When Crap Rains On Your Best Laid Plans

December 10, 2019 11:39 am

I read a story about a staff get together last week at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. As the physiotherapists were meeting they heard a gurgling noise above. To their surprise, the ceiling ended up caving in, dumping a load of raw sewage on them, and all due to a plumbing contractor whacking the wrong pipe causing it to burst. There was no escaping it.

And sometimes, organisational life and leadership are like that.

We create ordered, clean and efficient operating methods and workplace environments; clarify strategy, create our plans and milestones, focusing forward on the achievement of such. But then, out of nowhere, shit rains from the sky. In some cases, we couldn’t have planned for it but in other cases, if we had taken some time for “peripheral risk/threat identification” we just might have been able to completely avoid it or at least mitigate its potential impact.

In your thinking and forecasting for 2020 and the decade to come, ask yourself and your leadership team, “what shit could possibly come our way this year?” and then, put some risk mitigation and annulment plans in place.

And, if you experienced an unpleasant “out of the blue” dumping on you this past year, do as the medical team did. Clean up the broader mess but ensure you scrub it off yourself. The cleaner you are and the freer you are of past dumpings the more you will be able to lead effectively and confidently move into the New Year.

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Focus. A Fresh Set of Eyes

October 13, 2019 5:32 pm

A fresh set of eyes

I recently had an eye test completed and subsequently followed through on the specialist’s recommendation to purchase glasses. Little had I realised that over time, I had slowly become accustomed to blurred vision. Now, with a fresh set of “eyes,” things that were unclear and hazy have become sharp and distinct.

At different times in our personal worlds, our careers and business endeavours, the focus that was once crystal clear becomes a little muddied. We find ourselves so deep in the trenches that all we see are the trench walls, losing sight of what is beyond. We find ourselves going through passionless motions that once brought us life.

If you find yourself doing that daily trench trudge make a move to jump up on top. Some things that might be helpful are:

  • A change of routine;
  • Meet with some inspirational friends or colleagues;
  • Incorporating something fun into your life;
  • Pursuing something that you are curious about;
  • Taking a risk in something you’ve been delaying;
  • Hiring a coach or mentor. (I have just hired someone to coach me again from the US and 3 weeks in I can tell you it’s well worth the investment);
  • Schedule think time into your weekly schedule;
  • Get some fresh input which might include further training or reading.

A fresh set of “eyes” helps raise us from the footslog of the trench to the freedom of the mountain. And often, it is just the simple things that help gain that shift.

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The Nests of Spring

September 4, 2019 5:58 pm

bird-nest-birth-blue-158734

A bird flew onto the fence this morning with a beak full of straw, momentarily resting on its flight path to building a nest for a new family.

Nests represent a supportive structure for new life.

Many of the people and organisations I have consulted to have had the smarts to anticipate upcoming changes to their business and diligently prepared “the nest” for growth. Or, if they have been suddenly inundated with new work, the supportive structure gets built at a fast rate while growth is in progress.

This has often meant:

  • ensuring the right people are in the right places and all understanding exactly what they are to do and the outputs they are responsible for;
  • giving thought to, and creating the workplace culture they desire;
  • process flows are streamlined with waste eradicated and throughputs maximised;
  • procedural documentation is created or refined;
  • key performance indicators are thought through and established with regular reviews and accountability measures enacted;
  • financial budgets and cashflows are prepared;
  • marketing and sales opportunities are carefully inspected, planned and targeted;
  • leadership are more fully equipped; people are trained and coached.

These are but some of the areas that make up the supportive organisational nest structure and whilst growth can be an exhilarating experience, the lack of structure can see declines take place at a depressing rate.

If you are desiring to hatch the new growth of spring, or, are already experiencing the fruitful plenty of summer, take time to purposefully and strategically work on the nest. It will serve you, your people, your customers and stakeholders incredibly well if you do.

