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An executive I was coaching was in a high pressure job. She had people, email, phones and work all demanding her attention on a regular basis. Her interrupt factor was extremely high, but since she worked in the contract department of her company, her ability to focus on the details was critical. We first met in a group setting where the topic was time management and how to get more accomplished in the time available, without working an 18 hour day. That wasn’t my title, but it is what she was looking for.
Our discussion came to the concept of being able to close the door of her office, turn off email, phones and focus on doing one thing without interruption for an hour. She erupted. “That isn’t possible with my job. People stand at my door waiting for answers, the phone is constantly ringing. That won’t work!” I paused, allowed her to finish and asked her a question: So what is happening right now while you are in this workshop – (which happened to be a 5 hour workshop)? She was silent for a moment and then stated, “Well things are piling up while I am in here.” My challenge to her was to just try it – if it didn’t work, she could go back to how she was handling things now. I chose not to challenge her further in front of her peers at that time and we moved on to another topic.
Since I was coaching her individually, the following week during our conversation she started off with an apology for coming on so strong to me during the meeting. Also, she had tried my suggestion. The previous day she had communicated to her team that she had some stuff to complete. She was going to close her door, put a sign on it stating do not disturb, closed email and also put her phone on do not disturb. In that hour she accomplished more than she had in the previous 3 days and was sold on the value.
The January issue of Success Magazine (which I highly recommend you subscribe to) had an interview with Mike Vardy. He has done a number of studies that indicate the average executive/business owner focuses on one thing for no more than 11 minutes. For every interruption they get, it takes about 25 minutes to recover where they were and start making progress.
The concept of multi-tasking is killing our productivity. It has been proven that our mind cannot multi-task. It actually switches gears from one topic to another, but doesn’t multi-task. We have all been in situations where we have been concentrating to get something accomplished, been interrupted and then either had to start over our thought process, or really wondered where we were and never get back to that same state.
Mike Vardy also stated in his research that multi-tasking actually diminishes our IQ by 10 points. Even smoking pot only diminishes our IQ by 5 points. Chew on that concept for a while!
Yes, there are situations in jobs that require us to juggle a number of things at one time. If that is your job then great, enjoy! I use to be called the “queen of multi-tasking”. I could be processing multiple things at one time fairly well and keep all the balls up in the air. However, when I needed to focus, complete a project, plan for a conference, review a sales proposal, that was all I did. The door was closed, email ignored, phones on do not disturb because I knew that missing one small item could be the difference between success and failure. I also had the benefit of being able to work from home a couple days per week and I scheduled my focus times for those days.
This is essentially about self-management. Who is running your day, you or others? Do you determine your action items for the day the day before? If not, then consider planning tomorrow today, next week this week, next month this month. Make sure you leave time to plan. Without planning you leave yourself and your life in a reactive vs. proactive mode. You wonder why things happen to you, why you need to work late, why it is taking longer than you anticipated. Most of these reactions are due to lack of planning.
So, have you decided if you can manage time? I often ask this in my workshops and get a mixed reaction of yes and no. Reality is no, you can’t manage time. Time moves on no matter what we do. What we can do is manage ourselves. Self-management is the most critical aspect. Like eating frogs – figure out what you are avoiding, do it first get it done. Plan your day. You say it doesn’t work, then step back and take a hard look as to why. You are in a situation with a high interrupt factor, then plan for it. Get in early and get those projects done before everyone else arrives. Put on your calendar time to complete your action list for the day. If you haven’t planned for when the action items will get accomplished you have a much lower chance at getting things done.
Beginning in 2007, the United States job market experienced a high level of sustained unemployment which unfortunately continues even today, six years later. The lack of being able to find work often stimulates the act of creating work which results in a large number of people starting their own business, or in other words, buying themselves a job.
What often motivates the employee to become the employer, or at least an owner, is the realization there is not a job in the current marketplace that will provide the same income and benefits as their previous employer. Since workers need to continue making a living, they begin to consider all options accessible to them. The buying a job concept is not wrong as long as the new business owner is able to transition from thinking and acting like an employee, to thinking and acting like a business owner. I often joke that a new business owner trades in the boss they didn’t like, for a really bad boss, the one that looks back at them in the mirror every morning, themselves. After a while, the old boss might not look so bad after all.
The following are a few things to consider when buying yourself a job:
Buying a job means taking something you know or want to know and buying into it. Franchises are often filled with people buying jobs. They may have been unsuccessful in getting a new job. They have some money to invest so they decide to buy a company or a franchise. There are many wonderful success stories of people buying into a franchise. However, it is important to remember a franchise is a business and not a hobby or a job you can easily leave.
Having sufficient capitalization will often make the deciding difference between the success and failure of a new business. The average business requires 1-2 years of capital, without the owner getting paid or being paid very little, to survive. Without adequate capital, you essentially starve the business by taking out essential funds required to make it through the tumultuous first few years.
A new business often becomes a family affair with a spouse, children, and perhaps siblings becoming involved in the business as well. Be aware all the standard opportunities and challenges that come with working with family members apply. Don’t run from the opportunity. Be realistic about what you are getting into and the potential challenges you will face.
The opportunity to work alongside your spouse can be greatly rewarding. Being able to dream, create, deliver and earn a living with your spouse who is hopefully your bestfriend, can be a reality. You may have the opportunity to travel together, solve problems together, to challenge each other to grow and to replicate the best of your skills and talents in your team members and employees. Together you can create a family like environment that makes everyone want to come to work.
The benefits of buying a job and becoming an Entrepreneur includes being able to do what you love to do and have the flexibility to do it how and when you want to. As the owner, you have the ability to leverage your time and money to benefit your family, business, and employees. It is a joy to lead your team through the creation of your dream. Your journey will include a great deal of learning, growing, and experiencing new opportunities and challenges.
If you have made the choice to buy yourself a job, be the best boss you can be to yourself and others. Build a family environment, enjoy your well-earned benefits and, most of all, embrace the journey.
Why are we, as a society, having such a hard time dreaming? As children, we dream on a regular basis. We fly, conquer the world, create imaginary friends, and plan to accomplish things never considered by anyone 20 years older. Then the aging process starts and conformity begins. We conform not only in our behavior (which is mostly good), but in our ability to dream. One by one, we are told (and often not outright), that our dreams are impossible. Our dreams are unreasonable, not possible, or even why would you ever try that – you might FAIL!
What this creates is a society of control freaks. These control freaks become business owners who want it done their way, as that way is the only right way. What they are losing is the ability to leverage the world to get things done for them. They don’t hire for new ideas, they hire for fitting into the box the business owner created. The problem: business owner wealth creation is often best accomplished by people with the desire to dream in a world without boxes.
Dream without boxes – what does that mean? It means stepping out and doing things differently. A perfect example is Steve Jobs, he created something that was new and different that we didn’t know we needed (actually we didn’t), yet how many of us want to go back to what life was like prior to Apple creations. You need to get away from the day to day so you have time to dream. It is learning to always challenge your own thinking and be open. You also must be willing to let others challenge your thinking – they also have dreams that might just allow you to fly, conquer the world, and accomplish things you were told were impossible.
Dream dreams for yourself, your family, and your business. Dreams do come true, but only if there is a dream in the first place.
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:
- Do you have a plan which involves getting out of
your comfort zone?
- Do you have a regular plan of learning (books,
- Who are you associating with – do you need new
- What are your interests?
- 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?