Committed to the Business

This month one of the topics we’re talking about is commitment.  Let’s talk a bit today about how commitment impacts your business.

If you really are committed to being successful, my first question to you is what have you done to try to be successful?  One of the biggest struggles I have with success is the fact that not everyone is truly committed, or that even if they are they aren’t using their brains that they’ve been given.  I get many people contacting me saying “I just created this product and now I need to know how to sell it.”  Too often what this means is that they think they’ve got this great idea but haven’t done the research on what it means to be in business and the options that are available for them to tap into to market it.  The internet is full of insights about every topic under the sun.  Sometimes you have to phrase the search a couple of different ways before you find what you’re looking for, but the answers are out there.

The second aspect of commitment in business would be about how committed you are to keeping the business alive, as well as make it thrive.  Part of this has to do with investing in yourself as the leader on a regular basis, and part of it has to do with investing in the business and making sure that things stay fresh and up to date in this fast-paced world we live in.  Do you put in time regularly to making sure that the systems are working as they should, the marketing is being done, trends are being considered and new options are being discussed?  Or do you just leave things alone and hope they keep working?

The third aspect I want to touch on today is commitment to your people.  Are you committed to the employees and customers you have?  Do you really think about how you can make things better for them, make them happier and help them have a better experience with you and your products?  Do you show that you care what they think and what they’re interested in?  Or do you do as little as possible and hope that things will take care of themselves?

Can you be successful if you’re not really committed? Yes, some people get lucky.  But that’s often because they’ve got a great team around them that cares a whole heck of a lot more than they do.  However, when the leader is committed, when the team is committed and when the clients are committed, the possibilities are endless. What areas of commitment in your business do you need to work on this week?

When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” Howard Schultz

Thankful for Relationships

I’m super excited to be looking ahead to Thanksgiving and wanted to take time today to talk about being thankful in our relationships. Relationships are full of challenges, sometimes heartbreaks, and often opportunities for joy.  They’re not for the faint of heart and take work if you really want them to be successful.  But there are also plenty of reasons to give thanks for them.  Relationships mean that we’re not alone in the world, they mean that we’ve got someone there to support us, they challenge us and help us grow, they give us a helping hand in raising kids and in fulfilling our dreams.

One of the things my partner says to me is “thank you for loving me.”  It sounds like a very simple phrase but it’s got so much power and says many things.  First, it’s an affirmation of our connection, he recognizes that I love him and am invested in our relationship.  Second it’s him admitting that he’s not perfect and may be difficult to love sometimes.  Now, if you’ve been reading along for a while you know that I don’t see a point in being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t ‘click’ with you, so even on his most challenging day he’s still someone I want to be with.  So the value in him admitting that he’s not perfect is in part him wanting reassurance that I do love him regardless or in spite of his faults, and a promise to do better because he’s as committed to us as I am.

It kills me when I see so many hurting, hurtful and broken relationships because some of them could be healthy relationships if some steps were taken sooner, while others I’m amazed that they’re still hanging in there for some unknown reason when they could very possibly be happy with someone else.  Being that this is the holiday season now I’m going to say that the glass is half full today and encourage you to take time this holiday season to rip off a few band-aids and really talk with your partner about how you can make your relationship healthier and more fulfilling.  Stop looking elsewhere, stop with the threats, stop faking it, stop lying to yourself and start talking about the problems and how you can resolve them.  Take time for just the two of you this season and build on the good that you have or rebuild the good you once had.

The Choice of Quality

Quality.  It’s one of the things that we have to decide about as business owners.  The general belief is that the more expensive something is the better quality it is. But quality can be a subjective term because the “quality” that one person is looking for isn’t the “quality” that another is looking for.  A really simple example is when it comes to plates and other dinnerware.  Some people consider “quality” dinnerware to be that which is made of porcelain and very expensive.  Others consider “quality” dinnerware to be that which looks nice and is durable enough to make it through raising kids.  So how do we determine quality for our businesses and is it important?

I believe quality is something you need to consider.  Regardless of what quality means to you, it always means that you’re working with and trying to achieve a standard, typically a respectable one.  Most people and businesses don’t aim for the quality of junk because they actually want people to buy their products.  There are of course businesses who create junk and market it off as a quality product or service and try to hide the fact that it’s junk.  Those businesses don’t last very long.

