Putting Your Spin on Success

Just about everyone is looking for a shortcut or quicker way to get something done.  People want to instantly lose weight, get to their destination, meet their forever partner (or just a non-scary potential partner), or have business success all in the blink of an eye.  Because of that some people try to lie, steal and cheat to make it happen without considering the consequences, or deciding that the consequences are rather inconsequential to getting what they want.  And people do pay for their actions: we’ve seen lots of companies brought up on their dishonesty as well as the lapses in health or strings of failed relationships.

Before we go too much farther I should mention that I’m all for finding ways to do things quicker.  I don’t need to waste my time on things any more than you do and I love finding things that make my life easier. But some things can’t or shouldn’t be rushed.  It’s simply better to take your time and do it right even if it takes longer.  For example it’s statistically more likely that you will keep off the weight if you do it right (which is consistent weight loss over time).

So when it comes to personal and professional growth and improvement I’m all for checking out what other people are doing, as well as creating partnerships that are beneficial to all involved so that you can skip making some of the mistakes and start helping people sooner.  However, when you go out there and just copy what someone else is doing there’s a good chance it won’t work for you.  Why? Because no two people are exactly the same.  What works to help one person lose weight could cause another to gain weight.  What brings one person success will not help another find success.  What one person builds their business on will not work for someone else.  Why?  Because we’re each different and those differences have to be expressed and taken into account for things to work for us.

The secret to applying what you learn from other people is that you have to adjust it to make it work for you.  I can’t take your business and make it successful in the way that you have because it’s not my business with my passions and purposes.  I can’t take your body and lose weight or get well for you because it’s not my body.  While I can advise on how you can fix your relationship, I can’t fix it for you, only you two can, because your needs are not my needs.  So keep your eyes open for the lessons you can learn from others, and then take the time to figure out if and how they can be applied to your life to benefit you.

“I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it.” Georgia O’Keeffe

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Watch and Learn

You’ve probably had that embarrassing moment when your kid is caught staring at someone or making a really embarrassingly loud comment about them, not realizing it in their young innocence and curiosity.  Maybe you’ve had the uncomfortable experience to be the person the kid was looking at.  As we get older we hide our gazes behind sunglasses and learn to whisper to our companions, but that doesn’t mean we don’t look.  It’s never a good idea to be rude to anyone or stare as if they’re turning colors or growing extra heads, but observing is part of who we are and one of the best ways we can learn.

You’ve heard before that it’s a good idea to learn about the past so that you don’t repeat the bad stuff.  You may have also heard that observing other people’s success is a great way to shortcut to your own.  And one of the best ways to learn about something you don’t know about is to ask or observe.  Which all bring us back to the fact that whether we like or or not, we all will always be checking other people out.

A lot of this comes down to intention though.  Your kids don’t intend to hurt the other person, they’re just curious.  Your intentions when viewing another person’s success are good if you’re looking for lessons to apply in your own way to your life or business, and not so good if you just copy/paste their ideas.  If you’re out there watching people to learn about what goes on in the world and observe people’s reactions so you can better serve your clients it’s not as bad as if you were watching for your daily target of gossip.

Another thing that I think is really important is the fact that we often go through life blind.  We are so wrapped up in our own lives or in certain details that we miss out on a lot.  When was the last time you watched a bug going about their life outside?  When was the last time you watched your kid play when they didn’t know you were there?  When was the last time you noticed a new and beautiful detail about your neighborhood?  We miss out on these little things because we’re too busy or not looking.  If we took the time to look I think we’d be amazed at the world around us.

This weekend I encourage you to take time to check out life around you.  You may discover that you’ve been missing out on a lot.

“Wherever I go, I’m watching. Even on vacation, when I’m in an airport or a railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things.”  Richard Scarry

Change or Die?

I read an interesting article recently by Tony Morgan about why some churches would seemingly rather die.  Of course few people or organizations actually want to close their doors, but some seem to indicate that they do by their actions, words or lack thereof.  The irony, as you may have guessed, is that they all say they don’t want the church or organization or relationship to die, but that’s exactly what will happen unless they follow the sage advice of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Unless there is a change in what you believe, what you say, what you do or who you are being you will die.  If you want a different result than the one you’re heading towards, there is only one thing to do: take action and do something different than you’re doing!!

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.  But until you’re willing to see that, nothing can change in your business. If you’re not willing to see you need a new location, need a new cleaning crew, need new employees, need new trainings, need new customers, or need new offerings, you can’t get to the point of doing something to make that change happen.

