Your Value in the Relationship

This month I’ve been asking a really important question to myself, my clients and in my newsletters: do I value myself, and do you value yourself? For too many years we’ve undervalued the contribution we can make for the world, and just as important that we are beings of incredible and immeasurable value. If we truly valued ourselves would we smoke and drink as much as we do? Would we do the drugs we do (both medical and recreational)? Would we watch as much TV? Would we work jobs we hate? Would we stay in abusive relationships? Would we eat all that we do? If we really thought about our value and if we really valued ourselves would we live the lives we do? I think the answer is a resounding no.

This month we’ve been talking about being part of a team, and (spoiler alert) next month we’ll be talking about being healthy. One of the things I’ve been reminded most from this month is that teamwork means you’re not alone. I know we live in a very busy world where we’re practically always connected and always on the go and always dealing with others, and yet so many of us are lonely.

A relationship is one of the most important teams that we’ll be part of in our lives. It’s the person we choose to share our deepest secrets with, our biggest fears, our dreams, hopes, ambitions and frustrations. They’re the person we expect to be there when we need them, and to be there for them when they need us. Our partner should be one of the best parts of our life. But if we don’t believe we are a valued member of that relationship, if we don’t feel appreciated and if we can’t express who we are without judgment, we’ll quickly lose our passion and interest in life.

If your partner isn’t supportive of who you are and what you need it’s time to consider if your relationship is really the right one for you or if it’s time you found someone who values you as much as you do.

“In any personal relationship, what we really have to give is ourselves. The more we value ourselves, the more we attract loving and appropriate life partners and friends to us…The key is how much we value ourselves.” Madeline C. Gerwick

Community, Volunteers, and Fans, Oh My!

On Monday we addressed bad teams and failures. They’re part of life and not something we can really avoid. Today I wanted to talk about something that’s been around forever but is something we’re seeing more and more in this social world: the power of a community. As business owners we’ve always valued when satisfied customers tell their friends how great our business is, not to mention free publicity we get, but over the past few years we’ve really worked hard to harness the power of community through social media. Call them volunteers, call them fans, call them your street team, these are the people that we depend on to make our budgets go just a little further and reach into groups of people we would never get a foothold with otherwise. In this month on teamwork it’s important that we take a little time to discuss this very important aspect of our teams and businesses, what they can do for us and what we can do for them.

Let’s start with ways we fail our community. I could come up with a ton of ways I’ve been hurt or failed as a community member, but I’ll just touch on a few of the biggest and most obvious, and also the easiest to fix. First, ignoring them is a great way to lose their interest and willingness to do something for you. I’ve been introduced to people through a seminar or event and it’s been years before I’ve heard from them again. All of a sudden they think I’m interested in hearing from them years later and they ended up missing out all those years ago. If you really want your community to stick around for you, you have to stay in touch with them consistently.

The second way communities are failed is by a lack of appreciation. If you really want raving fans not only will you have a great business they’ll be happy to buy from, you’ll recognize them for their support. Maybe this is in the way of a fan club that offers discounts or gifts to the most loyal of fans. Maybe this is a meal after they’ve volunteered at your event. But even something as simple as a “thank you” and some verbal recognition can mean the world.

If you want to make the most of your fans, your community, your volunteers make sure they’ve got the tools to share you with the world. Consistently post on social media, give them the business cards to pass out, have an easy-to-find (mobile friendly) website, post your most important information clearly (hours, location, costs, contact info etc.), send out a weekly email newsletter, offer buy-one-share-one deals, the list goes on. But when you’re nowhere to be found or your information is incorrect or you just seem like you don’t care neither will they.

Have you supported your community throughout the life of your business or do you have some apologizing and catching up to do?

When Teams Fail

What happens when teamwork goes bad? This is something we’ve all heard about: the team just can’t pull it off. Maybe it’s wrong timing, maybe it’s the team, maybe it’s the goal or maybe it’s the leadership. There are lots of reasons why a team doesn’t succeed and sometimes there isn’t an answer as to why they did. I don’t wait around for it but I do believe that luck, good fortune, right timing, karma, or whatever you call it, exists. We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of teamwork, why teamwork is important, and how to have a better team this month, but we haven’t addressed the big issue of teamwork failures, so that’s what we’re going to take a look at today.

