Yes I Can!

In both life and business we’re almost predisposed to say no.  We say “no, I don’t like that” and “no, I don’t do that” every day.  I do it too, lots of people ask me if I can help them with certain things and I say no because I’ve decided those aren’t the most beneficial things I could be doing or things I wouldn’t enjoy doing in business.

How does saying no reflect on who we are and what we do?  I think that saying no could say a couple of things to your clients:  First it could shows you know your boundaries.  It could shows you know what you’re good at and that you leave the other stuff to those who do that better (think joint ventures!).   Second, it could show you’ve not considered an opportunity.  Maybe you have, but just saying “no” to a client doesn’t tell them if you’ve thought about it or not.

So how can we turn “no” into a positive experience for ourselves and our clients?  Instead of just saying “no” or giving a reason why not, talk with them about what they’re looking for, tell them what you can do, and that you can also direct them to an excellent person who can do what they’re asking for.  Sometimes people ask for things they don’t really know about so by talking with them about what they’re looking for and what you do can help clarify if you can actually help.  And, by directing them to a recommended friend who can do what they want, not only do you look good, you give your friend business too.

Let’s take it a step further: for the rest of this year, 2011, I want to encourage you, in the spirit of the season, to say “yes!” to someone.  It doesn’t have to be against any principles or values you have, and it doesn’t have to be something you will regret in the long term.  But if a client asks you for help with something that you can do, like staying a little later or running an errand or making a change to the work you’ve done, do it!

What way can you say “yes!” in your business more?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Whole Living: Walt’s Wisdom

“Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.”
Walt Disney

December has many wonderful birthdays in it, including the famous Walt Disney who was born on December 5th.  While Disney is no longer with us, he has left us an incredible legacy.  Disney knew something special about life-as important as money is, there has to be love!

Without love, the difficulties of life wouldn’t be bearable.  There’s no amount of money that would make a bed warm at night or make a holiday gathering special.  No matter how much money you have, it wouldn’t be the same without people to be around and love.

As we close out this month of thinking about kindness and thanksgiving, and look forward to talking about love in December, I am reminded that these are the best days of life- days when love and compassion are so evident.

I am thankful that people take advantage of opportunities to bestow blessings upon their fellow man during this season, but wish that we would remember to do so all year long.  Disney’s dreams of animation, Disneyland and Disney World didn’t end when he died, other people have carried it on long after.

What’s stopping us from carrying on love and kindness through the year?

Just like Disney is a work of love, let’s work this year to be more loving, kind and thankful all year long.

Spicing Up Holiday Romance

The holidays make it difficult to get any alone time, let alone a chance to have a real date.  We’re so busy with holiday foods, decorations, parties and gifts that relationships take a back seat in November and December.  So what can you do to spice up a little holiday romance?

Make a 24 days of Christmas calendar: not a traditional one, but one that has little gifts for your spouse or both of you.  Maybe it’s a little treat or a gift of massage oil or an early bed night for one of you (and the other gets the kids).

Share the “fun”: you have to wrap those presents, bake those holiday snacks and decorate the house, why not do it together?  Put on a good holiday movie or some festive tunes and reminisce about memories from holidays past.

Do a “Secret Santa”: well, there might not be much in the way of secrets here, but you can leave each other little presents or love notes thorughout the month that spread the holiday cheer and bring you closer together.

Plan a night out: it sounds rather ordinary, but if you both plan a special, secret night out to a restaurant and a fun activity, it will be different. One idea is to think about things your partner has been wishing for or talking about for a while, and see if you can work that into the plan.  Another thought is to incorporate a special holiday event like a tree lighting, trip to a nearby city to see their decorations or holiday play.   Think of it as part of their Christmas present.

