Posts filed under ‘consistency’

Focus on the G.O.O.D.

Life can be hard, and when it is, it’s easy to get down, lose perspective, feel overwhelmed, even depressed. It may be the poor choices and bad behavior of others, or perhaps our own. Financial, medical, or emotional, strain can also send one for a loop. Life is full of challenges, presenting ample opportunity to shrivel and shrink, lash out, or simply give up, but the results of any of these are sure to bring nothing but more despair.

For BEST results (sounds like medicine?), consider a better choice with an outcome guaranteed to bring greater peace, satisfaction, and success: Focus on the G.O.O.D.! Just looking for the good that surrounds us is by itself good advice in good times and bad, but what I’m suggesting here is to simply focus on the G.O.O.D.: Gratitude, Others, Opportunities, and Doing.

Gratitude – The happiest people I know are the most grateful! Even in the darkest times, there is so much to be grateful for. When your head hurts, be grateful you have one! When the house is messy, be grateful for being surrounded by others. An empty fridge means you have a fridge! A challenging job means you have income. There is ALWAYS something or someone to be grateful for, and just the act of focusing outward (instead of inward on yourself) at all the good that surrounds you, puts things in perspective and changes your attitude from one of scarcity and woe to abundance and wonder.

Others – As Albert Schweitzer put it, ”The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” The very act of focusing [outward] on others and their needs shifts the focus from oneself (inward) and one’s problems. You cannot focus on two things at a time. By centering your efforts on those in need your life takes on greater meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.

Opportunities – No matter where you are, there are opportunities to improve your situation…especially when times are tough. Life is all about learning, growing, and improving, and there is no finish line for any of these. Some of the most inspiring examples of living a full life come from those who appear to have had “nothing” to work with, yet have accomplished amazing things! Opportunities are everywhere!

Doing – “Action is the antidote to despair.” These words wisely penned by Joan Baez are among the truest when it comes to turning things around. Sitting and staring at your problems only makes them bigger…if not worse. Attacking them, or anything for that matter, gets the mind working and the blood flowing, shifting your focus away from the problem to something, more worthy of your efforts.

It is best always to focus on the G.O.O.D., but especially when things aren’t going so well. The most effective people understand and practice this; and the most effective leaders guide their teams to do the same!

Lead on!

Cliff

June 3, 2016 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

Character Matters Most

James Thurber wrote, “There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.” As a leader it’s important to know the difference and to be able to help others understand as well.

To me, the “glow” that illuminates represents those things that are sure, timeless, and everlasting. Things like truth, trust, and integrity. They are real; they are dependable, breeding confidence, peace and calm. They light the way and warm the soul. They are “the glow that illuminates”.

The “glare”, on the other hand are those things that are temporary, superficial, or meant to deflect, cover up or distract. Things like perfume, styling, presentation, even clothing can be helpful in covering or “prettying up” what otherwise may not, on its own merits, be attractive. The “glare” obscures what we’d rather others not notice.

Both glow and glare have their place and their utility. Interestingly, one can draw the same distinction between character and personality.

Character relates to deeply held values, principles and beliefs, such as integrity, humility, courage, fidelity…and to one’s performance relative to those values and beliefs. Like the “glow that illuminates”, character comes from deep within and is enduring and guiding to the extent one acts in alignment with one’s defining values. They are the “glow that illuminates”.

Personality on the other hand is more external, superficial, and relates to the way one presents himself to the world. The way he dresses, communicates, negotiates, and moves within social and business circles. Much of today’s self-improvement literature focuses on these temporary strategies, skills, and quick fixes aimed at advancing one’s success in any number of settings…by putting on a “better” face. These are “the glare that obscures”.

Again, like the “glow” and the “glare”, character and personality both have their place and value. However, if one compares the resources (time, effort, and money) spent on the one versus the other, there is, it seems, a significant imbalance today. Prior to the twentieth century most literature focused on character development. Since then, the emphasis has tilted heavily toward personality, with nearly all of today’s career development and “self improvement” books, seminars, and programs focusing on behaviors related to personality. Selling more, winning friends and influencing people, getting rich, deal making…

While there’s nothing wrong with improving skills and looking the best we can, there is danger in doing so at the expense of one’s character and those things (values and principles) that are of highest priority. One of the great challenges in life is finding the right balance of character and personality. The secret in successfully doing so lies in [always] putting character first and never compromising one’s character on the altar of personality.

Great leaders encourage others to put character first, even ahead of things that might bring tempting short-term gains. But that’s part of true leadership. In fact the act of encouraging character development over selfish interests itself takes on a glow that illuminates the path for others rather than a glare that may cause them to lose their way.

Lead on!

Cliff

April 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

Staying Centered

“If you change nothing, nothing will change”. This timeless truth inspires many to reach higher, work harder, and learn more. In this regard, change is good. On the other hand there are some who argue that all change is good, that all change is “progress”, and that nothing is sacred when it comes to change.

We live in a time of change – the most rapid change the world has ever seen! This can be good…and sometimes not so good. Either way, more change is coming, and with it more disruption and distraction than ever before. In the midst of all this commotion, it is easy to lose one’s bearings and to wander off.

