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How to Set Priorities for More Success

October 18th, 2010 1 comment

I have worked with many different people in my business career.  I have come to realize, we are not hatched from the womb knowing how to prioritize our work or our lives for success.  It is a learned skill.

If this important tool isn’t learned, we are left to muddle through life focusing on unproductive activities.  This leads to under achievement and frustration.  When we take the time to learn how to prioritize our work, it opens up a whole new world of achievement and success.  Here are three things to consider when setting priorities.

1.  We must understand the rule of 20/80 in our activities.  20% of our activities will account for 80% of our success.  Out of the 10 items on our lists of things to do, 2 of those items are of higher value than the other eight.  Those 2 are responsible for the achievements of our desired effect we are working to accomplish.  How do we know which are our 2 things?

2.  We must understand the big picture.  Meaning, we have to know the end result we are striving to accomplish, and what it takes to get there.  If we don’t know our target, we will wander aimless, never getting close to our desires.  Only by seeing the big picture will the best path appear.

It’s like hiking.  If we only stare at the end of our shoes, we will trip and fall over every obstacle in our path.  If we raise our eyes above our feet we will see the path ahead.  We will know, in advance, when the path has things that will hinder our progress, such as tree roots or limbs that will smack us in the head.  We will see clearly the path that leads to our destination.

It is important to set a time when we can block out our distractions and set goals.  Goal setting gives us the path to walk.  To set those goals effectively, we have to be clear on our desired outcome, or the destination we are striving for.

When we have done this, we are able to ask ourselves, what is the most valuable use of my time now?  An entrepreneur and business owner will ask themselves, what activities will bring the most profits?

3.  Setting our priorities also includes knowing how our work affects others.  Are we impeding another person’s progress by not completing our work? There isn’t anything more frustrating for a team than having to wait for someone else to accomplish a task that directly affects completing their own tasks.

For instances, lets say, we are working on an assembly line and building a new car. The workers responsible for installing the engine can’t put it into the car if those responsible for the frame haven’t done their job.

If it doesn’t impact our results in a positive way, or is holding someone else back from completing their job, it might deserve to be a low priority item on our list.

Understanding how to organize our work with proper attention to our high impact priorities is a valuable skill to have.  Now is the time to polish up this skill.  It will move us faster to our destination of success!

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Is Your Team Infected With This?

September 30th, 2010 No comments

There is a syndrome which can infect individuals or teams in the workforce.  It happens, most often, to sales people and their teams, but can infect people in other lines of work.  It is disastrous to productivity.  What is this crippling phenomenon?  It is “Hares” disease.

No, I did not misspell hare.  I am not referring to the over abundance of follicles on the bathroom sink after a shower.  The syndrome I’m talking about is named after the  Aesop Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” . This disease’s main symptom is lack of consistency.

It is very common for sales people and sales teams to make a big push at the end of the month.  They want their numbers to look good for bonuses, etc.  This is a healthy thing.  It injects excitement and enthusiasm into the team.  The difficult part for the leader is to keep the momentum up after the push.  The first week of the new month, every one who participated in the sales push are suffering from PTPS, or better known as Post Tremendous Push Syndrome.  The team gave its all and is now putting more contacts and business back in their pipeline.  And, yes, feeling good about last month’s performance.  Left unchecked, it could spiral down into “hare’s” disease.

When a sales person becomes infected with “hares” disease, they lack consistency in their performance.  They’ll work really, really hard for a certain length of time.  They’re activity is like a jet plane going down the runway, preparing to take off.  The pedal is to the medal.  They start to get some momentum for career take off, and then, “bam!”, they let up.  They stop doing what they were doing to generate production.  Their jet plane bounces back down on the tarmac and has lost it’s take off momentum.  They’re tired.  It took so much effort they just can’t continue.  They take a break to rest up before they start again.  Every time they stop to rest, they lose momentum.  Their career never gets enough speed and momentum to take off and get any real results.  Just like the hare in the story, they have stopped to take a nap.  After a time, they will become discouraged with their lack of progress and quit.

There is a difference between a “rabbit” and a “hare” in this narrative.  Every team needs a “rabbit”.  They are the excited, motivated individual that will streaks out in front of the pack and makes it happen.  They set the pace for the team, similar to the rabbit at the dog track.  That rabbit always stays in front of the pack, giving the pack or team the incentive and the motivation running to keep up.

