Going for More

I’m always amazed when I talk with business owners, employees, mothers, fathers, or even kids and quite early on in the conversation I discover a disconnect between who they are, what they do, what’s going on in their lives and how they feel.  You see there’s an epidemic going on in the world: untapped potential.  We sit around and waste lots of potential for many reasons.  Lets’ start with a few of those reasons before we get into where to go from here.

Why do we not fulfill our potential?  Fear, obstacles, old rules, dislike from others, too many responsibilities, in the wrong position, not given the encouragement to go for our dreams, not believing there is more, not believing others want to give more, not understanding that there is untapped potential, the list could go on and on.  The sad fact is there are way too many reasons why people aren’t fulfilling their potential.  Which is amazing in our world of advanced technologies and thinkers; that we could be so far ahead in some things yet live so untapped in others.

The issue begins when these reasons are thought up and then they’re not discussed and thrown out.  The lack of communication between the parties involved means that lots of potential gets passed by, and no, complaining to coworkers and family members isn’t the necessary communication I’m talking about here.  We have businesses with unhappy employees, relationships that fail and kids who are miserable because they’re not given the chance to spread their wings and contribute.  The real kicker in all this?  So many problems could be avoided if we would just take the time to tap into our potential.

Not sure it’s possible?  Look at Starbucks.  They’ve consistently managed to tap into many avenues of potential that many other businesses and even relationships don’t touch.  They’re invested in their employees, they empower their employees, they care about the product the produce, they get their customers involved, and are always thinking how they can make the world a better place.

If your business could tap into just a bit of that engagement and untapped potential can you see how successful you could be?  I know that it would make a world of difference in not just your business but your employee’s lives outside of work too (and your life too).  More doesn’t have to mean more work, it means the right work with the right people.  I encourage you to have a conversation this week with your team about what is and isn’t working and how you can really improve things so that everyone is more fulfilled and satisfied with the day to day actions and results.

“Many organizations today fail to tap into their potential. Why? Because the only reward they give their employees is a paycheck. The relationship between employer and employee never develops beyond that point.” John Maxwell

Stress Solutions

We finish up this month’s discussions on health with a favorite topic for everyone: stress.  Most of us live with it on a daily basis, trying to avoid the things that cause bumps in the road.  No one likes to be stressed, and as it turns out stress actually contributes to a lot of our health problems, so we have very good reason to dislike it.  However, while we may recognize the negative effects that stress has on our lives, few of us actually do anything about it.  Let’s change that!

First, stress is mental.  In most cases how stressed we get is a choice.  We all react differently to things that happen, but some of us react in a way that completely blows the initial stress out of proportion and as a result greatly increases the stress we experience, and the damage to our health.  If we were more prepared mentally for the challenges we’ll face and how to deal with them mentally we’d be less stressed.  I’m not suggesting we practice being stressed more often, just learn better ways of dealing with typical life situations we find ourselves in and generally learning to think and believe more positively.

Second, dealing with stress is both mental and physical.  Stress sets in motion an amazing chemical reaction throughout our bodies in addition to the freak-out our minds go through. The best ways to deal with it on a physical level and combat the effects on a regular basis are physical activity like running, walking, yoga or boxing, and other things like massages, relaxing scents, acupuncture, Bach remedies, Reiki and other similar practices.  Working through the stress on a physical level will often help you get enough distance and perspective that you’ll be able to think through the situation much clearer.

Finally, stress should not be dealt with alone.  We’re in a world with many other amazing people, people who can help us learn to forgive ourselves, deal with the stress we’ve kept in our lives and embrace what the future holds with less fear.  We can work with coaches, pastors, our partners and friends to learn techniques and get support when we deal with stressful situations.

The thing to remember here is not that stress can necessarily be avoided, but that we’ve got lots of room to improve how we handle the stresses that come into our lives.  How do you handle stress?

Committed to the Course

What is a relationship? A relationship is an association between two or more people, right? You have a relationship with your boss, your team or with your clients, you have a relationship with your partner, you have a relationship with your family, and you have a relationship with your friends, just to name a few. These interactions are sometimes really positive, sometimes really challenging and sometimes they just are. Anytime you put multiple people together you’re bound to have some sparks. And this is really a good thing. Life wouldn’t be interesting if we were all exactly the same and everything always worked out like buying cookies from a good bakery does. There is always give and take in a relationship.

But what about those rough days? Those times when things just aren’t going right? My partner and I had a major communication failure the other day, something unusual for us even after being together for many years. Don’t get me wrong, we regularly challenge each other so it’s not a stale or lazy relationship and generally we do communicate well, but no one is perfect. The worst thing we could have done would have been to not try to resolve it there and then. Yes, sometimes it’s good to let things air for a day or two, but this was not one of them. If we had let it go things would have stewed and major damage could have been done to our relationship.

