Merry Christmas and Reflection Thoughts

December 14, 2015 11:31 pm

Firstly I would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a refreshing break over the New Year.  I trust it is a replenishing time for you.

As this time of year lends itself quite easily to a period of reflection, I have provided some questions to entertain over the holiday season in relation to the year that has been. I find that we often get caught in looking at the lack in our lives rather than supply – what went wrong rather than what went well. Here are the supply questions…

  • what did you do well? Where were you successful? Did you spend more time with your children; save more money; be kinder to your co-workers?
  • how are your relationships better off?
  • what are the key things you have learned and integrated into your life?
  • what fun things did you do?
  • what new disciplines did you develop?
  • where have you travelled?
  • who has contributed to your world this year? Who are you grateful for? (think of sending a note to these people expressing your gratitude).
  • how you are you stronger, mentally, physically, emotionally?
  • how are you different to this time last year?

Looking at the supply side of life doesn’t negate the work required on strengthening ourselves. However, when we see ourselves in light of our successes and strengths we are more able to make the changes that both ourselves, co-workers, significant others, family etc. would like to see. In a paradoxical way, the best way to deal with issues, strengthen weaknesses and create disciplines is to come from the perspective of celebrating who we are already – thus looking at the supply side first.

Here are some considerations to reflect upon:

  • what areas do I need to strengthen this year? (This can relate to health, business, financial, relational, spiritual, intellectual etc.)
  • write your story. Begin with “It is now the end of 2016 and this past year has seen me grow in…. master the area of …. give up…. .” Write your story and place it somewhere that you can review it daily. When we own something mentally and emotionally there is a higher chance of converting from the ideal to the real.
  • if I could do one thing this year that would have a significant impact on other areas, what would that one thing be?

Again, all the best for the Christmas season and looking forward to the 2016 journey with you.

Ray

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Letting Go

December 8, 2015 2:31 am

Leaves

Enjoying a stunning spring morning a couple of weeks back I noticed the final lingering leaves of autumn finally letting go – being blown free of their hold.  The new lush verdant leaves with the surrounding abundance of spring was a magical sensory experience. Yet, hiding away within the new seasons growth were the leaves that until then had never yielded. It was only due to a strong wind that they were released from their grasp.

Sometimes, we see things for what they are and willingly let go. Other times have us holding on for dear life, thinking that we could never allow the departure of what has served us well for so long. But there often comes a point where what has indeed served us holds us back from future progress.

A friend of mine said it this way – “to grow something new you must get rid of something old.”

Growth seasons beckon us to let go while embracing the new.

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My Good Friend Called Journal

November 26, 2015 12:37 am

I met Journal (a weird name I know) in 1984 and since then have become the best of friends. I have connected with her most days and rarely go a week without engaging with her. She listens, provides insight and holds me accountable to what I said I would do. She is non judgemental, never criticises but kindly absorbs my highs and lows and points the way forward.

You have probably guessed that my friend called Journal is an actual book in which I engage in the process of journalling and yes, in many ways it is a like a daily catch up with a good friend.

What I Write

  • The events of yesterday
  • How I am feeling today (emotionally)
  • What I am grateful for
  • What I am challenged with
  • My prayers for the day
  • My dreams, goals and plans
  • Concepts, reflections, learning’s, reframing events and challenges

The Benefits

  • I gain a sense of how my yesterdays (the choices and responses to events) are creating my todays
  • Tunes me in to myself, assisting in understanding the authentic me
  • Hones me in to the deep seated causes that are affecting me emotionally – both the highs and lows
  • Helps me see perceived negative events in a positive light (the art of re-framing)
  • Promotes my spiritual journey
  • Broader perspective on time periods. I might read the last month, the last quarter or a period of time from many years ago where I recall I was challenged with something similar or was progressing through a similar stage of life.
  • Assists in celebrating my personal growth and wins
  • Increased gratitude for my life and what it consists of

My friend Journal is willing to be your friend to. She is available for purchase at any stationary outlet. My Journal these days is a moleskin with blank pages. I use a quality pen to write with. I generally write first thing in the morning and always travel with her. I have found it difficult at times to consistently meet with her but as with every habit, discipline always precedes it.

I trust you find her friendship as beneficial as I have.

 

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Driving Forward While Looking Behind

November 9, 2015 11:07 pm

Attempting to move into the right hand lane I had to squeeze in between two moving vehicles. I was heading forward while looking back – being more concerned with being hit in the backside than running into the car in front. Fortunately I realised my mistake before any collision occurred but it illustrated for me how often, in our attempt to navigate our way forward, we are more concerned about what is behind.

When we get caught up in the mistakes and failures of the past it can hinder us from truly moving forward. We opt for perfection instead of success; safety instead of risk; locking in rather than looking up.

