What do you think?

Do you like to ask other people their opinions before making a decision?  Do you prefer to collaborate on projects rather than work independently?  There are stylistic differences in our personalities for working independently or working within a team.  These … Continue reading

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Do you run your business like a merry-go round or a roller coaster?

One of the hardest tasks for an entrepreneur or business owner, especially in the early stages with limited staff, is to create a stable flow of income. I’ve seen many business owners cycle from feast to famine every few months. … Continue reading

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Three indicators that you are a strategic thinker

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham is a great tool to help you identify your strengths, providing access to an assessment which determines your top strengths or “talent themes.” Using this book and the assessment, I learned that one of my top strengths is as a strategic thinker (in addition to learner and responsibility themes).  strategic planning

Most of us tend to overlook our strengths; because they seem natural and effortless to us, we assume everyone has the same skills. This is not the case, however. I was recently asked to coach an employee to be more strategic. I know that this is considered a strength, and I know instinctively that it is something I personally do well. But to coach it, define it, and build it as a skill in someone else was something new (the challenge was exciting though).

Since my other strength is as a learner, I’m a big fan of reading and listening to books. I immediately began doing research to determine how best to teach strategic thinking skills. Through my subscription to Audible, I downloaded “The Great Courses: Strategic Thinking Skills.” Perfect! Aside from the rhetoric about war and fighting as the initial context and development of strategic thinking, I found the information fascinating.

Here’s a quick overview of what I learned about recognizing what is – and isn’t – strategic thinking:

1.     Strategic Thinkers go beyond planning. People mistakenly identify a game plan as synonymous with a strategic plan. A game plan is typically the identified course to achieving a goal; what steps will you take to get to your goal? Strategic thinking goes beyond this. It includes identifying those elements that could go wrong and the external variables that could interfere with progress, and creating contingencies to make progress in spite of obstacles.

2.     Strategic Thinkers understand the importance of maneuvering. If you’ve ever heard of a “decision-tree,” you’ll understand the concept of maneuvering. A decision-tree refers to the steps in making a decision along a defined path, with several mini-decisions along the way. Consider a game of chess, in which it is essential to think several steps ahead. In order to do so, you need to be adaptable, considering what the other plays may be and how you would respond if your opponent moves this way versus that way.

3.     Strategic Thinkers make decisions using both intellect and intuition. The first part in making an effective decision has to do with gathering Intel and collecting information about your opponent so you can plan wisely. There are times, however, when you must take decisive action. Strategic thinkers recognize their intuition and understand it is valuable information. Thus they are able to make decisions while using both the head and the heart.

If you’d like to be more strategic in your business, make sure you have a solid game plan and then do a SWOT Analysis (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). To learn more and start developing your own strategic plan, go to www.SurpassYourGoal.com.

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Three indicators that you are a strategic thinker

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham is a great tool to help you identify your strengths, providing access to an assessment which determines your top strengths or “talent themes.” Using this book and the assessment, I learned that one of my top strengths is as a strategic thinker (in addition to learner and responsibility themes).  strategic planning

Most of us tend to overlook our strengths; because they seem natural and effortless to us, we assume everyone has the same skills. This is not the case, however. I was recently asked to coach an employee to be more strategic. I know that this is considered a strength, and I know instinctively that it is something I personally do well. But to coach it, define it, and build it as a skill in someone else was something new (the challenge was exciting though).

Since my other strength is as a learner, I’m a big fan of reading and listening to books. I immediately began doing research to determine how best to teach strategic thinking skills. Through my subscription to Audible, I downloaded “The Great Courses: Strategic Thinking Skills.” Perfect! Aside from the rhetoric about war and fighting as the initial context and development of strategic thinking, I found the information fascinating.

Here’s a quick overview of what I learned about recognizing what is – and isn’t – strategic thinking:

1.     Strategic Thinkers go beyond planning. People mistakenly identify a game plan as synonymous with a strategic plan. A game plan is typically the identified course to achieving a goal; what steps will you take to get to your goal? Strategic thinking goes beyond this. It includes identifying those elements that could go wrong and the external variables that could interfere with progress, and creating contingencies to make progress in spite of obstacles.

2.     Strategic Thinkers understand the importance of maneuvering. If you’ve ever heard of a “decision-tree,” you’ll understand the concept of maneuvering. A decision-tree refers to the steps in making a decision along a defined path, with several mini-decisions along the way. Consider a game of chess, in which it is essential to think several steps ahead. In order to do so, you need to be adaptable, considering what the other plays may be and how you would respond if your opponent moves this way versus that way.

3.     Strategic Thinkers make decisions using both intellect and intuition. The first part in making an effective decision has to do with gathering Intel and collecting information about your opponent so you can plan wisely. There are times, however, when you must take decisive action. Strategic thinkers recognize their intuition and understand it is valuable information. Thus they are able to make decisions while using both the head and the heart.

If you’d like to be more strategic in your business, make sure you have a solid game plan and then do a SWOT Analysis (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). To learn more and start developing your own strategic plan, go to www.SurpassYourGoal.com.

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Wish you could clone yourself?

Did you ever see the 1996 movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton?  Click here to watch video. I was in graduate school then, wishing I could clone myself the same way his character did.  There would be one version of me to do the vocational work, one to have fun and be rebellious, and one to handle the household and family.  Of course, the idea of cloning is to have an exact replica of oneself to be more productive.

Double Productivity

Clone Yourself

Well, twenty years later, I still have the same wish, more or less!  During that time, though, I have learned some additional skills and managed to achieve balance, albeit temporary and fleeting.   I have mastered how to juggle multiple priorities and maintain focus using three simple techniques:  Delegation, Outsourcing, and Technology.

Delegation – Simply telling somebody what you want done does not mean you are delegating effectively.  Effective delegation includes two key components:  giving clear instructions on the front end of an assignment and providing feedback and support throughout the project.  If you give detailed instructions on what you want, people may be clear about what to do, but if you never follow up with guidance and course corrections, they will stop caring as much because they perceive it as not important to you.  If you don’t give clear instructions, but instead give constant feedback, you will be seen as a micromanager.  The key is a balanced approach with instructions and follow-up.

Outsourcing – Hire specialists for important activities.  Critical tasks involving any activity in which you are not an expert – filing taxes, negotiating contracts, managing your marketing –should be outsourced to a professional. There are key professionals and experts in many fields to consider, including CPAs, attorneys, web designers, marketers, etc.

Technology – I find that managing technology, even with an occasional “blip,” is much easier to manage than people!  I love to implement new strategies with cool applications, software programs, and gadgets that maximize my time and productivity.  I am able to be 100% remote, work from anywhere, and never miss a beat – that’s productivity.  For a list of my top 10 technology tools, go to: https://surpassyourgoal.leadpages.net/top-10-technology-tools .

The most important thing to determine when using these strategies – whether delegation, outsourcing, or technology – is what you can get rid of and to whom you can give it. Start by making a cloning list.  For one week, keep track of all the activities that come up that you don’t need to do and then determine who is best suited to do what.  In addition, make sure you reference your to-do list for those items that you never seem to get to.  Those are great starting points!

For help with prioritizing activities, hiring the right people, and leveraging technology, you also might want to consider working with a business coach!

