Character Creates Opportunity® – Learn & Grow: Thursday, January 1, 2015

The year-end holiday season is traditionally a wonderful time to connect with friends and family and temporarily “unplug” from some of the rigors of earning a living in today’s competitive marketplace. In addition, despite the wonderful time of connection with those closest to us, there usually is a degree of stress with trying to finish year end projects, searching for that perfect gift, or preparing for the holiday parties for family and friends.

As we continue on this journey to build and strengthen our character, the purpose of today’s blog is to encourage each of us at some point during the holiday season to spend some time reflecting on the past year and identifying some areas to grow in the New Year.

It is in the reflection on past events that we find a sharp contrast between two very distinct patterns of thinking that have a significant impact on our efforts to reach our full potential.

The two distinct patterns of thinking can be summarized with the following: (1) Individuals that view experiences as an opportunity to grow and learn versus (2) Individuals that view the outcome of experiences as defining moments on who they are and what they can or cannot become.

These two patterns of thinking play out in school through (1) The student who works hard and receives a “C” in science class and concludes, “I am no good in science and I better figure out something non-science related to do in life.” Compared to (2) The student who also receives a “C” in science class, but responds by speaking with the teacher to learn from the mistakes and grow his/her understanding of the material. One student viewed themselves based on the grade they received versus one student who viewed the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow.

These two patterns of thinking play out in the workforce when (1) A sales representative misses a monthly or yearly sales quota and doubts his/her ability, perhaps blames the shortfall on customer buying patterns, the marketplace, etc. Compared to (2) A sales representative who misses quota and is seeking to better understand where they may not have targeted the right customers, may not have developed an effective sales message, or failed to follow-up on some lead.  One viewed themselves as a failure and the other viewed the situation as an opportunity to get better.

These two patterns of thinking play out in the home when the challenges of maintaining a marriage come into play (and the challenges of marriage will always come into play).  (1) A spouse who is quick to blame the other for shortcomings, the mistakes of the past, and use those highly flammable terms like “never” and “always.”  Compared to (2) A spouse who is quick to identify where they may have failed to listen, understand, and act more appropriately.  One view sees the struggle as an opportunity to grow the relationship and the other view sees the struggle as another reason to reject the marriage and walk away.

Life is full of challenges, successes, and failures. Driving on an empty road towards the setting sun There is no “Easy Street.”  Throughout our journey of life, if we can focus on growth and learning versus letting our successes and failures define us, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and have a positive impact on those around us.

Happy New Year!