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Last week’s blog on the Mind Game introduced the topic of results; how what you tell yourself hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly directly impacts the outcome of our actions.   Now as your self-talk begins to become more positive we can put it into even greater perspective.  For every negative thought you have, “I can’t do this”, “I am not good at doing anything or this one thing”, or “You screwed up again”, (whatever your negative self-talk includes), it takes at least 12 affirmations to counteract that one negative statement.  WOW!  Does that become a motivator to stop telling yourself what you can’t do?  This doesn’t even take into consideration what others may say to you, it only pertains to the one negative conversation you had with yourself.  So here is what it looks like:

Negative self-talk:  “I really blew that meeting!  You aren’t any good at running meetings.”

Positive self-talk:

  1. I continue to improve my understanding of how to run meetings.
  2. I really appreciated the feedback to running meetings better.
  3. I am great at running meetings.
  4. Every meeting I run I learn more about how to be great at running them.
  5. I learned a great deal at that meeting that I can apply to the next one.
  6. I am going to start earlier in preparing for running meetings to achieve even greater results.

And the list goes on.

We all eventually make a mess of things, do something wrong, bring to light an area we need to improve upon.  Those are all facts.  It is how we look at those mistakes, failures, whatever you want to call them that helps us pick up the pieces learn and move on.

If you aren’t failing you are not growing.  So embrace the failure, give yourself credit, and create a plan of self-talk of how to improve the next time without beating yourself up.

Olympic athletes at the US Olympic Training Center have the opportunity to utilize a sports psychologist to help them bring home a gold medal.  A couple of weeks ago I was able to spend time with one of center’s psychologist to learn more about what creates the difference between an Olympic medal  winner and one that wins no medal. What I learned is that 50% or more of the reason athletes lose is due to their mental state.  Some of the things that get in their way are:  fear, self-doubt, personal beliefs, negative thoughts, lack of focus, and the most surprising thing is a lack of hydration.  A lack of hydration (water!!) reduces metal focus, and a reduced mental focus creates self-doubt, fear etc.  Therefore a lack of hydration can be the difference between winning and losing.  That is an easy thing (one would think) to control, but it is a common cause for losing.

This concept is just as true for the business owner as it is for the well trained athlete.  It does start with the assumption that you are good at your sport.  No matter how much focus and hydration I have, I could not win an Olympic Gold Medal at running.  It isn’t my passion, and I am not trained for it.  However, as a business owner and coach, I train on a regular basis for my “sport”.  I can win, I do win, yet all the things that get in the way of a sports athlete can get in the way for every business owner as well.

Question for you:  What is the dialogue in your head right now?  Is it filled with positive, challenging, focused thoughts?  Or is it filled with all the things you do wrong, did wrong, will do wrong, full of self-doubt, fear and lack of focus?

Your business and personal results will be impacted by your self-talk.  Change your self-talk and you will change your results.

If you want some ideas on how to make that happen, send me a note, give me a call.  I look forward to our conversation.

In the past I loved multi-tasking.  The more I had going on at the same time, the happier I was, the more productive I felt , and my satisfaction level was high – because I thought I was getting things done faster and more efficiently.  After leaving corporate employment, I began doing research on the true efficiency of multi-tasking.  Here is what I found out.  I was wrong!  How could that be?  Multi-tasking doesn’t make me more efficient?  Switching between 2 or 3 or 4 things (emailing, while talking on the phone while listening to another conversation) isn’t truly productive?  Delusion – the art of telling ourselves one thing when reality is another was rampant in my life.  I came by it honestly – I truly thought that my multitasking made me and my company more productive.

Here is what research has proven:

  • The mind cannot truly multitask.  What the mind does is actually switch from one area of focus to another – very quickly, but it doesn’t do two things at once.
  • Your productivity, and especially quality, goes down significantly when you multi-task.
  • It takes around 10 minutes for your mind to refocus if you are working on a problem, get interrupted then need to refocus back to the same level of concentration.  No wonder productivity is slipping for many people.

Here is a video I recommend you watch – see how you do on his quiz.  It might just change how you work and increase your productivity!

Myth of Multi-tasking Video

In the last 2 weeks we have viewed the Boston Marathon bombing, the Waco explosions and experienced the death of two fathers of childhood friends.  The fathers of our childhood friends both lived long and wonderful lives.  However, it still made me stop and focus on the value of life and the shortness of it. 