PS. You might like to review the points above and give yourself a score out of 10 for each. Then, review the lowest 3, and begin lifting these to a satisfactory level initially. Also ask yourself the question, “what one, of these three, that if worked on will have a peripheral effect on the others?” If you would like help with any of this, feel free to reach out. 

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Losing and Regaining the Edge of Expertise

July 23, 2019 6:30 pm

I have always been intrigued at how quickly we can lose our expertise edge. I have found over time that in some areas I have improved rapidly, gaining new levels of mastery. Then, instead of continuing to push further into new and higher levels of mastery, I became comfortable, lost my edge and plateaued. My development in dancing provides a good example.

A number of years ago, I wanted to dance confidently in a social setting. I embarked on six months of rigorous ballroom lessons with an instructor and improved immensely to the point where I could get on any dance floor and do a reasonable job of it (or at least that was my perception).  Once I had reached this level, I stopped taking lessons, entered a skill decline to a position I’ve termed the comfort plateau. I still have a blast dancing but not with the growing proficiency I had been developing previously. The following graphic demonstrates the learning curve and subsequent decline.

Losing the edge of expertise
Skills Decline and Plateau

Consider the following people, leadership and organisation examples. There’s…

  • David, who in the early years of learning his particular career-skills, grew in knowledge and expertise, yet did not notice how over the years his learning first slowed and then stopped entirely. Now, the world has moved on and he hasn’t kept pace with younger team members who are demonstrating more expertise after three years than after his thirty years of experience.
  • Smith and Co. Insurance Services, who sent their managers to the Understanding Personalities and Communications Course. Positive shifts were noticeable early on and the vibe in the office lifted; but, they didn’t continue to support their people to embed and expand their fledgling skills via ongoing development. So while some things are slightly better, infighting, conflict and communication issues are still too frequent.
  • Fiona, who learned how to sell, found success early and then never improved her conversion ratios. She stopped intentionally learning and practising.
  • Acme and Sons, who drove their quotation win rate to 25% through analysis and a series of deliberate changes. However, their new success made them feel secure, and so they stopped the change process; now their rates have dropped to 18%. They believed they’d done enough to at least maintain the 25% ongoing.
  • Alex, who intentionally worked on his negotiating skills. However, his improvement ceased this side of a fail point he has encountered many times with master negotiators. Why is Alex willing to keep on having repeated experiences of the same problem? Then…
  • When Sandra started her business, she learned the basics of management, finance and leadership and got on with doing business. Now, she finds her organisation has plateaued over the last five years and never gets past 50 personnel. She sometimes wonders why.

All of these scenarios demonstrate that initial learning and development brought positive change but once that learning ceased, erosion began to occur.  To get your edge back and avoid declines and plateaus consider ongoing deliberate practice as a strategy.

Getting The Edge Of Expertise Back

Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool in their exceptional book Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise recommend deliberate practice as a way of focusing in on the elements of a skill—you could call these micro-skills. They suggest practising these micro-skills and using data and feedback to measure your progress towards mastery. Working in a step-by-step way, patiently analysing progress and making subtle improvements and then doing it all again will ultimately give you success. And most often, it’s impossible to do this on your own. Consider the Olympic ice skater, who just can’t figure out on their own, why they fall on a particular trick every time, but with the help of a coach can quickly identify and fix the problem.

Getting your edge back is about identifying where you have plateaued, and then deliberately engaging in intentional learning, coaching and practice. Or, as Ericsson and Pool so aptly elaborate, “Deliberate practise nearly always involves building or modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically; over time this step-by-step improvement will eventually lead to expert performance.”

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A Lesson in Not Giving Up

June 3, 2019 2:59 pm

This past Saturday night, the Brisbane Lions played Hawthorn in what is the greatest of football codes, the AFL. 😊

At the end of the first quarter, Lions were 6 while Hawthorn was 31. The Lions went on to win the game.

