How to have more good days

Mark Sanborn is the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea lab for leadership development. In addition to his experience leading at a local and national level, he has written or co-authored 8 books and is the author of more than two dozen videos and audio training programs on leadership, change, teamwork and customer service. He has presented over 2600 speeches and seminars in every state and a 15 countries.

Is Hard Work Really Necessary?

As you likely know, Tenacity is an attribute that allows one to be…well… tenacious. It’s that never stop, never give up attitude that seems to drive a person like a an unstoppable maniac. A tenacious person sees a wall and goes around it, under it, over it or even through it if necessary…in an ethical manner of course.

If we want anything in life… Whether its a new career, better health, a new relationship… (hey, don’t be too tenacious on this one, you don’t want the police involved.) Remember no means no as far as a relationship goes. On the other hand if you want to improve an existing relationship be tenacious about it. 

But I digress, whatever you want, personally or professionally, you must be tenacious. If something is worth having that means it may take some effort to get it and there may be others that want it as well.

Take sports for example… Do you think professional athletes become professional athletes by getting together with a bunch of friends for a weekly game? No way, the pros are deep into the dirty work. They wake up at 4am and train until they are next to dead… both physically and mentally.

What about the business person? Same thing folks… If its worth having, you are gonna have to be tenacious about it because other people likely want what you want as well, in face you can count on it.  Competition is fierce in an economy like this.

How do we build tenacity? We don’t… It comes from deep inside us. The good news is that we all have it. Think of a time you really wanted something and worked non-stop to get it. You had relentless focus and an unmatched determination to get what you already felt was yours for the taking. Tenacity builds upon itself depending on how bad the need or desire is. But beware of tenacities evil counterpart… laziness. If laziness gets in the way of your tenacity, everything grinds to a halt.

If you are tired of your current situation… if you you want that new skill, that new business or that new promotion, then start working at it. Prove to yourself and everybody else that you are the one that is the most deserving.

You must first BELIEVE your new goal is within your grasp and then research, re-invent, practice, work longer hours, train harder and take what’s yours.. The ones that want it the most and are willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears are the ones that will get what they want.  It’s always been that way and it always will. Don’t wait on luck… luck only comes to those who are prepared.

There’s a famous quote by a well known intellectual… a true global thinker who’s name I can’t recall at this moment. Was it Albert Einstein? No…. Mother Teresa? No… Abraham Lincoln? No… it was Larry the Cable Guy. He said, “GIT-R-DONE!”

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The Yellow Brick Road to Meaningful Work

Human beings are wired to take the path of least resistance. According to research, our brain tricks us into believing the “low-hanging fruit” is the most appealing and delicious of all. For example, it’s easier to browse the internet aimlessly or be hypnotized in front of one uninspiring TV show after another than it is to spend quality time focused on enhancing our lives with ever-so-high stretch goals which take us out of our comfort zone one lesson at a time and create lasting behavior change with ongoing effort, perseverance and grit. It even sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Rather than pursuing the most comfortable and easiest route, avert the appetizing apple and prevent the provoking pear by taking even the smallest step to catapult you toward meaningful work.

Some organizations excel at creating meaningful workplaces where every employee becomes part of creating success, cohesiveness, and an amazing culture. And some people independently bring a strong sense of meaning and mission with them to work each day. But what if your second home isn’t the envied workplace you desire?

If you want to find more meaning in your work and you’re not ready to take the plunge into the unchartered waters of an ambiguous job search, consider looking for greater meaning using these three strategies:

  • Identify the purpose. Is what you do at work connected to making a positive difference in the lives of others? If it is, realizing this fact will create greater meaning for you.
  • Crave learning. Work offers opportunities to learn, expand your horizon, and enhance self-awareness. This kind of personal growth is meaningful.
  • Seek results. When I accomplish a difficult work task, the results I attain offers me a huge sense of job satisfaction, greater self-confidence and a heightened degree of commitment which can sustain my level of motivation far beyond this one task. I may even be recognized for my achievement, which may offer another unintended reward.

Just like the yellow brick road in the magical Land of Oz led to Emerald City, pave your enchanted path toward greater meaning in your work and you may just discover that “There’s no place like [your second] home.”