One of my mantras is to have balance between work and my personal life.  Balance isn’t always possible so the word harmony comes to mind.  Harmony allows for a blend of alto, soprano, tenor and base blended well together.  Harmony allows for occasionally all soprano, or all alto, more tenor or even base at times.  Harmony between work and a personal life allows for time to focus on business, but then welcomes times to focus on personal fulfillment.  There is harmony when we secure time for family yet find time for friends and other activities too.  It is without this harmony that we get the dull beating of a drum in the background that is ok, until it goes on and on and on and on.  Work can become that relentless beating of the drum.  All is well as long as the drum beat is blended with additional instruments (other parts of our lives), but becomes annoying when the drum beat is all alone.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you create your own “harmony”:

  1.  What is your legacy? 
  2.  What do you want to be known for?
  3.  What is your contribution to society, your family, and your friends?
  4.  What do you want the conversation at your funeral to encompass?

I challenge you to spend time thinking through these questions.  Write out your answers, not for others to read, but for your eyes only.  Then put them somewhere secure and review what you have written in a year.  Then ask these questions:

  1. How am I doing?
  2. Where is my harmony (do I have any)?
  3. What do I need to do different in this next year to accomplish the legacy I want to achieve?

Only you can control your legacy, no one else.  You make the choices, you write the script.  You have but one life to live – so live it to the best.

Have you ever wondered what percentage of the wealthy actually wrote out goals, created a plan of action and diligently followed their plan through to completion?

Goals are like a little compass in your mind. They keep you going the right direction. Once your brain knows where it’s going, it has a better chance of actually getting you to your destination. But not just any goals will work; you need SMART Goals.

SMART Goals are:

  • Specific
  • Attainable
  • Measurable
  • Time-based

Specific: Saying that you want to increase revenue in your business is an ambiguous goal, but it’s not a specific one.  A specific goal is one that states you want to increase revenue by five percent this fiscal quarter by engaging in newspaper advertising.

Attainable: An attainable goal is something you can actually achieve; it is within your ability to accomplish within the time you allotted and within the framework specified. It’s a goal that won’t make you work eighteen hours a day, but it will be a challenge to reach.

Measurable: A measurable goal is one that is clearly visible; you know what you need to do and how to evaluate if you accomplished your mission or not.  More importantly, your clients will also see or experience the benefit of you reaching your goal. Customers know when you’ve worked to improve your business and it often creates sense of loyalty within them.

Time-based: You need to accomplish your goal in a reasonable amount of time. For example, it shouldn’t take six months to add a phone line. If it does, you are either procrastinating or you need to find a new phone company!  Establish when you want the goal completed and state a date or that you want it done tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

When making plans, set goals using the SMART Goal system. Where do you see your business in 90 days? How about six months? Six years? Do you see yourself twice as big, or do you see yourself as twice as small? What goals need to be established to reach your business plans?

Why is it important to make goals? Why does this matter? Why go “goals digging”? An MBA survey a group of students compared their wealth over a span of 25 years. Of the students participating in the survey, 70% had no goals at all, 27% had verbal goals, and 3% had written goals. The last 3% had 98% of the wealth of the group. Now the question is, “When are you going to start planning out your own goals? Will you start today?”

Have you ever watched a three-year-old play?  They have no fear.  They will jump on a bed until they fall off, throw rocks until they hit an object, and have an imaginary tea party with Mr. Potato Head and call him a princess.  Where along the way to adulthood do we lose this wonderful lack of fear? 

Developmentalist will tell you it happens as children experiment and are told by others that it isn’t right, good enough, or to do “it” exactly the way the grownup wants it to be done.  This usually takes place between the ages of four and five.  But ah the three-year-old, no fear here, and if you try to tell them how to do it, they just ignore you and go about doing it their own way. 

Are there lessons we could learn from the three-year-old?  Let’s explore a few traits of a toddler:

  1. Taking risks, like jumping on a bed until you fall off, is dangerous.  But taking risks within defined boundaries or perimeters is healthy and vital for a growing business. 
  2. Throwing rocks without care will almost always end in a disaster.  However, having a target you are aiming at, a goal that is well thought through and executed makes a huge difference in a leader that succeeds and those that don’t.
  3. You may not have tea parties with Mr. Potato Head any longer, but using visualization to dream and envision the future of your business can be extremely beneficial.

