Productive Priorities

One of the things we struggle with is productivity.  We’re good at getting distracted, find other things that need our attention, and are often overbooking our schedules.  I get it-we want to keep everyone happy, take advantage of all the great opportunities for ourselves and our kids and fully experience life.  However, as scattered and distracted as we are it’s seriously hurting our quality of life, not to mention the stuff that we actually end up accomplishing at the end of the day, and how we feel about what we accomplish.  Sometimes we’re so over-committed we’re not only overbooked, we’re not getting the important stuff done, and sometimes we’re not getting anything done at all.

The first step is to realize that you’ve got an issue and decide to get help, and maybe it’s as simple as admitting it to a trusted colleague or your partner.  But most people need to reach out to a strategist or organizer to help them restructure their life and make tough decisions.

Once that first step has happened the next thing that needs to happen is prioritizing.  What is truly a priority?  What are you pretending is a priority?  What are you ignoring? Who are you letting down?  These are some very difficult questions to face and answer, but they’re necessary.

After you’ve decided what’s important, it’s time to start making changes in your life and scheduling in the things that are truly priorities and putting to the side things that aren’t.  These changes won’t happen over night but do take time.

Finally, now that you’re more productive and prioritizing what’s actually important, there’s one more step: learning to say no.  One of the reasons you got into the mess in the first place is because you were filling your life with things that were and weren’t good for you.  Learning how to say and mean no in your life is one of the biggest keys to truly having a life you love, and a life that’s productive as well.

Reflection Time

I’m still doing some reflecting and considering as we work into this new year.   2016 felt like being in a cement mixer at times for some of us, it certainly didn’t seem like a smooth ride personally or in the world.  As I’ve been reading a number of posts at the end of the year and the beginning of this one, I identified with what a number of people were saying about the year that just ended and how they felt about it, what they ended up doing in that year and of course where they’re headed in this new year.

For many 2016 ended up being a year of personal growth, not so much professional, although plenty of people and companies did have a very successful year.  For some 2016 was so bumpy that it was hard to even identify or understand that until new year reflections happened.  So if your year was anything like mine, I’m going to encourage you to work through these questions over this week before you give up on your resolutions and/or before you make final decisions about where you want this coming year to go:

What was your best memory?
What was your worst memory?
What was your biggest accomplishment?
What was your most satisfying victory?

What goals do you have for 2017?
What relationships are you going to create or work on in 2017?
What do you want to stop doing in 2017?
What needs to most change in 2017?

Just how good can life get?
Will this be a courageous year for me?
What will make you happy?
What will you love?

As I do my own reflecting and consider where I’m taking things this year, I’d love to hear from you what you would like from me in this blog and/or in what I offer in my business? How can I best help you make more victories in your life and what are you struggling with?

A Timely Holiday

This week I’ve gotten a whole bunch of emails from people and companies with different sentiments about the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays. They’ve all contained some sage advice, and I’ve been sharing what I’ve been reading through my blogs and newsletters as well as with friends and family.  The word that I wanted to share today is timely.  I do believe in a right time for everything, even if we don’t think it’s the right time.  So often we’re wanting things to happen on our time but that’s simply not how it works.  Time isn’t something we can control.  Sure we can do everything possible to expedite things, but sometimes there’s no way to push things through quicker.

I don’t know why some things take years to develop or why some things happen way before we think we’re ready for them or everything seems to happen at once.  I don’t think that’s life playing a joke on us, I think that’s just the way it works and part of how we learn and experience the life journey.  Sometimes it helps if you take a step back, other times it helps to push through and not keep looking back so much.  Sometimes you just have to be patient and let it do what it’s going to do.

This weekend as you gather with family and friends, consider the timing.  Is this the right holiday for some forgiveness?  Is this the holiday you should be taking extra time off?  Is this the holiday you should be giving extra? Is this the holiday that you need to step up for family and friends?  Is this the holiday that you do something for yourself?  Whatever comes your way this holiday I encourage you to reflect on what’s life trying to tell you and what opportunities life is bringing you.  And if life’s bringing you lots of blessings and joy make sure you share it!

