Monday, February 25, 2013

Let go the status quo when same no longer serves you or humanity

This weeks sparkenation - Let go the status quo when same no longer serves you or humanity.

The great folk at Tomorrow Today began there most recent newsletter with the following

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the story present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our situation is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves if we are to save our country."
Abraham Lincoln, December 1862

My favourite is

"Dogma is living with the results of other people’s thinking."
Steve Jobs

Make this week the first of many where you let go the status quo when same no longer serves you or humanity.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Value of Mentoring

I was in Sydney last year to attend Matt Church's excellent Million Dollar Expert Program. It was the fourth time I've done it! You might say I'm a slow learner; I prefer to think I'm a discerning connoisseur of quality :-) One of the main reasons I attended was because Matt was running it, and Matt has been one of my most influential mentors over the years. If it had been presented by somebody else, I would have been less inclined to go, and I probably wouldn't have got as much out of it. It got me thinking about the value of mentoring in general. It's something I've done a lot - both as a mentor and as a mentoree. So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here. I hope you find this useful, especially if you haven't used a mentor before.

1. Work with the best.

If you're going to use a mentor, you might as well get the best. I've had the privilege of Glenn Capelli mentoring me in presentation skills, Matt Church mentoring me in my thought leadership and intellectual property, Creel Price mentoring me in entrepreneurship, Paul Counsel mentoring me in wealth creation, and David Penglase mentoring me in sales and business development. Some of these names might not be familiar to you, but believe me when I say they are all masters at what they do. And these are just the people I've paid for mentoring. There are many others I've followed and learned from, of course.

2. Make an investment.

I don't think it's necessarily true that free advice is only worth what you pay for it, but I do think it's easier to be motivated to take action when you pay for the advice. Paying for mentoring helps me keep myself accountable for the return on investment. I suggest you do the same. (By the way, the going rate for one-on-one mentoring seems to be around $3,000-$5,000 for a three-month program)

3. Make a commitment.

Paying for mentoring is a good start, but it's not necessarily a commitment. Do something more to commit yourself - set up a support group with other mentorees, announce it publicly, hire a staff member you can't afford in anticipation of your success, whatever. [pullquote]Paying for mentoring helps me keep myself accountable for the return on investment.[/pullquote] The first year Matt was mentoring me, I spent more time sitting in airplanes flying between Perth and Sydney than I actually did sitting down with Matt. That was a huge commitment of energy and time, but it really motivated me to make the most of the mentoring.

4. Set a goal.

Come to your mentor with a clear goal. My best mentoring clients are those who come to me with specific goals and plans in mind, and we can then work together on how to achieve those goals. I've learned that it helps my mentors if I do the same when the roles are reversed.

5. Do it their way.

Whenever I learn something new, I immediately start thinking of how I can improve it! I suspect I'm not alone! But this isn't appropriate for a mentoring relationship, so I have to keep stopping myself from "improving" my mentor's advice. Ask lots of questions, but don't argue. They've got the experience, so do it their way, not yours. For example, when David Penglase was mentoring me in business development, the path he suggested for me was very different from the path I had in mind. But it would have been crazy for me to insist on doing it my way.

6. Follow through.

There's no point getting the advice if you don't use it. Mentoring is not like reading a book, watching a keynote, or attending a training course, where you sift through the information and figure out what's relevant to you. It's not for you to pick and choose. That's your mentor's job; yours is to do it. (From the other side of the table, I know my favourite - and most successful - mentoring clients are those who follow through with their actions)

7. Just do it!

I believe mentoring is the fastest way to accelerate your growth, in whatever area of your business you'd like to improve. So please do it sooner rather than later. Even if it seems like a big investment, it's worth it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Pull of Purpose

Most people are pushing to grow their businesses.  Social media is a great example where it seems everyone and their dog is pushing for people to buy their products/services.

Pulling is simpler and more attractive.  And nothing pulls like purpose particularly if you are pulling in a clearly defined niche or niches.

