A pet dog is an eternal optimist. He’ll check his bowl several times during the day, looking to see if bacon, liverwurst or some other tasty treat has appeared. The bowl itself represents limitless potential. Just wait long enough and somebody will put something in there.
A trained bird dog is an eternal optimist, too. But instead of waiting around his bowl he has work to do, locating game birds. (A good, trained sporting dog is not a “pet.”) Despite doing more work than his pet counterpart, the bird dog may actually get less “reward” in terms of handouts (and he doesn’t get to eat the birds he flushes).
Both dogs are happy, so which is the better life strategy? Granted, the dogs don’t have a choice, but you do.
You can wait around checking your phone or laptop for incoming business opportunities, and sometimes you’ll get some bacon. And it’s real comfortable relaxing on the couch.
Or you can get out there, relentlessly working the terrain, risking burrs and brambles as you enthusiastically seek out possibilities around each hill and dale.
Both dogs have their day. What will yours look like?
There are unlimited choices. But you have limited time, resources and attention. There are a lot of marketers interested in helping you figure out what you want. If you know what it is that you want, well then a salesperson can help you more finely narrow your options and you’ll enjoy the process.
“I want a Ford F-150 XLT Supercab with 6-inch chrome step bars.”
“Great, Ruby Red or Tuxedo Black?”
But if you don’t know what you want, that’s a source of stress. Continuous, nagging, soul-sucking stress. To combat this, you might look to others to see what you want.
Look at the Audi he just bought. Maybe I should get that.
Look at the job she just took. Maybe I should work there.
Sometimes others inspire us so looking to follow their lead is a good thing. But too often, the road others are traveling isn’t the one we ever really wanted to be on. Deep down we know it.
Deep down you know what you want, and probably always have. The trick is making sure those are the things you’re working toward.
Look around and you will see you co-exist with legions of smartphone zombies. In meetings, restaurants and bars, their eyes are sunk into the small screens. They even jeopardize their own well being by texting while driving or jaywalking.
Aside from the risk to life and limb, smartphone zombies miss out on networking opportunities by signaling that they’re too busy to talk. They miss out on opportunities to hone their powers of observation. And, seduced by a glowing screen, they even miss out on the powerful perspective granted by the grandeur of the night sky.
They go through their day thinking they’re keeping on top of it all but they actually spend much of their time oblivious. This is an opportunity for you. An opportunity to put your phone away and consciously make an effort to become fully engaged in your surroundings. While others text mindless drivel you can shake hands and introduce yourself to people and ask open ended questions that signal your interest. You can be present, aware, and in the moment.
It’s a way to differentiate yourself and you can start right now.
According to A.E. Hochner’s book, Papa Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich once asked the great novelist for career advice. Hemingway replied, “Don’t do what you sincerely don’t want to do. Never confuse movement with action.” Dietrich took this advice to heart and made it her philosophy and went on to be a show business chameleon, continuously working to re-invent herself.
You don’t need to be a writer or film star to benefit from Hemingway’s suggestion. Hit the streets in New York City and you’ll see everyone’s moving. Look around your workplace and you’ll see lots of busy people. Anyone can move but deliberate action with a purpose is far less common.
We all have to put out fires, but make it a point to maintain your focus on a small number of meaningful, action-oriented projects that make an impact. It’s harder to do, but Hemingway and Dietrich didn’t sign up for “easy.”