Thursday, September 30, 2010

Self Talk your way to Success

Every one of us has a constant conversation running thorough our heads. This is often referred to as self-talk and it can be a very powerful ally in helping you reach all of your success goals. The key is to be aware of this conversation and to work on keeping it positive and focused.

You have to be very aware of this conversation and of the specific words being used. As you know, words have the power to invigorate and motivate as well as the power to damage your spirit and zap your energy. It is all in the phrasing and how you internally react to what ever it happening around you.

You can't beat yourself up over and over in your mind and expect to be a positive and energetic force in your life or the lives of others. Monitor the conversation in your head and step in if it is going the wrong direction. If you are hearing "why can't I..., " or "I keep making mistakes", or anything similar you need to stop what you are doing and re-phrase the internal conversation. You need to be saying "How can I...", or "What is the best way to..."

You need to congratulate yourself on your victories no matter how small and keep reminding yourself of all the skills and talents you have developed. You are a force to be recognized and you are on your way to accomplishing great things. Know it, believe it, and own it. The more aware and in control of your self-talk the better your outlook about yourself and on the life around you will be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Change your Philosophy - Change your Life

Your personal philosophy defines who you are and how you interact with the world around you. Whether you have thought about it consciously or not, you do have a personal philosophy.

If you have actually taken the time to think about your philosophy give yourself a high five. I find that most people have not. Or if they have it was no more than a five minute exercise and was no more than skin deep. Defining your personal philosophy, your outlook on life if you will, takes time and a fare bit of soul searching.

Not sure what your philosophy is, or how to start defining it? Try this exercise. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and answer these questions:

How do I want to be remembered after I am gone?

Who was the worst person I ever worked for and why? How did he/she treat you and why was that a problem?

If you could go back in time to one event in your life, where would you go and why?

What were three of the happiest moments in my life?

If you could speak one more time to a deceased loved one what would you want to tell them?

Now I am sure as you quickly read this you are wondering what these questions have to do with your philosophy on life. For many people, coming at the idea of a personal philosophy head-on is like running into a brick wall. You just can't get anywhere. But, go around that wall and you can suddenly see into the distance. These questions, or more importantly your answers to these questions, will help shed light on what is truly important to you from the inside. The answers reveal your deepest desires, your innate feelings about how to treat people, and your personal regrets.

After you finish all the questions (it could take more than one sitting) put your paper away. Come back after a few days or a week and review your answers. Do they still feel right, do you need to clarify anything. Once you are satisfied with your answers look for the underlying theme. This theme is your personal philosophy coming to the surface. It reveals how you feel about the world, about your place in the world, and your future. Not happy with what bubbled up. That's okay. Knowledge is power. Being aware of your base tendencies means you can focus on changing them to what you desire them to be. You cannot change what you are not aware of.

My hope, and my suggestion, is that you take the time and work through your answers to these questions. There is no right or wrong and no grade. There is just knowledge. There is just light. And when something is brought into the light it can be better appreciated or worked on (depending upon what you see and your feelings about it).

There is only one you. You are unique and you are a gift to the world. You owe it to yourself to become the absolute best version of you that you can be. Do not deprive yourself or those around you the greatness within you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quote for the Week

"Yesterday is in the history books and tomorrow has yet to arrive, but today is yours to create" - Paul Kamm

Think Relational not Transactional

During a recent training session I was speaking with my store managers about making an emotional connection with their customers. These emotional connections help create long-term relationships which in turn help drive repeat business. As every successful salesperson knows, a single sale is not enough - you need to build long-term relationships in order for your sales to truly soar.

But can't we take that out of the context of the sales arena and apply it throughout our lives. True success does not happen without the help and participation of many other people. It just can't happen in a vacuum. So, in reality, we need to be thinking relational at all times and not transactional.

What the heck am I talking about it? Stop thinking about the bank teller as just a "teller" who is going to take your checks, deposit them in your account and return a deposit slip to you. Look them in the eye and ask how they are doing today. Comment on their outfit, nails, hair or eye color. Let them know that you see them as a fellow human being and that you appreciate them helping you with the task at hand.

Successful people do this all day, every day. By all accounts Oprah Winfrey is an extremely successful person. But her success is firmly grounded in the fact that she treats her guests and her audience as human beings. She connects emotionally, not just with the studio audience but the television audience as well. She genuinely cares and that connection is felt right through the television. I am very confident in saying that her humanity played a very large part in her reaching mega-success.

Your aspirations may not be to be the next Oprah, but regardless of where you are headed showing compassion and genuine interest in those around you will certainly shorten the journey.

We all have a finite amount of time on this planet. Make it a point to think about the connections you can make, however brief, with everyone you encounter throughout your day. You will find that your life becomes richer, your mood lighter and the entire day brighter. Now that is called having a GREAT day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote for the week

"It's tempting to sit and wait for life to come to you. But you can't, it's too busy. Life is out there. You have to go for it." - Harry Beckwith

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A great read on the Truth About Motivation

Sooner or later, in your career or at home, you are going to find yourself needing to motivate a person or persons to achieve some defined result. Google the term motivation and you get more than 53,000,000 results. It’s clearly a topic that gets a lot of attention.

I recently finished reading Daniel H. Pink’s newest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. This is a must read for anyone serious about achieving results in their professional and personal life. This book takes a fresh look at the science of motivation and reveals that what we think we know, we do not.

In an easy to follow and logical progression Daniel discusses what the science of motivation has shown and how today’s businesses are, for the most part, not using the science to their advantage. He points out the old carrot and stick philosophy only works in a select number of situations. Today’s knowledge workers are motivated by something completely different. They need autonomy (time to work on their own), mastery (time/resources to become experts in their given area) and purpose (the job most be relevant to some greater good).