 

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Grow faster with low hanging fruit

With the emergence of the internet, there are now dozens of new techniques that can be used online, with opportunities ranging from social media to website optimization. If you consider integrating traditional marketing avenues with online marketing, you can exponentially … Continue reading

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Three signs you are a show-off

Do you remember Stuart from MAD TV? He was notorious for saying “Look what I can do!” Most of us have been taught

Show Off!

to be polite and not brag about ourselves. It’s a lesson we need to learn if we want to increase our likeability and connection with others. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever done sales or marketing (and if you’ve ever been on a date, then you’ve done sales and marketing!) In business we are taught to put our best foot forward. We are encouraged to toot our own horn in order to seal the deal. Let me be clear: this is not the problem. I’m talking about people who cross the line from tooting their own horn to being a show-off.

You’ve heard the saying: “Nobody likes a show-off.” Here are three signs that you’ve crossed the line and unfortunately, you are now a show-off:

1.     Name dropping. I’ve witnessed people drop names of celebrities, influential people, and local heroes. It doesn’t matter who you say you know or why, what matters is that you’ve used the name as a ploy to garner credibility and influence. Unfortunately it’s an obvious tactic which can backfire. I once managed a consultant and coordinated prospect luncheons to facilitate his business. He would seize every opportunity to drop high-profile names into any conversation. If he could fit three or four people into a single sentence, the cockier he became. I eventually pointed this habit out to him, because he was unaware he was doing it. It was actually embarrassing to witness, as he didn’t realize the habit was turning people off. Fortunately, he was a quick study and stopped doing it.

2.     Self-centeredness. Listening to any conversation, whether in a casual get-together, a business meeting, or a presentation by a speaker, it’s easy to determine if the person you are listening to is a show-off. The conversation is completely focused on them. They use “I” continuously and attempt to one-up their audience constantly. Even if you are attempting to coach someone or give advice, the message is received vastly different if you say, for instance, “I have no problems landing the deal. The last time I went to lunch with a prospect, I made sure that I told him why I was the best.” In that last sentence alone, the word “I” is used four times! Notice the difference in this statement: “In the meeting with John last week, we discussed the company benefits. He inquired about our competitive edge and was impressed with the recognition we received.” Not once was “I” used.

3.     Demeanor and posture. We can subtly make ourselves appear larger than life with specific postures and gestures. Like a peacock displaying its feathers to get noticed, humans also puff themselves out to gain attention, especially in meetings or during a presentation. This can include hands on the hips, chin up, and large hand gestures. These are subtle tactics to get noticed, but they may be a bit too much.

My best advice is to connect with people and audiences by being with them. Any attempts to separate yourself as superior or all-knowing will alienate them.

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Think and grow rich – literally!

I recently read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which was originally published in 1937.  It is fascinating that something written nearly a hundred years ago is still applicablrelScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.47.35 PMe today; it was that far ahead of its time.  The premise of the book is to detail the 13 steps to gaining riches.

This is an incredibly powerful book that looks at how our thoughts generate actions and, ultimately, our desires, a premise that is now widely accepted and well-documented through research.  Hill stated that “Success comes to those who become success conscious,” meaning that what we focus on, we create.  We receive billions of bits of information every minute and it isn’t possible for our minds to absorb all this information into our consciousness.  Instead, we selectively attend to those things that are in alignment with our thoughts and beliefs and disregard the rest.  The effect is that someone who believes all people are greedy will continuously see greedy people, while someone who believes all people are altruistic will continuously see selfless acts.

We prime our minds for what to pay attention to using what is called our “reticular activating system,” which is how we can focus without being overloaded.  It is wired into our brains for survival strategies.  The power of this system is that it allows us to recognize that we have complete control over our thoughts and subsequently what we focus on and subconsciously attend to.

Consider that your wealth – or lack thereof – is a result of your underlying beliefs and thoughts about money.  We all have a money blueprint that includes a set of beliefs about our relationship with money.  For instance, I grew up with my father saying that “money doesn’t grow on trees,” although in my mind, it did.  Whenever I wanted something, it appeared.  I act in accordance with this belief now.  Other people may be conditioned to believe that money is the root of all evil, and this will compete with any new desires they have to become wealthy.  In essence, they would be telling themselves they are evil if they are rich – a great deterrent to subconsciously not achieving riches

Do you want to shift this so that you literally can think and grow rich?  Here are a few steps to follow.  First, become aware of your beliefs and shift your focus to positive thoughts aout money, creating a specific goal for what you want to achieve.  Place all your energy, effort, and focus towards that goal.  What’s most important with this step is a strong belief or faith that you will achieve this: you must absolutely believe it is possible.  Second, experience your success as if it were true; visualize your wealth.  The mixture of emotions brings power to our thoughts, especially on a subconscious level.  Third, take action by listening to your hunches and inspirations (subconscious solutions to your quest). Create an organized plan and work with a mastermind group to seek the advantage of experience, education, ability, and imagination.  Lastly, overcome fear and habitsated to failure, which include procrastination, negativity, indecision, dishonesty, lack of focus, intemperance, and intolerance.  You must first be honest with yourself about the behaviors holding you back and then create a deliberate game plan to overcome them.  Napoleon Hill developed a self-analysis questionnaire to help you zero in on what might be holding you back.  Go to  to download the questionnaire.

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The Easiest Method to Acquire Fortune, Fun and Family in 2015

As a business coach, I am huge advocate of goal setting, obviously! However, I’m not an advocate of setting New Year’s Resolutions. In part because I don’t think people set themselves up for success. Instead, they pick something that they … Continue reading

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There is a fine line between confidence and conceit; body language can highlight the difference

confident body languageThe distinction between confident and conceited is sometimes difficult to articulate.  We seem to know on a gut level when someone is arrogant, often leading to an unpleasant taste in our mouth.  On the other hand, when someone is confident, we are naturally more drawn to them.  This also happens on a gut level.

I would describe confident people as those individuals who feel capable of achieving a certain task.  They believe in themselves and they believe they have the necessary competencies and capabilities within themselves to perform.  However, when someone is conceited, their self-pride becomes grandiose and self-righteous.  The focus is no longer just about the capabilities they possess, but instead the capabilities that they possess that someone else does not.  The line is crossed when they compare themselves to others and state, either overtly or covertly, that they are superior.  What makes this offensive, and rightly so, is that the conceited and arrogant person is demeaning those around him or her.  Ironically, this is caused by insecurity!

Take a look at these photos from People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2013.  Even though we seem to register someone as conceited or confident without truly knowing why, these photos provide some clues on body language and what we perceive.  You will notice that in one picture the thumbs are pointed up.  In another, the thumbs are tucked into the jeans, but the fingers are splayed.  And in the third, the elbows are out.  All of these are indicative of confident poses and the hands demonstrate this in a powerful way.

Whenever you can see ‘thumbs up’ – whether the hands are clasped or the arms are folded – it indicates confidence.  The splayed fingers highlight the genitalia, a strong gesture that indicates confidence and interest.  Lastly, arms or hips taking up more space are indicators of confidence.  People who are more confident generally take up more room.  It’s a sign of stature; hence the reason the boss has the largest office, biggest chair, etc.  Next time you want to be seen as confident, be conscious of the position of your hands and, in particular, your thumbs.

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Are you proud of yourself?

