The More You…

Sometimes success happens by surprise and pure luck, but more often than not what’s required for success to happen is action. This month we haven’t followed as closely to the theme as we usually do but in a way that’s because I was busy taking action, and I hope you were too. As we close out this month I did want to address a topic that’s very closely linked with success and action: the topic of more. We talk about success and having more and action and doing more. And it’s not incorrect to connect them, because often it is the case that we need more. You don’t shrink when you grow, you become bigger or there’s more of something.

Which is one reason why we’re always talking about learning more, changing more, doing more, connecting more, and yes, even failing more. Yes, it is about learning the right things, changing the right things, doing the right things, and meeting the right people, but it’s also about more in general, because the more you’re exposed to the better chance you have to be successful and get what you want.

Very few of us want less, most of us want more. But in order to get more, to become more you have to give up more. In letting go, in sacrificing, in making the hard decisions we open ourselves up to the potential for more. What are you opening yourself up for today? Are you so unprepared that you’ll never become successful, too prepared that you’re not able to work with the unexpected, or ready, willing and flexible for what comes today? Choose to be prepared for what you want in your future, but flexible enough to deal with the curve balls life throws.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

Today I am Thankful

Many of us live our lives as chronic complainers.  All we do is complain about the lives we have, the people we’re in relationships with, the things we suffer through and the problems we have.  I believe that this is one of the biggest causes of depression, divorce and unhappiness in our lives; that because we’ve chosen to see the negatives and the problems in our lives we’re missing out on all the good stuff.  But before we talk about the good stuff I have to acknowledge that life isn’t easy, it’s not a walk in the park.  No matter how you see life there will still be bad stuff.  But I believe that in seeing life differently we’ll be more equipped to deal with the challenges and the bad stuff.

So instead I want you to talk about what you’re thankful for.  Instead of greeting your partner with a moan and list of complaints greet them with a smile and let them know you’re glad they’re home.  Instead of spending the night on Facebook complaining to your friends or spreading rumors, spend the time talking with your kids and hanging out with them.  Instead of spending lots of money on habits that will kill you faster make monthly donations to organizations doing good in the world.

But it all starts with you. What are you thankful for in your life?  What do you like about yourself?  What makes you happy?  What is the best part of your day each day?  What makes you feel most fulfilled?  What matters most to you?  If you can’t provide any answers to those questions, let alone make a list of things you’re thankful for you’ve got a lot of work to do to see life as more than problem after problem.  Start with finding one thing each day to be thankful for and grow from there.  Soon enough you’ll see that life is more than the problems, life is full of potential and possibility.

“I have a lot to be thankful for. I am healthy, happy and I am loved.” Reba McEntire

Customer Service Success

This month we’ve been talking about taking action, and one area of a business that usually means action is customer service.  Usually when people reach out to you with a question about what you offer, an issue with what was delivered or (gasp) to thank you for doing a great job, some action is required on your part. Maybe you have to help them troubleshoot your item, maybe you need to explain what certain terms mean, maybe they just want to know that you’re there if they need you.  Responsive customer service centers in a business can really be a valuable asset to a business, and likewise a poor customer service department can really kill you. After all, if there’s no one to help you, wouldn’t you leave a bad review and tell people not to buy from them?

Recently I learned about a surprising stance that eBay has on customer relations: unless someone has spent money with you apparently it’s not required to respond to messages that are sent to you.  Yes, I had a question about something that was being sold and I wasn’t getting a reply from the seller, so like any smart individual I went looking for answers (aka the nearest door to beat down and complain about the seller) and I discovered eBay’s policy.

So let’s just be clear what this means: there’s a good chance that if someone inquires about a product you sell that they’re at least 50% of the way interested, after all, if they weren’t really interested they wouldn’t make the effort to contact you.  And YET it’s apparently logical to not reply to queries.  Sounds like a great way to increase your sales, doesn’t it!?  Needless to say that buyer lost that sale from me and any potential future ones.

