This Month's Feature Article

September 2018

The 4 Corners of an Impactful Business

Impactful is defined as “… having a powerful effect or making a strong impression.”  Virtually every business owner or leader strives to insure their individual enterprise reflects this definition in the marketplace. When this status is achieved, chances are very high that success will soon follow.

What are some key factors that come to play in making a business “impactful”? Experience teaches us that there are four (4) key corners in this effort: communication, environment, skills and planning.

1.  Communication is so vital in building an indestructible enterprise. When information is conveyed so that every impacted party is aware of what is occurring, the reason for the particular action and the ultimate goal, it builds an appreciation and an alliance for the organization. Regardless of agreement over the action, the simple fact that time and care was given to convey the information in a straightforward manner will be appreciated. This also holds true for interaction with clients. The impactful business is one that keeps clients informed and also tells them simply what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. Knowledge is a great power tool when it is utilized. Convey that knowledge through your communication efforts with those who need to understand. As business great Max De Pree once pointed out, “There may be no single thing more important in our efforts to achieve meaningful work and fulfilling relationships than to learn to practice the art of communication.”



2.  Environment is another huge component to building an impactful business.

It is very broad in nature and addresses such areas as:

  • the culture that is being created or duplicated;
  • the personality of the business in the community;
  • the physical appearance of the business and professional persona of the people connected to the business;
  • the brand;
  • the attitude displayed to clients and the marketplace at large;
  • the internal structure;
  • the physical people connected to the business and how they interact with each other as well as the community;
  • the service level; and,
  • perhaps a key factor often overlooked, the “feeling” of everyone who does or inquires about business with the company.  

Too often this last area does not get the attention it should. It is vital to “see yourself as others see you.”

  • How do you appear?
  • Why would anyone want to work for your business?
  • What makes you so special that others should do business with you?
  • How would anyone know you have an energetic and success-minded team within your business?
  • What does your physical location say about the business to those who do not know about your business?
  • What really is your brand?
  • Are you a leader within your business with an accountability mindset; or, are things loosely done with no order or structure?
  • How does the community know of your support? 

All of these are questions that will help guide the development of an impactful business. The answers supplied will enable that business to remain impactful.

Remember, environment also has some focus on this thing called “perception.” Those who pay attention to this process and work to turn a perception into the most favorable view are generally those who will be confirmed as having an impact. Keep the environment strong and its view positive so that your business might gain the proper standing it needs to have a long-term affect.

3.  Skill has much to do with knowledge and simply understanding how things should be done. It is vital to deliver more than people expect. That goes without saying; but, you have to be sure that what you do deliver is beneficial to the welfare of those utilizing your products or services. The impactful business utilizes technology in a manner that benefits its clients but also shows potential clients that “school is never out” on maintaining a competitive edge in the marketplace. Clients enjoy information sources both from expertise within the business and addressing their interests or needs via the manner they choose. People do enjoy making their own conclusions.  Remaining current on your products or services and understanding new ways those resources can be delivered is important. For example, today's client might expect a text about an upgrade not a fax or postal letter. Even exploring and using new sales processes and sales aides or technology could have a greater impact on results.  While “old” methods of work process are not necessarily bad, failing to convey current standards may cause clients to question your understanding and commitment. Don’t get lost in complacency thinking new ideas and knowledge is not needed to be successful. Remember, it is not always good practice to be locked in a wagon train mentality in a world of supersonic travel.  

Keep your skill levels high as well as those of all in your business. You owe it to your clients and your business to be the best you can be. Impactful businesses continue to invest in themselves so that others will soon invest in them.

4.  Planning is important. So important that regretfully it is not always done properly. Impactful businesses:

  • live their vision;
  • know their mission;
  • map out their strategies;
  • understand their objectives; and,
  • have results-proven action plans.

You can’t simply “show up” and expect positive results to appear. It takes precise planning to gain the return you seek. One time CEO of Sigma Research, Richmond J. Hoch, said this about planning, “People think planning turns a company into a bunch of gray men marching in lockstep. But planning makes things possible. It can drive you through those ignorance barriers and force you to come to terms with what you don’t know.” You cannot build an impactful business without a plan.

 A mistake that many business professionals make is to build a plan on volume versus building a plan on results. The process in building the plan in essence becomes more important than what the plan contains. To build that impactful business plan you need to answer only 5 key questions:

  1. What are you building? 
  2. Why does your business exist?
  3. What will you measure as it pertains to the results, so that you know whether or not you are successful?
  4. How will you go about building the business you desire? 
  5. What will this process demand in regards to the work that must be done? 

The content of this process will of course demand thought, analysis and a great focus on many other factors; but, the end result will be beneficial. You know you have reached the pinnacle when you can explain your mission in 10 words or less and your objectives, strategies and action plans are concise, time sensitive bullet points that enable anyone walking in off the street to understand what you are seeking to accomplish. 

Impactful businesses also always polish their plans. They simply do not take last year’s goals and put a new date on them. They examine vision, mission, objectives, strategies and actions plans so that each fits what the current needs demand. Are the action plans really achieving the objectives? They drop low priority items and insure that every area is specific, measurable and clearly defines all levels of accountability.  Further, they also share those plans so that insight is gained regarding whether their plan is really strategic, contains critical initiatives and reflects the best thought of all parties. When all is said and done, impactful businesses win.

If you truly desire to have an impactful business, one that clearly has a strong effect or makes a strong impression, be sure that you have the “4 Corners” covered. 

  • Unleash your power.
  • Be inspired by the finish line.
  • Remember nothing is ever accomplished on the sidelines.
  • Do your part.
  • How committed are you? 
  • Will you give it all you have?

It takes heart so tap into your creative juices and build the impactful business you deserve. 


December 2017

A Merry Christmas

At this special time of the year when you strive to focus your mind and energies on the fulfillment of the holiday spirit, it becomes easy to get caught in the grasp of the “Christmas Crunch.” You can find yourself voicing your disagreement over the failure to obtain that special gift online or find another in a store that is packed with people busily shopping for gifts no one will use. To further complicate matters, it seems that every driver on the roadway is crazy. Horns blow and tempers can rise without warning. Disgust can even find its way on the home front if decorations don’t turn out well or this year’s tree falls short of expectation. However, if you could simply take a short pause, catch your breath and sidestep the Christmas hustle and bustle, you just may discover that despite all the potential rudeness and push, there remains much to be thankful for this special season.

One of the most remarkable Christmas stories I have heard comes from a small part of history in World War I. It is a true story and occurred only 50 miles outside of Paris, France. French and British troops were engaged in a battle against German forces. As Christmas Eve approached, the war had already killed or injured over 800,000 men.

On the eve of December 24, 1914, the weary German soldiers hoisted from their trenches a large, glittering sign saying, MERRY CHRISTMAS. The shooting suddenly stopped. Within minutes French, British and German soldiers began strolling out of their foxholes and trenches. Despite direct orders from their commanding officers to the contrary, they laughed together, exchanged small gifts of cigars and candy and sang Christmas carols. On Christmas Day, the British and German soldiers played a soccer game while the French cheered. The Germans won the game 3 to 2. 

The day after Christmas, no fighting resumed. The soldiers having shared Christmas with the enemy refused to fight against each other. It was not until fresh troops arrived that the war proceeded. What a tremendous tribute to the true meaning of this special season associated with Christmas. 

This Christmas season, may you find time to stop and focus on the many blessings you have been given this year. Even in the darkest situation, there is always light if you will stop to seek it out. Gaze upon the star that shines so brightly and offers so many dreams and opportunities waiting to be fulfilled. Find happiness, peace and joy for yourself and all those walking through life with you. Begin a new journey and allow it to lead you toward greater fulfillment in life. If warring countries can set aside their differences and enjoy the spirit of the special season, so can you. 

 

November 2017

Someday Could Be Today

It is often easy to get caught in dreams of excitement and lavish plans when you see large potential payouts with gaming options such as Powerball or Mega Millions. You think about the fine cars, the houses, the worldwide travel, and all the other things that you have dreamed of doing or providing when you “hit it big”. 

There is a story about a lonely fisherman who lived on the banks of a river.  Walking home with his eyes half-closed one evening after a very hard day of work, he found himself day-dreaming of what he would do if he became rich. All of a sudden, his feet struck against a leather pouch much filled with what seemed to be small stones. Absentmindedly, he picked up the pouch and began throwing the pebbles into the water. “When I am rich,” he said, “I’ll have a large house.”  As he continued to walk along the shoreline, his mind continued to dwell on idle thoughts. Suddenly, he stopped and stared out into the darkness but continued to throw pebble after pebble into the water. “I’ll have servants and wine and great food as well,” he conveyed with conviction.

His thoughts and actions went on until only one stone was left. As the fisherman held it in his hand, a ray of light caught it and made it sparkle. He suddenly realized that it was a valuable gem, and that he had been throwing away the real riches in his hand while he dreamed idly of unreal riches in the future. Had he stopped to look, even for a moment, his outcome might have been much different.

It is so easy to become consumed with what others may possess and begin to play mental games with yourself placing yourself in those circumstances. However, don’t get the wrong idea. Dreaming is not necessarily wrong because that is actually the first step in building the reality you desire. It is when dreaming causes you to become so consumed that you fail to adequately access your current circumstances that it can prove to be a fatal life error.

You hold within your being the answer to many of life’s challenges. The solution to a sales shortfall or the correct decision to make regarding a business venture or a life issue is within your grasp. Your current situation may not be as dire as you think it is. You must pause to inspect what lies within your grasp and then be brave enough to step forward and make the decision or take the action necessary to satisfy your dilemma. 

What “riches” have you been casting into the unknown waters simply because you reacted to your circumstances versus responding to your needs? As another well-known story points out, you could be the proud owner of many “acres of diamonds.” 

Take hold of your current environment and examine your situation in great detail. Look objectively for what is possible. Explore your property, both physical and mental, and finalize an approach that will enable you to utilize your strengths and propel your dreams to a workable reality - not a passing wish list.

Stop casting your “pebbles of wealth” into the vast unknown. Stop and look even for a moment at what you might be throwing away. In your hand, you do control great riches. Your success will come in whether you choose to put those riches to work for you or allow them to be discarded. The choice is yours to make. As the great psychologist Abraham Maslow pointed out, “If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your lives. You’ll be evading your own capabilities, your own possibilities.” Choose wisely.  

 

October 2017 

Rock Solid Pebbles

Too often people fail to understand what they have on hand that provides happiness. They rush out to pursue avenues that often times fall short.

Benjamin Franklin once remarked to a heckler who proclaimed his uncertainty of the new American Constitution: "My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself."  

Former game show host Hugh Downs noted: "A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes." 

Even Aristotle the famed philosopher said, "Happiness depends upon ourselves." In your world of doubt, negative thinking and chaos, it is easy for you to push aside the actions which can bring happiness, opportunity and an energy-filled positive attitude.

Unfortunately, you can mislead yourself in thoughts of how bad times are and how everything is stacked against you. This catabolic view of victimization does nothing but make your life miserable and in turn a misery for those around you. This victim view will adversely impact your business and you may begin to think that maybe 2nd place is not such a bad position to occupy. When this happens your life will change; but, change not in the manner you had hoped.

In this current time of uncertainty and challenge, I want to share with you one of my favorite stories. I read the story in the Daily Herald published in Provo, Utah. It's theme has great power that will bring fulfillment IF you will allow its advice to rule your mind and force your ego to take a rear seat in your trip along life's great pathways. It is the story entitled, “The Secret of the Touchtone.”

The story conveys that when the great library of Alexandria was burned, one book was saved. It was not a valuable book and so a poor man who could read a little, bought it for a few pennies. It was not very interesting; yet, there was a most interesting thing in it. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the "touchstone." This note caught his attention.

The “touchstone” was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was on the shores of the Black Sea, lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles which looked exactly like it. The secret was this:  the real touchstone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold. So the poor man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this and found none of them to be the touchstone. Then, he spent a week, a month, a year, three years; but, he did not find the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. 

One morning, the poor man picked up a pebble and it was warm and he immediately threw it into the sea. He had formed the habit of throwing pebbles into the sea to such a routine that when the one came along he sought, he still threw it away.

Such is the pursuit of happiness. Searching for that one magic pebble, you expand countless energy and effort. The search is so desperate and habitual that even when a happiness producing experience is realized, it is too often cast aside. Happiness is enjoying each pebble-like life experience because you have decided to focus on the good in all of life's moments.

Attention to your business demands nothing short of a daily "super bowl" playing mentality. Each day brings challenges involving rule changes, new processes, transition errors, regulatory matters…the list is endless!  Too often you may allow these outside challenges to zap your positive, empowering energy and plunge you into feelings of victimization, anger, disgust, defiance. You rationalize that it is OK to accept lesser than excelling results because the "cards are stacked against you.” When you do get a breakthrough, too often just like the "touchstone" you set aside that breakthrough. You are conditioned to feel that you are not good enough or that you can't achieve lasting success. You have in essence conditioned yourself as a result of a limiting belief or false assumptions that opportunity and happiness can never be achieved.

