A ‘What If’ for 2015

We’ve reached the end of another month, I’m sad and happy at the same time, it’s that way anytime you are looking at changes and new beginnings.  As I usually like to do I want to encourage you to let go of your tightly held beliefs and limits for a moment and ask yourself a “what if” question: what if you could have all you really wanted?

I don’t know about you but I don’t have a magic genie waiting for my every wish.  No, I’m responsible for making my dreams come true.  But I’ve lived long enough and been surrounded by big enough dreamers to believe that it’s possible to have all I want and more.  And just as importation: that I’m fully capable of making it happen!

All too often we feel like we have to or choose to sacrifice our families to get the other things we think we want.  The reality is that when we choose to sacrifice our families we’ve immediately made our goal less valuable.

The reason we don’t have to choose between what we want is because it’s only when we choose to have it all that we really can have what we want.  Family isn’t something that can be sacrificed, careers can’t be sacrificed, health can’t be sacrificed, what has to be sacrificed is your seeming need for perfection, mountain-top living and actionless dreams.  Life isn’t meant to be perfect, it’s meant to be lived and enjoyed.  It’s up to each of us to take on the responsibility of our desires and make it happen.

This weekend I encourage you to take that first step and list all that you really want to accomplish and all that you dream about in your life.  I invite you to share your list in the comments, or send it to me through my website and I’ll help you get started on making those dreams a reality.

“Keep holding onto those dreams my friend. I believe you can have it all. You don’t have to choose between marriage and money, children or championships, family or fame.” KC Procter

The Power of People

Every week I try to share some keys to success on this blog, on my other blog, in my newsletters and on my social pages.  Success is something that everyone craves, we don’t all crave the same type of success and the exact parameters of success are different for each of us, but there are many principles of success that apply to a variety of situations.  One of those big keys is something that is also one of the greatest challenges and obstacles, if you will, to success: people.  Today I want to highlight 3 things that will help you with overcoming people as an obstacle to success and start seeing them as a blessing and opportunity.

Have a desire to help people.  I struggle with listing this first, but for many of us having this desire is a good way of breaking the ice and fear that surrounds us about other people.  If we truly have a desire to help other people we’re less likely to scam them, hurt them, or be the target of their rage.  I don’t suggest that you see people as something that needs to be fixed, but rather that we’re all imperfect people who always have room for improvement or are in need of the basic human needs (as presented by Maslow) for survival and hopefully thriving.

Learn to understand people.  Yes, there are some people you will never understand; sometimes that’s because they’re honestly crazy, other times because they are so ingrained in their patterns and preferences they aren’t willing to be open or try new things.  But there are some basic behaviors that can be seen in many people and can be used to make reasonable assumptions about similar people.  When you take the time to study a whole variety of people (coffee shops are some of my favorite places to study others), you learn a lot about how they operate, what they need and what makes them tick.

Be willing to honestly try to love people.  This is the most challenging for some, but for others it’s necessary to be the first step, not a desire to help.  Learning to set aside your differences and embrace each other as valuable, worthy-of-love human beings can help to overcome seeing customers as just numbers, loss or profit, a means to an end, a complication or an annoyance.  If you can’t get over your dislike of people, hatred of people, prejudices against people and learn to love them for who they are you’ll have a hard time desiring to help them or being successful.

People are the reason there’s money coming into your business, money doesn’t make sales, people do. What kind of attitude towards and relationship with people do you have?

Present Preparations

As I’ve been making changes in my life this month and thinking about what the rest of this new year holds and our topic of preparation this month, I’ve been thinking about goals and destinations in our lives.  Naturally, because what’s the point of preparing if you don’t have some expectation of a destination or event, right? Those of us who really think about goals usually think about goals that we have because we want to attain them.  We don’t go around saying “my goal is to be in jail by the time I’m 20” or “my goal is to be morbidly obese by 45.”  No, we make goals of having lots of money or a big family or health or a great job/career, or save the world, things that we think will improve our lives.

However, there are some of us who don’t seem to think about where our actions are taking us, or don’t care where they’re taking us.  Like those who smoke, eat really unhealthy foods all the time, or are nasty to other people.  They may be completely oblivious to the true destination they are heading in with every puff, bite and curse.  It’s the times that we’re unaware of what we’re doing, are unconsciously doing it or are doing it without a care that we experience the biggest risk.

You’re probably heard people talk about being “present” in the moment.  Simply, this means being aware of what’s going on in your life, the choices you’re making, the people you’re involved with, the way you’re running your life, and what’s going on right then and there, not yesterday or two weeks from now.  Being present means that you’re there with your kids, not on your phone all the time, it means being aware of what you’re eating, not just shoveling it into your mouth while you’re doing 18 other things and it means that mind and body you’re where you physically are and not miles away.

This week I encourage you to check in with yourself often and make sure that not only are you present with what’s going on in your life, but you’re happy with the direction the choices you are making is taking you.  If you find you’re not happy you’ve got a chance to change direction!