If the Lions had got disheartened, turned against each other, stopped believing and given up early, they would never have won. Their early “failures” played a part in their win as did their self-belief and consistent application and exertion.

All of us face periods of effort with little, if any reward, but if we give up too soon we may have been just one kick away from the game turning in our favour.

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Turning Chaos Into Order

July 5, 2018 6:12 am

The one thing that I have come to understand about turning chaos into order
is to find that one thing.

Fires v3

When you notice spot fires appear in your organisation or when fires have been burning out of control for some time ask yourself (or have your managers ask it), “what is the one thing that if corrected would cause the fires to be extinguished?” This is called locating the cause. Sometimes it is one thing, sometimes more but there is always an underlying cause.

The process goes something like this:

  • List the issues;
  • Validate them. It’s not good enough to go by gut feel;
  • Locate the cause of the matter;
  • Bring correction;
  • Monitor the outcomes;
  • Manage the ongoing changes, inputs and outputs;
  • Rinse and repeat.

At a macro level, chaos can be the result of significant and fast growth thus putting downward pressure on people, systems, cash flow and so forth. Chaos can also be the result of mismanagement.

In any case, too much chaos can be the end of successful seasons, see good people walk out the door and make for a miserable work existence.

And remember my maxim: the one thing is to find that one thing and correct it.

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Focused Momentum

April 16, 2018 6:09 pm

Focused Momentum

Focused Momentum

Hosing all the dirt and leaves off my back courtyard and down the side path this past weekend, I observed a few things.

Firstly, that in different sections of the courtyard I was pushing the dirty water uphill as the paving foundation had not been correctly prepared. 

Secondly, that when I was intentional with the focus of the water jet, everything moved forward. When I tried to take shortcuts or lost my focus the dirty water receded.

Thirdly, there was a point that became easier. It was the apex of the path. Once the mass reached that part it all started to flow downhill.

My lessons were these.
  1. Starting a process is just the beginning. Whether it is personal or organisational change, we have to continue to push things through in a forward and focused manner in order to reach the tipping point – the apex of the path. This is where, because of the prior focused work, things become easier and gain their own momentum.
  2. When pursuing change, it’s important to maintain forward focused pressure. As soon as we lose this, the old habits and the previous ways of doing things simply have a gravity about them that prevents forward flow.
  3. Focus and consistency is everything.
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Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back

April 9, 2018 4:47 pm

Get Your Life Back
Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back

Many of the business owners I work with struggle to have a life outside of work. They mostly enjoy what they do, but often long for a bit more freedom from the office.

If you find yourself longing for the outside here are ten points that I often use with business owners when helping them get their life back.

  1. Ask: What are the ingredients that (for you) contribute to living full of vitality? e.g. diet, fitness, rest, play, type of work etc.
  2. Understand what your limits are. What agendas and schedules have you living out on the edge?
  3. Clarify the outcomes you want along with some goals you know would breathe life into you. e.g. visit our beach house monthly; a fully systemised business; go to the gym 3 days per week; be home at 5 pm daily to see my children; complete a wine appreciation course.
  4. What are the key changes I need to make that will contribute to obtaining these outcomes/goals?
  5. Take time to design work pathways away from yourself. You don’t have to do it all. This often means a position description review of other employees and/or the recruitment of other key personnel in order to redistribute your tasks to them.
  6. Over time, incorporate into your schedule ONLY that which contributes to your desired outcomes.
  7. Always ask, “who else can do this?” Delegate and then follow up.
  8. Learn to say no to others agendas and yes to your own.
  9. Plan next week this week; tomorrow, today.
  10. When you leave the office, intentionally close your door as a way of mentally shifting gears to the life you are stepping into outside of the office walls.

Lifestyle is all about the style of life we are living. Managing our lives according to the outcomes we desire is a powerful way to live a fulfilled life.

