Loving Honesty

On Monday I talked about priorities. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, and one of the things that I’m prioritizing even more this year is the relationship I have with my partner. We’ve been together for a bunch of years, and have had some of the best times of our lives. We’ve also gone through many challenges, all relationships do. But when the chips are down we always choose loving each other over hurting each other or going our separate ways.

One of the reasons I love him is because there’s very little judgment in our relationship, we can say the crazy stuff, talk about intimidating topics, admit needs and ask for help without fear of being laughed at or turned down or rejected straight out. I’ve always had a belief that honesty is the best policy, but not everyone is willing to hear the raw truth, sometimes because it hurts, sometimes because of fears or beliefs we have, and sometimes because if someone else admits it we’ll be forced to face it and do something about it.

Having an open relationship, one built on love and trust like my partner and I have, is something that everyone needs. We all need someone that we can be fully honest with, someone who cares enough about us to hear the crazy thoughts we have, is willing to dream dreams with us and will really listen when we talk. Take time this weekend to thank that person in your life, and if you don’t have that special someone there’s no time like today to start being more honest and open with yourself and others.

“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.” Thomas Moore

A Passionate Business

As we close out this months’ talk of love I wanted to take time to talk about something that should be close to your heart, your business. Businesses are started for many reasons, sometimes for multiple reasons. Some start a business because they see a need and believe they can fill it, others start it for the money. Both of those are good reasons but I believe there’s an ingredient that neither of those two reasons have that is essential to being truly successful: having a passion and love for your business. You can make the business all about the numbers, you can focus on the market reach, you can talk about how many satisfied customers you have or how many new products have taken the world by storm.

But I believe that unless there’s a passion, a love for what you do not only will your success be empty, you’ll also risk blowing it all because you get tired of it and don’t have a reason to continue. Sure, some businesses can be created with the goal of selling it off when it reaches a certain point of success, and that’s not a bad thing; no one ever said that you had to run the same business for the rest of your life.

But when you’re looking at your business from a strictly numbers perspective you are limited to what you can reach and what’s feasible. But when you’re in business with love and passion, the possibilities are endless. Then there’s more to your business than just reaching your monthly goals, there’s more to it than counting customers for number’s sake, there’s more to it than having the most connections on social media. When there’s love and passion the business becomes an agent of change, a bringer of hope, a fulfiller of dreams and a freedom machine.

As we close out this month I encourage you to take time to consider what you love. Are you still in love with your business or do you need to make some changes to bring back the passion?

The Priority of Change

I talk about change a lot, and with good reason: it’s a powerful force in our lives whether we choose to admit and accept it or not. It’s something many of us choose to fight and resist, sometimes for good reasons, other times because of fear, laziness, apathy or a lack of understanding. I believe there are many reasons why people choose to change when/if they do, but the one I want to talk about today is something I’ve been working on for the past few months: priorities.

People change when their priorities change.  Think about when a baby comes into the family, many people choose to spend less time at work, spend less on themselves and spend more time doing family things. Or think about when someone is given really bad health news, people usually choose to live their last days full out, not plodding away at a job they hate or watching endless hours of TV.

I invite you to take a few minutes and look at your life as we begin this week: what are your priorities? Your priorities are the things that you plan other things around and spend lots of time on each week, or consistently spend time on. Your priorities help you make decisions and know what to choose when given several options. For example if your kids are a priority they’ll usually take precedence over other things that come up. Or if your health is a priority you’ll make time for exercise every day rain or shine.

What do you think of the things that are priorities in your life? Are you glad that they’re priorities or do you wish you could list other things as priorities in your life?

“People don’t change because of motivation, people change because of priorities.” Dr. Henry Cloud

Make Your Own Future

As we go into this weekend I want to encourage you to do one thing: sit down and make choices about your future.  I meet people every day who are waffling between different things, waiting until the money shows up, looking for that perfect sign, or just following the other lemmings. What so many people are missing out on is exactly how much power they have.   You have the power to do just about anything you want with your future.  Your partner and family members have some right to make recommendations since they’re supposed to be the people closest to you and care the most about you.  But when it comes down to it no one can make the ultimate choice for you, and you can’t make the choice for anyone else.

Start by being honest with yourself and those in your life.  If you’ve been forcing everyone else to fall in line and making decisions for them you’re making a mistake and drastically limiting their potential, probably making them dislike or even hate you for the interference.  If you’ve been letting anyone else direct your life like a puppet you know how that feels.

The next step is having big dreams.  It’s good to imagine what can be, to dream about what comes next and to want to do big things with your life.  Kids have it right with all their imaginative play and dreaming throughout their childhood.  As adults we forget those dreams, some are crushed by the intrusions of reality, but others are just forgotten because we’ve let life get in the way of living a really fulfilling life.  As we talked about last week with the 50 Shades of Gray movie, there’s so much more to life than most of us tap into.