So we’re back to one of my pet peeves: communication. If something as simple as a quick email reply could get you a sale, wouldn’t you take the time to do it? What do you think?

The Myth of Balance

Balance is one of those topics that frustrates people, makes people jealous, relieves them and stresses them out.  Many people say balance is a myth and something we should stop working towards because more often than not it’s completely unrealistic.  However unrealistic it may be, I’ve learned time and again that balance is one of the big keys to not only success but happiness as well.  What’s unrealistic is actually the concept of perfect balance.  That’s the myth, just like perfect success, perfect people, and perfect lives.  Perfection shouldn’t be the goal.

In the very definition of balance we’re talking about something with give and take.  Balance is about learning how to make your life work, and adjusting to the highs and lows, not about never having ups and downs. It’s when we’re able to learn how to compensate or adapt to the times of large need or commitment of our lives and support ourselves through the lows that we’re able to find balance in our lives.

Balance is about learning who you are, what your needs are, how you work with and react in life and what your priorities are.  If your life is out of balance it’s because you’ve prioritized one thing to the exclusion of all others.  Balance is about learning how to give enough time to the current main priority in your life and making sure to give yourself time to live and love as well.

I encourage you to take a look at your life this week and discover if you’re giving your priorities to much control in your life.  If you are it’s time to take back the control and make sure that when you’ve achieved your goal you’ll still have a life to return to.

“The hardest thing to find in life is balance – especially the more success you have, the more you look to the other side of the gate. What do I need to stay grounded, in touch, in love, connected, emotionally balanced? Look within yourself.” Celine Dion

Partner Priorities

Relationships aren’t easy, and not all of us are in happy relationships, so I thought I’d start today by helping you get out of that relationship you don’t want to be in. Here’s my advice if you don’t want your relationship to succeed: avoid your partner as much as possible, say as many nasty things to them as possible, disagree with them often, do the opposite of what they ask you to do, bad mouth them in front of the kids, say mean things about their friends and family, “forget” what they asked you to do, never bring them presents, never remember special days and dates, ignore them and all their efforts to fix your relationship. Once you’ve done all those things enough times, no worries, you’ll be kicked out faster than you can say your own name.

I know that you entered into your relationship for a reason, regardless how bad you want to be done with it now. I don’t think that divorce is necessary for everyone, but I don’t see much point in continuing the pain and suffering if you and your partner truly aren’t able to work things out. So when it comes to fixing a relationship, or keeping a relationship healthy, there’s one thing that’s necessary to make that happen.

I talk often with my clients about how important date nights/times are for couples in a serious relationship. It’s not because you’ll spend money at local businesses or on the sitter you have to get or the gas you’ll have to put in the car. No, date nights are important to the success and longevity of your relationship.

Simply put a great relationship needs time! If you’re not really committed to each other you won’t make the time for each other. You won’t carve time out of your schedules to meet for lunch, grab a coffee, get a beer, take a walk or talk before bed. And then you’ll be miserable and then your relationship will be over.

If your partner isn’t a priority for you, you won’t make time for them and your relationship. But if you’re truly committed to making the relationship work, carving out time a little time each and every day, and a good chunk of time every week is essential. So what will your choice be this week? Will you finally take the step to get out of the bad relationship or will you and your partner commit to spending time together each week to make your relationship work?

The Start of Spring

One of the keys to running a successful business is being aware. You need to be aware of what’s going on, aware of what your business needs, aware what your customers need, aware of what’s going on in the world, aware of what’s going on in your niche, and aware of when things need to change. If you’re not aware of what’s going on in your business, you’ll never be able to recognize when things are happening, when new things are needed and when things are hurdling out of control.

I had to stop and pause this week because I saw a chipmunk out scurrying around and it’s much too soon for them, or so I thought. But it reminded me that sometimes we get caught up in what we’re doing and what’s going on that we miss the signs. The good news is that spring is the perfect time to get started on updating things and growing your business. For spring to happen, for your business to be successful there are some things that need to happen.

