May 29th, 2008
“The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice – their choice.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Many people spend a lot of time on their history. Some do it purposefully with such hobbies as journaling, while others simply write and rewrite their history over and over in their minds. Depending upon the way you go about this, this can be good or bad. If you are doing it so you can reflect back on your life, that’s good. If you are doing it so you can learn from your past, that’s good too. Unfortunately, many people do it simply as a subconscious act of running themselves into the ground over and over.
What you “write” in your mind is an act of mental discipline, just as what you write on a sheet of paper is a discipline. Keep that in mind.
So if this is true, that we can make a choice as to what we want to write, both literally and figuratively, we have an extraordinary opportunity!
Instead of going over and over our past, we can choose to write our future! Have you ever thought about writing your future before it even happens to you? Well, now you can – and you will!
Here is a process that will let you determine and write your own future!
Choose to choose your own future. If you don’t make the decision to accept responsibility for your own future, then you are choosing to not write your future. You must choose to choose. Do you?
Determine what you want your future to be. Be specific.
What do you want to earn?
Where do you want to live?
What do you want to weigh?
What do you want to do for a living?
What do you want to do in your leisure time?
How much do you want to retire on?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you may as well not even begin to write your future. Take some time to answer them fully.
Get a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. If you are going to write your future, you will have to have a sober understanding of what you are good at and what you are not particularly good at. Maybe ask a good friend or your spouse to give you an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses.
Focus on playing to your strengths while ever improving your weaknesses. Be sure that what you are doing is utilizing your strengths to their fullest. And you don’t want to forget your weaknesses, even while you are trying to stay away from them. Instead, set smaller goals for improvement in your areas of weakness while you set grand goals for the areas you are strongest in!
Get out a three pieces of paper. On the top of one, write, “One year from today I will… ” On the next write, “Three years from today I will…” On the last write, “Ten years from today I will… ” Then begin to fill them out. Make commitments to yourself. As you write them, end each sentence with a transition to how you are going to do it. For example, you may write, “One year from today I will… Have $4800 in my saving account by saving $400 per month.”
Start putting only information into your mind that will benefit the fulfillment of the kind of life you are writing about. For example, if you have a hard time spending money rather than saving it, you should probably cancel all of the catalogues that come each day that entice you to spend. Instead, spend the time you would have spent thumbing through catalogues going through financial growth material instead.
Discipline yourself to spend your time in a manner that will help you get to your goals. For example, cut out five hours of television a week and spend that time on your goals instead. That would be a difference of 260 hours in the next year! Wow! What could you do with another 260 hours? Almost anything!
You do not have to be a paper cup blowing to and fro in the wind! You do not have to live at the whims of other people or circumstances. You CAN choose your future! You can write it out just the way you want it to happen! Yes, ups and downs will come but you will outlast them and eventually arrive at your destiny. Then, when you get to the end of your life, you will know how it all turns out because you will have been the author!
Get going – write your own future!
You are Made for Success!
May 27th, 2008
Destiny. What a powerful word. And the great thing about it? Everyone has one! You have a destiny! Another great thing about destiny? We have a significant role in shaping our own destiny! In essence, you can choose your date with destiny – powerful!
Your destiny is the dream that lies within you of your desired and preferred future. And the things that we choose each day are what lead us to that destiny: Our actions, our words, our attitudes, and our relationships. They all add up to develop and shape that date on which we will reach our destiny.
Here are some thoughts to think about as you work on shaping your Date with Destiny:
The Mental Question: Do you believe that you can achieve a life of abundance? The frank truth is that many people simply do not believe that they can achieve what lies in their heart. Success is for someone else, a better person, or a smarter person. This is not true and is perhaps the greatest obstacle we face on the journey to our destiny. If we are to achieve the abundance in life we must first believe we can, or face our own continual self-sabotage of what a college professor of mine called “stinkin’-thinkin.’”