Asking A Better Question

As business owners one of the best ways to have a breakthrough in our business or with a client is to ask the right questions.  It’s not always easy to know what questions to ask, and sometimes we think we’re asking the right question only to keep getting frustrated because it turns out that we’re not asking the right question.  So today I’ve got a whole bunch of questions that may be new to you that you could try when you get stuck with an issue.  Some are questions you an ask to someone else, others are those you can use in your own thought processes.

What should questions do?

They should empower, challenge assumptions, re-frame issues, stretch the person/people asking, and encourage breakthrough thinking.

Question Disclaimers:

Sometimes you’ll get an answer you weren’t expecting or wanting to hear.  Sometimes you’ll need to ask another question to get deeper into the heart of the matter.  Sometimes a vague question is good, other times you want to be specific.  Not everyone can give you an instant answer, don’t be afraid to wait for the answer (unless you’re looking for that first impression). You expect a response when you ask a question, and those who are giving the answer expect to be given some kind of feedback on their answer.  Sometimes ‘I don’t know’ is the answer you get.

Let’s talk about some questions to ask yourself to ask the right question:

Do I need a factually correct answer?

Do I need an expert opinion?

Do I need a well-reasoned judgment?

Do I want the truth or the answer they think I want to hear?

Is yes/no sufficient, or do I want more?

Do I really want an answer?

And now some questions you might try:

What’s the RONI — the Risk of Not Investing?

When did you last do something fun?

What can I do to help you?

Do I want to add value?

Do your core values make business sense?

What do you stand for?

Who do you serve?

What is your competitor’s plan to win?

Is it helping?

What is the one thing you have postponed changing about yourself? Are you prepared to make that change now?

Are you a good friend who keeps your word all the time?

Would you offer a good friend much needed (uninvited) advice when you can see he/she is headed for disaster, or remain silent?

Are you open to receiving uninvited counsel from a good friend if the situation were reversed?

Is it more important for you to win the power game or to know the truth?

What is more important to you – wealth or love? (No, you can’t have both so far as this question is concerned.)

Have you explored your creativity to your satisfaction?

What do you need to stop?

Do you dismiss your creative ideas based on financial thinking or lack of time?

Which would you prefer: Losing your creative energy and spark or gaining more free time in your life? (No, you cannot have both so far as this question is concerned.)

Can you actually name a creative project or dream that you would like to pursue now?

What do you notice about the reasons for your success?

What are you trying to accomplish?

How are you being helpful to your team?

What are you doing that hurts your team? (Insert customers, employees, manager, yourself, or organization?)

What’s working for you?

What could be better?

What matters most to your customers? (Insert you, team, employees, manager, or leaders?)

What are the most impactful things you do?

If things were going perfectly, what would it look like?

How does this support the company’s mission, goals and projected success?

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learned along the way?

If all jobs paid the same, what would you be doing?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What does my (audience/customer/employee/partner/teammate) need to hear from me?

What kind of leader am I?

Do you know what I see in you?

How could we do that differently?

What are people concerned about, but no one says?

Did I help someone else succeed today?

What do we want to sustain?

What questions would you add to this list that have helped you in the past?

A Legacy for 2016

The new year is here!  As you know I’m excited about what the year ahead holds, I’m always excited when we get this fresh slate in front of us ready to be colored on, used, worked with and tried out.  Yes, there will be failures and mistakes, that’s inevitable, but there are also lots of chances for improvements, redos and changes.  If 2015 wasn’t your year, you’ve got a new year to thrive in.

As we start this year I want to think about something that we don’t usually associate with new years: legacies.  With a new year, with the exception of making new years resolutions based on what happened in the past year or what we want to change from the past, it’s all about moving forward and new opportunities, not about dying, legacies or being finished.  A new year isn’t an end, it’s a new beginning, but if we take a moment to think about how we want to end the year rather than just what we think we want in the upcoming year maybe we’ll have a better chance of actually getting there this year.  No, you can’t anticipate all that the year will hold, but there’s a commitment that you can make: a commitment to do better each and every day.

It’s always my goal each day to do something that makes a difference in the world.  Maybe that’s donating to a charity, maybe it’s volunteering my time for children in need, maybe it’s giving advice to an entrepreneur just starting out.  Whatever it is my ultimate goal each day is to make the world a better place to live in for myself, my friends, my family and everyone else.  There’s no guarantee that you’ll make the right decision all the time or always do the right thing, we’re not perfect after all.  But you can commit to doing your best to make each day better than the last and always leave whatever part of the world you’re in a better place when you leave.

