Tag: Better Leadership

Most Expensive Lunch Ever

Most Expensive Lunch Ever

This week someone paid $3,300,100.00 to have lunch with Warren Buffett.

Now that is an expensive lunch.

It was for a charity auction, in fact, it is the 19th time Warren Buffett has auctioned off lunch.

It got me to thinking about what questions I would ask Mr. Buffett. Figuring, this is your typical business lunch, I would have approximately ninety minutes to learn as much as possible from the Oracle of Omaha.

Most of us will never get the chance to have lunch with Warren Buffet. However, we will all have an opportunity to meet with people who could influence our careers and our lives. Every month, I talk with individuals who are looking for advice in their careers, or their leadership skills.

I hate it when people ask stupid questions, like how long have you been working at True Star Leadership? It means that they haven’t taken time to check my LinkedIn Profile or website (truestarleadership.com). Maybe it’s not stupid, just lazy.

For us to use the time wisely, we need to have a plan. Here are six things we should always do no matter whom we are meeting.

  • Decide on Your Goal: What information or help do you need from this person to help you move closer to your goal? What is their expertise or area of interest that you want to utilize?
  • Do your research: Learn more about the person you are meeting. Even if you just do a review of their LinkedIn Profile, at least get to know them. If they have a book, blog post, interview or website, check it out. The better you know them, the better questions you can ask.
  • Be Prepared with Questions: Based on your goal and what you know about your subject, prepare some questions to start the conversational ball rolling. For instance, I once had the opportunity to meet Marshall Goldsmith, because I knew he had accumulated millions of airplane reward miles, I asked him his advice on how to make the best use of plane time. This lead to a conversation about time management and its benefits.
  • Listen More: If you talk a lot, you will miss hearing the wisdom of the person who you are meeting and will not move any closer to your goal. Let them speak and carefully guide the conversation, so you get what you need.
  • Act: In your meeting, most likely you will get advice or useful information that will help you be more successful. Take thirty minutes after the meeting to put the advice into action, even if it is just making a note to yourself about what you need to do the next day.
  • Thank them. When you leave, thank the individual with whom you met. When you get home, send a handwritten thank-you note expressing your gratitude.

 

If I were paying almost $37,000 per minute to talk to anyone, I would want to get my money’s worth. Even if I am buying coffee for someone, I want to make sure I am using my time and their time wisely.

Good Luck Networking,

John

PS: I am always open to good conversation – click here to schedule time with me.

Mastermind: The Most Effective Tools for Improving Your Business in 2018

Mastermind: The Most Effective Tools for Improving Your Business in 2018

Julie and the others settled into their seats at a small conference table waiting for the meeting to begin. Julie is a small business owner and has been coming to these meetings for the past year. She looks around the room at the other business leaders she has come to know over the past year and can’t believe how lucky she has been to be part of this group.

“This meeting changed the way I am as a leader. For the better. My business is successful because of the suggestions and ideas I have gotten in this meeting. And let’s face it, without the accountability of this meeting, I would not be where I am today.”

About a year and a half ago, Julie was selected and joined a mastermind group. Although Julie had not heard of it until she joined the Mastermind Group, Masterminds have been around for hundreds of years. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed a group with twelve other tradespeople named the Junto. In early 1900’s Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started a group called The Vagabonds whose members included Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs, and Warren Harding. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Sherly Sandberg and others all participate in mastermind groups.

A Mastermind Group is a group of like-minded individuals who work together to help each other be successful. It provides a comfortable, confidential and challenging space where participants can discuss the issues most pressing to them. Their peers will ask deep clarifying questions to understand their challenges and then provide insight based on their experiences.

Mastermind can be formed around any topic that makes sense for the participants. As an executive coach, I use masterminds to help leaders within the small business community to improve their leadership. Other people use masterminds to support first-time parents, business owners, librarians, police officers, and even coaches*.

Each mastermind runs a little different but has some common traits. Most masterminds are small groups with no more than fifteen individuals in each mastermind. This size group allows each participant a chance to experience “the accountability seat” or “the hot seat” during each session. The accountability seat gives everyone an opportunity to share their challenge and listen to the perspective of other members as they ask curious questions and provide insights from their experience. At the end of a meeting, each member commits to some action that will help them overcome their challenge.