Change scares most of us because we’re been told that it’s all or nothing, us or the dog, rich or poor.  However, we’re so busy seeing extremes that we can’t see that even some little things can greatly improve where we’re at.  Change doesn’t have to be extreme, earth shaking or a full overhaul.  Sometimes even simple changes can make a big difference.

So my challenge to you this week is simple:

1-make a list of all the really big issues you or your company has.

2-make a list of the really big, all out, big ticket, break the bank ways you could deal with those issues.

3-accept that those solutions probably aren’t in your foreseeable future.

4-put away the really big solution list you made in #2 for now and make a list of little things that you can do immediately and won’t cost a ton to take a step towards making changes that will get closer to the success you want.  Maybe this means talking with a HR resource to learn what you can do to create better relationships with your employees and help them be more effective rather than firing them all and hiring new.  Maybe it means hiring an official cleaning crew to come in weekly rather than blowing up your restaurant and rebuilding.  Maybe it means throwing out products you don’t sell anymore even if it makes your shelves look a little bare.  Maybe it means hiring a bookkeeper or secretary to get things organized.  Maybe it means hiring a trainer or getting a dog so you get exercise and reduce your stress.  Maybe it means taking a communication course.  Little things like this can make a big difference overall.

5-put those little things into action. Pick one each day or week depending on your situation and put it into action.

What will you do this week to save your business?

You Can Make A Difference

Even as young kids we were aware that there were rich people and people who were not as rich, items that were really big and awesome and others that weren’t so great, and foods that were special treats and others we could have anytime even if we didn’t really like them.  You may not have really fancy tastes, or you may have all the money in the world to buy any treats you want.   You may be happy with the most luxurious hotel suite, or you may be happier with a simple cabin in the woods.  We each have different tastes and preferences, which is why we’re each so special.  So today I want to talk about this struggle we have with our differences.

1-the lie of good and bad.  In most cases it’s not a case of good versus bad, just a case of different.  My cup of coffee may be a lot less expensive than yours, but that doesn’t make it either good or bad.  I may have a preference for long walks in the park and you may enjoy a night at the bowling alley, neither are good or bad. You may like dogs and I may like cats, but neither are good or bad. Just because we like different things, even two similar things that are different because of location or price, doesn’t make them good or bad.

2-the challenge of price.  Just because it’s more expensive some people will automatically determine that something is better than another, or because it’s cheaper it’s not as good.  We do use money as a determining factor in making choices, often because it’s easier, and in many cases we have learned that expensive things can be better made or larger or look a certain way.

3-just because we’re rich or poor doesn’t mean we can’t improve.  Money does bring a lot of opportunities with it to the table, there’s no denying that it makes many things easier.  But just because we’re poor doesn’t mean that we can’t become rich, and just because we’re rich doesn’t mean we have or know everything.  Money or size should not be our determining factor as to what’s real or important or valuable in the world.  You’re not more important or better because you do or don’t have lots of money.

So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with the choice to be willing to work at our lives where we are.  We’ve each been given a position, one that we can always improve, but one that we can make great differences in without moving up the financial or social ladder.  Our willingness to see our lives as insignificant or too important and ignore what goes on around us is a mistake.  When we choose to make a difference where we are and as who we are we’re able to actually do good things, instead of waiting for a better time.

“Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.”  Frank Lloyd Wright

A Summer of Rest

Today on my Life and Spirituality blog I shared a bit about why balance was important.  Like balance rest times are really important too.  I know that many parents panic about having their kids home all summer and not doing anything, but the truth is that kids, and us adults too, need down time. Is it bad to be couped up in the house all day all summer? Yes, the kids do need to get out occasionally and do stuff, but being scheduled from wake up to bed time isn’t what summer is all about.  So let’s start with the going out and then we’ll get to the staying in.

Summer is a great time, with the relaxed schedules and less responsibilities for kids, to check out some really cool scientific, historical, literary or cultural locations, activities and things near you and near wherever you go for vacation.  For me personally I loved the historical and cultural detours we took on family vacations as a kid.  The theme parks were cool too, but I always looked forward to seeing the strange, the different and the past fit right in with modern life.  Yes, your kids will want to do the “cool” stuff and may complain when you suggest the other stuff, but seeing that history and culture first hand can make a big impact on their future.