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The Monkey Bars Of Life. Let Go To Move Forward

February 21, 2018 5:34 pm

Air Force Basic Military Training trainees begin the monkey bars obstacle June 30, 2010, at the confidence course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In BMT, trainees learn the critical importance of discipline, teamwork and foundational knowledge needed to succeed as an Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)

In order for us to move forward, we have to let go.

Whether it’s a relationship, a career, a business, material possessions, a previous way of operating or the multitude of other possible areas, letting go can be hard. And the longer we clasp our fingers tight around that which we are so desperately trying to keep, it hinders progress forward.

I think some of the reasons we struggle to let go are:

  • Fear of the unknown.
    “At least what I have now provides some certainty, even if I don’t like what is happening.” Letting go of the old means the ushering in of a new state and that can be downright scary.
  • Fear of losing.
    “I have two million dollars in the bank but if I follow my dream that puts all my previous hard work at risk.”
    “There is so much opportunity for us to expand our business and double our sales but in order to do that we have to invest in new systems and people and we could lose big time.”
  • Loss of our identity and status.
    We find validation and thus our identity in what we currently have or what we’ve done. We have over time, become emotionally and intrinsically linked to that state. e.g. “I’m a CEO” or “I work 80 hours a week” or, “I’ve done this for twenty years.” Driving a luxury car or earning a high income, for example, can also provide false senses of identity and status.
  • We are currently gaining something from not letting go,
  • Sentimentality.
    This particularly relates to material possessions and the difficulty we have in letting these go
  • “It’s the ‘right’ thing to stay in the current state.
    A friend asked me 5 years ago, “Why are you still in your marriage?” I responded, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” His response initiated the change: “Ray, it’s not what’s right that counts, it’s what’s best.”

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.” Jon Krakauer. Into The Wild

Sheryl Sandberg wrote: “So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

Exercise the courage to let go your grip on the current bar you’re holding and swing out to the next one in order to propel you forward. Yes, you may fall off and have to attempt it again but, if you stay stationary you will miss the sense of exhilaration and satisfaction that only letting go will give you and, you will miss the new horizons and the lands that await beyond them.

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What I Would Love To Do This Year

December 28, 2017 12:29 pm

I have never been into New Year’s resolutions. Over the years though, I have always listed my goals for the year to come and then kept them handy for ongoing review.

As I have gone on I have constantly been working on both simplifying my life and learning to allow my heart to lead, not just my mind. And this has started to play out in many areas and one of these is goal setting.

This year, I pulled up a blank word document and wrote as my heading “What I Would Love To Do This Year.” The word ‘love’ is the language of the heart. This one word transformed my goal setting from a purely cerebral ‘dry’ exercise to one where I more fully engaged in the process.

In previous years when I completed goal setting exercises, I found that upon honest review, they weren’t things I was really passionate about but more came out of good ideas, others expectations of me or those goals that if achieved, would make me appear more successful. Discarding this previous mind driven process has brought my goals to life.

At the top of a blank page, I wrote: “What I would love to do this year.” Then, I listed the seven major life areas:

  1. Family and friends
  2. Social – fun and R&R
  3. Physical
  4. Intellectual
  5. Spiritual
  6. Career
  7. Financial

Underneath each of these headings, I wrote the things that I would love to achieve this year in relation to the category.

I used to also detail the tactics for how each goal would be achieved. I would end up with multiple pages that gave me a headache.

The last couple of years I have simplified this process also. I simply review the goals; list the key things that I need to do this month to begin moving toward the particular goal and then schedule them for completion in my diary. What used to take days now takes a couple of hours and there is a genuine connection between what I wrote and my personal engagement with them.

Love is the language of the heart. Goals, that are driven by the heart and that reflect our highest values in life are much more likely to be achieved than those that just seem a good idea from the mind.

