Welcome to the "Thoughtful Kick-Start." If you subscribe, you’ll get something useful every Monday – savvy, upbeat insights - that will lead to exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!
Listen to Your MotherTue, 05/10/2011 - 11:34 — jonathan
About 12 years ago, I met a 75 year old man in a coaching class on listening. That man was one of the best listeners I've encountered in my life. I could tell by the things he said and asked. At the end of the class when we were all reviewing what we had learned, he said, “Boy, I have a lot to learn about listening”. That moment has stayed with me for the length of my coaching career. Even at 75 there's the insight and motivation to get better and better at listening.
In communication, listening is as important a skill to master as speaking. Listening establishes a feeling and connection that has become rather rare in our fast pace world of constant messages bombardment. You know the feeling you get when you speak with someone who's a good listener? It's priceless. If you give someone else that feeling in business, you create a bond with that person that could make the difference between a potential client and an actual client. The other advantage of listening well is you get more information and insight regarding the situation you and the other person are dealing with, so together you can make a difference.
These thoughts are common sense, and I'm sure you're a great listener, when you're listening! But what happens when you're feeling stressed, anxious or in a hurry, and your listening skills are at risk. Here are a few tips to enhance your listening skills when they might otherwise escape you.
1. Take The Time - If you know that listening better would make a difference, make sure to structure your time so you don't feel rushed. Yes... time management is a listening skill. With time and patience, you can listen longer, deeper, with few if any interruptions, and really foster complete communication.
2. Be Generous With The "Space" - I used to think my own best gift was my enthusiasm and my words, but usually just "holding the space" can also provide a great gift. When you have a dialogue, and you sense the other person wanting to interrupt, let them! If you feel a temptation to interrupt, jot down a few words to remind you of your thoughts so you can share them when it's your turn again. Then return to focussed listening.
3. Feedback - Repeat the exact words that person was saying, giving the speaker the confidence that the message really came across and is valued. This also alters your mindset to really focus on what the other person is conveying rather than what your brain might interpret or mis-interpret.
With the faith that a positive outcome will occur if you listen longer, you will find yourself causing more positive outcomes. This doesn't mean shutting up and not getting your message across at all. It means knowing when to speak up and when to hold back. Time and time again, I've seen people create exciting breakthroughs with more thoughtful listening.
We will explore this subject further and deeper during my free monthly teleseminar on Thursday May 19th at noon EST. I invite you to tune in for some practical applications and methods for becoming a better listener and have a more powerful impact on your specific challenges and goals.
To listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meeting, click play or download mp3.
The Power of TrustTue, 05/03/2011 - 11:03 — jonathan
Trust is an important aspect of business, whether it's trusting others, or trusting yourself.
I'd like to focus first on the trust you need to have in your team. This team could be the team of employees that you work with or lead, a virtual team, a team of people you network with, your family, or even relationships with clients. Within any of these situations, trust is a core element for a sustainable relationship.
There are three components of trust, as described in Kenneth Kaye's book, "The Dynamics of Family Business".
2) Trust in Honesty. This is a simple one: people either speak the truth or not. I had one client who worked with virtual teams. It happened that people on a particular team weren't honest about the progress they made. When he visited the site it was very easy to find out who those people were. He agreed to give people one chance for amnesty. After that, no dishonesty was accepted. You can't have people on your team that don't tell you the truth.
3) Trust in Competence. Have you ever delegated responsibility to someone with honest, good intentions, but just didn't have the right skills for the job? Before your next crisis, look for opportunities to delegate smaller tasks, so you can train, give feedback and nurture the skills of your team members.
Some people have less difficulty trusting others, but more trouble trusting their own instincts. Obviously, when a decision feels right, go with it. It’s always great to say "yes" decisively.
Other times, something feels wrong, but you feel caught because there's a lot of pressure to move forward. If something feels wrong, it is important to stop everything, assess the situation, and to change gears as necessary. Even if that takes some valuable time, it will save you a lot of time in the long run if you don’t go down the wrong road.