Gazing back has one benefit. To learn what we did well and what we could have done better. Using this historical resource  assists us in our forward journey, providing us with the wisdom to build upon our strengths, make better choices thus navigating the road ahead more effectively.

The continual looking back while trying to move forward both slows down forward momentum and clouds judgement. Better to drive looking into the future than living in the fear of being run up from behind.

 

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Increasing Employee Engagement and Productivity

November 1, 2015 11:08 am

Most companies and organisations desire increased employee engagement and productivity yet, given the busyness and full schedules of management employees often feel left in the dark and uncared for. They are unsure whether their contribution is valued. Team meetings are helpful and necessary but here is another activity that is largely neglected – that being the taking interest in, and thanking employees at an individual level.

A business owner I was coaching, frequently told me how highly they valued their senior office administrator. She (the administrator) asked me one day, “am I doing a good job as I don’t get any feedback?” That is one of the many employees that have asked me the same question over the years. While the owner valued the person and their contribution highly, they had neglected to communicate it personally.

It doesn’t take much. To stop briefly. Look at someone and say “thank you for what you do here. It really does makes a difference.”

 

 

 

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The Gift Behind The Challenge

October 28, 2015 12:33 am

Often, when confronted with challenges and tough times – in our personal worlds, our careers, our businesses, we tend to see them as singular events. Something simply to overcome, not yielded to but pushed through.

Another, perhaps more beneficial approach to these times is to see them in a broader way that allows us to look for the potential gift in the circumstances that are presenting themselves.

For example, if we are faced with a cash flow crisis, rather than ranting and raving, getting depressed and yelling at the kids (I have done all of these) another approach would be to ask “What can I learn from this?” “What are the gifts contained within this situation?” The gifts in the cash flow crunch might be:

  • You see the lack of current financial management that you hadn’t see prior
  • The realisation of too many overheads
  • Some employees are not producing effectively
  • Discovery of new markets and clients
  • Greater emphasis  on Creativity and Innovation

I think the other key here is to step back and ask “What can I learn from this?” These learnings are also the gift.

Tough times if approached in this manner can lead us into new disciplines and discoveries that we had not known existed in our worlds before they arrived. We experience life from death; gain from loss; resilience from challenge; clarity from uncertainty.

Look for the gift behind the challenge. You never know what you will find unless you have a peek around the corner.

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Purpose and Intrinsic Motivation

October 6, 2015 1:57 am

All of us have been designed to have a purpose that contributes beyond the regions of ourselves.

Individual Purpose
Understanding ourselves and our individual team members in terms of purpose and then linking our daily work activities to this purpose creates a powerful intrinsic motivation. One persons purpose might simply be to provide for their family and raise them in a loving environment. The person who sits beside them might be driven to free children from sex slavery in Cambodia. Taking the time to understand each of our employees greater purpose, demonstrating interest and belief in these will go a long way to increasing highly engaged, performing staff.

Corporate Purpose
The other key here is helping your team see the greater reason for your business/organisation. You’ve no doubt come across the story of the Three Bricklayers. When the first one was asked what he was doing he simply stated the task outlined for him – “I’m laying bricks.” The second when asked the same question said “I’m putting up a wall.” The final bricklayer declared proudly “I’m building a cathedral.”

What are you building? What is your cathedral? What is the greater purpose for your life, your company? If you can unravel this and then instil it into your companies mission and values, it will help a greater number of team members jump on board with where you are going. It will also help the wrong people jump off.

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The Substance of Desire

August 31, 2015 1:57 am

I heard a public speaker recently state that in order for us to be successful we need to have goals and behind those goals sits the desire for their accomplishment. While this is correct it is the strength of desire that is the critical component.

Here is a case in point…

An annual world wide activity is the New Year’s resolution. We might have a desire to lose weight , set a goal and then on January 1 we launch into the resolution. Sure enough, a week or so later we have generally given up, postponing it till 358 days time. We’ve set a goal from the desire to lose weight, acted and set about making the change but alas – failure.

What is missing here is the substance of desire. Desire levels range from high to low. I can desire many things…to save money, visit New York, lose weight, give up smoking, eat vegetables and the like. It is the weight of this desire, the intensity of it that guarantees the success or failure of accomplishment.

All of us live according to the hierarchy of our values in that our lives reflect that which we value. If I place a high value on intellectual prowess, my time, thoughts,  energy and money will go towards increasing my personal capacity in this area. I am motivated toward intellectual competency because I value it highly, demonstrating the fire of passion and motivation for achievement. The adverse is also true. The lower the value the lower the desire and subsequent motivation. The strength of desire feeds motivation.

So, goals on their own are not enough but a good start. Simply setting a goal out of desire for change is not enough. It must have the intensity of desire behind it. The greater the desire the more likely we will fulfil the goal.

