Mood Poisoning Affects Your Success

Recently, my half marathon races have sent me all over the country: Los Angeles, Chicago, and more. During my travels, I realized that not only were the places I encountered starting to affect my mood and demeanor, but the people were too.

It was truly amazing! I could literally feel my entire physical and emotional being change, as if I had contracted a bad case of mood poisoning. The more I stopped to look at how people were dressed, the way they ate, and especially the way they communicated back and forth with each other, it really started to wreak havoc on my central nervous system.

As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, I recently moved back to Indiana because it was a place that I believed I energetically resonated with. I also recently started reading William Bloom’s book Psychic Protection in which he discusses that “atmospheres, primarily your current surroundings, can dramatically affect how you feel and behave without your being conscious of them”.

This all started making sense when I recently stayed at a “less than stellar” hotel in Los Angeles when I was co-teaching stock option classes. Each morning while waiting for my co-instructor to meet me in the lobby before heading over to the trading school, I would be negatively overwhelmed by both the other guests and the energy of the hotel itself.

It then got me thinking: what would happen to me if I had to stay in this environment for any prolonged period of time? What would be the long-term of effects of this so-called mood poisoning? Maybe it would start to play on my self-esteem, my ability to motivate myself, or even worse, impact my own self-identity.

It may sound silly, but what if I started to believe that this is who I was, or even worse, where I was supposed to be? My doctoral professor, Vance Caesar, once told us: “Happy high achievers make it a habit to associate and hang out with other happy, high achievers.” Maybe I wasn’t crazy and just maybe I was starting to feel uncomfortable because my energy was not in sync with my surroundings.

So, the next time you start to feel out of sorts, take a moment and ask yourself: is it really you? Or are you currently living in a place that cannot help you achieve your goals and success? Are you compromising yourself? Perhaps you’ve discovered that you’re living somewhere that you refer to as a “holding pattern” or “transition place”. You need to be careful that this “transition place” does not turn into some long-term prison sentence, as one of my prior LA apartments did for me a while back. It was a place that I initially vowed would only be for one year, yet I wound up staying for seven.

You also want to make sure that you associate and surround yourself with people that provide you with support and positive energy. Unfortunately, a lot of people in our society are not pursuing their dreams. As a result, these same people are incredibly bitter and negative.

There is an old saying: “Misery loves company”. You need to energetically avoid these people if they do not resonate with you in a positive way.

This past June, I decided to move back to Indiana because I wanted to re-charge my batteries. So what are you going to do to reverse the effects of your so-called mood poisoning?

Can an Iced Tea Really Impact Your Overall Success?

I know this may sound really silly or petty, but I was recently in a restaurant and asked my server to bring me an iced tea with no lemon. A few minutes later, she returned with my iced tea and, sure enough, there was a wedge of lemon floating on the top of it.

For a moment, I replayed the conversation I just had with my server – less than five minutes ago – to determine if I had omitted the fact that I did not want a slice of lemon in my iced tea. The simple realization I made was that either the server failed to communicate my request to omit the lemon from my iced tea when she placed my order, or she failed to recognize that the preparer added the lemon despite both of our requests. Needless to say, the server was wrong because she was unaware of the error, not to mention that she may have even ignored it herself if she was the one who prepared it.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in the airport in LA and I stopped in one of those airport restaurant/pubs. I decided to order a cheeseburger with bacon and no cheese, which was a custom order because only cheeseburgers appeared on their menu. When the server finally brought over my food, there was no bacon as I had requested! Again, was this a failure on the server’s part to request the bacon burger I wanted, or was it her failure to notice that the order she picked up from the kitchen was not prepared as I requested?

These two isolated incidents had really brought the issue of awareness to my attention. In both instances, the servers clearly were not aware that they did not provide me with the orders I had requested. So this brought me to an even bigger realization: can an iced tea really impact your overall success?