A lot of times we don’t get a strong, gut reaction to help with a decision. The questions you can ask yourself when uncertain are:
A) "What further information do I need to gather?"
B) "What processing do I need to do to make the right decision?"
Ask yourself these questions out loud, and write the answers on paper, or talk to someone you trust. If you need help identifying the information you need to make an important decision, give me a call and we can work things out together.
If you want to listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation meeting, press play below or click download mp3.
Family DynamicsTue, 04/26/2011 - 11:00 — jonathan
Today's the Monday after Easter and the last few days of Passover. These are holidays we typically spend with our families. Since I've specialized myself as a business coach in family businesses, today we're discussing family dynamics in business. There are probably more ways to describe how family businesses interact and how family relationships influence your character and motivation than there are branches on your family tree! For this blog I'm going to focus on three challenges that frequently occur in family based businesses.
1. Handcuffs - When family members are in business together they have a set of handcuffs, that unrelated employees don't have.
The most successful business people tend to follow the rule “Hire Slow, Fire Fast”. This means they first make a very rigorous search to make sure that they hire the right people and if that person doesn't meet expectations, they let them go quickly and replace them.
All too often however, business owners tend to hire fast and fire slow. They find themselves in a hurry to fill a need and quickly give someone the job. If that person underperformes, they delay the inevitable firing, trying not to disrupt the flow of business, or trying to be “kind”. It's even harder to say to your daughter, son-in-law, father, or wife, “You're fired!” However, if you keep a low performer on board, you'll bring negative energy to your whole team.
2. The Arrested View - Sometimes family members see each other based on their history, they treat each other based on who they used to be, not who they are today. Kenneth Kaye, in his book, "The Dynamics of Family Business" describes a situation called the "Kid Brother Syndrome". In this situation, the youngest of siblings is seen as an underperformer and also held down as such. This makes it very difficult for the youngest siblings to raise expectations and performance. When people look at their family members based only on their past performance without looking at their growth in experience and skill, they really sell themselves short.
3. Boundries - When you are in business with a family member, the personal relationship is going to influence the business and vice versa. This is true for friendship relationships as well. When there is an argument, a lack of trust or any issue between two people with a close relationship, it is very hard to not let the business suffer from that. When two family members are having issues in business, it's painful to see how their love for each other gets overshadowed by stress.
To listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meeting, click play or download mp3:
Deadlines and CommitmentTue, 04/19/2011 - 08:26 — jonathan
In this week's blog I'd like to focus on how commitment strengthens deadlines and how deadlines can strengthen your commitment.
Today most of us have one of the least favorite deadlines of the year. It's tax day. Like most people, I really don't enjoy doing the work that comes with filing my tax return. Still, every year I start early, I break the task down into segments, spread those segments out over several weeks, and this year I got everything done early Friday morning.
A lot of people have issues with these oppressive, external types of deadlines that force you to do things you don't like to do. Instead of acting disempowered by the limiting notion of rules, it helps to consider all rules as agreements made by choice. If you want to live and work here in the United States, you have to either follow these rules, or face the consequences. That's not a very inspiring point of view. If instead you imagine yourself as a key member of society and that you've saved a life today by funding the fire department with your tax money, it empowers your commitment to do the task. You can use this frame shifting technique to get motivated toward any deadlines you're not too fond of. Imagine what agreements you've made a commitment to and then think of something great that will come out of that agreement.
Deadlines can also help to strengthen your commitment. We all have goals and desires. We talk about them a lot after New Years Eve when we make our resolutions. For the vast majority, those resolutions fade about halfway through February because they're vague and usually lack structure. If you really want the important and meaningful things in your life to come true and if you're really committed to the results that you want to achieve in business, then you have to practice identifying specific, measurable goals. Create deadlines for yourself, write them down and share them with someone you can count on to hold you accountable. For example, I have a commitment to continue developing content, this blog and weekly Monday Morning Mini Motivation Meetings. By having listeners dial in every Monday at 8:15 a.m, I'm “on the hook” to keep coming up with new motivational material.