As a leader of a team, there are a few tips to keep your team going with consistency, like the tortoise, to get the job done.

1.  Know your team’s numbers.  How many contacts does it take to get appoints set?  How many of those appointments will turn in to sales?  How many sales does it take to reach the team goal and individual goals?  Keep those numbers in front of the team and reward them for  their activity in areas which generate results.

2.  Watch for the signs in their performance which happens right before they slow down for their “nap”.  When the signs are there, coach, encourage, and keep incentives in front of them to keep their motivation up.  Reward consistency.

3.  If your infected “hare” is hindering the performance of the team, and step 1 and 2 doesn’t work, it may be time to remove them from the team.  Harsh as that may seem, it may be the only route.  This syndrome can be catching!  The last thing a team needs is a group of infected “hares”.

We can get frustrated with team members who seems to be a slow plodding pace, but consisitency will win every time!  This Aesop fable is a reminder, steady performance with a focus on the end result will get the job done!

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Is Competition Really Bad for You?

September 28th, 2010 No comments

I have noticed a trend in education.  The trend is to take competition out of the schools.  The crazy idea is, competition erodes a child’s self esteem and they don’t feel good about themselves if they lose. This ideology is, also, embraced by the new age movement.  Their idea, if I understand it correctly, is competition creates the feeling of lack.  There isn’t enough to go around.  Sorry, educators and new-agers.  I take issue with that philosophy.

Competition is a great thing to teach children.  They will run into it in the “real world”.  Wouldn’t it serve the child better to teach them how to compete and feel good about themselves doing so?  If we teach a child not to compete, or that competition is bad, we are handicapping them instead of giving them tools for their life’s journey.

There isn’t any way to weed out competition  Even in a socialistic society there will always be people who rise to the top of the pecking order.  Competition is the basis of a capitalistic society.  Competition is good.  Competition creates new ideas and better ways to do things. We are all reaping the rewards competition has brought to the marketplace.  Would our lives have been better if there hadn’t been any competition between Microsoft and Apple?  Of course not!

Could it be, we don’t want children to realize there will always be a price to pay?  This isn’t logical either.  Even if someone never wants to compete or work, and prefers to live a life on the government dole, there is still a price to pay.  It is cloaked in the disguise of not feeling good about themselves, having a chip on their shoulder, never having financial security, and not being able to do the things for their family and themselves they want to do.  They pay the biggest price of all!

Humans have always been competitive.  Even cavemen competed for food and the right to procreate with the cave woman of their choice.  Wouldn’t it be best to teach children how great it feels to win?

When I was in school, I wasn’t athletic.  My field of competition was in music.  I hated competition because it gave me a knot in my stomach and I felt sick with anticipation until it was over.  I worked hard,  practiced continually, and perfected my performance.  I felt fabulous when it was over!  What I learned, working hard had a tremendous payout at the end.  I learned the self discipline to stick with something until I completed it.  The rewards lie in doing a job to the best of my ability.  I, also, found out, I like me best when I am a winner.  These lessons have served me well in the business world.

Champions make the worst losers.  They never, ever, get used to losing anything.  They always strive to win.  I found, in life, the biggest prizes come from paying the biggest price.  When I really work hard and sacrifice, it has brought me the biggest reward.  It has always built my self esteem.  I know that I can, do well, whatever I focus on.  My mental attitude has triumphed!

Wouldn’t our efforts be better served to teach our children good sportsmanship?  Not how to lose, but how to be gracious when they win or lose.  We, as a society, will advance when we can teach our children to play full out.  Give the best of their ability.  When we really work hard and we are really prepared, we develop the expectation of winning and success.  Now, that’s a great feeling!

Want to learn how to set goals that help you succeed, click here!

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What does Luck have to do with Success?

September 27th, 2010 1 comment

We all have heroes.  Someone we admire.  They may excel in our favorite sport, or they could have reached a level of success in business we aspire to obtain.  We, all, need heroes.  When we pick heroes, we are celebrating their achievement of excellence.  What does it take to reach their level of excellence?

Sometimes, when we observe someone who is excelling we say, “they were born lucky!”, or “They have a natural talent.”  But, luck and natural talent are gifts that will only take us so far.  When it comes to luck, I’m sure you have heard the saying, “the harder we work, the luckier we get.”