There is power in the mastermind as it provides a variety of perspective, increases accountability and fosters better outcomes for all the individuals involved. In one of my mastermind groups, it took only a couple meetings before; I started seeing improvement in the leadership skills of the participants.

As part of my mastermind groups, I offer individualized leadership coaching to all members if they are interested. I can help them create a plan of action and hold them to it between meetings. Most participants opt-in for this as they see the benefit of having a professional coach work through their problems with them.

The longer the tenure of the meeting the deeper the participants are willing to go to improve their outcomes. In time, friendships usually develop and become part of the process to help each other grow.

There are a few organizations who do this as a business including TAB (The Advisory Board), Vistage, and CEO Focus. Each organization has it is strengths and challenges, and I would suggest researching them before joining to make sure you have the one that fits you best. In the end, I decided to run my own because I believe that I could provide a different type of experience and wanted to reach a different kind of business owner.

John Thalheimer is the Executive Director of True Star Leadership. He has a fundamental belief that every organization and every employee deserves a great leader. Since early in his career John wanted to understand why some leaders were successful and others were not. Moreover, what he found surprised him. He earned his Master’s in Organizational Leadership and is dual certified in business coaching. John is working on his book titled, The Behavioral Algorithm, the secret formula for success. He currently runs masterminds in middle Tennessee and online to help leaders within the small business community succeed.

*If you are interested in learning more or interested in joining one of my mastermind groups, please reach out to me at john@johnthalheimer.com. Also if you are a coach, please think about joining my coaching mastermind group, as the benefits will apply to you as well.

 

Five Steps to Take After Vacation

Five Steps to Take After Vacation

It is Tuesday after Labor Day, and millions of workers are returning to work. Emails have piled up. Meetings have been scheduled. Reports need to be finished. 2017 Budgets have to be reviewed and approved.

It is less than thirty days to the fourth quarter and the year’s end.

Stress starts the minute you arrive at work. The vacation glow is gone.

However here are five things you can do to be more productive after a vacation.

  1. Print out and display one or two photographs of you and your loved ones on vacation. The photograph will remind you of what is important in life.
  2. Share your best vacation memory with coworkers. No one wants to view all your vacation photos but sharing a story helps build rapport with the team, especially if it was a positive or funny experience.
  3. Start a new habit. Because you have gotten out of the work routine for a few days, it is a good time to start a new habit. Maybe it is taking a walk on break, or eating lunch with a different coworker every day, or reading leadership articles on a daily basis.
  4. Ask for and listen to the challenges and victories that arose while you were gone. Did one of your direct reports handle a project while you were gone? Did one of your coworkers get budget approval for hiring a new employee? It is a great time to express gratitude to your team.
  5. Focus on your long-term goals. When you return to work after vacation, it is easy to focus on “getting things done,” like deleting emails. It gives you a temporary sense of progress but won’t move you closer to your long-term goals. Take a half hour and review your long terms goals for 2016 and 2017 and make a list of ten accomplishes you will have by the end of the week and then focus on them.
  6. Bonus: Check in with your boss. I am surprised how many people return to their workplace and don’t check in with their manager right away. They can give you an idea what the hot issues are and what to focus your time on.

Take a deep breath – you have this.

Lessons from the Big Swim

Lessons from the Big Swim

The rain fell from the silver-grey sky onto the group of us. Standing on the windswept beach, we listened to the words we did not want to hear. The Big Swim was canceled due to the weather conditions. My brother and forty-five other swimmers had spent the better half of the year training to swim the 17 kilometers (10 miles) across the North Cumberland Strait from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island only to be disappointed.

The lead organizer had talked about the difference between our expectations and reality and defined it as the feeling of disappointment.  On that Sunday Morning, there were many disappointed people on the beach, some cried, some sighed, some bent their head in quiet prayer. A few optimistic souls shouted, “next year,” a rallying cry to know the effort, discipline and sacrifice had meant something.

As a support kayaker and a witness to the hard-work it takes to prepare for such a quest, I too was disappointed, for me, for my brother and for all those you had worked hard to be left standing in the rain on the beach; our goal was just out of reach across 17 kilometers of turmoil and lighting.