Find someone who can serve as an external force that can support you, believes in you and will ask if you are doing what it takes to reach those results. If you don't know anybody that can provide that external support for you, you're welcome to contact me and we'll set something up together.
To listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meeting, click play or download mp3.
Actions Related to ResultsTue, 04/12/2011 - 08:53 — jonathan
Your actions are related to your results. That might seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone always makes a strong connection between their desired outcomes and the actions they take.
Ideally you're motivated and energized to get busy and get things done every day, but you might recognize the feeling that sometimes you're working out of habit. Some people keep doing the same things over and over again and don't produce the right results.
Do you find yourself just doing what you're used to, or feeling that 'at least you're doing something', while it isn't necessarily aligned with the right results? To prevent that, always consider the desired outcome before taking any action. If you focus on your desired results first, you can make sure your actions are always correlated to your desired outcomes and priorities. Then, by taking effective actions you can use your time more wisely and create twice the results you want.
Let's practice that. I'd like you now to think of that one most important thing you'd want to occur this week. Be specific about it...
Write it down...
Now, what is the most efficient way to have that occur with greater success and less effort?
Only after you've picked your desired results can you think in terms of actions that will lead to those results. Pick your actions based on things that are similar to those that have worked for you in the past, or different from those that have not worked as effectively as you'd have liked. Think of conversations you can have with people who have influence and recourses that are relevant to your goal. Sometimes you'll have to change the game you're playing in order to prevent spinning your wheels.
There are times when it's better to abandon your original plan if something significantly better comes along. It's important not to change directions on a whim, but you do need to have some flexibility in order to get off of the hamster wheel.
If you'd like to know more specific ways you can become more effective with your actions and your time, you're welcome to call me for a free exploratory coaching session, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
To Listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meeting, press play or download the mp3.
The Power of FUN in BusinessTue, 04/05/2011 - 07:02 — jonathan
A few weeks ago, I put together a dodge ball team (yes, that’s right – DODGE BALL!). I invited people I know from networking, offering three promises: we'll have fun, we'll get good exercise, and meet new people. So far we're having a great time, and on the side we're building business relationships. And surprisingly, we’re in 2nd place going into the final championship match this Thursday.
Everytime I speak about fun in business, there is a 99% percent chance that everyone is eager to hear what I have to say. Talking about fun in business also raises questions about how to fit fun into a serious business environment. I certainly don't mean to say that fun is all about goofing around and not taking your job seriously. What I'm referring to is leveraging the energy that fun is.
Fun is a motivational form of energy. Imagine yourself waking up, knowing that today you'll have to fill out your tax forms. Now, compare that to how you feel waking up knowing that today you are leaving for vacation. When do you feel more energized?
So how do we leverage that energy on a day-to-day basis in business? My first advice would be to consider fun to be one of your top priorities. In my list of values, fun is very near the top. You first have to choose to have fun.
Once you have made a commitment to bringing fun into your work, then you can turn your goals into games. Any goal can be turned into a game. Every good game is well conceived; it has it's own rules, timelines and rewards. If we take dodge ball as an example, there are rules about catching the ball, how long the matches take, where the boundaries are, and what results when you win. The same thing should be done for turning a business goal into a fun game. For example, set a timeline for completing a project, or reaching a certain number of people, and then play to win!
The best reward is of course is achieving the goal. When professional athletes win a championship, you don't see them cheering and spilling good champagne when the bonus check comes in the mail. The greatest joy happens at the moment of victory.
If there is any goal that you have to achieve this week, but you're not really looking forward to doing all the work, try transforming it into a game. Make the rules, the timelines, little rewards and celebrate the achievement.