Maybe we need to bring the inner three-year-old out of us a bit more.  Take a few more risks and dream a few more dreams.  

The dictionary defines Empower as a verb and meaning to delegate power or authority to authorize or to enable or permit.  Interestingly the word has become a contemporary buzzword. Yet the word empower is not new, having arisen in the mid-17th century with the legalistic meaning "to invest with authority, authorize." Shortly thereafter it began to be used with an infinitive in a more general way meaning "to enable or permit.

Being empowered provides people with a great deal of ownership, authority, and responsibility.  Yet, often people are empowered to make changes yet, don’t take advantage of that responsibility and loose the opportunity being presented to them.

Being empowered really has two aspects.  One is being empowered – someone else provides you with the power.  The second is where I believe many are missing the point.  That is empowering themselves and making things happen.  We have the power within ourselves to do far more than we think we can.  What stands in our way are often false walls and obstacles that we believe stand in our way.

For example, one of my clients wanted and needed to hire someone else in her department.  She continued to work long hours and cover for the shortage of staff and never considered that she had the power to actually make a hire.  Now she needed to do the homework, show the need, lay out the responsibilities of this new hire and present it to the President. She never believed she could even ask for the new hire.  Our conversation really took her back to why did she not believe she had the power to even ask.  The answer was – the president knew of the shortage of staff and if he wanted to hire someone it should come from him.  Wrong.  Our conversation essentially empowered her to make the case.  End result was she not only got one person, she got two. 

Another example is a friend of mine was talking about writing a cook book, since she is a wonderful chef.  In asking why she had never written it, she stated she didn’t know how to get it published.  My response was, just write it, I will help you get it published.  She had been empowered all the time to make something happen, but had let a false wall and obstacle stand in her way.  I removed that wall, but it is something she could have done.  Now the question is whether she will really make it happen or if the not knowing how to publish was just an excuse.  That is an entirely different discussion.

My challenge to you is how are you pushing away the empowerment you have been given.  Stop letting things stand in your way.  Empower yourself and make things happen.

I just returned from a refreshing five day journey visiting colleges in California.  It was refreshing in multiple ways.  One was the weather, (Colorado was being hammered by snow), but more importantly was actually seeing an excitement for learning on each campus.  Hearing a student talk about how much they have learned, how excited they are to learn, and how they want to continue their education was inspiring.

Why so inspiring?  We all need to continue to have a desire for learning long after we have gotten out of school.  How about you? Do you continue to have an excitement to learn new things?  Do you acknowledge that you don’t know everything and embrace the journey to learn more?  The continued hunger for learning new things will enlarge who we are and what we will become, and needs to be central part of our daily lives.

Some people still have that yearn to learn.  Some never acquired the desire to learn and some hung up the learning hat the day they graduated from school, whether that was high school, college, or graduate school.  They felt they were done!  We have all had a sense of that feeling.  YES – no more classes, papers to write, or professors to please.

My challenge to you today is to develop a continuing education plan.  What do you want to learn in this next week, next month, next year and next 30 years?  I often speak of setting goals for your business and your personal life.  Now I challenge you to set learning goals as well.  

If you want some ideas of good books to read, then send me an email.  I will help you create a learning plan to last a lifetime.

Most companies fail because they run out of cash. The following are several reasons that precipitate running out of cash and how to turn those reasons into success:

  • Lack of critical thinking
  • No market research or competitive analysis
  • Confusing the product with the business
  • Refusing to release control to others
  • Failure to execute using acquired skills and tools
  • Failure to innovate

Failure!  One would think it is a 4 letter word.  It is probably the most dreaded thought of a business owner.  My business failed therefore I am a failure.  First, that is not a true statement. Second, if a business does fail then there are a number of reasons for the failure.  Thought must be given to why and what can be learned from business failures of others. 

When we become so busy in the day to day operations of the business, we forget to step away and try to understand what is happening within the business, around the business and out in the real world. We forget to think critically.

Critical thinking...the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself

If you don’t study your business you can’t determine what changes need to be made or how to adapt to the changing environment around you.  There are movies about Transformers. They adapt to the environments, dangers, opportunities and risks around them.  Without critical thinking, and the resulting transformations you incorporate into your business, you risk the initiation of your ultimate fear, failure. 