Like yesterday’s seasoned explorers who depended on their maps and compasses, today’s most successful navigators of modern life are those who rely on their inner compass – a combination of conscience and timeless principles. But even for the most principled, staying on the path, and remaining centered is a challenge.

I recently read of an artisan who was asked to demonstrate his pottery skills to a group of young people who were instantly awestruck as he transformed lumps of clay into beautiful plates, bowls, and cups. He made it look so easy, that when he asked if any of the youth would like to try it they all volunteered.

One after another they tried, but none were successful as they awkwardly attempted to keep the clay from flying off the potter’s wheel and all over the room. The potter asked them if they knew why they were unsuccessful, to which they gave responses indicating a lack of experience, training, and talent. But the real reason they failed was that the clay was not centered on the wheel. They thought they had placed the clay in the center, but from a professional’s perspective, it wasn’t in the exact center. So he showed them again.

This time, the potter placed the clay in the exact center of the wheel and then started to turn it, making a hole in the middle of the clay. He then turned the wheel over to the youth, who excitedly were able to keep the clay on the wheel, and even create some crude bowls. Although they weren’t perfect, the outcome was vastly different than their first attempts. The difference being that this time the clay was perfectly centered on the wheel.

In a world where, like the potter’s wheel, the speed of change is increasing, it is vitally important that individuals, teams, and families remain centered on the timeless principles that keep them from being thrown off course. Principles like honesty, integrity, tolerance, perseverance, courage, responsibility, self-discipline, loyalty, quality work, and faith. Sound familiar?

Even these principles that we hold in common are being challenged by a world whose standards are being lowered and even abandoned all in the names of “change” and “progress”. Interestingly, holding firm and not giving in requires the exercise of the principles themselves – remaining honest, having integrity, being tolerant, persevering, having courage, being responsible, being disciplined and loyal, doing quality work, and being faithful. Not only does our success depend on it, but so does the success of those we lead.

So, stay centered, and…

Lead on!

Cliff

December 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Simple as 1-2-3

A race is just the celebration lap at the end of training

Continue Reading August 4, 2014 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

Who’s in Charge Here?

Who’s in Charge Here?

What’s the first thing you do each morning?  If you’re like most people you check your emails!  Why?  Because you need to find out what you’ve got to do that day!

Pause…..  Think about that!  If your first act is to look to see what the rest of the world wants you to do, to respond to, to try, read, or listen to…who’s in charge?  You’re automatically turning the reins of your life over to…everyone else!  You become a completely reactive animal and not the proactive pursuer of excellence that each of us is capable of!

There are two major parts of our brain:  The Prefrontal Cortex, which is the proactive part where you plan, pay attention, exercise self control, make choices, and create.  Then there’s the Primitive/Emotional Brain which is the oldest part of your brain…and the first to develop.  This is your reactive brain, where your reflexes, instincts, emotions, reactions, and impulses operate.  As humans mature they learn to use their reactive brain less and their proactive brain more…at least that is the plan.  Generally, “mature” adults operate more from their proactive brain, while the “immature” are driven mostly by their reactive brain.

We all know that the most effective way to lead our lives and our days is to plan them out and to set goals…and then discipline ourselves to the extent that we can to accomplish our plans and goals.  This work (planning and goal setting) is done with our proactive brain.  So is execution!  When we fail to execute however, it’s because we’ve given in to our reactive brain with all its impulses and emotions.  And the more we react, the more we give in to checking emails, texts, and tweets for guidance, the less developed becomes our proactive brain!

So, how can you get back on track and back in control?  Here’s a tip…. When you turn on your computer, smart phone, or tablet each day, what’s the first thing that comes up?  Most people would say “my email”, but that’s only because you’ve trained yourself to open your email!  Try this… Try going first to your calendar” and if you use it, to your To Do list” first…to plan or to review your plan FIRST…before you do anything else!  This will provide the direction for an effective day, a day of accomplishing what, in previous moments of thought and reflection, you determined was most important to accomplish.  This puts YOU in charge of your day and not all of the people and distractions sitting in your email in-box waiting to derail you and hijack your day!

You CAN do it!

Lead on!

Cliff

December 14, 2012 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

Getting There from Here

2011 – It’s half over…half gone!  By the calendar we should all be half way to meeting our goals and objectives for the year…right?  Lost 20 of those 40 lbs?  Half way to your sales goals for the year?  Called on the prospects you wanted to see by now?  Read five of the ten books you promised yourself you’d read?

Not quite?  Why not?  What went wrong?

At the beginning of the year we all had great expectations for the New Year – desires for growth, for improvement…for our organizations…for our people…for ourselves.

Six months have now passed…and where are we?  What’s changed?  Anything?  Or are you still waiting to get started?  If you’re like most people, the midpoint in the year may not equate to “half done” with your annual goals.  Why is that?  We know where we want to go…so why are we often still stuck in the same old rut?  Usually, the answer lies in the simple “law of progress”.  The law of progress states that in order to make progress, you must leave a place and move on.   However, it’s human nature to stay right where you are…to dwell lazily in your comfort zone.  The  law of progress says you can’t drift to success.  To reach the shores of success you must: 1) Select a destination, 2) Plot your course, 3) Steer toward your destination, and 4) Start (and keep) paddling.

