Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In my world, nothing ever goes wrong

Earlier this year, when I was commuting to Pennsylvania twice a week, I started listening to audio summaries of motivational books.

Normally I am not a big "motivational slogan" kind of guy. (Here is why.) But I did hear one quote that has stuck with me for months now. It comes from self-help author Dr. Wayne Dyer, who quoted someone as saying:

"In my world, nothing ever goes wrong."

In other words, everything is a learning experience. Our life is constructed around how we react to both the good and bad things, and these reactions – in and of themselves – are much more important than what actually happens.

This resonates with me. Much of my own happiness today rests in dealing with life as it is, and not just how I wish it was. I discovered over time that a cancelled flight, a delayed project, or even a personal struggle need not define my mood: we cannot control life events, but we can choose (with time and perspective) how we interpret many of these events. Everyone has ups and downs, but I look back on my life so far and see lots of lessons, none of them bad in the end.

Along the same lines, I recently heard some research that completely stunned me: people who win the lottery are generally no happier a year after they win – and people who become paraplegic are generally no *less* happy a year after their accident. So look at the people you know. The people who constantly bitched about life years ago are, by golly, still bitching now, right? And I'll bet the people with positive outlooks haven't changed much either. So guess who I choose to associate with?

Slogans have their limits, of course – I wouldn't try to tell someone who has just experienced a tragedy, for example, that nothing ever goes wrong. But for the most part, I feel that learning to accept things, overcome them, or let them point me in a new direction has a lot to do with why I am a pretty happy guy most of the time. Because in my world, nothing ever goes wrong. What do you folks think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Someone stole my idea! No they didn't.

I just saw an interesting quote on Twitter today that stuck with me. It comes from Thomas Jefferson:

"An idea shared is still in your possession"

This reminded me of an interview I did a couple of years ago for Careerbuilder.com. They asked me and a panel of other experts what to do when a co-worker steals your idea. My answer made them practically choke on their lunch: congratulate them and encourage them to keep doing it!

Some people view ideas as a zero-sum game: the more they are shared, the less they benefit. If you are selling, say, the plans for building the Space Shuttle, this might even be correct. But for me, and for most people, it is the exact opposite. You *want* people to steal - in other words, spread - your ideas. And the more they do it, the merrier.

In my case, the more freely my ideas get spread around, the more profitable I am. In fact, since I tend to write books on just about everything I do, any chucklehead can go to Barnes and Noble, plunk down $20, and pick my brains clean. They can - and often do - create training programs around my content without my ever seeing another nickel. And I actually like it that way.

There are two reasons for this. First, who do you think hires me to speak, train, or license my content? Right. People who buy my books and watch my presentations. None of this good stuff would ever happen if they didn't (a) find me and (b) benefit from what they hear. So I always take my very best content and leave it all on the field. I even set up a YouTube channel with almost an hour of free content for people (right here).

But the second reason is perhaps even more important. Suppose I started the Gallagher Communication Skills Academy, with lots of promises about how successful you'll be, and offered bupkis until you were a paying customer. Or worse, held back my best stuff until you paid to join my "platinum circle." How many customers would I have? Years ago, lots of people sold this way. Nowadays, drowning in a world of free information on demand, it would be about as effective as drinking poison.

Same thing is true at your workplace. In a 35-year-plus career, I have never had a single idea "stolen" by my definition. I don't know about you, but I want my ideas discussed by as many others as possible, and people can take all the credit for them they want. So if someone goes to the boss first with something you've talked about, I really do think you should congratulate them! They are taking your ideas to higher places, and you want to encourage more of that. Spreading ideas far and wide - and cheering on those who do it - will almost always get you further than hoarding information.

Should you ever worry about people stealing your ideas? Sure, maybe, if they are the top-secret design to your next product or some such. But for the rest of us, I'd say let people steal away!