Sometimes even businesses that have a quality product or service can make mistakes or find room for improvement.  There are imperfections that happen accidentally like e coli happening at the farm you get your produce from (and the farm has never had an issue before and doesn’t have another one), or bugs that are discovered in new technology products or upgrades to existing ones.  It’s one reason that it’s important to do quality control checks and be checking, testing and getting feedback about your products and services.

I believe that every business needs to define the standard of quality that they strive for.  Once the goal has been set, then the steps to ensure that quality need to be put into place.  If every business had a real quality commitment that they accomplished the majority of the time there would be more happy customers and customers would be more willing to stay with a brand.

What will you do this week to improve or reinforce your business’s quality commitment?

Today is a New Day

You may not think about it often but today is a brand new day. Today has never happened before and today will never happen again.  You have the opportunity to do anything and everything with this new day.  You can get out in nature, take a walk and listen to and observe the spring changes.  You can choose to listen to your partner when they tell you they’re stressed out and ask how you can help (or just do something).  You can choose to play with your kids rather than ignoring them in favor of playing an app on your phone.  You can choose to pick up healthy food at the store rather than just the good looking junk food.  You can choose to get stuff done rather than procrastinating and putting them off again.

Today is a new day with new opportunities.  But those opportunities are only open to those who are open to them.  Are you open to seeing those opportunities in your life or are you so stuck in your current rhythm that you can’t see beyond it, or are you willing to go through the possibly painful and definitely challenging experience of changing it? Once you’ve made the choice to be open to the opportunity, to be open to the needs and desires of the people in your life you have to take action on your decision.

Start making the changes in your life that you know deep down in your gut that need to happen today.  Start with the little things if you’re intimidated by the big ones, like checking your phone less often, picking up after yourself, making healthier life choices, and treating others with more respect.   Do it because you love them and yourself and want the very best for your life.

Giving Thanks for Time

Today as we discuss being thankful I want to talk about something that I’m struggling with and you may be too: time.  It’s a tricky beast, isn’t it!?  Many of us spend a lot of time talking about it, berating it, bemoaning it and trying to squeeze every last second we can from the hours we’re given.  Some people do waste the time they have or don’t use it very well, but even they tend to talk about how little time they seem to have.

So why be thankful for time? Why talk about it on Monday instead of another day when we could talk about productivity strategies and time stealers (no worries, we will make time for this in the near future)?  Because time is one of the most valuable gifts, tools, opportunities and resources we have. It, along with health, is one of the things that we take most for granted.  When people are told they’re dying in the near future they often write and try to make it through a bucket list.  When people are on their death beds they comment that they wish they had more time to spend with those they’re leaving behind.  When people we know die too soon we say that we wish we had more time with them.

So as much as this discussions is about the value and importance of managing your time well and making time for the things that really matter in life like your health and relationships, it’s also about being grateful for the time that you do have.  We’re so blessed to be living in a day and age when we’re expected to live 80+ years.  I can’t imagine what it used to be like hundreds of years ago when the average lifespan was much less.

So this week make time to appreciate being alive, that you have the time to panic over and stress about, and do your best to use your time and life wisely.

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”   Seneca

What’s Your Motivation?

What is important to you in life?  Is it your friends? Your health? Your job? Your partner? Your family?  What are you willing to drop everything for, or maybe even die for?  Countless studies have been done over the past few decades of how we’re slowly killing ourselves with our bad habits and decisions.  While we’ve made lots of progress over the past few decades, we’ve also had some serious setbacks when it comes to the choices we’re making, especially in the health areas.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and working on is finding my motivation.  Why?  Because you can work a job, have a life, and do things all while looking and feeling like a robot. That’s not really living, that’s getting by.  And we’ve seen lots of examples this year of people who died while still very young, so it’s a big reminder that each and every day is valuable and any day could be your last.  So what’s the point in bringing up motivation, after all you kind of have to see to your responsibilities, whether you like them or not, right?

