That Would Be Great

Alexander-the-Great

In actuality, it probably wouldn’t be great at all. Not by a long shot.

I’d like all of us to give the word “great” its due. The Great Wall Of China is great. Alexander The Great Was great. The Great Books are great. Finding a cure for cancer would be great. Responding to an email isn’t great. It’s polite, it’s nice, and it may even be splendid, but it’s not great. Example: When we craft an email, give directives, ask favors, or request anything at all, why say something like the following when emailing a co-worker?

“…please make sure that the client gets the updated report, and it would be great if you let me know what their feedback is. Thanks.”

“Great??” THAT would be great? Really? I’m not preaching, because I’ve been guilty of this too. But if we want our words to have the impact they were designed to have, we have to stop watering them down. I’m working on this in my writing and communications too because I’ve been an egregious offender. If someone returns my email and I think that’s “great,” and I’ve communicated to them that taking this action would be “great,” then they think they just did something “great” by doing something they should’ve done anyway.

Here’s a revision of the above correspondence:

“…please make sure that the client gets the updated report. Please let me know what their feedback is. Thanks.”

This version is much better, to the point, no fluff and no killing the language.

When did returning a call, an email, or doing something that we should be doing anyway get equated with greatness?  My returning a call doesn’t parallel the discovery of the polio vaccine. So should I be thinking I’m as cool as Jonas Salk because I picked up the phone? No. But if I won the gold medal in the Olympics, that would be great.

The English language, while perhaps not the most beautiful-sounding language, is the most expressive language in the world. We have far more words–by far–than any other language in the world (approximately 1,000,000 words according to Merriam Webster). Don’t let that number daunt you. We don’t need to know them all. We just need to know the right words for the right situation, and we can go down in history as literary giants. Fun fact: In all of his writings, Shakespeare ‘only’ used about 30,000 words (which is still a lot more than most people use–and he coined about 1,700 original words. Talk about a wordsmith: he invented words!) His full vocabulary is estimated to be closer to 290,000 words that he comprehended. The average person who speaks English as a first language understands 10,000-20,000 words, but only uses 5,000! Let’s all try a little harder to leverage this amazing tool of communication better because that would be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

My English and writing are far from exceptional, so if you see errors, it would be great if you posted a comment. 😉

Thanks for reading!

www.PaulEdgewater.com

Remember Tomorrow? That Was Yesterday.

“Time flies.” How often have we all heard that figure of speech? Has it lost its impact on you? It does on most of us. It may be a good idea to remind ourselves that not only does time fly, but it flies by twice as fast as we think it will, ergo the title of this post. Our futures become our pasts before we can say, “I should have, would have, could have.”
As we age, we eventually have the epiphany that no one person can do all they want or need to do; life is far too short for that. So what do we do with a day we are so lucky as to have? I have found that the most rewarding tasks are things that we do for fellow humans. I’m not suggesting that we only do things that directly impact others because we need to take care of ourselves too. To be selfless, we first need to act in our self-interest to have the wherewithal to be charitable with our time or money. Do something today that makes you a better person, whatever that means to you. Then touch someone else’s life with this ‘new and improved’ person you’ve become. It doesn’t have to be a big production either, but do it before it’s too late.
One of my life’s biggest regrets may seem trivial, but it disturbs me to this day. During my mother’s life, for whatever reason, had never had a Chicago-style Italian Beef sandwich, but would frequently talk about wanting to try one when I was a teenager. When I was in high school, I worked at an Italian Beef/Hotdog stand, and I always had the intention to bring one home to surprise her. Being an absent-minded teenager, I would forget to do so. I stopped working there and the years and decades passed, and she’d jokingly bring it up on occasion with the subtle suggestion that she sincerely wanted an Italian beef sandwich. It became a running gag for us and only us. She didn’t share this with anyone else in the family. Fast forward: she passed away a few years ago, and several months later it hit me that I never took her out to have an Italian beef sandwich. So little effort and time could’ve made that little wish come true for my mom. Yes, she could’ve gotten one herself, but she wanted to do that with me. I can’t articulate how much this haunts me.
So whatever you decide to do today, make it a good thing for yourself and someone else. It can be a big thing or a trivial one. Just make a positive impact. Lest we forget, that any tyrant or ignoramus can change the world. It takes a special person to improve it. Think about how much time you have left. Then think again. It’s less than you know. Do something good for yourself and someone else today.
Thanks for reading!

Paul is an award-winning keynote speaker and best-selling author. If you are looking for a speaker for your next event, please visit: www.PaulEdgewater.com

Smiles Make Money!

