The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”” – George Bernard Shaw

Every time you have a conversation, exchange e-mail, attend a meeting, make a presentation, or attend a business seminar (see yesterday’s Message #224), you either advance or retard your goals.

* You are called into your boss’s office to discuss an upcoming project. It’s only a 10-minute meeting, but at the end of it you will leave him with an impression of you. It might be good. It might be bad. It may simply confirm his existing view. From your point of view, it’s best to leave him thinking “That kid’s got a lot on the ball.” And you can do that by being either (a) a natural genius who wings it or (b) an ETR with a definite idea of what you want to achieve.

* You call your assistant to your office to discuss a mistake he’s made. You can indulge yourself in a little sarcasm and make him resent you. Or you can apply a little patience to the problem and deepen his loyalty.

Every encounter – however small – represents an opportunity and a danger. What occurs is largely up to you.

Of course, you can’t do too much about chance meetings, (You bump into your boss at the water fountain. You see an old friend in a strange city. ) But you can improve the outcomes of those that are planned.

Why not make it a habit to turn most, if not all, of your encounters into opportunities to improve your situation? Think about them before they happen. Determine what you can do to make them serve you better. Pay attention to your feelings. What are you likely to do or say? Is that something that will help or hurt you? Figure out the best course of action – and then take it. Go into every encounter with a positive attitude and a working plan.

Subject each encounter to this simple test: Are my dreams closer or further away because of this encounter?

When is your next planned encounter? How does it relate to your life’s goals? What can you do to make it better? What might you do to make it worse?

Do the right thing next time and then do it again. Make it a habit and your path will gradually become smoother. You can never underestimate the importance of having the good wishes of the people with whom you work.

A Word About Those Encounters You Can’t Plan . . .

New Orleans – I was walking beside Jackson Square this afternoon when someone came up behind me and poked me in the ribs. It was SB, a communications officer for AGP. She is enjoying a week here with her husband. Last week, I was passing through the Baltimore train station when I was equally surprised by a chance encounter with GG, a friend and former employee. She was in town to look at schools with her eldest son.

It’s very good to be surprised, but it reminds you how important it is to mind your manners in public.