Tracy Butz is an inspiring speaker, captivating author and successful owner of her business, Think Impact Solutions. She is known for delivering results-focused solutions to further engage employees, energize workplace culture and empower high performance.

Be Curious – And Be a Successful Communicator

There are many ways to improve the way you communicate. For example, you will always start things off on the right foot by opening the conversation in a way that creates mutual respect.

Using phrases such as, “If you have a minute, I’d like to talk with you about something that I think will improve the way we work together,” helps set your conversation partner at ease. It tells him or her that you have positive intentions.

It is also important to know your purpose for the conversation. Some purposes are more useful than others. A useful purpose is one you have power over. For instance, you can control your own reaction; you can share your view; learn about your partner’s view; work toward a sustainable solution.

On the other hand, examples of purposes that are NOT useful are: trying to change the other person; attempting to control their reaction; or going in with a hidden agenda.

Be Interested

Of the many ways to improve your conversation skills, one of the best is to be interested. Curiosity is one of the most useful tools in the communication toolbox. When you enter the conversation with “beginner’s mind,” you will necessarily adopt the attitude of a learner. You will not have to pretend to ask honest, open questions. They will come naturally. As you listen, you can reflect on what is being said (and not said). You will gain information and ease tension. If you can’t think of a question, you can always acknowledge what you’ve heard, or you can say: “I see, tell me more about that.”

One of the reasons we’re not curious more often is that we mentally equate curiosity with agreement. We think that if we don’t disagree immediately, our conversation partner will assume we’re okay with whatever he is saying. This is not useful thinking. It prevents you from seeing the whole picture and from learning where your partner is coming from.

The next time you find yourself in a difficult conversation, give yourself and your partner a gift by asking questions – questions to which you do not know the answer. Watch what happens. You will learn a lot, and you will feel more powerful, not less. Remember – listening does not equal agreement. It means you are a skilled and active learner, a good partner, and a conscious communicator. Live, learn, and enjoy the moment.

Since he was a young boy, Matt Episcopo consistently went out of his way to help others. At the age of 16, he joined the volunteer fire department. At 21, He joined the Sheriff’s Office; retiring at the age of 42 as the highest decorated law enforcement officer in the county. Regularly putting his life on the line for others from a young age, forced him to sharpen his communication and persuasion skills- his life depended on it.

Today, this Medal of Honor recipient helps business leaders and individuals reach their goals by teaching leadership, persuasion and communication tactics that he learned under fire. You can have a huge advantage and gain the upper hand in any situation too. That’s why companies like Toyota, Microsoft, Ogilvy, Home Depot and others trust Matt Episcopo.

Listening Sales Tool Box Tips for Success

Four Tips for Your Sales Tool Box are:

  1. Summarize Often
  2. Confirm and Clarify
  3. The 80-20 Rule
  4. Maintain Focus

Summarize Often

Recap your discussion with your client several times throughout the meeting. Your customer is not forgetful or inattentive. Summaries demonstrate momentum.

Five reasons to review are:

  1. Remind attendees you’re making progress.
  2. Everyone can celebrate little victories.
  3. Keep the end goals in sight.
  4. Demonstrate that good listening and comprehensions are ongoing.
  5. Encourage time management.

The 80-20 Rule

Make sure your prospect talks 80% of the time. While they share their needs and wants, remain quiet and take excellent notes. Sales people love to demonstrate how smart they are. “Smart Listeners Are Silent Listeners.”

The smartest person in the room talks 20% of the time and asks great open-ended questions that begin with the Five Ws; Who, What, When, Where and Why? In addition, the Big H – How.

Successful sales people remain engaged and demonstrate comprehension.

Confirm and Clarify

This step I nicknamed “The Parrott.” This technique came from marriage counseling. Years ago my husband and I wanted to improve our communication. The counselor asked each of us questions. He listened to our responses. Then we summarized what our spouse said.