When is the last time you felt proud of yourself? This is a slippery slope! When I was in my early twenties, I remember telling a friend that I was

Pride before the fall

Pride before the fall

proud of myself. I don’t recall the exact details of the event that led to that feeling, I just know it was a pivotal time in my life and I had recently made some major life changes. In roughly the same week, I heard a priest give a sermon on “pride before a fall.” The commentary discussed the ego and illusion of this state, which he explained was typically followed by a hard fall – the feeling that all was well in the world, and then the rug was ripped out from under you.

So is it bad to feel pride? Pride is considered by many to be the first and worst of the seven deadly sins (pride, lust, envy, gluttony, greed, sloth, and anger). It is defined as a form of arrogance, vanity, and a sense of over-importance. This narcissistic view of oneself often excludes other important people and figures, including God, which can lead to destruction and ultimately one’s own demise.

So every time I hear someone say they are proud of themselves, or I catch myself saying I am proud of something I’ve done, I initially think “pride before a fall.”

I am cautious not to cross the line into narcissism, although I’m not exactly sure where it is. I am by no means suggesting that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself for certain accomplishments. You may have run a marathon, completed a project, lost a significant amount of weight, or hit some other milestone. I say revel in the glory of the moment and give yourself credit for your work and dedication to what you’ve achieved. This is a positive aspect of authentic pride. But temper this feeling with a sense of gratefulness and give credit to those who also supported you. The minute you think you did it all alone and you’ve got it all figured out, the next minute you may fall.

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The secret to eliminating email miscommunication

I was recently compiling information for a time management open_letter_with_arrow_around_it_1600_clr_9212webinar.  Obviously managing your email by keeping an organized and clean inbox is a key to effective time management, but the manner in which you compose and format your emails is also critical to maximizing your efficiency.

If you send an email and it is interpreted in a different manner than you intended, you are wasting your time and the recipient’s by later having to clarify the real intent of the email.  Sometimes you can quickly correct what you meant to say in another email, but sometimes there isn’t an easy fix.  If someone’s feelings are hurt, a lot more damage control may be needed to correct the misunderstanding.

What if your emails are crystal clear in content, but they come across as negative?  This is even harder to correct.  As an example, I receive a variety of emails from a fellow board member.   This gentleman’s emails are very clear in content, but as soon as I see his name in my inbox, I cringe.  The subject line is often specific and detailed.  This is actually good practice, making it easier for people to search for a specific email at a later date.  However, in this particular situation, he put “QUESTION” or “ANSWER” followed by the specifics in the subject line.  This gets under my skin for two reasons: First, anything capitalized throughout usually indicates someone speaking in a loud tone or yelling.  I don’t believe this was his intention.  I believe he simply wanted to be clear upfront, and I don’t think he realized that this can be perceived as offensive.  Second, the point in making a specific subject line is to make it easier for the reader to determine the importance of the subject.  In this case, since “Question” and “Answer” are capitalized, those two words take up the majority of the space available in the subject line.  As a result, the complete topic cannot be viewed at a glance.  Recipients have to open the email to see the complete subject line.  So again, although his intent was to make the subject of the email more clear, it actually made it more difficult for the reader.

I will say, though, the body of this gentleman’s email, although lengthy, was clear.  He used bullets and boldface text throughout the body, which made for a nice way to read the message easily.  There are still instances where words were capitalized and that still comes across as negative to me.  This man also has a very deep and curt voice, and I can actually hear his voice in my mind as I read his emails.  I can also picture the finger-pointing when he has a question!

Here’s the lesson.  People will rarely tell you if they are annoyed or offended by your emails.  You must rely on your own personal gut check.  The best thing you can do is put yourself in the shoes of your reader.  Consider how your tone and content might be misinterpreted.  So often we are in a rush to get an email out, we don’t take the time to think it through.  For the next week, spend a few extra seconds and consider how readers might interpret your emails.  I promise this will eliminate miscommunications and save you more time later.

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Are you an email hoarder?

I confess: I am a recovering paper hoarder! I think I’ve now switched that addiction for book hoarding.  I don’t know why, but I have a hard time throwing knowledge away.  Many years ago, while I was preparing to move, … Continue reading

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Are bad habits holding you back?

angel_devil_tug_war_800_6266Have you ever considered what habits you’d like to change?  There are the typical ones, of course, related to smoking, drinking, exercise, eating, etc.  But what about the more subtle habits that you aren’t totally aware of?  For instance, if you could change two habits that would help you be more successful in your business, what would they be?  Maybe you would like to start the day earlier, read or learn something new, limit your interruptions, be home in time for dinner?  Instead of just thinking about what you want, consider what habits you have formed that need to be replaced.

If your goal is to start your day earlier, what habit needs to be replaced?  It would sound simple to just resolve to get up earlier. However, maybe your habit is to go to bed so late that you are overly tired in the morning. Despite your best intentions to get up an hour earlier you instead hit the snooze button six times!  So what you really need to change is your bedtime habit – before you can change your wake-up habit.

Let’s take that a step further.  Is the habit simply about when you go to bed?  Maybe it’s more about when you put your phone away.  You need at least a couple of hours to decompress from work.  But your habit is to check messages consistently throughout the evening because you think this is saving time.  By the time you finally put your work away, it’s ten at night.  Then you need to unwind, so you don’t actually fall asleep until midnight.  You can see here that one habit is never really just one habit.  It’s an interwoven play of behaviors with a domino effect.  If you really want to get up earlier, then you could make it your habit to ignore work emails after dinner.  Then you would have time to unwind and will sleep better.  It would certainly be a whole lot easier to get up in the morning if you’ve had a good night’s rest.  The funny thing is, as an aside, that answering your emails at night is very unproductive.  You’ll find that responding to emails takes much less time if you write them in the morning when you are more refreshed and energetic.

So take a minute and identify three habits you want to swap.  Make sure that you don’t stop at the obvious answer to change the habit, but spend a couple minutes looking for the first domino that impacts everything else.

 

 

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Do you consider yourself successful?

What does success mean to you?  Everybody has a different notion and understanding of the walking_with_arrow_1600_wht_13880word success.  For some, success means raising a happy and healthy family, while others view success as becoming a millionaire, and yet others have definitions that fall somewhere in the middle.  It’s really an interesting question.  So often, we have a running monologue in our heads about wanting success.  We go to work, take care of the kids, and do the right things, all with the underlying motive of achieving success.  Yet we very rarely sit and consider what it is that we are really after.  What actually is success?  How do we know we are successful?  It’s not as though someone hands us a ribbon that says “Congratulations — you’ve achieved success!”  Often someone else may deem us successful, but that doesn’t mean that we view ourselves that way.  So take a moment and reflect on what you are really going after.  How would you know that you are truly successful?  Would that mean that you are happy, fulfilled, rich?

If you can determine in detail what your definition of success actually is, then you can clearly identify what it looks like, how it feels, and most of all, when you have arrived. (That’s a trick, because I don’t believe we ever really arrive, we just set new goals!)  Once you’ve clarified what you are after, then you create a game plan for getting there.  Below is a series of questions that will help you fine-tune your specific goals to achieving success.

Top 10 Questions to Clarify Your Goals:

  1. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
  2. What were your goals when you were a child?
  3. What have you decided you are too old to do?
  4. What goals did you have last year that you gave up on?
  5. What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
  6. What would you like to possess by the end of the year?
  7. Who would you like to be by the end of the year?
  8. Where would you like to be in 10 years?
  9. When are you happy and energized?
  10. What would you really like to do?