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”  Lao Tzu

Destined to Be

This week my partner was stopped by a customer who asked if he would mind if they read his palm. I am not one of those people who just out-and-out believes in any and all types of astrology, spirituality, astronomy, magic or whatever terms you put to it, but I’ve seen and heard enough to believe there is some validity and basis in reality for most of the practices.

A couple of the things the individual told my partner lined up with who he was, the one that was most interesting to me was that his palm said that we (he and I) were destined. It’s one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever experienced to hear that someone thinks you’re destined to be with someone, be someone, or experience something. Whether you’re a big believer in fate or not, there are tons of people who have said something along the lines of ‘sometimes no matter what you do you’ll end up at the same conclusion’ or ‘set in stone’ because they’ve had or been told of experiences that no matter what was done to make things go differently it still happened.

It makes me think about what it means for us though. Let’s say for a moment we absolutely believed that it’s possible to be destined for someone. If we’re destined it means that no matter what we do we’d be put together. It’s annoying for those of us who are control freaks that we don’t have any control over who we meet. But the reality is there is a huge choice for us in it.

There are many reasons why I love my partner but there are some really good reasons why we never could/should have gotten together. The choice in it for us, even though we’re destined, is in what we do with that destiny. We could make life miserable for each other, and we certainly have our moments of struggle. But why waste the time and energy on resisting something that’s destined when we should be doing everything in our power to enjoy and make the most of the situation?

This weekend I encourage you to take a look at your relationship with your partner. Assume that you were told that you two were destined and meant for each other. What things would you be doing differently than you are now?

The A-Game for the Win

Are you bringing your a-game each day or are you just getting by in business? I know it can be overwhelming to think about all the things that you have to get done each day, which is one reason why so many businesses don’t succeed:  when you’re trying to do everything it all ends up sub-par or not done. What if instead you focused on bringing your best to the table as often as possible? This week I want to share a few thoughts about why this is important.

First, when you don’t do your best work no one else does either. Your employees, partners and suppliers take their cues from you and when they see that you’re not really doing your best and think it’s OK for them to do the same. After all, if the boss doesn’t seem to care, why should they?

Second, you need to prioritize and plan. Both of these are things that people struggle with, partially because they don’t know how to and partially because they choose the wrong priorities or create the wrong plan. This also leads to not being open to or prepared for opportunities that come your way.

Third, bringing your a-game does mean hard work and hard choices. It’s not always easy to make the tough decisions, let people go, not take on a client, or follow the rules that have been set down, but in most cases they were set up for a reason, and it’s been shown time and again that hard work does make a difference.

Fourth, when you bring your a-game you make the decision when to hire people to give you more time to do what only you can do. In most cases things that don’t need your immediate and full-time attention like the finances and books should be hired out, because while they can’t be neglected or avoided, it’s not necessary for you to personally work on every detail of them.

But, being good means that you’ll better serve your customers, get more repeat customers and have better testimonials/word of mouth referrals. Which ultimately leads to being more successful. I don’t know too many people who are not satisfied working for or buying from A-game businesses.

The Future of Dreams

Today is the day we recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the dreams that he had and work that he did to better our world for all people. He’s known for many things including the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, for being a great speaker and for being a father, but the one that people remember the most is his famous “I have a dream” speech. For people around the world it resonates because at sometime in our lives we have had dreams. Maybe you’re reading this thinking about the entrepreneurial dream you have, or the dream about changing the face of healthcare or just a dream to see your kids grow up different/better than you. I haven’t met too many people with dreams that aren’t worthy of the time and effort it takes to pursue them, but yet too many people don’t even have the courage to stand up and share their dream.

One of the reasons Dr King was so successful and got so far (and had the enemies that he did) was because he 110% believed in his dream, and he also had others who believed in it too. These two things are very key factors for a dream becoming more than just thoughts or ideas. If you don’t believe in your dream you’re done.  If you don’t believe in your dream fully and your dream is bigger than you, you can’t get anyone on board with your dream your dream will remain only a dream.

One of the reasons I have hope for our world today is because there are dreamers who are not only passionate about their dream but they’ve got a dream that is worth the interest and involvement of others too. I am a big believer in donating time and/or money to worthy charities (something I do every month), and I always try to do a good deed or share a kind word each day.

The only way the world will get from where we are to where we could be is if we’re willing to dream dreams and then make those dreams a reality. Dreaming of lots of money is not really a dream, it’s those who dream about what the money can do that make a difference. If you don’t have a dream you need one!  Once you’ve got that dream do something each day to make it a reality. What’s your dream?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

January Joy

Today’s topic may not be one that you associate with January.  For many January is a cold month that they stay indoors to avoid the snow, ice, and chill.  For others January is miserable because they’re dealing with December’s overspending (which is a topic for another time).  Today though I want to talk about adopting an important perspective for this month, and even the rest of the year: that life is filled with fun (you’ll notice that I didn’t stay that all of life was meant to be fun, some hard work is just hard and not so pleasant besides).