On my way home, I could not help but think that there were lessons to be learned from the Big Swim about how to achieve our own dreams. Below are the six lessons I learned and how they can help us achieve our goals faster.

  1. Preparation: The North Cumberland Straight, 17 kilometers wide at its narrowest, is known for its strong tidal currents and roaring winds. It is not a place to take for granted. Preparation is critical to the success of any who plan to swim across it. Training started with rising early every day and swimming. First in the pool, then in a lake, and then in the ocean until the swimmer was physically and mentally prepared to make the attempt.
  2. Support: The bigger your goal, the more support you will need. The support will come in a variety of sizes, from the little to the large. Before the event, my brother’s wife gave him support to train by watching their two young kids every Saturday morning. The organizers provided constant communication to make sure the swimmers had everything they needed to be successful. The day of the event, hundreds of supporters from kayak carriers, check-in volunteers, boat captains, and family members made sure the swimmers had everything they needed to be successful.
  3. Community: Community is essential to success. My brother met and trained with a group of like-minded swimmers from his home town. He learned from their experience; shared his expertise and leaned on them as the training took its toll. In the early Sunday morning dawn, together they lessened the disappointment of not swimming with laughter and hugs, sharing the loss to diminish its impact.
  4. Limitations: We all have limitations. We can choose to let them define us, or we can push against them. In the group of swimmers who were attempting the Big Swim, the ages ranged from 11 to 73 years. None of them let their limitations define them. The eleven-year-old could have let those who said it was too dangerous for her to stop her from doing what she wanted. She did not; she was in wave three – the elite swimmers; ready to go.
  5. Drive: The swimmers who had completed the swim before said that there is a time in the middle of the straight when exhaustion has crept into your muscles, and the sky and ocean have blended into one, you think about quitting but you continue till your feet hit the sand. No matter the goal, we have all reached that place where we want to stop. Those that are successful keep going pushing forward by an inner drive toward their goal.
  6. Celebration: Soon after the announcement of the cancellation of the Big Swim, a quiet applause rose from the crowd on the beach and slowly turned into a standing ovation for the swimmers. The applause was recognizing the effort they had made to reach this point on the beach, the hard-work, the dedication, and scarifies they made. We too need to recognize our progress and celebrate our wins.

 

Goals are just dreams without wings.

 

Even in disappointment, there are lessons to be learned. Thomas Eidson once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” No matter what we dream of accomplishing, we can not do it without a lot of hard-work, dedication, and sacrifice. As you plan your next business adventure, think about these six lessons and how you can apply them to achieving your dreams. As a leadership guide, I help people plan their dreams and provide the necessary skills and tools for them to be successful. If you are ready to start your journey, let’s get together and begin the work required for you to reach your dreams.

Are You Ready to be Coached?

Are You Ready to be Coached?

“Are you ready to be coached?”

“Yes. Of course, I am. I mean, I think I am. Is it that hard?”

Being coached is hard. You need to open yourself to change your behavior to improve your performance. Coaching is the ability to listen to another’s perspective and use that information to make internal adjustments to your behavior to better your performance. Marshall Goldsmith, the #1 Executive Coach in the World, has an exercise he taught me called the Daily Questions. In short, it is a list of behavioral changes that you agree to work to improve every day. When he gives out this assignment, he notes that only fifty percent of individuals last more than two weeks using this system. It is not difficult. The system is not time-consuming. It takes no more than ten minutes to complete. All you do is rate yourself on a scale of one to ten on this simple question for each behavior, “Did you do your best to change your behavior?”

So why do people fail in completing this simple task?

For some, it is a lack of discipline. Although the individual knows that changing these behaviors will allow them to reach their goal, they cannot find the discipline to do this on a regular basis. In fact, Marshall falls into this category. He had to hire an accountable coach who is responsible for calling him each evening to make sure he has completed this simple task. This may seem like an extreme measure but think about how important your goals are to you and what success looks like.

For others, it is hard to recognize our habitual failures. We don’t want to look in the mirror and admit that we were not able to resist that last chocolate chip cookie or do a better job delegating at work, or the ability to listen well. I fell into this category when I first tried doing the exercise, I was afraid of admitting that I was not doing my best to reach my goal and I was responsible for not being successful.

