In work and in life, our past experiences, relationships, and the information we consume contribute to our outcomes.
You know – in life, or in business – things pretty much happen as you expect them to. That may sound crazy to some of you, but I firmly believe it. If you expect to fail, you probably will fail. Conversely, if you expect to be wildly successful, you probably will be that.
- The programing we’ve had. Our parents are the ones who program us. If they think we can be successful and tell us so, it affects our thinking. We won’t settle for less than we should. They help us develop an expectation. Hopefully, they ALSO help us understand the work ethic, diligence, and sacrifice that go along with the expectation and help us realize our individual potential as well – because those things also have to be there. By the same token, if our parents tell us the world is evil and we will be beaten down by the man and never get ahead, that, too, will probably happen. Not so say that people cannot ever overcome their programing. Some do.
- The people we surround ourselves with. We all pick winners or losers as friends. And then we also pick those who bolster us up and support us or those who knock us down and defeat us. The people we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on our individual ambition level and sense of possibility. Being with the right circle of friends will have a huge impact on any of us. Pick them closely!
- What we read and watch. Inputs DO matter. Too much of any negative information is bound to influence our thinking in a negative way. That’s why one has to balance their input of news so as to stay informed but not be tricked into thinking the world is so evil and hostile it makes no sense to try to do anything. Ditto for books and movies that are all about conspiracies, murder, and crime. Too negative. We all desperately need positive messaging – things that inspire us. History, biographies, nature, art, and other sources of inspiration should all be on our reading/viewing list versus just negative information on terrorist attacks or senseless murders or child abuse.
- Our life experiences. They either confirm that things will turn out good in the end – or bad. Small successes lead to larger successes. Luck plays a part. Where you live – the quality of your schooling, success (or lack of it) in athletic pursuits, early relationships, student government, small business ventures, early jobs and more all make such a difference in terms of whether or not one “expects” good or bad things to happen to them. Of course, some people use negative events to make them stronger – however, most don’t.
I’m thankful for the great parents, friends, education, and life experiences I have had. What’s important for all of us as leaders in A/E/P and environmental firms is how we deal with the people who work for and with us. Are we painting the picture of how good things could be – and then reinforcing that idea through our own actions as role models? Are we setting the expectations high enough and meeting them ourselves?
MARK ZWEIG is founder and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him at email@example.com.