Here is the truth:
It doesn’t matter what your intelligence is.
It doesn’t matter what your current resources are.
It doesn’t matter what you currently earn.
It doesn’t matter what family you came from.
Nothing in your current circumstances matter in whether or not you can achieve your destiny! Nothing! Now, your current state may make it a longer or harder journey than someone else, but the possibility is always there no matter what your current circumstances are.
And that is the message we need to continually tell ourselves. “I can do it.” Not “I can’t do it.”
Clear vision. Do you have one of your destiny? Here are some questions to determine whether or not your vision is clear.
Can you describe it in intricate detail?
Can you “see” it?
Can you “feel” it?
Can you “hear” it?
Here are a couple of illustrations.
Perhaps you came from a dysfunctional family and your dream is to have great moments with your family. Let’s start with a Thanksgiving meal. Can you see each person there? What are they wearing? Are they smiling? What is the conversation? Can you hear the laughter? Can you experience the joy? Can you smell the turkey? Can you see people hugging each other and saying “This was wonderful,” as they leave?
Another scenario: Your company. Can you see the large building you are in? Can you see the workers? Can you feel the positive attitude they have as they carry out their work? Can you experience the excitement as you get the quarterly results? Can you see yourself handing out healthy bonuses that bring pleasant surprises to your employees?
This is where it begins. A clear vision of your destiny.
Consider your resources. Are you aware of the resources you will need in order to set your date with destiny? Do you know how you will go about getting them? What are your natural gifts and talents that you have? How can you best utilize them in achieving your destiny?
What are your current level of resources?
Help from others such as friends, family, employees or volunteers?
What will be your needed future level of resources? And have you developed a plan to achieve this level?
The last thing I would encourage you to do is fix a date in the future that you believe you could believe you will be living your destiny by. A real date. What this enables you to do is then begin to work backwards in setting goals to move you along the way, proving you with future points to strive for and evaluation point to reflect upon.
Here are the points again:
Answer the mental question: Do I really believe?
Develop a clear vision.
Consider the resources needed.
Set a date with destiny.
Develop a plan to get there.
Success Quote and Commentary
“Sow a thought and you reap an act; Sow an act and you reap a habit; Sow a habit and you reap a character; Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” — Samuel Smiles
May 27th, 2008
The most revealing chapter of a leader’s journey begins when they ascend to their first position of influence. Much can be deciphered about a person’s character by observing how they wield authority.
Don’t misinterpret me; leadership transcends titles, and influence cannot be confined to positions of rank or seniority. Nonetheless, newfound authority carries the weight of responsibility. How a leader responds to that responsibility can be a measuring stick of their overall fitness to lead.
When leaders are handed authority, they enjoy broader latitude to exercise their leadership style. As positional leaders, they are able to implement their ideas more freely and instill their values more directly. The decisions they make at this critical juncture may either launch their careers or stunt their development.
In his blog for Harvard Business Publishing, Bill Taylor poses five questions aspiring leaders should consider as they assume the reigns of authority. For rising leaders, or those mentoring a leadership rookie, his material will be particularly beneficial.
Five Make-or-Break Questions for Aspiring Leaders
1) Why should great people want to work with you?
Money without mission attracts mercenaries. Talent “for-hire” flows to the highest bidder, and refuses to drop anchor. In the absence of a compelling vision, leaders find themselves presiding over a collection of individuals rather than leading a team.
As Bill Taylor writes, “great people want to feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves.” By offering more than a paycheck, an aspiring leader attracts values-based performers. Such employees are likely to forge emotional ties to the organization, take ownership of its mission, and invest themselves to accomplish its vision.
2) Do you know a great person when you see one?
“When it comes to evaluating talent, character counts for as much as credentials,” writes Taylor. Aspiring leaders are wise to hire people who, in addition to being competent, fit smoothly into the company’s culture. To do so, it may be necessary to endure the inconvenience (and extra work) of a longstanding opening until a suitable candidate surfaces.