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When I was a teenager, I worked at a telemarketing company setting up appointments with homeowners for thermal window presentations. We were each given a very small cubical, a phone, a few torn-out pages of the reverse directory phone book and instructed to call everyone up and down each street until someone said “yes.” One of the tools they gave us was a mirror mounted directly in front of us so we could see our facial expressions as we spoke with people. Underneath the mirror, there was a small sign that said “smile and dial,” because people can hear a smile in your voice. Try this with your friends. Speak on the phone with a smile and then without. Have them tell when you smile. Invariably they will guess correctly. Remember, our clients are aware of our smiles too!
It’s been said that a smile only has value after you give it away to someone else. That’s not just touchy-feely, tittle-tattle either; there is a plethora of hard, scientific data to back that up with facts.
A 2001 study from Jörn P.W Scharlemann shows that a smile increases trust amongst people by 10%. A 1991 study by Hinsz & Tomhave shows that when you smile, you get reciprocal smiles from 50% of people (pretty good odds!). A 1978 study by Tidd, Kathi L.; Lockard, Joan S., titled the “Monetary significance of the affiliative smile: A case for reciprocal altruism.” showed that service staff earned significantly more than their slack-faced, bovine-like peers. If you’re not sold yet, a 1952 study by Abel & Kruger suggests that smiling people outlived their forlorn friends by an average of 7 years!
The eyes are also powerful communication tools. More than that, our eyes tell people if our smile is genuine or not. A smile that engages only the mouth is forced. A smile that includes the eyes is real. These genuine smiles are called a “Duchenne” smiles, named after a 19th-century neurologist from France who figured all this stuff out. Also, make sure when you smile, that you proudly display your crow’s feet–we all them! It’ll show the world that you are indeed happy to see them and that you have been smiling for a long, long time!
Let’s begin each day with a big smile and wear it all the way to the bank!

You Could If You Would©

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Copyright 2018 Paul Edgewater/All Rights Reserved

The first time I heard a familiar figure of speech with its syntax flipped was back in the mid-1980s when the late Dr. Wayne Dyer released his audio program, “You’ll See It When You Believe It.” * It had a profound effect on me. Not just because it was a clever title, but because by changing the order of the words, Dr. Dyer changed the saying from a trite proverb that pedals apathy, into an empowering maxim for a productive mindset. Same words. Totally different message. Most of us have heard of Napoleon Hill’s “Think And Grow Rich.” It is the book that almost every mega-successful person has read along their professional journey. Thinking-well is easier when we believe the right things.

My take on this was to switch up “you would if you could,” which is a put-down, to “You Could If You Would,” which is a challenge to the reader to take action. It’s the next step after getting our minds right. Taking action is what made Tony Robbins famous and is foundational in all his teachings.

Allow me to go off the rails a little bit. Most of us read “The Little Engine That Could” when we were children or had it read to us as very young children. The refrain was the locomotive saying to himself, “I think I can. I think I can.” This is what helped him convince himself that he could indeed do what he was called upon to do. The lesson here is clear; the locomotive both believed in himself and thought the right things to support actions taken. I’m not one to argue with the success of that book, but I believe the message would’ve been even more powerful had the locomotive said to himself, ” I know I can. I know I can.” I contend that certainty and confidence are omnipotent.

You Could If You Would©.

Just take the action, succeed, or learn from the experience. Repeat as necessary.  Have no fear. Like Robin Crow says, “Jump and the net will appear.”

Image of “The Little Engine That Could” from Kinder Books

*Note: I believe that “You’ll See It When You Believe It” may be out of circulation. This is why I linked to a youtube of this work. Check out Dr. Wayne Dyer’s website for all his works currently available.

The Art Of Personal Development (The Block & The Canvas) Copyright 2018 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

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Left: “Moses” sculpture by artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Right: “A Life For Art” painting by artist Carl Paoli http://www.carlpaoli.com

“Personal Development is as much about not doing things as it is about doing them.”