Let’s face it: not all teams are successful. Some statistics show we have a better chance of being successful when we’re working with and supported by a team, but sometimes the team just isn’t right and doesn’t succeed. It could be that the members of the team didn’t give their all, or much effort at all. It could be the fault of one member who is really against the goals of the team, or forced to be on the team and therefore shares their misery with everyone they come into contact with. It could be the goals just being too daunting for the team and their limited resources to accomplish. Or it could be bad, unsupportive or ineffective leadership. At one point in time or another most of us have experienced these situations and been frustrated by them, after all, very few people like to fail and team failures can be especially frustrating.

But the fact is that teams do fail. They have their bad days and bad seasons just like we individuals do. But the hallmark of a true team is what that team does with the loss. Do they drag out the failures, making mistake after mistake, or do they choose to pick themselves up because they realize they’re living the definition of insanity? It’s not easy to make changes in a team, after all there are more than one or two people there to work into the changes. But because so many people are involved it’s always better to make changes before things get so bad you can’t turn them around. Don’t wait to be falling off the deep end with your team before you start to make changes. Have a protective stop loss that you’ve chosen and be in communication with the team about how you’re going to move forward and what’s best for not only the individuals but the whole team.

Failure is inevitable, but it’s up to you how bad the failure is when it happens. Choose victories and success over catastrophic failure, even if it means making some hard changes.

“Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” John C. Maxwell

Committed to the Relationship

I believe that being in a relationship is a big commitment, one that most people don’t fully make. Sure when you’re getting started with a new relationship you don’t jump in with both feet in case you discover you’re really not compatible or not in it for the same reasons. But once you’ve been in the relationship for a while you have to either fully commit, agree how fully committed you’re going to be, or get out.

What does it mean to agree how fully committed you’re going to be? It means that you agree you’re going to be friends with benefits or you’re both committed to not having kids but having a lasting relationship, or staying together for the period of time that you have until life calls you in different directions for school or work. Some people try to get away with not discussing these limits, but I feel it’s really important to discuss these things in your relationship or you’ll be dealing with unrealistic expectations, unhappy people and unnecessary stress.

That said I do know that some relationships may be committed but something happens that drastically changes the dynamics of the relationship, or the commitment you agreed to. There are many things you can’t predict or can’t truly know how you’ll react when things happen, but you do have a choice when you begin the relationship to be open to the person you’re with and the natural change process we all go through during our lives. Talking about this stuff when it happens rather than 6 months later is important, as is trying to work through the changes rather than just giving up.

Whether you’ve truly committed to your partner or not can make a big difference in the relationship, in your attitude towards them and in the health and happiness of your relationship. I encourage you to think about your relationship and the commitment you’ve made to your partner this weekend. Is it a true commitment or a fair weather one?

“And in a marriage you can’t TRY and be married. You’re married or you’re not married… as far as I’m concerned.”  Ringo Starr

Going for Gold

Today I’ve got some more insights on business and teamwork to share, inspired by a quote from Andrew Carnegie: “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Let’s take a look at the different aspects of this quote and how we can apply it.

The first part of the quote indicates that a common vision is the core of teamwork. Typically one of the initial things I look at when considering a purchase or working with a new client is if that company has a vision.  This is more than just saying “I sell stuff,” this is showing how you fit in with the bigger picture, how your clients fit in with the bigger picture and even the bigger picture and impact on life. Too many people don’t bother to answer the “why”, they just focus on the “what.” But the “why” is the motivation behind taking action or the reason why people choose you. Without it it’s a lot harder to get people behind what you’re doing.  If the people you want to be on your team don’t know why they would want to be part of your team you’ll have a very hard time convincing them to support you.

The second key aspect of teamwork is the people.  For a team to be successful several things have to be in place.  First, there has to be communication.  There has to be communication not only between the team members for the duration of the team, but there also has to be good communication of what you’re working towards and how you’re going to get there.  Obviously, for the communication of how the goals will be accomplished there has to be a plan on how it will happen not only so you know how you’re going to accomplish the goal, but so that you can give people actionable steps they’re going to do as part of the team.

