Archive for the ‘personal development’ Category

I can’t stand cheap people. I don’t mind frugality, but I detest cheapness. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap. Frugality is simply being sensible with money, but cheapness is far more pervasive. It is a refusal to give, and usually people who have trouble giving monetarily hold back on everything else as well. Cheap people generally withhold affection, are not particularly helpful, they withhold information, are happy to receive but cannot reciprocate, rarely do favours for people and in my mind, are generally not very nice to have around.

In my book, Engaged for Growth, I talk about the Seven Virtues of Leadership (you can also view the Slideshare presentation of the virtues on this blog site). While all of the virtues are important, I have to say that I believe the virtue of generosity is the virtue which gives the leader the ability to leverage the most influence over others. Having a generous spirit is also pervasive. Generous people give their time, do favours for others, reciprocate easily, are helpful and supportive of others, and are generally warm and loving people.

Human nature is to want to do for those who do for you. We are socially programmed to reciprocate. For generous people, this is a no brainer. Cheap people, however, have a lot of difficulty with this concept and will always try to find ways to not have to reciprocate. They try to create loopholes that relieve them of their obligations. They make promises to give but change the criteria to suit their own needs. You cannot lead this way. Your colleagues and employees will not be able to respect you if you always do what is socially reprehensible. Most people find cheapness to be a distasteful quality. Cheap people cannot command respect, so don’t be cheap.

What should you give? Give fair compensation, give your time, give love, smile, give information and show people how to do things, buy someone a nice lunch, give sincere praise, give a referral, or give whatever you would like to be given. Just be generous and be sincere. Never give with the expectaion of receiving. That is not true generosity.

I belong to the “what goes around comes around” school of thought. I believe that treating people well brings good things into your life, and treating people badly, means you will receive bad karma. I try to do the right thing with people. I happily give a lot to people, and I will continue to give. This blog is a free gift for anyone who wants to learn and I am committed to posting informative and useful information to help people be the best they can be. It is my deepest desire to change the way employers work with their people and to enlighten those who want to lead. Leaders are models for others, and our generosity inspires those around us to be better. Failing to be generous means you fail to inspire. If you can’t inspire others, then you are not a leader.


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Not getting the results you want? We all get stuck from time to time as we struggle to achieve our desired goals. This happens to all of us and there are many sources for this problem that need to be analyzed if we are going to come up with an effective solution. Sometimes we stagnate because we are more focussed on the problem than the solution. Sometimes we are too close to the problem to really see the whole picture, and sometimes we are simply distracted by things that invade our mental space and occupy our time. I like to call those misaligned priorities because they seem to demand our attention but do not actually move us toward our goals.

Getting to where you want to be means remaining committed to your goals. I am a very goal driven person, and I get extremely frustrated when things don’t happen for me. Sometimes my tenacity bugs people, because I am like a dog with a bone. I absolutely cannot let go. When the voices around me tell me to let the goal go, I will still push myself to get there. I remember reading in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich that one of the common traits of successful people is the willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. Whenever I think of that, I strengthen my resolve to keep going and try to find better ways to get there.

Doing whatever it takes means you need to ask yourself some different questions in order to find better solutions. One question I like to ask myself is, “What am I going to do today to bring me closer to my goal?” This question forces focussed action, and since nothing happens without action, it must drive you closer to achieving your goal. After that question, you have to ask yourself what your intended outcome is and examine whether or not the action will indeed bring you closer to your goal.

Another question I like to ask is, “Who can help me?” No one can be successful alone. Everyone who has ever achieved anything worthwhile had someone in their corner. Figure out which relationships you can leverage to get the kind of assistance you need. Before you do this, though, take the time to think of as many things as possible that will help you. For example, you may think all you need is a good business referral, but there may be some other things that could be even more valuable to you. Take the time to reflect on what these could be, then go out and find someone to help you.

Flexibility is really important if you want to achieve a particular goal. A goal may remain unchanged or may need to be modified slightly. Be prepared to modify both your goals and the way you think about your business or career. Ask yourself if there is something more or different that you could be doing. Does your market need to change? Does your product or service need to change? Is your approach inefficient? What do you need to do differently?

In developing questions to ask yourself, put a little pressure on yourself to come up with different questions and solutions each time. By doing the same thing day after day you will not create better results, so insist on changing it up. Only perform actions that produce something. If you can’t cultivate the results you want by repeatedly performing the same action, you must be prepared to do something else. For example, writing a blog requires you to perform the same action repeatedly and doesn’t necessarily produce immediate business results. What it does do, is cultivate opportunities. If no one is reading it, however, it is a waste of time.

Are your wheels spinning or turning? Are you stuck in a rut or are you driving on the road ahead? Try asking some different questions and if you need help, find a friend, a mentor or a coach who can push you to ask the right questions and develop great solutions.