What will you do with 2016?

“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”  Jim Henson

Learning for Success

Do you know what one of the biggest secrets to success is? It’s really simple and it’s something we do from a very young age: learn. OK, maybe it’s not so simple, but it’s a very obvious answer to problems that plague many of us in reaching our goals and dreams and achieving victories in all aspects of our lives. Learning is one of the biggest keys to success, it’s also one of the cheapest ways to improve yourself and your life. Thanks to technology today you don’t have to spend thousands on degrees or go to a far-away college to learn something new (although for some things like medicine it’s recommended), but there are tons of opportunities online, in books, in courses and in audios to learn and teach yourself all kinds of skills that can improve, maybe even drastically improve, your life and your success potential.

People who are willing to learn (and actually can follow through on what they’ve learned) have a much greater potential for being hired as well as having success than those who are stuck in who they are and what they know. If you’re not willing to learn or try something new your future is very limited. Others might see more potential in you than you’re currently living up to but unless you’re willing to do things different or get the necessary education you won’t be able to live up to that potential. Showing that you’ve been taking courses and dedicate some of your free time to learning makes you look more appealing to potential employers because it shows them that you’re someone they can teach about their culture and how they do things and you’ll be receptive to learning from them and trying things their way.

So if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut go to your local library and check out a couple non-fiction books or find an online course you can take and learn something new. And while you could wait until the holidays are over I recommend starting now while you’re feeling that frustration, don’t put it off any longer.

“Today, when I hire, I look for people who want to be trained and molded.” Bobby Flay

Day of Discovery

Today in the USA is the day that we remember the adventures of Christopher Columbus. There are many things that we could talk about with regards to him, and there has been some criticism about him in recent years, as there are of other early explorers. But today I don’t want to talk about his failures or mistakes but rather his sense of adventure, his bravery and his passion for discovery.

Today’s technology makes many things a lot less scary or intimidating because we can learn so much before we ever embark on the adventure. That doesn’t mean the adventure is any less exciting, it means we’re better prepared to succeed rather than fail, and we’re better prepared to take advantage of the things we could explore instead of being forced to come back and try it again at some other point in time.

“Going where no man has gone before” isn’t a statement we can really use these days but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do it bigger or better than has been done before. Today we can learn things that weren’t possible because we can take the discovery to the next level, adding on what has been learned in previous explorations.

But Columbus and his crew were going where no man had gone before and didn’t have anything close to the technology we do today. So what can we really learn from him? That we’re limited only by the limitations we give ourselves. The world is open to all the adventures you want to have and discoveries you want to pursue. It’s just a question of whether or not you’ll go for it or let someone else have the fun, adventures and thrill of discovery.

Planning for Problems

As a business coach I talk with lots of business owners who are struggling. Let’s face it, depending on the day any of us could be struggling with something, whether it’s a frustrating customer, a product failure or a timing snafu that screwed with our marketing, plans or productivity. So the struggle is something that we all face, it’s not unique to just those of us who have physical businesses or are trying to succeed with an MLM. The thing that frustrates me most with business owners I talk with, as well as life coaching clients, is that more often than not there were plenty of red flags that showed up and were ignored and now they’re falling off the cliff without a parachute and expecting a miracle.

This month as we talk about health it’s important to recognize that health is done by sticking with healthy habits or changing bad habits into good ones. We’re not perfect, so more often than not we have work to do when it comes to our habits, and it’s not realistic to assume that we’ll ever attain perfection and not have things that we’ll have to work on.

The question of success comes in with when there’s something wrong, and in our reaction or response to it. Do we wait for all systems failure or do we make the time on a regular basis to tend to things so that it never ever gets that bad? I believe in yearly, monthly, weekly and daily maintenance rather than waiting for stuff to hit the fan. By preparing ahead of time, planning my day/week/month/year out, and leaving room every day for issues that pop up as well as personal time, I’m not facing an unmanageable struggle when bigger issues come my way and force me to move things around by a day or two. But it’s only because I’m prepared personally, financially, relationally, and business-wise that when issues happen I’m not usually dealing with as big of an issue, and I’m more capable of dealing with them if they are.