Realize that you must slow down the process. Take a look at your "pebbles" one by one and then grasp hold of the "warm" ones when they appear. Convert that energy to your benefit as you gain wisdom and joy from finally discovering that happiness is within your grip. It is so very important that you make the secret of the “touchstone” work for you each and every day. Thus you must stop throwing your "warm" pebbles back into the ocean. You do this by realizing that what you have in your hands and in your mind will enable you to turn your ordinary metals into the finest gold the world has ever seen! The question becomes, "Are you up to the challenge?

 

September 2017

Quite Often, It Is an Up and Down World           

The Roman Empire lasted 500 years. The empire held sway over 21% of the world’s entire population. It was one of the largest empires in world history. It heralded some of the most powerful economic, cultural, political and military powers in the world of its time. Its form of government set the precedent for much of what exists, in whole or part, in many countries of today’s time. Despite its achievements and vast influence, it did not survive. This influential society withered and died as a result of five (5) key factors:

1)  The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis for human society.

2)  Higher and higher taxes. The spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace 

3)  The mad craze for pleasure, with sports and plays becoming more exciting, more brutal, and more immoral. 

4)  The building of great armaments when the real enemy was within: decay of individual responsibility.

5)  The decay of religion, whose leaders lost touch with life and their power to guide.

Yes, great empires decline and fall when they forget key, critical principles that enabled them to be who they were. A lesson for all to take notice.

Businesses and individuals are much like great empires. They too can rise and fall when they fail to follow key principles. As business owners, leaders and managers, it is critical to insure you never forget what enabled you or your business to be what exists today.

Businesses and individuals decline and fall as a result of these eight (8) issues:

1)  The failure to establish, follow and maintain viable goals. Goals are the foundation for all dreams and give purpose to life, as well as, self-worth to those striving to accomplish said goals. You can’t play a basketball game without goals to shoot at, and you can’t play the game of life without goals that direct you to achieve.

2)  The lesson of contact with clients. You must never look upon the opportunity to interact with clients as a chore. Client contact is the key to success. Therefore you can’t take clients for granted. Value must be delivered consistently and continuously. When you do not take time to “cut clients in,” you can rest assured that those same clients will “cut you out. 

3)  Subversion of rules and ethics. It is important to always maximize gains and minimize losses; but, not at the expense of a violation of integrity, honesty, business guidelines and legalities. When you eliminate trust and place yourself and your business in the wrong public position, just for the sake of making sales quotas or inflating profit levels, you sacrifice the foundational non-negotiables of truth, fairness and goodwill. 

4)  Complacency. You have worked hard to achieve your current level of success. However, success is not the end all. Ultimately, you will be judged, not on what you have done, but on what you have left undone based on your ability. Allowing yourself to be lulled into non-activity prevents you from clearly discovering what is really possible in your business and with your personal ability to achieve. Standing still simply makes you a target for the competition. 

5)  Negative attitude. How you view situations is critical to your success. Nothing destroys a career more than negative thinking. A catabolic mindset clogs the creation of solutions and prevents goals from being reached and new discoveries from becoming a reality. It is vital to see the glass as half-full and to realize in the highest sense that, even when you wear the soles of your shoes out, you are simply back on your feet again. Adopt an anabolic mindset that propels you forward toward success and satisfaction in life and career. 

6)  Lack of continuous learning. Nick Goble, a one-time associate of the Pennsylvania School Board, said, “Education is an investment, and never an expense.” Therefore, you must invest in your development. In today’s demanding marketplace, it is vital to keep abreast of new products, procedures, techniques and strategies that enable you to better serve your clients. To be in business tomorrow, you must prepare today. If you ignore that simple fact, you will indeed ignore the possibilities for your future.

7)  Lack of a viable business plan. You cannot depend upon the telephone to ring, the email to swell your inbox or prospects to rush into your business. You must have a viable plan of action that enables those events to become a reality. The late educator Gerald Stanley Lee perhaps said it best, “A man’s success in business today depends upon his power of getting people to believe he has something they want.” If you have a viable business plan that clearly answers these questions, you will have the foundation for success. The questions are:

  1. What are you building?
  2. Why does your business exist?
  3. What results will you measure?
  4. How will you build your business?
  5. What is the work to be done?

8)  Failure to have fun. You simply must enjoy what you do. You must do new, creative things to make it a joy to come to work. Your day must be one of excitement not punishment. You must also enjoy life and the many wonderful opportunities it brings. As a great philosopher once noted, “You must do more than exist, live. Do more than touch, feel. Do more than look, observe. Do more than read, absorb. Do more than hear, listen. Do more than listen, understand. In essence, you must have fun.

The biggest failure is the one you regret. Believing in the future helps you to have hope, and as the great American politician Dwight Morrow said, “Hope is greater than history.” In this age of change, are you and your business to decline as the Roman Empire or are you to succeed? As novelist Victor Hugo said, “The future has several names: For the weak, it is the impossible. For the fainthearted, it is the unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant, it is ideal.” There is never a future in any position. The future lies in the individual who holds that position. Never allow yourself or your business to succumb to decline and decay. Stay relevant and true to your non-negotiables. That firm affirmation will enable you to hold fast and build a legacy that lasts for all time.


August 2017

Making a Difference

Harry was doing business in a very large city. It was his first trip to a location of this size and he was curious about his surroundings. Taking a short walk from his hotel, he found himself on an unnamed street and soon was deep into what many would say was the “problem area.” He found himself confronted by several people who attacked him and stole his money and other valuables. Left bleeding and dazed from the encounter, Harry lay partially unconscious on the ground.

Soon he was able to gain his composure and began a track to more acceptable surroundings. As he approached more familiar surroundings, he began to wain from his encounter and found himself slipping to the hardness of the sidewalk. Dazed, injured and still bleeding, he looked up for help as several prominent looking people passed him by. No one seemed to want to take the time to render aide and simply accepted his fate as something very natural. As he began to fall into a semi-conscious state, a young man stopped and asked if he could help. Harry, still dazed from his encounter, could not fully respond; but, the young man began to examine him and helped him sit up for a better view. After taking some towels from the bag he was carrying, patting away the remnants of blood and providing Harry a drink from one of the water bottles in his bag, the young man said, “Let me take you to my home and let’s see what I can do to help out. It is only a short block away.”

The young man guided Harry to his home, thoroughly cleaned his cuts and addressed his bruises. He took time to check Harry to be sure that there were no further issues and then began to find out who he was and where he was staying. Harry began to overcome his injury and was able to convey to the young man what had happened. The news did not shock the unknown caretaker but he did explain that it might be best to report his issues to the police. He then called a cab for Harry, paid the driver and told him what hotel to drop him. The young man told Harry that he would check on him later and if he needed anything, that he would do everything possible to help him. 

As Harry rode in the cab back to his hotel, the cabbie commented that he really had a great friend. He asked Harry how the two had met.

Harry said very directly, “I was injured and he came to my rescue.”

The cabbie commented, “You mean a complete stranger did this for you?” 

“He sure did!” came Harry’s reply. 

“That’s hard to believe mister!” replied the cabbie. 

Harry sat in silence as the cab proceeded to his hotel.

In today’s fast-paced world, there are literally hundreds of things we see each day that need to be addressed. However due to our tight schedule or our ill-timed focus, we too often walk by various situations and accept the reality of the moment as a normal way of life. It’s not that there is no measure of care or concern; but, society at large has each of us positioned with our specific needs and realities taking precedence. We are fixated on that master of direction “I” and thus it is not difficult to become oblivious to the outside world. 

Harry’s case presents a very unique and compelling example of how one individual’s focus on a less fortunate individual can virtually alter the reality of the moment. However, there are also many “hairy” moments that could be altered if one’s focus was adjusted so that the unnoticed becomes noticed.

Think on these possibilities: 

  1. How many reports lie on your desk or in your in-box that you have planned to complete but simply overlook because you jump right in on email?
  2. How many prospects or clients for that matter need to be contacted for various reasons, but all have been overlooked because your mind is on other matters?
  3. A non-profit has been coming to you for assistance for months, you ignore them, but their interest still exists. What will it take for you to address this issue?
  4. Your children talk about their day at the dinner table but your mind is on a sales rep who has just made your largest client mad. What will it take for you to put that aside and listen to your children?
  5. You need to address those issues that the doctor told you over 6-months ago were important. You have breezed right by those notes because it has become hidden due to the normal flow of the day. What will it take for you to notice the need?
  6. A great new idea has been presented from a staff member but you are oblivious to its content because you are too busy thinking about how you can attend dual meetings and enjoy that golf outing with your friends.
  7. Your neighbor has asked for your help numerous times in simply holding the ladder so that gutters might be cleaned. It seems that you are always so busy when the task is set to be performed. What will it take for you to step over and help out?

There are perhaps hundreds of illustrations of both critical and not so critical items surrounding us as we cascade the pathways of life. Each has the potential to impact our lives in some manner, in a positively or negative way. It is not a situation where you do not care or would not help, but there are simply so many other things that are consuming your personal space. You can’t do everything and the longer the consumption of time survives, the harder it becomes to find the realization point which would enable you to act. That reality becomes a defining paradox; a fundamental decision to redefine priorities but in a way that does not impede the achievement of your intended initial efforts.

So what do you do? First, be aware of what is going on around you. When you have awareness of the current events, you at least can stop and question what you think you might have seen and divert your focus to that potential. As Thomas Carlyle said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

Next, allow yourself to be human. Many may feel this is a strange request, but is it really that strange? In today’s unforgiving world, perfection is the promissory note that we all are directed to request. Too often in our ever ambitious drive to reach the pinnacle in our life’s targets, we become numb to the suffering or the experiences of those we meet along the way. To allow your common humanness to step forward and direct your efforts to what might be perceived as a less than perfect undertaking will bring you back to earth in your thoughts. Further it will provide the discipline you need to break away from your rigid demeanor and see the other side of life which too often becomes obscured from your daily living.

Finally, act.  Action most often results in action. You can’t sit idly by and allow a needed action to go unaddressed. It is important to do something now. Many people passed our friend Harry on the sidewalk but failed to render aide. Then, one young man decided to stop and investigate. He demonstrated that simply thinking about Harry’s demise would not bring about an acceptable conclusion. He had to do something. As George Shinn proclaims, “Action is indeed therapy. It erases doubts and fears, anxieties, and worries…It develops poise under pressure and uses wisdom and experience to consider alternatives and to provide a back-up plan. It calls forth the best in us all, and it becomes the password to success…”

Perhaps being a good Samaritan of people, actions or our profession in today’s world is a misguided concept. Perhaps our world has eliminated the need to invoke any kind of responsibility for humanness or professional focus since any departure from the perfection of action might prove to be a disadvantage for the success guided professional.  It is a decision that must be reached on an individual basis. In essence, it is the internal will that in the final resolve leads to the decision. Where do you stand?

July 2017

Dog Gone It…Are You Asking?

Henry Ford was once asked by a friend who was an insurance agent why he never got any of his insurance business. He looked at the friend and simply replied, “You never asked!” How many sales or appointments do we lose because we simply do not ask for the business?

We live in a challenging business world but in many ways no more challenging than it has been for hundreds of years. Every business professional, despite the era, has faced seemingly difficult challenges. However, the real champions of business always seem to be those who strive to find solutions. These leaders have no reservations about asking others whether the prospects are family, friends or strangers to allow them to service their needs.

As you evaluate your results, is your status where it should be? Could it be a lack of asking?

It is important to realize that family, friends and yes strangers are going to purchase or utilize services that you in fact represent. What is holding you back from asking for that business or at least an opportunity to be considered? And how about current customers? Current customers are poised to invest in other products and services you may have to offer, if you ask. Their needs do not end with a single product from your business. So, why hesitate? If you have a quality product and/or service and believe in yourself and the contribution you can make, why not be aggressively asking everyone who fits your customer profile? 

You can have the best built business plan that has every sector and situation covered; but,… if it is never put into action or you step away from it due to fear or rejection, it becomes an intersection of agony with no clear direction for you to go. Prospects need to be approached whether those prospects are family, friends or strangers. 

It simply results in this thought: “He who delays in asking, finds himself without success. He who does not ask, has himself a task because he never gets. But he who asks again and again, will soon find that success is his best friend.” 

Noted author and trainer Jim Rohn once said, “When you know what you want and you want it badly enough, you will find the ways to get it.” Thus, it is all in the “ask!” To be successful and gain the opportunity to reach the goals and success you desire, use your “ask” wisely! 
 

June 2017

Today Matters

There is a great story from the African continent that highlights the importance of approaching each day with the right perspective. It begins:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

That is what it takes in every aspect of life today.

How you plan your day and what you actually get accomplished matters. Each day must be approached as an opportunity.  Your mental reality will very much control your physical output.

As the illustrative African story continues,

Today is here! I will start with a smile and resolve to be agreeable. I will not criticize. I refuse to waste my valuable time.

Today has one thing which I am equal to others: time! All of us draw the same salary in seconds, minutes and hours.