A lot of people still think that profit is the reason for being in business.  In the 21st century having profit as the reason for the existence of your organisation is a recipe for going broke.  And it is a sure sign of pushing.

Profit is not a reason for being in business, never has been.  Profit is a result of being good at business.

When I made the above statement to a group of CEO’s in 1992 there was laughter in the room.  No thinking person is laughing any more.

Are you confusing reason with result?
And are you pushing or pulling?

Making a profit is one measure of being successful.  There is nothing evil about profit.  If profit is your reason though it drives you and confuses your customers/clients. As Simon Sinek exclaimed in a great book Start With Why “people don’t buy what we do they buy why we do it.”

Why do you do what you do?  What is your reason?

Reason is another word for purpose.  There is power and pull in purpose.  It draws people like a magnet to us.

Recently I added Randy Gage’s great book Risky is the new safe to my recommended reading list.  Randy refers to a leading expert in the field of purpose Ian Percy who says “You can’t have peak performance without first having a peak purpose.”

What is your peak purpose for being in business?

Randy proposes three great questions to help us find our real reason (purpose) for being in business.

“What do I love?
What makes me cry?
What is the injustice I want to right?”

What would be your answers to these questions?

In one of my most read articles since I began sharing my thoughts in 1991 I wrote the following about purpose:

“The Macquarie Dictionary defines purpose “the object for which anything exists or is done, made, used etc; an intended or desired result; end or aim; intention or determination”

Poet and writer Gita Bellin said “success depends on where intention is.” This is a very powerful statement. To change an outcome we must modify or change behaviour, because continuing to do the same old thing expecting a different result is a good definition of stupidity! In my experience before behaviour change is lasting we must first modify or change our thinking and to do that we often must modify or change our feeling and to do that we often have to modify or change our intention or purpose!

So what is your purpose? What was your aim when you got up this morning? What were you feeling and thinking literally? If you are like me the answers to these questions can be elusive and often the day is over before it really seemed to begin.”

The above is from my article A pathway to achieving possibility.  You can read the full article here.  I propose a formula in this article

Principle before passion; passion before purpose; passion and purpose during practice = possibility

I recommend this formula as one way to really zero in on your purpose.

Find your purpose and you will be able to pull more than push.  You will stand out.  And soon people in your niche or niches will be coming to you in droves.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System™
- the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ first hand here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Leadership Learning from Flying Trapeze

Flying Trapeze is one act that I watched in circus during my childhood in amazement, wonder struck by the gravity defying stunts performed so easily.
In a traditional flying trapeze act, flyers mount a narrow board and take off on the fly bar. The flyer must wait for a call from the catcher to make sure he or she leaves at the correct time. Otherwise the catcher will not be close enough to the flyer to make a successful catch. The flier then performs one of many aerial tricks, and is caught by the catcher, who is swinging from a separate catch bar. Once in the catcher's hands, the flyer continues to swing, and is thrust back toward the fly bar in a manoeuvre called a "return". A return could consist of some kind of twist back to the bar, an "angel" (when the catcher holds the flyer by the feet and one arm), or any other trick that a flyer can think of to get back to the bar. Once back to the fly bar, the flyer can return back to the board, and another flyer takes a turn.