These are just 4 fun ideas that can make your holiday this year special and help you and your partner create some different memories.  What fun holiday date and romance ideas do you have?  I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Thankful in Business

One of the biggest steps I took in life was to start a business.  Every day that I don’t have to go work for a company where all the employees are unhappy, I’m thankful.  I’m thankful that I am blessed to choose my clients, and am given the opportunity to bless their lives.  I’m thankful each time my phone rings and another order has come in.  I’m thankful each day that I get to get up and not have to join other people on the backed-up highways.  I’m thankful to be in charge of my future.

But just like with anything else there are challenges.  Running my own business has actually turned those challenges into new opportunities to be thankful!  I get to be creative and learn how to work thorough the ups, downs and obstacles in life and business.

I’m sure that like me you’re thankful to run your own business too.  So this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to do something for your customers and clients that shows them you’re thankful for them too.  You could add an option to gift wrap items as well as an option for engraving or personalization for holiday gifts to help make their holidays a little easier.  Also doing a little something special for regular customers is a way to show them how thankful you are for them like little presents or even just a thank you card or email.  They’ll appreciate being appreciated!

Thanksgiving Thoughts

With Thanksgiving a few days away let’s take a look at some thoughts from men and women about being thankful.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”  Meister Eckhart

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”   John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”   Edward Sandford Martin

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  Thornton Wilder

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  Oprah Winfrey

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” Frank A. Clark

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” W. Clement Stone

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”  Henry Ward Beecher

“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”  Alfred North Whitehead

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  Gilbert Keith Chesterton

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”  Aesop

“For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful.  And more truly for what I have not received.” Storm Jameson

I am thankful for so many things!   What are you thankful for today?

Family Thanksgiving

Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here!?  This year it seems to have snuck up on us.  I think it’s really important for families to focus on being thankful and sharing thanks with each other.  So often you just hear cursing, fights and unhappiness that we forget that there’s a whole other side to life.  Yes, life has it’s challenges, and always will, but I think with a little effort we can all incorporate more thankfulness into our lives.

-Make a “Garland of Gratitude.” You can do this all year long, changing the garland to be seasonally appropriate (snowflakes in January, hearts in February, clover leaves in March, rain drops in April, spring things in May etc. ) If you’re not keen on a garland, try a tree, sunflower or turkey.

-Have a jar where you write on slips of paper what you’re thankful for throughout the year.  Each Thanksgiving when you get together as a family you can open the jar and read all the things you were thankful for that year.

-Ask your family members at dinner or before bed.  It’s much easier to get into the habit of being thankful if you make time to be thankful.  By talking about being thankful and what you’re thankful for each day it will be easier to be thankful and you may even have kids running in from school saying “Mom, Mom! Guess what I’m thankful for today?!”

There’s only one right answer to being thankful, and that’s as often as you can be.  What are you thankful for today?

Do You Dream about Your Business?

“Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.”  William Longgood

As we head into the end of this year it’s a good time to start reflecting on what this year has been for your business.  Hopefully you’ve had a successful year, a year with much profits, great customers and insight as to what your business can do for the community.

So let’s start with the easy question: are you happy with how the year went? 

I hope so, I hope that the pros outweigh the cons, that you had more successes than failures and that you feel good about the work you’ve done.

And now the hard question: what are your goals for next year? 

It’s essential to have goals, not only so you know what to aim at, but so you also can make a plan and live life on purpose rather than taking blows as they come.  As for your business, if you don’t have goals your success won’t be nearly as much as it could be if you have goals and a plan to reach them.

So what goals should we set?  The first one that probably comes to mind is financial.  You’ll want to make more money, or start to make money from an existing stream of income that isn’t very profitable right now.  The next one is getting more clients.  After all, usually more clients means more money.  A third goal would be around your growth and direction as a company.  You’re hopefully one year into your 5 year plan, are you on track for the next 4, and beyond?  Finally, your goal for personal growth.  Your company is only as good as it’s leader, so you need to be setting goals for personal growth too.

