How my life changed in Des Moines, Iowa…

It was October 1998, a beautiful autumn in Detroit, MI, and the business was thriving… altho not so much for me personally. I had just helped 2 people in our office, for the 3rd month in a row, make a 5 figure check. I was also a key contributor to someone making a 6 figure check 2 of those 3 months. The 3rd month he only made a little over $80,000 because he took the month off. Our office had set a new record for sales volume in a month, and then beat it the following month, and the month after that. I had contributed in a very significant way.

The downside was that these people were not in my sales network. I made absolutely zero dollars off their success, and what was worse, my sales network was not growing, even tho I had people in the funnel, engaged in the process… I did all the presentations and trainings, promoting our products as well as bigger and better educational, motivational, networking, and personal growth events… and I seemed to be the only one not profiting from my efforts. Others were flat out killing it financially, but every aspect of my life was going in the wrong direction.

I found out later that the person who made the 6 figure checks had instructed his people in our office not to help me or my sales force in any way. That’s a story for another day, but suffice to say I never noticed it… I was far too focused on what I thought was my job, which was to produce sales volume for our office, and I paid far too little attention to my business, which suffered greatly. I let it go on for far too long, until I decided to travel to Des Moines, Iowa for a special event hosted by the President and CEO of our company.

He was offering a 3 day educational event, 8 hours a day, to work with him and learn the tips and techniques that he had been using for years. These included sales tips, negotiation skills, understanding relationships, and marketing techniques that he had used to build our company into the fastest growing privately held company in the US. I was employing many of his best teachings, but I wasn’t benefiting financially. I was proud of what I was doing, but saw no tangible results.

When I arrived in the city of Des Moines,  after a solid 8 hour drive, I headed straight to the event site, as I had begged and pleaded to be part of the support staff that ran the event. My Iowa friends (and a few others from around the country) were there already, and we shared a few hugs and laughs before getting down to work for the weekend. I never shared my troubles with them… I knew they had enough of their own… and I was a tremendous support system for them. It’s possible I could have and should have used them as a support system for myself, but “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” is the name of my book that’s in its final stage of completion, so that is also a story for another day.

(Full disclosure: I shoulda finished writing the book a long time ago, and I coulda finished it if I had been more focused, and I woulda finished it if I hadn’t given other things more priority. And that’s not just about the book. Another story for another day…)

We finished setting up the event and then had to drive 20 minutes or so to my friends house to clean up for the night’s opening events. Following them to their house turned out to be a nightmare, as they led me thru the freeways of downtown Des Moines at no less than 90 miles per hour, and about half way there I lost them. This was the days before GPS (I sometimes wonder how I found my way out the front door without my smart phone), but I did manage to catch them with a cell phone call and they guided me the rest of the way. Who drives like that when someone is trying to follow? We had a short talk about leadership principles and making sure those who choose to follow us are not left so far behind that they can’t even see us. Everything in those days was related to our business and relationship marketing.

That evening I spent most of the time after the event speaking to a young couple who really wanted to invest $300 to spend almost 30 hours with a multi-millionaire who would teach and train them to do exactly what he was doing, on any scale they chose. Their problem was the same as so many others’… “We just can’t afford it.” They had decided that their car insurance was their priority, and that would prevent them from spending the weekend learning from one of the most successful and wealthy people in the history of sales and marketing. They were unwilling to find a way.

For a long time, we went thru the usual exchange of probing questions. We had discovered their pain points and an underlying fear that there would never be enough money… wondering how much longer we wanted to continue living with that self fulfilling prophecy. If not, when would be a good time to change our perspective about that? It always came back to “We can’t afford it.”

I left them by saying, “There’s a really good chance that if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll never be able to afford it. Something I learned a couple years ago when I was struggling so hard, was that if I couldn’t afford to do this, I couldn’t afford not to do this. I know we can find a way if you really want to. If today’s not right for you, I won’t try to convince you, but if you’re serious, show up here at 8am tomorrow morning with your registration fee, and I’ll find a way to get you both in for the price of one.