Reflecting back at life, I can see a similarity between the stunts that those artists performed and the way successful people perform in real life.
  1. Life is about seizing the Opportunities it offers. There is just that moment that is available to the flyer to leave the bar and get caught by the catcher. In the same way, there are always opportunities thrown at us to leave our comfort zones and fling ourselves towards our goals. But often, you refuse to let go of your ‘bars’ out of fear or lack of confidence. People who have been successful first prepare themselves for these moments and when they arrive, lunge at them with full vigor and intent.
  2. A Lot of Hard Work goes behind each Successful Act. The trapeze artists spend weeks if not months, to strengthen their muscles, and build expertise on their ability to swing, let go of the bar in mid-air, do acrobatics and transfer themselves to the other bar. They practice their acts again and again, both physically and mentally till the time they are sure of themselves. In real life too, you need to make a habit out of working hard towards gaining success in your endeavors.
  3. Trapeze Flyers are not afraid of Heights. Trapeze artists are well aware of the heights that they are supposed to perform at- they have to be comfortable to perform at these heights. This is a very useful lesson for life too. Each business/industry has some inherent risks. It is important to know if you have taken these risks into account before investing your effort and money into them.
  4. It is important to build Trust. A majority of the act by trapeze artists comes after they launch themselves into the air, knowing that their partner will be there at the right moment, with arms outstretched, to lift them off and continue the act. And this trust is mutual. Similarly, you need to be able to build trust in your children, colleagues, bosses and parents, and in return, their trust in you.
  5. The Secret is in making the Act Look so easy, that everyone gasps in Awe!  If anything makes trapeze flying so watchable, is the fact that all artists are so accomplished that they make the act look so do-able that the audience remains spell bound, because they know its not so easy. Similarly, it is important to gain such finesse in whatever we deliver, that the finished product/service is extremely simple and loaded with offerings, that it becomes a Wow factor. See the major products and services that have become brands around you, and you will know what I mean.
  6. Believe in Yourself! The most important factor in ay success – You! It’s only after the trapeze flyer was convinced that he/she could actually fly amidst a web of bars and other flyers at such heights, that the act could finally take shape. At work and in life as well, unless you believe in what you are doing, it is just not going to work. You often make the wrong choice only because you feel convinced by others and not yourselves.
  7. The Comfort Zone exists only in your Mind.  There is no comfort zone really. In actually is a manifestation of your fear of failure, your lack of understanding of your own self and procrastination. Look at the trapeze flyers. Once on the trapeze bar, there is no looking back. Each and every moment has to be run through, without any chance of not happening. There is a choice theoretically, but really speaking there is no choice. What you can do this moment, you will not be able to do in any other moment, because the entire dynamics will be different! So go, and perform!
  8. Be in Control. Between the moments of leaving the bar and reaching the catcher and vice-versa, the trapeze flyer has only himself/herself to rely upon. There is a great degree of control required to create the same act as was done during the practice  control on your mind and body to ensure the precision of the act is not affected. In our work also, you need to have a total control on the critical factors during the execution stage.
  9. Do your Best and Leave the Rest to Happen. When all the preparations have been made and rehearsals done. The trapeze flyer starts the swing and goes through the process fully aware of the moment; he/she simply goes through the moment with a prayer on his/her lips and the faith in the unseen power that is orchestrating all this. In a similar fashion, as you go about your important meetings, deadlines, presentations, and other important decisions, having done the best you could, simply go and do the best you can, leaving the results in the hands of the other powers that be – there is just no point in fretting over what could have been.
  10. One Moment in the Air, and Another on Ground.  The trapeze flyers are appreciated when they delight the audience, but in other times they are in removed from the performance, both in their own minds and in the minds of the audience. There are other priorities that must be attended to. Similarly, success at work is a part of your lives and there are other aspects to your lives that are equally necessary, and need to be attended to with the same vigor, even if you may not play a central role in these. Life is a lot more, full of happenings which you need to be totally recipient to, so that you can play your role, however big or small,to lead a complete life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You have leaders but do you have leadership?

Leaders and leadership are not the same thing, even though the two terms are often used interchangeably. In order for your organisation to grow, you need both. So what is leadership, why does it matter and how do you help the people who run your organisation to develop this important skill set?

What’s the difference?
Learning to be a leader is about helping individuals develop the personal skills they need to operate in their role whilst training in leadership is about providing people with the social skills required to become part of a well functioning leadership team.

Let’s look at the concept using my Workplace Gardening philosophy. Professional gardeners rarely operate in isolation. They usually work as part of a team that looks after a larger patch. Each gardener may be responsible for a different area but they all know that their goal is to create a unified garden that works together.