Unfortunately, our “instant replay summation”were inaccurate. We listened with flawed filters. Frequently, what we reported hearing was incorrect. Additionally, as we gave our interpretative synopsis, the words selected and the vocal intonation changed too. Perhaps, in our replay, we wanted to impress our counselor with our dramatic acting skills. If this were an audition, that’s appropriate. In  listening skills practice, it’s not!

Also, don’t repeat a partner’s exact words or it sounds like you’re mocking them.

Parrots supposedly repeat their famous phrase “Polly Wants a Cracker” exactly as their owner said it. No variations. No dramatic inflections. Think of “The Parrot” next time your restate your customers’ requirements. Consider opening with one of these phrases:

  1. “What I heard you saying was…”
  2. “Let me see if I got this right.”
  3. “What you’re telling me is that the…”

Maintain Focus

Demonstrate listening using three skills:

  1. Take notes.
  2. Practice “Listening Body Language.” Lean forward and use the appropriate eye contact.
  3. Focus on your prospects Body Language and react accordingly.

Use these Listening Techniques and Tools and your sales will increase and your relationships will prosper.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

Accountability in Action: Taking Ownership of the Situations You Encounter

A company I’ve done work for provides a great example of this principle. This company’s employees are the people who close real estate transactions, the people who compile the mile-high stacks of documents that have to be signed by buyers and sellers at the closing table.

Several years ago, when interest rates went into a free for all, their business took off. That increase came from the thousands of homeowners who wanted to refinance their homes. During that “boom” the closers “didn’t have time” to maintain contact with their traditional sources of business, realtors.

And then the refinance craze was over. The pool of homeowners who were able and willing to refinance their homes dried up, and interest rates began climbing. I guess you could call this a situation the closers encountered. Some of them took ownership of that situation, and some didn’t.

Realizing that they could no longer rely on business coming to them, some closers began renewing their relationships with realtors. The ones who didn’t take ownership simply waited, wished and hoped for the real estate community to “come to their rescue”. The closers who took ownership of this situation still experienced dips in their business. But because of their timely, aggressive actions, those dips were relatively shallow and short-lived.

Here’s another way of describing this ownership principle:

Negative situations (setbacks and/or unexpected, unpleasant changes) provide excellent—but difficult opportunities for leaders to model accountability (take ownership).

THEORY TO PRACTICE

Here are some suggestions for taking ownership of situations that you and your associates have encountered:

1. A situation does not have to be a crisis to justify your taking ownership. Remember, leaders don’t limit their attention to things that are “broke” and need to be “fixed”; they facilitate a Relentless Search for Better Ways

2. Identify 3-5 situations that you and your associates have encountered, ones that are either having some impact on your company or department’s requirements for success or could do so. Remember, they don’t have to be crises!

3. For each of those situations, complete the following steps:

  1. Specifically define the situation
  2. Describe the ways that the situation is impacting you, your associates and the requirements for your success, or the impacts it could have
  3. Identify the people who are most impacted by this situation—or the ones who are contributing to that situation
  4. List and define the benefits you would expect to derive from addressing the situation

4. Pick the situation you want to address and complete the following steps:

  1. The things that must be done in order to effectively address the situation
  2. The people whose efforts will be needed to do so

5. Invite those people to collaborate with you to create a plan for addressing that situation

A recognized leadership and accountability expert, Jim Bearden‘s many rich life experiences form the basis for his anecdotes, his humor and, most importantly, the insights he shares. He inspires people to step up to become better leaders and more engaged employees.

A Bronze Star Medal recipient, this former Marine officer has over three decades of speaking, mentoring and real-life business experience. Jim has delivered presentations for corporate audiences, trade and professional associations and government agencies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Soulful Leadership: Re-imagining Leaders and Leadership Roles

W.S Merwin served as U.S. poet laureate during 2010-2011. In his inaugural reading, he read 25 poems, and talked poetically about the one trait he believes sets humans apart from other forms of life – imagination. Not reason, or language, or any other traits commonly offered to describe present human beings as more virtuous and superior than other animal and botanical life.

Merwin likes to support his assertion by quoting his lifelong hero, William Blake, the English poet-painter-philosopher who lived from 1757 to 1827. Blake states that, “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way.” He adds that, “But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

Truly profound. Yes, nature is imagination itself.