Click here for the free What I Would Love To Do This Year template

 

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Confidence. Standing Tall

December 11, 2017 12:50 pm

Standing Tall

Michael (pictured) is a bartender that serves me on a regular basis. He is 29 and somewhat smaller than me in physical stature but is incredibly tall when it comes to his confidence. He is cheeky, always happy, assertive, moves at a fast pace and is a delight to engage with. The smile on his face makes his customers smile. To reach the taps he jumps up on a stool to pour the beers and when he serves people at the tables he is the perfect height – eye level.

What I have learnt from Michael is that confidence comes from within. It is not about what we have and what we don’t have. It’s not about our strengths or our limitations. He has taught me that no matter what we are born with (or without), one can adapt and make the most of this life we’ve been given.

I stand at 185cm. Michael in some respects stands taller than I – a good example for us all.

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Let It Go

September 5, 2017 6:56 pm

 

Edited  Video Transcript
“80% out the door is better than 100% in the drawer.”
Some wise advice I was given many years ago.
One of the things I have realised through life is our penchant for perfectionism and it’s a curse. There is no destination if we live on Perfection Drive – it is one large roundabout.
We strive to have everything perfect, and if it’s not perfect it doesn’t see the light of day. Our in trays are full – good intentions but they’re full because nothing’s quite perfect. We’ve got proposals and quotes, invoices and draft emails that have to be double checked and triple checked before letting them go, creating bottlenecks in our organisations. We have new ideas for business development but because they are not fully formed to perfection we continue with what we’ve always done. We fail to trust others because “no one can do it as good as me.”
Some have got songs that are sitting in the drawer that are at 95% that never see the light of day. Artists – their paintings never see the light of day because they’re not perfect.
Some things need to be given the 100% treatment. Workplace Health and Safety is one that has serious ramifications if we fall short of the mark but much of our output can be let go at less than perfect. The time it takes to perfect something compared to the value received by others doesn’t necessarily correlate.
One of the things I’ve learnt over time is to continually produce, and if it’s 80% or over in my estimation I let it go and I perfect along the way. Does that mean that we shouldn’t strive for excellence? Not at all. Excellence is a great goal, perfectionism, as I said, is a curse.
So in your life, in your work, in your artistic endeavours, in the gifts that you’ve got to share with the world, 80% out the door is a whole lot better than 100% in the drawer.
And it’s up to us to understand what needs to be at 100% and what can be released above 80%. It’s different for everyone and different for every organisation.
Simply said…Let it go.


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Growth Spurts: The Osgood-Schlatter Disease of Business

July 11, 2017 5:58 pm

Businessman bending the knee in front of Doillar currency symbol.I recall being in my early teens and having to cease playing football due to falling prey to the Osgood-Schlatter Disease – a disease that often occurs from growth spurts when muscles, bones and tendons are experiencing a rapidity of change. Pulling back from strenuous activity, rest and exercise were the measures I had to put in place at the time for my body to cope with the growth.

I meet with many business owners and managers who are experiencing growth spurts in their organisations. A constant stream of work and its correlated demands pour in the front end pushing their revenues/sales up significantly. They take on more work and as a result have to feed that front end demand with extra people, plant and equipment and so forth. While these are exciting phases to be in, the growing pains can be significant and I have seen firsthand the effects that some these periods cause. Some of these have been:

  • Disgruntled customers
  • Unhappy staff who are stretched to breaking point
  • Personal exhaustion of the business owner
  • Cashflow being smashed
  • Running well behind schedule
  • Going into liquidation

My recommendation is that if you are in a growth phase or know one is potentially on the horizon, that you give equal attention in your planning to both the front end and back end. While you resource the front end growth, give strong consideration to what is required to support that growth – people, managerial processes, systems, cashflow management, your own personal rest requirements etc.

My personal growth pains in my knees couldn’t be planned for but business is different. It’s much better to take a small hit on profit to resource the back end than to boost sales and go out of business altogether.

 

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What Is, May Not Be For Always

May 18, 2017 4:25 pm

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The popular Brunetti Cafe in Swanston Street, Melbourne is being torn down to make way for the Metro Rail, an $11 billion rail project. Some of the words used in one of the articles about the various businesses affected were disappointed, struggle, relocation, disruption and in the dark.

