Graduates: More Competition Please! (Did I Just Say that Out Loud?)

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It seems like my graduation advice is bubbling to the surface these days.

I don't know why I am so willing to give young people the power to replace me someday, but here come three more tips for anyone hoping to set the world on fire with ambition.

The funny thing about these three tips is this: They are so stupidly simple I am amazed that they are even tips at all.

Tip #1: Show up on time

The first and best way to eliminate yourself from contention for a job is to show up late to the interview. The very best way to silently show disrespect to your boss (or your employee) is to show up late for a meeting. The most excellent way to lose a sale is to be late to an appointment.

When you are late (or don't show at all), you are telling the person who called the meeting that your time is more valuable than theirs. Without a word you are sending a very loud, clear message that says you are more important than they are. From a psychological perspective, by being late you are inflicting control over the other person and the situation.

I am surprised by the number of people who consider themselves 'professionals' who routinely miss meetings or show up five minutes late.

I have been that person. I used to do it all the time and I didn't realize the impact of my bad habit. Now, I take pride in arriving a few minutes early and I secretly thank my competition for their lack of punctuality.

If you want to live your life as a servant leader, be on time.

Tip #2: Put on a clean shirt

This message changes slightly depending on my audience. High school kids need to take this tip literally. Not all of them, but some people are comfortable in a wrinkled t-shirt and think it's fine to just grab something that isn't crawling away from them on the floor.

For people who are already in working world, this tip is more about dressing for success. I am surprised by the number of grown men who are happy wearing a dress shirt that shows the wrinkles from the packaging. 

I guess this is why some companies provide uniforms for their employees and dry cleaners sometimes make deliveries.

Iron something once in a while! Send your stuff to the dry cleaners. Do a load of laundry and then get dressed for that interview or presentation.

Again, I am secretly thanking the people that haven't learned this yet.

Tip #3: Take a shower

This one seems ridiculous, but let me put it to you this way: If you don't show up on time in a clean shirt after having a shower that day you are basically guaranteed to fail.

Getting a fresh start to the day starts with the reboot of stripping things down to the basics and rebuilding yourself one step at a time. Like a shower.

Shrug off yesterday and focus on today. Tell yourself you are going to win. Think about the one thing you are excited about that day (hopefully there are several).

Scrub your back and do your hair and spray on something that smells good and launch out from that mindset.

The alternative is to bring the dirt and dust and junk from yesterday into today, where you will probably get the same result. After all, yesterday's wins don't translate to today. But neither do the losses.

You have to set yourself up to win every day. Day after day. No matter what happened yesterday.

Two of my favorite sayings come to mind.

"Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance." - Preparation is like practice and your meeting is like the game. You play like you practice and it's usually obvious within the first ten seconds if you have cut corners here.

And, "Run the race to win the prize." - 1 Cor 9:24 says "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." This verse has been very important to me over the years. So much so, I used to sign off at the end of my broadcasts with it.

Don't mess around. Go get it. Prepare well and then outrun the rest.

We could all use a little more competition.