Today, I will not waste my time, because the minutes wasted yesterday, are as lost as a vanished thought.

Today, I refuse to spend time worrying about what might happen! I am going to spend my time MAKING THINGS HAPPEN!

Today, I am determined to do things I should do! I firmly determine to stop doing things I should not do. 

Today, I begin by doing, and not wasting my time! In one week, I will be miles beyond the person I am today.

Today, I will not imagine what I would do if things were different! They are not different. I will make success with what material I have. 

Today, I will stop saying, “If I had time” for I never will ‘find time” for anything…if I want it, I must make it! 

Today, I will act toward other people as though this might be my last day on earth! I will not wait for tomorrow…tomorrow never comes!

  • So, how do you face your days?
  • Are you making each day your best day or are you simply going through the motions and allowing self-doubt or self-pity to hold you back from potentially great achievements?
  • What are you doing to truly insure a better approach for what lies ahead by becoming the best of who you are today?

Make each day a great day! Give it your all! Show yourself that you have what it takes to make today, always the best day!

 

May 2017

Don’t Let It Be A Cat-Kicking World

There is an old story of a business owner who observed less than committed service among his employees. He called a meeting and attempted to provide the inspirational leadership necessary to rekindle a vital spirit of team work and enthusiasm. He promised to lead the way by setting the example. 

The story goes on to point out how he was given a ticket for speeding as he was racing back to his business after a very long lunch break and thus fell short of his earlier commitment to his employees. As he entered the business, he knew that everyone was observing his lateness, and he called very loudly for his sales manager to come immediately to his office. Upon entering, the poor sales manager was lambasted for losing a big account. Even though he provided some explanation, the business owner threatened to fire him if he did not replace the lost sale. The sales manager left dejected and upset, and he cast his anger upon his secretary who after suffering the fate, cast her anger upon the switchboard operator.

Now the poor switchboard operator was the end of the responsibility chair with no one to cast her disappointment upon, until she got home. There she cast her despair upon her son who had torn some school clothes while trying to do something for his mom. However, her demeanor, as a result of the day, caused her not to listen to her son and sent him upstairs to his room. He too lost his cool, so to speak, as a result of his mom’s anger and as his cat crossed his path, he kicked his cat accusing him of being up to no good himself! It seems to be certain that many levels of stress and blood pressure could have been lessened if the business owner had driven to the switchboard operator’s house and kicked that cat himself.

It is perhaps too much of a certainty in life that we allow too many minor matters to greatly impact our day and those around us.

  • We have a disappointment with family and all of a sudden the water on the stove does not boil fast enough.
  • We obligate ourselves to perform a task and have regrets because it begins to interfere with our normal day and all of a sudden we lash out about some part of our home being disorganized or perhaps our teenage son or daughter lying on the couch with their legs or feet not properly placed.
  • We get tied up in traffic and come home later than expected.
  • We can’t get to our keys, and this compounds the throbbing brain matter already beginning to pound within our head.
  • We open the door and there in front of us stands Jack the Russell Terrier with a mouth full of trash from an accident we know nothing about. Poor Jack, is in for it!

For the most part, we have allowed our lives to be consumed by this “cat kicking” philosophy. We quite often take little time to stop ourselves, take a step back and analyze the situation with proper facts. Our patience is so thin at times that too often false evidence becomes our new reality and thus guides us to react versus respond to life’s inconveniences.

Now, it is not to say that there are no issues that cause discomfort. There certainly are troubling issues. However, when we give up our personal control and begin to react without conviction to these issues, we cease to utilize our most educated sense of being, which really governs the proper response to life’s challenging encounters.

So, what can be done to help us control these urges that, in the end, cause the most innocent among us to suffer?  Here are some tips that will help you avoid “kicking the cat”:

1)  Stop, take a deep breath and refocus. This will demand absolute control of your emotions. It will take some practice, and you just might fail early on. However, practice makes perfect, and just as you refocus your eyes from blinding sun, you can refocus your current situation and see clearly.

2)  Find some humor. Laughter can soften even the most hardened heart. If you will look for any part of humor in your situation, you just may find it. Think about the Jack Russell Terrier with the trash in his mouth as an example.  When you truly think about it, how funny it was to see a Jack Russell Terrier with a big piece of trash in his mouth looking up at you with those surprised eyes mentally saying, “Oh boy, I am in trouble now!” That’s funny. Remember, you have to keep that thought even though you just may have to clean up that trash if your teenager or spouse is not available. They have to be taught responsibility too, right?

3)  Realize there are worse issues. Your day may be trying, but think about those who have no job, no home, no mess to clean up and seemingly no hope. Theirs is a much worse situation. When you put things into perspective, you will find that your issues are not that complicated. Problems happen, and the only people without problems are dead.

4)  Think about the cat. The individual who happens to be the knot tying your conclusion together, do they really deserve the outrage you will deliver? More often than not, their innocence deserves a much better fate. Realizing their circumstance will help you move past the condemnation perhaps after a little practice. You can’t necessarily expect to accomplish this on your first attempt, but if you are committed to the effort, you will soon have it mastered.

5)  Put the issues behind you and move onward. Noted theologian, author and speaker Norman Vincent Peale had a great saying about adversity. He often proclaimed that you must convince yourself that “…it will be a better day tomorrow.” The past should never hold you back but provide you with the experience and the determination to think more importantly to what lies ahead. We will never be able to change the past, but we can control the future. Utilize that reality and transform your stress into satisfaction.

There is a well-known phrase that says, “What goes around, comes around.” What if that going around/coming around was not frustration and stress but acceptance of, “Things happen, and I am going to make the best of it and put this behind me?” It could make a difference, and it just may save a poor defenseless cat! Give it a try! 

 

April 2017

Piggy-Backing Can Be Dangerous

The story was told of a scorpion who was a poor swimmer that needed to cross a river. He saw a turtle and asked if he might ride on his shell to the other side. The turtle replied, “Are you mad? You’ll sting me while I’m swimming, and I’ll drown if you do.” The scorpion laughed and replied to the turtle, “My dear turtle, if I were to sting you, you would indeed drown, but I would go down with you. Now, where is the logic in that?”

The turtle paused as he thought about the response and then replied, “You’re right!” He then told the scorpion to hop on. The scorpion climbed aboard, and they began the journey. Halfway across the river, the scorpion rose up and gave the turtle a fatal sting. As they both began to sink to the bottom of the river, the turtle asked, “Do you mind if I ask you something?”  The scorpion replied, “No, go ahead.”  The turtle then remarked, “You said there would be no logic in your stinging me since we would both die. Why did you do it?”  “It has nothing to do with logic,” the drowning scorpion sadly replied. “It’s just my character.”

Virtually every day there are issues that arise involving character. Whether those issues arise on the national political spectrum or occur in local communities, it is often too clear a reality that a lack of character and integrity has damped life. Academic Arthur S. Adams once noted, “Good character is that quality which makes one dependable whether being watched or not, which makes one truthful when it is to one’s advantage to be a little less than truthful, which makes one courageous when faced with great obstacles, which endows one with the firmness of wise self-discipline.” 

Your character and integrity does matter even in today’s world of political correctness and pointing blame toward others whether fully justified or not. What you promise; how you think, live and act does have some level of influence on the people you encounter. Trust becomes the common denominator for effective interaction with others. When people cannot trust you to follow through with your words and deeds, there can be no foundation for building a lasting bridge of hope necessary for a better and more secure tomorrow.

As the scorpion reversed his promise to the turtle, do not allow yourself to be caught up in the demands of today that too often can influence you to be less than truthful in your actions. 

  • Deliver more than you promise.
  • Let your words and actions prove honorable despite the potential personal consequences to yourself.
  • Perform in such a manner that those you serve and those you associate with clearly realize that character, integrity, trust and       honor are the four cornerstones of your life. 

It was once conveyed that a person’s reputation is precious, but a person’s character is priceless. Regardless of where you may go or what you may do, your character will follow you. It becomes your destiny. It becomes you. Avoid the “Scorpion Lifestyle” and forge the essence of character and integrity critical for a well-lived life 

As famed author Roger L’Estrange once said, “Men are not to be judged by their looks, habits, and appearances; but by the character of their lives and conversations, and by their works. It is better to be praised by one’s works than by the words of another.”

 

March 2017

“Cows Don’t Give Milk”

Growing up in the country around cows, I can truthfully tell you that, "Cows do not give milk!" You must take every drop from them! Sometimes it is easy and other times it can be the hardest and most challenging job you could ever do. 

Cows as a whole are moody. Sometimes they will gently lick grain from your hand and other times they will do their best to give you a swift kick. I suppose it boils down to the approach you take. If you get ready to milk and have cold hands…boy, oh boy…are you in for a surprise! But, if you take time to warm your hands, talk to the milk provider and gently pat her side as you sit down…chances are you will be successful in taking away a bucket of milk. It is how you approach the task that counts.

The same is true in our daily work. Not only does our mood or attitude determine our success; but, both have a chilling effect on how we are viewed by others. Do we approach each day with enthusiasm and excitement…glad to be alive…or, do we wake each day and curse the early time, the weather outside and what we have to do for the day?

We are all born excited…just look at the excitement from a baby who announces to everyone that it is hungry, needs to be changed or has a desire to be held. What excitement! Former baseball great Pete Rose was once asked which asset goes first on a baseball player: his eyes, legs or his arm. He replied, "None of those things. It is when his enthusiasm goes that he is finished as a player."

How we approach any situation is crucial. We can make challenges we are facing boulders of distress, or we can convert those challenges into stepping stones of grandeur. It simply depends upon our approach to and view of our situation. 

There is not a day goes by that we do not doubt ourselves and our abilities in some way. We look at ourselves as being unable to gain even the smallest margin of success. We allow past failures, broken promises and perceived shortfalls to cloud our minds and take us away from active focus on the present. Our pledge to start anew as soon as we get better organized or gain more money or take care of what we perceive as challenging personal issues is set-aside by these excuses and, somehow, years pass; and we find ourselves as we were before the pledge: still planning to act but never following through. 

The secret is to force ourselves to step over those situations, to take a bold and positive approach in our effort, to control our lives and our circumstances…to declare that regardless of how we feel, where we are economically, what our personal situation may convey, no matter the time it takes nor the number of times we must commit to performing…simply deciding, "I will never allow others to put obstacles in the pathway to my dreams!"

Yes, the approach we take in any action in life we encounter is important! You need "warm hands" to milk a cow; but, you also need a positive approach to get the lasting results you seek. 

  • How do you see yourself?
  • What approach are you taking in your work, your personal life, in your career achievement?
  • Have you prepared well?
  • Is your attitude sound?
  • Are you allowing others to put obstacles in your pathway?

What will your milk bucket provide…a refreshing bucket of milk, full of vitamins and a source of strength and well-being; or, will that bucket provide nothing more than a rim-busting concoction of misery and gloom? Your approach and your attitude will determine your path! May your adventure be profitable…remember, you control the journey by how you see and plan your pathway! 

 

February 2017

Determination

Throughout the world there are discussions, virtually daily, about nations and strength. Regardless of those discussions and what others may think or feel, the strongest nation in the universe without question is DETERMINATION! Yes, DETERMINATION, that unique trait that enables the weak to become strong; the good to become great; the defeated to become winners; and, the dream to become reality. It is the guiding force that will allow the desires of the heart to direct the mind and the body to action so that those desires are achieved. The height of your dreams is only limited by the strength of your determination. How strong is your determination? How willing are you to remain steadfast even in the clutches of defeat? 

What would you have done with a life record as exhibited below:

1816: This individual's family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support
          them.

1818: This individual's mother died.

1831: He failed in business.

1832: He ran for state legislature and lost. He also lost his job and then wanted to go
          to law school but couldn't get in.

1833: This individual borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by
          the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years
          of his life paying off this debt.

1834: He ran for state legislature again and won.

1835: This individual was engaged to be married, but his sweetheart died and his
          heart was broken.

1836: He had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

1838: This individual sought to be speaker of the state legislature but was defeated.

1840: He sought to become an elector but was defeated.

1843: He ran for congress but was defeated.

1846: This individual ran for congress again and won. He went to Washington and did
          a good job.

1848: He ran for re-election to congress but lost.

1849: This individual sought the job of land officer in his home state and was rejected.

1854: This individual ran for Senate of the United States and lost.

1856: He sought the Vice Presidential nomination at his party's national convention.         

1858: He ran for the US Senate and lost once again.

1860: This individual ran for and was elected President of the United States.

This individual was Abraham Lincoln. He gave us one of the most dynamic examples of how determination can make a valuable difference in the life of anyone who has the courage to undertake its challenging pathway. Lincoln said, "The sense of obligation to continue is present in all of us. A duty to strive is the duty of us all. I felt a call to that “duty". He never gave up. He never lost sight of the inner greatness he possessed within, even though he could have quit so many times. His unwavering determination eventually proved to be the guiding factor in why our nation remains the beacon of freedom it is throughout the world today. 