How it helps
Without leadership, your leaders will find the going tough especially if they are new to their role. They can feel isolated and pressured to “keep up appearances” as they see their fellow leaders as competitors rather than comrades. Disputes can arise as leaders come into conflict with each other over a variety of issues with resulting turf wars.

A leadership approach sets up an environment that encourages your leaders to work together rather than simply focus on their own patch. This allows them to make the most of limited resources and ensure their actions don’t interfere with what is going on elsewhere in your workplace garden. A team of gardeners works best when everyone has a shared vision of what they are trying to create and agrees on the best way to achieve that vision. You can’t have a gardener in Section A wanting to be chemical free if the gardening in Section B next door is spraying chemicals on their plants.

It is exactly the same for your leadership team. How often do you see inconsistent leadership in an organisation? For example, one leader allowing staff flexibility whilst the next is strictly adhering to the rules. Who is right and who is wrong? What impact does this have on the engagement levels of staff in each team? With a consistent approach to leadership these issues disappear.

Developing leadership in your organisation
To move your leaders from a group of individuals to a cohesive leadership team who can all work together takes time. Along the way they will go through three stages as they come to see the benefits of a leadership approach.  

Individual focus
·       What do my people need?
·       How can I get the resources we need?
·       What are our goals?

Group focus
·       What does my department, division or location need?
·       How can we share resources in our area?
·       What are our goals?

Organisation focus
·       What does the organisation need?
·       How can the organisation best use its resources?
·       What are the organisation’s goals?

So how do you encourage this transition from a focus on individual functions to a focus on the organisation as a whole? They say what matters gets measured so the first thing you need to do is add the ability to work as part of the leadership team to the performance criteria of all your leaders. You need to embed the idea of leadership early on so ensure the concept is included in any training you offer your budding leaders. Another obvious way is to create project teams that go across all departments or divisions. For even more ideas, take the “Rating your leadership development quiz” on my website.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Google+ is more than a social network

This weeks sparkenation - Google+ is more than a social network.
More sparkenations here.

Google+ Content Strategies with gratitude to originator Maria Peagler for making it possible to share the infographic.

I think Google+ is way ahead of the other social networks and as Maria says in this article, "Google+ isn’t only a social network. It’s the very backbone (and future) of Google itself."

Best wishes
Author of Changing What’s Normal
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System
- the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Principles can solve the centralisation - decentralisation puzzle

Bureaucratic organisations like things to be controlled. Rather, they like things to have the appearance of being controlled. As a result they like to create rules and policies that have a one size fits all look and feel about them.

Governments are bureaucracies. It makes sense given they are funded by tax payer dollars and therefore need to be accountable.

They generally have limited funds and are therefore constantly trying to control how money is spent to ensure that it isn't wasted while also ensuring that every cent is properly accounted according to their rules and policies. This attitude to controlling money tends to spread to all operations of government. All policies and rules tend to be centralised.

In this context governments tend to be highly centralised in the way that they operate.
In reality, such centralisation doesn't work, not on its own anyhow. I have recently been working with a government organisation where the frontline employees have informed me that many of the rules that are applied to their part of the organisation are not applied in practice and that an informal system exists to "get things done", and to work around the rules and policies. They have informed me that the reason they do this is that while the rules and policies might make sense for some parts of the organisation, in reality they don't make sense for their part of the organisation. They believe that the rules and policies are impossible to implement while also being financially responsible, so they have created their own way of working around the rules so that they, once again, can, "...get things done."

What has been interesting about my recent work is that the employees recognise that there are dangers with the informal system, particularly as they relate to people with power who may be the ones deciding what policies get implemented and which ones don't. While they have reported that the informal system works well most of the time, they recognise that sometimes it doesn't 'work' at all.