Critical thinking only happens when:

  • you walk away from the day to day operations
  • you read, observe, and educate yourself on what is going on around you
  • you look at who is buying, what customers are purchasing
  • you identify what customers are they truly looking for when they purchase your product or service

The practice I follow is to step away from my business once a month for a half day, and once a quarter for a full day.  This isn’t just for planning the next month or quarter, but rather a time to gather a greater vision by reflecting on successes and challenges.  It allows me to get away from the distractions of the office, and away from the responsibilities of home.  During this time I strategize by reflecting on recent experiences; to learn from them, and look ahead to determine an even greater vision for the business.  Critical thinking only happens when you allow your mind to be empty of day to day challenges, frustrations, and demands.  It is truly a discipline that allows a gathering clarity, precision, relevance, reasoning, depth of analysis and experience.  It is truly an opportunity to re-energize.

Failure to think critically about your business creates a vacuum of energy, direction, momentum and agility, all which lead to that first step down the road to your greatest fear.

What does trust mean?  Webster’s dictionary uses words to define
trust as:  confidence, dependence, assured reliance, strength, in charge, credit, hope and a few others.

What does it take for you to trust a leader?  All of the words described above are critical to your ability to be trusted as a leader.  Yet it takes time.  The old adage my Dad taughtme – It takes years (or a lifetime) to build trust, but one moment to tear it down points this out.  That saying is often a guiding light for me as I look at how to handle situations and what action should I take in certain situations.  Trust is truly the foundation for effective leadership.  There are no shortcuts, it takes time.

Trust cannot be carried from one person to another.  Your reputation as being trustworthy can lay the foundation for a new person, yet that foundation must be laid with each and every individual.

Building trust requires competence, connection and character.  It takes patience and perseverance.  It takes leadership at a foundational level.  What are you doing today to build trust with your team, co-workers, family, and friends?  Each day is a building block that is in your control.

Leader vs. Manager – Which are YOU?  There are many articles and books written
about both topics.  They focus on how to improve and become the best.  Improving
those skills are at the foundation of becoming a better leader and manager.  Before you begin that journey you must really start at the foundation of the leader and that is YOU.   It is very much like a building, if it doesn’t have a strong foundation – one made of rock and not sand, the building will fail at the first sign of a storm.
If the building isn’t square all other parts of the construction are
harder, and creates more work for those trying to build the remaining
building.  I could even start at the design of the building.  The design needs
to be well thought out, well planned, and then well executed.

If this is true of leadership – which I believe it is, then why do we spend so little time on our own personal growth plan?  John Maxwell highlighted a number of these points in a recent leadership certification program in Florida by introducing
the 15 Laws of Personal Growth.

Let me ask you, if you aren’t growing as an individual will your organization grow?  The first law of Leadership is the law of the lid. Your organization won’t grow past your level of leadership.  I recommend one earlier step – and that is a
personal leadership and growth plan.  One of the first laws of Personal Growth is the law of intentionality.  We must have a plan.  Growth doesn’t happen accidentally.  You must add value to yourself.  After all if you don’t add value to yourself then why should others follow you to the next level?  Here are questions for you to consider:

  1. Do you have a plan which involves getting out of
    your comfort zone?
  2. Do you have a regular plan of learning (books,
    seminars, DVD’s)?
  3. Who are you associating with – do you need new
    friends?
  4. What are your interests?
  5. What physical activity do you include to keep
    yourself physically fit?

The second law is the law of awareness.  Do you know yourself?  What are your gifts and strengths?  Are you capitalizing on those strengths?  Is building on those strengths in your law of intentionality?   This truly takes time.  It is difficult to look internally.  It isn’t always a pretty picture and one that many don’t want to face.

What are you running from?

This is a continuation of our series on Personal Leadership.  Previously we reviewed the first and second law.

The third law is the Law of the Mirror.  This is your self-image.  This happens after the law of awareness.  It is about being honest with yourself and understanding where your self- image is suffering.  Self image is what you tell yourself when no one is around, when no one is listening.  It is often a very loud voice that screams you screwed up – or you rock!  A strong self image will get you further in life that most anything else.  It will get you through the rough times as you will pick yourself up and keep moving.  It will shout louder than the
negatives around you that say it can’t be done – or you can’t do it.  Work on your self image and make it as strong as you can.  I don’t care who you are, you are unique in a positive way.  You have value.  You can share that value with those around you, so start telling yourself this each and every day!