It was once said that determined people possess the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule, or unfavorable circumstances. Most determined people find themselves motivated more when they are highly criticized, ridiculed or the situation seems hopeless. They realize that opportunity awaits those who have the power of determination to guide their efforts. 

In business and life, each of us are challenged by limiting beliefs, false assumptions, unsubstantiated interpretations or an inner adversary claiming that we are not "good enough." Too often we allow these catabolic impulses to drive our plans, dreams and desires to the sideline or abandon them. Quitting becomes easy and too often the road more traveled. Our charge becomes to "dig our heels in" and stay the course. As former NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi so correctly proclaimed: "It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again."

Author David McNally said, "We can learn to soar only in direct proportion to our determination to rise above the doubt and transcend the limitations."

  • As you look at your life and business, where do you find yourself?
  • What have you allowed to sidetrack your desires, dreams and goals?
  • In what areas are you allowing false assumptions, unsubstantiated interpretations or limiting beliefs to lessen your ability to move forward?
  • Where do you need to re-engage your navigation system and seek a new direction?
  • What do you say to the face in the mirror each day?
  • Who in the crowd are you listening to as you strive to hit your goals and live your dreams?
  • What is your next move?

The answers truly lie within you, and only you can determine their value. 

So, be determined! When times seem bleak, do whatever it takes to hold on. Believe in yourself and your ability. Follow the great example of Abraham Lincoln and keep focused on learning from each setback and apply those learning principles to help you soar to greatness in the end. Become a respected and faithful citizen of the strongest nation in the universe, DETERMINATION; and, utilize its power to build your life, career and a prosperous future.  


January 2017

Launching Your New Year Successfully

Good intentions are one of the most sought after commodities in existence. It seems that as every new year begins, virtually everyone finds a way to acquire varying degrees of this powerful item. However, as time progresses, it becomes evident that this prized commodity becomes less valued or, at least, is not put into a fully activated status. Thus, fewer “golden rings” are achieved by the new year’s end. What causes this shortfall? Could it be that the quality of the commodity is less than satisfactory, or is it a lack of understanding as to how to properly put the good intentions to work? Whatever may cause the end result to be less than its initial intent, there are three specific acts that, when followed, will guarantee that the road you are traveling will most often lead you to the success you seek to achieve. Those acts focus on planning, people and development.

First, you must have a fully operational action-driven business plan. Fully operational action-driven business plans address the following five questions:

1)  What are you actually building? 

2)  For what specific reason does your business exist?

3)  What are the critical results that you must measure?

4)  What must you do to build or grow your business?

5)  What is the actual work to be done so that you can experience success?

The well-known axiom of "people never planning to fail only failing to plan" is true.  Most often, too many organizations and individuals do not devote the time to planning that is truly necessary for ongoing growth and lasting success. There is a feeling that a few common goals simply written down is good enough.... It’s not that there is a lack of understanding for the necessity of planning. More directly, it falls upon the fact that there are no substantive answers to the five questions. Therefore, whatever happens, happens. If things fall short, no problem…the goals set were most likely too high or the business cycle was just not favorable. In the final resolve, they don’t know what they don’t know.

Having a sound business plan that enables you to clearly announce your vision, live your mission, understand your objectives, employ your strategies; and, utilize workable action plans to gain the results you want is critical IF you truly want to achieve all your goals versus hoping to reach a single goal or perhaps two. Your business plan keeps you going in the right direction. It enables you to have a reason for doing what you do; and, you can’t really build a viable business without a fully operational action-driven business plan.

To live a new year successfully, develop and deliver a plan that gets you off ground-zero and propelled to gaining lasting growth and achievement. When you know where you are going, your business plan will get you there. As one time president of Home Life Insurance Basil S. Walsh said, “An intelligent plan is the first step to success. The man who plans knows where he is going, knows what progress he is making and has a pretty good idea when he will arrive. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?”

Second, you must have the right people on your team, in the right positions and engaged. Staffing is perhaps the most stress-filled task for any business leader. Success in your endeavors will most often occur through people. Employing the right people to execute the right tasks solidifies a cornerstone ingredient that is vital for any growth-oriented enterprise. To operate effectively, you can’t have people on board to simply fill a space or position. 

Having the right people on your team often eliminates many worries. Being able to evaluate their skills and place them in roles which allow them to exercise their strengths is critical. Generally, these individuals are self-motivated, readily engaged and carry your company’s brand as their motivating factor to achieve. Your goals are their goals, and each of them desires to help you create a greater, more highly successful business profile. In essence, you build a team where the strengths of each member enable your wagon of opportunity to travel more smoothly. In doing so, you are positioned to grow great results. 

Having the wrong people is nothing short of an economic drain. These individuals may perform a role, but it usually comes at a cost. To them, it is simply a job not a consolidated effort to better direct your brand. Whether the company falls short in its goals or achieves its goals matters little to them. Either way, by simply putting in their time, they will get paid. Their motivation will never produce results, and the environment they crave centers on how to get the work done with the least effort while never shortchanging their compensation options. Never allow these people, regardless of how pleasant their personalities may be, to remain with your company. It is not fair to you or the right people you may employ. 

It is therefore vital to get the wrong people off your team and the right people onto it. In doing so, you will insure better results. You must keep looking for the right people and never, ever rush to hire. Look at the best people you currently have. What do they possess that matters most to you and your company’s results? Then, go about finding others with similar qualities or strengths to make your company stronger. Being selective in your team building efforts may be uncomfortable in the developing stages; but, the rewards of having that team who thinks together for the betterment of the organization positions your organization to win consistently.

Third, despite any challenges, commit to continuous learning and development.  Too often in today’s fast paced business environment, companies and individual leaders look upon learning and development as an afterthought. There is a failure to effectively comprehend the substantial contribution that investment in professional development can have on the future integration of an organization. In times of business shortfalls, the learning and development area is usually the first to see economic cuts. There is much more needed than simply handing someone a book to read or requiring an Internet program to be observed for it to be deemed development.

A former president of Drug Emporium, Philip Wilber, once said, “The expense isn’t what it costs to train employees. It’s what it costs not to train them.” The same applies for leaders and managers. A leader who feels his or her learning and development is complete due to position, age, cost or skills is a leader who is not only short-changing the potential of an organization; but more directly, short-changing their ultimate potential as a leader. As the Arabian proverb proclaims, “Learning is a treasury whose keys are queries.”

Learning and development must be a fundamental code of action embodied in the culture of an organization. Such organizations as Disney, GE, SAS, Amazon, AT&T, and Marriott are well known for their commitment to developing their associates and leadership so that each may take greater ownership of results. As you examine each, it is very evident that their commitment to development is well rewarded in overall results and profits. By allowing associates and leadership to grow skills through knowledge-based performance programs and practical life interaction, those associates become de facto “owners” in their respective enterprises. With that mindset in place, greater achievement is possible.

Regardless of the size of the company, when an owner, leader or manager focuses their perspective to insure that all associates and themselves are in a position to learn and grow, good things usually happen. When those same principals move past cost and look upon their outlay as an investment, the ROI (return on investment) will most often provide results that usher in desired profit levels. As the legendary Henry Block of H&R Block once said, “We are forced to rely on people, which is why we put so much emphasis on training them.”

With a focus on building a workable plan, having the right people on your team and having a commitment to learning and development; your business can be on the road to greater success in the New Year. All that remains is for you to display a strong incentive to succeed and work with enthusiasm to produce measurable results.  


December 2016

The Untold Meaning of Christmas

At this special time of the year when you strive to focus your mind and energies on the fulfillment of the holiday spirit, it becomes easy to get caught in the grasp of the “Christmas Crunch.” You can find yourself voicing your disagreement over the failure to obtain that special gift on line or find another in a store that is packed with people busily shopping for gifts no one will use. To further complicate matters, it seems that every driver on the roadway is crazy. Horns blow and tempers can rise without warning. Disgust can even find its way on the home front if decorations don’t turn out well or this year’s tree falls short of expectation. However, if you could simply take a short pause, catch your breath and sidestep the Christmas hustle and bustle, you just may discover that despite all the potential rudeness and push, that there remains much to be thankful for this special season.

One of the most remarkable Christmas stories I have heard... comes from a small part of history in World War I. It is a true story and occurred only 50 miles outside of Paris, France. French and British troops were engaged in a battle against German forces. As Christmas Eve approached, the war had already killed or injured over 800,000 men. 

On the eve of December 24, 1914, the weary German soldiers hoisted from their trenches a large, glittering sign saying, MERRY CHRISTMAS. The shooting suddenly stopped. Within minutes French, British and German soldiers began strolling out of their foxholes and trenches. Despite direct orders from their commanding officers to the contrary, they laughed together, exchanged small gifts of cigars and candy and sang Christmas carols. On Christmas day, the British and German soldiers played a soccer game while the French cheered.  The Germans won the game 3 to 2.

The day after Christmas, no fighting resumed. The soldiers having shared Christmas with the enemy refused to fight against each other. It was not until fresh troops arrived that the war proceeded. What a tremendous tribute to the true meaning of this special season associated with Christmas.

This Christmas season may you find time to stop and focus on the many blessings you have been given this year. Even in the darkest situation, there is always light if you will stop to seek it out. Gaze upon the star that shines so brightly and offers so many dreams and opportunities waiting to be fulfilled. Find happiness, peace and joy for yourself and all those walking through life with you.  Begin a new journey and allow it to lead you toward greater fulfillment in life. If warring countries can set aside their differences and enjoy the spirit of the special season, so can you.


November 2016

Why Whine When You Can Win

At the end of each year there are always celebrations and unfortunately regrets. Celebrations about accomplishments and other good fortune and regrets too often about what could have been. How would it feel if you could lessen or virtually eliminate regrets and enhance accomplishments? It is possible and you can do it. The key is to have a viable plan that begins with a thorough evaluation of yourself, your team, your business and your potential.

The manner in which you do this can vary; but, here are 10 good evaluation questions to help you in the process, as well as 3 additional questions that should help you broaden your analysis even more.. Remember, be honest in your analysis and also after you have completed the process, consider allowing those who are part of your team, either professionally or personally, to add their thoughts. The result just may point you in a winning direction.

Think through the questions. Be sure you understand what is being asked and what will be demanded. Only honest self appraisal will enable you to gain the answers and produce the results you desire.

1)  What specific steps have you taken to develop a credible and viable business plan for the New Year that is focused on current and future opportunities?

2)  What are 3 “musts” for the New Year?

3)  What are you currently tolerating in your business or role that you will not tolerate in the New Year?

4)  What are you “leaving on the table” as you plan for the New Year?

5)  What will you have to sacrifice to achieve the success you desire in the New Year?

6)  How will others know you will be doing what you do best in the New Year?

7)  In the New Year, how will you work to “build others up” and avoid “tearing others down?”

8)  In the New Year, how will you avoid being “wrapped up in yourself” so that you can “be yourself?”

9)  What is your most demanding challenge as you look into the New Year?

10)  What are your opportunities for business and personal improvement in the New Year?

Here are your 3 bonus questions. Once again, be honest with yourself in answering and also be thorough in your thought. This is your future you are addressing. Make it important!

1)  What will enable you to laugh more in the New Year?

2)  What makes you stop and comment: “What made me do that?

3)  What 4 commitments will you make that will enable you to better manage stress, gain greater balance in your interaction with those special to you and not lose focus on your goals?

As you may see from the questions, this will demand thought. Thought produces ideas which in turn will produce viable actions you can take to enable you to have the most productive year ever. It is possible and you hold the key to that success initiative. Devote the time to the process and build the future you desire.

Famed educator John Gardner once said this: “Winning individuals do not leave the development of their potential to chance. They pursue it systematically and look forward to an endless dialogue between their potentialities and the claims of life—not only claims they encounter but the claims they invent.”

By careful analysis, thorough attention to planning and relentless determination to execute, you can also build the pathway of a “winning individual” in the New Year. Fill your mind with visions of accomplishments; your plans with a framework of viable actions; and, discard “whining” that produces regrets so that you will achieve the best results yet in the New Year.


October 2016

Procrastifear

I once had a pair of shoes that it seemed impossible to set aside. They were dirty, ripped at the soles and discolored. However, I loved those shoes! I would do yard work in them but each time would ruin any socks that I happened to be wearing. Even small trips to the mailbox and work inside the garage would find me wearing those shoes. Despite the dampness, I could feel and the pain of walking on stones piercing the soles of my feet, I simply could not part with those shoes.  I realized a new pair of shoes most likely would enhance my enjoyment of any tasks. Still, I could not set aside so much comfort and known expectation. 

So it is with life and business. Too often we get so comfortable in our undertakings that we simply refuse to face the inevitable and do the things we should to enable our lives and work to become better. What is this affliction? Could it be laziness or simply pride or are we simply too “cheap” in thought and action that we refrain from doing the right thing? No, perhaps not. You see, it is a chronic disorder. A disorder that cripples the mind and spirit and which if left unchecked can be fatal. It is simply known as “procrastifear.”