But when it comes to rest we’ve gotten so good at going that we forget to stop.  It used to be easier when we didn’t have electricity to get up and go to bed with the sun, but that doesn’t really work anymore for most of us.  And with the internet we’re able to get things done anywhere at any time practically.  So since we don’t have an automatic off switch anymore, we have to be extra conscientious about stopping and taking time to rest.  Yes, our bodies and minds have adapted over the years to how busy we are and how much going we do, but that doesn’t take into account the need that our bodies and souls have for rest.

So this summer I encourage you and your family to take time to rest.  Don’t plan out every minute of every day, don’t plan things for every weekend, but take time to rest, relax and be together as a family.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” John Lubbock

Summer Business Strategy

For many businesses summer is a slow time.  People are away spending money on businesses that aren’t as popular or populated during the other times of the year, although with the booming internet business, more businesses can do more consistently well all year long.  But today I thought I’d share a reminder of what you can do if the summer is your slow time, or for whenever your slow time is.

1-Evaluate your offerings. This is something you should do on a regular basis because you’ll lose sales if you’re not offering things people want, or you’re offerings are really outdated in presentation.  It’s important to not just check the stats on your sales, but to also talk with some customers, through a survey perhaps, and even to consider hiring a consultant to come in and evaluate what you offer and how you offer it because they may reveal something just looking at the numbers won’t.

2-Clean house.  We may not enjoy this but it’s really important.  Whether it’s a physical cleaning where you close the shop for a week and have an industrial cleaning company come in or a less visible one where you get rid of the products/services that aren’t really selling or don’t serve your business and clients anymore.  It’s important to do this because it makes room for what people do need, as well as presents a healthy and positive atmosphere for clients to shop in.

3-Learn.  Get educated in the down time!  Yes, learning more not just about your particular industry but about what’s popular and about how to better serve your customers is important.  When you stop learning you miss out on lots of potential ways you can serve your existing customers as things change in your industry, and you can always learn more about how to relate to people or the ways the latest technology can help you help your customers.  Don’t just get training for yourself, get your staff in there too.  They’re your front line of defense, if you will, so they need the training too.

4-Prepare for the next year.  Summer is a great time to plan for the fall and the year ahead.  You don’t have an excuse that you don’t have the time to strategize if you’re slow for the summer.

If you’ve got down time this summer, or even if you don’t and you just want to get ahead, I’m offering a special hour-long summer strategy session for $50.  We’ll talk about where you are and set you up for success for the next year and beyond.

The Missing Hope

I don’t know about you but I see and meet a lot of frustrated people in the course of my days.  No, they don’t usually come up to me and say it flat out, but there is some pretty clear evidence with the angry calls, honked horns, scathing emails and Facebook posts: people are not happy.  Do you want to know what I believe is one of the largest reasons for so many unhappy and frustrated people?

They’ve forgotten what it means to have hope.

I know, that may sound a little crazy, but I really believe it’s true: people are busy focused on achievements and destinations and have forgotten what it really takes to get there.  Maybe I should clarify that statement: people can get there, but will they get there and find their lives, conscience or something equally essential destroyed in the process?  But by employing simple tools like hope, spirit, passion, consideration of others and dedication to the good of all, achievements and destinations become so much more than empty results.

These unhappy people have forgotten that life is bigger than their immediate circumstances.  They’ve forgotten that other people matter, that everything has a bigger lesson or purpose and that the world won’t end if they don’t get to their appointment on time.  They haven’t accepted that the world can operate without their input, that their needs aren’t all that matter and that they are part of something much bigger than themselves.  That’s not to say that each person doesn’t matter, everyone has something to contribute.

But only the really big hairy audacious goals are able to be thought of and brought to fruition with hope, passion and conscience.  Will you consider the cost of accomplishing your goals in the ways you are going about them this week rather than charging ahead at any and all costs?  Taking the time to consider the path allows you to choose hope and create a better end result than you could have dreamed of before.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”  Helen Keller

What Kind of Parent are You?

Sunday here in the USA is Father’s Day. I know that not everyone has a good experience with their fathers, I was fortunate to be blessed with an amazing one.  I have lots of good memories of growing up with him and know that he taught me a lot about what it means to raise a child well.

But as I’ve pointed out not every guy is a good dad.  We all know dads who are amazing and men we wonder why they ever became fathers.  But what I believe is that no matter what example your dad (or mom) set for you how you are as a parent is up to you.   Let me say that again: you determine if you’re a good parent or a bad one.