This highlights that while bureaucracies believe that they have a centralised system, a de-centralised system, the informal system, also exists. Dr. Dave Snowden from Cognitive Edge calls this the realities of a complex adaptive system. The world is not 100% ordered as a bureaucracy would like it to be. The existence of an informal system highlights that the world of a bureaucracy is not as ordered as it assumes.

So how should a bureaucracy manage such a situation? It wants everything to be centralised, has established rules and policies to establish centralisation, but the existence of the informal system means that, in fact, everything is not centralised. Local departments and teams have established their own rules, meaning that there is a strong element of decentralisation in the way the organisation operates. While the decentralised system works most of the time, it is open to misuse which could place the bureaucracy at the mercy of the very risks it is trying to control through its centralised system. What a dilemma!

One way to manage this system is for the bureaucracy to identify which policies and rules aren't, in reality being applied across the entire organisation. There will definitely be a lot of rules and policies that are being properly applied across the entire organisation, so these also need to be identified. In other words, the bureaucracy needs to identify which centralised policies are working at the local level, and which ones aren't.

For the ones that aren't working at the local level the evidence will be that different informal systems will be operating at the local level to fit the needs of each local area. Across the entire organisation there will be a range of informal responses that have been created by the various local departments and/or teams within departments to 'work around' the rules and policies.

There is no use pretending that these informal systems don't exist. So they need to be acknowledged.

The bureaucracy then needs to identify the principles that can provide the guidance for local departments and teams to then devise their own system that 'works' for them. This means that the bureaucracy will have consistency across the entire organisation (provided by the principles) while also having a decentralised response at the local level. Such a system also reduces the risk that the informal system may be abused by local leaders who have the power and authority to do so.

As an example let's look at a typical work from home policy. In an effort to be seen as  flexible workplaces, bureaucracies often create policies that enable staff to work from home. While some departments find it relatively easy to implement such a policy, other departments find it effectively impossible because of the 'hands on' nature of their work. As an example it is pretty difficult for a garbage collector to do their job working from home!

In this example the centralised policy doesn't work. In fact, it causes problems because the employees know that the policy exists but also know that it won't be implemented in their department. So they rightly wonder, "What's the point of the policy if we can't use it?".

What if the bureaucracy was to create a set of principles for workplace flexibility? Some of those principles may include:

  1. A range of flexible workplace options, selected from the approved list of options, must be available at the local level;
  2. Local teams must be involved in the selection of the range of flexible workplace options that 'work' for them and support rather than hinder local workplace performance and financial accountability; and
  3. Employees have the right to discuss flexible workplace options with their supervisors that fit the above criteria.
Such a system provides the best elements from the centralised view of the world, while also embracing the best of the decentralised view of the world. Each department/team would need to be able to show how they are implementing the principles and would need to provide evidence that the principles are, in fact being implemented.

The result. Organisation wide principles that are being implemented across the entire organisation. Yet the exact implementation of these principles would vary across the organisation depending on the needs of the local teams. As such the bureaucracy would have the best of both the centralised and decentralised views of the world.

Gary Ryan provides consulting services to enable organisations to move beyond being good.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Social Media Myths Busted

Social media is, of course, big news in the business world. If you're a business owner or business leader, it's not surprising if you're feeling overwhelmed by everything you see, hear and read about how to get ahead with social media. The good news is that it doesn't have to be as difficult as it seems, especially if you ignore some of the buzz and hype, and focus on the few things that really make a difference.

Here are some common social media myths that can make your life seem far more difficult, but which you can safely ignore ...

MYTH #1. It's all about the numbers.

This is the biggest myth: That success in social media depends mainly on your reach - that is, the number of fans, friends, followers, Likes, retweets, shares, or whatever other measure you choose. Although that seems logical at first glance, it simply isn't true. Having millions of "followers" on your account doesn't mean any of them are actually following you in any meaningful way. Even worse, most of them probably don't even see your posts at all, because they get lost among all the others they follow.

So stop trying to get more followers and friends. Focus instead on consistently delivering value to the people you want to reach, and they will spread the word naturally, and that will get your more followers and friends. More importantly, that approach will get you the right followers and friends.