It is this trait – imagination – that I have brought to bear on rethinking leadership in the writing of my new book, “Awakening a Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems.” Scheduled for an early 2017 launch, the book reimagines the role of leaders and the purpose of leadership. It introduces a new concept – soulful leadership – which manifests itself when leaders exercise their privilege of power and resources not merely to serve their own needs of vanity and wallet, but for also increasing the wellbeing and prosperity of the greater many in the organizations they lead, and the worlds in which their organizations operate.

For leaders to embrace and adopt the idea and practice of soulful leadership, a critical regenerative shift must take place within leaders.

Gaurav Bhalla has 35+ years of global experience as a consultant, educator, entrepreneur, author, and speaker in leadership, marketing, strategy, and innovation. Committed to learning and personal growth, he has helped executives and companies in over 30 countries solve complex business problems through the application of cutting-edge knowledge and ideas.

Why You Need a Season Off

Have you ever noticed the cadence with which Americans great each other and connect? It is remarkable that we all have this rigid habit of asking every new person we meet the same questions in the same order: “What is your name?” quickly followed by, “Where are you from?” and ultimately heading toward the only real question that intrigues us, “What do you do?”

We value and esteem people in our country by their occupation. That is why America is such a work-centered culture—all we do is work. In fact, many professionals brag about how many vacation days and sick days they haven’t used as if it is a badge of honor. As parents we are guilty of perpetuating the same culture and teaching our children the value of this same work-first culture. We teach our kids to get good grades, a degree and a good job so they can work hard for the rest of their lives and then die.

That is what it is all about! I am not against work because we must work hard but I am also very interested in living life. The reason why we should work hard is to create an amazing lifestyle that we can eventually enjoy. What I am against is the degree to which work is prioritized in our nation. What I am preaching is working smart as opposed to just constantly working hard.

The reason you need to take an off-season break or your own personal sabbatical is so you won’t get burnt out on work and it won’t subsequently suffer. If you don’t your personal confidence is at stake, your legacy is at stake and your lifestyle is at stake. We don’t need to work any harder as a nation; we need to work smarter. So our off-season concept is a chance for you to regroup and come back stronger than ever.

An off-season allows you to work on your life. Imagine if every year because of your successful off-seasons, you improve your overall life by 10%? Suppose you did this five years in a row? An off-season is not a vacation. It is the perfect sabbatical for your life to make sure you stay in control, become the true master of your fate and life your life by design and not from crisis to crisis.

After several stellar high-school seasons, Walter Bond earned a scholarship on the University of Minnesota basketball team. As an average college player who was overlooked by the NBA, Walter tapped into a peak performance mindset, changed his work ethic and found himself as a Professional NBA Basketball Player for the Dallas Mavericks.

Now retired from the NBA, Walter Bond shares stories, lessons, and the type of motivation that sparks the superstars to success, moves the middle players into action, and excites your attendees to come back for more.


True Leadership Faces a Serious Moral Problem

For the past three decades, I’ve been crisscrossing the country, speaking to large and small businesses and organizations on ethics and values. The vast majority of my audiences agree that embracing ethical behavior just makes good business sense. In fact, I can hardly think of more than one person who has ever disagreed with that premise. So after three decades with ethical problems still making headlines, I began to wonder, then, what’s the problem?

My answer is twofold: failed leadership and the lack of moral awareness.

Failed leadership

Failed leadership is not about leadership skill sets, how many degrees one has, one’s title or position. Failed leadership is about the lack of commitment, empowerment and transparency in the individual and therefore, in the organization.

The Skout Group, LLC, is a nationally known ethics resource company, and in their research case study, Getting Beyond the Numbers: How to Identify the Root Cause of Unethical Conduct, here’s what they conclude: “The heart of most unethical conduct, as well as lack of reporting violations, can be attributed to workers who feel alienated and disengaged. These negative attitudes crop up when employees can’t see or live their personal values in the workplace.”

Why haven’t leaders recognized this? What are leaders doing about employees who feel alienated and disengaged? This opens up a variety of compliance and ethics issues in and of itself.