Link your goals to your highest values, feed the fire of desire and success is much more likely to come your way.

 

 

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The Sparrow

August 26, 2015 8:23 pm

Enjoying a late afternoon drink on the balcony of an elegant hotel there began a fight in front of me. Six sparrows were beating up on the smallest one. I immediately thought “why doesn’t he just fly away and avoid the pain?” Then it hit me. That’s what many of us do when pain comes into our life. Our initial instinct is often flight mode. Yes, the sparrow would have initially escaped the pain but the pain surely would have followed. When he got to his new destination there would have been another six birds to peck him endlessly. He was still a weak bird and pain – flight – pain – flight would have cycled endlessly.

But, if on the other hand he became a stronger bird he would have ended the cycle.

Best to allow times of pain, grief, challenge, chaos, unsurety and the many other bombs that life throws our way – to become a stronger person rather than the one who flies away, never learning, never growing.

And this is what makes a person a better person.  A manager a better manager. A business owner a better leader.

Become strong in the midst of challenge or keep flying and remain weak? Choice is ours but I would suggest the clipping of our wings at different times would serve us well.

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A Journey Into Authenticity

August 24, 2015 7:48 am

This week I am presenting a keynote speech at a national conference on the subject of Authentic Leadership. In my preparation  I realised that authentic leadership is about the authenticity of the leader as a person, not their role. This then led me to ask, “what then is an authentic person?”

Firstly, I looked at who I am. My values, skills, gifts and talents; wisdom gained; my history; behaviours; personality; self image; beliefs; goals; motivations, general traits; interests and passions etc.

I then made a list of all my actions that were incongruent with who I am, asking myself the question “is what I do aligned with who I am?” Very enlightening.

The last area I considered was “what are the stretch areas that take me beyond my authentic self.” These aren’t necessarily bad things but they do indicate the level of stretch required as a leader. For example, if I am a naturally assertive, driven, entrepreneurial individual and I am miserable in my data entry role at work, it is highly likely that my role is not congruent with who I am. Likewise, if one of my highest values is peacefulness yet all I seem to do at work is manage conflict then again, that can be a stretch.

When we live inauthentically we tend to live in a state of internal conflict and angst due to our actions not being in sync with our core person – our authentic self. Living out of the authentic self is a freeing experience and one worth taking time to discover. It will assist you in living with yourself, understanding your history more fully, ascertaining best career choices, the quality of your relationships with colleagues, friends and significant other and help you not to be a pain in the a$#^e to those you work with or who are closest to you.

I created an Authenticity-Congruency Table for the keynote which you are welcome to download here for your own journey into greater self awareness.

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Winter

August 15, 2015 2:05 am

Walking through the Melbourne Botanic Gardens today there was a beauty in the barrenness. Few people were out; cold and damp underfoot; the trees bare. Yet there was something therapeutic and restful about it. The vegetation on its own holidays from its busy seasons of spring and summer.

As I reflected on this I realised that trees cannot force growth. They have their growth seasons and their barren seasons. In winter they simply experience a dormancy that is exactly what nature intended.

All of us experience the winter seasons. Previous business growth slows; our children move out of home; financial upheaval; an illness takes us into a space we have not been before; the death of a loved one; the loss of someone special . Sometimes we create our own winters, sometimes they come in from left field.

If you are in a winter season do as the trees do. Relax in the current state of play. Just as trees must adapt in order to survive the change of season so too we need to adapt – to slow down and to cease from incessant and stress building activity. It’s a time of being kind to yourself and to your loved ones. Build up staff morale; do some reflective and personal development work; look at your overall business efficiencies while exploring new and creative opportunities – all the time being aware that sometimes, winter must takes its course.

We cannot force growth but we do take heart – spring is just around the corner.

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Control

August 9, 2015 9:03 am

Watching my daughter play volleyball yesterday I was impressed by the teams ability to control the ball. Whether it was a fast incoming serve, an error made that they had to correct or simply the state of play, they were always seeking to bring the ball under control. The benefit… when they slowed the ball down, they were better able to position for the final hit (or spike as referred to in volleyball terms).

In business and indeed in life, we all encounter various forms of chaos and incomings – whether self made or from external sources. The challenge is to slow the state of play. Step back, gain control and then…spike.

The other interesting observation I made was that when they didn’t land that killer shot or when an error was made from one of the team, they encouraged the team member and then immediately refocused on the next play.

It wasn’t the errors and chaos that mattered, it was control. They went on to win the set.

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Focus

July 28, 2015 2:29 am

Specific focus creates results. Little or no focus sends us spinning in circles – lots of dust no traction.

From time to time it seems that even the best lose their way. One of the things I have found useful when my world starts to spin and the previous clarity and momentum is replaced by a hazy sideways lilt, I go back to basics.