 

 

 

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I’m fine, really!

happy_excited_expression_eyebrows_raised_1600_clr_13259How are you? Such a simple question. We must ask a dozen people each day, and a dozen people ask us the same question.  The typical response is, “I’m fine.” I suppose it’s polite to make such pleasantries, but why the avoidance of what’s really going on?  Is it just a habit to say we’re fine, without even considering how we are really doing?  The unspoken rule is that we act like everything is going well.  It’s assumed that the people who ask how we are don’t really want to know how we are doing; they just want to be polite.

What’s unfortunate is that we are so accustomed to saying we are fine, that we are clueless as to how we are actually feeling.  What if someone asked, “How are you?”  You actually stopped for a second and thought to yourself, how am I?  And then instead of the obligatory “I’m fine,” you took a risk and actually communicated how you felt?  Imagine the reaction if you responded, “Oh I’m having a rough time. My cat just died.” Or “Super! I just booked a trip to Europe.”  You might startle yourself and the person who asked.  The people asking how you are doing may not want an honest answer.  They may just be making polite conversation.

Here’s what I’d suggest: spend some time considering how you are doing. Do you truly feel it is a good day or a bad day? Are you angry, anxious, happy, or sad?  Take a moment to connect with the person who is asking and give an honest response. You’ll feel much better for sharing. And the next time you ask someone how they are, make a point of looking them in the eye to let them know you are truly interested in them.  You’ll be surprised at how open they will be with you, too.  If you really don’t want to hear how the person is, by all means, continue on with your pleasantries – just sayin.’

 

 

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The 4 Most Annoying Love Themes

love

Annoying Love Themes

Valentine’s Day is the time of year when husbands, fathers, and sons run ragged, scratching their heads trying to be romantic. It’s interesting how the onus is on the man to prove his love and devotion. Florists, jewelers, and bakers thrive at this time of the year. When men are trying to figure out what is considered romantic without being cheesy, they tend to rely on popular culture for their ideas. Unfortunately, what mainstream culture portrays as romantic may not be representative for the general population (female population). Below is a list of four themes that can easily backfire.

  1. Love Quote – The worst quote is from the movie Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.” I’ve never understood why this is considered so heartfelt. If you believe that you need to love yourself before you can truly love someone else, then how on earth is it possible for someone else to complete you? I understand I may be a cynic, but I prefer being whole. If you say this to your valentine, she may or may not appreciate the sentiment.
    Love Song – I twitch just thinking about this song, Celine Dion’s hit from the movie
  2. Love Song – I twitch just thinking about this song, Celine Dion’s hit from the movie Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On.” Please don’t play this song for your valentine. I pray it won’t be playing at a restaurant during a romantic evening. Maybe it is because the song was overplayed, but I can’t even listen to more than two beats before I change the channel or leave. Spare yourself and your date, and don’t play this song.
  3. Love Story – The ultimate love story of all time is Romeo and Juliet. It’s been told a dozen times in more modern formats. I know the ending, but I still get sucked in every time. SPOILER ALERT: they both die! How on earth is this considered romantic? Why does every love story end in such tragedy? What kind of message are we sending about love anyway? Can’t we just have a happy ending (no pun intended)?
  4. Fairytale – Cinderella is what every girl grows up wanting to be: a beautiful princess who meets her charming prince. I’m very confused about this one. First of all, how uncomfortable must it be to dance in a glass slipper? Then, how do you lose a glass slipper? You didn’t have one second to pick it up? Instead, you hobble along and waste time walking with one heel? Then Prince Charming finds the glass slipper and tracks down the princess it fits. Really? Do you know how long it would take to find a woman who fits a size 7 glass slipper? Wouldn’t it be easier to just ask if anyone knew who she was?

The best advice is to be present as your best present. Enjoy quality time with your loved one and show your thoughtfulness and appreciation.

Top 3 Reasons People Get Under Our Skin

man-tied-around-with-rope

Feeling trapped

Did you know that we make an impression of someone within one tenth of a second! It usually takes a few seconds thereafter to become aware of the impression. In that short time frame we determine whether someone is attractive, trustworthy, and credible. We are constantly bombarded with an unending stream of cognitive stimulation. Our brain needs to simplify things and create short cuts to process that amount of information coming at us. These impressions can sometimes be reliable and other times they can be faulty. We may find that when we do meet someone there is something about them that just bugs us. We can’t always put our finger on it, but we know they rub us the wrong way and they get under our skin. There are several reasons for this disconnect. Below are the top 3 reasons why people get under our skin.

  1. We expect other people to act and think like us. If I am a detail-oriented person, I think everyone else should be. Or if I love going out and meeting new people, I would expect everyone else to enjoy the same interactions. The minute we expect others to be like us and act like us, we lose sight of our unique differences and strengths.
  2. We secretly wish we could act like others. I have clients who wish they had certain strengths such as being blunt and direct so they don’t have to agonize over hurting other people’s feelings. Yet, when they meet these assertive people, they are frustrated by them and annoyed at how bold they are.
  3. We see something in someone else that is indicative of how we are and we don’t like it. You mayfind that you are easily irritated by people that are not punctual. This may be seen as inconsiderate and offensive. However, if you evaluate your own behavior you might find that you are also frequently late. It’s easier to recognize negative attributes in others than with ourselves.

The MIND the Matters workshop will you identify your own style and that of others to enhance your compatibility in your relationships and sustain productive relationships.

The unspoken truth about giving flowers for Valentine’s Day

Regardless of whether you give your valentine chocolate, diamonds, or flowers. Flowers on Valentine’s Day means roses.

316If you attempt to get any other flower, you are missing the boat. If you really want to be in the dog house, get carnations.or a romantic dinner, flowers are still a must. But there are a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. If you get roses, they must be red. Any other color is a letdown. Yellow for a friend or pink if you’re not sure where you stand? That’s totally confusing. You really can’t go wrong with red roses.
  2. You must get a dozen roses; it doesn’t matter how ridiculously priced they are. If you give one rose, you look cheap. If you want to save money, don’t get the long-stemmed roses.
  3. If you forget to get flowers or they are sold out, a single, fake rose wrapped in cellophane from 7-11 will be brought up in every fight from here until eternity. Tell her “they won’t die,” and you are digging a bigger hole!

These are just the unspoken rules; I didn’t create them. I’m not speaking for all women (but probably for most of them). Taking the time to plan ahead can save money and more than anything, the sweet sentiment on the little card inside the roses will give major bonus points. Be creative. Tell her something you appreciate about her, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day.

5 secrets to running your business like an Olympian

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I have often wondered about the characteristics that lead to an Olympic attitude and the winning characteristics of professional athletes. I am even more surprised when I see one of these individuals succeed in a brand new environment. For instance, put a skating champion or a football star on Dancing with the Stars and they still come out on top! I am huge fan of reality television and predicting human behavior. Whenever I see a true athlete I automatically think “that will be the winner.” I’ve come to realize that it is more than just the sport they are in. The drive to succeed is in them, no matter where they find themselves. I see this same drive and potential for success with business owners. Do you have what it takes to run a business like an Olympian? Below are five of the secrets that make Olympians true winners!

