It’s All Small Stuff

October 8th, 1999

I read a book this weekend that struck a familiar chord, one I’ve written about before. It concerns finding out who you really are or what you do.  In our business, we become so filled with self-importance that often we can’t find our true selves…and that’s important.

The book is called “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson.  It’s been on the best seller list.  Maybe you’ve read it.  If not, pop for the cash and read it with an open mind.  If you still have one.  One of the negatives about this business is that we fill ourselves with false information and hype so often that we begin buying into it. And once you believe what you’re saying about yourself, you’re doomed.

So, I try again to beat a drum that might dent the thick skulls of those who believe they’re better than they are, not so much to criticize, but to cause change and make those who take heed, better people.

Fat chance.

As I read the book, I thought about how positive changes in the lives of a few in our business could affect the entire industry.  I chose four specific people to aim this Editorial toward, although it’s important for all.  But specifically, these four people, two in radio and two in the record industry, could benefit most from the “helpful” hints I’ve revised (plagiarized) and included in the Editorial. However, I am sure none of those four people will ever ask me is this Editorial is about them, because they won’t believe it.  They’re perfect. Do you doubt it? Ask them.

The struggle for perfection in business and life is an endless quest that will ultimately lead to depression. Perfectionists don’t have inner peace and happiness.  The desire for everything to be perfect and the search for happiness are in direct conflict.  Too often, we focus on what is wrong, rather than being satisfied about what is right.  When your focus is on negative things, you become, by definition, a negative person.

Accept the fact that things will never be perfect.  Learn to accept imperfection.  You should seek to make everything as good as it can be, but focus on the work you’ve done toward achieving perfection rather than the end result.

We need to stop believing that laid-back people can’t be super achievers.  Too often, we make our lives and jobs more hurried and stressful to fool ourselves into believing we are more productive.  This kind of thinking and acting takes a lot of energy and can drain the creativity from our lives.  Frantic work is not good work.  Working because you’re afraid of what happens if you don’t push yourself is dangerous.  Any success that you have is despite your fear, not because of it.

One of the most important parts of our success is the level of our compassion.  It’s a sympathetic feeling, something we all need to develop.  Instead of chewing out a coworker to make ourselves feel more important,  take a moment of compassion to find out how you can help the other person in his or her position.  Understanding is the first key to communication.  And communication is the key to success.

Let others have the glory. Our greatest legacy should be teaching others to fulfill our goals.  If you can’t pass along some of your expertise to those working around you, what good are you? Or maybe you just don’t have anything to offer.

Our need for excessive attention is nothing more than inflated egos. How often are you engaged in conversations when others interrupt or try and top your story when you’re finished? How often do you do that?  What makes you feel the need to focus all the attention on yourself by telling a better story or interrupting someone to show how they’re wrong?  Is your ego so huge that you can’t allow others to get a little of the glory?

Guess what? It might come as a shock, but it’s a lead pipe cinch that you don’t know everything.  Instead of waiting until a story is finished to begin your own, try this: listen.  You might be surprised.  Even if you aren’t, you’ll make the person telling the story feel a lot better about themselves if they have your complete attention.  Isn’t that what our lives should be about? Making others feel better? Or are we so egotistical that all we care about is our own feelings?

Most of what I’ve learned has come from those around me who would seem to know the least.  When I programmed radio, listeners taught me more about programming than all the seminars and consultants who pontificated their stuffy ideas.  Local record people more often have their fingers on the pulse than those in national offices.

We should listen more and talk less.

Maybe we could learn something.  Then again, maybe not.  Why should we worry anyhow?

We’re perfect aren’t we?

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