3) Can you find great people who aren’t working for you?
Aspiring leaders may want to polish their sales pitch to attract star performers from outside the organization. According to Taylor, “Leaders who are content to fill their organizations with people actively looking for jobs risk attracting malcontents and mediocre performers.”
Talent will not beat a path to your door. The best leaders are actively on the lookout for key contributors. They look to hire, not when the need arises, but whenever they locate peak performers.
4) Are you teaching great people how your company works and wins?
In an effort to showcase their leadership skills, insecure leaders may rally their team to outperform others within the organization. The result: a counterproductive spirit of competition instead of togetherness.
Smart leaders are wary of silos. They define the win for their team and connect that win to the company’s overarching strategy. They recognize the power of a “we” mentality. As such, they prioritize connecting the performance of their people to the overall success of the company.
5) Are you as tough on yourself as you are on your people?
Bleed your creed. Undemonstrated or uncertain commitment on the part of a leader has a corrosive effect on that leader’s influence. Followers resent leaders who are unwilling to make the investment they demand of those they supervise.
Oppositely, leaders who pay the price to fulfill lofty self-expectations earn the right to place high standards on their people. By doing so, they are imbuing their authority with authentic influence.
by Dr. John C. MaxwellWilliam Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were two of the fiercest political rivals of the 19th century. Their epic battles for control of the British Empire were marked by intense animosity that spilled over from the public arena into their personal lives. Ambitious, powerful, and politically astute, both men were spirited competitors and masterful politicians.
Though each man achieved impressive accomplishments for Britain, the quality that separated them as leaders was their approach to people. The difference is best illustrated by the account of a young woman who dined with the men on consecutive nights. When asked about her impression of the rival statesmen, she said, “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”
What distinguished Disraeli from Gladstone was charisma. Disraeli possessed a personal charm sorely lacking in the leadership style of his rival. His personal appeal attracted friends and created favorable impressions among acquaintances. Throughout his career, Disraeli’s charisma gave him an edge over Gladstone.
May 23rd, 2008
How do you begin the conversation? The first step is no understand the needs and welfare of your parent. Second is to remember that you also have to protect for your own family and your retirement.
Be honest, open and understanding. The questions you are about to ask will be vital to your parents future.
1) What kind of life to they want to live and how?
2) Do they have a certain type of care that they have imagined?
3) What role do they imagine you taking? Will other family members help when needed?
4) How will your own family help?
5) Does your loved one want to stay at home or assisted living facility?
6) Are plans realistic?
7) What type of insurance already existing or what is needed?
Long term care is lower and easier to qualify for when we are all younger and healthier. Speak to a reputable and trust professional long term care specialist. Speak with others (Insurance Agent, Accountant, Estate Lawyer, doctor and clergy) and ask about their experiences to assist you with your decision.
Trust in Genworth and Strategic Concepts (866) 582-7853 x703.
May 23rd, 2008
Someone recently asked me the question: “How can I have more opportunities come into my life?” Good question, but I think my answer surprised them a bit. I bypassed the obvious (and necessary) points about hard work, persistence and preparation. They actually were very hard workers. And they had the great attribute of being seekers, they were on the outlook. But I felt maybe they were missing this next and most valuable point – attraction.
I always thought opportunities and success were something you went after, then I found out that I needed to turn it around. Opportunities and success are not something you go after necessarily, but something you attract – by becoming an attractive person.
That’s why I teach development of skills. If you can develop your skills, keep refining all the parts of your character and yourself, your health, your relationships, etc. so that you become an attractive person to the marketplace – you’ll attract opportunity. Opportunity will probably seek you out. Your reputation will probably precede you and someone will want to do business with you. All of the possibilities are there by working on the philosophy that success is something you attract.
The key is to continue making yourself a more attractive person by the skills you have, the disciplines you have, the personality you’ve acquired, the character and reputation you have established, the language and speech you use – all of that refinement makes you more attractive to the marketplace.