So let’s take a minute and really think about our options here: we probably could list a few things in our lives that don’t make us happy.  There will always be things that we can tack to that list.  But if we really think about what’s on that list many of the items there won’t bring us to a satisfying end.  Usually the hard work and challenges we face at work will reap good rewards for us, but the fights with our partner, issues with our kids, problems with our family, challenges with our health don’t lead to anything I’d want to reach.

So, the question begs to be answered, why do we allow them to persist as they do?  Why aren’t we focused on the good stuff in life and working towards the good stuff?  Honestly? I’m not really sure.

So I encourage you to make this day, this year the beginning of a life you actually enjoy.  You’ll always face challenges in life but what if the pros were to far outweigh the cons?  What if you started living to enjoy life not get rid of frustrations?  Will you join me in living a fulfilling life?

“Life’s short. Have fun.” Robin Sharma

Prepared to Lead

This year we’ll continue to talk about leadership as an essential aspect of running our businesses, and as I think about this month’s theme of being prepared, there’s no better topic to talk about when it comes to our businesses than leadership because essentially that’s the job of a leader: to prepare their people and organization to get to the goal and beyond.  One of the things I love about being in business for myself and the type of work I do is that I get to help other people realize and unleash their potential. I get to see past the things that you’re focused on, frustrated by, limited with and see the bigger potential of who you are and what you can do in the world.  Whether I’m working with other leaders or their employees and team I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t have room to grow and potential to meet.  The greatest challenges I face have to do with people who are unable to accept that they can be (are!) that awesome, or aren’t willing to do the work and make the necessary adjustments to fulfill that potential.

The thing that so many people don’t see as valuable or see as common place in this world of social media and self-help is one thing that helps to break that hold, cross that bridge or bridge that gap: inspiration.  As important as it is for a leader to take action and lead the people who follow them, the encouragement, inspiration and motivation needs to be there as well.  Why?  Because most people need an emotional connection to get on board.  For example if someone told you to donate to a random charity unless you are the type to give to any/all organizations you’re probably not going to give.  But when your close friend asks you to give to an AIDS charity in the name of their family member who just died of AIDS you’re a lot more willing to be part of that movement, because it’s personal for you.

So this week my leader friend you have 2 challenges: first to see the best in those around you rather than just the problems.  And second to inspire them to reach for that potential, that greatness that you know is just waiting to be unleashed in them.

“Your job is to see the greatness in people who have yet to own the greatness within themselves.” Robin Sharma

A Secret to Success

One of the things that challenges me most in working with clients is when they ask for the magic bullet.  My answer?  There is no one thing that you can do to be successful in today’s world, in whatever area you want success in, whether we’re talking work, home, school or relationships.  It’s a combination of many things working together, usually in the right timing, with the right supports around and openness to adjustments made as necessary.  I know, that’s not the answer anyone wants to hear, but it’s the truth.  A Facebook page isn’t all you need, a new partner won’t be your salvation, a new job won’t bring you endless happiness, and one person won’t make you.  All of these things and more work together to help you get to success.

But there is something that will give you a leg up when it comes to success: what you focus on.  If you’re trying to do everything all at once you’ll find it much more difficult to really be successful. But when you take the time to really give your attention where it’s needed, take focused action to work towards specific goals, and work on one thing at a time you’re usually able to put out a better result in a shorter time.  Yes, sometimes we do need to pause an action or project as we wait for results or someone else to do the next step, and sometimes we do need to take a break; we can’t live laser focused lives all the time and enjoy life to the fullest.

This week as you look at your probably very long to-do list I encourage you to highlight things that you need to do, that can’t be put off or given to someone else and take focused action on completing them.

“Success has less to do with hard work and more to do with massive focus on your few best opportunities.” Robin Sharma

4 Questions for 2015

Today as we think about being prepared for the year ahead I want you to consider 4 questions:

What are your priorities?
This is the question we’re going to talk about a lot this year. Your priorities, your commitments, the ways you spend your time are big indications on what’s important to you. Take a look at your calendar and see where you’re spending all your time. Is it on TV, work, family, food? What’s apparently most important to you? Do you need to do some re-prioritizing this year to put your real priorities first?

What is one relationship that needs work?
We try to do too many things all at once, which ends up hurting our efforts and not getting us as far as we could if we took the time to focus on one thing at a time, and always the things that really matter the most to us.

What are you afraid of losing?
Often we hold back because we’re afraid. We worry about the consequences, what others will think of us, how others will react and what our actions will bring us that we don’t want. Life is about taking risks and we do lose things throughout our lives. Life isn’t a guaranteed opportunity to keep anything and everything you have, it’s like the ocean with ebbs and flows.

What are 3 things you can do this month (today even) to support your partner or family?
I divide things into a yearly perspective and further into a month perspective. It makes it easier to set up and accomplish my goals and dreams. It gets overwhelming when we try to do it all at once, when the reality is that very few things happen all at once (bomb explosions are one). Most things happen in stages, steps and a little at a time. Don’t start with something big (unless a grand gesture is what’s really necessary) start with the little things that they’ve been mentioning for a while.

Take time this weekend to consider these questions, talk them over with your partner and your family and get their thoughts too.