So how do we continue to improve if we can’t handle this simple exercise? The best way is to create a level of accountability that will help you move toward your goal. This can be done by asking someone to invest in your improvement, this could be a mentor, coworker, friend, or even spouse. Unfortunately, we need to remember that they are not as invested in obtaining our goal as we are.

Another way is to find a group of like-minded people who are also on the same journey as you. Your Tribe. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, go to a gym and find like-minded people and work out together to reach your goals. Or join a mastermind group or peer advisory group that is working toward similar goals and that will hold you accountable. I am always amazed at the number and diversity of mastermind groups available to people.  (Learn more about mastermind here).

Lastly, you can invest in an accountability/personal coach to work with you to help you reach your goal. The benefits of working with a coach are that they are trained to help individuals improve their performance. They know how to ask insightful questions, open you up to what is holding you back and provide you the support you need to be successful. (Learn more about coaching here)

So, I leave you this question — Are you willing to be coached to reach your goals?

Resources:

Triggers – Marshall Goldsmith

In this book, Marshall Goldsmith shares his experience coaching executives and how they create behavior that lasts to become the person they want to be and how we can do the same. Click here for more information

Tribe – Seth Godin

In this book, Seth Godin introduces us to the importance of like-minded people and how by working together we can achieve better results than we can by working alone. click here for more information

How to Get Better at Things You Care About – Eduardo Briceno

Great Video on being our better selves. Learn the difference between the performance zone and the learning zone and by switching between the two we can start improving the things we most care about. click here for more information

 

Breaking Free

Breaking Free

This morning, like most mornings, I practiced Yoga. Throughout the last ten years or so, I have used Yoga to compliment my other workouts, such as cycling, running, swimming and weightlifting. It provides me with thirty minutes of uninterrupted focus on my body while at the same time preparing my mind for the day.

The same happens when we push against our zone of comfort. Our Zone of Comfort can be defined as an emotional state where you are most comfortable. You perform your best. You are most relaxed. You are most confident. You have your strongest relationships. Your knowledge matches the knowledge of the assigned responsibilities. There is also a dark side to the zone of comfort, it can be the place where we hide our talents from the world because of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of Failure. Fear of newness.

For most of my life, I was afraid of public speaking. In fact, most people are afraid of public speaking. This tidbit, however, didn’t help me with my fear. It took years and a lot of practice for me to be comfortable talking in front of an audience. And let’s make this clear, by comfortable, I mean that I understand that I will have strong emotions around public speaking but I know that I can channel these emotions into positive behaviors that benefit my audience.

Yet by stretching my zone of comfort around public speaking, I was able to become more confident in my other interpersonal relationships. I was better able to talk to people in positions of power; I was better able to communicate to my staff about our goals; I was better able to network with people whom I just met.

Stretching your zone of comfort, no matter what activity who choose whether it is learning a new skill, going to a foreign country, presenting your ideas to the executive team, or introducing yourself to a group, is an important step towards success.

Some basic guidelines to stretching your zone of comfort.

  • Start small. If you are going to learn a new language, you need to get the basics understood before you start worrying about complex sentence structure.
  • Consistent and Continuous practice. Like muscles, for you to keep stretching your zone of comfort you need to continually push at regular intervals for you to keep it in place.
  • Ask for support. Whether it is a teacher or a coach, ask an expert to help you gain knowledge and skills. Their expert guidance will help you achieve our goal faster.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is a normal process of learning. It tells us what not to do and reinforces us on what to do. I can’t’ tell you how many times, I fell out of Yoga poses as I learned them.
  • Persistence. Keep at it. You will get better. When I look back on the public speaker I was in college to the public speaker I am now, the change is amazing.

Every day is another day to pursue your dreams, to chase away your fear and to be a better you. Take advantage of it.

The Myth of the Alpha Dog

The Myth of the Alpha Dog

My wife and I have adopted two puppies this year, and as I was researching how to potty train our younger dog, I came across the headline, “The Myth of the Alpha Dog.” The article discussed how our belief that dog packs structures are based on an alpha dog or dominant dog is false. And that dogs have a more cooperative approach to pack structure.