Personal development – the never-ending chance to improve not only yourself, but also to attract opportunities and affect others
May 23rd, 2008
Clarity accounts for probably 80% of success and happiness. Lack of clarity is probably more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor. That’s why we say that “Success is goals, and all else is commentary.” People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. This is true everywhere and under all circumstances.
The Three Keys to High Achievement
You could even say that the three keys to high achievement are, “Clarity, Clarity, Clarity,” with regard to your goals. Your success in life will be largely determined by how clear you are about what it is you really, really want.
Write and Rewrite Your Goals
The more you write and rewrite your goals and the more you think about them, the clearer you will become about them. The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to do more and more of the things that are consistent with achieving them. Meanwhile, you will do fewer and fewer of the things that don’t help to get the things you really want.
The Seven Step Process for Achieving Goals
Here, once more, is the simple, seven-step process that you can use to achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before.
First, decide exactly what you want in each area of your life. Be specific!
Second, write it down, clearly and in detail;
Third, set a specific deadline. If it is a large goal, break it down into sub-deadlines and write them down in order;
Fourth, make a list of everything you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list;
Fifth, organize the items on your list into a plan by placing them in the proper sequence and priority;
Sixth, take action immediately on the most important thing you can do on your plan. This is very important!
Seventh, do something every day that moves you toward the attainment of one or more of your important goals. Maintain the momentum!
Join the Top 3%
Fewer than three percent of adults have written goals and plans that they work on every single day. When you sit down and write out your goals, you move yourself into the top 3% of people in our society. And you will soon start to get the same results that they do.
Review Your Goals Daily
Study and review your goals every day to be sure they are still your most important goals. You will find yourself adding goals to your list as time passes. You will also find yourself deleting goals that are no longer as important as you once thought. Whatever your goals are, plan them out thoroughly, on paper, and work on them every single day. This is the key to peak performance and maximum achievement.
Here is how you can apply this law immediately:
First, make a list of ten goals that you would like to achieve in the coming year. Write them down in the present tense, as though a year has passed and you have already accomplished them.
Second, from your list of ten goals, ask yourself, “What one goal, if I were to accomplish it, would have the greatest positive impact on my life?” Whatever it is, put a circle around this goal and move it to a separate sheet of paper.
Third, practice the seven-step method described above on this goal. Set a deadline, make a plan, and put it into action and work on it every day. Make this goal your major definite purpose for the weeks and months ahead.
Get ready for some amazing changes in your life.
May 22nd, 2008
Advertising is becoming ever more difficult and expensive. Air time during the nightly, network news is much more expensive, in inflation adjusted dollars, than a generation ago, yet none of these shows reaches anywhere near the market share that Walter Cronkite did. Getting the attention of Generation Y is the most challenging demographic for advertisers. They watch much less television (and fewer commercials), subscribe to fewer periodicals and listen to less commercial radio than the generations preceding them. This group has less brand loyalty than any other.
The reason for all this can be summarized in one word, according to Rob Dodson, President of Irvine based Vail Dunlap & Associates – technology. The web has replaced the nightly news, the iPod has replaced the radio and favorite shows can be downloaded sans commercials.” “The effect of technology goes deeper,” says Dodson. This generation is not only comfortable with change but expects it and sees it as positive. When they need to buy a new widget they do not just buy the same one they bought last time. They are more likely to research it via the web and text messaging their friends; thus the lack of brand loyalty. Tried and true is passé; new and improved is the norm.”
Given all this, Dodson says that advertising to Generation Y can be a tremendous challenge. Promotional products imprinted with a logo and advertising message CAN be very effective (rad, tight, sweet, whatever). Gen Y wears caps and t-shirts just like the rest of us; they use a wide variety of computer related products and they drive cars. If you use a cap or t-shirt, it needs to be a style they will relate to, low profile, sleeveless, moisturewicking, etc. If you get them to use your mouse pad, they may be seeing your message eight hours a day. The key is to have a quality pad (one that will work well with lightening fast games) and with a graphic that has appeal. On a cost per impression basis, this could be the most cost effective idea in history. Generation Y will continue to be elusive for advertisers. The right promotional product will possess three of the most important advertising attributes – highly targeted, affordable, and keeps the message in front of the target.