Procrastifear is the disorder that prevents you from trying new things or taking new action because:

  1. You are comfortable.
  2. You are planning to do so, but think you should wait another few days.
  3. You will never be able to match prior satisfaction.
  4. It is too much of a hassle.
  5. What will other people think?
  6. It does not matter that much anyway.
  7. You feel you are too old to try new things.
  8. You will soon win the lottery and all your troubles will be eliminated.
  9. You are afraid.
  10. You just have too much to do to even think about taking time to do something else.

This disorder has done more harm to the well-being of mankind than any war, disease or act of nature. It has ended more promising careers, marriages, lives and business enterprises than the 1929 stock market crash. It comes upon you without notice and destroys your determination and zest for life. It is a great crippler; but, take heart, there is a cure!

The cure lies in an action-oriented focus: activity. There are three (3) must actions:

1)  Make the decision that a change is necessary.  Maybe it is not what you really want to do, but it becomes what you must do to ensure a higher quality of life. If you enjoy eating shrimp but get deathly ill each time you do so, it really becomes critical for you to change to a different seafood to avoid experiencing the reoccurring illness. It is not a matter of want, it is a matter of a must do. 

2)  Take the action immediately and boldly. Things will not necessarily change tomorrow. It will most likely take time. Remember, you can not win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. So, take a deep breathe, focus and make the change. It may be uncomfortable and burdensome in the beginning, but you will be on the pathway to a better life soon. 

3)  Focus only on your successes, regardless how small. Basketball great Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots he took. He lost over 350 games in his career. He missed 26 potentially game-winning shots in his career. However, he often talks about his lifetime 32.6 points scoring average, his 4 world championships and the fact his last two years in the NBA saw the Chicago Bulls win over 137 games. He never focused on setbacks but always sought to focus on successes. That focus attitude kept him in the game and can also keep you in the game as you walk the pathway of your life and career. Finding that success point is critical if you are to experience the true measure of success you seek.

In their classic book, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone noted the following: “You are a mind with a body.”  They said, “When you make the discoveries that are awaiting you, they can bring you:

  1. Physical, mental and moral health, happiness and wealth;
  2. Success in your chosen field of endeavor; and,
  3. A means to affect, use, control or harmonize with powers known and unknown.” 

Setting aside the status quo and directing your focus to a “grow” reality will enable you to unleash your potential and gain a higher level of uncompromising achievement.

Setting aside or avoiding taking necessary action on issues is a certain pathway to failure. You must employ boldness to enable you to be positioned for action.  Defeat the crippling disorder of procrastifear by not sitting idly by and directly deciding to do something now. Hope is never a strategy. You must decide to keep moving and understand that action speaks louder than words.   


September 2016

What the "Three Little Pigs" Can Teach You

The story of the Three Little Pigs is a long-term classic. The Big Bad Wolf huffed and puffed and blew down the houses of straw and sticks of two little pigs; but, the piggies were all saved when they ran to the brick house of the third pig. The strength of the bricks in the third house was too much for the hot air of the wolf.

It is a great story of how transforming from individual approaches to a teamwork approach can help you better utilize your strengths. Finally, the wolf ended up beaten in the end as the pigs tricked him to come down the chimney after them. This action proved to be his demise as he fell into a boiling pot of water. This confirms the point that regardless of the huffing and puffing you may do about this issue or that, most often the final result will be to find yourself in “hot water.”  

In today’s world there are many things that occur during our day and our week which, left unchecked, produce anger, resentment, feelings of being a victim and  result in unnecessary stress. Some might say that these results are simply part of life. Others may imply that bad situations are created by a failure to do enough of the right things. Regardless of the position you may take, understanding what not to do could be the most valuable piece of reality you will ever face.

There are “4 Pressure Principles” that the Three Little Pigs feel you need to be aware of as you maneuver the “hot waters” of life. 

1)  Pressure Principle 1: Perfection. The pigs tell us that perfection is an end product of never being satisfied with yourself or your results. It is that constant striving to have everything you do become uncompromisingly impeccable. It can and most often does consume those infected with its “charm” to such a degree that the reality and futility of its possibility is oblivious to their psyche. While seeking an impeccable outcome in all of life’s actions is a noble goal, allowing its fate to consume human reasoning and understanding will surely bring about disillusionment and unwavering stress. To avoid disappointment with self and life, seek simply to do your very best in each and every task. Afterwards, examine those task results and explore what might have been done that would have enabled you to gain more effective results. You may discover a new and better way; or, you may just discover that your work was indeed impeccable. Either way you will be in control of perfection versus having perfection control you.

2)  Pressure Principle 2: Pride. Our pigs point out that pride can bring about noble results; but, it can also push you into arrogance. It compels you to build upon the legacy that can be created; yet, opens you to adverse hits from assailants such as vanity and selfishness. It is the foundation for all mistakes and keeps your psyche in a constant state of uneasiness. Pride, when in control, can force you to push people down versus building people up. Yet, it can spark an unbridled enthusiasm that energizes your mind and activates the body into unparalleled performance. The challenge comes in how you balance its affect. To allow it to rule your thoughts and actions in a self-serving manner invites obstinance and deflects humility. To employ it as a full partner in your personal and professional endeavors demands your commitment to self-evaluation, proper perspective and gratitude. It is a delicate balance that, when entertained, will forever allow your business and life to become art.  

3)  Pressure Principle 3: Persecution. The pigs point out that persecution is perhaps one of the most overlooked pressures you may face. It carries a much heavier workload than pure criticism in that it too often directs its impact in a very personal way whether self-imposed or directed squarely toward other individuals or entities. Its roots can be traced to an assortment of influences including a lack of self-esteem, low self-image, fear, false assumptions, and misinterpretations. Most often it tends to gain traction when coming as a result of adverse consequences resulting from less than desirable comments or opinions rendered on a proprietary matter. In essence, you can simply call one’s baby ugly and expect the parents to respond in some direct manner. However, even at its worst, it can, on a positive front, provide incentive for building consensus against harmful practices or situations not conducive to professional conduct or prudent societal expectations. Thus controlling your emotional demeanor so that you are not unnecessarily accusatory of your own self allows you to in fact be human. Further, being tolerant of opposing viewpoints will allow you to listen for understanding versus focusing on the fact that someone objects to your position or words. This is crucial because it produces dialogue which occupies the foundation for consensus. Where you have consensus, growth and success are soon possible.

4)  Pressure Principle 4: Power. Our friends the pigs discovered that when they united for a common effort, the power they feared from the wolf was actually transferred to their hands. This shows that power can be a great thing when it is used for the common good. However, too often power in the wrong hands can lead to ultimate destruction. Left unchecked and open to perception, power can change behavior and wrongly influence personality. Though it is often desired by many, power really resides in those who know how to utilize its advantages. Therefore, it is imperative that power be used in such a way so that it never abuses those it impacts. Greed and abusive ambition must never become the foundational components that enable power to grow to virtually limitless heights. Once consumed by power, it is virtually impossible to recover. In the end, it boils down to the simple conclusion that many have pointed out: It’s not that power necessarily corrupts people. It is the reality that most often it is people who corrupt power.

Master the ability to navigate the “Pressure Principles” and you should be able to more effectively navigate the uncertain waters that too often impair your business. Despite the focus you may direct and the huffing and puffing you may exhibit, in the end the only thing you may “blow” is your chance for a successful business legacy.

 

August 2016

Minds of Opportunity for Mines of Opportunity 

Opportunity has been defined as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. What you do with the “circumstances” confronting you could forever change your ability to experience the success, the joy, the satisfaction you have set for your life. Whether times are good or hard, there are opportunities. You simply have to make it happen. Therefore, set your compass to seek out your potential by developing a “mind” of opportunity that enables you to “mine” your opportunity.

There is an often told story of two market researchers who were independently sent many years ago to one of the world’s under-developed countries by one of the world’s larger shoe companies. When the first telegram reports got to corporate headquarters, one message said, “No market here. Nobody wears shoes.”; but, the second message provided a different read, “Great market here. Nobody has any shoes.” Thus, while one researcher saw no market, the other saw a viable market opportunity. It boils down to understanding that opportunity is found by those looking for it. So what is required to develop a “mind of opportunity” to cultivate a “mine of opportunity”? 

First, you must change the way you look at your daily demands. In mining, you must not concentrate yourself solely on the work at hand or in essence the “dirt” that must be removed. Instead, you must channel your focus on the end result. Focus squarely on the precious “ore” that will bring you the reward you seek. Direct your work to the best practices that will enable you to more effectively harvest the riches that might lie ahead. As was once said, “Opportunity only knocks on the door of those that deserve it.”

Next, take “active” action. A wise man once said that each person was given two ends…one to think with and one to sit on. Success most often comes to the end chosen: heads you win and tails you lose. As manufacturing great Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Develop a plan and then execute it. Do something! Even if you are not successful in the action taken, you at least discover what does not work. Don’t sit around and wait for the “gold” to roll out of the mine on its own. Go into action with “pick and shovel” and tear the “gold” from the walls. Hoping won’t make something happen. Only “active” action will speak louder than words. 

Third, develop staying power. To run a marathon, it takes among other things, endurance. Endurance is achieved by taking the larger goal and breaking it down into smaller parts. Then you must work to address each part one at a time. That means you begin your quest by running a mile, then two, three, five, ten and so on. You work yourself to the point that the 26 miles is achieved in a manner that allowed your body to succeed without major discomfort. These gradual and goal-building steps enable you to grow the staying power you must have to complete the race. Do not try to do everything at one time. Enjoy the small successes. Stick with the plan. Today’s work enables you to be stronger tomorrow. You grow in wisdom and strength and thus combine all the ingredients necessary for successful completion of the race. As legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.”

Fourth, you must have fun and a positive attitude. If you can’t have fun in what you are doing, why get involved? Life is there for the taking. It offers so many interesting twists and turns to explore. Smile a bit. Laugh. Put yourself at ease. Avoid the pressure. Not only does this make you feel good about your situation but it also enhances your attitude. No force in the universe has a greater effect on you than attitude. Legendary television host Hugh Downs said, “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Look for the positives in daily life. Let others go through life seeking their induction into the “negative” hall of fame. Keep a positive perspective and see the glass as half-full. It is not what happens but what you think is happening that matters. Positive attitudes and fun can work miracles.

Finally, you must care. Unfortunately in today’s social and business environment you will find too much “lip-service” and not enough “truth” service. Too often you are told what many feel they want you to hear not what you need to hear. False evidence is introduced to offer excuses for shortfalls. Invalid empathy is provided with hopes that this shallow expression will satisfy a more lingering deeper need for genuine care and concern. To cultivate the “mine” of opportunity, you must demonstrate you care. Care to the point that your course of action will lead you to new insights, new enhancements and new methods to solve old problems. Exhibit a caring attitude that enables you to make a difference in your life and influence a different insight for others. Unless you care so deeply that it ignites a burning desire within your mind and body to overcome the odds, accomplish the seemingly impossible and satisfy your wildest dreams, your quest will go unfilled. In essence when you care, you are championing another rewarding encounter which enables you to navigate toward lasting success.

Having a “mind’ of opportunity is necessary for you to effectively discover your “mine” of opportunity. Unlock your hidden capacity and your unbridled curiosity to seek new pathways and new ventures. Only then will you be positioned to forever “mine” the many opportunities that lie waiting for you to uncover.

 

July 2016

Getting “IT” Back

Everyone has an “IT” that has provided the incentive for achievement, energy and enthusiasm. However at times, that “IT” can disappear from your reality. When this occurs, most often you will find difficulty facing your attempts to replace its lost vitality. That is why it is so important to utilize the 4 R’s to enable you to restore the “IT” in your life.

First R: REKINDLE. Life and career are exciting when you are seeing your goals fall in place. This success can often cause you to become somewhat complacent in your endeavors. It comes about because of your mastery of events which have led to your pinnacles of achievement. Discouragement and frustration sets in as complacency kills enthusiasm and supplements itself as a daily norm. If left unchecked, it will destroy a career, a company, an individual and the collective “IT” that enabled success to arrive. Therefore, it is imperative that you stop and access your situation. Afterwards, challenge yourself to think upon the activities which originally brought forth success each time you begin to see complacency gaining a foothold. You must REKINDLE the spirit of achievement and determination so that you uncover the fighting spirit necessary to recapture your “IT.” 

Next R:  READJUST. It is so easy to praise your problems versus seeking solutions to them. When you focus on problems, they always seem to grow more complex and larger in status. But when you are able to shift your focus to evaluating potential solutions, you most often find answers that enable you to solve or reduce the problems you face. Diverting to this specific action allows you to fundamentally focus on what truly matters. When you are able to have your primary focus on the key activities that are conducive to accomplishment, clarity of vision and mission surface. As author Grenville Kleiser pointed out, “To every problem there is already a solution, whether you know what it is or not.”

