Time to Hear the Real Truth
As we work our way through this economically challenged period, you’ll notice the economy getting a little better. Even media outlets now understand they’ve begun to lose audiences over the constant negative hype – or should I say “objective reporting”? – so they have to get a bit more honest. Amid all the bad news, a recent CNN newscast uncharacteristically acknowledged that the crime rate is down 38 percent since 1980. As much as it may tick off the doubters, things are getting better, like they always do.
You know me not to be a Pollyanna; I’m pretty realistic about things. I’m not buying into the end-of-the-world theory. I had to laugh the other day when I came across a TV show called Life After People. You know we’ve fully bought into the doom concept when a show about the world moving on after humans have died gets a prime-time spot. What’s next? How to Be a Regretful Corpse? Let’s face it: Things are getting better and there is nothing we can do about it.
Six Signs That Our Situation Is Getting Better
A Time Line for 2009
- The swine flu headlines, coupled with major use of the word pandemic, turn out to be overblown. When it comes down to it, this sensationalized flu was just – well, the flu. And a weak flu at that, claiming fewer than 500 lives in the United States. Let’s put that into perspective: Each year in the United States, car accidents kill about 50,000, the flu kills about 36,000, and at least one guy dies from getting sick in his car. In reality, cars and the regular old flu are relatively deadly but we shrug them off as negligible hazards because we’d rather obsess about the swine flu! I guess swine flu sounds so much more menacing and devastating, like evil devil-pigs are scheming and plotting to infect your neighborhood. (When we’re no longer impressed by swine flu, we can worry about the newest health threat, the H1N1 virus. Just hide your disappointment when you learn it’s another name for swine flu.)
- We ignore clear signs that the real bad news is drying up. The other day I honestly thought I was watching the Michael Jackson Channel. The Glittered Gloved One had his fame and income-generating ability reconstituted in the only way that seems to work consistently: He died. He was a great talent, for sure, and his resurgence of fame is proof that there was not enough bad economic news to edge out the coverage of his passing.
- People work hard to take the encouraging edge off of any statistic that shows economic improvement. You’ll hear something like this: We did not lose as many jobs as we predicted last month but unemployment is still high. Translation: We made a negative prediction that we hoped would get attention, and it turned out we were wrong. But just because the rate of job loss is topping off does not mean people have enough jobs. So things are bad, even if they are not quite as bad as we’d hoped!
- USA Today begins to print lame recession stories. In “One Step Back: Retail Sales Slip; Jobless Claims Tick Up,” we learn that retail sales slid 0.1% in July after increasing 0.8% in June. While a cursory reader takes in the headline and thinks we’ve tanked again, readers with a greater attention span get the bigger picture: Hello, we’re still up 0.7%! And the really astute reader sees that these numbers are all just fractions of a percent. Other headlines help confuse the issue: “Economy Seems to Be Coming Back; Consumers Not So Sure,” followed by “Stocks Drop as Investors Worry About Consumers.” So who do we believe? The consumers reading the headlines? The investors reading the consumers? Or the analysts reading the actual numbers? If I were a betting man, I’d go with the actual numbers…but that’s just me.
- We start talking about Iraq again and pretending that North Korea is a threat. Let’s get real. We might not be the most popular country on the planet, and we have our drawbacks as a culture and people. But I have hung out with high-ranking U.S. military officers who told me that we could beat any country in a war over the weekend “if we had to – if only they would let us use all the cool war technology we have!” That’s pretty scary, but it makes a strong point. (It also makes me glad these guys are on our side.) No country is a traditional military threat. (Terrorism, sure – but an invasion? Not so much.) I guess with a 24-hour news station and only about an hour’s worth of actual news to report, we have to worry about something.
- My 80-year-old dad has gone back to complaining about physical ailments and what’s wrong with whoever just left the room.
Focusing on the Real Truth
We have to get back to the real truth: Life has it bumps. We overreact and make the bumps worse sometimes, but then we eventually return to the business of living and moving forward.
Wynn Solutions has found that the most successful people in this slump did not hunker down and ride it out. They fought their way through and even grew in a way that will make them super-successful when the economy is fully restored. Cutting back on sales and marketing or canceling meetings is not the road to success. Neither is reducing the quality of your ingredients to cut costs. (I just ate at a restaurant that served me something that might best be described as a chicken knuckle.)
My company has been blessed, like many of you have been, with a lot of business in 2008 and 2009, and we all know we did not get there hunkered down. (Even the phrase “hunkered down” paints a picture of someone slumped over in a shallow hole. It’s self-defeating!) We got there by finding our unique edge and applying or customizing it to the shifting needs of our market. As I’ve often said, you can pray, but then you have to get up and act like it worked! You rarely move ahead if you sit on your behind.
This point is a recurring theme in my new book, The REAL Truth about Success: What the Top 1% Do Differently, Why They Won’t Tell You, and How You Can Do It Anyway (published by McGraw-Hill and available worldwide in bookstores on October 9th and on Amazon.com now). Through a decade’s worth of interviews, I’ve learned that some of the nation’s most successful people get where they are by acting on some distinctive edge or personal advantage. They aren’t necessarily the best or brightest or even the most talented – but they know what’s special or unique about them and put it into play, positioning them well in a competitive market.
And much like the headlines above, our interviewees were a bit evasive about the real truth … mainly because the truth might not sound intriguing or impressive enough!
We found that people at the top often give misleading answers when you ask them questions about how they got there. In fact, they tend to give reasons for success that sound identical to answers we got from people who are not very good at what they do. We heard far too much consensus, so we changed our method of questioning. “No offense,” we’d say (which is exactly what you say right before you offend someone), “but a thousand people do what you just said and they are not successful like you! They are not No. 1, so clearly what you told us is not your key to success.” The revised approach generated some different answers – some shocking, some ridiculously simple, and some downright weird.
Ultimately, we discovered that what the top 1% did not have in common was a good attitude, superior intellect, and talent. What they had were advantages that gave them an edge. Everyone has advantages; it’s just that most people don’t know what their advantages are, don’t know how to use them, or have beliefs that make them think they shouldn’t use them. That makes these lies about success much easier to tell than the truth. But the real truth – in my book and in the points above about the economy – is far more encouraging than the “spun truth” that we’re fed every day.