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What do YOU learn the most from Olympians?
by On August 8, 2012

by Jana Owen on August 7, 2012

I had the pleasure and fortune of attending some of the Olympic games last week in London. I’m hooked….I will be attending many more. The energy, activities, culture, comradery, and events were thrilling! But besides that, there is so much to admire about Olympians, and learn from.

I have asked several people – What do you admire most about Olympic athletes? Most people mentioned the discipline or the belief in their own achievement. But there are SO many things we can learn from these talented athletes.

 

 

These are a few of things I wanted to take away from the Olympics.

1. The patience for delayed gratification. I can be impatient with many day to day experiences….but it is a different mindset to be patient with your long term goals. These athletes work most of their lives to compete in something that may take seconds! WOW! Thinking about that makes me feel silly about feeling frustrated when I don’t see the results that I want after dieting for one week! Whatever your long term goals are – be patient with you, and know that it will come. Have a vision, have a plan, and work diligently….it will come.

2. The power of visualization. My coaching clients will tell you I am adamant about this. The power of the mind to create your reality after creating the vision is astonishing to me. It is extremely important to visualize the outcome of ANY situation worth thinking about. Athletes will tell you over and over….this is something they do on a regular basis. Do you have a meeting with your boss coming up? Visualize how you want to feel after. Do you have a big sale you are trying to achieve? Visualize how you will feel when it is a success….and what that process looks like. VISUALIZE WHAT YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO LOOK LIKE.

3. Feeling truly happy for others’ successes. In competitive situations it is easy to be envious, or even self-righteous about losing. We see ‘sore losers’ many times in the Olympics. We have felt envy about a co-workers success (especially when you feel you worked so hard for the same outcome). Sibling rivalries anyone?? Imagine if you could find true authentic gratitude and happiness for someone else’s achievement….imagine how different this world would look! You will get back what you give and sharing ones success is necessary for your successes to be fulfilling or even to come to fruition at all. You can dispute that, but it is what I believe. And it just feels better!

Thank goodness there is 4 years to plan my trip to Rio! But I will try to remember all the things I observed during these games. We can learn from everyone around us, but especially these marvelous athletes with dreams they are chasing after every single day.

GO USA!

It
by On July 25, 2012

by Robb on July 23, 2012

I’m pretty much drowning in post-Tour de France articles.  I’ve been reading all about prize lists and contract speculations, who’s prepping for the Olympics and a TON of (wannabe) tech articles.

Then I found this one about American Tejay Van Garderen.

I had to get to the last paragraph of the article to find the hidden gem, but it is in there.  Isn’t it interesting that arguably the “next great American rider” isn’t focusing on how to totally revamp his training or his form or his focus in order to make himself a better Grand Tour rider.  He’s focusing on “those 1% improvements”.

Imagine if you were the “next great (Insert title here)”.  Where are the tiny areas you would focus on improving in order to take yourself to the next level?  Why not do it anyway?

The Key to Happiness??
by On July 25, 2012

by Jana Owen on July 24, 2012

As human beings, especially Americans, we are always looking for something to make us happy…

“If I get this job….then I will be happy”

“If I lose weight….then I will be happy”

“If I had more money…..then I will be happy”

But the truth of the matter is….we are responsible for our own happiness. Your spouse is not responsible, your boss is not responsible, and your kids are DEFINITELY not responsible for your happiness.

What does your life look like when you are happy? Take a minute and envision what you feel and what is happening when you are happy. You might picture lying on a beach, getting a massage, after sex, or spending time with friends. Chances are you probably have a pleasure oriented contentment – or a hedonic happiness in mind.

Hedonic happiness is no doubt important for your well being. But what about eudaimonic well-being? Eudaimonia is a greek word commonly translated to happiness; though happiness hardly captures the meaning of this word. According to Aristotle, it is the noblest goal in life. The highest possible potential for your spirit. “Personal growth,” in today’s lingo is now the central concept of eudaimonia, which includes recognizing your true purpose and pushing yourself for new goals and challenges.