MYTH #2. It's all about engaging customers.

If you're in a customer service role, then yes, social media channels give you a powerful way to engage with customers. And if you wear a marketing hat, again you can use social media for market research, marketing campaigns and building better engagement with customers and clients.

But if you're in a leadership or advisory role, that's not the best use of your time. You might occasionally dip into your organisation's Twitter feed or Facebook page to observe what customers are saying, but you wouldn't spend every waking hour having conversations with customers. That's not your job, and if you are spending too much time doing that, you're not doing your real job!

Instead, use social media as another way to share your key messages and ideas. For instance, if you're a thought leader, use it to share your blog posts, videos, articles and special reports. Or, if you're a business leader, use it to share your key strategic messages - both internally and externally.

MYTH #3. It's all about Facebook and Twitter.

When most people use the term "social media", they are referring to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. These are important, but they are mainly for amplifying your message.

The real value comes from the tools where you state your message. These are tools like blogs (for articles), YouTube (for videos), SlideShare (for presentations), e-mail newsletter providers, (for e-books) and the iTunes Store (for podcasts and e-books). Use these tools for crafting and delivering your messages, and then use the social networks for sharing them more widely.

MYTH #4. You have to do it all yourself.

When you use these tools, you're engaging as a person, not an organization or brand. So you do need to be authentic, and show your face (literally in videos and profile pictures, metaphorically in your style and voice). This does mean you should be personally responsible for the core message, but you can delegate or outsource some of the other tasks in distribution and promotion.

For example:

  • You can be the presenter in your YouTube videos, but your team can publish it to YouTube and share it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter and other networks.
  • You can write articles, and your team can publish them on your blog.
  • You can use services to publish blog posts to Twitter and Facebook automatically.
  • You can use services to send you articles and news stories of interest, but you decide what's worth sharing with your networks.

MYTH #5. It needs a lot of time and effort.

It's true that this all takes some time and effort, but it doesn't mean you have to spend hours a day on social media. Far from it.

Create a realistic schedule for yourself, and stick to it. As a rule of thumb, aim to create one key message a week to share - for example, write a short article (400-500 words) or record a short video (2-3 minutes).

The key is consistency. Building an online platform is a process, not an event. Build your reputation one step at a time, and you'll be building a strong reputation that creates real value for your stakeholders and boosts your bottom line.

How Do We Want To Make A Difference In 2013?

My brother, Colin, died on December 2, 2012, just 21 months after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was only 55 years old. That’s not supposed to be. People are not supposed to die at 55. His family and friends who walked the road with him over those 21 months were confronted by that and the reality of our own mortality.

I made him my priority, especially during 2012, because there are times in our life when we just have to decide what’s most important and let go of everything else. I knew I could pick up my work later. I knew my time with him was limited.

I miss him deeply, but I’m not the kind of person to focus on loss. I’m a positive and pro-active person and I want to remember and focus on what was valuable about he left me. Some of that I want to share here because at the beginning of a new year it is important to rethink our lives, to ask what is most important and what we are going to do with our time as we move through this year. How do we want to make a difference and where? It really starts with ourselves.

Let People Know How Much We Value and Appreciate Them.

Only weeks before he died, Col said to me: “I never knew how many people loved me.” Immediate and extended family spent much time with him. In the early days, there were many parties and get-togethers. Old university friends whom he’d only seen sporadically travelled from around Australia to visit him. He wondered aloud whether people would go back to the way they were after he died until someone else was dying or whether they would continue to reach out to others as they had to him. These people could have been an integral part of his life for the last 30 years, but Col wasn’t good at keeping in touch.

Will we in 2013 stay in touch with the people who love us? Will we let the people we love know how much we value them?

This is also important at a professional level, that we make sure that the people who have helped our careers know how much we appreciate their help. We need to value and support the people in our professional networks, developing reciprocal relationships of support. We need to do this while they are alive, rather than travel a great distance to attend their funeral when they have died.

