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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Do What Others are Unwilling to Do

I recently gave the commencement address at Argosy University in Dallas, Texas. It was inspiring to see people accomplishing their goals beaming as they walked across the stage to accept their diplomas. I even heard a child yell out, "Way to go Mom!" as her mom walked across the stage.

During the time I spent preparing my comments for this speech, I was reminded of how John Maxwell identifies what separates those who are successful in life from those who never reach full potential.

Successful people and organizations do what others are unwilling to do.

People in the Smart Zone do what are others are unwilling to do. Use these Smart Moves to achieve success that others may be unwilling to do.

  • Pay the price. From my own experience I know the graduates I spoke to have all missed family events, questioned what they were doing at times and postponed other life goals in order to achieve their goal of graduating. As a successful person you are willing to sacrifice your own goals for the sake of others, do things you've never done before and keep learning even when you don't feel like it.

  • Find common ground with tough people. Do you work with a difficult person? Instead of gossiping, complaining or getting mad find a way to succeed with people who are difficult to work with. The secret is to find common ground with the difficult person and connect with them at that level.

  • Learn about the hassle. According to Verne Harnish in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, recurring problems eat up more than 40% of an average employee's day. Why? Because a problem is never just one person's problem. Find out what is hassling your employees and you'll find out what's hassling your customers. You will have better insight as to how to serve your customers.

  • Have an emotional counterweight. The business world will lead you to think that being rational keeps people honest. But a recent study in Fast Company magazine showed that people would lie 69% of the time when asked to make a decision by thinking rationally and not emotionally. Only 27% lied when asked to make a decision using their emotions, based on feelings. Interestingly, people tend to trust rational decision makers more than emotional decision makers - meaning we tend to trust people who are set up to lie. Looking back at the sub-prime mortgage debacle many wish they had listened to their feelings.

  • Ride up the hill. Have you ever been bike riding and coasted on the down hills? Even though the down hills are usually a much needed rest, you can't learn much on the down hill. Endurance, strength and technique are perfected on the treacherous uphill rides. Believe me, we all want to be tested to find out what we are made of.

  • Practice the Smart Zone Secret. I end all of my presentations with the Smart Zone Secret, which is to take the focus off yourself. Do what others are unwilling to do to make the world a little better, just for a moment. I remember seeing Dara Torres help a competitor fix her torn swimsuit before a race in the Beijing Olympics last summer. Here are 12 ideas to spread the Smart Zone Secret:

  1. Let someone cut in front of you in traffic.

  2. Let someone cut in front of you at the grocery store.

  3. Pay the toll for someone behind you.

  4. Write and mail someone a note of encouragement.

  5. Hold the door for someone.

  6. Buy coffee for a coworker when you buy it for yourself.

  7. Put an extra quarter in someone's parking meter.

  8. Be the first person to volunteer for a task at work.

  9. Compliment a coworker on something they do well.

  10. Give an inspirational book to a friend (you could even give one of the books I've written).

  11. Volunteer for a charity.

  12. Pick up trash that isn't yours.

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