Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Build a Personal Vision

"The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours."
Peggy Flemming (1968 Olympic Gold Medalist)

Building a personal vision sounds hard, doesn't it? That's because we rarely stop long enough to figure out what we really want. We don't do it for three primary reasons. First, it scares the hell out of us to think about our happiness and what makes us happy. Second, we think we are too busy living our lives to take the time necessary to stop and figure out what we want out of life. And finally, the last major reason we avoid doing the work to build our vision is because we think that by writing it down, it will be written in stone - and when it doesn't happen, we feel like we've failed. As long as we don't write it down and don't face it everyday, we will always be able to blame someone or something else for not having our vision - we are afraid of what committing actually means.

Nothing could be further from the truth - our vision grows with us. It doesn't have to be permanent and it certainly doesn't have to be anything we fear. So, before we can make our desired future a reality, it must first exist in the real world, tangibly - not in your head, but written down in a place and in way that you can see it, touch and feel it, each and every day of your life.

So, we're going to make it simple to build your personal vision. . .


Let's start by getting a piece of paper, the bigger the better - I recommend a poster board that is at least 24"x36". You have a lot to put on it and it will need room to grow, over time - as you grow. Get some Sharpies (lots of colors), some paste, a pair of scissors and lots of newspapers, magazines and even old junk mail.

You can start anyway you want, but what I recommend is taking a little of time and think about what you want your life to look like - what you want your life to be. And how you hope your life will have been when it is all over. And how you want your friends and family to feel about you when you are gone.

I've included some questions to think about to help you do this. You can answer them individually, or just read them and let them soak into your thoughts.

Then, just start writing on the poster board with the Sharpies (in as many different colors as you have), every thing that comes to mind. Fill it with your thoughts and your dreams writing them out as randomly or as organized as they come to you.

- You've been given a gift - instead of going strait to heaven, you get to hear what all of your friends and family are saying about you at your funeral. What do you hope to hear?
- What people, things, hobbies, jobs and activities make you feel good about yourself?
- What were your favorite things to do when you were younger? Think about all the major stages of your life. What are your favorite things now?
- What things do you want to do, but either don't know how or are afraid of trying? What is your "Bucket List"?
- Have you ever been so intensely working in or on something that you completely lost track of time? What was it?
- Who in your life do you respect the most? Who inspires you? Who do you turn to when you need help? Why?
- What are your God's given talents in life? What are you best at? What things do others come to you for help with?
- If you had the opportunity to teach something or pass along a message to a large group, what would it be?
- What would you not give up in your life? Looking back, what things, people or events in your life would you most regret if you had not had the opportunity to experience?
- What are your core values - the non-negotiables in your life?
- What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you've overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
- What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
- How do you give back to the world - your friends, and your family, your community and total strangers.

Now, you've got words, phrases, ideas, and principals that shape your thought process right in front of you. But let's not stop here. Let's bring your ideas to life - make them jump out at you everyday.

Let's make your ideas a visual collage that will capture your imagination!!!

Finally, get out your magazines, old newspapers, old pictures, and any other images that you can find (including those you print off of the internet). Go through everything you have, cutting out images, headlines, phrases (anything you can find) that encapsulate your words and start pasting them all over the board.

Make them overlap, like the ideas in your head. Organize them if you would like. Or make them completely random, it doesn't matter. The key is that it is your Vision - no one else's. There is no right and there is no wrong.

This poster is your Personal Vision!!!
Whether you are having a good day or a bad one, look at it everyday. Let it get inside you and remind you what matters most to. Use the images to guide you through your decisions everyday. And make sure that you live each day, doing what you can to make each it become more than your vision - make it become your reality.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Five Minutes A Day - That's All It Takes To Change Your Life

When was the last time you looked at your long term goals?

When was the last time you started your day analyzing what you did yesterday to help you achieve your goals, and what you did that prevented those desires?

And when was the last time you took a minute or two to visualize your day ahead. I'm not talking about seeing in your mind's eye EVERYTHING you are going to do that day (that's silly), but at least visualizing yourself accomplishing all that you hope to achieve that day . . . before you do.