May 20th, 2008
Money is great! It makes the world go around. It motivates some to perform better for a while (in its pursuit), but that “superior” performance is usually short lived. In the same respect, threats, barking orders and intimidation have never moved any team that I was on to surpassing goals and moving to new levels of productivity or creativity. In 22 years of leading people, I have found that the essence of motivating team members comes from within. That, if you really want to “reach in and touch” that inner part of a person (to find the piece that motivates, moves them past goals, and vests their loyalty), each person has to be treated as such – a person! To motivate your team and catapult them to the next level, try these 4 “No Fail” strategies – all it costs is a little time and reflection.
Strategy #1: Communication
Since the beginning of time, mankind has used some form of communication to get things done. One would think that with so much practice, communicating would be a perfected art by now. Unfortunately, this is far from the norm. More often, we assume that people are mind readers. We assume they know what is expected, have all the knowledge they need to accomplish the task, and are even able to tell how they are performing. These assumptions can cause enormous problems at all levels of the organization and at all stages of an evolution. Good communicators know that communication is a two way street and that both lanes need to stay open. I remind myself to keep both lanes open by posting this equation in my office: “Q2L + S2S + S2A = GR8 COMMS.” Translated: Quick to Listen plus Slow to Speak plus Slow to Anger equals Great Communication. This equation helps me be actively involved in a conversation so that team members are truly heard. I am sure it will work the same for you. Write it down, post it, and practice it daily. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
Strategy #2: Appreciation
No words carry more weight and motivate team members more than “thank you.” The best part of this strategy is that it doesn’t cost a thing! This may seem like common sense but I don’t think that common sense is all that common. As individuals, who doesn’t like to be appreciated for the hard work that is put into a project? As leaders, why wouldn’t we pass that along to team members so that they know that we notice? Maybe it’s due to the hectic nature of today’s world of work – we get so busy that simple, “common sense” things get lost in the shuffle. Take time out and say thank you – it is the most cost effective reward you can give. Be specific and be genuine, it makes the difference.
Strategy #3: Value
When I am working on a project, I like to know how what I am doing factors into the end result. In short, what value am I providing? What is my contribution? Clear objectives motivate, provide value, and let team members know how they fit into the value chain. A few years back, I had a supervisor that took the time each day to cover the “game plan” for our overall mission. During our daily meetings, he would cover the “why” of what we were doing. This provided me with the bigger picture – I knew my contribution, my value to the end result, and I was motivated to exceed the expectation. Value your people by letting them know their value.
Strategy #4: Enjoyment
A team that plays together stays together. I have had very few jobs where I woke up and said, “I can’t wait to do this today!” I have, however, had numerous jobs that I couldn’t wait to go to due to the atmosphere of fun that was created by a great leader or a great team. These were people who knew how to inject an element of humor, play and laughter into the most stressful of situations. Their actions broke down barriers, reduced stress, and allowed the team to let go of inhibitions to reach their true potential. I don’t think this is a rare gift, I believe that each of us has the ability to impact the culture positively if we “lighten up” and look for the funnier side of things. The words work and play shouldn’t be opposites, they should be synonyms!
These 4 “No Fail” strategies will help leaders inspire, motivate and build a covenant of trust with your team. Trying them doesn’t cost a penny; they don’t need to be decided upon by a committee; and you should not be “faulted” for employing them (if you are, it’s time to find a new vocation). All it takes is time, reflection and care. Take the risk, step out, and connect with your people today. The return on investing yourself in your people will provide a much greater reward than just the bottom line.