  1. Practice, practice, and practice some more! We’ve all heard of the importance of practice. I’m talking about going beyond the normal daily lesson. Driven people are immersed in what they do. They are consumed and maybe even obsessed by it. They live and breathe it. They watch videos of themselves. They learn from people they emulate and look within themselves to get better and better and better.
  2. Take risks and have guts. Anyone who has ever achieved an unbelievable feat took a risk somewhere. It may have meant believing in themselves at their core and reaching out to someone who could help, but also reject them; picking up and moving to a new state where the resources might be more plentiful; or investing their heart, soul, and savings into what they do. Those are risks that are full of conviction.
  3. Blood, sweat, and tears. Be willing to sacrifice. Achieving greatness doesn’t come easy for anyone. If it were easy, everyone would be great. Those who achieve greatness have sacrificed a lot to get where they are. Top athletes remember practicing their sport for countless hours, learning and growing while giving up typical childhood activities. The same is true in running a business. At least in the beginning, there are a lot of sacrifices.
  4. Do what it takes. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. That doesn’t mean it is easy. It means finding a way to make it happen. There are solutions to any obstacle if you look hard enough. Most people spend so much time focusing on what isn’t working that they can’t envision what they need to do to make it happen. Successful athletes reach out, connect, use supports, and set a vision to achieve their goal. A challenge is just part of the process. Figure out a way around it. It doesn’t matter what type of obstacle is involved – money, relationships, time, etc. – there is always a way around it. Adopt an attitude of embracing adversity. Bring it!
  5. Burning desire. You must have true belief in yourself – an inner drive and an inner knowing – that you can do it! Your courage and vision for what is possible will instantly inspire other people. There is great strength of character in the undeniable belief in your own dreams, your ability to just know and then just do.

Take a look at yourself and determine where you are on these five keys. Where do you need to focus to fulfill your dreams? Now get going.

Are your beliefs driving the bus in the wrong direction?

Most people aren’t aware of their underlying beliefs about themselves, their relationships, and their environmeschool_bus_burning_out_500_clr_509nt. In my experience, one of the best ways to predict whether someone will be successful is whether they believe they will be successful. That seems fairly straightforward, but underlying that statement is a host of other beliefs. Do you believe that if you are rich you must not be considerate, or maybe it means you’re greedy? Do you believe you are worthy of success or you are destined to fail? Do you believe you are loveable or not? These deep-seated beliefs drive our actions continuously and they are not always apparent. You may want to achieve a particular goal, but you need to be clear on what is driving the bus. Your beliefs determine your level of motivation, the actions you take, the interactions you have, and the conscious thoughts you have. In order to begin clarify your underlying beliefs, ask yourself the questions below:

  1. What are five beliefs that hinder your progress?
  2. Where did these beliefs originate?
  3. How could you change these beliefs to support your goals?

Are you considered successful?

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Are you considered successful?

What does success mean to you? Everybody has a different notion and understanding of the word success. For some, success means raising a happy and healthy family, while others view success as becoming a millionaire, and yet others have definitions that fall somewhere in the middle. It’s really an interesting question. So often, we have a running monologue in our heads about wanting success. We go to work, take care of the kids, and do the right things, all with the underlying motive of achieving success. Yet we very rarely sit and consider what it is that we are really after. What actually is success? How do we know we are successful? It’s not as though someone hands us a ribbon that says “Congratulations — you’ve achieved success!” Often someone else may deem us successful, but that doesn’t mean that we view ourselves that way. So take a moment and reflect on what you are really going after. How would you know that you are truly successful? Would that mean that you are happy, fulfilled, rich?

If you can determine in detail what your definition of success actually is, then you can clearly identify what it looks like, how it feels, and most of all, when you have arrived. (That’s a trick, because I don’t believe we ever really arrive, we just set new goals!) Once you’ve clarified what you are after, then you create a game plan for getting there. Below is a series of questions that will help you fine-tune your specific goals to achieving success.

Top 10 Questions to Clarify Your Goals:

  1. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
  2. What were your goals when you were a child?
  3. What have you decided you are too old to do?
  4. What goals did you have last year that you gave up on?
  5. What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
  6. What would you like to possess by the end of the year?
  7. Who would you like to be by the end of the year?
  8. Where would you like to be in 10 years?
  9. When are you happy and energized?
  10. What would you really like to do?

Tired of chasing perfect?

Have you been chasing your idea of perfection? Does it end up making you feel that, no matter how hard you try, you’re just not quite cutting it? Perfectionism is a factor all too common among lawyers (as well as other professionals and business owners). Each of us has an idea of what constitutes a “perfect” life — perhaps it’s living in a particular neighborhood, looking a certain way, acquiring an array of material possessions, reaching certain accolades or having your spouse and children do the same. I am 100% in favor of having a vision of what you want your life or career to look like and going for it full throttle. (special thanks to Ann Forno for coining this phrase!)running_walking_500_clr_8351

Here’s part of a message that I wrote to a Platinum Client that may help you understand the difference:

I realized something about me that may apply to you too. One way the Resistance (i.e., self-sabotage as per Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art) shows up in my life is by SO wanting my future vision to manifest that I am utterly unable to be present in my current life. I get unhappy about not being “there” that it can ruin the present, which then leads me to be unhappy now. I then beat myself up for not being “there”, put undue pressure on myself, get depressed, and then get lethargic. When I am lethargic, I don’t have the energy to do the work. Plus, all my negativity brings about more negative stuff (via principles of Cause & Effect or Law of Attraction). The Resistance WINS. It wins because I give up. It wins because I feel as though I can’t experience any joy until I got “there”. I now see what I have been doing, and how it was the Resistance all along. I don’t think you are as extreme as me with this. But, I offer this so you can learn from my mistakes. One huge reason it took me so long to get to where I am today in my business (& I have a way to go still) is because I kept falling into a pattern of Resistance where I got so miserable, I would derail myself.

So, lesson learned: celebrate what you have now – even the crap — because it is a stepping stone; acknowledge all that IS working, especially things we take for granted living in the USA (like an abundance of food, clothing, shelter, etc.) ; keep doing something that will move you toward your vision DAILY; and most importantly, take time to take care of yourself. When you don’t, you risk succumbing to the Resistance. You will reach your goals faster if you can enjoy the ride now without going into either extreme: the extreme of chasing perfect and the extreme of complete indulgence.

Where do YOU stand? Are you chasing perfect? If so, then I invite you think about how the incessant chase of perfection only delays your ability to accomplish your goals AND makes the journey less fulfilling. Instead, commit to doing some of the actions outlined in the second paragraph of the aforementioned note. You’ll be a lot happier and as a result, you’ll reach your vision of success faster.

Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Esq., CPCC, ACC; President and CEO; Esquire Coaching www.EsquireCoaching.com

info@EsquireCoaching.com 800-871-9012, Ext.776250#

Are you a lover or a fighter?

I have always been interested in the variety of ways people deal with conflict. There are some people who thrive on the potential for conflict and others who will hold back so hard they bite their lip until it bleeds. I’ve come to realize that your personality and behavioral style are strongly related to how you manage conflict, miscommunication, and disagreements.