When things change in our lives these words can reflect what is experienced on the new journey. Whether we have chosen the change or it has been forced upon us, there is disruption and often a prolonged disconcerting uncertainty. We long for what was. We sometimes mistakenly assume that our current life situation, our success, dreams, and aspirations are the way it will be for the rest of our lives – but life has a way of changing. And then when the building starts to get torn down, we attempt to revert to past methodologies and thought patterns to deal with the disruption. But as I have found, disruption, disappointment and the shattering of what was, demand new ways of thinking, being and acting. What served us historically won’t necessarily serve us in a new future. And, while the current season can change dramatically overnight, the future season can take a significant amount of time to adjust to.

If you or those you know are going through seasons of displacement, be gentle on yourself, on them. Allow time for adjustment – there is no time frame.

And often the tearing down of what was, is making way for a greater what is to come.
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Thinking about Thinking

March 10, 2017 10:53 am

IMG_3318 (1)

Today I visited the inspiring Victorian location of Healesville – a town nestled in the wine region of the Yarra Valley. I went to catch up on some work, particularly to write but found myself sitting for a long time, staring at the landscape in front of me – doing nothing but thinking.

I recall the story of a group of business students being taken on a tour through a factory. As the tour progressed they came across an older gentleman sitting on a chair staring into space. As the story goes, one of the students asked the factory tour guide, “what is that man doing?” The guide’s response was “he is paid to think.”

Thinking creatively, reflectively or futuristically can be hard work. If we are acting, moving fast and ticking things off our to-do list we feel that we are contributing meaningfully and getting somewhere (even if we are on a road that is leading us down to a dead end). Being busy can be an illusion of productivity and profitability.   If we take time out, however, to think long, hard and purposefully we tend to feel we are not being productive.

I think that thinking purposefully, while being one of the more challenging activities for many,  can be one of the most rewarding in the longer term.

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3 Reasons Why Goals Are Not Achieved – A Personal Perspective

December 14, 2016 8:38 pm

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At the end of every year, I take the time to reflect on the progress I made, both at a personal level and in my business. I list all the achievements, all the challenges – what was accomplished and that which was unmet. When I review the list I take note of the unmet goals asking myself “why?”

Here are a three realisations that might be useful

  1. They weren’t my goals
    Even though I wrote the goal down and I apparently desired to achieve it, it wasn’t ‘my’ goal. I was motivated by someone else’s goal e.g. my mentor earns $1,0000.000 per annum so if he can do it so can I. I have also seen this corporately where goals are handed down from the top or someone who I respect says “you need to achieve this.” When there is no personal ownership there is no corresponding drive to fulfil that goal.
  2. The desire was faint
    As I have learned more about myself in respect to goal fulfilment I have come to understand that goals must represent something that I really really really want to achieve. The stronger the desire the more likely it will be ticked off at year’s end.
  3. Lack of discipline
    If I have someone else’s goal and my desire is slight, disciplined actions may or may not fulfil that goal. If however it is my goal and my desire is strong, discipline is more likely to follow and it will be a joy to work hard toward it. Sometimes though, we get sidetracked. Good ideas pop out from everywhere of which we sometimes follow, taking our eyes off our core annual objectives. Sometimes adjustment is needed yes, but often these good ideas caused undisciplined and unfocused actions toward goal fulfilment.

What Would I Really Like?
These days, when looking at the year ahead I ask myself “what would I really like?” The reason for this question is that it then becomes self-directed, not other-directed. It’s all about bringing it back to what interests me, what I would love to see at year’s end.  This generates personal enthusiasm around creating a future that is important to me. The outcomes can be other centred in the sense that this year I will sign up to volunteer with the Salvation Army and help the homeless but firstly it must be derived from our personal drivers and interests.