Spring seems like all of a sudden there are just flowers everywhere and you can’t believe it. The truth is that it’s been happening slowly over the past few weeks, you’ve just missed the signs. To businesses it may seem like the answer to everything is to be viral, but what those who go viral quickly learn, you have to keep going viral for lasting success. So while viral’s nice if you can make it happen, it’s not what I recommend for consistent success. Instead I recommend you follow the guidance of spring and instead work on consistent, lasting growth and success throughout the life of your business. If you’re consistent with your marketing efforts and with your work with clients you’ll never deal with a lack in clients or be concerned about how far behind you are. It’s time to stop trying to be viral and start consistently helping people.

Spring is also known as the bringer of new things. Very few businesses can exist successfully on just one product created just one time, or one client purchasing one time. While a music store may only sell music, they’re always getting new songs and new artists. While an accountant may always work with numbers the numbers always change and tax rules change each year. Very few writers live off only one book. Your willingness to bring in a new perspective, try something new, work with a new client or partner with another business could be the breath of fresh air you need in your business to get you out of your slump or passionate about your business again.

Consider this week as your chance to shed the chills of winter and move into the warm fresh air of spring. Let go of what’s holding you back as a business and step into what will help you grow. Not sure? Contact me and I’ll review your situation and share my thoughts for what spring can be for you.

The Season of Spring

This week I’ll be sharing a message of spring. That message is one of both hope and challenge, so while I will be sharing encouragement, I’ll also be calling you out on ways you may have been slacking or holding back and why you may not have what you want or be where you want to be. I want to start by sharing my understanding that hope and challenge are usually seen hand in hand rather than separately. We don’t usually talk about hope when things are awesome and amazing, we talk about hope when things are tough and you can’t see the end of the tunnel, or if you can it doesn’t look very good.

One reason that these two topics come up so often in our lives is because our lives are like the seasons: we have times of death and rest and times of growth and abundance. It’s a cycle we go through during our lives, it’s called the journey of life. It’s not something we can stop, nor is it something we should. Think about how it feels when your boss keeps piling work on your desk, you start to get frustrated because even as fast as you do things more things get added. You never get ahead, never catch up, never make progress, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. So we need those times of quiet and less activity so that we can have the strength to get through those more difficult times.

As we enter the season of spring it’s important to remember that even in this time of growth there’s still stuff to let go of: dead plants, the snow, and our winter jackets. We look forward to the growth but we can’t get there until we allow that growth to happen. It’s not as much of a letting go as fall to winter is, but with change there’s always a little that has to be let go to make room for the new, the bigger, the better.

So this week as we approach spring what will you be hoping for? Just more sun? More time to walk and be outdoors? Freedom from the restrictions of winter? Happier people? And what do you need to do to be ready for spring to enter your life?

“I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.”  Steve Southerland

The Study of Marriage

One of the greatest schools of life is the school of marriage (or committed-for-life relationship). If you’re really invested in the partnership not only will you and your partner learn about yourselves and each other and have opportunities to grow, together you can make a big impact on the world by applying and sharing what you learn. One of the best ways to learn about relationships is to read, watch or hear from others about the struggles in their relationships, struggles that you and your partner may face someday.

The quickest ways to fail in your partnership is to assume that you know everything, nothing will ever change and don’t have any room to grow personally or in your relationship. When we make assumptions like this we’re limiting our personal potential and the amount of fulfillment we can experience in our relationship. My partner and I entered into our relationship not assuming that we would have to change each other, but that change would happen and that together we’d work through the changes, supporting and encouraging each other as and when they happened. We’re on the cusp of another big change, one that will challenge us but one that will give us even more freedom to love each other and make our place in the world.