All things on this earth happen twice - first in your mind, then in your action.

See what your day will be. Ground yourself in the goals you choose both in the long term and the short. Put those ideas in the forefront of your mind and they will begin to affect the decisions you make throughout your day.

That's right. Start your morning a bit differently. Take FIVE Minutes to review in your mind what you want to be, who you want to become in your life, and what you are planning to do to bring your vision closer to becoming a reality. See yourself acting the way you want to act, doing what you know you need to do, and achieving all that you want to achieve that day.

To help yourself even more, write these things down on read them every morning. Write them down because consistency matters.

Just Take FIVE Minutes - No More . . . No Less.

- FIVE Minutes is all it takes to start your day off with the frame of thought that puts the most important things in your life (for that day) into you conscious mind so that you have them there all day long.

- FIVE Minutes to ground yourself on who you are, what you want to be and how you are planning to get there.

- FIVE Minutes to review your "yesterday" - looking back at everything that both worked and didn't work for you - so that you can make the coming "today" better than yesterday.

- FIVE Minutes to stop and plan out your day, so that you have more control over it than you normally have.

- FIVE Minutes to live life on purpose, rather than just let it happen to you.

Be Different Than Most Others Who Make Excuses Why They Can't

This idea is a key element to my coaching process and I've seen it work, time and time again. I ask all my clients to give themselves just FIVE Minutes to start their day - time to set their mind straight and prepare themselves for the day ahead. Unfortunately, most people tell me they don't have enough time in their day to do this - and I suspect you are thinking this as well.

They tell me, "There is so much to do in the morning - shower, eat, get the kids ready for school, get dressed, and get to work on time."

All of these things are important, right?


And we all know that there is never enough time to get all the sleep we need, so . . .

Where does the FIVE Minutes come from?

It comes from your attitude.

If you want the FIVE Minutes to be there - if you set your mind to making sure that it is there - it will be.

You might eat and shower a bit quicker, start empowering your children a bit more to get themselves ready in the morning, or even get up just a minute or two earlier. My point is that when something matters, you make time for it.

So before you start making excuses for not having FIVE more minutes available to you in the morning, ask yourself what's more important - making today better than yesterday or making sure that nothing changes from one day to the next in your life?

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Not What You Are Taught, But Rather What You LEARN

I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day. As it turns out, he had a GREAT day. Despite all the issues that life threw at him - as it always does - he was able to handle them all and still meet his loaded agenda of daily goals.

Being the ever mindful coach, my question to him was, "Well, what did you learn?"

His answer reaffirmed a very important lesson to me (which I then dutifully brought full circle back to my client) . . .

It's Not What You Are Taught, But Instead What You LEARN

So many of us go from book to book, class to class, and degree to degree seeking out the knowledge that will give us the edge - the advantage over our competitors.

I've got some bad new for you.

Life isn't about what you are taught - no matter who the teacher is. All that matters is what you learn - and often times you can learn as much from your own experiences as you can from the greatest teachers in history.

The Premise of My Coaching Practice

I don't care where you learn what you learn - the source is irrelevant. I don't care where you go for your teachings, so long as you apply them to your daily life and make a difference with them. And in the context of coaching, what matters most to me is that you learn what works for you and your business and you apply the ideas for repeat successes time and time again.

According to The Free Dictionary, learning is "the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill."
That's right you have to gain the knowledge for it actually make a difference. So you can be shown, read or listen to anything you want, until it becomes knowledge to YOU, it is worthless.

So, when you find what does work for YOU - even if it's your own invention . . . KEEP DOING IT. It doesn't matter if it works for anyone else, so long as it works for you and helps you achieve YOUR goals and the goals of your organization, then you better LEARN what it is that you just did. Because rather than just doing it randomly or haphazardly, you need to start doing it intentionally.

Do it by choice rather than by chance.

Furthermore, when you find something that isn't working in your life or your business . . . that's when you turn to the experts. That's when you pull out Seth Godin for Marketing support, Zig Ziglar for motivational Sales support, or even turn to a coach for a little bit of everything.