Third R:  RENOUNCE. When you are down and find yourself struggling with a negative mindset, it is easy to become a victim of your circumstance. False assumptions and ill placed fear subconsciously penetrates your mind. You find yourself hearing, “You can’t do this.”  “Nobody cares.” “Why not throw in the towel?” In essence, it is not what happens but what you think is happening that matters. When these events begin to unfold, you need to recognize all these negative thoughts for what they are: False Evidence Appearing Real. Face the reality of your dilemma and don’t allow the negativity to take hold. Realize that you can turn negative experiences or perceived negative experiences into very positive outcomes with a clear focus on the reality of the moment. Never give up hope or give up on you. Be persistent. Push ahead. As the German proverb proclaims, “No one is either rich or poor who has not helped himself to be so.” 

Final R:  RETREAT. The normal pressures of the day, the week, the month or even the year can be very demanding. That is why it is so vital to build in quiet time on a regular basis for you to unwind and unload your mental and physical wagons. Step away from the phones, the computer, the mail and the constant barrage of people to rekindle your true you. Even 30 minutes of quiet time during a day will do wonders for your mind and body. Such individuals as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison and Ronald Reagan were firm believers in daily quiet time and the universal benefit it provided each of them. A clear mind and a rested body help to energize the creative juices that enable you to more succinctly focus on key issues and resolve challenges. As was once said, “Periods of wholesome laziness, after days of energetic effort, will wonderfully tone up the mind and body. It does not involve loss of time, since after a day of complete rest and quietness you will return to your regular occupation with renewed interest and vigor.”

Yes, it is inevitable that at some point your “IT” stands to be overshadowed. The ultimate challenge you will face is whether you respond to its displacement or allow its demise to continue. By properly utilizing the 4 R’s, you can provide a valuable safeguard that will enable you to regain your “IT” and move your life and career forward.

 

June 2016

You Can Make It Happen

Recently, I re-read an old article about Stedman Graham, author of the book, You Can Make It Happen. I was fascinated by his “rules of the road” in guiding his personal life. Those rules apply to virtually everyone in their daily actions as well. Read and reflect upon his rules and strive to examine how the rules might apply in your life.

First, be honest. You have no value to other people if they can’t believe what you say. This is especially true in the business world. Your customer must believe in you and in your counsel.

Second, do the work that is required. What you put into a project or plan or endeavor is reflected in how it turns out. Is this not true? Your thoughts and your aspirations can be bountiful; but, if you do not elect to devote the work energy it takes to make those thoughts and aspirations reality, it becomes a “mind activity” of waste and folly.

Third, maintain a positive attitude. Being positive begins with eliminating the negative. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times, but it is so true! Yet, too often many have so much mental challenge in accepting this simple truth. When you seek to find something good, something that went right in your activities, it stimulates the endorphins of the mind and the creative juices can flow. That is not to say that positive thinking will allow you to do absolutely anything you desire in life; but, it will allow you to do more in your life than negative thinking.

Fourth, take the time to think things through. Those who take the time to think and plan out their lives are the ones who get the greatest benefit out of whatever they are involved in. Here lies the value of a specific, measurable, attainable and workable business plan. The value of putting your direction on paper and committing to it is limitless in its success potential. That is why road maps become valuable assets in travel: they enable people to have before them, all the available pathways to travel for the purpose of reaching their designation.

Finally, look at the big picture. When you operate from this perspective, you offer leadership to those around you. Being a leader attracts greater opportunities to you. It has been said in many ways for many years, you truly must become “stewards” or business CEO’s in every professional endeavor. Your leadership goes much further than simply going to your business locale each day. Your leadership spills directly or indirectly into the community, into your peer groups and also to where you possess that critical edge: your family. You must focus on long-term effects and be open to look to the future and embrace change. This commitment is needed to obtain your goals. Every activity you embrace, whether successful or a learning experience, allows you to place a “piece of the puzzle” on your life board. You must decide if that picture is one to be displayed publicly or hidden in a dark corner away from view and unapproachable.

As you prepare for the challenges of the upcoming weeks and months, utilize these simple “rules of the road” so that you may be able to build your dreams and make your vision a successful journey in your life!

 

May 2016

Foundational Planning

It is important to remember that planning is vital to success whether it be from a personal or business perspective. There are also strong foundational basics of plans that in some manner should be maintained to enable your planning engine to always run smoothly.  A foundational plan with guiding basic components should always provide you a picture of where you are and where you should be going. Thus, a strong foundational plan with deep-rooted basic principles can insure that you are moving in the right direction.

Victor Hugo, the famed French poet and novelist, said, “He who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” Therefore it is important to make no small plans but to make only big plans and follow those plans which are conducive to keeping you on the pathway to lasting success. 

The story is told of famed rebel Spartacus who led a first century B.C. fight to gain freedom for himself and his fellow slaves from the clutches of the Roman empire.  His viable army of soldiers were born fighters, many having been trained for warfare from birth despite being from many countries of the known world. This rag-tag group was virtually invincible when Spartacus was in the field leading the fight. They defeated army after army who was sent to recapture and or destroy them.

Spartacus built and began to execute a solid plan. The foundational basics of the plan directed the rebels to fight their way northward into the Alps and escape to former homelands or safer environments away from the pressures of Roman influence. However, as win after win came to them, the rebel army became overconfident and pressured Spartacus to make a stand and show the great Roman army that they were no longer going to be pushed around. As history points out, Spartacus succumbed to their demands, abandoning the foundational basics of his plan and was destroyed along with many of his rebel band. Thus the moral of the story is simple: understand that you can lose all you have achieved when you abandon the foundational basics of plans that made you a success.

Here are five (5) foundational basics that should be part of every successful business plan.
When you do not neglect these basics and have clarity as to their understanding and impact, your propensity for success in all endeavors will be firmly set.

First, what are you building? Everybody is building something but do you really understand what you want to create? Who is your customer? What do you have to offer? Who else is in the market that you must compete with? Where will your work be conducted? Understanding and clearly articulating these simple facts will enable you to create more specifically what you are envisioning.

Second, what is the reason for your business to exist?
What is your unique position in the marketplace? What promises are you making to potential customers? What specific needs, desires, wants does your product provide or what problems or other challenges will your product solve? Understanding the reason for your business existence should enable you to more succinctly brand yourself and compel others to follow your brand.


Third, what will you measure?
You must insure that you have a quantitative feel of your business and are always focused on results. What are specific targets you will seek? What in the end will define the success or shortfall of your work efforts? Understanding this conceptual and building specificity into its acceptable outcome will forever change your efforts and better bring forth the worthwhile results you seek.

Fourth, how will you go about building your business? Simply showing up while a valuable part of success, will not guarantee success. Success comes as a result of executing a thoroughly designed game plan. That game plan enables you to set a direction, establish a value proposition and set forth guidelines that cascade you through key decisions and clarifies what you will and will not do. Those boundaries will better insure you stay on track and attract those customers you want to serve and can serve more effectively.

Finally, what is the work to be done?
How will you in essence get the “dirt under your fingernails” that defines the actions vital to achieve what it is you want to achieve. Each step in this avenue should related to a measurement or an action you will take to go about building your business. It clarifies specifically how this business operational puzzle comes together.  The stronger the actions you take, the more effective the potential for reality arises.

Always following the foundational basics most often guarantees higher levels of success. You find yourself more directly focused on what really matters: results. When results guide your undertakings, more effective communication is built, synergy grows and this produces greater excitement among people about the possibilities.

What changes would history have seen if Spartacus had only stayed firm with his foundational plan basics? What changes will your business show if you too employ or stay true to your business plan foundational basics? Only time and your commitment can make that determination.

 

April 2016

7 Habits

Habits have a way of impacting your life. Perform a task for at least 28 consecutive days and you very well might have a habit. Habits can be negative in one sense because you might get into a routine that prevents your best performance. They can be positive when you do things that bring out the very best of your efforts. The decision you must make is which type of habit you desire to pursue.

In business, success most often comes as a result of adopting positive habits.  Here are 7 positive habits which, when enacted and followed for at least 28 consecutive days, can provide the foundation for a life change and higher success levels.

Habit #1: Begin each day and week with the 2 or 3 critical musts to be accomplished. Numerous trial and error actions clearly show that most often there are only 2 to 3 critical musts for a day or a week. Placing your focus on understanding what those musts are will allow you to direct your activities in the most efficient manner. Once directed, all that is lacking is proper execution and impactful follow-through…..

Habit #2: Keep every member of your team informed about your goals, needs and expectations. Each member of your team plays a part vital to your business success regardless of their role. Therefore keeping them informed as well as constantly defining the need and holding yourself and them accountable for results will direct you to higher achievement levels. 

Habit #3: Institute an on-going customer review process. Nothing can build greater trust, loyalty or lasting relationships than actions which make customers feel they are important and a valuable part of your success. By interacting with those customers on a scheduled basis whether it be on a business anniversary date or a multiple year basis, you are better able to uncover what’s is working, what needs to be changed and what must be explored for the future to remain successful. Such meetings are your foundation for delivering long-term value.

Habit #4: Build your personal brand in the community. It is important to walk your talk, establish what you are building and why your business exists so that others may better understand you. There are many ways to do this including delivering on what you say, personal participation in local events, active membership in civic and other public service organization, various sponsorships and direct media advertisement. Remember, people will not support a business or individual they know little about or that does not have a credible reputation.

Habit #5: Keep abreast of changes and developments in your industry.  Just as you do not expect one shower to last a lifetime for healthy personal hygiene, do not expect the knowledge you gained or the systems you learned when you began your career to last forever. Today’s demands require your attention to new ways of marketing, improvement to product offerings and a focus on current events that have an impact on what you do and how you do it.  Participation not isolation from readings, events, seminars, etc. is an established demand for success in today’s world business climate.

Habit #6: Do everything in your power to operate a profitable business.  This means much more than simple assets versus liabilities. It demands selecting a better than average or superior business; constantly monitoring and evaluating results; insuring you are offering all products and services available to you in the marketplace; knowing where you need to specifically invest in your business; developing yourself and your team above that which is normally required; embracing change; prudent resource spending; and, creating a professional environment for the public, your business as well as yourself and team. Once you understand what profit entails, you will be hard pressed to fail.

Habit #7: Maintain superior work/life balance. When it is time to work, give it a “super bowl” performance. Engross yourself in effective effort. Don’t allow the little things to get in the way of your success. Focus on $100 an hour activities, not minimum wage tasks. When it is time to play, set aside your work activities and enjoy the time. Everyone should make time to “recharge their batteries.” All work and no play makes life a real challenge. 

There is a warning with this habit: it is also imperative that you do not allow one area to overshadow the other. In other words, give your work at least a full 40 hours of weekly effort. That focus should enable you to meet and exceed any goals you may set. This will leave you 128 hours to sleep and have fun outside of work each and every week. Annually this means you have 2,000 hours to devote to your business which includes time for at least 2 weeks of vacation and 6,736 hours of free time to sleep, relax, play and rekindle your drive to excellence.  Balance is indeed key.

As you can see, not all habits are negative. Positive habits can make a difference. Try to catch these 7 Habits and see how each will indeed better your life and business. 28 days of effort could bring you lasting rewards of less stress, higher productivity and a more satisfying career. The choice is yours.

 

March 2016

Worry, The Widow Maker

 American humorist Evan Esar said, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”  In fact, of all the worries, studies have shown that 40% of worries are about the past; 50% are about the future; and, 10% deal with what is facing us today:  the current situation.  Is it any wonder that worry can cause all sorts of challenges for you?

Worry affects circulation, the heart, glands, nervous system and your mental fitness.  It can alter a personality as well as challenge a career and destroy a family.  Worry can consume your psyche so much that the mere fact of your worry about what you do not want to happen can actually increase the odds that it will.  In finality, worry will not add one day to your life.  So, why worry?...

Judy was a rising management star with a major corporation who had been assigned a critical project that could elevate her career.  Each night she would toss and turn worrying about the deadline for the project and the final report coming due.  Her continued restlessness began to annoy her husband.  He asked, “What is all the worry over?”  Judy responded, “My entire future could rest on this project and report.  I just do not feel that I will be able to make the deadline.  I can’t and I know that the boss will not be happy and my career is ended.”

Her husband got up from the bed, picked up the phone and called Judy’s boss.  He explained, ”Judy is a fantastic and dedicated junior manager who deserves any promotion you might consider her for.  However, the report you expect in two days will not be completed.  Good night.”

Judy was astonished!  “What are you doing?” she replied directly.  “You have ended my career!”  Her husband replied, “You are not going to have the report for the project completed on time.  I just let your boss know.  Now, he can worry about it.”

WOW!  How simple!  Was it really worth the worry for Judy?  I suppose it would depend on the boss but for the most part, probably not as big an issue as Judy tried to make it out to be.  In fact, 92% of worries never occur. The odds are in Judy’s favor.

Life is challenging enough with day-to-day issues and needs.  You cannot allow worry to enter the picture and misuse your imagination and thought process.  You owe yourself greater respect.

Next time you are prone to worry, consider these 3 things: 

1) What is the real issue you are facing? 

 2) What’s the worst thing that could happen 

 3)  Is it really worth the effort worry demands? 