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 I like Seth Godin. I subscribe to his blog and just today received his posting called The Paralysis of Unlimited Opportunity. It made me think about all the distraction we face in our work lives and wonder how many of us are compromising productivity due to a lack of focus. How many of us possess the drive, ambition, know-how and desire to succeed but are distracted by a million little nothings in our day? You know what I mean; web-sites, phone calls, text messages, family, and life in general. It is easy to get pulled in a million directions. How many of us spend too much time sifting through email that adds no value to our lives? Are you spending more time waiting for opportunities than creating them? Are you flogging dead horses even though you know you are not Jesus Christ and cannot give life to the dead? Is this the paralysis of unlimited opportunity or just the paralysis of having a distracted and undisciplined nature? Maybe you are just spending too much time tuning into the white noise of being busy doing nothing.

Here are some tips to help you get around this:

1. Know what you are working toward. Have a very clear purpose, write it down and decide what exactly you need to do to achieve this. Failure to do this will result in your swirling in a sea of white noise for eternity.

2. Turn off the white noise at the end of every day and make a list of priorities for the following day. Your day isn’t done until you’ve accomplished them and written out new ones for the next day.

3. Find someone to hold you accountable. Having a friend at work or even outside of work who can participate in this with you is very effective. Your friend should also be setting goals and reporting to you. You can’t meet every week and have none of your goals achieved; it’s way too embarrassing! Mutual accountability is great for helping you move things along.

4. Read books that motivate you. Filling your head with fluff will result in your being less productive. A commitment to reading or listening to books that inspire you to achieve more, develop important skills and increase your expertise will allow you to become much more productive.

5. Hire a coach. I do provide private leadership coaching to my clients, and it is not terribly expensive. There are many ways to access coaching with the technology that exists today. If all of the above isn’t helping you, consider hiring someone who specializes in working with others to enhance performance.

Taking action to  overcome your white noise will be the difference that gives you an edge and will allow you to be all that you can be. Do something. As Seth Godin says in his blog post, just don’t do nothing.

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Don’t you hate working with people who have no desire to help or do anything beyond what is written in their job description? Isn’t it frustrating to have to wait for some important information to come from a co-worker who takes her sweet old time getting things done and holds up everyone else?

I once saw a T-shirt that read, “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” I can’t tell you how many times I have come across people who made me think of that line. I do get frustrated by those who refuse to take the lead, but aren’t willing to either follow or get out of the way. How do you overcome the hurdles of working with uncooperative people? No matter what your position in a company, everyone needs to learn how to gain willing cooperation from others. Here are a few tips to help you bring about action when you need it the most:

Try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Before you allow yourself to get upset about not being able to move forward on a project, take a moment to think about the other person’s priorities. The world shouldn’t have to stop and come running to help you because you have a sudden need.

Taking the time to politely explain your case and the reason why your need is so urgent, could also be helpful. Sometimes people are unwilling to do things because they either don’t fully understand why they must be done, or they don’t understand the task. Make sure you are very clear about expressing your needs. Never be demanding or hostile. That is the fast way to get shut down.

Use what you learn about your co-worker’s needs as leverage. Knowledge is power. Asking him about the projects he is working on will allow you to better understand his needs. The more you know about your co-worker’s needs the more likely you will be able to offer assistance. Offering to help him out on another project in exchange for a favour, for example, may be enough for you to get things rolling again. It’s all about give and take. You can’t expect to just take all the time. Be prepared to lend a hand whenever the need arises.

Maintain a generous spirit. People like to help likeable people. Make a point of saying hello to your co-workers and take an interest in what they have to say and the things they like to do. People love to talk about themselves, they love to hear their name and they love to hear nice things about themselves. Always be sincere in your interest and comments to others and only say nice things. The warmer and friendlier you are with the people you work with, the better your relationships will be all around.

Bring in a treat once in a while. Everybody loves a little treat. Nothing says you’re special like a surprise cup of java or a batch of cookies. It doesn’t cost much to do and the return on investment is priceless!

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I love business. I love being able to talk about business with savvy individuals who share my passion. I love being around business people I can learn from. I love business books. They are my version of erotica! I love working with business people and I love having the opportunity to bring teams to a higher level.

It is incredibly rewarding for me to be able to share my wisdom and talents and to see results happen. It is why I do what I do for a living. Business and business leadership are my greatest passions. They are also among my many talents.

Do you know what your talents are? Are you working in a field that allows you to do what you do best every day? This is important in order to be engaged at work. You will have the best results when you are engaged and doing what you do best every day.

I recently read a book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I recommend this book to everyone because it comes with a free online assessment that will allow you to discover your greatest talents. Once you know what they are, you will fully understand what your greatest asset at work is.

I believe one of the reasons people end up not doing what they do best every day is because most of us have talents we don’t recognize as talents. My sister once commented to me that she has no talent. She felt this way because she is a terrible athlete, a terrible cook, she can’t draw, feels she is only mildly musical and although she can carry a tune, she feels she is not really a great singer, either.

The problem here, of course, is that when we think of talent we tend to think of either art or sports. Talent, however, goes much deeper than that. Some people have a talent for listening while others are great strategists or have tremendous analytical ability. When you were a kid on the playground at school nobody ever marvelled over your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from a different perspective, but if you could whack a baseball across the field, you were a super star! That is why we often fail to recognize the many forms of human talent.

Employers need to know where their employees’ talents lie and employees need to know this as well. Fully understanding what each team member can bring to the table will give you a huge competitive advantage. It aids in creating just the right amount of diversity for your team and allows you to choose people whose strengths complement each other. High powered teams are in sync and you cannot be in sync if you are unaware of the talents each team member possesses.

Building on your areas of strength will allow you to become successful whereas focussing on improving areas of weakness is a waste of time and energy.  For example, I couldn’t hit a ball if it hit me first. Knowing what I know about talent, I know that if I practiced every day for eight hours over a three year period, I’d still never be able to hit a ball with the accuracy of any professional golfer, ball player or tennis player. No matter what the sport, I will always be a lousy athlete (just like my sister). I might improve my skills somewhat, but it would never be enough to amaze or impress anyone.

On the other hand, brushing up on my skills in business, human relations, leadership, facilitating, and writing would be much more productive. By developing my existing talents, I will see the greatest return for my efforts. If I devoted eight hours a day for the next three years to developing myself in these areas I would likely see a tremendous improvement in my performance and would generate results that far outweigh those I am achieving today. That is all good!

Take the Strengths Finder test and see what your talents are. Then develop an action plan to make the most of those talents. If you can tie your performance to a measurable result, then you will even be able to see how much you improve over the coming months!

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Did you ever notice how some people make it difficult for you to be their customer? They ask you to pay in advance for things that don’t need to be paid for ahead of time. They can’t order exactly what you want the way you want it, so you have to purchase something with unnecessary features. You have to come back on another day because someone important isn’t available to help you. It all sounds weird to me, but you and I know it happens all too often.

There are some simple rules to sales and customer service that need to be kept in mind. Firstly, empower your people to make decisions. Customers get really peeved when the person they are dealing with cannot act in their best interest. It’s not hard to do that. Just set the parameters with your employees and push go. Oh yeah, don’t forget to give them permission to think. That helps a lot!

Secondly, don’t set up road blocks for your customers. People buy when you make it easy for them. Things like flexible payments, free trials, etc all contribute to bringing people closer to buying. Make the process so pleasant and easy they’ll have to say yes.

Thirdly, keep in mind that customers return when you demonstrate you care about their needs and their experience in dealing with your business. Make it as enjoyable as possible. Whatever you do to enhance your customers’ overall experience will attract their future business.

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Let’s face it. We live in a world of rapid communication and that communication can make or break your business. Potential employees can surf the internet to find out what employees think of the companies they work for or have worked for in the past. Potential customers can view customer service complaints on millions of websites to see what experiences others have had with your company. A simple Google search could reveal a ton of information about your business that may not be favourable at all.

In spite of all of this, I am continually mystified by the reluctance of many companies to actively try to engage their employees and their customers. How can they not accept the reality that the world has changed and that corporations are no longer as powerful as they used to be? The days of being able to hide your problems from the public are long over and it simply doesn’t pay to live in denial!

An engaged workforce will at least triple your current bottom line results so it is well worth your while to invest in leadership and employee development programs and to concentrate on building an engaged corporate culture. Failing to do so means your business results will only be about 29% of what they could be. That is because on average, only 29% of employees are engaged and they are carrying the results of your entire company. The remaining 71% of your employees are dragging you down and since this condition is reversible, it makes good business sense to work on increasing employee engagement!

I understand that soft skills training is often seen as being a nice thing to do, if you can afford it, but the fact is a good training professional will be able to tie training to solid business results. It really is not fluff and if your employees are like those in most companies, you truly cannot afford to let developing your employees become a low priority.

I have seen what’s out there and I know why we training professionals get a bad rap. It’s because there was a time when less than competent people thought they could cash in on the gravy train when companies had money to spend. They produced nothing, held no one accountable, took away a cheque and drove off in their Beemers. Meanwhile everyone who participated in the sessions went back to their old habits and nothing really changed for the business.

Sadly, those guys are still out there and they still get business from those who have a poor point of reference. They look super slick and act like they’ve got the world by the tail, but they are not true professionals. Look for training that is focussed on achieving results and comes with a guarantee. In my opinion, anyone in my profession who is not willing to stand by their work isn’t worth hiring.

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