When someone asks for our opinion and we answer the question with the phrase "I don't know?", what are we actually saying? Do we actually have no idea what so ever (which would be an accurate use of the phrase) or are we using it to keep us from being wrong? Often times, people say "I don't know" to a question about their opinion, in order to avoid commitment. By saying "I don't know", the door is open for the person who asks the question to give the answer and allows the initial "responder" to avoid having a "wrong" opinion. The unfortunate situation is that the "responder" does not have the opportunity to be correct, either. Also, "I don't know" is a lazy response. It leads us to believe that the person hasn't put any thought into the question or the potential options. "Why do you think today was such a bad day"? The question asks for an opinion ("What do you THINK ..."). "I don't know". Well, then how do you expect to learn from today to make tomorrow better? There are many reasons why someone may have a bad day. Some reasons are under their own control and others may not. It could also merely be an attitude. Whatever the reason, "I don't know", does not allow for growth. Answering incorrectly at least rules out some options. "I don't know" is an acceptable answer to a question for a specific fact but when we are asked for our opinion or thoughts on a subject, "I don't know" is lazy and prevents our own growth.
Noise comes in many forms. It can be actual sound to thoughts in our own head that impede the ability to listen to what others are saying to us. Preconceived notions or assumptions or biases or distractions, including lack of confidence to the feeling of being overwhelmed, all of these can be noise that prevent us from not only hearing but also listening and understanding the message. When we assume that speaking or writing words to someone is the only action we must take to make sure that the communication is heard, we will only cause miscommunication. Unfortunately, people have the habit of saying "Yes" or "Uh Huh" which leads us to believe they heard what we said. They may have heard it but they may not have listened to what we said or understood what we meant by what we said. Repeating or asking them to confirm may seem redundant and even offensive, but it is the only way to insure that the message was communicated properly.
At the end of the day, can you look back and say "I accomplished more and did more for others than anyone else I know"? If the answer is "yes" then it was a good day. If the answer was "no", then ask yourself what got in the way of you doing as much as someone else was able to do. Before you complain and make excuses for what you haven't done, look at what you could do better. Reasons are different than excuses. Reasons are acceptable. Excuses keep you from success.
"Glass half full or half empty". The question refers to whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Do you see life in a positive way: "glass is half full", or in a negative way: "the glass is half empty"? An important distinction. But another question to ask is this: "What is your glass filled with"? The content of the glass is important because when the glass is tipped over and the contents spill out, they end up all over the place. A glass filled with water can be easily cleaned up with a dry towel. A glass filled with motor oil causes a bigger mess. A person filled with love and respect and a positive attitude toward others is not exempt from being spilled over. But when they are tipped or knocked over, the love and respect and positiveness spills out all over other people. When a person full of bitterness and anger and resentment and negativity is spilled out, then that is spilled on to others. And if the glass is full to the brim of these things, when the glass is merely jostled a little bit, the contents get out and impact others. We may not be able to control the volume in our glass but we can control the content.
We know much more than we may realize. We also forget much more than we want to admit. This is why reminders are extremely important. Sometimes a reminder is all we need to remain on the right path or to keep us moving forward. Remembering to create reminders in our life may be the only safeguard to any barriers to achieving success. We need to put more value on creating reminders in our life or at least we need to be more open to others reminding us. Sometimes we are stubborn or have too much pride to allow someone to remind us of something we already know. "I know that" becomes a reply in defiance instead of an acknowledgment that should be followed by "and thank you for reminding me so I can change my behavior".
One of the most inadvertently destructible words of encouragement that has be repeated over and over again is the idea that "if you work hard, you will accomplish anything". This well meaning sentiment has been echoed by coaches and teachers and parents and well-meaning supporters for centuries (or at least decades). The intent is to encourage us to work hard so that we can reach our potential. "Your success is completely in your control." Is it? The truth is that this statement creates a false sense of reality. The truth is that we may work hard and never accomplish what we may desire, especially when the goal has more variables that are not in our control than we may realize. There are some things that are completely out of our control, therefore guaranteeing success leads to false expectations. The truth is that "working hard will increase the probability for success and the harder you work, the more probability will be in your favor." The underlying benefit of this type of mindset is that if forces us to realize that the harder we work, the higher the probability, while the original statement leaves "hard work" in a relative and self-defined state. I may think I am working hard and then "where is my success"? Success is typically a bi-product of overcoming adversity and being resilient. We need to work hard and and if our desired success doesn't arrive, then we need to work even harder to increase the probability.