Some people are wonderful in the midst of a crisis. They are decisive, able to use common sense, and protect themselves and others without hesitation. Often, however, the people who do so well in conflict are also not afraid of conflict, so they are more likely to be the people who create conflict! In the MIND the Matters Program, these people are called the Directors. They thrive on conflict, handle crisis situations with ease and make rapid decisions. They love a challenge and are driven for the thrill of victory.

Tough

On the flip side is the opposite style, the Nurturers. The Nurturers’ natural response is not to fight, but to flee (at least internally). The Nurturer will tolerate conflict even though it makes their skin crawl to limit the intensity of the conflict. They will hide their emotions as much as possible. Watch out, though! There will be the rare occurrence when all that emotion and resentment reaches a critical pressure point and the pipe bursts. At this point no one should mess with the Nurturer. Once they apologize for their outburst, they will go back to hiding their emotions.

The Investigator flees from conflict and threat by removing themselves from the situation as quickly as possible. They are not quick thinkers, so they step away to keep things calm while they think through to find a way to solve the disagreement. There are times when the Investigator will avoid people and situations if there is the slightest discord or they sense conflict brewing. Investigators remove themselves to analyze the potential threat, calculate the probability of injury, and do a risk analysis, at which time they are paralyzed and frozen.

The Motivators are optimistic and positive. They want to be around people and positive situations and will dodge any conflict if possible. Conflict equates to rejection and they do not want to be disliked. However, since they are so persuasive, they will disarm others with their influence, light-heartedness and skillful persuasion.

Do opposites really attract?

160After training hundreds of classes on personality and behavioral styles I have found that most couple and spouse whom take the class together are almost always opposites. I have been told that I have even saved some relatiooppositesnships. In one class there was a husband, wife and child. All three of them were three different styles!

I believe that we are attracted to people that have qualities we admire. We are drawn to others who seem to have strengths and attributes that are effortless for them and yet agonizing for us. That difference does create an initial attraction and it intrigues us because we want to associate with people that represent want we want. It also explains why in the beginning of a relationship we find their quirks cute….and then…after a few months we no longeMTMr find them quite as cute. Those are the same traits that now drive us nuts!

126In the MIND the matters workshop you will learn the characteristics of all four behavioral styles. The Dominator and Nourisher are exact opposite styles and the Investigator and Motivator are also opposites. That means that the strength of one is the challenge of the other.

Consider you might be very forthright and a straight shooter. The opposite of your style is someone who would find that awfully rude. So they will try very hard to be diplomatic. The straight shooter views this overly considerate person as wishy-washy. Similarly, a creative and imaginative person likes to consider lots of ideas and they are stimulated by brainstorming. The opposite style prefers to think within the box and follow logic.

161It becomes obvious that our unique attributes can help others and make them crazy at the same time. The key to success is to appreciate differences and work to leverage the strengths of each style. Sometimes however that is much easier said than done!

How often are you stood up for a business meeting?

I’m completely surprised when I hear people saying they have been stood up for a business meeting. Now let me clarify. When I say stood up, I mean your appointment was a no-show. They didn’t call to say they were running late, they didn’t call to reschedule, they didn’t pass go, they didn’t collect $200. You had every intention to meet with them as a ‘professional’ to discuss business, either as a referral partner, a prospect, or just a general get-together. And there you sit, waiting patiently. Sipping your five dollar mocha latte or drinking water in a restaurant, or worse yet, in the front office of their building. You look at your watch, check your phone, and look at your watch again. Finally fifteen, even twenty minutes have passed and you decide to call. Bob answers the phone and he is clueless that you had a scheduled appointment. You mention that you are waiting and Bob replies, “Oh, totally forgot. I got tied up. Let’s catch up sometime next week.”

You shake your head in awe that you have been sitting uncomfortably by yourself, you’re annoyed that you’ve wasted your time, and beyond that he didn’t even apologize. As you stutter and gasp in disbelief, you appease Bob and hang up the phone. You can’t believe the audacity of some people.

I’ve had that happen to me. I’ve had it happen to me once! And only once. That person didn’t get another opportunity. As a result, though, I’ve made sure that I confirm my appointment (especially if it’s someone who doesn’t seem the most organized) and I outline the purpose of our meeting. I do that for a couple of reasons. I once scheduled a meeting with a referral partner and the day of the meeting she called me and left a message saying she was unable to meet because she had to schedule an appointment with an important prospect. I called her back to reschedule and realized that what she basically had implied was that her meeting with me was not as important. That was very unfortunate for her, since I had every intention of passing her a couple of referrals. I just wanted to understand a few things first. After the realization hit me, I was offended. She didn’t stand me up, but she blew me off. She also wanted to reschedule and I obliged – but she cancelled that meeting too. Needless to say, I gracefully declined a third meeting.

So if you’ve been stood up, there are really only a couple of explanations: (1) the individual isn’t organized and forgot (unprofessional but it happens); or (2) you aren’t important enough to them. So if you want to avoid the embarrassment of checking your watch or having an awkward conversation, then confirm the appointment (and location) and set the agenda so they see the value of the time they will be spending with you. If it still happens, learn to be selective about how you choose to schedule your time.

Does your business struggle because you shoot yourself in the foot?

I’ve owned my business for several years and I’ve heard all of the stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve heard explanations as to why some business owners believe they are successful, and I’ve heard just as many explanations why others believe they aren’t successful. Especially given the ups and downs of the last few years, comments regarding the economy and its impact on business were certainly the norm.

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I do believe I have been fortunate to experience continued growth through the eight years I’ve been in business, although fear of the ball dropping has always been present. As a way of managing my own anxiety, I wondered if there was a pattern in the type of explanations and rationale that people use. When we hit the recession, people would ask me all the time, “Well, how is business?” I would smile and say it was going very well. The typical response was, “Well, of course it is. Look at all the struggling businesses; obviously they’d need a coach. So naturally your business is doing well.” The first time I heard that, I was struck. But after hearing it repeatedly, I sort of believed it. Then I ran into a few other coaches and assumed their businesses would be doing just as well. Instead, they commented that the economy had made things difficult for businesses and since coaching was seen as a luxury, fewer people were hiring them. I understood that, too, that coaching could be considered a luxury expense, and I wondered how I’d be impacted.

I really couldn’t make heads or tails out of it and just came to terms with the idea that we create our own results. I’m a big advocate of just putting my head down and doing the work. Never mind what everyone thinks or says; I just keep plugging along. But even now that the economy is beginning to stabilize, I still hear the explanations and complaints. In particular, I belong to a speakers’ association. One man commented that, as a professional, he refuses to speak for free. In the second breath he then commented that he can’t get people to attend his cheap webinar. He complained about the people in Florida and then asked me to get him an opportunity to speak to a civic organization, but he wanted me to ensure he would get paid.

I scratched my head, as I often do. If your business is down, then you need more exposure. You need to fill your pipeline. In order to create buzz, that might mean speaking pro bono, as a way to build goodwill and show value that will ultimately lead to more business. Feeling entitled, complaining about other people, and demanding that others assist you is a sure-fire way to diminish your pipeline. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, because you’ve painted yourself into a corner!

4 breakfast foods that relate to your style

It’s probably obvious at this point that I am hungry! It dawned on me this morning that there are so many different types of breakfast foods that I could devour. Some of the choices are healthy, some sugary, some not even appetizing (at least to me!). Instead of whetting your appetite, though, consider how you come across to other people. When you are selling your product or service, does it make your prospect’s mouth water? Is there an insatiable need to have it right away? Is there an eagerness and breakfast-selling21anticipation after the order is received?