This same myth is pervasive throughout our discussions on leadership. In the west, we have mythologized the single person as the saver of the world. The man on the white horse who comes in to save the day. When we talk about great discoveries, we talk about them as if a single person made the discovery. Admiral Peary had over 50 people with him as he tried to reach the North Pole in 1909 but the names of the other people have all been forgotten. We talk about great inventions; we talk as if a single person invented the light bulb. However, Thomas Edison had a team of “young muckers” working with him at Menlo Park. In the world of leadership, we talk of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, both who are famous for the companies they started. However both had strong partners working with them; Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates had Paul Allen. This isn’t to say that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are not brilliant men, it is just to say that rarely do we do anything in isolation.

My research and experience have led me to the conclusion that the leadership team is more important than the single leader of an organization. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the importance of having the right people on the bus. This is even more important the closer you get to the top of any organization.

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

 

Why are leadership teams more valuable than a single leader?

  1. They provide a greater level of experience.
  2. They provide balance against a singular strength or limitation
  3. They offer diversity of thought.
  4. They provide the ability to delegate work
  5. They provide increased touch points to an organization

This does not mean that a leader can abdicate her responsibility for the team. It means that she has more resources to make the best decisions, create the best strategic vision and build the best team.

When I work to improve leadership teams, I ask myself the following questions:

  • Are the right individuals on the leadership team?
  • What behavioral changes will make them a better leadership team?
  • What is their level of motivation to improve the working dynamics?
  • How do they discuss different points of views?
  • Are they focused on the same vision of the organization?

Always start with an assessment of the team’s strengths and limitations. This gives a good understanding of what is working well together and what is not. I usually use an assessment tool, followed up with individual interviews. This provides an excellent groundwork to start working with the team to improve their team dynamic. Working with the leader and the team, we create a path to developing the leadership team dynamic. The goal is to understand the strengths and limitations of each member and that of the team. If you can create positive connections and a desire to move the organization forward, the team dynamic will improve.

The goal here is not to remove the leader or to dismiss the leader. The goal here is to provide a team of individuals working together to assist the leader in their challenges of running a large organization.  To create a cooperative approach to the team structure.

 

Together we are stronger than we are alone.

Walter Payton

 

 

What Light Do You Cast?

What Light Do You Cast?

He and I had worked together for a few years when he stopped by my office. He needed an unbiased ear to help with a staff issue. His team had taken on the habit of always criticizing each other. At first, he thought it was a good sign because he believed that they had started to bond. But the more he listened, the less he liked what he heard. They were disrespectful to each other.

He didn’t know what to do.

 

The people that you have around you are your biggest influence.

RJ Mitte

 

I asked him how their performances were. He described a litany of issues that each of his team members was having. Listening to him, I would not have believed there was a good one in the bunch.

“How valuable are the players on your team to the organization’s goals?”

“Valuable,” he replied, “we have accomplished so much.”

“When was the last time you told them?” He stopped, pausing, “It had been awhile.”

“When you talk about their performance do you focus on how well they are doing or what they can be doing better?”

“I want them to be better so we can keep doing amazing things.”

“I get that,” I explained, “but let me ask you this, why do you think they criticize each other?”

It took him a moment, but he realized that they were following his lead.

Our job as leaders is to influence those individuals around us. And we do this by our behaviors. Studies have shown that people adopt similar patterns of behaviors from those they respect and those that are in positions of power. I separated respect and power because they are different qualities. Respect is something that is earned within an organization. Power is something that is given due to a higher level of authority. Great leaders get their power through respect. Bad leaders get their respect through power.

In either case, we are apt to imitate the behaviors of those around us. We can see this easily in our families. Think about your parents, what behaviors of theirs, do you do? For example, my father is an avid hiker, each week leading hikes through the mountains of South and North Carolina’s. I too am an avid hiker and enjoy hiking in the woods whenever I get a chance.

At work, this influence may not be as easily recognized but does happen. I collaborated with a group of individuals who were all fantastic about being open about their strengths and their limitations. At first, I was guarded and spoke more of my strengths, but as time passed, I noticed that I too was talking about my limitations. This built trust up in the group and allowed us to work together to get the best possible outcomes.