That's when you turn to your teacher to help you find something you don't already know. That's when learn something new.

Sounds Simple - But Life Often Is

I know it sounds simple, but that's all there is to improving your business and your life - two steps. First, look at what's working and do it by choice. Two, figure out what isn't working and find out how to make it just a little bit better. You don't have to go crazy with change - just take small steps. If those small steps work, well, back to Step One, if not repeat as necessary.

Believe it or not, you will be amazed at how quickly you can make your dreams come true.

Friday, April 30, 2010

When Conversations Go Awry

Ever have a conversation with a customer, employee, friend or family member that didn't go the way you expected?

Ever take a step too far with your words, in a vulnerable way, and then NOT know what to do next – because your emotions started taking you over?

You know the feeling . . . your adrenal glands kicks in strong – almost instantaneously – and you jump directly into a "Fight or Flight" mode of operation.

I don't care who you are, I believe there are those that have experienced this . . . and those that will.

In fact, I'd like to say that I'm in the latter group, but more times than I'd like to admit, I find that I have to physically remove my foot from my mouth. And as much as I know how best to respond, my adrenaline still often gets the best of me.

Awkward moments are a part of life.

If you want to grow, professionally or personally in this world, you have to take chances. Feeling vulnerable and sometimes being a little too vulnerable is how you find out who you are and how to get better in “difficult situations”.

In business, it often happens in a sales environment, where you are pushing to make the sale. It happens when you are trying to open yourself to the client to build trust and a bond that you might cross the line. Maybe it's an untimely comment or joke, but you can immediately see it in the eyes of the person you are talking to.

In life, it might happen when you are opening up to a friend or family member – about something you have done or shouldn't have done in your past.

I talk about life and business being 10% of what happens either to you or caused by you and 90% how you respond – this is no different.

A Personal Experience

Recently, I found myself in this type of situation. I was talking to someone that means a lot to me, and I shared something that was not received the way I anticipated or had hoped.

Was it scary? Absolutely!

Did my fight or flight response kick in? You Betcha!

Truth is, I made things worse by not responding in a positive way, and letting fear drive my actions, rather than responding with my intentions in mind and staying focused through the process.

I let the “fight or flight” take over and I definitely made things worse . . . before they got better.

How To Handle The Situation When You Find Yourself NOT Going The Way You Expected.

Unlike many difficult situations you find yourself in, this is usually one that you didn't see coming. But that doesn't mean that you can't stay strong and not let the situation define you - rather than the other way around.

The key is recognizing it as it is happening. I believe, those that can feel that “fight or flight” response and funnel their emotional energy and focus it, can turn a tough situation into something that makes the relationship stronger than before.

So when you find yourself in a difficult situation like this – when you are looking across the table at someone who is pulling back from your last words – it's important to reconnect and go back to the basics - go back to your shared vision - and not get stuck in whatever it was that just got in the way.

So ask yourself, what is it that you both want – not solely what YOU want . . . nor just what the other person(s) want, but what you want together. Focus on what you both are looking for in the relationship why you are talking to begin with.

Remember to focus on your intent to help achieve that vision, and steer the conversation away from the words.

Be STRONG, but not belligerent.

Be confident, but not overbearing.

Listen and make sure you are respecting the others position and how they are feeling, and move forward.

You are both (all) trying to figure out how to move beyond the uncomfortable words that have been spoken – back on track with what you want. You are trying to take your relationship forward to where you both agree the relationship can grow.

And the good news is . . . in almost every case . . . you can.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Inspired By A Simple Conversation With A Good Friend

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in this blog. I have a number of reasons . . . but they are all excuses. And although we all think our reasons are "valid", I don't want to disrespect you or waste your time by pretending they are justified. Suffice it to say that I let life get in the way.

If you are coming back and enjoying my blog again after my long hiatus, Thank You. I appreciate the second chance.

Or if you are a first time reader, I hope you enjoy.