The challenge we all face in relationships is whether we’re in it for the long haul, in it just for us, in it until things get really bad or not really committed but there anyway.  Are we committed to the ups and downs that all relationships go through or are we only fair weather friends?  I choose to stay committed because my partner matters to me, my clients matter to me, my family matters to me.  Who are you committed to?

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” William Shakespeare

Thank You Team

Today around America people are recognizing the people who make their lives easier: the administrative professionals, or secretaries.  So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk a bit about these amazing people and how we all work together.  In many cases they don’t get the recognition they deserve for all the overtime they put in and tough stuff they deal with.  Many of these people are truly responsible for our success.  Unfortunately there are some who don’t really do the job well and it’s tough to work with them.  So where does that bring us, especially since they are a valuable part of our lives?

1-they need to know we value them.  The people who make up your team need to know from day 1 how and why they’re important to you and your business.  By communicating their value to them on a regular basis, not just when they first start, you’re showing them you recognize the important role that they play in your life. Actions are important to, so make sure they know that they’re really valued and that you’re not just giving them lip service.

2-we need to support and listen to them.  They have important roles to play for us at work and as such communication between everyone has to be regular and clear.  Don’t give partial instructions, don’t micro manage, and don’t ignore them.  They can’t do the job as well as we need them to if we’re not all on the same page, if the standards required aren’t clear, and unless we all listen as much as we talk.

3-everyone needs to grow and improve.  We all have room to improve, each of us from the biggest CEO to lowest box packer.  Each of us has important roles to play, but within those roles there is always room for improvement.  Do yourself and your business a favor and read books, take classes, attend seminars and stay up to date on things.  This will help your business grow and will encourage your employees to do the same.  Including training or education as part of the employee’s job is one way to help everyone feel their best about who they are and what they do.

Together we are stronger than we are apart.  Do something nice for your team this week to show them how much you appreciate them.

Social Smarts

Today is our third week in April’s discussion of health.  First we talked about physical fitness, then mental health, and today we’re talking about a very popular topic: social health.  Go anywhere and you’ll see the Facebook icon, an invitation to chat with someone or an invitation to bring 50 of your closest buddies out for a drink that weekend to see your favorite band. The undeniable fact that has finally been addressed with Social Media is that we are in fact social people.  We thrive on our interactions with others, and when we’re alone we’re just not the same.  Our relationships with others are truly gifts, and we’re so fortunate to be living in a time when it’s easier than ever to communicate or be social with just about anyone.

Is the answer to all our needs to have 5000 friends, 10,000 followers, a ton of subscribers or an email list that rivals the number of invitations to certain parties?  No, definitely not.  We each have different social needs.  Some of us do well with just 100 people we have in our circles, both close friends and simply acquaintances, others love having lots of people to connect with and learn from.  Finding the right balance is something we each must do, and we must be able to accept that we need what we need, and not what others need.

There are a couple of truths that are necessary to put forward, first that we all need some socializing in our lives, and second that we can learn to be better socially.  You may not think those are good things, but they really are.  It’s amazing what can happen when people come together with a purpose or goal like rebuilding a town, curing cancer or teaching skills to in-need mothers.  We’ve come up with lots of amazing ideas, inventions, solutions and fun when we’ve come together.

This week I encourage you to get out there and spend time with friends.  Make that coffee or beer date, take a walk, meet for dinner or just call a friend to check in.

Where Have All The Customers Gone?

I thought today we could answer a very important question you’ve probably asked before: where have my customers gone?  If that’s a question you’re struggling with, here are some of the top things to consider:

1-too complicated: maybe things have changed and you’ve got too many options for your old customers, maybe the options you have have too many add-ons and people just can’t wrap their minds around it.

2-too boring: just selling one item or service, while it makes other things simple, means that you have to be really good with that product or service in order to succeed.  Also, no matter how many products/services you have, if there’s no passion behind what you do fewer people will remember or be interested in you.

3-not welcoming: let’s face it: if you’re scary people tend to stay away.  When the place looks terrible, your website is ancient, your products are outdated, or your employees are grumpy, no one wants to buy from you.

4-no marketing: if people don’t know you exist, how can they buy from you?  Have a website, be on social media, connect with the community, and do your part to get the word out.

5-not able to purchase: I’m always amazed when I hear that people aren’t selling things, I check it out and there’s no clear way to buy from them, or it’s too complicated.  If people can’t easily make a purchase from you they typically will move on to someone else.

6-customer longevity: some businesses do go through cycles, or they only sell to people once, for example most people don’t buy a house every week but they do buy groceries weekly.  So for some businesses they only sell to people once.  That’s OK, but it means you really have to be on top of your game with numbers 1-5 or you’ll miss out on that crucial one-time business opportunity.

Sometimes there are simple answers, sometimes there are many answers, sometimes it was just simply time and that’s what you have to recognize. Not sure where your customers are and how to get them back?  Contact me and we can get you back on the right page starting today.