If you have ever considered starting your own business or running a major corporation, your long-term success will not only depend on your creativity and advertising, but also on your keen awareness and attention to the details. Your clients’ needs and expectations are paramount to not only your business success but to their ultimate customer satisfaction.  Your mastery of the details will not only be crucial in obtaining and retaining a client’s trust, but your ability to be aware and cognizant of their needs will differentiate you from your competition.

“This is what customers pay us for – to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.” – Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Corp, Inc.

So the next time you are in a position to assist someone, regardless of the task at hand, take that extra moment to really listen to what they are asking of you. Equally important, evaluate whether or not you have successfully provided them with their desired outcome. Not only will your efforts potentially sweeten a well-deserved tip, it could be the very thing that ultimately differentiates you from so many unaware individuals that will never ‘get it’ nor really understand why they are unable to achieve the success they desire.

You know, all this writing has made me a little thirsty. I would love an iced tea with no lemon, please.

Sliding Doors for Success

Did you ever have that feeling of disappointment when you really set your mind to doing or achieving something and it did not turn out quite the way you planned? You sat down and drew out all the action steps necessary to achieve your desired goals; you studied or learned a new skill; you spoke to others you believed were the right people that could help you get what you had been looking forward to for months and then wham; nothing.

My Dad used to refer to this unfortunate universal outcome as Man Plans; God Laughs.  Despite all your well-intentioned efforts, things don’t always turn out as you planned, but was that really by accident?

There was a 1998 movie called Sliding Doors with actress Gwyneth Paltrow that looked at one day in time and examined several possible outcomes based upon a series of different events. If this had not happened at that exact moment, then this would not have occurred, and on and on.  We all have experienced those moments at some time in our lives and it’s enough to make you crazy. But there may be some truth to all of this.

Disappointment, or more importantly negative emotions, that results from unpopular outcomes may simply be nothing more than a sliding door moment in your life ahead of something better in the near future. Although our immediate instinct is to get angry or upset at ourselves or others, maybe we just need to take that same moment to ask ourselves if that outcome was really something that we truly needed or wanted.

Rather than shutting ourselves off from other possible opportunities that may lie in our path, we could take this opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for attempting something that we thought we wanted. All the time and effort that we put in to learning something new or networking was not wasted because even though we did not accomplish our immediate goal, we did put other things into motion whether we realized it or not…and who knows what new opportunities will lie ahead as a result of those efforts?

As my friend Andrea Squibb recently reminded me when I got frustrated because things did not work out exactly as I planned, although it was nerve wracking for me, I still have my plan and I did take the necessary time to think things through. Although I did not get the immediate response that I wanted, I should still give things time to play out before I give in to my disappointment.

She also reminded me that some unexpected positive things have also recently happened to me, thanks to my good friend Jennifer Wilkov, and that I was on the right path. This was a great lesson for me to keep my eye on the positives and let the other stuff go.

I will plan to continue my efforts toward accomplishing those intended goals, but I will also remember to take the time to appreciate and accept things that may also come my way simply by keeping my eyes and ears open for unexpected detours.

Some great takeaways:

  • Don’t stay too focused on a desired outcome if it prevents you from experiencing or seeing other opportunities that lie right in front of you.
  • Keep things in perspective; “Rome wasn’t built in a day” as they say. Temper your expectations accordingly.
  • Most importantly, success is awarded to those that always follow their hearts and continue to practice patience and persistence.

5 Leadership Practices for Making a Difference

I was sitting on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana, yesterday waiting for a student that I am currently advising when out of the blue a sophomore undergraduate came up to me. He recognized me from a lecture I gave to his class last year and he wanted to thank me again for all the great advice and just say hello.

I cannot begin to tell you how great that felt! Not only did he remember me, he also wanted to take the time to share his feedback. At that moment, I realized we both got to experience a pretty cool win-win.  He got the knowledge from my experience and I got the confirmation that I had made a difference.