Also, always be a good sport and a good friend in business. I met some of my best clients by having fun. Maybe you have to be serious about the product or service you provide, but you can be fun in the approach to the relationship and to balance out the stress. Make it your business to care about someone having a good time winning their game.
If you're having any trouble on how to apply this to your goal, feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail and we'll work things out together. Oh, and have fun this week!
ChallengesTue, 03/29/2011 - 09:48 — jonathan
There are two aspects that define the word “challenge”.
The first aspect is that a challenge is a difficulty. We are constantly challenged by situations that pose a threat to our present or future condition. Very often when we are faced with a challenge, the first thing that we experience is FEAR – the belief that something bad and unwanted will occur.
The second aspect of the word challenge is opportunity. I’ve seen dictionaries that define “challenge” as a situation that bring out our very best.
Every challenge is an opportunity for our greatest strengths, resourcefulness and creativity to arise and give us confidence to create ideal future conditions. So it's our job to look at a challenge and get past those feelings of fear and focus our minds on the thought that it's an opportunity. For that to happen, we need to practice frame-shifting. We can always shift our focus to believing, as I've written before, that we are infinitely creative, resourceful and capable.
How do we make that mind shift? One of the ways is to simply say this phrase: “This is my finest hour!”
Give it a try. Say it out loud, right now. “This is my finest hour!” These are very powerful words.
If you have faith in your abilities to perform and to call upon a team, you’ll turn every challenge into an opportunity and you'll go from ‘good to great’ in the near future. You’ll make every hour your finest hour!
For more on HOW TO overcome challenges, read my previous blog post on “Figuring It Out Vs. Working It Out.” Also, you're always welcome to send me an e-mail, or to contact me by phone for a free exploratory coaching session about how to overcome the challenges you're facing. I'd be happy to hear from you.
To listen to this week's recording, press play or click download below:
MoneyThu, 03/24/2011 - 08:25 — jonathan
We have many different names for money. In the United Kingdom, it’s the pound sterling. In Japan, it’s the yen. In the United States, we use words like “dough,” “bread”, “bucks,” “dollars,” “cash, and “coin.”
My favorite word for money is currency, because it derives from the word with two meanings that relate very closely to how money works. Money is fluid, like a river’s current and always passing from hand to hand. Even in times of economic recession, there is an abundant, ever-present, ever-flowing exchange for goods and services almost everywhere you turn. The other meaning of the word ‘current’, is that it responds well when you are “in the present,” focused right now (currently) on what you are doing or who you are with and how you are gaining or adding value.
So if right now, money is flowing everywhere, how can you get more of it to flow into your business and your family? Here are three tips:
1. Money Corresponds to Value – It’s a fairly simple concept. The more value you provide for your clients and customers, the easier it is to get more business, attract more referrals and secure (or even raise) your rates. You know you’re providing a great service. Shouldn’t the rate be proportional to your service? Of course. How else can you leverage what you do and who you know to add value? Make sure it relates to what your clients need or want – that is what they value.
2. The Competitive Market – You know how they say “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer”? Well, hopefully you don’t have any enemies, but it’s definitely a good idea to keep your competition close. It is always important to know what other competitors are doing and what they are charging. Many people are too interested in being polite rather than telling or asking about someone else’s rates. You do have to base your rates on the reality of what is readily available to your clients elsewhere. Then go back to tip #1 to increase value.
3. Guts – They say “no guts, no glory” and true. This is especially important when asking for the price you deserve for the value you provide. Be willing to stand for what you’re worth, even if it makes someone temporarily uncomfortable. You don’t want the client to laugh at the price and walk away, but just beneath that “turn-off” point there’s a level where the price may be just a little higher than anticipated, but high enough that the client knows they’ll be getting something special. That’s where you want to start, and if necessary, negotiate a win-win from there. There is more information on these pricing tips starting on page 105 of my book, Income Double, Half the Trouble.
Follow these steps and your profits will grow. If you want any support, guidance or just to have a lively conversation about your approach to growth, contact me for a complimentary coaching session by phone.