(I didn’t have that power, unless I paid for the price of a second ticket for them, but I hadn’t had anyone join my business in a while, and I was struggling with everything else in my life and I wanted to have someone there to experience the business we were building, and the community we were creating that was going to change the world. And I had a strange idea about myself that I was supposed to save people like that.)

I hadn’t yet realized that I never fully sold myself that I deserved better, and that if I didn’t save me, I could never save anyone else.

They gave me a final “No, sorry, there’s just no way,” and I went back to my friend’s house, feeling dejected and badly defeated. Lying on the sofa with the moonlight pouring into the living room, I started to cry.

“Why is this so difficult? What do I have to do to make this work? Why is my life so difficult? When will something – anything – start to work? PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME!” Blubbering, I sat up and glanced over at my friend’s bookcase. As I wiped the tears from my eyes, gulping my breath, it seemed that every book on every shelf was black or heavily shaded, and all the names on their spines were blurred. One hardcover book with a white jacket was shining brightly in the middle of the middle shelf. It was clearly calling to me, so I walked over and picked it up. I sat right down on the floor in front of the rest of those books, turned on a light, and started to read. This is what the book said to me, on the first page…

“I was very unhappy during that period, personally, professionally, and emotionally, and my life was feeling like a failure on all levels. As I’d been
in the habit for years of writing my thoughts down in letters (which I usually never delivered), I picked up my trusty yellow legal pad and began pouring out my feelings.

This time, rather than another letter to another person I imagined to be
victimizing me, I thought I’d go straight to the source; straight to the greatest victimizer of them all. I decided to write a letter to God.

It was a spiteful, passionate letter, full of confusions, contortions, and
condemnations. And a pile of angry questions. Why wasn’t my life working?
What would it take to get it to work? Why could I not find happiness in
relationships? Was the experience of adequate money going to elude me forever? Finally — and most emphatically — What had I done to deserve a life of such continuing struggle?”

I stared in disbelief, desperately trying to manage the overwhelming feeling that I had written this book to myself… and when I read on, it said this:

“To my surprise, as I scribbled out the last of my bitter, unanswerable questions and prepared to toss my pen aside, my hand remained poised over the paper, as if held there by some invisible force. Abruptly, the pen began moving on its own. I had no idea what I was about to write, but an idea seemed to be coming, so I decided to flow with it. Out came…

Do you really want an answer to all these questions, or are you just venting?

I blinked… and then my mind came up with a reply. I wrote that down, too.

Both. I’m venting, sure, but if these questions have answers, I’d sure as hell
like to hear them!

You are “sure as hell” about a lot of things. But wouldn’t it be nice to be
“sure as Heaven”?

And I wrote:
What is that supposed to mean?”

The short answer to that question is “Whatever you decide it means.” The longer answer is given in the rest of that book, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was suddenly in a place where everything was going to be ok, and I didn’t just believe it. I knew it. One of the messages in the collection that this book started – a series called The Conversations with God Dialogues – is there are 3 levels of awareness.

The first is the level of hope and it is a great starting point, but it mostly says that we hope something is true and it just might be so. We may wish for it deeply, but we can’t really be sure. The second is the level of faith or belief, where we believe something to be true unless some evidence to the contrary makes us reconsider. The highest level of awareness about something is knowing. There is really no thought about it, and certainly no second thoughts or doubt. It transcends faith.

As a simple example, when we enter our bedroom and flip a light switch, we don’t hope the lights come on, nor do we have faith they will come on. We simply know the room will light up. On a larger scale, we may experience that knowing in the love of a spouse, or our parents or our children. We don’t hope our spouse loves us, or have faith that they do. We simply know it. (If not, we have deeper issues to discuss.)