No matter how long we live, there will always be things we want to do but don’t get done. It is very important that we do what is most important.

There was a period in Col’s illness when he became very depressed about what he hadn’t done in his life. He came to realise what was really important but he no longer had time to make it happen. He said to me just the week before he died: “It’s tragic that something like this has to happen before we realise what’s important.”

When we live through 2013, we need to ask ourselves whether what we are doing is life enhancing or life destroying. Would we still take this action, make this decision, stay in this job, work as much as we do, if we knew that we had only this year to live?

Make each day count.

Now is all we have. Yesterday is passed and tomorrow may never come. Never did Col contemplate he would die young. He had great plans for his future. It did not occur to him that he wouldn’t have a future.

When we look back on each day during 2013, we need to ask ourselves: How did I make a difference today? What impact did I have on my workplace, my family, my community today? What impression did I leave? What was my legacy today? Did I make today count?

Focus on what is eternal, not what is temporary.

Most of us spend our lives putting great importance on all the “things” that death causes us to leave behind. Col couldn’t take money or possessions with him. We can’t take the high powered, prestigious job, the imported car or the beautiful town house. These are all temporary, given to us to hold for a short time.

What he leaves behind, however, is eternal – memories, connections, relationships, love, care, support for friends, and so much more.

This is all the stuff which never dies. It is the Energy that gives purpose to our lives. It is the Spirit that creates meaning.

In 2013, we will be happier and more successful if we ensure there is a balance between the eternal and the temporary in our lives.

Be Grateful for What We Have And Who We Are.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with what isn’t happening in our lives, for the “famine”, the losses, the missed opportunities, the injustice and the unfairness. This was so for Col as he moved through his illness. But he seemed to work it through eventually.

I spent the last 2½ days and nights of his life with him. Just hours before he lapsed into unconsciousness, he looked at his wife and I each side of his bed and said: “I am just so lucky”. I knew then that he had finally found peace.

In 2013, we can all live our lives saying: ”I am just so lucky”. We can focus on what we have, rather than what we haven’t. I have a Gratitude Book that I write in every day. To begin each day writing down what I am grateful for in my life, sets a very positive focus for my day. When done consistently over a long period, it creates a sense of abundance and richness in our lives. So write in your Gratitude Book also in 2013 and change your life.

Col, doesn’t have a 2013, but you and I do, so let’s make it special, meaningful and purposeful.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The simplicity and significance of standing out

I am in no doubt that success in business has a lot to do with standing out from the crowd in our niche/s.  Niche/s are key.  As my friend and colleague Gihan Perera says Niche guys finish first!

Who are you serving?  Who is your tribe?  Who is your niche?

My niche is open-hearted and open-minded business owners and leaders who

*Truly believe that when you look after your people they will look after your organisation.
*Know intuitively that helping people achieve their personal goals leads to people better helping your organisation achieve its goals.
*Value authenticity and candor.
*Admit that at least in some areas you are stuck in the status quo (normal) and want to change what’s normal.
*Recognise that people outside your organisation do inspiring and innovative work that can greatly enhance what you are doing.

Answering the question Who is your niche/s? is the hardest part of standing out (assuming you have products/services people in your niche/s want).  And perhaps you have a belief hurdle to overcome first - a belief that you are not worthy or that it is a “sin” to standout.  Overcoming our belief hurdles can be hard too.  The rest of the standing out equation is simple!

All change is personal first.  You are not your beliefs.  You are the one-of-a-kind human being who has decided to believe what you believe.  You can decide to change what you believe any time you choose.  This is often not easy yet it is simple.

You may find the following helpful about beliefs.

I change what I believe in regularly as new evidence and personal experience dictates (I once believed in politicians for example).  I have not changed my philosophy of life for me though, the why of what I do.  My philosophy of life is We get what we gift.  Implicit in my philosophy is giving without attachment to getting back.