Would you try to sell steak and eggs to someone who was on a diet? You could. You might even get some takers, but you might lose loyalty. Wouldn’t you think you’d be better off selling them what they are seeking, a smoothie, maybe, or some fruit? Would you alter your pitch depending on who your customer was? Well, of course you would! That’s the point.

However, do you alter your sales style when selling to different prospects? Are you an Eggs Benedict type of person who wants the absolute best? Irrespective of calories, time, or money, that’s what you want. Similarly, when you sell your products or services to others, you go straight for the top of the line. You give your prospect all the reasons they want your product. When they give objections about calories, you insist anyway, because after all it is The Best! If that’s the case, you may be a Director Style when you sell.

On the other hand, maybe you love creativity and variety. You want to taste a little of everything. Wouldn’t a buffet be perfect? You could have unlimited choices and they are all ready for you to take. You are delighted with the option of three different types of muffins, bagels, or even croissants. When you sell your product or service you can’t begin to describe all the fun options. Even if your prospect came specifically for cereal and orange juice, you can describe and explain why so many others prefer grits instead. If so, you may be a Motivator Style. You are so exuberant that you spend so much time talking that your prospect could have eaten their breakfast and been done at that point.

What if you like traditional bacon and eggs? Every time you go out to eat, you order the same thing, the same way: two eggs sunny side up, with two strips of bacon, and wheat toast. You never deviate; this is what you enjoy and this is why you come. When you sell, you are reassuring your prospect about the consistency of the breakfast. The eggs are perfectly cooked each time. The bacon is slightly crispy and the toast is warm, but not soggy. Your prospect comes in and decides they would like to try something new. An omelet might be a nice change of pace. You ask the prospect a few more questions because you are concerned that if they order something they don’t like, they will get upset or be disappointed. So you delay the process to double-check and make sure by asking the prospect a few more times. If so, you may be a Nurturing Style. At this point, you’ve managed to annoy your prospect because you have repeatedly asked them the same question over and over again.

What if you have the same thing every morning? That is your breakfast food, oatmeal. Your routine never changes. You have steel-cut oatmeal cooked with a half-teaspoon of brown sugar and eight blueberries. When you sell, you explain how the oatmeal is all-natural and unprocessed. You make oatmeal the good, old-fashioned way. You explain the perfection of timing and the process you take to ensure stellar oatmeal. You ask the prospect about their preferences for butter, sugar, fruit, plating, size, temperature, and texture. If you sell by process and exact prospect needs, you are likely an Investigator Style. Your prospect becomes frustrated with the interrogation and decides to grab a banana on the way out.

Every salesperson needs to become flexible in how they sell. Just because you like your eggs one way doesn’t mean someone else does!

Now to have some fun . . . what other breakfast food can you think of what does that say about you?

Oh No! Another Slimy Salesman!

There is nothing worse than having someone try to sell you something. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about people who satisfy needs and offer solutions. That’s different than selling to me. There is something that happens to some sales people when they go into ‘sales mode.’ It’s similar to Superman changing in a phone booth or Wonder Woman twirling around to become a superhero, but in reverse. Before you know it, they’ve been engulfed by this slimy character with a fake persona and all they want to do is tell you why they are the best and why you should buy from them.

There is no interaction, no courtesy, and it certainly isn’t a dialogue. It’s a non-reciprocal diatribe. It’s uncomfortable and requires the utmost tact to maneuver your way out of it – followed promptly by a shower! Fortunately it’s happened so often to me that I’ve become quite adept at lunging to the left and then right with a fake-out to get out from underneath them.

help-buttonSo what happens to these people? One minute they are as nice as can be. Then you ask one simple question about their product or service and – boom! – the mask is on, their tone changes, they lean forward, and you are stuck. If people learned how to have conversations and identify needs, there really would be no need to sell, you would just simply communicate information as if you were giving directions.

Here’s something to try if you want to make sure you’re not scaring off potential sales customers. Pretend you are driving home and you are only a couple miles from your house. You’ve lived there for almost ten years and you know the area very well. A young mother and her son stop you to ask for directions to a grocery store. It’s simple: it’s up two blocks on the right. So you take a couple minutes to explain and point in the direction of the store. You tell the woman which street to turn on, how far to go, and any common landmarks. There is no need to sell. You don’t need to convince her to follow your advice, you are just giving information. Imagine your demeanor and your tone as you explain the directions. If you could have sales conversations without turning into a sales villain, remaining just as helpful and engaged as you did giving directions, you’d easily close more sales.

Make up your mind!

During a workshop on personalities, a participant asked, “What does it mean when your spouse won’t give you a straight answer on where to go for dinner?” The room erupted with comments and banter on how annoying that is. You know what I mean? You have one direct person and the other person is far more accommodating. So the direct person always picks where to go for dinner or what movie to watch. After years have gone by, the direct person finally asks, “Well, where do you want to go?” The spouse replies, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Where do you want to go?” They in turn respond, “It doesn’t matter to me, really. Where do you want to go?” They reply, “Oh, whatever you want is fine!” Okay, I know that exchange is excruciating just to read, let alone engage in!

So what is this all about? Here’s the gist. Each person has an idea of what they want, at least the majority of the time. But they have an inner dialogue running through their head that prevents them from speaking up. On the one hand, you might have dialogue from the direct person thinking, “I’ve made decisions all day. I don’t want to make another decision. I don’t care; just make up your mind. Can you just make a decision? I’m exhausted. I’m trying to be nice. I always pick the place. Last time I picked you complained the whole time, so now you should pick.” All the while, that’s what is going on behind the scene, never to be spoken aloud. Meanwhile, the other person is thinking, “If I tell you where I want to go you will make fun it. You’ll huff and puff and make the night miserable. You are so picky and you only like two places. So it’s just easier if I go along with you.” Again, all these thoughts are behind the scene, never to be spoken.

So what to do? Be honest! How difficult is that? What if you said, “I would like you to choose because I always choose and I know I’m picky so I want to do something nice for you”? Or “I would like to go here, but I want to make sure you’ll have a good time also.” Sometimes we spend so much time avoiding the conflict, but it would just be easier to say it like it is!

Top 5 Default Responses

double_bubble_expression_1600_clr_132882I’ve noticed, in speaking with people, that there are five different thoughts that people default to when preparing for action. They may or may not be aware of these thoughts. After meeting with a client and laying out specific action plans, I’ve noticed that energized and competent people will actually say, “I can do that!” That had me wondering, though, what their default thought is. What is the below-the-surface thought that runs through their head or automatically pops up when they want to take action? Here are the five default thoughts I’ve identified:

  1. I want . . .
  2. I need . . .
  3. I don’t know how . . .
  4. I am going to . . .
  5. I can’t . . .

Not sure where you fall? Consider this. You have identified a specific plan of action for your business, for instance, and you’ve decided that your goal is to create an appreciation event for your clients. Once you’ve identified that goal, what is your most immediate thought?

“I want to have a fun evening with appetizers.”
“I need to figure out how to organize that.”
“I don’t know how to coordinate something like that.”
“I am going to make this a great event.”
“I can’t pull that off.”