Your business and your customers depend on you to be on top of things. One of the only ways this happens is if you’re prepared and working ahead rather than catching up. You’ll accomplish more and feel better about yourself, your life and your business and be able to better serve your customers when you take the time to anticipate the issues and have fall-back plans for if they do appear.

“…that it is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.” Richard Whately

5 Rules in Making Decisions

This week we’re going to talk about a leadership topic that isn’t just a challenge for the heads of companies, but for everyone who works there: making decisions. Here are 5 rules to help you make better decisions:

Don’t make uneducated decisions, but don’t ignore your gut either.
All decisions I make are made based on fact and feeling. Sometimes it’s 90% fact and 10% feeling, other times it’s more 60/40 or 40/60. But I don’t ignore the reality that I don’t know everything, and I take at least a few minutes to research and find out at least the basics of what I have to make a decision on. At the same time, a decision could line up great on paper but if I don’t feel right about it I’ll either ask someone else their thoughts or do a little more research, and then based on that I’ll either go with my gut and not move forward or go ahead with it.

Don’t waste time rehashing the past when what needs to be factored in is the present and future.
The past is an important consideration when making decisions, especially big ones. You don’t want to make the wrong decision, but if you only consider the past you’re missing out on the fact that it’s almost positive that things have changed since the past happened. Maybe we’re not talking extremes like 8 tracks vs mp3’s, but refusing to consider that things have changed and you need to adjust your decision making based on what’s current can make your decision a failure real quick.

Don’t (just) make decisions on popularity.
You’ve probably heard the jokes about lemmings who follow each other off the cliff if that’s the way the leader goes, so we know that what’s popular isn’t always the best decision. That’s not to say that the popular opinion knows nothing or shouldn’t be considered. Popularity shouldn’t be the only reason you make a decision, but it should be a factor.

Don’t make the decision by yourself but don’t try to involve everyone.
I’ve already mentioned bringing in someone when trying to figure out whether to go with gut or fact, but the majority of decisions we make in business affect others, like our employees, our partners, our boards and even our customers. So to make a decision that is major and affects a large number of people should be something that you review with or consult with them on before making the move. You don’t have to ask every last person that would or could be affected, but do check it over or get feedback from a representative sample first. Bringing them a few options is a great way to limit the discussion time and get to making a decision sooner.

Don’t take too long on making decisions.
Ultimately a decision is supposed to be the beginning of action, so if you wait forever while trying to decide what’s right you may miss the window of opportunity. You don’t have to chase down every lead, ask everyone’s opinion, research for weeks or agonize over what your gut tells you.  Instead limit yourself to a period of time in proportion with how large or important the decision is.

What decisions will you make and take action on this week?

Think for Success

Success is something that most of us think about on a regular basis, whether it’s our success, someone else’s success or our kid’s success. We think often about how to reach our goals, what will help us be successful, and what we can do to have other people’s success. We like thinking about success more, but we think about our failures a lot too. We think about what we did wrong, and sometimes we can’t get past the wrong to what we can do different in the future so we don’t repeat the same failure.

Our success is often limited to our ability to believe we can do it and we can get there. If we believe it’s impossible it probably will be. But if we believe that we are powerful, capable beings, beings who are allowed to have and reach big dreams we’ll have a big portion of what’s necessary to help us reach those goals.

When we take the time to think things through, to make a plan, to dream up ideas, to research possible means of accomplishing and then to believe that we’re ready to make those dreams a reality, we’re more likely to see them come to fruition. Each of these steps brings you closer to guaranteed success, of course there’s never a 100% guarantee, but having done all these steps makes you more likely to realize it will or won’t work out, the steps to pursue, and whether there’s a need to do more research before taking any action to make sure that your dream could be a reality.

Thinking things through can take a lot of stress off communications, presentations and decision making, as well as reduce the likelihood of asking the wrong questions, or making snap judgments that will blow up in your face. Thinking a little more is also helpful in expanding your perspective. I’ve met too many people lately who assumed they had to be right and there was no possibility they were wrong or that there was another option. It made for some very uncomfortable conversations and some pissed off people. Take the time to think things through and you’ll find you have more success in general as well as more of the success you want and are enjoying life more than ever.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Dr. Seuss