According to Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “The positive emotion accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being.” Eudaimonia is also good for the body. Women who scored high on psychological tests for it (they were purposefully engaged in life, pursued self-development) weighed less, slept better, and had fewer stress hormones and markers for heart disease than others—including those reporting hedonic happiness—according to a study led by Carol Ryff, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I found this particularly fascinating when I observed my own journey with personal development. I can honestly say, my happiness increased 100 fold since I began my personal growth journey. It has been painful at times, challenging to say the least, uncomfortable on a regular basis, and seem crazy to some…but I have never been so fulfilled. I love improving my eudaimonic self!

How can you improve your eudaimonic well being? A few things that might help…

Make sure you have meaningful goals and a vision for your future

Aggressive mental care is necessary (what are you feeding your mind, what are you reading, listening to, who are you surrounding yourself with)

Gratitude – the root of joy – it is a practice, not a given

Give to others, if you are consistently living a “me me me” life, I will almost bet your eudaimonic well-being needs some TLC.  (I am speaking from experience on this one)

I challenge you… just for a week – do something every day for your personal happiness – for your eudaimonia. That might look like taking time for you, journaling, seeking out a therapist, actively forgiving someone who has hurt you, apologize for a past mistake, listen to motivating audio in the car, or volunteering at a shelter. Anything that will improve your personal growth is going to improve your eudaimonia.

I wish you all Happiness!!

Thank You Mister Gardener
by On July 25, 2012

by dshoup on July 24, 2012

I firmly believe the adage that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. This has happened to us all on countless occasions during our lives and often from the most unexpected of teachers. Whether it was a lesson learned from a failure, or something a mentor shared that finally took root in our mind; to the day you learned the value of loyalty from Han Solo watching the first Star Wars movie at the age of six…. Okay, that last one might only be specific to me, but there is no way I (or anyone) would learn these lessons without being ready to finally hear the message being sent. My most recent teacher was a proud gardener.

While I was walking in my neighborhood I had the good fortune to come across an amazing garden. Now, I know it was amazing because, I don’t spend a lot of time noticing gardens and if I noticed it, it must be pretty good. This was the kind of garden you see in magazines. Looking at it you would guess the owner spent hours and hours of time each day to keep it in the shape it was. It was truly beautiful.

The reason this is even important is because the next house I passed had a garden that was almost the polar opposite of its neighbor. Simply put, it was a wreck. The owner happened to be at this house and was diligently picking at the weeds, which seemed to me a futile effort because they were everywhere. In passing, she said with frustration that she “waited to long to prepare the garden for the season” and that she “was going be playing a lot of catch up on this garden from hell.” I agreed, and wished her luck in her efforts, but knew she was in for a lot of dissapointment.

On my way back around the owner of the “amazing garden” (who I’ll call Mr Gardener) happened to be out watering his plants. So, after I congratulated him on his beautiful work I asked him what he did to keep his garden is such good shape. He chuckled and said, “this is going to sound crazy, but I don’t do much anymore.” He could tell by my confused expression I didn’t believe him so, he quickly elaborated. “Of course, I spend time on upkeep, but I only need to do a little each day now to maintain what I have created.” I asked him if there was anything else he did to keep it so sharp looking and without a second thought he said “Don’t you know, this is a prize-winning garden?” “Really?”, I asked with excitement. “No, not literally, but I treat it like it was. I believe my garden is the best in the neighborhood and as a result it is.”

Well, I thanked him for his time and, in my mind, I thanked him for the wonderful lesson he gave me and rushed home to write it down. From the most unlikely of situations and the most unlikely of people, thank you Mr Gardener, I learned (re-learned is more like it) these three things:

1) Get Your Hands Dirty Early
The main difference between Mr. Gardener and his counterpart was that he put all his hard work on the front end so, he could reap the benefits on the back end. Albert E.N. Gray says that successful people “form the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” What made Mr Gardeners yard a success was that simple rule.

