repeated practice of their sport making them competent.

There are two reasons I decided to share my secret with you.  First, you may be holding yourself back because, like most people, you have a fear of speaking.  This can be conquered.  Be a subject matter expert and keep throwing yourself into situations where you have to give presentations.  Eventually, it will get easier and even become enjoyable.  Second, as you’re working on yourself at the onset of the new year you may have some limiting beliefs about your abilities that are preventing you from setting certain goals.  I can’t possibly give a presentation, don’t you know that I’m shy?  Maybe it’s not speaking, perhaps it’s writing.  Maybe it’s exercise.  Just start doing it.  Action builds competence and competence breeds confidence.  You can do this.

Stop Looking For Balance

Often, people ask me “how do you balance it all”? Work, running, parenting, wife, volunteer . . .

The truth is, I don’t.
The bigger truth is, I would never want to.
I am sure it is the same truth for you.

Balance means everything is equal.
Most of us don’t want equal emphasis on career and family as other things.  These are the big two. An example from the book reviewed below, which illustrates it awesomely, is comparing fitness to your career.  You don’t need to exercise 40 plus hours a week to maintain your desired level of fitness.  Good news right?  Maybe just an hour 3 or 4 times per week.  Your boss definitely wants more from you in your job.  So are fitness and career balanced?  Of course not.

If not balance, then what?  Great question.
You have to know what you want and how important it is to you.
Will it be worth missing a few soccer games?
Is it worth being passed over for a promotion?
When you know what matters most and why, then you know how to cut up the pie.  You know which activities require more time
if you stay focused and true to your purpose,
you won’t be searching
for balance.

Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True SuccessTake the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success by Rory Vaden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I love most about this book is that it reinforces what we all know and that is that hard work, persistence, and sweat equity is and always will be the key to success. There is no magic pill. There is no 4 hour body. There is only self discipline. I love this quote from the book

“Success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day.”

The reason I love this is because you can replace the word “success” with whatever goal you are striving for.

“Fitness is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day”.
“Financial freedom is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day”.
“Great relationships are never owned; they are only rented – and the rent is due every day”.
“__________ is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day”.

View all my reviews

New Year’s Grateful-utions

We’ve already had our first snow with a little “stick” here in Michigan.  It’s one thing to see a few flurries.  There is new meaning when you wake up and see snow caps on rooftops.

Snow means winter is coming.
Winter coming means Christmas is coming.
Christmas coming means New Years is right around the corner and New Years means . . .
The time of year when we all resolve to be better us’es.  (yep, I made that word up).

As  2014 comes close to an end do yourself a favor.  Before you consider making a list of everything
you need to improve upon in 2015 make a list of everything you are awesome at.

Are there things we could do better?  Sure there are. And, do you know what?
There always will be.
Instead of focusing on all of your shortcomings take the time to be grateful.
Reflect on all of the great things you have,
great things you have done,
greatness you have seen.

Don’t begin the year beating yourself up and making resolutions that may not even be realistic.  Begin the year loving yourself with a personal inventory of all of the goodness around you.
Spend the remainder of 2014 building on your gratitude list.  At the end of each day ask yourself

What made me happy?
What made me laugh?
What am I most proud of?
What did I try for the first time?
What lost treasure did I rediscover?
Who did I help?
Who helped me?

If you want to find happiness in 2015, first find gratitude.

Raving Fans for Freeeeeee

“Raving fans are created by companies whose service far exceeds that of the competition and even exceeds customer expectations,” describes Ken Blanchard in his book Raving Fans. The best raving fan experiences are executed so casually that they seem to be directed subconsciously.  They are just so natural.  I have an amazing “raving fan” story to share with you about the service I received this week while traveling for business.

A coworker and I were asked to travel and it just so happened to be the week of the “snowstorm of the century”.  We waited out through the worst of it then made our break when we had word that most major roads were cleared (funny what was called “clear”). Taking separate vehicles we convoyed through snow, slush, and ice to our destination.  I was in the lead car and she followed carefully, both of us with a deliberate eye on the road and iron grip on the wheel.  Stopping for anything was not a consideration as the off ramps looked more like ski hills.