Intrinsic  Motivation
When I pursue things which interest me, that which fires my heart and my mind, motivation comes from within whereas if it is someone else’s goal or simply a good idea, being motivated to achieve the goal is a hell of a lot harder and generally, the objective remains unfulfilled at year’s end.

As you cast your eyes forward, see if you can catch those horizonal glimpses that spark something within your heart. If you’ve had unmet goals for years consider whether they were really your goals and if they weren’t, don’t write them down for the year ahead. Create instead, a few goals that if achieved you will feel like a million dollars even though you may not have earned it in cash.

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100 Percent from 10 Percent

October 4, 2016 11:23 pm

Living in Melbourne’s West has been an incredible experience this past weekend with the Western Bulldogs winning their first grand final in 62 years. The passion, the belief, the palpable emotions and excitement of fans has been infectious. Not only for a team to win after such a long drought but to win from behind is a credit to their belief and hard work.

When captain Bob Murphy was sidelined for the year with a knee injury in round 3, the senior coach Luke Beveridge said the club had not panicked and stated “The probability of that time we didn’t make it here (to the Grand Final) is probably really high, probably 90 percent – even higher,” he said. “So there’s a 10 percent possibility that we get there. We’re 100 percent on the possibility. And I suppose that’s what the boys did. We attacked the possibility. So if we were 100 percent of 10 percent, we ended up being 100 percent of everything. That’s the thing – you’ve got to stay glass half full…” *

Attacking the possibility.
Whatever the arena, we all suffer injuries and can often feel like we start from behind. They might include the death of a child or marriage, significant downturns in business, career ending events, mental or physical health challenges, financial issues, the sense of talent lack and so forth. The comment from Beveridge relates to most of us at one point or another on lifes journey. To do our absolute best with what we feel we have (or have left) – whether that be 10%, 50% or 80%; to stay the course with the view of the glass half full; to at times absorb the pain of discipline and hard work rather than the pain of defeat – all keys to pushing forward to victory.

If you feel that you are starting from behind, that you’ve suffered setbacks of one kind or another, you’re in good company. Build on what you have and attack it with 100 percent focus. You never know… you just might, like the Doggies, end up passing all the others who seemed closer to 100%.

* Quoted from the Sun Herald Oct 2, 2016

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The Town Called Confusion

February 15, 2016 12:32 am

Given the busy lives many of us lead, there invariably arrives frequent states of confusion. Some live in its constant state, others daily, others less frequently. At least once a week (and sometimes more) I arrive at such a place.

The Latin root for confusion is confundere meaning to mingle together. It later developed to mean rout or bring to ruin.

The Latin root for fusion means to pour or melt – the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.

Confusion often results from intermingled thoughts and feelings, overloaded schedules and demands.  The fight we had with our partner before work; the ten calls and two quotes needed to be actioned this morning; the urgent travel arrangements; the seven messages and fifteen emails to be responded to. Once this intermingling occurs productivity goes down, blood pressure goes up, our fuse gets shorter and the to do list seems longer.

Fusion on the other hand is the ability of melting all of these conflicting tasks and thoughts into one streamlined process.

Stepping back is the key. My practice for many years, when I arrive at the town called confusion is to cease driving and take a break. It may only be for fifteen minutes but I stop, jump out of the car, have a coffee and review my tasks. I then batch these into blocks of time on the calendar while striking off non essential items and delegating some to others. It is the taking of single items and streamlining them into my day that brings the fusion. Where emotional angst is at play, I will allocate time in the diary to deal with it (yes, cold hearted scheduling) or, if I have the time, I will jot some notes in my journal about how I am feeling and attempt to get some perspective on it.

Creating fusion doesn’t just happen. It’s all about getting out from underneath the crushing weight of confusion in order to gain perspective, control and taking our power back.