The first thing that determines this is your attitude.  If you have an attitude that you hate kids, they’re just full of germs and boogers and they’re a waste of your time I really hope that you’re using extra forms of protection when engaging in extra curricular activities.  Your feelings about kids will not only make things hard for you, but for your partner and for your kids as well.  No one really wants to be hated by anyone, let alone the person who had a hand in creating them.  If however your attitude is one of being willing to learn and try your best, give it a try by babysitting some relative’s kids and make sure that it works for you.

The second thing I’ve kind of mentioned here is that the words you speak and actions you take will speak loudly to your kids. Your kids will need the reinforcement verbally and physically of knowing you are there, you care about them and you support them throughout their lives.  Even if you work multiple jobs to make ends meet thanks to technology today there are lots of ways you can reinforce that at any time.

The final thing is love.  Love can cover a multitude of sins, and make up for some of the bigger blunders we humans are known to make.  Even if you can’t pay for your kid’s college, provide them with abundant luxuries growing up or set them up for life with a trust, your love of them will pay bigger dividends in the future.  They’ll know what it means to be loved no matter what the circumstances in life may bring, which is priceless.

If you haven’t been a good father (or mother) hopefully it’s not too late for you to start turning things around.  Use Father’s Day not as a day to receive, but to give this year.  It will take time and effort, but your kids are worth it.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” Anne Frank

The Choices of Leadership

I’m always looking to learn more on leadership, and the latest book I’ve been reading is Inspirational Leadership by Lance Secretan. Although it was written in 1999 it shares some really good, different perspectives on leadership and teaches some of the changes that leadership has gone through, as well as needs to go through become the healthy strength we need today. There are some things that are core to the concept of leadership that will never change, but there are other things that can and should be improved upon.  One of those things is a better understanding of the choice of leadership.

The leadership style and methods we choose is ultimately up to each of us, and we have to choose whether to be a true leader or not.  Even if we didn’t choose to be a leader but the leadership was chosen for or given to us we still have the choice of what we will do with that leadership.  One of the worst decisions we can make about our leadership skills, or about our passions, is to pack them away and pretend they don’t matter or we can’t really do something with them.

But as I reminded my newsletter subscribers this weekend, each of us are a leader whether we’re parents, CEO’s or teachers, and it’s up to us to take up that responsibility and lead in whatever area of life we’re at even if we don’t think that our leadership role is very big or important.  So whether we want the responsibility or not each of us have it.  We do have a choice in whether we choose to make the best of what we’ve been given, take action to make changes, or be one of the bad leaders.

My encouragement to you is to choose to be a cheerful leader.  Choose to welcome the responsibilities and do the best you can to shine in each and every task you’ve been given.

When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself. Jacques Yves Cousteau

Be Yourself

You’ve heard the saying before “be yourself, everyone else is taken.”  This saying is absolutely true, but we still struggle with being OK with who we are and being willing to show our real self to the world, especially when we’re faced with pressure from our family or job.  When we stick out or seem different from those around us history tells us that there’s a good chance we’re going to be made fun of or won’t be accepted.  Unfortunately this is still true in too many circles.  After all, it seems easier to just copy what everyone else is doing rather than going our own way.  But when everyone else is doing the same thing you are life seems pretty boring. And the truth is that I can’t be you any more than you can really be me.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have mentors, heroes or role models in your life.  One of the best ways to learn and grow is to see what other people is doing.  But what we sometimes forget when we get involved with mentors and the like is that we’re not looking at what they’re doing to imitate them but to learn how to present our best version or styling of what we love about them.  I can’t be Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa or Maya Angelou, but there are tons of lessons I can learn from them and apply to my life to become a better, more caring, more cognizant person.

When we talk about celebrities and famous people and the kids they’ve had, the kids are often given a different standard or expectation than the rest of us.  The famous singer’s kids are expected to be amazing singers, politician’s kids are expected to have political aspirations, writers’ kids are expected to write.  We expect that just because one member of the family is skilled in one are the other people, especially their kids, are expected to follow in their footsteps.  Sometimes this is good because it gives the kids a direction in life, but unfortunately it usually crushes their natural dreams and inclinations.

The good news is that there are more people than ever willing to stand up and say unapologetically “This is who I am.”  It may not yet be cool to be different, but it’s more accepted.  So go ahead, dream a little!  Who are you when the world isn’t looking and how can you bring that person to the world?

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”  Judy Garland