The fourth law is the law of reflection. Each one of us needs to STOP, pause, and reflect on what we are doing, have done and create a plan of what we need to stop doing and what we need to start doing.

One of my favorite YouTube videos is with Bob Newhart http://youtu.be/Ow0lr63y4Mw Watch this video, it will give you perspective.  The law of reflection is about those I am spending time with and asking the question – who do I need to add to my sphere of influence?  Reflect on the experiences you have.  Experience means nothing unless you reflect on it and learn something.  Wisdom is reflection on experiences.  Without reflection wisdom does not show up. The law of Reflection challenges you to Stop, Pause and Reflect.

Here is what I do.

Each week I reflect back on the prior week.  What is working and what isn’t (this doesn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes).  Each month, I reflect back on the month.   Did I use my time wisely, what changes do I need to make in the coming month.  Each quarter I do the same.  Now on an annual basis as a part of my planning I reflect on the prior year.

Here are questions I ask at each juncture:

  1. What activities are producing results?
  2. Where am I spending time – where should I stop
    spending time?
  3. Where am I disciplined - where do I need to
    improve?

This is a continuation of my series on the 15 Laws of Personal Growth

The 8th Law is the Law of Pain – Without the pain there will be no growth.  Just ask anyone who competes in sports, business, and life.  There is an old saying of “no pain, no gain” and it is true.  Good management of bad situations leads to great growth.  When you manage a bad or painful circumstance well, you gain much.  We actually learn far more from the pain than we do pleasure.  We don’t remember the pleasure for nearly as long as we do the pain.  The reason people don’t sustain success is people believe success sustains itself.  That isn’t true, we can stumble upon success, but it won’t continue if don’t learn how to work through the pain, or what might also be called failure.

What isfailure – but pain?  How we react tofailure, how we (to quote an old song) “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again” will be the true measure of our success.  If we back off because of the pain and never push through it, we will never see the reward, the success, and learn from the pain.

I have found when I am the most frustrated, in the most pain, and at the end of my rope is when I am most able to succeed.  I am more open to learning and more ready for the end goal.  Actually, putting myself in the situation where failure is not an option, no matter what the pain ensures my success.

Many of you know I like to climb 14’rs and we have many of them in Colorado.  On the way up the mountain, there are many times it would be easiest to just turn around and go home.  Yet, turning around isn’t an option (unless health and safety are at issue).

Turning around because I am tired (and trust me I am), or it is hard (yes it is hard) or any other reason is just not on the menu of options.  By pushing through the pain, through the hurt ad making it to the top – I am able to experience the success (and the view) and it is so worth the pain.  Every time I grow, apply, learn, and continue on the journey – how about you?

Rubber Bands and Leadership

Law 10 is the Law of the Rubber Band – The only time a rubber band is worth anything is when it has tension. The value is the stretch. Yet if we lose the tension of growth, we lose. No great discovery of life was found by a satisfied person. Be grateful for the tension in your life, it shows you are alive. Where do you want to be? What tension are you creating to help you be there? Then what is the next level you strive for.

I lived in Massachusetts for 30 years. The last few years were all about determining where we would get to live. See we were making a choice to move, making a choice to get out of our comfort zone. We spent time researching, learning, visiting and making a decision. It was fun, it was challenging, it was scary. We were leaving where we had lived for a long time, going to a place where we knew no one, we had never lived, and jobs were unknown. We did it, survived, loved it and have always been thankful we made the change. Yet, the challenge really came after the move, there was a time of restlessness – especially for me. What was the new challenge, what was next on the horizon? I needed a new tension. My rubber band was all out of tension. I wasn’t growing, stretching and pursing a new goal. That had to change – which it did – it was called opening my own business.

What I learned was – never complete the stretch without choosing the new stretch, the new place to go and grow. When there is no tension you are under the ground – and I am not ready for that!

One opportunity I have is to work with the local Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce on their Chamber University.  These monthly workshops are provided to the local business community as a tool to help them in their business.

During the last 2 years of assisting with the planning of Chamber U it amazes me that the only topic people want month after month is marketing.  If the title of the topic includes marketing people attend, if it doesn’t then they don’t attend.  So what is the mystic about marketing?  Why is there such a “demand” for marketing information and education, yet what most business lack is systems and sales processes?