1) Select a destination – Most of us know what we want in life or in business.  By selecting a destination, you simply set a goal – decide what it is you want to accomplish – and define it well enough that when you arrive there you will recognize the place.

2) Plot your course – Identify the route to be followed, determining the resources required to get there, and defining the mile markers (events and dates) that must met in order to achieve the desired outcome.  This requires being realistic in every way.  Have you identified every step?  Do you have all the resources?  Do you have the desire?  If the answer to any of these is “no”, you may be fooling yourself!

3) Steer toward your destination – With a “compass” in hand you keep your ship oriented toward your destination – the goal!  “Winds”WILL blow and may slow you.  Currents will arise, but with your “compass” (values and guiding principles) in hand you can keep the ship on course and pointed to success.

4) Keep paddling – Simply put, this means get to “work”.  It means getting up every day, and tending to business, following your plan.  It means doing the big stuff and the little stuff…the creative AND the basics.  It means scanning the horizon AND swabbing the deck.  It means everyday doing something we really don’t want to do.  Work is the price we pay for the rewards at the end of the journey, and all along the way.

In setting and accomplishing goals, there’s really no magic…just work!  But miracles do happen.  They happen not because of the supernatural, but because of the un-natural.  It is human nature to stay right where you are – to be rut-bound.  But real winners, the exceptional, the enlightened among us learn to lay nature aside, embrace the law of progress, pay the price, and achieve their goals…and with it, success.

Yes, half the year is gone, but the good news is that half still lies before us.  What will you do with the second half of 2011?

Lead on…

Cliff

June 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

It’s All in Your Head

Performance follows attitude!  It’s that simple!  Let me illustrate with a personal example with one of my passions – waterskiing…  A while back on an early morning ski outing with friends I took a bad fall injuring my back – a bad thing for a skiier!  For the next ten days I nursed my back hoping against hope that I would be back in the water in less than two weeks.  It gradually felt better, but I could still feel it.  Then, the day before our next early-morning outing, I woke to the same pain as the day after the injury.  I was VERY disappointed, but resolved that I’d still go the next morning if only to drive the boat for my ski pals.  The next morning, I actually felt a little better, but the pain was still there.  Long story short, I did ski. 

On my first run, I was very tentative, certain I was REALLY going to strain my back further.  I got up, expecting the worst, did a couple of turns, testing both sides, and while things seemed to be holding together I didn’t ski at all well as I was consumed with worry and feared that things wouldn’t go well…

I rested while my mates each skied a run, and then I got back in the water.  This time, I refframed my thinking, and EXPECTED that I’d be ok, and focused on the fundamentals.  Unhampered by worry and fear, I ran off 14 of the best turns I’d carved all summer, rested a minute and then laid down 8 more great turns to the hoots and hollers of my mates.

So, what was the difference between my first and second rides?  I didn’t ski well when I was pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly protective.  But then later, optimistic, confident, and released from the fear of failure or injury, I nailed it!  The difference was…All in My Head!

And so it is in business.  When we’re pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious we often lose our edge.  But when we are optimistic, relaxed, and confident EVERYTHING changes!  Let me give some examples:

Consider two salesmen.  Salesman A is often known to say:

“Price is the only thing customers care about.”

“This is the cheapest market in the industry.”

“Our market is all bid there’s no loyalty”

“If we’re not the lowest price, we can’t win”

“Forget service and support…all they want is price”

“It’s a waste of time to try to convince someone to pay more for something”

“A widget’s a widget.  I feel guilty selling at a higher price”

“Times are too tough to sell “value”.”

Pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious statements?  You bet!  Also very real (all ACTUAL quotes)!  So how do you suppose salesman A ski’s through the [sales] day?  Probably, not very well! 

Contrast Salesman A’s negative thinking [and speech] with that of a different cat, Salesman B: 

“There are buyers who’ll pay more for better.  I’ve seen ‘em and sold ‘em.”

“Price is only one of many considerations in the decision-making process.”

“We’re selling a whole lot more than parts.”

“The price isn’t too high, unless the customer under-desires your product.”

“My success is a direct result of my preparation and attitude.”

“The more value I build in on the front end, the less important is price at the close.”

“The more I learn, about my products and service the more passionate I am.”

“I have 15% market share, which means I have an 85% share to pursue.”

“I am worth it!”

Optimistic, confident, proactive, and aggressive?  You bet!  Also real quotes.  Salesman B can’t be held back.  He ski’s through the day with power, finesse, and relative ease. 

Which salesman do you most closely relate to…especially when times get tough?  Do you become reactive, tentative, fearful, or sloppy?  Or are you more like Salesman B, Proactive, confident, sure.  The good news is that you can be either, because…….It’s All in Your Head!

 Lead on…

Cliff

April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am 2 comments

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