Have you ever watched or remember the movie City Slickers? It was a movie from the early 90’s about three men from the city who decided to branch out and join a cattle drive, offered by real cattle ranchers. During that cattle drive, they meet a hardcore cowboy name Curly. All throughout the movie, Curly taunts one of the men with holding up his index finger and telling him that the secret to life is “one thing”. Curly, like any good cowboy, doesn’t ever tell him exactly what that one thing is – which I took to mean that each person has to figure this thing out for themselves.
Is there a secret?
I personally don’t believe there is one secret to life or that we will ever really know what it’s all about. However, I do believe in patterns. Patterns can often be big clues to “secrets” that we may be missing.
For me, there does seem to be one pattern that keeps showing up. One that has escaped me for a long time. And, one that I ignore even without meaning to. What I hope to do here is see if you have noticed this pattern too, and to see what this might mean for you.
How we act versus what we know to be true
Like most people, I go about my day mostly thinking about myself, what I want to do, what I need to do, how I feel, what I notice, and what I will achieve by doing this or that. But, as I was studying this morning, a familiar concept showed up again. It’s something that seems so obvious and simple, yet, I would almost bet, that most of us don’t actually behave in a way that shows that we understand it. And, once you realize it, you could probably take a look at the areas in your life where things are working and link it back to this one thing.
What is it all about?
No matter what you are trying to do – build a community, run a business, teach something, work on personal relationships, make products, sell something, write something, produce videos, make movies, share ideas, build something, fix something, or anything else – what is the underlying pattern of being successful in achieving those efforts?
Answer: It has to be of some value to the other person.
It has to be about them. It has to help them. It has to help them get closer to what they want. So, then the true questions become: Is it relevant to them? Does it match what they personally need or are interested in? Does it help them achieve their own goal(s)? Do they feel like it will improve their life in some way? Will they get something from it (confidence, self-esteem, convenience, personal achievement)? Does it make them feel loved? Does it solve their problem? I could go on, but I won’t.
If it’s true for you, it’s true for them
Consider every product or service you use, every relationship you value, and what things you pay attention to. What is the common pattern? Answer = They hold value for you. You get something out of it.
A word of caution
I want to make sure that we don’t get “providing value for other people” confused with “people-pleasing”. To me, people-pleasing is a type of manipulation where you do anything anyone asks just to gain their approval. This is the opposite of offering the best you have in a way that also provides something useful and valuable to others.
This is a great interview with Mike Rowe and Lewis Howes about truth, reality, different perspectives, and a different way of looking at work and success. Definitely thought-provoking.