 

 

 

2) Weed Your Garden NOW!
Whenever Mr. Gardener saw a weed he took care of it immediately. He took action and did not let any unwanted plant
take root. The more we wait to accomplish the simple tasks, whether in business or in life, the more pain it causes you in the future and the bigger and more daunting the task becomes.

3) Treat Your Business Like a Prize-Winning Garden
Our hero had a clear vision of what his garden was going to look like and as a result settled for nothing less than a prize-winning garden. When he got it he was not surprised because he had been treating it that way from the beginning. Here is a quote I am bringing back that was extremely helpful as I started my business. “I am the best! Some may be as good as me, but no one is better. I am the best!”

Thank you Mr Gardener.

Why Your Morning Routine Can Make or Break Your Career
by On July 23, 2012

Onlinecollege.org

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Think of your home as your base camp of operations from which you attack the day. Are you adequately arming yourself for the skirmishes you’ll face before sundown? Is your mind sharp and focused, ready to solve problems, prove your worth, and advance your career over the next hill? Whether we realize it or not, all of us have a morning routine. Most of us craft this routine around maximizing sleep: wake up as late as possible to still make it in on time, get ready quick, eat fast, and go. But we’re here to tell you why your work life will prosper when you treat your morning with the respect it deserves.

MORNING IS THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO GET THINGS DONE:

The book on radical leadership you’ve been meaning to read. The online course you’ve been meaning to start. The blogs with the great work advice (ahem) you’ve been meaning to catch up on. All of these are activities that would be so good for you as a person and an employee, and you’re so going to undertake them when you have time. But haven’t you heard, it’s the people who make time who have it? The most successful people recognize that as the day goes on, the number of time-suckers vying for your attention only multiplies. Morning is the best time to do these projects, when you’ve got the fresh willpower and the promise of a new dawn.

 

IT’S A CHANCE TO ATTACK THE DAY PROACTIVELY:

By definition, being proactive means acting ahead of time to plan or strategize for an expected difficulty. If you don’t make a habit of doing this in the morning, you run the risk of dealing with problems reactively and on-the-fly, without the benefit of a solution in mind. The metaphor for this approach is “putting out fires,” which implies some stuff is going to get burned while you’re trying to find the extinguisher. CEO Steve Murphy recommends simply writing out your thoughts for the day on a yellow pad each morning.

IT AFFECTS THE REST OF YOUR DAY’S PERFORMANCE:

Your stress levels are highest in the morning. If your routine consists of waking up rushed, throwing your things together, grabbing coffee and a toaster pastry, and launching out the door, you’ve perfectly prepared yourself to be harried by the time you get to work and need to focus. By mid-afternoon the adrenaline has worn off, and you’re drained. Creating a morning routine that is slow-paced gives your stress level time to come down while you make and enjoy a healthy breakfast (see below), read, pray or meditate, see your kids off to school, and generally prepare for the day. To give yourself more morning time, get chores like making your lunch or ironing what you’re going to wear out of the way the night before.

EXERCISING IN THE MORNING GIVES YOU THE MOST BENEFIT:

Obviously anything that makes you physically healthier helps you in all areas of life, and work is no exception. But exercising after work at the end of the day involves the danger of interfering with sleep: the evidence indicates a tough workout within two hours of bedtime can hurt your ability to fall asleep. Research also suggests people who exercise in the morning are better at making a habit of it. They also get a mood boost that last for hours, even after a 20-minute workout, according to studies.

 

 

MORNING IS HOME TO THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY:

Again, being in good health has no downside for your career. And though some of those old phrases we’ve all heard are bunk, this one is absolutely true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy morning meal improves your concentration and mental performance, both great benefits for work life. If your career involves employing muscles below the neck, there’s good news for you as well, as you increase endurance and strength with the right breakfast foods. In the “breaking your career” category, we have to put drinking coffee. Sorry, but java can lead to higher stress levels, cause anxiety, raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and interfere with sleep. All the more reason to give yourself time to wake up naturally in the morning.

IT CAN HELP YOU KEEP YOUR LIFE PLAN IN MIND:

As we mentioned, morning can be the time you do those things you’ve intended to do for a while. While some of them may be minor odds and ends, some of them may involve major goals you want to achieve in your life, like writing a novel or becoming bilingual. Yes, you can work on these on the weekends if you’re dedicated, but even if you do there are still five days out of the week where you could be making progress on your long-term plans. A solid morning routine lets you step back from thoughts of the immediate future and really consider where your career is headed and what you need to do today to continue moving in the right direction.

 

IT CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CREATIVITY:

If you’re counting on coming up with a brilliant business idea or money-saving practice to get you promoted, you could be hurting your chances by the way you start the day. The best elements for fostering creativity take place, you guessed it, in the morning. A recent study published in scientific journal Thinking and Reasoning showed that in the time after rising when you’re half-awake and unfocused, you often make connections between things that you probably would not make when you’re fully awake. Rushing through this time limits your chances of inspiration striking. Another study in Psychological Science found that “cognitive flexibility” is highest when our mood is positive, as it is when we take our time getting ready and are not stressed.

A HEALTHY ROUTINE REQUIRES GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP:

Once you start cutting into your sleep time in the morning to get up earlier, you’ll have to go to bed earlier to keep from feeling groggy during the day. The beauty here is that many researchers believe each hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth two hours after 12 a.m., meaning you get all those health benefits in twice the proportion when you get to bed earlier, notably your ability to learn and remember, an improvement in your mood, and a healthy immune system so you don’t have to take as much sick time.

Think You Can't Take A Vacation? The Sound Business Reasons You Really Should
by On June 26, 2012

By Patty Azzarello | 06-26-2012 | 9:00 AM

We know–you’re totally, utterly indispensable to your business. Right? Think again: Here are 10 reasons work is better off without you for a while. Now skeedaddle.

 

Now that it’s summer, it’s a good time to remind yourself that you should go on a vacation–and not feel guilty about it.

 

Here are 10 reasons why the business is better off without you for awhile:

 

1. Going on a vacation shows you are competent. It is proof that you are good at your job because you can manage and plan enough to free up some time in your schedule–and not leave a festering mess in your absence. Not being able to take a vacation for years shows that you and your team are so out of control that you can’t even be gone for a week.

 

2. No one is impressed if you don’t. Bragging that you have not had a vacation in years or that you have maxed out on vacation days is not scoring points with anyone. If you think your company or your team see it as a super-keen work-ethic, and admires you for it–they don’t.

 

3. Your team is motivated. When you show by example that you support and allow people to have a life, they will be more motivated to contribute. As long as you don’t send them email every day while you are “on vacation”! Set the expectation you will be generally out of touch. If you can’t stand to let go entirely, arrange 1-2 scheduled check-in points, but don’t just go somewhere else and keep working.

 

4. Your team gets more productive. When you go away, you give your team a break from doing and worrying about all the things you throw in their way when they are trying to get their work done. After about 2 weeks, they will miss you and need you again, but in the mean time, their productivity will actually go up.

 

5. Being unavailable helps people develop. Being unreachable for periods of time is actually a very effective technique for developing people. It forces them to step up. If they think they can reach you at all times, they will never bother to think bigger, learn, and take risks–they’ll just ask you. Just be careful not to un-do everything they did in your absence just because it was different than the way you would have done it.

 

6. You will be more productive. If you step away from the day to day chaos and give your back-of-mind processes a chance to chew on things while you are in a good (or at least different) mood, you’ll think new thoughts. You will solve problems you might not solve if you stay fully engaged at all times.

 

7. You will prioritize better. Stepping away helps make it clear that some of the things that you thought were vitally important before your vacation don’t actually need to get done after all. When you step away, the difference becomes more clear. The most strategic things re-assert themselves and all the clutter drops several notches in volume.

 

8. You let other people be “important.” If you refuse to leave ever, you are sending the message that you are the only important person. Giving others the chance to be in charge, make decisions, speak on your behalf and solve problems sends the message that you have confidence in your team. This builds your credibility with your team, your peers, and your management more than pretending that the business can’t live without you for a moment. (Which doesn’t really build your credibility at all.)

 

9. Your company benefits. Your company prefers people who enjoy their life because they have more positive energy for their work. They are more effective and more productive. People who have interests outside of work also deal with pressures and disappointments in the workplace with more resilience and confidence.

 

10. You need a break, whether you know it or not!

 

Finally, if something comes up in your business that you really can’t avoid handling personally, and you need to cancel your vacation, reschedule another one while you are canceling. This will minimize resentment and disappointment, give you something to look forward to–and ensure you don’t get too full of your self-importance, and go too long without a vacation.

6 Practical Time Management Strategies for Freelancers and Solo
by On June 25, 2012

Summary: In this training episode, Jason Womack delivers tips and strategies to use the time we have more efficiently.

As solo professionals, most of us understand that we have to continually nurture our resources to be successful. We sign up for workshops to improve our skills. We take on challenging new projects to broaden our experience. And we attend conferences and join associations to drive our knowledge.

But in spite of all these efforts, there’s one resource we simply cannot grow: our time.

Our time is finite. No matter how early we get up or how late we wind down, there are only so many hours in a day. For many of us, the only way to get “more” time is to use the time we have more efficiently.

In this training episode, Jason Womack delivers tips and strategies for doing just that. Jason is an internationally sought after speaker and advisor who invests his time, energy and focus as an agent of change. He has advised and consulted with companies, governments and entrepreneurs worldwide, and he was honored as one of America’s top 100 thinkers in productivity in 1997.

Earlier this year Jason’s most recent book, Your Best Just Got Better, achieved best-selling status within five weeks of publication.

It Starts With Awareness

I often ask clients to reflect on this question: “When was the last time you took time, energy and focus to study how you work?” As you can probably guess, many people say never.

Developing and learning time management strategies and methods does indeed take time. If you look at the way you currently manage your time, you will likely see that you do what you’ve always done because it has worked¬ — or at least worked well enough to get by.

But to make your best better, it’s probably time to change how you use your time.

During the next few days, I encourage you to be especially conscious (and curious) about how you spend your time. Recognize how often other people interrupt you, how frequently you have to stop and look for things, or how long it takes to complete certain job functions. As you continue studying your methods, look for new practices that you can implement immediately that will help you manage your time better.

The following are some of my favorite strategies for making immediate improvements to your time management process:

1. Start meetings on the 00:15 of each hour.

In my experience, most one-hour meetings can be handled in 45 minutes. In fact, they usually are, especially later in the day when people are running 5 to 15 minutes late. Try scheduling your meetings with clients and partners for 15 minutes past the hour instead of on the hour, such as from 9:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. or 2:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Why the odd starting time? It often takes people 15 minutes to prepare for a call or meeting. By scheduling your meetings at 15 minutes past the hour, you may be pleased to find your clients actually show up or join the call “on time.”

2. Make the most of small pockets of time.

Keep a list of 20 to 30 things you can do in less than 15 minutes and have at hand the supplies or information you need to accomplish at least some of these tasks. By having them ready, you’ll be able to make the most of small pockets of time whenever they come up.

You’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to use these little pockets of time. Meetings start late, people fail to arrive on time, flights get cancelled, your child’s soccer practice runs long.

Often these small pockets of time are long enough so you can reply to an email or phone call. In other instances, you might have enough time to review materials for another meeting or project you are working on. If you’re prepared, you can confirm appointments, draft responses or map out a project outline.

Fifteen minutes is about 1% of your average workday. That may not sound like much time, but over the course of a week, you may find yourself with anywhere from 10 to 20 extra 15-minute blocks of time. In 15-minutes of prepared, focused work, you can often get more done than in one hour of unprepared, unfocused work.

3. Gain some ground early in the day.

When you sit down at your desk each morning, begin by working on something you can finish. After a few weeks, you’ll find you’ve completed a lot of little things that needed to be done, and you may have more time, mental space and inspiration to tackle some bigger issues. Completion increases your energy level and sets the standard for consistent forward motion on projects at all levels of importance.

4. Focus on the task at hand.

Part of maintaining focus is minimizing distractions. If you work from a home office, there are always plenty of things that distract. When you think of things unrelated to the immediate task at hand, make a short note of them and then get back to what you were working on.

Try keeping a piece of paper off to the side on your desk. When you think of something non-urgent you need to tell or ask someone, write it down instead of emailing or calling the person right away. When you think of something you need to do or get an idea related to some other project, quickly write it down and then put it aside.

These pages might end up looking like a random to-do list with items like details you need to tell your coworker, a story to add to your next newsletter, or which restaurant to book for your partner’s birthday. By compiling these items instead of immediately reacting to them, you’ll help minimize distractions and keep yourself focused on the task at hand.

As a freelancer, you might think that one of your most important skills is the ability to multitask. But I’d like to encourage you to experiment with NOT multitasking. Try turning off everything but what you’re currently working on. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and only do that one thing for the whole time.

When you get distracted (and you will) practice looking at the countdown timer, and get your head “back in the game.” Sometimes when we multitask, we get pulled in many different directions and little gets done. Instead, try to limit your focus to one thing at a time in 10 to 15 minute segments.

Once you start making changes to manage your time more effectively, you’ll want to assess how well these changes are working for you. I have two methods for doing this: end-of-day reviews and Thursday debriefings.

5. End-of-Day Reviews

Before finishing up work tonight, review your calendar and reprioritize your meetings, appointments and planned work for the next day. Look to see if you can reschedule non-priority meetings to the following day if you need to.

Review the next week on your calendar and ask yourself if you can collapse two meetings into one by meeting with two people at the same time. Find and schedule 30- to 60-minute chunks of a time (perhaps even multiple times per day) during which you can close your door or turn off your email or phone so you can focus on a single project or priority without being interrupted.

My clients have found that this end-of-day review enables them to become more aware of the changes they can make for a more productive, engaging day. Decide what you want to focus on and how you’re going to do it. Understand and take advantage of everything that influences your productivity, and you’ll find you can manage time more effectively.

6. Thursday Debriefings

Next, open your calendar to Thursday, at least one week from today. On your calendar, write this question:

“How have I been managing my time lately?”

When you see this reminder a week or so from now, you’ll be able to assess the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made. I coach my clients to do this kind of weekly debriefing on Thursdays (not Fridays) as a way to acknowledge their work that week and organize anything they need to do before finishing up the next day.

When people ask me why I do my debriefing on early or midmorning Thursdays, I give them the following reasons:

Friday afternoon, I generally want to: (a) go for a bike ride, (b) do aimless online research along my lines of interest or (c) meet up with friends for happy hour.

Friday afternoon, I do not want to have to think!

Thursday, midmorning, is the time I start to think about bringing the week to a close.

Thursday, midmorning, I can remind people of (a) what I am doing for them, and (b) what I need from them. This gives me the rest of that day and all day Friday to get those things done.

By seeing the progress I’ve made over the previous three days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), I get an extra shot of energy to move on to the next two days with gusto.

So, between now and next Thursday, practice some of these time management ideas. Here are some specific things to think about as you move toward working smarter and improving your efficiency and productivity.

Are you making the most of small pockets of time?

Are you making progress on important areas and goals?

What could you change that would move you forward on the path of productivity, so that you get done more of the important things during the day and increase the amount of time, energy, and focus you have once you’re done work for the day?