It’s about our emotional involvement and attachment to who we’re with and what we’re doing.  If we’re not motivated, invested or otherwise really interested and it’s just a cut-and-dry responsibility, often we don’t give it our best effort, and the effort we do give it is lackluster, lazy, or late.  So really, one of the things we’ve missed out on is choosing things that we’re properly motivated for and interested in.  Yes, sometimes you have to make a choice about a job or food because you’re desperate but even then more often than not you do have a choice (probably several) and you’ve chosen not to look for them or act on them.  But when you’re able to make a choice based on what you feel is truly best for you or what motivates you it will get done quicker, you’ll be less likely to complain about it, and even when you face challenges you’ll be in a better mind frame to deal with them because you’re really invested in what you’re doing or the person you’re helping.

If your life looks boring, distasteful or you have to drag yourself through your day, I’d say it’s a good time for a motivation check.  Are you really invested in things that are important to you, are you doing things because people have told you to or are you just doing what’s necessary to get by?

“You need to feel that the game is important to you. Lose that feeling and you lose your edge. There’s no faking that kind of emotion. You can’t invent the feeling. It’s got to be natural, real.”  Dan Marino

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

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

A Strong and Supportive Relationship

It’s not easy to make a relationship work.  Any time you have more than one person involved there’s bound to be some disagreement, fighting, miscommunication and disappointment.  One thing I think makes a big difference is having multiple points of connection.  In other words, if all you have keeping you and your partner together is the fact that you made a kid together, you’ll have a lot more challenges than those who have similar interests, enjoy spending time together, like similar foods, enjoy similar movies, have kids and both like to travel.  There will always be differences because you’re two different people, but if you have a strong and large foundation to work with you’ll have a better shot at success.

I’m always amazed by the stories of people who say they met and knew the other person was ‘the one’ instantly.  I mean if this was a perfect world where no one had ex’s, trouble at work, health issues or financial worries it would be more believable, but in this day and age it seems almost like a fairy tale rather than reality. But with as many people are as in the world it seems more likely than ever that we would be able to find our ‘one,’ which is good news. However, sometimes we’re not ready for something that permanent.  And sometimes we discover that the person we thought we were with isn’t who they really are, even after knowing them for years.

So what’s a person to do?  I say start with friendships.  Have friends, meet new people, get out and live life, don’t jump in too quickly but don’t be afraid to make a decision, try to work things out when they get difficult but don’t stay with someone who is abusive, don’t assume that there’s someone better out there just because you’re afraid of doing the work it takes to make a relationship work, and don’t avoid relationships because you’re worried it won’t work out.

“Experts on romance say for a happy marriage there has to be more than a passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for each other. Which, in my book, is a good definition for friendship.”
Marilyn Monroe

Communication Choices

The words we use are powerful.  The old saying is “Sticks and stones will break my bones, But words will never harm me,” but this is the farthest thing from the truth for most of us.  It’s not easy to separate ourselves from the words someone has said about us. Those words feel and can become personal.  Sometimes the words are said based on someone’s false assumptions, other times they’re just lashing out for no reason at all, sometimes their words do have validity, and other times their words make our day.

One thing I’ve always done and always tried to think about is being more positive and looking for possibilities.  The world has plenty of negative people and words in it, so I always look for a way I can help, to see things in a different perspective, or to use words that empower me and the people I work with.  These are phrases like: I can, I will, I know, I will make the time, I’m grateful, I’m confident, I believe, and it’s possible.

But over the past year I’ve made some changes with my vocabulary.  I’ve stopped apologizing for things as much; I’m not going to apologize for something I don’t want to do or don’t like.  I’ve become more decisive, saying yes and no rather than maybe or possibly. I’ve asked more questions, getting to the heart of the matter so I don’t make commitments I can’t keep or fulfill. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I’ve never really been one for filling the time with incessant and random chatter, I’d much rather get to the point so we can get to work.

It wasn’t easy to make those changes, they took time and effort.  I had to break the habits that I’ve lived with for so long, and as you probably know, most habits aren’t easy to break.  But I know that the changes I’ve made have made me into a better person, a better leader, a better business owner, and a better communicator, so they’re changes worth making.

What about you?  What words do you use on a regular basis?  How would your life change and improve if you were to use different words?