Permission from the Pope

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you probably know I’m a big fan of leadership.  I love learning about leadership, watching leaders, being a leader and helping leaders grow too.  Something really big happened in the leadership world recently, you probably heard about it: the Pope decided to retire.  The Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, he lives in Rome, and for over 600 years no Pope has retired, they’ve all died in office.  So why does this matter in regards to leadership, and especially leadership in business?

First, the Pope recognizes as Dr. Albert Schweitzer said:  “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know. The only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  True leadership is all about service.

Second, and our key for today, the Pope recognizes that he can no longer serve the people of the Catholic Church, and of the world, in they way they need him to, and thus he decided to resign.

You see, leadership, especially leadership in the spotlight, is something most people do for a period of time, not indefinitely.  We humans simply can’t deal with that kind of pressure and responsibility forever, nor do we have to.  A big part of leadership is knowing that you can help the people who need a leader, and the time is right to help them.  If you’re not equipped for the job, or no longer equipped for the job, don’t do the job!!

Will Pope Benedict XVI ever not be a leader? No, he’s simply transitioning into a different role of leadership, as he feels he is better able to do.  Think of some of the US Presidents and world leaders (like Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela), they no longer hold the highest positions or most visible ones, yet they still have an impact on the world as leaders.

This week I encourage you to consider your leadership role, and the people you have in leadership roles on your team.  Are they the best person for the job right now?  Are you?  Don’t be afraid to step down, there’s always another position that is open, and another way you can be a leader in the world.  Give yourself permission to step into the next role of your life, if the Pope can do it, so can you!

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Kind Families

This week we’re joining in the celebration of Random Acts of Kindness.  Today I’ve got 10, yes just 10, things you can do as a family or as a couple to be kind to others.

1-donate unused books to the library.  Libraries love when you share gently used books with them. It means they don’t have to buy as many books and if they don’t want to add the books you donated to their circulation, they usually sell them to raise money for books they do want to buy.

2-do yardwork for an elderly neighbor.  It’s easy to pick up a couple extra sticks or offer to get the clippers out to help cut back some things that are overgrown. If you don’t have a yard and live in an apartment building, taking out the trash is another option.

3-visit an animal shelter. If your kids have been begging you for a pet and you just can’t afford one or aren’t allowed to have one (allergies, apartment rules etc.) most animal shelters would love to have you stop by for an afternoon to play with the animals.

4-share food.  It’s not expensive to pick up a can or two extra when you’re at the supermarket or cook a simple pasta meal for a family in need.  It’s also something the whole family can get involved in and excited about.

5-do something without being asked.  Everyone I know loves a surprise, like coming into a room and seeing all the toys picked up or the vacuum run without being asked!

6-help a coworker or fellow student.  Everyone has someone in their life that needs a little extra help.  Maybe there’s a big project the kids have for school and there’s a family who just lost a job, invite their kids over to do the project together with your kids, and provide the supplies.  Of course there’s always that coworker who has some project they just can’t get done, and would really appreciate if you spent an hour of your time helping them figure it out.

7-conserve energy.  This isn’t something that technically directly benefits your family (although your wallet should appreciate it), it actually shows kindness to the earth.  Turn off those lights, unplug those laptops, don’t leave the TV on when you leave the room.

8-watch your words. When you’re kind to others, they’ll be kind to you!

9-leave a generous tip.  When you’re out at a restaurant and the kids have had one of “those days” leave an extra nice tip for your server to show you appreciate them not kicking you out.

10-volunteer at a food bank or shelter.  It will give you a chance to do something good for someone else and feel good about yourself at the same time!

What are your favorite kind things to do?

The Kindness of Business

This week the world recognizes Random Acts of Kindness.  Today I’ll be sharing some thoughts related to business, on Friday I’ll share some related to family and relationships.

So the big question you’re probably asking is where does kindness come into play in the cutthroat world of corporations?  Kindness is more than just mushy feelings, it’s an attitude and way of being that can make a big difference on your bottom line.

The first way kindness can present itself is in the person-to-person relationships, such as boss-employee and employee-customer.   The interactions that happen between these groups of people are absolutely key to the success or failure of your business.  Rarely do you have a product or service so fantastic that the people they deal with don’t matter to the customer.  Almost every customer you speak to will say they would prefer to be treated with respect, honesty and politeness, if not kindness and cheerfulness.

If your employees and the bosses of the company are treating each other well and treat their customers with respect and genuine appreciation for their spending choices, the customer is much more likely to come back.  Even if the product or service is good, some customers won’t come back because of unethical or ridiculous treatment and relationship of bosses and their employees.

The second way kindness can present itself in your business is in the little surprises and blessings you send the way of your customer.  Things like discounts for bringing your own bags, a little sample in your package of another product, free products or services (buy 10 get 1 free), or free refills during your visit.  These are things that are considered above and beyond the call of duty for a business.  These are things that make customers take notice and feel special.  They’re little ways you can show customers they matter to you.

So this week I encourage you to have something in place that will show your customers that you care about them, and share your ideas in the comments!

Romance and Relationships

Ah yes, the month of love!  If you’re looking to liven up your relationship, here are a few ideas.

Create a romance jar: this is a mason jar with ideas that you both contribute of things that you would like to try or talk about trying.  These are both in-the-bedroom and out-in-the-real-world ideas; some PG, some not PG.  Try to come up with about 20 ideas each, and always add more!

Treat of the week: each week bring home a little treat for each other.  Maybe it’s their favorite snack, maybe it’s making their favorite dinner, maybe it’s flowers, or maybe it’s a back massage.  Try to come up with different things each week.  It’s just a little way to say “I love you” and “I’m thinking about you.”