Either way, I hope to incite some conversation about business and life. And I look forward to engaging with you through discussion and generating new and insight methods to deal with the struggles that we all face in both our business and in our every day lives. And even more so, I hope that I can show that as much as we all try to separate the two, Business and Life, the two are so closely related, that it's often hard to tell where one end and the other begins.

So, without further ado, let me get back to blogging . . .

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine yesterday about a simple concept that I've written about before, but I think warrants new light to be shown on the topic.

You can't manage . . . or improve consistently, what you don't measure.

What do you truly want to change in your business or in your life? When it comes to your goals, what do you want? Where would you like to be tomorrow . . . next month . . . or even next year?

If you are you thinking from a business perspective, you might be looking for more sales, more new clients, decreased costs or maybe more market share?

Or maybe your goals are more personal in nature. More income? Weight loss? Healthier lifestyle? Lower cholesterol? Or maybe a better education?

What would make you happy?

Time and time again, the more I live, the more I see a pattern . . . if you set and commit to a goal (a specific, measurable goal), measure your progress consistently over the entire time span of the goal, you can't help but begin to see improvement, towards the goal, if not complete fulfillment of that goal.

Are things going to change right away? Absolutely NOT!

But they will change. Not because of something magical that happens when you set and measure goals. No, life doesn't work that way. Things change because YOU will start making a difference in the way you behave - you will begin to change the way you behave, if for no other reason because you will get tired of facing the failure each and every day of not improving.

Will you get it right the first time? Possibly, but not always. You will have to "adjust fire" (as the Army likes to say - correcting for missing the target on the first shot), but if you are measuring and you have defined goals, you will be more likely to find the combination that gives you the best opportunity to be "more right" with each subsequent change.

Why is Goal Setting and Measuring Results So Hard?

Unfortunately, in spite of the simplicity of these ideas, we still struggle. In fact, what we all, as flawed human beings, tend to do is to say we want something, and then NOT put into place the systems we need to make sure we actually to ensure our success.

We do this by:

1. Not measuring what we want to improve. We leave our goal nebulous and random so that we can make growth towards that goal COMPLETELY at our emotional whim. If we feel good about what we have done, we say we fulfilled our goal. When we don't feel good about how we are doing, we say we failed. Either way we move on - forgetting (intentionally or unintentionally) what the original goal really was in the first place.

2. Not measuring "interim results" or "the process". Sometimes the end results are a long time coming - or just plain difficult to measure. When this occurs, it's important to set up measurements that are either direct inputs into the results you want, are by-products of your achievements, or are associated with the process you are going to take toward your desired goal. In cases like this, we know that if we follow a process, record the progress (as small as it might be) and measure our consistency, we will see results.

3. Giving up at the first sign of failure (or we don't put into place systems / methods for correcting our mistakes, when the growth doesn't occur as we expected it to occur). This is the number one cause of failing to reach our goals. We set a goal, start down the path to make it a reality, and then give up at the first sign of failure - or we think that since things are going as well as we had hoped (i.e. perfectly) then we just aren't meant to have what we want.

I know these all sound silly to read, but everyone I know and ever spoken to about success, including myself, has seen each and every one of these - at some time during their lives. And if you are honest with yourself, I suspect you will find each of these three struggles in your life too.

Keep It Simple

As simple as the struggle may seem, in my opinion, the solution is ever easier.

Stop over thinking things and keep it simple.

If you want to create a change in your business or in your personal life:

- DEFINE IT. Write down your goals and face them every day. Don't think because you said them once or thought about them, that you will actually remember them as you go about making decisions each and every minute of the day.
- MEASURE IT. Measure daily how you are progressing towards your goals - either directly or indirectly through a process or series of related steps.
It's inevitable - something will happen that you didn't expect or plan for and you will feel discouraged. No goal worth having doesn't involve some hardship along the way. No matter what the cause of your struggle, stay focused on what you want and make it happen in spite of the setback.
- MAKE ADJUSTMENTS until you find the right answer. There is a path to each destination - some are easier to find than others. If your first path didn't work, figure out what didn't work for you and make corrections so that you don't make the same mistake again.


So, let me ask you, "
What things do you want to change in YOUR BUSINESS or in YOUR LIFE?"