May 17th, 2008
Many times an unknown person does something spectacular and suddenly becomes a “hero,” a public figure, an “overnight success,” the object of much envy. Let’s explore this “overnight success” syndrome.
Several years ago Gary Spiess from White Lake, Minnesota, did an incredible thing. He sailed his ten-foot boat across the Atlantic Ocean in just 54 days. Most of us can only imagine what he endured to complete his 54-day ordeal, but suddenly the whole world knew who he was.
What is the real story? Did he just have a good idea, implement it and “luck” into celebrity status? The reality is that Gary had worked, planned, sacrificed and studied for three years to build his boat. He committed not only his money but 100% of his spare time for three solid years. He had to chart his course and plan every detail, down to the minutia – including maximum use of his space and the proper food, clothing and water to carry. Once the trip began, so did the danger. The most dangerous and difficult part was fighting the violent seas of the Atlantic Ocean. The seas often combined with a driving, bitterly-cold rain, which chilled him to the bone. By the time he reached England, he was so brutally battered by the cruel sea that his entire body was black and blue. Yes, it’s true he had his day in the sun, but it’s safe to say that he had sacrificed and worked in order to receive his rewards.
Most of us are not interested in doing anything of that nature, but it is safe to say that if we’re going to accomplish anything of significance, and particularly if we’re going to maintain that significance, long hours of planning and even more of hard work are required. But it’s also safe to say it’s worth it because the effort is temporary but the satisfaction and rewards can be long-lasting. Message: Give it your best shot and I will SEE YOU AT THE TOP!
May 17th, 2008
There are basically 4 different reasons why nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.
First, no great success is ever attained in life without the surmounting of obstacles. In every life there are challenges. Some people view challenges as problems, others view them as opportunities. This marks one big difference between those people who give up and those who move up. You need to understand the positive role obstacles can play in your development. Challenges will push you. They stretch you. They make you develop your potential. Because you cannot leap a hurdle without energy, you need to value energy. You need to understand and embody the power of enthusiasm.
Secondly, without the motivation that comes with enthusiasm, you will never dig deep enough to discover and develop all the talents you have that can lead you to the greatest accomplishments of which you are ultimately capable. Developing your talents is itself sometimes an arduous task. Without enthusiasm for what you are doing and what you are becoming, it could be at times an exhausting and dispiriting task. It takes energy. You will often need to push yourself to find that you are capable to find what you’re capable of doing, and what you are capable of being.
There is a third reason why nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. Great success requires great risk. It does not come cheap. You need to be willing to try things you have never tried before. Maybe even things nobody else has ever tried before.
The fourth reason why enthusiasm, or strong emotional commitment, is typically necessary for greatness is that, without it, you can easily be tempted to settle for nothing more than a basic, minimal competence in what you do, at best.
No great success was ever attained alone. No one in this life ever accomplishes anything worthwhile flying completely solo, from start to finish. Satisfying success is always in some way, and most times in many ways, a social product, which results when people work together. Whatever your dream is, whatever your goals are, you cannot do it alone.
It is important to clearly understand how this comes into play with providing excellent customer service. It is not your perception of how good the service is that counts. It actually has to do with the perceptions of the customer. The customer is the one who matters.
Excellent customer service exceeds customer needs (real or perceived) in a consistent and dependable manner. Note the phrase real or perceived. This is very important in understanding excellent customer service. It is not your perception of how good the service is that counts. It is the perception of each customer that matters. These perceptions include how customers react to your attitude, your concern for their problems, and the way you handle their questions or service requirements.
When you provide service over the telephone, you may speak with the same customer many times. Even though you have never met this person face-to-face, you probably have an idea of what he or she is like. You may even have a mental image of what a particular customer looks like. Customers are no different. Likewise, they also have an image of you. As a valued employee, you have the ability to influence the perceptions of many customers. It is important to remember that you are in a direct position to win or lose company business!
By Janae Wentworth