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

A ‘What If’ for 2015

We’ve reached the end of another month, I’m sad and happy at the same time, it’s that way anytime you are looking at changes and new beginnings.  As I usually like to do I want to encourage you to let go of your tightly held beliefs and limits for a moment and ask yourself a “what if” question: what if you could have all you really wanted?

I don’t know about you but I don’t have a magic genie waiting for my every wish.  No, I’m responsible for making my dreams come true.  But I’ve lived long enough and been surrounded by big enough dreamers to believe that it’s possible to have all I want and more.  And just as importation: that I’m fully capable of making it happen!

All too often we feel like we have to or choose to sacrifice our families to get the other things we think we want.  The reality is that when we choose to sacrifice our families we’ve immediately made our goal less valuable.

The reason we don’t have to choose between what we want is because it’s only when we choose to have it all that we really can have what we want.  Family isn’t something that can be sacrificed, careers can’t be sacrificed, health can’t be sacrificed, what has to be sacrificed is your seeming need for perfection, mountain-top living and actionless dreams.  Life isn’t meant to be perfect, it’s meant to be lived and enjoyed.  It’s up to each of us to take on the responsibility of our desires and make it happen.

This weekend I encourage you to take that first step and list all that you really want to accomplish and all that you dream about in your life.  I invite you to share your list in the comments, or send it to me through my website and I’ll help you get started on making those dreams a reality.

“Keep holding onto those dreams my friend. I believe you can have it all. You don’t have to choose between marriage and money, children or championships, family or fame.” KC Procter

Present Preparations

As I’ve been making changes in my life this month and thinking about what the rest of this new year holds and our topic of preparation this month, I’ve been thinking about goals and destinations in our lives.  Naturally, because what’s the point of preparing if you don’t have some expectation of a destination or event, right? Those of us who really think about goals usually think about goals that we have because we want to attain them.  We don’t go around saying “my goal is to be in jail by the time I’m 20” or “my goal is to be morbidly obese by 45.”  No, we make goals of having lots of money or a big family or health or a great job/career, or save the world, things that we think will improve our lives.

However, there are some of us who don’t seem to think about where our actions are taking us, or don’t care where they’re taking us.  Like those who smoke, eat really unhealthy foods all the time, or are nasty to other people.  They may be completely oblivious to the true destination they are heading in with every puff, bite and curse.  It’s the times that we’re unaware of what we’re doing, are unconsciously doing it or are doing it without a care that we experience the biggest risk.

You’re probably heard people talk about being “present” in the moment.  Simply, this means being aware of what’s going on in your life, the choices you’re making, the people you’re involved with, the way you’re running your life, and what’s going on right then and there, not yesterday or two weeks from now.  Being present means that you’re there with your kids, not on your phone all the time, it means being aware of what you’re eating, not just shoveling it into your mouth while you’re doing 18 other things and it means that mind and body you’re where you physically are and not miles away.

This week I encourage you to check in with yourself often and make sure that not only are you present with what’s going on in your life, but you’re happy with the direction the choices you are making is taking you.  If you find you’re not happy you’ve got a chance to change direction!

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”  Lao Tzu

Prepared to Lead

This year we’ll continue to talk about leadership as an essential aspect of running our businesses, and as I think about this month’s theme of being prepared, there’s no better topic to talk about when it comes to our businesses than leadership because essentially that’s the job of a leader: to prepare their people and organization to get to the goal and beyond.  One of the things I love about being in business for myself and the type of work I do is that I get to help other people realize and unleash their potential. I get to see past the things that you’re focused on, frustrated by, limited with and see the bigger potential of who you are and what you can do in the world.  Whether I’m working with other leaders or their employees and team I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t have room to grow and potential to meet.  The greatest challenges I face have to do with people who are unable to accept that they can be (are!) that awesome, or aren’t willing to do the work and make the necessary adjustments to fulfill that potential.

The thing that so many people don’t see as valuable or see as common place in this world of social media and self-help is one thing that helps to break that hold, cross that bridge or bridge that gap: inspiration.  As important as it is for a leader to take action and lead the people who follow them, the encouragement, inspiration and motivation needs to be there as well.  Why?  Because most people need an emotional connection to get on board.  For example if someone told you to donate to a random charity unless you are the type to give to any/all organizations you’re probably not going to give.  But when your close friend asks you to give to an AIDS charity in the name of their family member who just died of AIDS you’re a lot more willing to be part of that movement, because it’s personal for you.

So this week my leader friend you have 2 challenges: first to see the best in those around you rather than just the problems.  And second to inspire them to reach for that potential, that greatness that you know is just waiting to be unleashed in them.

“Your job is to see the greatness in people who have yet to own the greatness within themselves.” Robin Sharma