  • xx phone calls per day
  • one blog per week
  • one newsletter per month
  • two new appointments per week
  • reading one chapter per day of xx

You get the drift.

Create your own list of fundamentals that you can return to when your world starts to spin. The dust will settle and you’ll be back on the straight focused path again within no time.

 

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I’m Too Busy

July 2, 2015 8:40 pm

At various times in our work we find ourselves running at or close to personal capacity. Things are going well but we start to get the speed wobbles. We can either back off or push forward. Pushing forward is counter-intuitive. Our natural reaction is to say NO to more work in the guise of looking after our health, maintaining quality and so forth.

If you’re given to growth and development here are a few things you can implement:

  • Planning and Scheduling. Take time at the start of every day and every week to plan your time and schedule priority items accordingly.
  • Delegate. Whether you’re a manager or business owner, have 1000 staff or it’s just yourself ask the question “who else can do this?” (Sole traders can effectively outsource numbers of tasks that aren’t required to be completed by them).
  • Work with a sense of urgency. Increase your speed of completion.
  • Let go of perfection. Some things demand 100% e.g. workplace safety, but some things can be completed to 80%+. They might not be perfect but close enough. Know what they are and work accordingly.
  • Ascertain what is contributing to your goals and what activities need to go by the wayside. We often do things that account for very little.
  • Conduct stand up meetings instead of sit ins where there is a light agenda
  • Plan in me time. Set a time in the diary of when you will leave the office daily. Schedule at least a 24 hour block of weekly R&R time and then work all else around it.

Becoming more efficient ourselves always should be completed prior to hiring more staff or outsourcing to others. We can be quite amazing if we allow ourselves to use the push of busyness to pull us into efficiency.

 

 

 

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The Dark Days Of Going Nowhere

June 25, 2015 10:53 pm

Many achievers experience seasons in their life when days become dark. The clouds of discouragement or depression roll in. For some it can be the occasional day, for others weeks and months of dark days all seemingly blending together. We awake with a low mood which affects our mind and subsequent activity or, our mind dwells on negativity which in turn decreases our mood. The power to shift mood, among other things lies within the mind. Here are two things you can do to assist in mood elevation.

When you feel like you are not achieving anything, list your accomplishments as you progress through the day. From “called my daughter” to “finalised the million dollar project to ABC Pty Ltd.” Large or small keep a list of them. Then review them at days end and then again at weeks end. Just before you go to sleep, jot down three things that you are grateful for from the day.

Giving ourselves credit for even the smallest things helps turn darkness into light.

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Virgin Airlines – When A Gift Outweighs A Mistake

June 18, 2015 5:52 am

On a flight yesterday from Perth to Melbourne I requested headphones from two separate attendants. Both forgot. I fell asleep, missed my meal and then requested it upon waking – again forgotten.

One of the attendants who I had requested the headphones from saw me and profusely apologised for the neglect, stated a legitimate reason why she and the other girl had forgotten and promptly brought me the headphones. Five minutes later a complimentary cheese platter arrived.

We all make mistakes. That’s part of being human. But the larger mistake is when we try and cover up errors with excuses and do nothing to compensate.

Virgin Airlines get it right 99% of the time. This was the other 1% – a genuine human error. The authentic apology and the compensatory gift restored the disappointment.

We would do well to do the same in our businesses.

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Short Term Lies Costing Long Term Customers

June 10, 2015 3:08 am

A woman walks into a clothing boutique, tries on a dress that looks awful on her. “That suits you perfectly,” chimes in the shop assistant. Quick exit takes place from that store. The woman walks around the corner, tries on another dress that again makes her feel dismal. “Yes, not the most suitable for you but try these few on. I think they might be more what you’re after” says the store assistant. After a number of conversations, fittings and deliberations the woman settles on an outfit that makes her feel wonderful. As the sale comes to a close the woman says to the assistant “you know, you have been the most helpful person I have ever encountered in my clothing choices. You will definitely see me again.”

Diplomatic truth with some additional time taken results in very satisfied customers that will return over and over again.

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Values and Strengths

May 28, 2015 7:38 am

Values are all about what we prefer in life and the priority of those preferences. Highly successful people tend to have a good understanding of why they do certain things and what drives them. They also understand their strengths and seek to build on those.

Understanding our highest values and strengths along with aligned activity will help keep us off remote paths, moving forward and creating the life we so desire to live.

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Performance Ownership

May 22, 2015 3:41 am

When working to increase the performance of an employee it is never a case of one size fits all. Individual improvement is gained by working at the individual level, helping to establish personal performance ownership. Understanding the person – their values, motivators and passions will assist in directing the improvement initiatives accordingly. Helping an employee ‘own’ the improvements you want to see, must start with the person fully embracing the change.

For upward lifts in productivity, intrinsic motivation is far better than extrinsic. The former they own, the latter they merely comply with.