For most of us we don’t have a choice in how the first 18 years of our lives will go: we’ll be in school. Once we’ve graduated from high school we’ve got the option to drop out of college or finish or pick it back up in the future. We don’t have that choice in the earlier years, most of us are forced to go by our parents and by the culture we live in. That’s not how the rest of our lives go, after that we’ve got the choice to stay or go anytime we want. For some of us this is a good thing because it gives us the freedom to explore and be our own person. For others of us though it gives us too many easy outs and we don’t truly commit to things and people in our lives.

No, I don’t advocate staying in a terrible relationships, but I do think that many of us don’t give the relationship the chance we should.  What about you?  Are you giving your relationship the attention it needs to grow and thrive, or is it not a priority for you?

“I’m extremely fascinated by marriage. I want to study marriage. I want to learn about it. I want to know it. I want to figure out whether or not I want to do it. I’m not just going to leap into it, because that’s not good for anybody.” Adam Levine

Girl Scout Success Strategy

March 12th is known as Girl Scout’s Day in honor of the Girl Scouts organization. They’re well known for their cookies and troops of girls who meet and learn about life, success and making a difference in the world. If you stick with the Girl Scouts program, much like the Boy Scouts program, each year comes with new challenges and opportunities for growth and development. The strategy behind the Girl Scouts program is one that business owners can learn from for their own businesses and their work with clients as well.

To have continued success businesses need goals to stay in motion. Talk with a biologist, doctor or transportation expert and they’ll tell you that things that are stationary and don’t move have a much shorter lifespan than those that are in motion. Lakes without a fresh source of water don’t stay healthy long, people who don’t move around are at risk for or develop all kinds of health problems, and when vehicles don’t move they can’t deliver their cargo or engines won’t start up. Business is the same way: if you don’t keep moving, if you don’t stay fresh, if you aren’t aware of trends that might benefit you and take advantage of them, the business won’t grow and probably will die.

Clients can benefit from the Girl Scouts strategy in several ways. First, when you see it as something to be completed, resolved or achieved over a period of time you’re not worrying about getting everything done and total success achieved in the next 30 days or some other really limited period of time. You can start a business, resolve some issues, make some sales or take big steps forward in the next 30 days, but you can’t do everything, nor should you. Give yourself and your clients the time to truly achieve success.

In line with the first point, the second benefit for clients is that there’s always more that can be done or could be tried to bring success. Success isn’t usually simple, it’s usually a multi-layered effort with lots of inputs, some seen and some not visible to the customer, and some failures too. Each day at least one person approaches me with a goal and I have to try to explain to them that there are steps before that goal that need to be taken before the goal can be realized. Some people are able to accept this, others aren’t.

Success can be accomplished if we take the time to write out our goals, make a plan for accomplishing those goals and understand that reaching those goals is not usually a here-then-there or a straight line win, but takes time, work and commitment to be accomplished.

“The Girl Scouts is an organization that constantly gives you new goals to achieve and that’s what life is all about.” Maria Bartiromo

Better than Success?

Success is a topic that we talk about all the time in our conversations with friends and family. We like to be successful, we like to think about how we can achieve the success that people we know have reached, and we want bigger and better successes as we go through our lives. One of the only ways to be actually be successful has to do with our theme this month: this month our theme is around the topic of taking action. Whether we’re talking about our businesses or jobs action is something that’s necessary and appreciated: our bosses like when we’re proactive or even just active, and when we’re reaching out and networking or making sales calls our business grows and we have more success.

But I always caution my clients that success is more than just a number, plaque or platform. If that’s all success is for you you’re going to find out pretty quick that life isn’t very fulfilling. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have success and be able to celebrate your accomplishments. We are wired with an innate need to grow and be better and contribute more to the world, so success is part of life.

But there’s more to life than success. When people come to me boasting about the number of fans they have or number of visits to their website, I always ask what contribution they’re making to the world. Are they just about the numbers or are they making the world a better place for the next generation? Because when you’re looking at success from the perspective of having and using success to add value to the world you tap into a much larger ocean of potential.

So what are you doing with your life? Are you just trying to reach the next biggest and best goal or are you actually trying to make a difference in the lives of anyone and everyone you meet?

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein