One of my favorite bands is Steely Dan because their music is powerful and sophisticated at the same time. I also enjoy their insightful lyrics, which usually take me to places I cannot go on my own. One of their songs is called “Night by Night,” which appeared on their Pretzel Logic album in the 1970s. You don’t hear them perform this song live in concert, which is a shame since it is a killer tune with some very pleasing and powerful horn arrangements and guitar solos that make the hair on your neck stand on end. One of my favorite lines in the song is “When they tried to hang that sign on me, I said ‘Take it down!’” The song is written from the perspective of a desperate loser, trying to scratch out a better existence in this world. The protagonist is not going to allow anyone to define him as he seeks his ascension to a better life. At a time in my life when other people were trying to limit me and define me, I could really identify with the defiant tone of this wonderful tune. (Note: One of Steely Dan’s founders, Walter Becker, passed away recently, and we offer our sympathies to his friends and family. RIP Walter Becker…)
Nobody Can Define You Unless You Acquiesce – There may come a day and a time when someone attempts to limit you in some way, trying to define who you are and what you’re capable of. My advice is to find your voice and calmly correct the person or people that are attempting to place a limit on your ability to contribute. Don’t accept the notion that someone else can define you or place you in a category unless you WANT to wear that label. Work on your self-awareness and use your acute understanding of who you currently are to decide how you might change to become something even greater. You have to see yourself clearly now, and you have to possess the vision to see yourself differently in the future so that you can imagine how you’re going to increase your capacity and grow into something even more capable.
Go to Work on The Things You Can Control – Every one of us can control our emotions and how we handle adversity. We get to choose about how we’re going to react to events around us and try to influence them in positive ways. It starts with thinking first and considering what the best choices are BEFORE we act. Thinking after we’ve acted is just a smidge too late. Get proactive, and think about your decisions and your choices before you make them, and you will find that your actions will build trust and earn you stronger relationships with the people you work with most frequently. Another thing we can control is our ability to expend our energy toward a positive activity, or to waste it on actions that won’t bring us leverage. Don’t get stuck dealing with the whirlwind of other people’s urgencies, get out in front of it. If you act quickly and handle things before they become an emergency, you will have more energy and a much more positive day every day. Proactive action makes a difference.
Go to Work on Your Image – You probably remember a time when your attitude didn’t represent you well. Keep in mind that our mindset and our attitude are another thing that is within the range of choices WE get to make. I can choose to be crabby and difficult to work with, or I can choose to be helpful, full of gratitude and ready to serve others. When you have the right things going on in your mind, everything else gets easier, in my experience. You will attract from the rest of the world whatever is going on in your mind, so be very, very careful to make sure that your mind is positive, hopeful, respectful and filled with gratitude. You will quickly learn that by managing your choices and your actions, you will begin to lift up and lead the people around you. As you work with the other 7+ billion human beings on the planet, you will have plenty of opportunities to add value to them. All of us have to become Master Collaborators as work is now most often about working as a part of a group or a team, rather than simply working on our own. In this context, having a coherent and positive image to help us gain supporters and partners in business has never been more important.
Don’t let anybody hang a sign on you that doesn’t match the person you are or the person you are working to become. Stand tall and refuse to accept any limits or labels that are designed to box you in or to hold you down. If they try to hang that sign on you, you say “Take It Down.”
Michael runs a Business Coaching & Consulting firm in Prior Lake, Minnesota. He works with Business Owners, C-Suite Executives and Emerging Leaders to lead their teams and their businesses to transformational change. Transformational change leads to positive momentum and the consistent achievement of ambitious results. Michael is booking his autumn and winter public speaking engagements now. If you’d like to have Michael come and speak to your company, or your organization, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, “Delivering Ambitious Results.”