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Rest – Some tips on getting the refreshment you need.

May 15, 2015 1:55 am

Coming into a weekend after a busy week, and then with places to go and people to see in the next two days can often hinder the rest that our bodies and minds need to replenish. Here are some thoughts for getting the refreshment you need.

  • Take time on Friday afternoon wherever possible to give some thought to your weekend. Tidy your desk and deal with anything that will potentially aggravate you over the weekend. When you leave your office, purposefully close the door on busyness and open the door to rest
  • Know your particular rest requirements. If it’s alone time in your cave or kitchen; reading; sport; catching up with people and so forth, ensure that is part of your rest time
  • Plan your weekend ahead of time and don’t overload it. If I am having dinner with people I will only do that once on a weekend. As per the above point, I need alone time so I purposefully limit people time
  • Do something that’s fun and inspires you. For me it is going to see live music, dancing late and drinking some choice wine. For each it is different
  • If you live with others, plan the weekend together. You might like spontaneity but too much of it can make one exhausted
  • Make sure Monday is also planned so that your head can be clear throughout the weekend as much as possible. When you hit the office on a Monday you know exactly what is ahead of you

Enjoy your weekend. I know I will. I might even meet you on the dance floor.

 

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The Shadow of the Shoulds

May 4, 2015 10:28 pm

“I should do this.”

“I ought to do that.”

“I need to be better.”

“What will they think?”

“I’m a failure.”

We are too often driven by the external voices of the shoulds. Others expectations, examples set by role models, obligations. Then, if we are the perfectionist type, we never quite get there and beat the crap out of ourselves through negative self talk. Ever striving – never making it.

On the other hand, running free – motivated from within not from without is a genuinely free place to live.

One allows us the freedom to try and fail, ever increasing in our progress. The other binds us up; hinders advancement and creates unease and unhappiness. One is about self motivation – living intrinsically out of who we are. The other is living to others expectations which can include the perfectionist within.

Much better to run in the clear light of day than in the shadows of the shoulds.

 

 

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Turning Pain into Purpose

April 19, 2015 6:18 am

I have just come from meeting with my daughter who was expressing her passion for helping others deal with mental health issues. She showed me some of the areas she was wanting to develop so as to contribute to the healing of others. This has come from the pain that over time she has been dealing with step by step.

A friend of mine some years back survived a near fatal car accident. She has gone on to help countless others from her experience.

The skills and talents we have developed; the environments we have been exposed to; the jobs we have held; the relationships in which we have experienced pleasure or pain; the agonising situations we have encountered and then gone on to defeat (or are still defeating.) All of these and more make up the person we are today.

Often, we feel listless in life’s journey. Upon closer inspection we see that our yesterdays can often point to the direction of our tomorrows. Whether we have lived a predominately painful or pleasurable life, look to yesterday to ascertain what tomorrow might have in store. There may just be purpose in the pain.

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Selling Lessons From a Drunk

April 16, 2015 11:19 pm

Last night a very drunk man walked up to me and began requesting I provide him with something. The manager of the restaurant I was dining at came and told him to leave while he was trying to tell me what it was he wanted. It struck me afterwards. This man was hungry. I’m not sure whether for food, alcohol or cigarettes but his hunger drove him to request I part with something of mine.

One of the things that set apart those who are successful in sales is hunger. Hunger makes us go hunting. Hunger helps us push through the fear of rejection. Hunger creates an urgency to get out on the pavement and find customers that need and want our services. If we get told to go away by one prospect there is always another around the corner.

Sales people without hunger are generally mediocre, demonstrate low energy and under perform. Hungry sales people are up and about early, have planned their day  with the focus on prospecting, making appointments and making sales. Everything else is shifted to the sidelines.

Hunger. One trait that sets the successful apart.

 

 

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If It’s Not Raining…It’s Hailing

April 12, 2015 7:06 am

Speaking to a client of mine this morning, the city in which they live recently got smashed by a huge hail storm. The requests that are coming in for repair work are within their scope of works but not their bread and butter business. My client mentioned that this opportunity has the potential of  providing 12 -18 months work and while looking promising, they are cautious about not undermining their current business and customers. A genuine concern.

Here are some questions to ask when faced with opportunities that arrive but are outside of your current work.

  • Does this opportunity sit within your capacity, skill set, strengths etc?
  • How can you take full advantage of this AND build your current business at the same time?
  • What are the downsides and how can you mitigate associated risk?
  • What do you need to put in place to capitalise fully on the opportunity? eg. Short term funding, recruitment and/or allocation of existing people to the different departments.
  • What is the expected duration of this opportunity and how will you survive it in terms of personal energy, cash flow demands, staffing and so forth?