That particular experience with that particular book, Conversations with God Book 1, started me on a completely different path… one of spiritual growth and experiencing life in a whole new way. Relationships have become less challenging, finances have become more abundant, I’ve grown older and wiser without getting old, and life has become far more of a joy than ever before. This is not to say I don’t have problems, but the truth is that I see far fewer things as problematic, and if we remember who we are, there is a quiet peaceful knowing that everything is going to be ok.

Now I just mentioned a key insight that has allowed me to live and operate this way. It was the idea “if we remember who we are,” and it is incredibly important. It is the foundational principle behind our coaching and mentoring program called 2nd Shot 1st. Too often we forget who we are, and it is our purpose here on earth, in my opinion, to give people back to themselves… to remind each other of Who We Are. There are a lot of spiritual mentors and fantastic life coaches who help us understand that we are good enough just as we are, and there is no need to berate ourselves for our failures or mistakes, and certainly no need to be afraid to try again.

One of my favorite sayings has always been, “I wish I knew then what I know now,” referring to a moment from our past in which our present state of being and awareness, our current level of knowledge and wisdom, would have been useful and beneficial. The idea behind 2nd Shot 1st is that the future will always show up as the present moment – it can be no other way – and it will be in our best interests to remember then what we know now. Instead of experiencing something – however chaotic or traumatic – through reactive fear, what if we acted and responded – calmly and confidently – through our creative powers, by knowing (remembering) who we are?

That is the first question – Who Am I? – in the sequence of 4 that I believe are the most important and powerful questions there are – for anyone looking to find meaning and purpose in their life – because it changes our perspective from one of seeking and hoping to find, to one of discovering and creating… and it changes our life from one of worry, doubt, strife, and struggle to a life of calm, knowing, ease, and abundance.

The question “Who Am I?” is really the simplest one of the 4, and the beauty of its simplicity – as well as that of the other 3 – is in the fact that there is no right answer, there is only the answer that you give it. Addressing this question every day – if not several times a day – helps us stay centered in who we are, and is a constant reminder of the truth of our being. The answer may change day to day, and even moment to moment… but like any other habit or discipline we endeavor to create or adopt, paying attention to the question and our answer creates consistency through the constant reminders of our magnificence, and of our connection with God, with Life, and with each other.

For a deeper look at the 4 questions, my own personal answers, as well as other ideas and concepts brought to us from 2nd Shot 1st, please send an email to jonr@jonrobertsnow.com or connect on facebook at (I don’t know how to find the link to my facebook group lol). Thank you for being here with us, and God bless.

 

Upspeak… why is this a thing?

Having read a ton of books on self help and communication, and attending dozens of self improvement and personal growth seminars, having studied people who were clearly and abundantly successful in building relationships, communicating, closing sales, etc., it has become increasingly important to me that I control how I communicate with others.

Many years ago I was told, many times by many people, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

I hated hearing that, mostly because I didn’t like what they were saying. I wasn’t comfortable with criticism and my defense mechanisms were easily triggered. It took me a while to figure out that I was focusing on what they were saying (criticizing me), rather than how they were saying it (gently, compassionately, helping me). I didn’t see that what I was saying was not the problem… as they were all trying to tell me.

My tone was the problem, and my tone was distracting from my message. How I was communicating had a dramatic effect on what I was saying. I had an arrogance and superiority about myself and my way of doing things, and it turned people off when my message was expressed through that attitude.

There are many factors to how we deliver our message, how we communicate… things like body language, eye movement, the energy we project, our assumptions or judgments about the person we’re talking to (are they a subordinate at work or a respected elder?), and our confidence in the message itself. (How committed to this particular idea or statement are we?) While these all play a role, one of the most important factors in communication is our tone.

Because I have a tendency to let things irritate me, I notice certain things… and one of the things I’ve noticed over recent years is a speech pattern called upspeak, or what is technically called “high rising intonation,” or HRI.