Commitments are something that one needs to work on continually. This needs to be a concentrated focus of your ethics training, together with discussions on values of the organization and how to implement and live out that commitment in the everyday course of doing business.

In my experience and research, the biggest ethical leadership challenges today are:

  • Doing business day-to-day. That includes considering the long-term interests of customers, not just the short-term interests of the company.
  • Doing the right thing. If we were to expand that just a little bit more, doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason is good business today.
  • Being careful about what we ask others to do, because they listen with their eyes. If we ask someone to do something that we’re not willing to do or find distasteful, etc., what is that saying to those who work with us and for us? Be careful about what we ask others to do.

Leaders need to be discerning as to the cause and effect of decision making now more than ever before because, as mentioned, people listen with eyes, not with their ears!

Lack of moral awareness

What about moral awareness? Here’s one of the best definitions of moral awareness that I received from a client of mine:

“When a person is in touch with their innate sense of morality and can feel the moral component of the situation—one of my clients that helped me with this definition said it’s kind of like being in touch with your body. If you know that there’s something wrong, there’s a pain. It’s an innate sense that there is something wrong; it needs to be attended to. That’s what being morally aware means. There’s something, you know, about what you feel, about your reaction to a situation that says that something’s not right here. You can call it intuition, you can call it conscience, you can call it reason, whatever you want to call it, it’s an innate sense that, something isn’t right here and I have to figure out what to do about it.”

Therefore, there really are moral obligations, particularly for leaders.

Always put people first in decision-making.

I research paper I recently read said that 57 percent of all companies that have downsized in the last few years still have the same problems, which tells me that while the problem wasn’t with the employees, they were the ones made to pay the price for the organization’s problem. Maybe it was the process, maybe it was the leaders, maybe it was whatever, but people need to be first in decision making, particularly in the long term, because no matter what the organization or business, they all say, “People are our most important assets.” Then why aren’t people a priority in many areas of decision making?

Respect the individual’s human dignity.

You have a right as a leader to disagree with my behavior; you do not have the right to challenge my human dignity or my self-esteem. There is a difference between telling someone, “You are the dumbest thing next to the jackass,” and saying, “Normally you don’t make decisions this poorly. I was wondering why this decision was made and how you came to that?” See the difference? Remember, affirm personhood, disagree with behavior.

Treat everybody fairly.

Do the rules apply for the CEO down to the new hire? The last thing you need as a leader is a chink in that armor—that there are different rules for management/leadership than there are for the rest of the employees. Everybody must play by the same rules, and this is the purpose of a code of ethics. Here’s my analogy: If you invite me to your house to play a game, shouldn’t you explain the rules before we play? And what happens if you change the rules in the middle of the game? What happens to your credibility and the credibility of the game? That’s the reason for a code of ethics; these are the rules by which we play here at this company — they will not change, and they apply to all. If you’d like to join us, these are the rules. If not, then maybe you need to find a job someplace else. That code of ethics (which includes mission statement and value statement) exists because the key point is that everybody must play by the same rules—everybody.

Be honest.

If you have a short memory, always tell the truth. If honesty is a moral principle, then don’t chip away at it. Be honest. Yet how many of these moral obligations do we see in today’s workplace? These obligations are innate capabilities that leaders today more than ever need to address, communicate and model in their organizations.

To be morally aware, I have three suggestions for you:

  1. Commit to moral principles. Many companies have value statements, but still have problems internally. This could be primarily because while the principles are nicely stated, there’s a distinction between what’s stated and the actual behavior of the employees. There has to be consistency and continuity. That’s what commitment means—that what you say is how you live. What we say is how we do our business. What we say is how our customers experience working with our company. What we say is how we do business with our vendors and suppliers, and they can count on it, unequivocally.
  2. The morally aware leader needs to understand that there’s risk involved in living out those principles. There are risks in every decision that a leader makes, but if you have a foundation of moral principles and you know what is right, you need to be sensitive and deal with the realization that someone, somewhere on that leadership chain isn’t going to like it. The question is: Are you still willing to do it? Because of those principles, are you still willing to make the stand? Are you still willing to speak out? And are you still willing to stand up for those principles, those values, in the workplace?
  3. Have the resolve when needed, to pay the price. I call this the “PTP” factor. What is your price-to-pay for what you want to do? Particularly as a leader, if you can’t pay, you better walk away, because there’s an absolute in life that’s just like gravity: what goes around always comes around, positive or negative. It all comes around. Have the resolve. What’s your line in the sand? Here’s where I stand; I will not cross it.