Taking full advantage of opportunities that come our way and that exist within our strengths and skill sets can take business and organisations to a whole new level. Opportunities can either find us or we find them. We often think of hail storms as a negative which in many cases they are. But, the astute business owner knows that there are sunny skies above the threatening storms. Rain is great, hail can sometimes be better – just depends on how you look at it.

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Life Lessons From The Vineyard

April 7, 2015 1:23 am

A visit to Adrian Tobin’s Ballandean Winery on the weekend reminded me of the old adage less is more. As Adrian passionately spoke of his quest to create world class wines he mentioned the importance of cutting off the excess bunches to reduce the yield in order to enhance quality.

As I was tasting the wine I reflected on how we, like a vine, end up with excess in our lives -how thinly we spread ourselves in the business of life. We have a plethora of life bunches to attend to, from family demands, work demands, social events, entrepreneurial initiatives and the like. And then, if that’s not enough we fill our remaining time with that ubiquitous technology that is meant to make life easier.

What are the bunches you need to cut off your life vine in order to promote quality – in your work, relationships, goals and ambitions? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? Identify what you want then reduce or discard everything that doesn’t contribute. That way, you stand a great chance of being world class.

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The Soft Sands of Procrastination

April 1, 2015 2:51 am

Procrastination means simply to defer action. Some actions are good to defer, some are not.  The actions that are not good to defer are those that have a potential negative impact and which continually resurface in our minds, gradually affecting our emotional state. Having that hard conversation with your significant other, completing the tax returns, returning a call from an unsatisfied customer, conducting a much needed performance review of a senior manager who has screwed up and so forth.

The interesting thing about deferring these kind of actions is the weight they generate in our psyche. “I’ll do it later” then causes the action to frequently resurface in our minds. Not dealt with we continue to use the words, “should,” “one day,” “I’ll get to it.” These words and phrases begin to create an emotional drag, a success drag as I like to call it. The drag prevents us from hundred percent focus on the truly important things and while ever we continue to procrastinate our journey is akin to walking in soft sand. It’s hard work, saps our energy and stops us moving at a fast rate of knots. Here is a sequence for countering procrastination:

Step 1. Do it early and do it now
Step 2. Refer to point 1

I like to do the challenging actions first thing in the day. If that’s not possible for some reason I schedule it in my diary. I will also have someone hold me accountable for that action if I think I am going to defer it.

Do it early, do it now. That way, you won’t be walking in the soft sands of procrastination but running on the solid sands of success  whilst enjoying the ocean lapping at your feet.

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Perfect Stagnation

March 26, 2015 10:45 pm

Attending my second ever Salsa dance lesson last night I got caught up in wanting to perfect the dance. Instead of taking the basics and getting straight out on the floor to practise, I was unsure, slightly afraid and ….stagnate on the sidelines. My dance instructor last year repeatedly told me “you think too much.” I was caught in the perfection trap. So, last night after a bit of deliberation I made the decision to get out there, make lots of mistakes (which I did) but slowly started to get the steps and …. I had fun.

Someone said “80% out the door is better than 100% in the draw.” My mentor from the US  Alan Weiss often says “It’s about success not perfection.”

What I have found in business as well as in other pursuits is that practice does indeed make perfect. If you say “I am hopeless at marketing” then guess what, you will be. But if on the other hand you know you can at least talk to people then start by opening your mouth, communicate how great your team is, your products and services are, your work quality and so forth. Then, perfect along the way.

Starting with what you’ve got, which might be as simple as a few sentences  in the marketing example above, or in my case a few basic steps – is enough to get anyone going. Take what you know out onto the floor and practice.  That way you won’t be standing at the bar stagnating in your quest for perfection whilst watching everyone else have fun and succeeding.

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“I Will Just Grab Him”

March 19, 2015 10:09 pm

I called the office of a business owner who I know well. Upon my request for the owner the receptionist (male) said “I’ll just go grab him.” Now, being the visual person that I am,  my mind started up its visions of  the grabbing. When the owner picked up the call the brief conversation went as follows…

Owner: “Hi Ray.”
Me: “How did that feel?”
Owner: “What do you mean?”
Me : “Your receptionist said they were going to grab you.”
Owner: (not much to say but laughed sheepishly)

Language is important. Whether it might be the ever recurring “not a problem” by a well meaning assistant; addressing a table of diners as “yous”; the professional services receptionist dropping the ‘f’ bomb or the very visual “I’ll grab him” (all of which I’ve heard) – training our staff and ourselves the art of language etiquette is essential, both in personal and corporate life. People tend to respect more highly those who are well spoken and versed in language correctness while also saving them unnecessary mind replays of grabbing.

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High Workplace Engagement

March 10, 2015 1:33 am

I have finished an article on Workplace engagement and thought I’d share some thoughts here for business owners and managers on how to create a culture where engagement can thrive.