Often, HRI is used at the end of a clause, to start a sentence, and then a falling pitch is applied at the end. When upspeak is at the end of a sentence, it’s referred to as HRT, or “high rising terminal.” Questions usually end with HRI, or upspeak. However you’ll notice not all questions follow this rule, like the one in the headline.

What I have allowed to bother me so much is that more and more people are using HRT, and ending every declarative statement with a rising tone. There are many theories as to why people do this. There are many articles expounding these many theories, and it took me a while to find one that I agreed with. Not just because it suggested making upspeak a verbal fad of the past, but the author’s focus was on the actual subject of upspeak.

Among the articles I felt missed the mark, one asked in its headline “Is upspeak ruining your career?” but the first line of the article said, “The sound of your voice may be destroying your career.” The article continued to explain why speech therapy may be necessary, and encouraged people to seek help if they didn’t like the sound of their voice.

Not only did the article miss the point that the sound of someone’s voice is not the same thing as someone’s tone, it never actually addressed the issue of  upspeak.

Another actually suggested that because it’s more prevalent in women, that any criticism of it is an attack on the validity of  women’s speech. It failed to notice that men use upspeak as well, and when they admit that it can be construed as inferior or lacking in confidence, they expose a gender bias, that their premise was trying to deny.

Another suggested that superiors or those with a higher social status use upspeak, while those beneath them use it less. Their case studies involved a sorority in Texas and Asian business culture. I’m not sure those 2 groups are indicative of society in general.

It is entirely my opinion that it stems from a lack of confidence. To me, it always sounds like a request for approval. To test this theory, read these words – or any article or book or blog post – and use HRT or upspeak at the end of every sentence. Is this how we choose to sound when we talk?

That last sentence almost has to end in upspeak, because it’s a question. But that one I just typed does not. Nor does that one. Or this one. And when upspeak is the dominant speech pattern in a person’s method of communicating, it trips my brain, and makes me wonder about the message, often in ways that are totally irrelevant to the message being sent.

There was one point that showed up in several articles I read, one that I felt was valid, and I can see how it might be appropriate in certain situations. The benefit of keeping someone’s attention, because there is more info coming, is real… and this particular sentence is an example of that. It’s clear upspeak has its place, but as we noted earlier, it’s often used at the beginning of a sentence… and NOT at the end of every sentence.

Today, as I type this, I can’t help but smile as I remember certain people in my life who employ this speech pattern endlessly, and I enjoy making an extra effort to focus on their message and what they are saying. How they are saying it is entirely annoying, but I don’t spend much time with people who don’t have something to share. Their message is always of great value, and I also smile at the incredible things I’ve learned form these people, and the outrageously fun times we’ve shared.

I also find it amusing that upspeak has such an impact on what I hear, and when I hear it come out of my own word hole, it refocuses my mind and thoughts on the message I’m sending.

This has proven incredibly valuable, as I learned to employ one of my favorite lessons in communication. It came from my spiritual mentor, Neale Donald Walsh, and it resonates with me more and more every day, particularly as I see more and more people coming to understand this lesson in their own way. Walsch says,

“It is not nearly so important how well a message is received as how well it is sent. You cannot take responsibility for how well another accepts your truth; you can only ensure how well it is communicated. And by how well, I don’t mean merely how clearly; I mean how lovingly, how compassionately, how sensitively, how courageously, and how completely.”

He uses “your truth,” which I believe is a much deeper philosophical subject than “your message.” But it is still the truth…

How we communicate something changes what we communicate, because of the specific manner in which the message is sent. Because that is the only thing we have control over, it’s imperative to pat attention to all aspects of how we send our message.

Whether it’s a business meeting or a casual conversation with friends, I prefer to avoid the upspeak, and ensure that my message is sent clearly, lovingly, compassionately, sensitively, courageously, and completely. Care to join me?

For more ideas on personal growth, success principles, mindset, and other valuable concepts, please visit my You Tube channel at JR’s YouTube.

Thanks for reading, and for being a part of my journey. I wish you peace and success all the days of your life.