You  can have the best marketing plan on the planet, yet if the team can’t close the sale, why bother.  If there aren’t systems in place to follow up with the leads that marketing generates then it is a waste of money.  If the target market for the business is not identified, then throwing $100 bills off the highest building might generate better results.  Marketing is math nothing more nothing less.  If the calculations don’t add up then the results become questionable.  Here are a couple of tips for your marketing math:

  1. Target – Who is your target and don’t have the words anybody, everybody, anyone etc.  A target is just that a target.   What is the geography, age, likes, dislikes, economic boundaries etc.
  2. Copy – What do you say to them when you advertise?  You have less than 3 seconds to grab your attention – how will you do that.  Hint – Only you Mom cares about your logo so make it small and at the bottom of the page – stop wasting space on your logo.
  3. Planning – Create a simple marketing plan, lay it out for weekly activities, get specific.  Test and measure results.  Too often the marketing plan lacks the action of planning.  What are the short, medium and long term anticipated results?  What will you do today that will bring in business tomorrow, next quarter and a year from now?  Get the details on paper, be consistent, be ready to throw out what doesn’t work and make it happen.

What is an executive coach and why would I want one?

Advance a career.
Transform a company.
Achieve incredible results.

With Executive Coaching all this is possible. Plus more.

For executives who want to take their career to the next level – certified practicing executive coaching can get you there.

So why executive coaching for your organization?

In business, the only thing that really counts is results. Executive coaching promises to deliver results within a relatively short span of time.

High achievers continually deliver results and they do it by performing at their best each and every day.

In today’s dynamic business world, these high achievers also need the guidance, support and motivation of an executive coach to accomplish this.

Peak performance is based on a few key factors, and no matter what business you may be in, the fact is:

• High performing executives achieve more
• High performing teams deliver more
• High performing companies make more profits and enjoy more market share.

All this is made possible through executive coaching.

How can you leverage your current skills, experience and resources in today’s fast-paced economy? How can you stay competitive in an increasingly competitive business world? How can you remain a top performer in a top performing company?

The answer is simple –by using the services of an executive coach.

So how do I pick one?  How do I know they can really help?

Here are 4 tips for choosing an executive coach:

  1. What is their track record? Who have they helped and what measurable results have occurred due to the coaching.  If there are no measurable results, then find a coach that can provide them.
  2. Do they have a system that will help you get the result YOU want? This about you and your results, not the results the coach wants.  A good coach will coach you to achieving clarity on where you want to go.  They will provide you the education you need, help you implement what you learned and hold you accountable to the results
  3. Do you fit you? Not every coach can results with every person.  Every person has a personality and becomes motivated by different styles.  A good coach will alter their style to fit the individual, yet not all coaches have that gift.  Make sure it is a good fit to what will ensure the right results are achieved.
  4. Do they practice what they preach? Is their business growing? What do their goals look like – are they willing to share them with you? Do they have a coach (if they believe in coaching, yet don’t have a coach how good are they)?  What have they learned in the last month?  What are they reading?  Make sure the answers to these questions and others fit with where you want to go and what you want to accomplish.

If you have any questions – give me a call – I will help you find the right coach for you.

The critical impact of attitude is seen every day in the business world.  What one business owner sees as a disaster, another sees as opportunity, and capitalizes on that opportunity.  Those who have spent their lives in below the line thinking don’t even realize the impact it has not only on them personally, but their families, businesses, customers and potential.  If their team is below the line, where did they learn it from?  Most likely they learned it from the business owner.  An owner who is below the line will hire staff who also first turn to blame, excuses and denial. It is someone else’s fault that the project is delivered late, someone else’s fault that the customer is upset.  To change they will need someone to hold them accountable to point out where they are below the line.

As I work with clients on this concept, the tendency is to swing to a point where issues in the business are not discussed with the excuse (notice the tendency again) that the issue is below the line.  This doesn’t give permission for a business to white wash issues in the business.  What is does change is the ownership and responsibility for changing the issue at hand.  If projects are late, that is a fact.  The question is what must change in the business to ensure projects are not delivered late, that your customers have the experience stated in all the promotional material.

Businesses have lived for years in below the line thinking and attitude.   They stay in business, they grow, they pay the bills and serve customers.    What impact would the business make with an above the line attitude?  Profits would increase.  Less time would be spent on blame and poor productivity.  Productivity would increase with energy due to the positive atmosphere in the business. The examples abound.