Our behaviors influence those around us.

The good news is that we also positively affect people. Have you ever worked for a manager who was good at going on break, leaving on time and taking vacations? I bet, in time, you started to get these habits as well.

 

There is no influence like the influence of habit.

Gilbert Parker

 

The aim is to know that your behaviors affect those around you and to make the best effort to influence their behaviors positively. When you have a behavior that is negatively impacting the team, focus on it and work to improve it. If you can share your work to change your behavior with the team, even better. This action will stop them from imitating you and may also provide you feedback so you can continue to improve.

How to Succeed at Almost Anything

How to Succeed at Almost Anything

The last thing most of us are thinking about right now is completing our New Year’s resolutions for 2016. It is the mad holiday rush. Shopping, Gift Wrapping, Holiday Concerts, Travel Plans, and Office Parties. Statistically, only eighteen percent of individuals who set New Year’s resolutions will succeed. This figure has preoccupied me over the last two years as I studied and research what makes leaders successful and what doesn’t.

In November, I was asked to put together a workshop on How to be Successful in Business. As I compiled the information what I came to realize is that the actions that make a business leader successful can make us successful as well. The one characteristic that all successful leaders have in common is a drive to be successful.

If you are willing to work towards your goal, you too can be successful. In this newsletter/blog, I provide four ideas when used in concert can provide you guidance toward your destination. These four ideas are from my leadership research and experience working with clients. Like all researchers, I stand on the shoulders of giants and build on the works of others including Marshall Goldsmith, Teresa Amabile, Seth Godin and numerous others who have provided me insights on my journey to success.

I hope that as you read this newsletter, it will inspire you to start your journey to success.

Dream Big:

 

“If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

William Arthur Ward

 

My life’s work is to be a leadership guide; a person who assist others to be successful organizational leaders. Where I cannot help, is when they cannot envision a better future self. My first interaction with any client is understanding what success feels and looks like to them. Only then can we start working together to develop a strategy to get from point A (present self) to Point B (Future Self).

Success does not have to be “Big Change the World Dreams.” Success can be “change your world dreams.” It might be as simple as losing ten pounds, saving for a new car, getting a new job, taking a family trip, better communications with your significant other, or start a business. For my business clients, it usually centers around having a greater impact on the business.

The first step is to put your dream into writing and to follow the rules of SMART Goals by making it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If you do this, you have started on your journey to being a success. For some, this is a difficult task because although they can envision it in their mind, translating it to paper so others can understand it. For these individuals, I suggest doing self-brainstorming where you are capturing pieces of your dream and pulling them together in a single place. This process will help you visual what success looks like for you and help you better explain it to others. This process is not a quick process and will take time for you to develop a clear understanding of your definition of success.

Focus:

 

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Maya Angelou

 

 

When working with my clients, the next step to being successful is understanding what actions or behaviors they need to focus on to be successful. For this, I use a tool called the change triangle which was introduced to me by an executive Vice President I worked with. It is a simple but powerful tool that helps us understand what we need to do to be successful by asking ourselves three questions.

  1. What behaviors or actions do I need to continue to be successful at my goal? This question allows us to keep certain behaviors to be successful. It grounds us in our present day self, reminding us that we do not have to discard who we are to be successful. For example, if it is your goal to lose ten pounds before the next college reunion (Note the SMART goal elements in this goal), there are probably certain behaviors you are presently doing that are helping with that goal. For my wife and I we like to walk our dogs, this is an activity we should continue to help us in our goal of losing weight.
  2. What behaviors or actions do I need to stop doing to be successful at my goal? For most of my clients and participants in my workshops, this question defies logic. For most of our lives, we are told to grab the gold, reach for your dreams, or become all you can be. All forward driven phrases. Except if we do not stop doing certain behaviors our chances of being successful diminish. When I was a teenager, my father would take my siblings and me hiking. One of the things, he always reminded us, was to make sure we kept our pack as light as possible, especially when we were climbing some of the higher mountains. This wisdom is good for our goals as well. What are those behaviors that hold us back, create extra weight on our journey to success? For me when it comes to losing weight, I know that I need to stop sitting on the couch at night. Not only am I not getting any exercise; it tends to be the place I eat subconsciously.
  3. What behaviors or actions do I need to start doing to be successful at my goal? For most people this is straight forward; they understand the activities they will help them be successful in their pursuit of their goals. If not, they can hire life or business coaches like me to help them develop an awareness of what behaviors will make them successful at their goal. As you develop behaviors, it is important that you define them regarding SMART behaviors. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For instance, for losing weight, you might write your response as, “I will do cardio exercise for forty-five minutes three days a week.” This action helps you measure the progress you are making toward success.