~Paul Edgewater

If you are a regular reader of my material, you know that I love to make my point with analogies, similes, and metaphors. I believe that these communication tools make it much easier to influence others because the reader/listener/recipient can embrace something that is an already-accepted notion. By the way, one of my favorite books on the subject is “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” by Mardy Grothe. It’s a great compilation, and it’s available on Amazon.com (see my review of the book there too). Click the link below and buy it. It’s a cool book, and he has many other worthwhile works as well. Note: Keep an open mind when reading Grothe’s material, as he has a tough time hiding his political leanings. If you can put those aside, you’ll enjoy his work thoroughly as I do.

https://www.amazon.com/NEVER-METAPHOR-DIDNT-LIKE/dp/B006G899N4/ref=cm_cr_othr_d_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8 

I present the reader with two analogies that I believe illustrate a point I like to make during my talks. We may want to look at our lives and goals as pieces of art. For this example, I’d like the reader to think of their lives as both a painting and a sculpture. When we set goals for ourselves, it’s important to be sensitive to time and what can be accomplished in a fixed amount of time. For example, let’s look at a physical goal of getting into shape. There are two necessary things we need to concentrate on: doing some things and not doing other things, like doing exercise and not overeating. Both are equally important and should be done in concert with one another. This is good news. Not doing one thing offers us more time to do the other stuff. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Think of your to-do list as if painting a picture. We can look at our lives and goals as a blank canvas. We can add color and texture and subject matter until we become what we envision for ourselves. The possibilities are myriad, and we can keep adding things (doing things) until we finally see what we envision for ourselves. These include, but are of course not limited to: going to school and getting a degree, or attending seminars, going to the gym, reading a book, starting healthy habits, etc. It’s important to keep the following in perspective: we can’t ‘undo’ the things we do. We will either benefit from our actions, or learn from them, but we have to do them. The master painter, John W. Gardner saidLife is the art of drawing without an eraser.”  Don’t be afraid; just do it! Finally, as Tony Robbins says, “take action!” So make a list of your ‘to-dos’ and start doing them!

Next, think of carving a sculpture out of a block of stone as your to-don’t list. The following may or may not have transpired, but it illustrates a truth.

It might have happened, just like the story of Michelangelo being congratulated at the unveiling of his immortal David.

“How in God’s name could you have achieved a masterpiece like this from a crude slab of marble?” a fan is supposed to have asked him.

“It was easy,” Mike is said to have said. “All I did was chip away everything that didn’t look like David.”

(source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/06/22/chip-away/)

What can we take away from this? What we want to become is already inside of us, and all we have to do is get rid of the parts of us that get in the way (or stop doing certain things). Think again about losing weight. Those six-pack abs are hiding behind a layer of fat. Get rid of the fat and expose the abs. The parts of us that need to be chipped away can be physical things (like the fat), but also intangible things like bad habits (like over-eating) and poor thinking (like a bad attitude). There’s another ‘plus’ to not doing certain things: Contrary to not being able to ‘undo’ actions we take in the painting analogy above, we don’t have the same risk with our ‘to-don’t’ list in the sculpture analogy. It is challenging–if not impossible–to regret not making poor decisions or taking counter-productive action. For instance, we can never be hit by the train if we don’t take a chance trying to cross the tracks when it’s coming. We are all guilty of doing things we shouldn’t be doing and not doing them makes our lives so much better. The masterpiece of David lies in wait in all of us. All we need to do is chip away everything that doesn’t look like what we want to become. These are usually going to be poor habits. Rarely do we have to change a good habit to make our lives better. So make a list of your ‘to-don’ts’ and stop doing them!

Thank you for your interest! If you found this useful, please subscribe and share!

Please visit Carl Paoli’s website. He is one of the greatest artists of our era.

Be sure to read my other metaphors about Personal Development:

https://edgewaterblog.com/2017/12/03/the-scales-of-personal-development/

https://edgewaterblog.com/2018/03/23/succeeding-means-making-the-cuts-copyright-2018-paul-edgewater-all-rights-reserved/

Stop apologizing

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I receive a lot of emails every day. Many are people are soliciting my business, and I don’t mind this at all. What I do mind is how people craft their message. Without knowing it, many people who write email marking campaigns are irritating the very people they are trying to close.

Here are two tips to NOT piss off your prospects.

1st tip: When expressing why we are reaching out to the recipient, it’s best not to use passive language like:

“I wanted to see if you are interested…”

or

“I just wanted to check up to see if you had any questions…”

Do not make apologies for reaching out. Don’t preemptively dismiss your proactivity. You have nothing to defend.
Instead of writing an email that says:

“I just wanted to touch base and see if you were interested in…blah, blah, blah…”

Write this instead:

“Your time is valuable, as is mine. If you are interested in learning more about my offer, let me know. If you have no interest, please let me know that too, and I won’t bother you anymore. We are both too busy to spin our wheels. Thank you and much success.”

Stop apologizing for striving for your success. Frankly, it pisses off people who have their act together. I want to know you are busy and I want you to value your time as much as I value mine. Grow a set and talk to me like an adult and not like a scared child. If I don’t respect you, I’m not giving you my business. Don’t apologize for reaching out to me!

