Up, Down, or Sideways by Mark Sanborn

Up Down Sideways

RATING: 2/10…READ: September 30, 2011

A motivating and inspiring book in some respects, but leaves much to be desired. Would have liked to see some practical application behavior change tactics in addition to the many rehashed self-help themes. Check out my notes on the Fred Factor for a much better work by Sanborn.

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If reactive is the kiss of death and proactive above a personal level is a myth, what’s left? The answer: interactive

Think of a surfer. Only Mother Nature makes and controls a wave. But a good surfer finds and interacts with the waves to create the outcome he or she desires. Don’t miss the first part: Good surfers look for good waves.

They are proactive on a personal level. They don’t just say, “There’s the ocean, let’s surf!” They watch the weather, scout the shoreline, check with friends, and do whatever they can to find the best waves available.

Like a surfer, you have to figure out how to interact with forces bigger than yourself to create the outcomes you desire—to create the outcomes you define as success.

Rather than trying to predict the future, prepare for it.

The greatest challenge of the human experience is acting on what you know. [Dan Millman]

Knowing where you need and want to go barriers:

1. Ignorance

2. You know but don’t believe

3. You know and believe but don’t do

4. You know and believe but can’t do (lack training or skill)

5. You know and do inconsistently

6. Know and do consistently

7. Know and make it second nature (being a natural)

How do you define success? –Highly individualistic to person; Sanborn: living a life of learning, love, faith, and service.

Most common “scoring systems”: Results, Recognition, Recreation, or Relationships

Your actions, not your intentions, tell you which priority rules in your life.

Results: all about achievement / want to win the prize / earn a certain income / drive a certain car

Recognition: want achievements recognized by others / want to be known for something / love hearing applause / volunteer because you like people telling you are good person

Recreation: using money to take vacations, gold, ski, hit the clubs, sail, bike, etc.

Relationships: your bond with others

“The bad news is you can’t have it all. The good news is, when you know what’s important, you don’t want it all anyhow.”

Clarifying your scoring system:

-Be clear about what’s important to you

-Be clear about why it’s important

-Be honest about the cost (financial, relational, or ethical)

-Be clear about the commitment: What’s it going to take to achieve your definition of success, not just in money but also in time and energy.

“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” [H.L. Hunt]

“Extreme optimists and extreme pessimists are usually wrong but the former have more fun being that way.” [T.O. White]

The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.

Framing Optimism:

-Be skeptical but not cynical

-Choose reality over fantasy

-Think on the noble and necessary (choosing to focus on informing yourself through positive sources)

-Elevate your view (how do you view yourself and the world?)

-Try a different perspective


-Focus on the Victory; not the loss (play to win not to lose)

-When you face setbacks, FIDO! (Forget it; Drive On)

The Law of Requisite Variety: the person who controls the system is the person within that system with the most behavioral flexibility.

-Ex: If we’re playing chess and I know four moves and you know eight, then you have the upper hand.

Don’t tell me what to think, teach me how to think.

The great thinkers habits: make investigation and inquiry a way of life / think for yourself / learn in the future tense / design your own ongoing education program / make time to learn

What value are your providing? (products, services, experiences, ideas?)

What you do for a living isn’t what people value; they value the product of your process.

“The only two things people buy are solutions to a problem and good feelings.” [Michael Leboeuf]

Filling your pipeline: relationships / projects / customers

If Ansel Adams were living in today’s high-tech world, my guess it he’d still be a photographer, but he’d be a master of the digital process—and perhaps the chemical process, as well.

“When you are a leader, many will befriend you but only a few will be your friend” [Josh Ashcroft]

Creating a connection is important but not nearly important as keeping that connection.

What’s coming “into” your life from other people and what are you sending “out” from your life into the lives of others. (Who are you connected with and who are you connecting?)

-Know who you serve: know what they value. Understand their scoring systems.

3 questions to ask customers:

What do you like most about doing business with us?

What do you like least?

What do you tell others?

-Make it about them: “Service Above Self”

The ingredients of LOVE:

-Patience: choosing to accept someone—imperfections, weaknesses, demands, and all—no matter his or her circumstances or needs.

-Motivation: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” [Ralph Waldo Emerson]

-Appreciation: Looking for what’s right rather than what’s wrong

-Counsel: telling people what the need to hear, not just what they want; doing it in a polite way.

-Time: being fully present with another person free of distraction

-Compassion: “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”

-Encouragement: noticing when others are doing well and holding them up when they fail.

Today’s best practices are next week’s second-best practices and next month’s obsolete practices.

Not only that, but the competition is aware of and likely practicing the same best practices as you.

Rather than best practices, think better practices and next practices. (Challenging assumptions (status quo) within industries)

“Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want.” [John Kralik]

Consider two entrepreneurs: One starts a company with the purpose of generating revenue and making profits so that he can grow his wealth, retire at a young age, and enjoy the fruits of his labor. The other wants to build a company that generates revenue and profit while changing his customers, employees, and the world for the better. One company is built to flip; the other company is built to serve.

Schedule gratitude: schedule time each day to make a list of the good things that happened and to write a note or notes to people who were nice to you.


-Modify what you do so you spend less time doing certain activities

-Adjust your schedule so high priority items get done first

-Know what is important

-Eliminate bad habits

When you are UP, you need humility and perspective

When you are SIDEWAYS, you need a boost

When you are DOWN, you need hope