You might just discover that it truly is not worth the worry.  As stated, 92% of worries never happen and only 10% deal with what is occurring today.

So, is it really to your benefit to worry?  Will worry improve your life and enable you to satisfy all of your heart’s desires?  Only you have the power to decide.     

 

From February 2016

Hey, Just Do It!

As time progresses, the more I realize that Nike has it right:  "Just Do It!"

Too often in today's society, regardless of our role, it becomes apparent that procrastination has taken an unfortunate foundational place in our lives. Even with technology at our fingertips, too many of us fall short in engaging those "great ideas" in a timely manner. Delay, even after enhanced affirmation of needed action, seems to be relevant. Could it be fear due to a limiting belief or past experience? Could it be a lack of self-confidence or regretfully, simply "laziness" that causes our hesitancy? Whatever the issue, it can cause us to sit idly by.

Regardless of how we place it, unless we are willing to step forward on our ideas, plans or dreams, we will never know what can be. Action makes the difference. Even the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 11:4: "If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything." Thus, hoping won't make something happen, do something now!

So how do we in essence build "courage" to engage? What will it demand of our personal demeanor for us to put plans into action? Experience has provided the following five (5) steps that should assist even the most senior executive with insight on how to better, "just do it!"

First, believe in you and your abilities. This is "the" critical beginning that must be in place for any chance of action to be confirmed. Too often inner fears, limiting beliefs or assumptions cause us to lessen our internal reality. We hold ourselves back from demonstrating our strengths and talents. In essence we are crippled by allowing our mind to paint false pictures. One must be brave and have confidence in oneself in the same manner that a tightrope walker has as he pushes a wheelbarrow over a deep gorge along his tightrope line with his son or daughter sitting in it. As cofounder of Amway Richard M. De Vos said, "The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible." Taking the first step to believe in ourselves and abilities will enable us to insure that action becomes a daily part of our life's work. 

Second, discipline yourself with a plan. We do what makes us feel good or provides us with some level of satisfaction. Just as we had to direct ourselves to learn how to drive a car or to tie our shoes enabling us to travel and to be able to walk on varies surfaces, discipline comes to play.  Discipline helps us to get better. Without it, we fall short.

A plan provides the reason to do what we do. It in essence keeps us going in the right direction. In the circumstance involving our taking action, it is that unique force that allows the eye to see and the mind to control what we must focus upon not only in the moment but in future as well. Build the plan and visualize its payoff in your mind. When you see the end result in your minds-eye, the plan becomes a part of you. Combined with discipline, it then enables us to accomplish what we must obtain in order that we reach our goal or satisfy our heart's desire. 

Having a pathway to follow by virtue of some thought, visualization and / or a simple plan with even a minor level of discipline can spark our internal action meter to spring into operation and motivate us to move forward. It is that "push" which causes us to get off the couch, put on our walking shoes and then to hit the streets or straddle the treadmill and begin to lose those extra 5 pounds. 

By disciplining ourselves with a plan of action we are enhancing the confidence we have in our decision to act. As French poet and novelist Victor Hugo said, "He who every morning plans the truncations of the day, and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life."

 Next, find a commitment partner. In order to effectively achieve what you desire, it often demands extra attention. Even though one has strong personal belief and builds a sound plan, it can be invaluable to share the goals with another who when asked will hold you to your commitment. Having that individual who will not bend under pressure but will tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear will further your potential to complete your task.

A commitment partner will not do the work for you but will see to it that you do the work and take the action to move your promise to reality.  Choose an individual who can understand your needs and empathize with your challenges but will direct attention to the task at hand. Though the interaction may become tense at times, the outcome will insure that you remain steady in your original decision.

Fourth, prepare yourself to confront challenges. As the Law of TINSTAAFL proclaims: "There is no such thing as a free lunch." Most efforts of engagement are often haunted by adversity. One begins to see those limiting beliefs come forth denoting that the job is too tough or that one is underserving. Further there is the arena of fear: fear of falling short but also fear of succeeding. Finally, the calls from the crowd or in simple terms, the critic who either laughs at your attempt or professes the doom of trying. 

One's initiative to "dig in one's heels" and challenge personal psychological shortfalls and false perceptions that often come forth will provide the outcome as to the ability to move forward. If there is preparation and also a mental or even a physical role play of how to overcome the negatives that arise, it can make the forward decision more fluid and enable progress to move onward. 

Stay motivated. Seek solutions when challenges arise, don't sit there and praise the challenge's reality. Remain excuse-less. As noted nursing great Florence Nightingale once said, “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse."  If you prepare, and perform, then challenges should never be an obstacle.

Finally, make it happen! Remember: nothing is accomplished on the sidelines! As was once said, "…action-oriented people realize that they who want milk should not sit in the middle of a field and wait for the cow to back up to them." Thus you must know and then you must do! 

There is a longtime story that addresses this issue perhaps more vividly than other illustrations. It says: "There once were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. An important job had to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it and that Somebody would do it. But Nobody realized that Everybody thought Somebody would do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. In reality things needed to happen but fell short. 

"Just Do It" is more than a slogan in reality, it is the life-blood for the next great idea or the end of a complex situation. You never win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. You never hit a home run unless you step up to the plate. You catch no fish unless you put hook and line in the water. You never achieve your dreams or goals unless you take the action to begin. As former Chrysler CEO and famed business man Lee Iacocca once proclaimed, "Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don't just stand there, make it happen."

Use these five (5) steps to taking action to get you off and running.

  • Believe in yourself!
  • Discipline yourself with a plan and visualize its completion!
  • Find a commitment partner!
  • Prepare yourself to confront challenges; and,
  • Make it happen!

As Master Yoda of "Star Wars" fame conveyed, "…there is no try, there is either do or not do." Make it happen, "Just Do It!"

 

From January 2016

Buy a Hotdog

Parables can help us understand circumstances in a very unique way. One parable that dates back to the early 1930’s continues to have great bearing on events in today’s challenging times. It is a story about a simple hot dog vendor.

There was a man who lived by the side of the road and had a business where he made and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes so he rarely if ever read newspapers. But, he sold a great hot dog.

He would stand by the side of the road day after day and cry out, “Buy a hot dog mister!” And his actions worked. People bought his hot dogs. He put up signs about his business so that his business would be seen by many others. His business grew. He increased his meat and bun orders. He bought a larger stove to take care of his trade. His success enabled him to send his son to college. Time passed and his son graduated and came back to help his father. Then, something happened…

His son, after surveying the business operation, spoke to his father. “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? Haven’t you been reading the newspapers? The European situation is terrible. Our domestic situation here at home is worse. We are in a depression. You have to be cautious in what you do in the business. People just don’t have the money to buy so many hot dogs.” After pondering his son’s remarks, the father thought, “Well, my son has been to college. He reads the papers and listens to the radio, and he should know.” So the man cut down his meat and bun orders. He took down his signs. He no longer bothered to stand out on the highway to sell his hot dogs. His business sales fell almost immediately. Saddened about his demise, the father looked at his son and responded, “You were right son. We certainly are in the middle of a great depression.”

It’s not what happens, but what you think is happening that really controls how you see your circumstances. It is important for you to not focus on the high unemployment numbers but focus on the employment numbers. Don’t get distressed about the 30% chance of rain, but more importantly, be excited about the 70% chance of sunshine.

It is your personal viewpoint that controls your outlook. If you can harness that simple fact, then focus on what you can do and do not allow yourself to be sidetracked by the forces crying out what you cannot do, you will achieve a greater level of success and satisfaction in your life and career each day. 

English writer and poet Samuel Johnson said, “The habit of looking on the best side of every event is worth more than a thousand pounds a year.” To operate a successful business, career or simply to live your life, demands your attention in the proper perspective. Sure, there will be days of challenge and business shortfall, but success demands your focus on what is achievable not untouchable.

Here are some simple tips to get you focused:

  1. Know exactly what you are seeking to accomplish. Goal clarity will help you lay the proper foundation.
  2. Put passion in your purpose. Passion can keep you in the right mindset despite outside influences.
  3. Keep problems in perspective. Nothing is ever as bad or good as it may seem. Simply deal with the reality.
  4. Listen to what others may advise but base your decision on facts, not feelings. Most often, think with your head not your heart.
  5. Debrief your actions. After an encounter or steps are taken, take a look at what went well, what fell short and what must be done to be successful in the future. This will enable you to better prepare for tomorrow.
  6. Never doubt yourself. Self-doubt will shortcut success. Have confidence you have what it takes to be successful or at least you know where to turn to get the help you need.
  7. Blot out the critics. Everyone has opinions and everyone has lots of other things too. Realize that nowhere on earth has any country, company or body ever erected a statue to a critic.

It was once said that the only thing that stands between a man and success is the will to try and the belief that it is possible. Keep your focus on what can be achieved and what is truly possible. If doing so, you will do what is necessary to bring success about and enjoy the life and career you deserve.


From December 2015

"The Untold Meaning of Christmas"

At this special time of the year when you strive to focus your mind and energies on the fulfillment of the holiday spirit, it becomes easy to get caught in the grasp of the “Christmas Crunch.” You can find yourself voicing your disagreement over the failure to obtain that special gift on line or find another in a store that is packed with people busily shopping for gifts no one will use. To further complicate matters, it seems that every driver on the roadway is crazy. Horns blow and tempers can rise without warning. Disgust can even find its way on the home front if decorations don’t turn out well or this year’s tree falls short of expectation. However, if you could simply take a short pause, catch your breath and sidestep the Christmas hustle and bustle, you just may discover that despite all the potential rudeness and push, that there remains much to be thankful for this special season.

One of the most remarkable Christmas stories I have heard... comes from a small part of history in World War I. It is a true story and occurred only 50 miles outside of Paris, France. French and British troops were engaged in a battle against German forces. As Christmas Eve approached, the war had already killed or injured over 800,000 men. 

On the eve of December 24, 1914, the weary German soldiers hoisted from their trenches a large, glittering sign saying, MERRY CHRISTMAS. The shooting suddenly stopped. Within minutes French, British and German soldiers began strolling out of their foxholes and trenches. Despite direct orders from their commanding officers to the contrary, they laughed together, exchanged small gifts of cigars and candy and sang Christmas carols. On Christmas day, the British and German soldiers played a soccer game while the French cheered.  The Germans won the game 3 to 2.

The day after Christmas, no fighting resumed. The soldiers having shared Christmas with the enemy refused to fight against each other. It was not until fresh troops arrived that the war proceeded. What a tremendous tribute to the true meaning of this special season associated with Christmas.

This Christmas season may you find time to stop and focus on the many blessings you have been given this year. Even in the darkest situation, there is always light if you will stop to seek it out. Gaze upon the star that shines so brightly and offers so many dreams and opportunities waiting to be fulfilled. Find happiness, peace and joy for yourself and all those walking through life with you.  Begin a new journey and allow it to lead you toward greater fulfillment in life. If warring countries can set aside their differences and enjoy the spirit of the special season, so can you.


From November 2015

"Obstacles Are Only a Frame of Mind"

Business is not an exact science. You need from time to time some perspective on facing reality. A reality that your business success or shortfall often falls between your ears. In other words, what you think or what you say or do will determine for the most part your business success paradigm. As the saying goes, “…if it is to be, it is up to me.” Business success therefore, clearly is your responsibility whether or not you want to accept that fact.

It is a certainty that you will have challenges in your business cycle regardless of the industry you represent or the product or service you provide. It is also important to realize that you do need constant motivation in your personal and professional life to help you move forward. Motivation is not the end all but it is the launch pad that can propel you to greater success and satisfaction in your business and personal life.

I was searching through some material recently and came upon this simple lesson pertaining to overcoming challenges. It goes a long way to provide a great lesson for every business owner, leader or manager. Here is the story

In ancient times, a king had a huge stone placed in a roadway, then hid and watched to see if anyone would remove it. Some of the kingdom’s biggest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many of them loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the big stone out of the way...

Then a peasant farmer came along, caring a load of vegetables on his back. When he came to the boulder, he laid down his burden and began trying to move it to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

As he was picking up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold pieces and a note from the king indicating the gold was for the person who removed the stone from the roadway.

The peasant had learned what others have learned since: every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition.” 

Are there stones in your business’ roadway? Are you working to remove them like the peasant farmer or are you doingas the kingdom’s biggest merchants and courtiers and simply complaining and walking around? Who knows what riches lay in your grasp if you would find a way to rid yourself of the stone?

Today, become a “peasant farmer” and tackle that obstacle in your business roadway! Pry it loose! Push it to the side or use your explosive ability and blow it away! Your “purse of gold” awaits your efforts! Believe in your abilities and believe in your business’ ability to provide the solutions to a client base who needs you and your products or services to improve their lives and current situations. 


From Oct. 2015

“Is It The Truth?”

Today’s demanding issues often center around such topics compliance, ethics and sound business practices.  It seems that some rules are always being introduced to provide guidance in how people are to interact in the business world or for that matter in the private world.  Still, individuals and companies to overlook the premise of fairness, social interaction and as my grandfather often said, “ jus’ doin’ the right thing! 