Once you’ve written those goals down, stop and dream about the possibilities.  Imagine all the different ways you could go about those goals and the different ways that you can help other people.  Once you’ve come up with several big picture ideas as well as several “reaches”, start planning how you’re going to reach those goals.  Set up a plan that’s easy to follow and will get you the results you want.

So, just to get you thinking, what’s your big dream for next year?

Clean that Fridge!

Yes, we’ve come full circle, it’s another November 14th, time to clean out that refrigerator!  Here are my thoughts from last year, and for this year let’s focus on being fresh.

Start by taking out all the condiments (ketchup, mustard, jelly etc) and check the dates on them.  If it’s more than 1 year past their expiration date, you definitely need to recycle them or throw them away.  If you’re not sure, here are three tips:

-jams, jellies, ketchup, margarine: 6 months

-mustard and maple syrup: 1 year

-butter and mayo: 2 months

While you’re at it, take a quick minute to wipe down each section of the refrigerator as you go along.

Once you’ve cleaned out those shelves, go to the cheese and fruit/vegetable drawers.  Check those expiration dates, and make sure nothing looks bad.  While cheese does have an expiration date, sometimes it goes bad before that date, so do check the cheeses, especially if they’re already opened.  Fruit and vegetables don’t come with an expiration date, so look at them and even touch them to make sure they’re still good. If they’re blackening or squishy and aren’t supposed to be, get rid of them!

Then move onto the shelves.  If you have lots of full shelves go through them one by one.  Check for dates, appearance and even smells.  Here are some guidelines on undated items.

-leftovers: 4 days maximum

-eggs: 4 weeks after date on package

-meats: uncooked-2 days, cooked-4

I hope you’ll clean out your refrigerator of items that are bad, and clean it up a little too.  If you are overwhelmed just thinking about it, consider hiring an organizer to help you. And if you have any questions about organizing and cleaning your fridge, I’d love to answer them.

Family Kindness

“I think what’s important for kids to know is that your decisions here on earth matter, your behavior matters and how you treat other people matters.”
Matt Damon

Teachers and those without kids have the ability to help raise kids, but they don’t have to.  Parents, on the other hand, technically don’t have a choice.  When they chose to have kids, they decided that they would show their kids how to grow up, what it means to be a good person, and help them through life as situations come up.

I think it’s hard for kids to really see that their words and actions matter today.  We live in such a clean society where we don’t see what happens to all our trash, what happens when we pour chemicals on the lawns and down the drains, and where we can bully people across the world through the internet and think it’s a joke.

In this week of thinking about kindness, I encourage you to help your kids see that what they do matters.  Maybe they won’t be the bully or the person who doesn’t recycle, but they very well could cure cancer or thank a veteran because you took the time to show them that everyone can make a difference.

Businesses that Make an Impact

Most business owners start a business because they want to make an impact on the world.  Many of us do make an impact, some make a big impact, some make a small one and some make a good impact and some make a bad one.  I don’t think any business owner starts out wanting to make a bad impact, so let’s talk about how as business owners we can make a good impact.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
Benjamin Disraeli

I love this quote by Disraeli because he speaks to something that I firmly believe: it’s one thing to give a fish to a man, it’s another to teach him how to fish.  This is one of the reasons I started teaching classes on how to start a business, and working as a coach.  There is a big problem in the USA right now where people are looking for jobs that aren’t to be found.  The answer is to not make more jobs, jobs that will go away, but to help anyone interested start a business that can grow and make a bigger impact in the world.

I love working with someone and seeing the light go on when they realize that they can create a business, can have a relationship, can be a parent, and can be in control of their own life and future.  I know that each and every person has special gifts and talents that can benefit the world, it’s up to them the leaders and teachers in the world to help them discover that potential.

So if you’re offered a teaching position, asked how something works or asked to listen to a situation, don’t say you’re too busy, do it for them or ignore them, jump in with both feet and show that person that they have value and abilities they may not realize yet.

What can you do to help someone discover the potential hidden inside?