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Interest Buttons

January 27, 2016 12:01 am

Talking to a woman at the Australia Day celebrations yesterday, we landed on the topic of personal change and psychology. It was a stimulating conversation. Soon after the subject of dancing came up. I once again engaged in lively discussion and subsequently had a request from a woman at the table to teach her Rumba which happened on the spot with more dancing to come afterwards.  It was fun and energetic – an enriching day.

The point here is the importance of self observation. Heightened response to an interest button being pushed is an indicator of an area that needs to be explored further. These interest buttons contain varying degrees of passion behind them. They often assist in identifying our current happiness or how to increase it; hobby development possibilities; life purpose clarity; furthering our studies or vocational confirmation and/or shifts required.

Find the interest buttons and just keep pushing them. You never know who you might end up dancing with.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Thoughts on Planning

December 15, 2014 12:51 am

At this time of year our thoughts tend to wander over the bridge into the following year. For some it is the hope of a better season to come, grateful that the current year is coming to an end. For others it is to capitalise on an already excellent year and grow to a whole new level whether in business, personally, financially and so on.

Here are two focal areas to help  you as you enter the New Year.

  • Get present with the past. Jot down the positive outcomes for the year past and the challenges and disappointments you experienced.
  • Create your future.
    • What would you like the coming year to contain?
    • What are the areas of growth you would like to see?
    • What relational, familial areas do you need to work on?
    • What are the personal growth and fun zones you would like to enter and develop? eg. learning to dance, cook, ski, fitness levels
    • What would you like your bank balance and debt levels to be by years end?
    • Where can you take your business or career in the next twelve months? What are the areas you need to work on to ensure you are growing and moving toward the next summit?

I have been aware over the past few months that we are really growing or declining. Strengthening or weakening. After all, plateaus of safety and comfort eventually erode if left to their own devices.

Best,
Ray

Planning Template for Business Owners.Click here

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Take advantage of my Christmas offer. Register by Dec 24th 2014 and receive either 3 months additional time (valued at $4000) or take 10% of the current price.

 

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From The Ground Up

September 1, 2014 11:18 pm

Mowing a lawn that had not been cared for in a long time, I discovered under the semi green surface very dry and old grass. The exterior hiding that which lay underneath.

The business of life is like that.

Companies often grow to a point that while seemingly successful to the outsider, chaos, turf battles, financial mismanagement, unethical behaviours and the like lay hidden under the surface. Entrepreneurs with a lightening rise to wealth and fame occasionally come undone. National acclamation with personal failure
The apparently successful family man is found to have a dark private world, undoing what he has built over many years

When I care for a lawn, I will occasionally ‘cut the guts out of it’ – stripping it back to almost bare earth. Then, fertilisers, weed deterrents and water are applied as required. This promotes holistic growth.

Whether it is our business or personal worlds, promoting consistency and growth from the ground up is important if we are to endure for the long haul.

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Leadership not Location

July 10, 2014 6:24 am

Success is about leadership not location. On one occasion, I consulted with two similar types of business in the same town on the same street. One was doing well, the other was not. Leadership was the key differentiator. While successful businesses are led by different behavioural and personality styles (e.g. some introverted, some extroverted), all leaders I’ve encountered generally exhibit the following traits:

  • Most are humble and teachable, yet determined. They are willing to be wrong but determined to get it right. They are humble enough to accept input from management, employees, consultants, accountants, mentors etc.
  • Visionary. They ‘see’ and create the future
  • Leaders not followers. They are the captain of the ship and everyone in the organisation knows it. They don’t fall prey to the whims and whines of customers and employees.
  • They recruit their weaknesses building strong teams around them. 
  • They hold people accountable for results
  • Display a strong sense of self belief
  • Exhibit a strong abundance mentality around future work, money, people etc

Successful companies are led by good leaders period. They do not blame the winds of change always looking within themselves rather than out. If you run a coffee shop ten miles out of town on a road that no one travels down then yes, location might be an issue but in the majority of cases, leadership not location is the success factor

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