Yet, you must be ready to make the change.  Your dissatisfaction with the results, profitability, long work hours, people avoiding you since they dislike being around negative, blaming people, etc., must be at a point where it is higher than your resistance to making the change.  It is easy to live below the line. It may not be fun, but it is easy and there is a great deal of company.  When I ask my clients do they want to be average, the resounding answer is NO.  They want to be above average.  To make that happen, your mindset must change to one of excellence—above the line thinking— and you will be amazed at the results.

Entrepreneurs and setting goals is a popular topic. Dan Sullivan had a perspective worth sharing in the May issue of Success Magazine. The concept is rather than trying to double or 2 times where you are– go for 10 times where you are. “WHAT?” I hear you all scream. “It is hard enough to achieve 2 times where I am, how on earth can I even consider a 10 X goal?” That is exactly the point.

A 2 X goal is really just pushing what you are already planning into the future (assuming you are planning). The ability to achieve the 2 X goal is a probable anyway. There really isn’t rocket science, you know the basics—hard work and you will achieve the 2X goal.

Now for the 10 X goal that starts pushing you out of your comfort zone. I can already feel the squirming. A 10X goal forces you to look at what is really going on in your business. It forces you to look at inefficiencies. It challenges you to think out of the box, to put systems in place to handle 10X, to understand your business, structure your business, and PLAN. You must now think differently, observe differently, plan differently and execute differently. Once you start thinking 10X you will notice opportunities, changes, and perspectives. Then you can start making the changes that are required.

Here are my perspectives and 4 ¾ downsides to this type of thinking:

1. Shooting for 10 X – you might not make it, you might only reach 5X.

2. 10 X thinking creates perspectives on your business and forces planning.

3. You don’t know how to think 10X? What better way to start looking at everything from a different perspective? Read, ask, get advice, reach out to others, be humble. Even if 10X is achieved, I guarantee your 3, 4 and 5X will be more profitable.

4. For 10X I need to look outside the box, and that creates FEAR. False Expectations Appearing Real – so what are your real fears? Figure them out, since they will probably keep you from achieving 2 X. There is no better time than the present.

4 ¾ Reality is I don’t see any downside to 10X type of thinking. The danger really lies in 2X thinking. Thinking too small limits your potential, who you can be, and can lead to my favorite quote: “Hell on earth is seeing the person I could have been!”

Embrace Conflict – it is good for you.

Conflict is part of everyday life. If you have a business, marriage, relationship without conflict then you essentially are an ostrich with your head in the sand, which is the equivalent to being a yes man – which means you agree to things even if you don’t agree to avoid conflict – which is in and of itself conflict. One class I would recommend every business owner take is a mediation or conflict resolution class. There are books on the subject. One is “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher. For me it was a hard book to read – but I really enjoyed it on audio. The sooner you learn how to deal with conflict the better off life will be.

One of my clients was engaged at the time. Life was sweet for both of them. They enjoyed being together, they were obviously in love with each other, yet trouble was brewing. Every time he wanted something and she disagreed, she caved in. This was very evident in the business environment. It had been his business; she was new to his business, yet was very accomplished on her own and actually has better business sense than he did. Yet, what happened every time she suggested something and he disagreed, she would back down, both in business and personal. He even stated that he wondered when she was going to stop becoming so agreeable. It will happen and for both of them it will be a time of rude awakening as neither had really learned how to negotiate. They hadn’t learned the art of give and take and how to move both their ideas forward without squelching the spirit of the other person.

Couple of points on conflict resolution:

1. It isn’t always about getting what you want – learn the art of compromise.

2. If it is all about you – then the “we” part of any relationship won’t be long term.

3. Make sure you get the complete picture – stop assuming – remember what assume means. If you don’t know – then break out the word assume into 3 syllables – you get the picture.

4. Life is about negotiating – learn how to do it well, then apply the same art within your business and within your family.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and use the power of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. In essence, it is the ability to effectively manage emotions.

Effectively manage emotions ?!?!?!? For many employees, employers, business owners, families the business is run by emotions. Emotions are a God given gift, yet when those same emotions are used as stick the emotional climate of the workplace deteriorates. For many this essentially becomes workplace bullying. Unfortunately many school yard bullies grow up to be workplace bullies. They have not figured out how to utilize the power of emotions in a positive way. Nor have they learned to walk away from situations which create negative consequences.