The final insight in this quote I want to talk about today is the really awesome ability of teamwork to make something more than just an accomplished goal, but an actual victory, or as Andrew Carnegie says create “uncommon results.” This is how the underdog wins the Superbowl/World Series/World Cup/NBA Finals etc.  This is how we have rags-to-riches stories.  This is how we go from saying “impossible” to seeing that it’s not only possible but more than we could have ever dreamed or done individually.

So this week I encourage you to first check in with the vision you have for your company; do you even have one and do people know what it is?  Second, check on the communication that you’re doing with your team, whether employees, partners, suppliers and especially your family.  Is it enough for them to understand what you want done in detail as well as understanding the big picture and sufficient for them to know how best to support you? Finally, don’t be afraid to dream big.  Go for gold and beyond because you know you’ve got the team that can make it happen.

Teamwork Creates Happiness

One of the reasons I believe we’re here on earth is to help each other. I believe businesses too were created to solve at least one problem or meet at least one need in the world. We can get caught up in the things of this world and in what goes on in our lives and forget this very core purpose. But in this month on teamwork I’m reminded again and again how poorly the world would work without teamwork and how miserable we would be without all that everyone else contributes to the world.

Not only is teamwork necessary for making the world and our lives not such a challenging and/or bad experience, I believe the benefits far outweigh the costs when it comes to having other people in our lives. In fact most of the happiness and joy that we experience comes from other people and their presence in our lives, whether literal like close friends and acquaintances or in movies/on TV.

Some of the happiest times in my life have been when I’ve been helping others, doing a good deed or doing something that will make a positive difference in the world. These times and people have made such an impact on my life that I make it a regular part of my life to contribute to the world through charities, as well as offering a helping hand or bit of advice when asked. I believe my life is richer because my focus is on helping others rather than on how much money I can make, how viral I can go or the latest gossip and trending celebrities.

People can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but it’s not isolated to just “them,” we have our own issues too. As you go about your life this week remember that you’re not alone in the world and ask for help when you need it and offer it when you see someone else in need.

“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life – a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.” Princess Diana

Ready to Relax

I don’t know about you, but my schedule changes over the summer, and I try to move my days off to those that are nice and sunny whenever possible so that I take advantage of all the wonderful fresh air and summer sunshine! I have always made a point of taking time each week to relax and not do work on my computer or meet with clients so that I can have time to regain my perspective and remember that all the work I’m doing is for the goal of being able to enjoy life more. After all, what’s the point of doing all the work if it isn’t to have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

I don’t believe that resting and days off are a waste of time. We aren’t machines built to run 365 days a year 24 hours a day (and even machines have down time because of issues, repairs or overheating concerns). We’re humans designed to sleep every night, but sleep is only a small part of the resting and recharging we need, we need showers and food and friendly conversations that have nothing to do with how we make money or how we’re making a difference in the world.

I’ve never felt that taking an afternoon off to enjoy nature or go on a hike, have a picnic, or read a book is a waste of time because I always feel better, more grounded and more productive after I’ve had that quiet time. There’s something special about nature that all too often we don’t take advantage of. So this summer I encourage you to make sure to take time with your family and by yourself to get out there and enjoy what’s all around us. Take a day to go out into the country and see what you don’t usually see when you’re riding the highways to and from work, go to a National Park and see what your taxes are caring for, and get some perspective on how much bigger life is than what you see in your daily journey.

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

Teamwork for Entrepreneurs

This month we’re talking about teamwork, so I wanted to talk about the benefits of running your business, even if you’re a solopreneur, with a team of one kind or another.  Today we’re going to cover 3 things that not only reinforce the benefits of teamwork but also the need for it, other than of course that there are only 24 hours in a day, we each have limited knowledge and experience, and aren’t physically capable of doing every single thing.

The first reason for using teamwork is based on an assumption.  Now, assumptions are dangerous things, but this is one assumption I’m almost completely confident is true for you: assume you need to improve.  I could make up a list of things that I have on my mental to do list, which means they haven’t gotten to my paper to do list which is the one that actually gets checked off, which means that there are things that aren’t even in the line for getting done, they’re really far on the back burner, which means that I know I’ve got lots of room for improvement, so you probably do too.  However, you may not be able to see what needs to be improved in which case it’s really good to get a second opinion and hear what others think you need to improve.