Measure Progress:

The next step toward success is measuring our progress so we can see how far we have come. With holiday travels starting soon, I am reminded of those road trips with my family where one road looked like the other, and I could never figure how far we had progressed toward my grandparent’s house, hence the question from the back seat of the car, “Are we there yet?”

In their book, Progress Principle, Teresa Amiable, and Steven Kramer note the importance of creating small wins to keep moving toward our goals. The challenge for most of us is how we track our progress to make sure we are heading in the right direction. I have two basic methods which I have used with my clients.

The first was introduced to me my Marshall Goldsmith, Executive Coach, and New York Times Best Selling author. He calls it the Daily Questions and wrote about it in his book “Triggers.” In its basic form, it is a spreadsheet with the list of the behaviors/activities we want to focus on in one column and the days a week in the row above.

Each day rate yourself against the behaviors by asking the question “Did I do my best to …” and then the behavior. If you do this for two weeks, a month. You will start seeing trends; those behaviors you are putting effort towards and those you are not. At this point, you have a choice to either work on those behaviors so you can be successful or admit that you are not willing to change certain behaviors. Moreover, if the latter is the case, you have an additional choice to decide whether the goal you are working towards is important to you and if you can succeed in that goal without changing that particular behavior. For instance, if I am trying to lose weight and have chosen not eating potato chips as a behavior but realize that after a month, I have not been as successful as I like at stopping eating potato chips. I know have a choice. Do I allow myself to eat potato chips or do I refocus my energy on not eating potato chips or do I stop trying to lose weight? Hard choice for sure. However, changing our behavior is not easy.

The second way to measure our progress is to use technology. There are numerous coaching apps on our smart phones that we can purchase to help us. And if you have the resources and are going to make a concentrated effort, go for it.

However, I have found an easier way to use technology to help us. All of our smart phones come with a reminder app which we can use to our benefit. Right now open your reminder app and write this question down.

 

“I have I done my best to change my behavior so that I can reach my goal of. . .”

 

Now set this as a daily reminder so that it appears as an appropriate time for you. If you are a morning person, it may be first thing in the morning. If you are an evening person, it may be right after dinner. When it appears, visualize your goal for five minutes and think about your behaviors and if you did your best to succeed. In time, you will be able to create a better focus approach on how you can exceed.

Find your community.

Lastly, find your community or tribe. In his book, Tribe, Seth Godin tells us the importance of having likeminded people in our lives. When you are trying to be successful toward a goal, whether it is losing weight or saving money, running a successful business, it is important to have people who are on the same journey as you.

I always envision the pioneers who crossed our great country in the Conestoga wagons. They were a tribe of like-minded individuals searching for a better life. Together they dealt with all the obstacles and challenges crossing the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountains by sharing information, working together and supporting one another.

Most people will turn to close friends and family to be part of their community, but this is wrong. Although they will be supportive, they are on different journeys and will not be able to understand the challenges and obstacles you face. If you are trying to lose weight, you are not going to look for your community of dieters at your local bar. The best place to look will be in your local gym. So think about who your community is and where you can best find them.

Success:

 

“We often miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas A. Edison

 

 

Opportunity and Success are siblings; one leads to the other. The more success you have, the more opportunities are given to you. Above I have provided four ideas to make you successful in reaching your next goal. These tips will be useful as you begin your journey to success. They will provide you touch points to help you keep moving in the right direction.

The Importance of Routine

The Importance of Routine

It was Thursday Afternoon, and I was waiting for a manager I coached to arrive at the local coffee shop. It has been a good year for her. She managed a team of high-performing individuals and had focused on continually improving their performance, creating and changing processes to get better results. I was looking forward to our conversation.