Kindness of the week: each week do something that the other person wouldn’t expect, like bring home dinner, take out the trash or do one of their chores for them, just because.

Date night: Yes, I’m a big fan of date nights.  I know that you can create some romance after the kids are asleep at home, but it’s important to get out once in a while too.  You can check out a few date nights ideas here.

Romance fund: I know that money is the first excuse you will use to get out of being romantic or doing date nights.  So create a romance fund, maybe a jar in the kitchen where you drop all your spare change, money you budget into your spending each month, or an actual bank account where you deposit some money each month.

What are your romantic ideas, and how do you make time and money for each other?  Share your ideas in the comments!

Presidential Business

Ah yes, today we’re looking to the presidents of the USA for some wisdom on how to run our businesses.

“One man with courage is a majority.” Thomas Jefferson
Sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference in your business, and sometimes only one person has to stand up to make everyone else stand too.

“It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.” Martin Van Buren
Stop putting stuff off, start getting it done!

“The man who can look upon a crisis without being willing to offer himself upon the altar of his country is not for public trust.” Millard Fillmore
As an owner of a business you are ultimately responsible for the actions or in-actions of your employees.  Always be willing to admit that responsibility.

“You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln
If something shady or less than five-star is going on in your business, at least one person knows about it.

“Above all, tell the truth.”  Stephen Grover Cleveland
I believe in open and honest businesses.  Businesses who don’t hide behind fine print or lie about their capabilities.

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.” Thomas Woodrow Wilson
You started the business with a dream in mind.  How big you grow depends on how big your dream is and your ability to get others to see your dream.

“We need a spirit of community, a sense that we are all in this together. If we have no sense of community, the American dream will wither.” Bill Clinton
If there’s no sense of community in your business or sense of responsibility or even affection towards your business from your employees, your business will fail.

What presidential insights have you picked up over the years?  I invite you to share a comment!

Best Bird Friends

Well, we got our winter storm in the Northeast USA this weekend, which means lots of snow and tough traveling conditions.  It also means that our feathered and furry friends are out there dealing with the snow too.  Today I thought I’d share some fun and easy things you and your family can do for the birds.

Nesting supplies bag

Milk carton bird feeder

Gourd feeders

Cozy bird cottage

Birdseed biscuit

Tweet treats

Birdseed wreath

Bird feed recipe

Pinecone bird feeder

Share your tips and ideas for caring for our feathered friends in the comments!

Clear Success

As a business owner there’s a lot of things people may judge you on when they’re considering working with or buying from you: like your website, how you look, if you smell funny, if you have an accent, if you talk loud, if you’re short with them, and if you’re pushy, just to name a few.  I’ve been judged based on those things, I’m sure you have too.  What’s the key to getting people over that judgement?  One key is being clear on who you are and how you can help them.  Your confusion or lack of clarity will just add to their checklist of things you may have done wrong, and their decision to not work with you.  Today I’ll address 3 important things about clear success in your business.

First, know who you are and what you do!  This one stumps a mind-boggling amount of people I meet.  I’m amazed at how many people don’t really know what they do, or can’t put it in words that their prospects will understand.  If this is you, stop working on the rest of whatever you’re doing, and get this straight.  Be able to explain concisely in a few words, as well as in about a paragraph, who you are and why they should care.  You need to have both the brief and the longer explanation so that if they want to know more based on your tidbit, you’re ready to go.  If you can’t put it into words I strongly suggest you book a session with a business coach to get clear.

Second, most aspects of your business should reflect who you are and what you do.  This is known as your brand.  As someone who helps businesses get a fresh perspective and new lease on life, I try to present as insightful and educated, yet calm and hopeful.  I’m not a crash and burn, destruction everywhere type person (think Gordon Ramsey), and I try to reflect that in my business.  Your brand is evident everywhere online and in any store location(s) as well as who you are and how you present yourself verbally and physically when you meet with people.

Third, keep refining.  Your clarity may take a while to truly appear.  Many business owners go through several transformations before they find the brand they feel most confident with.  Which is really the point of having clarity about who you are and what you do: you know you’re good at what you do, you believe in what you do, and your clarity or lack thereof will be what makes or breaks other people’s confidence in you.

Share your clear business statements in the comments below!

Promises

Everyone makes promises, and everyone breaks them. Sometimes it’s good that people break their promises, as their promise wasn’t a healthy or good one.  Other times breaking promises can mean the end of a relationship or serious loss of trust.  Promises are important though because they help us plan for the future and even though we live in a world where much is instant, there’s still a need to think beyond the now, and we can’t do everything right now so some things have to wait for the future.

So what can we do to be better about the promises we make?

First, try to make promises that are realistic and you stand a good chance of being able to fulfill.  I love dreaming and always have a big goal, as well as more reachable goals, that I’m working towards.   Sometimes it’s good to make promises that you think you can accomplish, but aren’t sure, just to prove to yourself that you can go above and beyond.  But these types of promises should be made few and far between.

Second, don’t always make promises, sometimes just do stuff.  As I said before, promises are important.  But sometimes it’s just as effective or even more helpful to just do something right now instead of putting if off.  This is especially true when it comes to healthy living and important life changes.  If your partner asks you to do something, try for once to do it right then.  If your kids want to do something with you, instead of putting it off and promising to do it soon, do it then.

Third, remember no one is perfect.  We’re all human, no one can get it right all of the time, and everyone will break promises at least once in their lifetime.  If someone you know usually follows through on their promises, forgive them for the times that they don’t.  This way, they’ll be more likely to forgive you when you break a promise too.

This week I encourage you to talk with your kids and partner about the importance of promises, and commit to doing your best with your promises to each other.