The second reason for using teamwork is because whether you’re a solopreneur or have employees or partners you work with, you’ve got customers which is the other half of your team.  You’re in a team relationship with your customers because you’ve both got goals that line up together that you’re working towards: you want to sell them stuff and they want to buy stuff.  But unless you spend time with the customers and talk with them or at the very least research them you won’t know if what you’re selling is what they want, or what you can do to make it even more interesting or attractive to them to purchase.

Third, you’re part of the team of business owners around the world.  You’re not doing this all alone even if you’re the only one in charge of your business.  There are millions of other people out there making a living by running their own businesses and it’s up to you to reach out to them and connect with them to hear their experiences, learn from their lessons and hear about their failures and support them through their struggles so they can do the same for you.  I like working with business owners to save them some of the heartbreak and struggle myself and many other business owners have gone through and encourage them that they’ve made a good decision.  I also like being part of the larger community because I know that I can refer someone on to someone else if I’m not a good fit or able to offer them the services they need.

This week look for ways you can contribute to and benefit from being part of the team of entrepreneurs.  What are you contributing and how have you benefited from it?

The Project of a Lifetime

This month we’re talking about teamwork and one thing that comes to mind when it comes to teamwork is projects. Now I know when I start a project I really want to finish it. I don’t like to leave things with unfinished and let them drag on endlessly, I like things to be finished. Maybe they won’t ever be perfect or polished, but I’ve done my best on them and am satisfied for the most part with the end result. However, there are some projects that can’t be completed in one lifetime.

I’m always amazed that a pyramid was able to be completed during the life of an Egyptian Pharaoh, they seem like such imposing and complicated structures, especially for the lack of technology and resources or tools they had back then compared to what we have now. We also just celebrated the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day, something that’s been in the works for some 400 years (if you consider that the Pilgrims landed in the US in the early 1600’s).  So this got me thinking about what their thoughts would be on where we’ve taken the country in these 400 years. Would they like what we’ve done or would they wish to be back in England and never have come over?

What do we do when faced with a vision or project that we know is impossible to complete in the time of our lifetimes? Do we work our hardest to set our successors up for success or do we give up hope that it will ever be completed?

Personally I think we owe the people who start something amazing a big debt because getting things started can be the hardest part of the process. Often once things are in motion it’s easy to keep them going, especially if the vision of the goal is convincing and enticing and worth the effort to make it happen even though the leadership has changed. It’s not about completing things for them but about completing things because they’re worth completing.

I encourage you this week to think about where you are in life and what you’ve got going, are your efforts and goals really worth it or do you need to do some course changes?

“My Dad was such an incredible person, and you have the option of just curling up in a dark corner and letting it all go or you have the option of standing strong, sticking together and carrying on what he lived and died for. And I think that’s what’s so important – to be able to carry on where he left off.” Bindi Irwin

Ignorance and the Internet

One of the greatest challenges in parenting today is choosing how much to tell your kids.  The internet is a funny thing because it passes on all these words, videos and lessons that you really wish you didn’t have to discuss with your kids until they were older.  In this super-connected world that we live in it’s harder to know when something will come up and even harder to keep something quiet.  We can’t hide everything from our kids because we can’t control what other people expose their kids to, so what’s a parent to do?

I’m all for stories like Santa, the boogie man and the stork.  I think they play an interesting role in our lives and culture, and aren’t something we should stop for the sake of being real all the time.  Simply because there’s a lot in the world that can’t be explained.  But beyond that, sometimes the unvarnished whole truth is just too much for them.

It’s also our job to protect and nurture the next generation.  I don’t want future generations thinking their only options are to lie, cheat, steal and kill, I want them to be empowered to be themselves and know the power of love and knowledge and to know that it’s more than OK to live in a peaceful world.  I will always believe that love and kindness opens more doors than hate or violence.

So back to our question: what’s a parent to do in this super open and connected world?  I don’t think the answer is complete and utter seclusion, that’s bad for us and our kids.  I also don’t think denying things is the right answer.  If your kid has a question about things it’s my hope they would feel comfortable and secure enough in your relationship with them to come to you with questions, or that they have an adult you trust in their life to answer those questions, and not to laugh them off as silly or irrelevant or impossible.  The world isn’t planning on going backwards in communication and connectivity, so it’s time we learn how to work with what we do have.

“To keep a person ignorant is to place them in a cage.” Julian Assange