  • Make the environment a fun and enjoyable place to be
  • Recognise and reward staff achievement
  • Set the performance bar high and work with your people for the achievement of such
  • Create an advancement path providing training opportunities, stretch targets, small project responsibility – assisting them to be all that they can be
  • Listen to your employees asking for their improvement suggestions and actioning as appropriate
  • Take an active interest in your people seeking to understand their internal drivers and motivators and working with them accordingly
  • Express how much you value their contribution
  • Conduct performance reviews on a regular basis. I would suggest quarterly. These need to be mutually involved discussions and even held over lunch for key people
  • If you incentivise, try to tailor it to the individuals internal motivators or to team performance
  • Get consistency in team meetings sharing your vision, company values and goals
  • Lead with transparency, openness and honesty
  • Eat together. This is both one of my observations in my consulting work and also one of the factors in the Australian Workplace Awards. Those who engage in social activities particularly around food tend to demonstrate higher engagement than those who don’t.
  • Provide some level of autonomy for workers with other benefits beside financial considerations. These might be the opportunity to work from home a couple of days a week, moving toward performance based work practices as opposed to purely time based, flexible hours etc.
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The Work Of Dreaming

March 6, 2015 3:37 am

Think back to when you were a child. What were the things you dreamed about? As we’ve grown up the dreams tend to get knocked out of us. Who do you think you are? You’re hopeless at doing that? You won’t amount to anything? Combine that with repeated failures and setbacks, financial and relational difficulties with the general challenges life brings and thus our dreams and aspirations often wither. We give up, stop trying and die young.

We all have the opportunity to create a great life. Ask yourself…

  • What do I want to do?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What do I want to be remembered for?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What new skills do I want to learn?
  • If I could do anything, become anyone what would it be?
  • In order to pursue the above, what do I need to start implementing from today?

As Ashley Montagu wisely said, “Die young as late as possible.” Go back to the art of dreaming. It might just work for you.

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What Song Are You Playing?

February 25, 2015 9:42 pm

I happened to be staying in a hotel a few weeks back near the parade start for the Giants Street Theatre performance in Perth. As they moved from the park to the street an accompanying band was playing a tune on the following flat bed truck. Ever since that day, the tune comes back into my head two to three times a week, reminding me of the event. The melodic hook in the song, hooked me.

What song is your business playing? What is the tune that lodges in the head of your customers and prospects? Is it one that evokes pleasant memories of customer service, quality products, workmanship and service – so much so that they will return for future business and tell their friends? Or is it simply a banal tune with no distinction, no hook?

Front of mind is better than out of mind. Which song are you playing?

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Habit from Discipline

February 15, 2015 11:35 pm

Disciplined actions practised consistently over time become habits.

  • Don’t try and change your life or business all at once.
  • Implement one thing at a time. A friend of mine has implemented reading and journalling 30 minutes a day. She hasn’t changed anything else in her life. The discipline is becoming consistent and now almost a habit
  • If you fall off the wagon, jump back on the earliest you can
  • Don’t beat the crap out of yourself if you fail. You will only bruise yourself and make it harder to get back on track
  • Be aware that if you are failing it means you are trying something new and even if slowly, you are moving forward
  • Take each month to implement something new – that gives you 30 days for discipline to become habit

Create Your Future – Business Strategy and Planning Workshop (now with teleconference option) – Tuesday Feb 24th, 2015. Click here for details

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When to Initiate Change

February 4, 2015 1:46 am

If the return on investment is strong enough, thought should be given to the implementation of change initiatives as soon as possible. Every day you delay is another day of missed benefits. Whether that be $500 per day or $1,000,000 per day; of increased customer satisfaction or the current decline; of promoting your new product or allowing your competition the time to get ahead of you; of allowing toxic personnel to drag the organisation down or creating a great work place culture.  Choice is yours but if the value is demonstrated, the sooner you act the better off you will be.

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Monday Morning Fog

February 1, 2015 1:45 am

Arriving at your desk on Monday morning you check your calendar for the weeks agenda. You look at the accruing paperwork spread across your desk and decide very quickly its coffee time. A few ‘quick chats’ to work colleagues (who are very happy to chat by the way), a wander through the days paper, you then attempt to settle in at your desk. Emails to respond to, a back up of phone messages to return, the customer complaint you procrastinated on last week and so it goes. A foggy Monday morning. Little clarity, a slow start, pessimistic gloominess.

The owner and managers of the business next door, arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Each had a brief weekend catch up as they got coffee and headed straight to their desks. All that was waiting for them was the first action item on their days agenda – the first of many purely focused on making this months performance goals. For this company it is mandatory that everyone spend the last couple of hours on Friday planning the week ahead, returning all calls and emails and clearing their desks. For them, Monday morning is all about activity that counts, optimistic clarity, jumping quickly onto last weeks momentum and starting the week fast.