There are some situations where you may have slightly different responses depending on your competence and confidence levels. But pay attention to the typical response you have. Did you notice that each of those five phrases will lead to very different action? If your default response is “I don’t know how” instead of “I am going to” you will create self-doubt and insecurity that instantly dampen your enthusiasm. However, saying “I am going to” instantly sets you up to take action with a strong commitment. Over the next week, listen for your below-the-surface default responses; catch yourself and see if you can identify which responses give you motivation and which don’t.

I’d love to hear your insights.

Turn your “should” into a “shoulder.”

There was a time when I thought the line between forgiving and forgetting was very clear. As I get older and learn more about myself, I’ve come to realize this line is blurry for me. I often equate forgiveness with the ability to let things go without harboring resentment and negative feelings. Oprah has spoken about how not forgiving is like drinking poison. I truly believe that. We end up harming ourselves with the negativity that is stored within our body and the endless thoughts that occupy our mind. How, then, do you get to a point where you can forgive someone? I believe forgiveness starts with forgiving ourselves. And that has got to be one of the hardest things a person can do!

hands_around_heart_shape_pc_1600_wht_3583Forgiveness is a skill that needs to be learned and developed.And the first stage starts with yourself. If I have done things in my life that I regret or think I shouldn’t have done, I need to get straight with myself. If I harbor negative feelings towards myself, how can I possibly let things go with someone else?

There is a process, though, for how we forgive ourselves. First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that there are things we wish wouldn’t have done. So often, though, we pretend we don’t have regrets, that we are justified in handling things the way we did. Now I’m not talking about the regrets of criminal activity like robbing a bank. I’m referencing the more subtle elements of our behavior: things like yelling at our kids, ignoring our friends, being rude to a customer service rep, not being home in time for dinner. Whatever it may be, those little tiny things add up. We have these subtle thoughts that are masked as ‘shoulds’: I should spend more time with the kids, I should be more patient, I should call Bob more often. Whatever it might be, we say should all day long, and those shoulds become pebbles of regret. We typically do one of two things with these pebbles. We may pretend they aren’t there and focus on something else to escape the painful thought. We keep walking as if we had a pebble in our shoe, and even though it might be an irritant, we tell ourselves it’s not that bad. The other thing we might do is harp on it. We compound the should with even more shoulds and turn the pebble into a rock. We think, “I know I should call Bob.” I do that all the time. “I need to call Mary, too. I should be on top of this. I should do this and I should do that.” So now we are walking around with a rock in our shoe instead of just a pebble, and agonizing about how painful it is.

The obvious method of handling the pebble, of course, is to recognize we have a pebble, stop, grab the pebble, and discard it. This is the formula for how we forgive ourselves. The first step is knowing we have a pebble. Next, we acknowledge the pebble and expend energy and time to take hold of it. Taking hold of the pebble is analogous to taking responsibility for behavior. This requires us to have a different kind of conversation with ourselves, where we shift the should to a shoulder. We understand it has created a burden for us and we forgive ourselves by having empathy and compassion for being human. Now we have a shoulder to lean on. This doesn’t mean we give ourselves an excuse to continue the behavior. It means we are quite clear on what we have done, what we would like to change, and why we would like to change it. And then we are nice to ourselves about it. In discarding the pebble, we get right with things. This involves telling your kids you didn’t mean to yell, or calling Bob and saying “I really enjoy talking to you.”

If you can do that for yourself, do you think that you would have more compassion for your parents when they yelled at you? You see that what starts the process of forgiving others is learning to do it for ourselves.

Give it a try — forgive yourself and enjoy the day!

Inconsiderate people, Part 2: Cell Phones

I know I’m not going to be the first person to bring up this issue. But some of you may not be aware that you are the culprit, so please pay attention. All cell phones come equipped with a silence or vibrate option. The reason this is standard is that there are situations where the ringing of a phone is distracting and inappropriate. For instance, listening to someone give a eulogy at a funeral would not be the best case scenario for your cell phone to be ringing. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that in this case you would either not bring your phone with you or you would think to turn it off. I’ll also give you the benefit of the doubt that maybe the reason you don’t put it on vibrate is that you haven’t figured out how. That doesn’t exactly explain why the ringer must be turned all the way up and you couldn’t at least lower the volume out of courtesy.
This has happened to me many times. I’m sitting in a restaurant and inevitably someone’s cell phone goes off, or maybe during a training or some other occasion where it isn’t critical to have your cell phone next to you. That’s not the worst part, though. Here’s what I don’t understand. I’m at a restaurant enjoying a nice meal and good conversation. Three tables away I hear a cell phone. It not only rings once, it rings twice, and then three times, and then four times. Eventually, it’s picked up by voicemail. The entire restaurant is looking at this one person who is oblivious to the ringing. Why on earth would you just look at the phone and watch it ring as it disrupts everyone else’s conversation? I get that you are deciding whether or not you want to take the call. (And by the way, thank you for not being one of those people who actually answers the call and screams as though the other person is on another planet. That is inconsiderate, but I think most people are beginning to recognize this so it happens less often.)
So instead, they stare at the phone and watch it ring. They haven’t figured out how to hit the button that sends the call to voicemail immediately or they don’t think to simply leave the room. Instead they just stare. The entire restaurant is quiet waiting for the phone to stop ringing. The kicker, though, is that the person has no idea that it disrupted anyone. They are so busy staring that they don’t even realize they’ve offended other people – kind of like the person who cuts you off while driving and isn’t aware they did it. That just adds insult to injury.
Please do me a favor. If you own a cell phone, be responsible enough to learn two main functions: 1) How to silence your phone; and 2) How to send a call to voicemail. If you won’t spend a few minutes learning this, then at the very least, don’t bring your phone with you! Just sayin’.

Visit http://www.hypeorlando.com/just-sayin/?p=33 for Inconsiderate people, Part 1: Airports.

What’s the difference between forgiving and forgetting?

I’ve noticed some people seem to recall the past with vivid detail, typically a resentment that has mounted for years, perhaps even since childhood. They say they have forgiven something, but they will not forget. I, on the other hand, seem to have lived a much more peaceful existence and believed there are many things I had forgiven. Then I came to realize there are many things I did indeed forget, or at least denied for the time being. This is a well-recognized coping mechanism, but is it truly forgiving?

I think it’s pretty evident when we haven’t forgiven. There is a deep-seated anger within our stomachs that mobilizes when we think of a person that we haven’t forgiven. Typically, the mention of their name or the thought of a specific incident is enough to stir the gastrointestinal juices. Others may seem to have endured unbelievable trauma and have the grace to forgive and let things go. Their jaws don’t clench and their hands don’t form into fists. They have compassion for others and there is no ill will, no secret wishes for vengeance, just acceptance and a calm presence. There has been a clear acknowledgment of what occurred and what the consequences were, with no need to retaliate. Forgetting, however, is a lack of acknowledgment of the situation and its consequences. It is as though it didn’t occur at all and doesn’t cloud any future interactions. Often this is surrounded by a desire to avoid discussions and thoughts related to that event. Denial requires energy and resources to pretend things didn’t occur. It requires energy and resources to avoid uncomfortable conversations and topics. It requires energy and resources to attend selectively to only positive situations. True forgiveness doesn’t require energy and resources. There is no escape, there is no avoidance, and there is no denial. Forgiveness just is!