The resulting affect to the bottom line profitability is absolutely huge – to a level of billions of dollars wasted each year addressing these issues.

Most of the emotions that cause employee performance and then also business performance is anger and fear. These feelings are intense and impact their ability to think rationally. Here are some impacts to the business from the lack of emotional intelligence in the business:

• Creativity shrinks as panic is the enemy of creativity and learning

• Employee turnover goes up due to unhappy employees

• Business growth potential plummets as people lose the courage to speak up

• Cost of recruiting goes up due to training and retraining of staff

• And the list goes on.

What is your emotional intelligence?

For the last few months I have been working on a book. The working name is: Running a “Successful” Family Business Without Destroying the Family.

The process has been fun, the compilation of information has been interesting the writing has been enjoyable. Here is a bit of the very rough draft of the introduction. Be looking out for more to come, many more stories and practical hints and the publication in Q1 of 2013. Let me know if you want to pre-order a copy, there are some additional bonuses for pre-orders.

The book focuses on the joys, challenges, opportunities and threats encountered in the family business… those many little realities you wish you’d known about beforehand. Your family, employees and the future of your business depend on your inter-relationships to each other and to the team in a charged, multi-generational environment. The outside worlds, i.e. your customers, win when your family business succeeds.

There is an old saying: Blood is thicker than water. This is usually true even when the families are not close and/or don’t get along. I may not like my brother, but you had better not pick on him, or I will come out fighting. Family ties are far stronger than normal relationships of employer to employee, friend to friend and even spouse to sibling.

Families are at the heart of most all societies. Statistics indicate there are more than 16 million small businesses in the US alone. Small businesses range from home based environments to structured operational businesses environments with employees and multimillions or tens of millions of dollars in revenue. Family business is at the heart of 80 % of small businesses in the US. Working for a family business – when you are not family can have great rewards and great challenges.

This book focuses on the joys, challenges, opportunities and threats encountered in the family business, both to the family, the employees and the future of the business. The inter relationships between the family members to each other, to the team, the generational environments and the outside world i.e., their customers.

The research from the book is based on years of up close and practical experience. Yes, there is research proven in standard research methodology, however most of the stories and research is from years of running businesses and business coaching. It is that real life experience that is mostly at play here. Volumes of research in standard research methods are critical, but don’t account for the up close and personal reality.

My journey in life has taken me through a number of family businesses. This starts with my Dad and being involved in a family business growing up – it was called a farm. Grandpa was the business owner, Dad and his 5 brothers were the employees, Grandma also ran the business from the house. Employees were hired during the busy season and they moved on during the slow season. Work needed to be done, crops needed to be harvested, bills needed to be paid and the future needed to be secured. It was a family business in all ways. Much was learned and from that family business 2 of the brothers continued in the tradition, yet in what is very common, it didn’t make it past the second generation. The brothers chose to sell that family business and either retire in one case and move on to a job in the other. The 3rd generation wanted no part of it.

What is your family business story? Let me know.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders, managers need to step back on a regular basis and get back to basics. The temptation when running your own enterprise is to stop doing the foundational elements that made you successful in your business. What are the basics for you? Could they be?

Marketing: Testing and measuring what is working in your marketing program and what isn’t. Are you guessing as to which marketing programs work and which don’t. One of my clients swore that one of their marketing programs worked and worked well, until we ran the numbers. They were investing about $14,000 per year in this program and got about $6,000 back. Even taking into account lifetime value of the new customers, it was an expense and not an investment. Both revenue and profitability went up when they stopped that marketing program.

Sales: It is documented that sales people must be trained and retrained on a regular basis to refine their skills and ensure the basic blocking and tackling is being done. What old sales techniques need to be revisited and are there new ones? Selling today is very different than 5 years ago, however some of the basics like communicating with your prospect are foundations which often get forgotten due to bad habits.

Closing: Are you asking for the close in the sale? I have a client that lost the potential of a big new account because the prospects perception was that they didn’t want it enough. They asked for the close, but not often enough during the final presentation. Their competition asked for the sale more.

Advertising: Are you running the same old ad that you always do? It works – great, but could it be better. What is your shock and awe with your advertising? Do you get their attention, or are they yawning through the whole process?

Basics are critical. Innovation is critical, yet if the innovation is built on a rocky foundation the whole business may fail before you know it.