After our brief encounter, I started to think about James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s five fundamental leadership practices that are based less upon a leader’s personality and more upon their actions:

1. Modeling the Way – Am I doing a good job setting a positive example for others to follow? How am I adding value to a student’s purposes and goals? When I wrote my book, Growing Success; A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success I wanted to write a book that I wished that someone had written for me when I was that age. As a result, I act as an inspirational guide to help young adults change their awareness for success.

2. Inspire Shared Vision – Am I communicating a clear message to others? Do my words resonate and inspire others to pursue their goals and manage their fears? I communicate clearly to young adults by breaking down the steps to success in all areas at their level of experience and understanding, thereby enabling them to manage their fears and discover ways to succeed on their own terms.

3. Challenge the Process – I have always liked to challenge the status quo! I am the kind of person that does not like to take “no” for an answer, or only believes that something cannot be done after I have tried and either succeeded or failed on my own terms. I have 3 marathon and 9 half-marathon medals to support that theory. I endeavor to empower young adults to identify probable outcomes in order to achieve their desired goals. It is important that young adults understand the purpose behind what will manifest their future success—“the why”—as well as how to achieve it. Do you have what it takes to just go for it?

4. Enable Others to Act – I have always believed actions speak louder than words. An old friend once told me “put it on mute”; is there any truth or trust behind your words? Don’t tell me; show me! Do my lectures inspire others to believe in themselves enough to go for it? Succeed or fail, you will be a better person for getting out there and putting your words into action. The life lesson I strive to bestow upon young adults is that you need to take action if you have any hope of attaining your future goals and success.

5. Encourage the Heart – Do you make efforts to show support and praise for others? I was truly rewarded yesterday by that student’s feedback and kind words. Always remember to take the time to stop and either thank or praise someone for the kindness or support they have provided for you. By always being attentive to the needs of others, it will be returned to you tenfold.

Mostly importantly, it is important to always remember that we cannot effectively lead others unless others agree to follow. Truly successful leaders not only inspire others, they make a difference.

Take a moment to thank someone who has really made a difference in your life today. Give yourself and someone else a cool win-win!

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

That was the question my Pepperdine University Leadership Professor, Vance Caesar, asked me and my fellow doctoral students during one of our classes eight years ago.

I recently put that question to the test this past June when I dropped everything and moved from Los Angeles, California, to Bloomington, Indiana. For the past 22 years, I was fortunate to have created a successful career in the music industry; however, I was not following my true creative path.

Seven years ago, I became restless. I knew I was ready for a new challenge, but I didn’t want to leave my job and have to start all over again somewhere else after so many years. That is what I told myself, but the truth was: I was afraid. I had spent so many years doing things that never made me happy, while at the same time completely letting go of my creative pursuits which was why I moved to Los Angeles in the first place.

Last October, my frustration came to a head when I found myself overweight, under-utilized at work, and completely unhappy living in Los Angeles. It was Mark Twain who once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” I had finally had enough.

When I started to work on my exit plan, I began to think about ways that I could use both my long overdue creative talents along with my acquired leadership skills to help others. I started to really focus on my strengths and what I wanted to do next. I began seeking the help and advice of friends and professionals.

Within six months, I lost 50 pounds, guest-lectured at Indiana University, ran 2 marathons and 6 half-marathons, left my record company job, and made the decision to move back to Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to graduate school to pursue teaching and consulting opportunities. It would be the perfect way to merge my creative and leadership abilities.

When I sat down and took the time to reflect on what I really wanted, I quickly came to realize that my true passions lie in educating young adults on topics such as leadership, self-esteem, goal-setting, personal finance and investing.

When I moved back to Bloomington in June, not only did I feel calmer, I was more at peace. In the past two months, I have met with several interesting people at Indiana University about future teaching and consulting opportunities—just as I planned., I got my old DJ job back at 92.3 WTTS-FM, and I am about to release my first e-book on investing, as well as publish my first educational book for young adults entitled Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal and Financial Success.

So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Are you following a path that makes you happy? If not, what could you do right now to change?

Go ahead! Take some action and make that change today!