Welcome to Monday. Foggy or clear skies? The forecast was written on Friday afternoon.

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Guilty Afternoons

January 28, 2015 11:03 pm

Many business owners struggle with the guilt associated with finishing their work by early afternoon and feel they have to plough on till sundown to massage away their shame. Those whose energy is at its peak in the morning often run flat after lunch. Or those who fire up in the afternoon feel guilty in the morning.

Two things that may help…

1. Manage your energy not your time.
Living in a strong 9-5 employee dominated culture we have grown up with the expectation that these should be the hours of business owners. We run to the minutes of time rather than the rhythm of our energy. Focus on energy management not time management. If you hit your peak in the afternoon then start the day a little later. The inverse also applies.

2. Become outcomes oriented rather than time oriented.
Instead of scheduling the day in its entirety, list the outcomes you want to achieve for that day. If you finish at 2pm, create another list of things that are more in the fun and energy giving category. This might be going to the gym, working on your hobby, meeting with friends. It could also be a piece of business development that you are tinkering with.

These can serve also as rewards. Often I will stop around 2pm when my energy is dwindling or I’ve met my goals for the day. My life giver is heading to a favourite cafe to read the financial papers and have coffee. This simple activity recharges me.

Manage your energy around the daily outcomes you want to achieve. Replace the guilty afternoons with a rewarded afternoon. After all, who says that 9-5 should be adhered to by everyone. Maybe its just those who feel guilty!!!

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Stripping Down

January 27, 2015 12:16 am

If you want significant results in your business, strip down. What are the essentials that will drive results? Then, what are the things that will impede these results?

An athlete doesn’t wear long pants and a jacket when competing.
A race car is stripped down to the bare essentials to allow it maximum speed.

Business is no different.

What results do you want to achieve? What are the potential obstacles and hindrances? Deal with the impediments and you will drive faster, the outcomes will be greater.

Identify the bare essentials. Then, strip down – foot down – go hard!

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A Dog Of A Receptionist

January 19, 2015 9:41 pm

After posting a blog last week about the importance of having the right people in roles that interface with the customer I paid a visit to a local business. I received one of the best greetings from the receptionist I’ve experienced in recent times.And she was a real dog…a Labrador to be precise. As soon as I walked in the door she came up to me, welcomed me, expressed gratitude and excitement at my presence. Given that the person I was waiting for was on the phone she kept me engaged, continued expressed interest and of course expected my full attention and nothing less.

If I had the choice between the ‘welcome’ from a grumpy, disinterested, half hearted receptionist or a friendly expressive Labrador I think I would choose the latter.

 

 

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Hospitality Front Lines

January 15, 2015 11:48 pm

I am constantly amazed by the number of people – whether that be waiters, attendants, check in personnel, concierge, customer services representatives, sales people, account managers etc. that are not good with people. That is, they are more focused on the task at hand than the person. They take the order, retrieve the bags, park the car and deliver ones drinks in a mechanical fashion devoid of personality. The challenges in hospitality are great enough without the addition of those who don’t know how or dislike interacting with their customers. Owners and managers of these establishments would do well in learning how to hire appropriately. Customers return when they are engaged with and cared for in a personal way. Those without great people skills are often fantastic in operational areas and those great with people should be on the front line.

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Thin Air Marketing

January 12, 2015 11:32 pm

There was a company that approached their marketing endeavours in an ad hoc fashion. They spent tens of thousands of dollars every year getting their message out, with one of their strategies being radio advertising. I am not picking on this form of advertising here but merely pointing out some issues…

  • Two of the ads promoted an area of their business that they were long known for in their town but…they disliked doing  that type of work and it made the least amount of profit
  • The other two ads were probably 50% near the mark of their core business
  • The radio company had never bothered to get a true understanding of their business and what they really wanted to promote
  • The radio company wrote ads more from a historical perspective of the company than its current direction
  • Because they weren’t analysing the response rate, weeks had gone by without a single call from the advertisements

The disconnect here, between the core business and its profit drivers,  and the corresponding advertising is strikingly apparent. When a company doesn’t have that deep understanding of who they are and where they make their money, and then promote their services in a shotgun, ad hoc approach, the chances of success are very limited. Combine this with no analysis of marketing strategies and corresponding enquiries and you’ve got good money going down the drain (or into thin air in this case).

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Happy New Year

January 6, 2015 6:59 am

Happy New Year!

The changeover period tends to lend itself quite naturally to looking ahead, thinking, creating plans and then pushing the action buttons. In my recent newsletter I have written about optimism balanced by realism. I find that the two are perfect partners when it comes to business growth. Facing and then countering market conditions, changing economics, increased competition, challenging staff, low cash flow and the like yet holding an unremitting optimism is one of the things that sets the resilient and successful apart.

I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

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