I can’t imagine what we looked like when we collapsed on the
chairs in the lobby of the hotel.  Exhausted, mentally drained, and starving we sat there in exasperated silence.  A hotel employee appeared from the dining room and asked if we would be dining in this evening.  Relief!  The last thing either one of us wanted to do was drive anywhere. She then went on to say, “you don’t even need to move.  We will bring a dining table to you right here in front of the fireplace”. In seconds a bistro table appeared in front of us.  Our entire demeanor changed.  The 5 hours of horror was erased from our minds with this simple delightful act of amazing customer service.

What is even more amazing is that the entire 4 day stay was like this.  Every touch point built our fandom. The front desk clerk was extremely delightful, the breakfast staff remembered our favorites from day to day, and when I tried to purchase a bottle of water to take into the fitness center I was instead offered a complimentary bottle.  Small delightful surprises happened continuously. 

There are places where you expect amazing service.  Last spring break I stayed at a Ritz Carlton whose service is legendary.  They had nothing on this Hilton Garden Inn.  Customer service at this hotel is just what they do.  I had not seen the receptionist that greeted us since check in and yet when I checked out 4 days later she remembered my name and room number without being prompted.  As I walked to the front doors for the last time she called out “now you have a safe return home Ms. Laura.”  My response, “I can’t wait to return”, and I meant it.

Now I’d like to emphasize something here:  you can creating raving fans without adding cost.

When you review my experience it is clear.  The cost breakdown is as follows:

Customer Experience                    Cost
friendly service                                  $0
fireside dinner                                   $0
instant breakfast                              $0
free water                                        $0.10

There are hundreds of hotels I could select from the next time I stay in the Chicago area, but only one will get my consideration.  What can you do to create raving fans?


Clear Communication?

Parents, leaders, spouses, friends, coworkers; any relationship is made stronger or weaker by how clearly we communicate.  Our word choice, tone, punctuation, and even the timing of our message can affect how it is perceived.

We all know that there are words that we just simply shouldn’t use.  Their meaning is just, well, mean.  “Don’t call your sister stupid”. “Don’t say I hate you”.  Suck.  This sucks, that sucks, you suck.  I was just at a classroom Christmas party and suck seems to be the current 4th grade favorite for boys and girls.

Then, there’s the way we say things.  Tone, inflection, and body language all express
the meaning behind our words. “What’s going on?” vs. (arms crossed) “WHAT’S GOING ON”!  The same words are used, but our intent is different.

The written word is much more prevalent today.  We text, email, instant message as our most common use of communication.  Besides the ability to read the wrong intent into some one’s words by reading in emotion that isn’t there, punctuation misplaced also changes the message.  We have all seen these and laughed.

“Woman, without her man, is nothing” vs. “Woman: without her, man is nothing”


“Eats shoots and leaves” vs. “Eats, shoots and leaves”


“King Charles walked and talked; half an hour after, his head was cut off” vs.”King Charles walked and talked half an hour after his head was cut off”

And, how about those spellcheck mishaps?  I once received an email from an executive that was supposed to say “customer inconvenience”.  Instead it read “customer incontinence”.  That was a great LOL moment.

Also confusing the meaning behind our message is the fact that there is more than one party involved.  There is the delivery person and the receiver.  Sometimes we do everything right in the delivery of the message, but the breakdown occurs in how it is received.  Seth Godin wrote earlier this week, that there’s the hard work of understanding.  He posted in his blog :

“Sometimes, we’re so eager to have an opinion that we skip the step of working to understand. Why is it the way it is? Why do they believe what they believe?
We skip reading the whole thing, because it’s easier to jump to what we assume the writer meant.”

If you are looking to build better relationships in 2014, clear communication is a good place to start.

Enjoy this video and a couple of fun links about language

Absurdities in spelling
Why English is hard to learn

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