The final step is being brave enough to stand up for your needs, your dreams, your gift that you have to give to the world and taking action to make it happen.  You have a right to decide what you do with your future, just like your kids have a right to choose what they do with their futures and your partner has a right to choose their future.  Work on supporting each other in your dreams and passions rather than fighting over them and belittling their passions.

What step will you take towards your future this weekend?

“Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny.”  Bob Marley

The Discipline of Success

If you’re anything like me you’ve done lots of research into success.  You’ve looked at the leadership, sales, marketing, people, and countless other topics all trying to figure out how you can be successful.  I get asked frequently what the secret to success is and the answer I give usually frustrates people: I tell them to offer something of value, something that not everyone else is offering, do it with a personal/human touch, consistently market your business, and generally tell the world.  It sounds vague and, as I said, frustrating, but it’s the truth.  If you just jump on the closest MLM bandwagon you’re wasting valuable time and losing money because you joined the wrong team.  People have made money from MLMs, however I find that there are better ways to make money and make a difference in the world while you’re at it.  But the secret to success that I want to talk about today is one of them that people have a hard time grasping given our society: consistently marketing your business.  Here are the challenges and opportunities we face with this aspect:

1-consistency is not something we’re familiar with.  We expect results now, even yesterday, so the fact that something takes time to show results is completely foreign to most people.  People want to see results of social campaigns in a few day’s time when it can take years to make a dent, depending on how you do it.  That doesn’t mean that social media is a waste of time, it just means that if you want to see results it will take longer than the next sunrise.

2-consistency requires work.  Not only do you have to adjust your schedule to plan for a longer end goal, you also have to work a lot more persistently to see the results.  To have longevity in business it’s absolutely essential that you show your customers that you’re not just here for now, but you’re planning to stick around for a long time. And that’s not something that’s done by sending out an email today and not again for another 6 months.

3-beause of #1 and #2 you’ve got a great opportunity to succeed where others have failed. Learn from what they’re not doing and commit yourself to taking consistent action in your business, consistently offering a quality product, consistently updating your marketing, and consistently being there for customers when they have questions or needs, or just to be friendly.  What will you be more consistent with this week?

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” George Washington

Remembered for Freedom

Today is President’s Day in the USA.  It’s a day when we remember all the presidents who came before, who made tough decisions, were willing to do their best to lead, men who were willing to be the face of a nation.  No, none of them were perfect, and for each I’m sure someone could come up with more than one thing they each did wrong, and each of them probably would tell you that there was something in their life and presidency that they wished they had done differently or better, after all hindsight is 20-20.  But they can’t change what the past is, and neither can we.  We all leave a legacy when we die, it’s up to us to choose whether we leave a legacy we’re proud of or leave our legacy to chance.

I’ve mentioned before that the New York Times includes a few obituaries in every daily email update they send out.  Countless people are dying each day, some seemingly before their time, people we’re sorry we lose so soon, others we’re sorry we lose even though they’ve lived a long and amazing life.  We don’t usually have a choice of when or how we die, we only have the choice in how we live our lives.  So the question is, who or what would you like to be remembered as?

Ironically, many of the things we pursue in life are not things we would want to be remembered for, or seem empty to be remembered through, like having the same job for our whole lives, having lots of money or living a really long time.  Very few deathbed confessions have shared gratitude in how much money they had or the job they worked.  No, most people are more apt to discuss the family they’re leaving, the life they’ve enjoyed or the mistakes they regret.  So what will your choice be?  What do you want to be remembered as?

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.”  Rosa Parks

A Valentine’s Day to Remember

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and a good portion of the population of the US is thinking romance. Maybe it feels like an obligation to them, maybe they’re pissed they don’t have a date, maybe they’ve recently had their heart broken, maybe they’re tired of putting in effort and getting nothing back, and maybe you can identify with those people in one way or another. I’m thankful to be in a happy relationship, but not everyone is so fortunate. So today I want to issue you a challenge and possibly help you make this Valentine’s Day the best ever.

Let’s start with those not in a relationship. Being bitter, pissed off, angry or stewing in hurt will never get you into a happy relationship. Ever. No one wants to be partnered with a grump. You may not usually be a grump, but if that’s how someone acts when you meet you, so why would they think you’d be different because you’re in a relationship? Take the time you have to enjoy life, even if you don’t have a permanent someone to spend it with.

For those of us in relationships I challenge you to do the unexpected. Going with the flowers and dinner (unless that’s what your partner really likes) is a cop-out. What if instead of doing what tradition dictates you do you what would make your partner most happy? The secret to having a great Valentine’s Day and a strong relationship is in being able to give your partner what they want and need (within reason of course). Maybe what would make your partner happiest would be a quiet night alone with you with the kids at the Grandparents or a friends? What if it would make your partner happiest if you actually did some of the things they’ve been asking/complaining about? What if instead of reaching for the simple thing, you reached for what will make your relationship exciting and thrive?