What we aren’t seeing in our talented, lucky heroes, is the hours of practice it took to get them to where they are.  Or the sacrifices they made to achieve the level of excellence we are celebrating.  Sorry folks, there is no substitute for hard work.

Anyone who excels at something, whether it is sports or business has paid a price.  An athlete pays the price of injuries.  If they lose a game, they can’t stop to lick their wounds.  They have to get back after it, spending grueling hours practicing.  They do this over and over again.

A business person, also, pays a price for success.  They put in long hours and time away from family.  Perhaps, they’ve had business failures.  A business failure is devastating.  Picking themselves up, after a failure, to pursue their goals and dreams again is a difficult thing to do!

For instance, let’s look at the success of the McDonald’s company.  Ray Kroc endured much before he made it big with his idea of franchising the McDonald’s fast food restaurants.  He had a dream and worked in many industries before he stumbled across the McDonald Brothers when he was selling shake mixing machines.  He was in his 50’s and suffered from ill health.  After buying the McDonald brothers out, he put together the McDonald’s franchise system.  That was the missing piece for his  dream success.  Today, all we see is his success, which stands like a beacon of hope for those who’s dreams involve owning their own franchise restaurant.  His idea revolutionized the business world and impacted the way Americans eat.

Sacrifice is a tough word.  People shy away from it like a plague.  Sacrifice is giving up hobbies, TV, time away from family, and many hours of self improvement.  Sacrifice is denying oneself something they want, to put them closer to their goals.

Sacrifice is continuing to pay the price, even when everything goes to stink!  The easier route is to give up in defeat.  Beat ourselves up.  Accept being a broken failure.  The hardest thing to do, is to pick ourselves up and do it again.  It calls upon our inner strength and self discipline.  No one, but ourselves, can make us willing to pay the price, again.  To succeed, you must be one tough dude!  As someone I know and respect said, “if I had known how great it is to be successful, I would have paid twice the price.”

We don’t luck into success.  Success comes from inside of us.  Those who are willing to turn down immediate pleasures today and work hard, can receive the rewards of success and financial independence.  Then, someone will look at them and say, “he/she was born lucky”, “he/she has natural talent”.  But, we’ll know, won’t we?

To learn more about goal setting for your success click here!

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The 3 Priorities to Achieve Balance for a Happy, Successful Life

September 21st, 2010 2 comments

I have worked in the business world for many years.  The saddest thing I have witnessed is to see someone who has work very hard, spending the majority of their time creating a successful career.  They finally reach that pinnacle of success in their career that they were striving for and they look around and that’s all they have.  Their marriage and family is gone, kicked to the curb by over focusing on their career.  They had lost all sense of balance.  They have achieved the dream career, but their life is in ruins.

Some people, actually,  use the above scenario as an excuse to not succeed.  They don’t want to put in the time and hard work it takes to succeed because they don’t want to lose what is precious to them.  I believe you can have it all.  I have witnessed it.  I know many successful people who have grabbed the brass ring in their career and have a solid life with their partner and kids.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have seen plenty of the first scenario.  But, it be challenging,  to say the least, but it can be done!

If someone achieves their dream success in their career, but loses their family and is spiritually bankrupt, are they really successful?  Creating a successful life begins by prioritizing the important things in life.  The successful people, I have seen, prioritize their top three things in this order.

1.  Spiritual – they have an active relationship with their God or what ever they call their creator.  They model their lives by the laws and teachings of their spiritual faith.  I don’t believe that a certain religion creates more successful people.  They may not even be affiliated with a religion.  Successful people realize there is something larger than themselves.  They acknowledge it and worship in their own way. Their communication with their spiritual side is their first priority.  Face it, faith and hope come from a strong spiritual connection.

2.  Family – isn’t this who we are working for?  If we really prioritize our families we will find the time to spend with them.  The time might not be quantity, but it should be quality.  Four hours of watching TV with the wife/husband and the kids is not quality time.  The key is, the time you spend with them should have all your attention. Schedule them in your planner and keep that appointment no matter what crisis happens at work.  If we have a great career but lose the closeness with our spouse and children, what have we gained?  When we always short change our family for our career, they aren’t really the priority they should be.  Our families should be our “why” for success.  When we move into the winter of our lives, our families will be the ones who keep us warm.