2nd tip: Do NOT put “Re:” in the subject line on your first email. If you think your prospect is stupid, then do this. If you treat your prospect like a 12-year-old, they will act accordingly. When I see “Re:…” in the subject line when I know I never emailed this party, I want just to hit ‘delete,’ but I take the extra step of opening the email, unsubscribing and blocking the sender. How dare you put “Re:..” in the subject line when I didn’t email you first.

I want you to succeed, and the best way to do this is not to piss off your prospect.

Thank you for your interest.

www.PaulEdgewater.com

 

Succeeding Means Making The Cut(s) Copyright 2018 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

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Succeeding cuts many ways!

If you are delighted with your life as it is right now, there is no need to read any further. If however, you’d like to make some improvements and grow, please read on. Your time is valuable, so I’ll be as concise as possible!

Before he retired, my father was a Latin teacher. As a very curious child, I peppered him with linguistic questions, and he taught me to look at the roots of words when l studied my grammar. Unlike my father, I’m no linguist, so the following isn’t etymologically accurate, but when it comes to inspiration, it’s spot on! English, while a Germanic language, has a lot of Latin influences. For instance, there are a lot of words with the root “cis” (very loosely: Latin, meaning “cut”). In addition to describing myriad acts with regard to cutting (see below), I have found these words to be extremely useful in explicating the steps I believe are necessary for us to succeed in life. Can we all ‘make the cut?’ Read on.

Incisive (from medieval Latin incisivus, from Latin incidere ‘cut into’ (see incise).
To get to where we are now to where we’d like to be, we first need to be incisive. We must be remarkably clear and direct; sharp; keen; acute). We have to know what we want, and we have to state our goals in a clear and direct manner. There is no room to be nebulous. The reason a bulls-eye is a bright red circle with a very defined outline is so that there we have no doubt where the target is. Our goals should be the same way. Napoleon Hill called it “definiteness of purpose.” For instance, if we want a promotion at work, the goal should be the exact position desired (E.g.,* “branch manager” or “CEO,” not “I want to move up”). If we want to have more money, we need to have a number to shoot for, E.g. “$25,000,000” not “I want to be rich.” Be very specific with all goals and that takes some soul searching and incisiveness.
Next is when we need to dig deep into our intentions. After we have established our specific goal, we need to ascertain what obstacles there may be between where we are now and where we would like to be. Sometimes this can be in the form of external forces or conditions. But if we are honest with ourselves, more often than not, it’s something inside us. This is where we need to make a psychological incision (from Latin: to cut in, or an opening or slit). We need to cut into our mindset to expose our challenges and strengths. After we make this psychological incision, we know what we bring to the table. Be incisive.
Excise: (from Latin: excis- ‘cut out,’ from the verb excidere, from ex- ‘out of’ + caedere ‘to cut,’ i.e., tissue, bone or tumor from a body; to completely remove). At this point, if we see that we have challenges or other roadblocks, we must excise them. Much like a surgeon removing a tumor, we too need to make excisions to rid ourselves of mental plunder. These may be in the form of negative attitudes, or a lack of confidence, etc. We need to cut these out of the equation. These excisions can also be applied to bad habits and proclivities. If the reader takes just one thing away from reading this blog, it is this: on the road to success, it is just as important not to do some things as it is to do other things. If we are engaged in destructive behavior or wasting our time, we have to stop that before we take constructive action and use our time productively. We are all given just 24 hours a day. We get to choose how to spend those, and with whom we spend them. If we desire success, we need to make sure we leverage our 24 hours with discretion; excise negativity and engage in positivity.
It is now when we make a Decision: (from Latin: to cut away from, or a resolution, conclusion, commitment, resolve, determination, choice). See above; to do one thing, we must not do another. We have to decide which path we are going to take. Tony Robbins reminds us that it is in our moments of decision, that we shape our destiny. Think of the fork in the road; we can only take one path at a time. Let’s make sure we choose the one that leads us toward our goals.
Since we are discussing Latin, it’s apropos to end with this quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar. In act 3, scene 2, 181–186, Marc Antony calls Brutus’s stabbing of Caesar “the most unkindest cut of all.” But when it comes to our personal development, the cuts we covered above are indeed the kindest cuts of all because, without them, we may never realize the success that can be ours.

*More Latin: “E.g.” stands for exempli gratia, ‘for the sake of example.’

Thank you for reading. Please share your comments and share!