As I waited, I noticed that a good portion of the customers were greeting each other by name, exchanging pleasantries and waving their goodbyes, saying they would see each other tomorrow. It was their afternoon routine.

The Manager arrived sitting heavily in the chair next to me. Apprehension showed on her face and in her body language. This wasn’t going to be the conversation I had imagined.

“I just reviewed the numbers. I wanted to give you an update, show you the improvement.”

A long pause as she gathered herself.

“Productivity is down ten percent from last month. And it’s not a blip; I looked at the previous week, it is down fifteen percent.”

“How is it year to date?”

“Still good we are up overall by twenty-five percent.”

“Good then?”

She smiled. She knew what I was doing, trying to get her to look at the big picture; to see the improvement in her team. What they had accomplished together.

“I am just frustrated that the team is losing their level of commitment to the new changes.”

“How does the team feel?”

“Frustrated, to be honest. They are complaining about the latest change. Too complicated they say.”

“Is it?”

“Not any more than the last few changes.”

“Maybe it’s not the change but the amount of change.”

“Huh?”

“Let me give you an example. Do you remember when they were working on the major interstate and each morning you had to take a different way into work?”

“Ugh. That was terrible. I could never get my rhythm in the morning. I felt out of sorts.”

“Yes. Each day there was a new change. You had to adjust.”

“I did. I had to watch the detour signs. In fact, it was so confusing; I turned off the radio so that I could concentrate on where I was going.”

I sipped my drink.

“Oh no. My employees are feeling confused. They are working harder when I told them they would be working smarter. They aren’t sure where they stand because our expectations are changing with each change.”

“And now what?”

“I need to work with my team to develop a routine so we can smooth things out and get them feeling better about the job they are doing.”

“So how are those numbers?”

She smiled.

With all the push for evolving, changing, progressing and growing our organizations, leaders have forgotten the importance of routine. Humans have a basic need for security and stability, to be able to forecast the possible future when change disrupts this, it makes us uncomfortable.

As a leader, I made touching base with my staff part of my daily routine. Each day, I set aside time to get out of my office and talk with my team. This method allowed me to see what their day was like, what challenges they were facing and how I could support them. Usually, there were little to no, short-term gains, i.e. there wasn’t anything I could do to support them at that particular moment, however in time, I learned who my employees were, saw trends impacting the business and was able to make better management decision based on this routine.

Routines are also beneficial to the productivity of your team as it provides them with a sense of security, a feeling of stability and increases their overall confidence. In a study done by Dinah Avni-Babad (2010), showed that individuals use routines to increase their sense of well-being.

Routine also allows for the automation of thought. The benefit of this can be seen in our average commute to work. As I used in the example with the manager I was coaching, her commute to work was disrupted by the road work. She had to increase her concentration, and she was continually out of sorts, emotionally tired. However, when the road work was done, and she was able to get back to her morning routine, her energy came back, and she was able to plan for her day as she drove into work.

In his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists work Author Mason Currey describes the importance of routines for some of our greatest thinkers. In one instance he talks about Benjamin Franklin, who at the end of each day asked himself “What good have I done today?” used a routine to make sure he was accomplishing all of his goals. His routine provided structure for his day. Like Einstein who wore the same clothes each day, Benjamin Franklin did not have to think about how his time would be spent and was able to focus on the work at hand.

When an individual creates a sense of well-being for themselves through routines, it offers an increase confidence. Allows them to project forward and create a sense of control over the future. It also gives them the platform to take risks, be creative, be innovative, and paradoxically challenge the status quo.

To recap routinely provides the following benefits:

  • Better sense of well-being
  • Increase focus on high priority tasks
  • Daily or weekly structure
  • Reduces distractions
  • Increases overall confidence
  • A platform for challenging the status quo.

When we realize the importance of routine on the individual, we can now appreciate why people are naturally resistant to change. We can also understand the importance of Change Management to help facilitate bringing an individual from their old routine to their new routine. Change Management is the framework that allows the organization to manage the people side of change. Without Change Management there is a greater risk that change initiative will fail.