What is your philosophy of life, your why of what you do? 

Answering this question is a key to finding your niche/s because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. 

In a very insightful statement Oscar Wilde once remarked
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Are you taking this seriously.  Out of 100 billion people who have lived on planet earth there is only one you.  To not be all you are capable of being is the only “sin” which actually means to fall short of the mark.

Strategic positioning (standing out) in your organisation

Strategic positioning is simple. It’s
Doing what others don’t do or doing what others do just better, differently, or more uniquely, and segmentation (niches).

Achieving strategic positioning is also simple and has everything to do with feeling valued, delivering value, and living values.

Feeling valued

Do you truly value yourself?  If not please reread above!

If I was to ask your employees do they feel valued at work would the majority say yes?

If you feel uncertain or know that the majority of your employees would answer no, then we need to talk immediately if not sooner.

When people feel valued they perform accordingly.

Delivering value

Are you delivering the value to all your stakeholders that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve?

If you feel uncertain or know that the majority of your stakeholders would answer no, then again we need to talk immediately if not sooner.

Living values

What your values are is important however how you live them is what really matters.  Are the values on your wall lived in the hall?

My story below may help you to be certain of your answer.

I finished reading a great book about standing out last weekend.  It inspired this article. It’s called Becoming a category of one - How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison by Joe Calloway.  I bought this book via Amazon Kindle for $9.99.  In the book Joe provides a great case study of the Tractor Supply company.  Joe says “At Tractor Supply their values are the rules of the road for how they do everything, every day, all day long.”  There you have it in a nutshell.  Anything less is hurting you.

Employee performance is the great barometer of standing out. The performance of your employees means you’re either standing out or slipping away. There is no standing still in the 21st century.

Standing out is simple and the most significant path to success in your organisation.  It’s about doing what others don’t do or doing what others do just better, differently, or more uniquely, and segmentation (niches).  The keys are people feeling valued, delivering value, and living your values.

Please standout.  The world needs you to and so too do you.

Best wishes
Author of Changing What’s Normal
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System
- the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

PS To standout maybe you even have to be ridiculous.  Seth Godin says Ridiculous is the new remarkable.  His article here worth a read.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Trust is power only if your intention is not about power

Trust is power only if your intention is not about power

Last week, in an attempt to take away speculation and focus on policies, the Prime Minister of Australia announced our election will be on September 14th.  She said the actual election campaign wouldn’t begin until August when writs would be issued.  Yeah right.

The Opposition Leader immediately came out and said that the election would be about trust. Yeah right.  No one in politics here has demonstrated in my experience that they can be trusted and this is not going to change anytime soon that I can see.

Think about this in every transaction and interaction in your organisation and all of your relationships - Trust is power only if your intention is not about power.

More sparkenations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Creator of The Enhancing Their Gifts System
- the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Differencemakers: Don’t take your eye off the ball!

I once heard a speaker at a conference do an entire presentation about the time they “took their eye off the ball” and the impact this neglect had on their primary goal of building their new business. Being a fairly focused person, I couldn’t quite relate to their message at the time but the penny dropped some years later when I did something similar! Writing a book needn’t have precluded other important aspects of my life.

The message here – regardless of what other ventures and or exciting people and projects come along your way, is do not give up your original dream, project or intention in pursuit of the other. Continue to nurture your dream, goals and intentions. Like planting seeds in your garden – provide the best growth conditions you can – water it regularly, feed it the right nutrients and generally keep an eye on its ongoing requirements.
It can be a challenge to keep our commitment to our dreams, passion and goals while also maintaining other important aspects of our life. Our time and energy is limited on planet earth so why not grab it with zeal and give it your best shot. Research on happiness indicates that our sense of satisfaction comes through engaging in what is meaningful for us. Once you have identified these –stay on track and remind yourself when you take your eye off the ball for longer than desirable!
Jasbindar Singh is business psychologist who loves helping her clients achieve their goals and lead fulfilling lives.