In the early part of the twentieth century an organization was born through the efforts of business professionals and community leaders that in my opinion have the premiere focus on how businesses as well as individuals should interact from a compliance, ethics and overall public posture. The organization known as Rotary International has as its cornerstone the “4-WAY TEST.” It simply states the following:  “…of the things we think, say or do…”

Is it the TRUTH?

Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Will it build GOODWILL and better FRIENDSHIPS?

Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned 

Notice the capitalized words:  TRUTH, FAIR, GOODWILL, FRIENDSHIPS and BENEFICIAL… all words that imply human interaction and no less than the “golden rule” of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

If only we could apply these simple four (4) rules in our daily business or private lives throughout our great land and world,…what a better, more effective result and impact there would be!

As you go about your daily tasks whether those tasks be business directed or personal, remember the “4-WAY TEST” and apply its simple principles in your daily actions.   Not only will your interactions with customers, colleagues and neighbors improve and flow more smoothly; but, your personal satisfaction of self will also be elevated 

Perhaps the “simple” things of life have more of an impact than we often think possible?  The “4-WAY TEST” is one process worth exploring!


From Sept 2015

What Is This Thing Called Success?

Many times I have been asked what constitutes success.  What is the “one” thing that in your opinion makes the winning difference?  Without hesitation I simply reply:  “How people really see themselves.”  I am then asked to further explain this very plain response.  Here is how I explain: We use ourselves too often as “punching bags” from a physical and mental setting.  We take joy, consciously or unconsciously, in beating ourselves up or bringing ourselves down.  It appears that we too often have an inward dislike for the great and unique physical entity we present. 

We tell ourselves that we do not deserve this reward/honor; or, we cannot achieve a particular goal.  We dwell on the opportunities we have lost in past years and say that it is too late to make a difference now.  We become so entrenched in mediocrity that we cannot see the “forest for the trees.”  Instead of placing focus on giving opportunities a try, we have pulled and beat ourselves senseless so that our mind is defeated and our attitude is poor. 

How we see ourselves will determine the success in life we achieve both personally and professionally.  If we see ourselves as being entitled to achieve success, our mind will produce activity that will help us gain that success.  If we look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “Hello there you great healthy-looking, great attitude guy/gal!”, soon you will become exactly what you see and project.  Since it takes as much if not more effort to say challenging things about ourselves as it does to praise ourselves and our attitude, why not choose to praise? 

Attitude makes a difference!  How you visualize you and how you believe in what you can do if you will allow your mind to drive your focus by virtue of a positive attitude and seeing yourself as a winner, will set your course for success!  There is virtually nothing you cannot find a workable solution if you will keep a positive attitude; believe in and utilize your abilities; and, set on a course to achieve those dreams and desires!  You are the most powerful part of the success equation.   

As you look toward ending the current year, are you holding you back from being all you can be?  How do you see yourself:  a winner or a whiner? What great success awaits you? What happiness can be obtained? What new inroads can you achieve if you will simply believe in you and your ability to be what you want to be no matter the time in your life or career? 

YOU are important!  YOU can and will make the difference in YOUR life and career by seeing YOURSELF in a positive and strength-minded manner.  Believe in YOU!   YOU can make the difference!  Look into the mirror.  Who do YOU see?  See the winner YOU really are and enjoy the happiness YOU deserve.  It is really up to YOU.


 

from August 2015

Step Away From Worry

Noted management consultant Dr. Wolfe Rinke once developed an eight step process for getting rid of worries.  Worries are the things that too often cause undue stress and adversely impact your personal health.  The critical reality is that worries are often not as impactful to reality as your mind tends to have you believe.  Now, this does not mean that you should forever shun your worries; but, it does imply that you need to investigate whether or not the worries you feel you have are in deed factual and relative. 

Here are some facts about worries that helps put things into perspective: 

  1. 40% of the time you worry about things that will never happen.
  2. 30% of the time you worry about things that have already happened and you can’t change what has happened.
  3. 12% of the time you spend on needless worries about your health.
  4. 10%  of the time you focus on petty miscellaneous issues.
  5. 8% of the time, you have real worries; but, 50% of those worries you can impact and 50% you can’t impact.

So, in the bigger picture, what are you accomplishing in your worries? Dr. Rinke’s steps in getting rid of worries are as follows:

  1. Clarify what it is that you are worried about.  If you have difficulty doing this in your head, write it down.
  2. Ask yourself if there is anything at all you can do to affect the situation.  If the answer is no, it is a worthless worry, and you should immediately go to step 8.  If the answer is yes, go to the next step.
  3. Identify the worst possible outcome.
  4. Ask yourself if you can live with the worst possible outcome.  If the answer  is yes, go to step 6.  If the answer is no, go to the next step.
  5. Do everything in your power to get out of the situation now.
  6. Develop an action plan that will get you out of the situation or that will minimize the negative consequences associated with it.
  7. Take action.
  8. Quit worrying.  Either it is too late or worrying will not make a difference.

Beginning today, stop worrying so much and start focusing on what you might do to positively impact your life, business, career, or simply enjoyment.  Be a giver, not a griever.  Utilize the US Marine Corp’s focus of “…adapting and overcoming…” and add some joy and insight to your being.  For as has been written, “Worry will not add one day to your life!” 


 

from July 2015

You Are Responsible For You

Once upon a time there was a seemingly successful business executive who was responsible for a large corporation division. This executive worked very hard to make the division a leader within the corporate hierarchy. All seemed right in the executive’s world. The division was moving along and most goals were being reached.  However, the reality of the matter was quite different.  

The business executive was working so many hours that it was virtually impossible to have any quality personal life.  It wasn’t uncommon for this executive to gobble down food after reaching home and then either rush back to the office to complete work or to retire to a quiet area and read email until late hours. Unfortunately each day produced more and more business “land mines” which the executive felt compiled to personally handle. It became a reality of being pulled from one “land mine” to another. The executive’s people and even others outside the division were shifting many decisions and unnecessary actions to the executive’s attention either to address or to refer to the proper personnel due to the reputation which was built that this individual was the sole “go to person”. With all this extra work the “To Do” list was increasing not decreasing.  What was this executive to do? The beautiful world was becoming a “thorny patch” of wasteland. Stressed to the point of exhaustion and feeling victimized, the executive finally collapsed under the weight of a world that had been unfortunately self created.

Does this story sound somewhat familiar? Hopefully this does not reflect anyone but if it does, please take note: There is hope! Yes, hope in the form of holding yourself accountable for what really matters and then learning to say “no” effectively. This month, we will talk about the accountability you must place on yourself for actions.

As a business owner, leader or manager, it is imperative to get things done.However just as the executive in our story found, there will be times that things do pop out which must be addressed. At the end of the day or perhaps the week, how do you really know if you got the “right” things accomplished?  Below is a simple 4 question accountability question process that has brought many people just like our friend the executive back to the realm of reality. It has enabled business principles just like our example to get more right things done and lessen their stress levels. It demands “tough love” for yourself to make this a success. Remember, it CAN be done and from a personal standpoint, it works! 

Here is the simple questions to ask yourself. Its energy comes for the book by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you have or haven’t read this book, perhaps it would be a great one to read or even re-read as it has many principles that come into play in this process. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Are the things I am doing today or this week of high value?  If yes, how do I know?  If no, what is getting in the way?
  2. What things that I did were low risk and high return?  What things were high risk and low return?  Based on this, where am I spending more of my time?
  3. What are the few things I should have done today or this week, which would have resulted in the biggest impact for my goals or company needs?
  4. Did I find myself invoked with urgent not important activities with too much focus on immaterial details?  If yes, what caused this?  If no, what did I do?

Just as our busy executive found, business success is demanding. It demands us to be on top of our game day in and day out.  hat reality requires us to maintain our focus on as many things as possible that are critical to the success of the business. Not that Bob’s question should not be answered or that Sally’s email should be responded to but as the great book proclaims, “…don’t sweat the small stuff…”.  You know, more than you think may really be “small stuff” when you stop and analyze the situation.

Hold yourself accountable for getting things done. Those “things” must be actions, activities, etc, that move you and your business closer to the goals that have been set. By doing so, you eliminate lots of stress. You may also find yourself able to fall into an easy chair after dinner and don’t even have to take that laptop home because all the important work has been done. How does that feel?

Give this simple process a try. It can lead you to a more successful pathway. It will be tough to begin, so don’t get discouraged. Hang in there and you will soon begin to see positive results. It will work if you will work it effectively.


From June 2015
Even On Auto Pilot, Adjustments Must Be Made

Business today is very competitive. It demands constant attention in virtually every aspect from cash flow to business decor. It seems that each day brings greater demands; but, you are doing ok. Your business is growing. You are making money. You virtually have your operation on auto pilot. What is there to worry? If you continue doing the things that have gotten you to where you are today, you should be ok. Those thoughts may have some value, but is there anything you are overlooking? 

Today’s business professional is not unlike professionals of past years. You try to offer a valued product or service at a reasonable price or fee and strive to have growth in customers or clients along the way. A pretty simple process that can bring positive results. However, just when you think that all is well, someone pulls the plug and down the drain goes months and years of hard dedicated work. Even when you are on auto pilot, there has to be adjustments made to keep you on course.

Here are a few ongoing adjustments that you should keep in your forefront so that you are controlling your business versus having it control you:

1) Maintain some level of ongoing contact with your client base. This could be a short newsletter; client appreciation event; information on new products or key ideas; personal check -in or a simple account update call; or, something of a personal nature such as a birthday notice or anniversary of their business with you. You can develop your own program or explore an affiliative arrangement with one of the many great client recognition services in the market today. On another note, while all clients have value, your top 100 client list should get your personal attention on a very structured basis. While you always want to deliver more than clients expect, this group should get that and then some. If you nurture this group effectively, you will not only have the potential to retain and grow their business; but, you will also be positioned to get outstanding recommendations for additional clients. Soon, you may have to move your top 100 list to your top 200.

2) Constantly build your brand. This means that you must be active in your community whether that be through a local Chamber of Commerce or Chambers in all your market areas, a viable nonprofit, sponsorships, providing articles on broad-based interest, giving presentations to various clubs or groups and other associated community efforts. Visibility of involvement is important because someone is seeing you for the first time each and every day. Regardless of what is said, clients and potential clients are drawn to those organizations that appear to be serving in some manner within the marketplace. 

3) Be professional. Being a professional has many connotations. Creating the perception that motivates others to clearly recognize you as an expert in your field of endeavor is without doubt a central goal. It also means that you take your business and occupation seriously. You do not allow your personal life to needlessly impact you or the business. You dress and talk in the manner of your profession; you avoid unnecessary gossip and business office politics; you abide by company policies; you become a resource of information; you seek knowledge in your occupational sphere to better serve; and, you are motivated by each new day and the possibilities it can bring. When others see you, they see you as a professional they can trust and take comfort in the service you deliver for them.

4) Re-evaluate and enhance proven success strategies. Success comes in many ways. Strategies that once brought you fame and continuous sales results may not be providing the same outcomes as they once did. Therefore, it is important to be in a continuous process of examining what has worked and if that same proven process will be able to keep pace in the current business environment. You should research the competition to discover what your competitors are doing. Research the business market. Find out what new enhancements exist in product delivery or product benefits. Survey clients to discover what must be present in the future for you to continue as their source of value. Seek input from those connected with your business regarding their thoughts on what has been done and what should be considered in the future. Remember, nothing lasts forever. Always keep focused on where you need to be going in the transition. By doing so, you can better prepare yourself to continue the success you have enjoyed in the past.

5) Have a plan. As the old adage says, “People never plan to fail, they simply fail to plan.” It is amazing how many business professionals either never truly plan, or simply put what they call a plan together and never look at it. Nothing truly worthwhile is ever accomplished without a plan. Simple guides such as vision, mission, strategies, objectives and action plans when combined and strategically constructed will enable even the most novice business professional to be better equipped to accomplish more. Having a plan will clearly allow you to discover the answers to these 5 key questions about your business operations:

1) What is being built?

2) Why does your business exist?

3) What results of your business activities will be measured to better judge success?

4) How will you be building your business?

5) What will be the specific work you will do? 

Therefore, it is important to plan. Plan for your success and you will never have to focus on failure.

Success is a unique commodity in today’s business environment. It has so many different definitions based upon an individual’s understanding of what is truly sought. There is nothing wrong necessarily with putting things on auto pilot; but, you must also understand that even on auto pilot, you will drift from your intended route. Nothing is ever fool proof. It too often requires attention. Therefore, by making the right adjustments along the way, you will be better aligned to arrive at your desired designation. Enjoy your journey. 

 

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Thoughts to Ponder

"Withholding your talents robs the world of untold potential." --Herman Dixon

"You can't just go on being a good egg.  You must either hatch or go bad!"    --C.S. Lewis

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." --James M. Barrie 

"The great secret of success in life is for a man to be ready when his opportunity comes."--Benjamin Disraeli


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