Your relationship, your life, your Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. Go big, don’t just go home.

“We only have what we give.” Isabelle Allende

Will You Be My Customer?

One of the biggest challenges in business is getting potential customers to say yes. With Valentine’s Day this weekend I thought it was appropriate to talk about things that need to be in place to get people to say yes to the sale.

1-answer all questions. This is one of the big reasons why people don’t buy, they have questions you haven’t answered, concerns you haven’t addressed or aren’t clear on what you’re selling. If you do sell something that you don’t list all the answers to potential questions for in an easily accessible place, make sure that you’re easily and frequently accessible so you can quickly answer their questions before they get cold feet.

2-there’s no spark. In romance a spark is the stuff stories are made of, and business is no different: people want to know that not only are you special and offering something special, they’ll be treated with respect and value too when they become your customer. I would be hard pressed to come up with a business that has no competitors, so showing your spark, your vision, your personality, your leadership and your perspective are essential to standing out and convincing a potential customer you can provide them with what they seek.

3-offer great value. You don’t get engaged to and marry the scary neighborhood tramp just so you can say you’re married, you choose to make that commitment with someone who you feel compliments, supports, helps, improves, grows, enjoys and loves you. A business is no different, people don’t just buy for the sake of spending money, they want value from you.

Which point will you work on this week to increase your conversions?

Going For Genius

One of my favorite things about working as a life and business coach and consultant is the opportunity to meet thousands of interesting people, people who have no clue how much potential is just waiting inside them to be unleashed. Unfortunately, as just about any coach or consultant will tell you, there are people who are all talk and no action: these people are those who say they want to grow, want to fulfill their potential and just don’t back it up.

I can understand the hesitance, really I can. It’s a lot of work, takes time and definitely will push you in many ways you never wanted to be pushed. Life can have scary moments, and when you become greater you do take on more responsibilities, in addition to the increased opportunities you’ll have.

We can spend weeks on the negatives and the fears and what’s holding you back. And it is important to take time to seriously go through them because if you don’t it can, and probably will, trip you up again in the future. But that’s not the topic I want to address today, because there are too many people that get stuck going through the crap. Instead I want to focus on the potential.

We can focus all you want on the change aspect of things: how many times have you heard “you have to change to get what you want,” right?  When in fact what we should be focusing on is what we get by changing, by choosing to unleash our potential, by choosing to be all we can be, by choosing to live our purpose.  So don’t choose to change this week, choose to finally embrace all that you’ve hoped for and dreamed of.

“Why would you want your genius unleashed? Because it fulfills you. It enriches and enhances your life. It gives meaning, depth, and brilliance to the ordinary, transforming you and your life into extraordinary.” Soleira Green

Simple Steps for Love

We do a really good job of writing to-do lists, adding on responsibilities, holding grudges, slacking off and making things as difficult as possible in all areas of life including our relationships. We usually let our relationships go and put the littlest possible attention into them because we don’t care, don’t think it’s necessary, don’t think it should be that much work, don’t think our partner is worth it, don’t think our partner puts forward the effort we do, or are too busy keeping the other plates of our life up and spinning and just can’t do one more thing. What I’ve learned with my partner is that by putting us towards the top of my list, not the bottom, my life is much simpler, happier, and smoother. It’s easier to make choices because I’ve already chosen us, and if it conflicts with us it’s probably not what I’m going to choose. As we look to Valentine’s Day in a little over a week I thought I’d share a few simple things that don’t take much time or effort that you can do for your partner, yourself and your relationship this Valentine’s Day.

Text/email more often. Take the 30 seconds two or three times throughout the day to just shoot your partner a little something funny, impression, thing that reminded you (in a good way) of them, or thought of love.

Take time to listen. I’m a good listener but I know that I don’t remember much. I try to remember what’s super super important, but honesty, it doesn’t usually go so well unless it’s a *very* habitual thing. So I get in the habit of writing just about everything down. When my partner brings up important dates I make sure to grab a pen and write it down on paper or in my calendar ASAP so that I’ll actually get it done, “remember” it, or be able to follow-up with him later. Regardless it’s important to set aside time each day to catch up on what’s going on in your lives, write down what’s said when you do talk and communicate as much as possible through written forms that make it clear exactly what was said.

Surprise your partner. Showing your partner that you love them is one of the best ways to keep your relationship healthy and alive. This is as simple as being the one to join hands when you’re out in public, bringing home a treat for you two to share or offering a massage, bubble bath, putting the kids to bed or other task your partner usually does or asks you to do before they ask.

You don’t have to put tons of time and effort into your relationship, but the more you do the better it will be. Start with these 3 little things this Valentine’s Day.

“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”  Richard Branson