Conclusion

Therefore, if we truly believe that good ethics is good business, consider a large part of the problem is failed leadership and the lack of moral awareness. So what’s next? We can start with the investment in the values-based training for leaders of the organization and work to instill a sense of moral awareness throughout the organization, thus increasing the odds that the gap between what is professed as values and what is modeled in behavior will become increasingly smaller.

Failed leadership and a lack of moral awareness are both conscious choices. Can a person really say that he was not aware that there’s a moral dimension to choosing? I doubt it. Failed leadership—that’s certainly a conscious choice. People choose to be dishonest. People choose to cheat, etc. These are choices and, as with all choices, there are consequences, good or evil. It is the leader’s responsibility to see what others do not see, to discern what others may not and to act with fortitude, conviction and moral purpose. This then becomes exemplary moral leadership.

Frank Bucaro is an ethics expert, who is a leading crusader– speaking, training and writing– on the benefits of ethics. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and has been inducted into the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) Speaker Hall of Fame.

Agility and Anticipation, a Tale of Two Business Strategies

When the competition launches a new product, how do you react? Chances are, you act quickly and decisively to address the changing factors and conditions.

In short, you use agility to change directions and head the competition off at the pass. But what if you could skip that pivot altogether?

Think about some of the most powerful, most industry-disruptive products and services that have become well-known of late. Put them in context with the concept of agility.

Did Kickstarter become a dominant force in the growing crowdsourcing industry because it was agile? Was agility the driving force behind Facebook’s dominance in social media? Of course not. The reason is that agility is a form of reaction to an outside force.

  1. Agility Is Reactionary, Not Proactive  

Your organization may be the fastest around at being agile, but it’s still a form of reaction, something of an after-the-fact event. You’re taking on problems as they happen, putting out fires here and there.

  1. Agility Is a Lateral Move, Not a Forward One   

Moreover, agility doesn’t allow you to innovate and jump ahead of the competition. As examples such as Kickstarter and Facebook illustrate, game-changing products and services don’t happen because of agility; they happen because of anticipation.

  1. Agility Is Outside-In, Which Is Limiting 

The level of pervasive disruption that you need comes from the inside out (making the first move) rather than the outside in (moving in response to something).

By using strategies such as Hard Trends (those things we know for certain are going to occur) and Soft Trends (those that may occur but are open to influence), you can anticipate the future and, from there, plan accordingly. That’s a dynamic force that moves from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

Agility and Anticipation: Better Together 

Although my Anticipatory Organization Model is geared to showing both organizations and individuals how to anticipate the future and to make decisions with the utmost confidence, it would be unreasonable to suggest that agility is utterly obsolete. Not at all.

No matter how adept we are at anticipating the future, there will inevitably be problems and events that call for some form of response. Given that, my question is: Would the ability to effectively anticipate the future make you and your organization more agile?

The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s paint a scenario to illustrate that point.

Being a Company That Anticipates

Your organization is highly regulated by the government. Being anticipatory, you’re constantly on the lookout for new laws that will impact your activities. In monitoring new legislation, you spot a bill that will affect your organization’s tax structure. It seems likely to pass, so you notify your attorneys to begin work on restructuring your employee benefits plan to take advantage of the new guidelines.

The bill becomes law, and your organization is already set to leverage the new rules. By contrast, other organizations also affected by the legislation are forced to scramble after the fact.

That illustrates how being anticipatory makes an organization much more agile—a trait valued by many leaders. Even better, by anticipating what may occur in the future, an anticipatory organization is effectively positioned to act in advance—to pre-solve a problem before it really becomes a major headache.

What events and developments can you anticipate to become that much more agile? Let’s start a discussion, comment below.

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker.

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