Mental Health and Healing

Last week we talked about physical health and why it’s important, today we’re going to touch on a topic I’m passionate about: mental health.  You have probably heard the many conversations in the past few years over mental health whether we’re talking Alzheimers, football and concussions, soldiers returning from battle or depression and suicide statistics.  There definitely is a darker side to mental health, or lack thereof, so let’s address it first.

Yes, your mental health has a big impact on the rest of your life and the lives of those around you, especially when it’s not so healthy.  For many years it’s been a topic that evokes shame and so many people wouldn’t talk about it.  But things have really boiled over in the past few years, so much so that people are finally getting up and talking about it.  But that doesn’t make it any less scary for those who are struggling.  Our mind, emotions, thoughts are all huge aspects of our reality, so when they’re hurt or fractured it can be very easy to lose the solid grip on reality you had.  We’ve seen the results of losing our grip on reality from the suicides and shootings that fill the news.  Which means it’s important to not freak out or let things go but to ask for help.

When it comes down to it, asking for help is one of the healthiest things you can do.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help before you get in too deep or can’t ask.

The good news is that our minds are amazing tools.  We’ve been really blessed with minds that are powerful and almost limitless in capabilities.  They help us figure out problems, make conversation, smile, run our physical bodies and much more that we aren’t aware of.  The more we read, explore, connect with others and discover the world we live in, the more potential we have.

I’m excited because the more we talk about it the more chances there are that we’ll find answers and help to many of the mental health challenges we face.  I invite you to share organizations you’ve connected with or know of that support the research and care of mental health in the comments today.

Holding out for Honesty

I’m a big believer in honesty. I always have been, ever since I was old enough to recognize that funny feeling in my stomach for what it was. It isn’t always easy to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, our lives are so public thanks to Facebook and Google that we want to keep some things hidden away. Sometimes we hide those things because we’re scared of the thoughts and judgments of other people on our choices, but as those who have influence over kids, there are a few things we should never lie about.

1-love. It’s a tough topic, one that causes a lot of pain when things go south. But love isn’t something to lie about to a kid, they need to know almost more than anything else that you love them unconditionally.  Too many kids go to bed wondering if they’re loved and wondering if it’s their fault their parents don’t love them, don’t be that parent.

2-a better tomorrow. When we choose to live with the attitude that tomorrow and the day after and the month after and the year after will just get worse and worse, we’re setting our kids up to see life with the glass-almost-empty perspective, rather than letting them draw their own conclusions. If you can’t believe that the very next day will be better, you have to be confident in a better day very soon.

3-people are not evil. Yes, there are some bad eggs out there. But if you raise your kids to believe that everyone is bad, there are no good people, all people are stupid, or any other refrain you wish your kids will believe that. You may have had some bad experiences, but that is no reason to taint every relationship your kids will ever have, personal or professional.

We can bend the truth a little when it comes to money, sickness/death, sex and jobs for a time, because causing your kids to worry more than necessary isn’t right, they’ll have plenty of worries soon enough. The older your kids get the more it will be important for you to be more honest with them, because if you, their parents, are lying to them, you whom they’ve always trusted, what’s not to say that the rest of the world isn’t lying too?

A Fresh Future

There are several blogs I enjoy reading often, one of which is Seth Godin’s. It always interests me that some of the conclusions he shares are things I’ve been considering or resonate with things I believe about life and business. Lately he’s been commenting along the topic of leaving things in the past and rather than basing the future on the past, and creating a future all its own.

We spend a lot of time looking back, considering our mistakes and considering ways to improve life as it is. And I believe we’ve made some good improvements over the years and have some good things in the works. However it is interesting to consider that rather than improving the wheel we could be doing something entirely different and totally changing the course of history in a good way. It can be hard to imagine, but I’ve got a few ideas to get us started.

1-honesty. All new ideas must start on the premise of honesty because I know I don’t want anything but honesty in my future. I don’t want people who lie to save a few bucks, I don’t want people who deny their own value, I don’t want people trying to cheat others out of time, money or life.

2-I thrive because I know I matter. Last week I shared on my other blog about the serious lack of perceived and accepted value in ourselves. In many ways we’ve gotten past the underappreciated, overworked, scamy lifestyle of several years ago, but some people are still stuck believing they can get something for nothing. These people will stay stuck in their unhappiness (and spread it), and that’s not something that belongs in a new future.

3-we thrive because we know we all matter. In honesty, I can’t truly thrive if you don’t thrive. My success, my net worth, my accomplishments seem insignificant when there is so much suffering and inequality around the world.  I don’t believe we all need to be rich as kings, but I do believe we need to all take care of each other better.

This week, take the time in your business to be honest, see and express your value, and make sure others know they matter to you too.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” Thomas Jefferson