And as always, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you!
Talking About TeamworkMon, 03/14/2011 - 14:09 — jonathan
Today we talked about the three fundamentals of having teamwork work for you. It’s important to start with the realization that everything great was accomplished as a team. If you go in it alone, you limit your true potential.
1. Do what you do best and have others do the rest.
Get to know your signature strengths and leverage them to the hilt. Whenever you can, delegate the things that drain you of energy and have people who are great at those things do them while you provide maximum value doing what you do best. This is a simple concept, but can take a lifetime to master. Don’t worry – just keep getting better and better at this.
2. Have your game be that others win at their game.
Whether we’re talking about your network as a team, or your employees, get to know what others are “up to” in their lives. Show a real, true and strong interest, and be a supportive, resourceful person. If you make it your business that others win at their games, they will be more likely to get motivated to see to it that you win at yours, too.
3. Be clear about what your game is.
Be ready to answer the question, “What can we do for you?” Know what you want and know what you need to succeed. For me, it’s very clear – I’m interested in meeting family based business owners who want to improve productivity, performance and teamwork. What are the top 3 things you would like to have happen in your business, and how can people who have resources and connections help you?
We’ll be talking more about teamwork on Thursday during our monthly live tele-coaching teleseminar.. Here are the details:
TITLE: High Performance Team Dynamics for ALL
** No Charge
Date: March 17th, 2011
Time: Noon eastern, (11 AM CST, 10 AM Mountain, 9 AM Pacific)
* NEW * Dialing Instructions: Dial-in: 1-712-432-3066 - then enter conference code
I look forward to hearing your stories and questions then.
Figuring it out vs. Working it outTue, 03/08/2011 - 12:12 — jonathan
A lot of people come to me and tell me they’re stuck. They are trying to figure out something or another, and they can’t seem to figure it out. Whether it’s getting more clients, making the right staffing decisions, making more money, finding time to exercise, etc, people often feel like they’re thinking themselves in circles.
Problem-solving has its ups and downs, but when it comes right down to it, there’s two sides to the coin: figuring it out vs. working it out. Figuring it out is all internal, and within the confines of existing thoughts. It’s very difficult to problem-solve this way, because as Albert Einstein once said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”
Working it out is a simpler, less stressful way to problem solve, and all it takes is three easy steps: Get Out of your own Head, Consider your Choices, and Take Action!
Of course, some people find it a little difficult to jump out of their own head, so pick one of these three methods that may reduce the anxiety even further and get you off on the right foot again.
1. On paper – Do something to work out your problem on paper. It’s the fastest and most readily available way to go. If you know how to make a list or an outline, you can break down any situation into smaller components. Maybe you know about mind mapping…try it.
2. Another approach is to write out a few questions, then answer them, such as:
a. What’s the challenge?
b. What are the obstacles standing in my way and the limiting beliefs tied to them?
c. What are my strengths, resources and positive beliefs on this matter?
i.**for more on my frame-shifting-frame exercise, take a look at my previous blog post on the subject**
d. What are my options?
e. What will I do next? What is my best next step? By when? – Hold yourself accountable and you’ll astound yourself with what you’re capable of.
3. Talking to a friend – Now, we all have those friends who are negative, critical, or just really bad at listening. Don’t go to them. Only go with friends who know how to listen and support your success.
4. Talking to a coach – Okay, I know I’m tooting my own horn, but let’s face it, coaches are made for this sort of situation. We train for it and we know what questions to ask to get you out of your head and onto the next step that’s right for you. I call it the “Win-Win Check-In.” It’s unconditionally constructive accountability that has you at the top of your game, problem-solving and moving forward toward your ultimate goals.
If you’d like to try a complimentary session, click here. Maybe we’ll work something out together, even during the one free session! It would be my pleasure.
To listen to this past Monday's Mini-Motivation Meeting, click play or download the mp3 file.