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by Anneli Thomson, Managing Director, June 2014


Ever wonder why some people excel and others seem incapable of doing anything right? You probably know who people seem to be successful no matter what they do. We call them "naturals". They're just plain good.

But how did they get that way? Surely you know some more people who aren't naturals. What's different about these people? More importantly, if you're not a natural, why not? What's different about you? And what can you do, if anything, to become a natural?

Many years ago, David Sandler discovered a rule of human relations that determines how well a person will perform in all areas of life, regardless of education, practice, and training. It’s a very simple rule, and once you learn it, you can no doubt put it to use to improve the quality of your life.

They discovered their life is two-fold. They’re an individual; they have desires, beliefs, dreams, and goals. That is their “I”, their identity. It’s who they are. The second part of their life is their role or their “R”. It is simply their role... it’s what they do on the job.

When we think about roles - business owner, sales person, mother, father, sister, brother, friend, etc. - we think about those things that we do. We have multiple roles in our life at any given time. Our identity is about our intrinsic values - who we are as a human being. Often when we experience rejection, we take on that embarrassment or feeling of failure with our identity, rather than our role. We feel like we have failed as a human being, rather than simply failed in our role.

Successful people learn to separate their “I” and their “R”. They don’t allow the negativity or failure on the “R” side of their life to affect the “I” part of their life. A loss at work does not affect them personally. They learn to deal with the failure and quickly move on to the next challenge.

At Sandler we often ask our clients, "If you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 - where would you land?" This exercise helps us understand how people feel about their identity - typically that is where people rate themselves. Alternatively, we insist that your "I" is always at a 10. You must have confidence in yourself and your values and never waiver from that self-esteem.

On the other hand, your role can certainly fluctuate. This is where a failure should be measured. It is inevitable we will all fail at some point in our lives, but if we measure that failure on our "R" side rather than our "I" side, our self-esteem, self worth and dignity remain intact.

When bad things happen, you have two choices. You can go hide in the corner and suck your thumb, or you can remember that your “I” is always a 10 and trust in yourself.


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