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Change the Way You Think and You’ll Change Your Life – 7 Steps to a Better Life

by John Zettler

February 9, 2016

Last week I was inspired by many of our great Dale Carnegie participants. In particular, I remember hearing a couple stories about how life has, ‘slapped them in the face’. They went on to share with us what they encourage all of us to do so we’re not faced with the same pain that they felt. It was in that moment that I realized (not sure why it took this long), that we all get slapped in the face throughout our lives and it’s how we deal with that adversity that makes us who we are. It got me thinking of how I’ve managed to keep my head up through some of those challenges in my life and I want to pass a few of them along to you today.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein

Happy multi-ethnic business team with thumbs up in

1. There will always be challenges in our lives, we get to choose how we manage them. We’ve all been through changes in our careers that have been difficult to manage; downsizing, job change, new technologies, new boss, etc. The nice thing is, we choose what type of attitude we bring to those changes and how we develop because of them. Accept the responsibility that the change needs to happen, either within you or the company, and muster all your energy to keep a positive attitude throughout. Remember, “growth and comfort cannot co-exist” – Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM

2. Happiness depends on how we choose to think. You’ve all seen this situation play out at work. Two people, same job, same environment, same boss, similar pay, benefits, etc. and one of them is a delight to be around and the other is poison to the environment. What’s the difference? It’s the attitude that they bring towards life and their ability to cope with what life throws at us them. I’ve chosen to see the best in every situation, and look there are days when it’s been hard for me, but if you can focus on the good and come in with a positive attitude every day, it will have a positive impact.

3. Focus on yourself first and you’ll be better equipped to help others. After the birth of my daughter 5 years ago, she was born 3 months early at 1 ½ pounds, I realized what’s important in life and my life changed forever. No longer was it about material things, it became about my family. As I’ve continued to grow, what I’ve realized is that when I even take that further and focus on ME first, eating well, exercising, reading, learning and growing, etc. I’m actually better able to support and help other people. Why? Because I’m happy with where I’m at and who I am, I feel great and that gives me the energy I need to focus on others. I’ve heard similar stories of very senior people in organizations that could easily just focus on their jobs – and they would be compensated handsomely for that, but choose to focus on themselves first. They tell us in no uncertain terms that their priorities in life go like this – ME, My Health, Family, Friends, Work.

4. There’s a silver lining in every experience in our life; good or bad. It’s very easy for us to look at the negative in our life experiences. Easy for us to think that everything is going wrong and that we are in a permanent rut. These experiences and feelings can knock us down, and hard if we don’t attend to them! Some of our greatest learnings can come from these moments and sometimes you have to go through the worst before you can experience the best. Someone once said to me that I was “very learning agile”. I didn’t know what that meant at the time and they explained it to me that 1) I’m constantly learning, but more importantly 2) when I make a mistake (and we all do) I use it to my advantage and correct it so it doesn’t happen again. Use these experiences I’ve explained above as learning and it will help you to move forward.

5. Feedback is a gift – see it that way and use it to your advantage. “This feedback isn’t fair, they don’t know me and don’t know what I do.” If I’ve heard that once I’ve heard it a thousand times. We have two choices when we receive feedback, we can embrace it, or we can tell ourselves a story as to why it’s not true. My experience is that I get a lot more out of embracing the feedback and even when I don’t 100% agree with it I choose to look for the nugget and do something different because of it. And if you really want to take this to the extreme, start asking for feedback. For example, I am learning about how to be a business developer here at Dale Carnegie so after every client meeting I always ask my boss(es) how I did and what I could do differently moving forward.

6. Excuses as to why you can’t do something are just that, start being accountable to yourself; and, I know that when I get in a rut it’s easy for me to make excuses as to why I haven’t done something or why it’s someone else’s fault. At the end of the day, when I’m honest with myself, the quicker I come to the realization that I’m making an excuse, the quicker I can get closer to my goals. Hold yourself accountable for what’s important to you and stop making excuses as to why you can’t do it. You own it and nobody else and only you can make the necessary changes. And if you don’t think you can do it by yourself, and that’s perfectly ok, then find an accountability partner and ask them to support you. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you start telling people about what you’re going to do – they’ll ask you about it and keep it relevant even when you’re not thinking about it.

7. Be nice to people and in return you’ll be amazed at how people respond to you. Ultimately this is what’s changed my life the most. We are a society that is too quick to do what Dale Carnegie teaches us first not to do – Criticize, Condemn and Complain. When I started looking at myself and using the principles I’ve described above, I realized that I had work to do. Now, I look at everyone for who they are and meet them where they are. I find the best in people and I spend zero time criticizing, condemning or complaining. It’s made me a better person and the relationships I’ve built have been so gratifying.

This is very much an inside out process. Start with loving yourself again and devoting time to you, then start changing how you show up in situations and with people around you, and finally change the way you interact with people. If you’re willing to change the way you think, even some of what I’ve described above, I promise, it will have a positive impact on your life.

What are you willing to commit to today? I encourage you to tell someone and have them help you to make your life better. I’m always available.

Best Success!

John Zettler, Director, Talent Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 235 or jzettler@dalecarnegie.ca


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About the Author 

John Zettler brings almost 20 years of human resource experience to the challenge of better leadership we all share. He has invested his skills and energies and debated leadership with some of our country’s best leaders. Through this, he has refined a style of management that focuses on leadership conviction, authenticity and caring as the cornerstones of a more nuanced set of management skills we can all benefit from. Instead of balance in our life, he challenges us to a new style of work life blending that both gives us:1. The rush of seeing our people grow and prosper in a company that truly cares about them and their dreams.
2. The time and focus to also contribute the same level of passion to the needs of our families.

To hear more of his insights, click here to view his video as he discusses, “Leadership is Hard Work”.


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