I am of course greatly simplifying the main points in the book. Daniel provides much more depth into each of these areas as well as a look into several companies who have achieved wonderful results by incorporated these points into their culture.

I cannot urge you enough to get copy and read this book. In addition check out Daniel’s blog and check out his talk about Drive on TED.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Success includes focusing on the Heart

Heart is the second success element. As I have stated before, family relationships stand at the top of the heart category. Remember that on a daily basis these relationships need to be nurtured. Simple and seemingly unrelated things can go a long way in letting those you love know they are important to you.

Case in point: I recently installed microwave oven over our stove. This is something my wife asked about several years back. I could argue that since we had a working countertop unit I was being frugal. My wife, rightfully so, would be correct by calling me cheap. I could also argue that I have been busy but again my wife would be correct in replacing the word busy with procrastinating. Yes, I had to find a cabinet maker to cut down and resize a cabinet but that only took one phone call. And yes I had to wire up an electrical outlet and fix some ductwork but that did not take that much time either. I simply did not start the project because I felt it was going to turn into a major ordeal. It did not. The cabinet ended up an easy fix and the kitchen looks great.

Being perfectly honest about it I was just not focused on the second success element. I was focused elsewhere and let family relationships take a back seat. This was not a decision on my part, it just happened. Time moves quickly and if you are not paying attention things slip to the back burner. By getting my ass in gear and getting the cabinet re-made and the microwave installed I was telling my wife that her needs are important to me as well. The lesson here is to make sure you listen and make sure you react quickly. It took way too long for this to be completed and until I finished it I did not fully comprehend how I was ignoring part of the relationship. It’s the small things that make the biggest difference.

Take a lesson from me. If a loved one needs your time and your skills – make the commitment to act on that need today. It is one of the easiest ways to say I love you.

Quote for the week

"Life is not about what you accomplish, it's about what you become in the process." - Unknown

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Z is for Zest

Z is for Zest: a zest for life and a zest for learning. Without zest the journey along your path to success will be long and difficult.

Zest defined: keen relish, hearty enjoyment, gusto.

Look at the definition above. If you cannot apply this to your life, your family or your career you need to make some changes. You’ve heard it before: Life is too short; Life is too precious. We all have a finite amount of time on this planet. Yes, you can work on your “time management” skills, but you cannot slow time down or create more of it. You have to remember to make the most of the time you have.

You have more gifts to share with the world than you realize. These gifts will never rise to the surface if you are not fully engaged. Whenever you are truly connected with an activity the best of who you are and the gifts you were born with naturally come out. When you fully engage time becomes irrelevant and your energy levels stay high. Your zest for life and your zest for success shine for everyone to see. It becomes a bright light that attracts people, possibilities and opportunities to you.

Do not sit back and just let your life happen. Live zestfully and take life by the horns. You will have more fun and you will enrich the lives of countless others along the way, and that, by anyone’s standards is a life well lived.

Click here to start at the beginning of the series: A is for Attitude

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Y is for YOU

YOU are the most important factor in determining the level of success that you achieve in life. Your personal and professional development will of course be influenced and helped along through the assistance of others but make no mistake, you and you alone are responsible for your own growth. Where you go, what you do and who you become are results of decisions that you make. Yes, you will seek advice and counsel but in the end it is you that makes the final decisions.

Now this may sound like a heavy burden to carry but rest assured that you are more than capable of carrying it. Most people do not realize just what they are capable of. You can do almost anything you want and need to do as long as you are disciplined, organized, and perseverant. It is your internal desire and drive that helps you to achieve success.

True Success requires motivation. You have to want it. You have to have laser like focus. You have to be willing to give up activities that do not help push you down the path to overall success. Most people will not change until the pain of change is less than the pain of remaining the same. But true change is going to cause some pain. It’s inevitable. It’s unavoidable. How can you grow if you do not push yourself? And by pushing yourself you are going to stumble. Not every time, but certainly some of the time. And that’s the point. If you play it so safe that you never make a mistake and never stumble you will not grow.

You have within you the ability to achieve true success. You simply have to take that proverbial leap of faith and go for it. Know up front that adjustments and course corrections lie in the future. You cannot possibly map out your exact path before you start. But start nonetheless. Trust me when I tell you that you will look back in a few months time and be asking yourself why I didn’t start earlier.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

X is for Xtra

Finding True Success in all areas of your life requires Xtra focus, Xtra commitment and Xtra effort (and yes I know I am stretching it on this one. If you have a better “x” word to suggest please add a comment to this post). This may be a bit of a continuation from my last post (W is for work-ethic) but let me share a slightly different take on it.

True success is the culmination of hundreds, if not thousands, of small decisions made and actions taken on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You will seldom get any sort of recognition for these small things but they do matter and do pay off in the long run. The more you can do, the Xtra if you will, the faster the pay off.

Think of it this way. Say that you, on average, make ten small decisions or take ten small actions to help you achieve success each day. If you accomplished, again on average, just two more per day you would be six days farther along each month. In effect, you would be adding 72 more days to your year. That’s more than two months of Xtra accomplishment each year. Talk about a return on your personal investment.

What are these Xtra things? They will of course be different for everyone, but keep the following proverb in mind: Never out off till tomorrow what can be done today. Those ten words are incredibly powerful and incredibly simple to put into action. How many times have you left something undone and when you came back to take care of it the next day it took only a few minutes? It happens all the time. Try this rule as well: Once you pick up a piece of paper take action on it. You need to react, respond, file or toss. Do not put it back into your inbox. Clear the clutter and watch your productivity soar.

Remember, Xtra efforts always pay dividends.

Click here for the next blog in the series.