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Life lessons I learned from Barbara

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Barbara Corcoran (of Shark Tank) speak. The topic was the life lessons she’s learned along the way to becoming a self-made success. The first thing I found fascinating was that she has learned something from every step or misstep she’s made in her life. Of the seven great life lessons that she shared with us, I want to talk about two today (I’ll comment on several others over the next few weeks).

1. “Perception creates reality.” This is not a new concept, but I love how she has used it to her advantage in business. Barbara doesn’t only mean that her own perception creates her own reality. She’s taken it a step further by changing other people’s perceptions in order to change her own reality. Let me explain. When she wanted to be known as the expert in selling homes to celebrities in NYC (her desired reality), she created the perception that she was the expert by writing and having articles published on celebrity home sales. She put the perception out there that she was an expert on that subject and in turn it drove that business to her and became her reality. How brilliant!

How can we apply this for ourselves? If you want to be the head of your department, think about the qualities that distinguish good managers in your company. If that’s being a strong team leader, then create the perception that you are the best team leader (by improving your leadership skills, putting yourself in a position to lead, and executing well). Your coworkers and boss will see you as a leader and place you in a managerial role. Ta-Da… you created the perception in others, then the reality followed. But also know the opposite is true. If the perception is negative or incapable, so too will be the reality.

This concept can be used anywhere in your life. Watch carefully what perceptions you put out there and do so intentionally – make it public and your reality will follow.

2. Similarly, she has a rule of “You have the right to be here” that she repeats to herself when she has doubts about her skill or is uncertain if she belongs somewhere. She relayed a story of walking into a certain real estate icon’s office when she first started in the business and was a “nobody”. As she was feeling intimidated and wondering how she could possibly stack up to this legend she was about to meet, she suddenly had a thought that she had every right to be in that meeting. Only she knew how insecure she was feeling. Her outside appearance or spoken words didn’t have to betray her doubts. So she gathered herself, walked through that door with confidence and put herself out there. As expected, she did great under the pressure and impressed the legend with her skill and expertise. To paraphrase her words, she jumped first – which then put herself in the right place. Again, the way she portrayed herself created her reality.

When have you felt recently that you were in over your head? Did you wear that feeling on your sleeve, or worse voice it to others? And if you did, what perception were you creating and what reality then transpired? Have confidence in your abilities. You have every right to be exactly where you are. You earned it. Wear it like a badge of confidence and know that if you leap you will land on your feet.