3.  Business – I am not naive enough to believe, when creating a successful career, we will always be in balance.  Project deadlines and business growth accelerations can take us out of balance.  When this happens, communication with our top two priorities is in order.  Our family, will understand short changing their quality time only if it doesn’t become the norm.

It is fun and exciting to build a successful career!  It should be the monetary means to build a successful life, not the life.

How Words of Encourgement Builds Self Esteem

September 20th, 2010 3 comments

My parents have recently moved into a full care nursing facility.  It became impossible for them to care for themselves and live independently.  I have become involved in the arduous task of preparing my parents’ home to be put on the market.  They had been living in the same home for 47 years and uprooting them was very difficult.  Those roots were planted very deep.  As I have been going through their belongs, I ran across a lot of my old school papers.  Looking at the grades and notes of encouragement, written in the infamous red pencil, made me smile.  I started to think about how much those simply words of encouragement had meant to me and helped shape my life.

Every time we receive words of encouragement it releases a small amount of “can do” hormones into our system.  Encouragement doesn’t produce immediate results.  It is similar to our body’s need for growth hormones. When we are young and growing a healthy body it is imperative to have a constant stream of these vital hormones.  when we receive a steady diet of encouragement it builds our expectations of success in whatever we are striving to accomplish.  Whether we are in athletics or business, our successes build up our self confidence and helps us compete in a competition rich world.

In many corporate cultures, they are as stingy with words of encouragement as they are with increases in pay.  It’s as if they think giving praise and encouragement, more than at review time, will give the employee a “big head”, or too much self esteem.  Do they think that if they are encouraging to their employees, and those employees start feeling good about their job performance, they will be off looking for greener pastures in other companies?

Encouragement is as important to the new person on the team as it is to the seasoned team veteran. It never get old hearing someone say they believe in you.  Leaders who give abundant encouragement have teams that reap the biggest rewards.

Every time we encourage someone and let them know we believe in them, we are adding to their self esteem.  Over time those words are put into their bank of inner strength.  In every life, adversities will happen.  During those troubled times, we will need to make a withdrawal from our bank of inner strength to lead us.

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3 Tips on How to Improve Your Team’s Self Esteem

September 16th, 2010 No comments

I have heard more times than I can count, “You get what you expect out of life.”  I have heard people say they don’t expect good things to happen for them.  If they do, they think it will jinx them.  They believe healthy self esteem, somehow it is cocky, ego driven and wrong.

When we are in leadership positions, especially sales, our team’s self esteem is vital in getting the job done.  When people come to us broken down in their self esteem by previous work experience or family issues, it is up to the leader to help them recapture their flagging self esteem.

I know, you are probably thinking to yourself, “I’m not a shrink.”  Or, “why would I hire some who is broken?”  Many times, we don’t know the status of our individual team members self image.  It’s not hard to use bravado to get a job, while inside their low self esteem keeps them from giving the best performance in their career.  I have interviewed people that appeared to have it all together, but after they became part of the team, their low self image was evident.

I believe the worth of an individual, can’t be determined by a psychological test, or any test for that matter.  I have witnessed some of the least likely people to succeed have done some astonishing things!  They have hearts of champions.  Given a fair shot and some good coaching, those that look average and ordinary can become the super stars!

There are several important things the leader can do to help fortify the team self esteem, reach goals, and create winners.  Here are three important tips for building team self esteem.

1.  The leaders can never expect or accept expectations of failure.  Things like “I can’t” has to be weeded out of the team’s vocabulary.  When a team goal is set, it is up to the leader to reinforce their teams expectations of success.

2.  The leader can’t expect what they can’t inspect.  Things such as leaders boards are a big help.  Our team implemented a big white board in the room where the team gathered regularly.  Every one was responsibly for posting their activity on the board for everyone to see.  It made it easy to recognize the people who were making it happen.  It led to better praise, recognition, and healthy competition.

3.  The individuals on the team, and the team, will rise to the expectations the leader sets for them.  The leader always has a better handle on what the team members can do, individually and together, then they know themselves.  Team goals should be attainable with a good healthy stretch to reach them.  Every time the leader sets a goal, and the team reaches it, the team’s self esteem grows.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart.  It is a tough and rewarding endeavor which changes peoples lives.  Leadership, done correctly, can change the self esteem of an individual and their families for generations.

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