Good time management doesn’t just happen. Like most aspects of your business, it requires conscious assessment and effort to change and improve. Whether you’re a freelancer, solopreneur or small business owner, implementing these tips and strategies will help you get the most out of your time.

What Other Tips Work For You?

Jason Womack is the author of: Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley, 2012). He works globally with leaders maximizing tools, systems, and processes to achieve quality work/life balance. He focuses on solutions that are valuable to organizations and the individuals in those organizations. You can reach Jason at Jason@WomackCompany.com.

 

 

 

 

8 Steps To Knock Out An Impossible Punch List
by On June 21, 2012

By Kaihan Krippendorff | 06-21-2012 | 10:00 AM

This article is written by a member of our expert contributor community.

First, take a deep breath. Good? Now read on for advice on “constructive urgency.”

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”–Thomas Edison

Our impact on the world depends on our ability manage urgency. Right now, I’m not doing so well. On my flight racing over to Honduras, my mind is wandering: What should I do first? Write a blog post? Prep for next week’s workshop? Watch a movie? I’m in a state of paralysis, which John Kotter, the Harvard Business School guru of change leadership calls “false urgency,” and I like to call “destructive urgency.” There are three types of urgency:

1. Complacency: You make no effort because you think things are fine.

2. Destructive urgency: You are stressed, worried, know things must change but you don’t know what to do, so you waste your time looking busy but achieving little.

3. Constructive urgency: You feel an energizing sense of purpose and direction, what Kotter calls “real urgency,” that “is not something that wears you down…real urgency produces success, which gives energy back.”

To win whatever game we are playing, we must push people past complacency, steer clear of destructive urgency, and land in the constructive urgency zone.

So how do you create constructive urgency? This week I read articles and books, and interviewed experts and compiled this eight-step summary.

Step 1: Orient

Glen Manchester, by all accounts, was doing wonders with Thunderhead, the customer engagement technology company he launched in 2001, growing at 40% annually and being ranked as one of the world’s most innovative tech firms. He had revenue approaching $70 million, over 200 employees, hundreds of marquis clients, and yet he realized he was in trouble. Thunderhead was flying into a storm.

“I saw we had so much innovation potential that our clients were not buying [because] we were selling to the wrong people,” said Manchester.

The future buyers of client engagement solutions should be chief marketing officers, not IT departments, and if Thunderhead didn’t adjust now, another competitor would soon. He and his team sat down and played out the scenario until they realized their strategy had to change.

Only when you realize that change is necessary, is the possibility for change born.

Step 2: Paint a new future

So Manchester and his team proposed the question: “What if we extract IT (technology) out of the equation…if [customer engagement] solutions were not built for CIOs and call centers,” but rather for the marketing department? They realized this paradigm changed everything that required you to attack in “a clean sheet way.”

Step 3: Create meaning

Logic doesn’t move people, emotion does. To build commitment to your new future you need to have it mean something to your team. Thunderhead did this by connecting with its core aspiration to be a global player, not a once-ran.

Step 4: Find the strategic concept

Plans fall apart quickly once the battle begins. So in fast-paced change efforts, simple, easily communicated strategies work best. Manchester came up with a brilliant one. “We were going to acquire ourselves,” he said, and disrupt the company before someone else does. Thunderhead would create an alternative persona, Thunderhead.com, buy the old Thunderhead brand, and execute a bold transformation program.

Step 5: Put up blinders

Your success will inevitably trigger naysayers. Thunderhead.com, for example, is creating a new product category that “no one is really talking about [yet]; no one is saying this is where things are going.” How do you immunize yourself from such disbelievers? You reframe the doubters. “If it’s feeling easy, it’s wrong,” Manchester told me. This is like elite athletes who work with, even seek out, the pain as sign they are improving.

Step 6: Remove the drag

You will get distracted by bureaucracy. There are always forms to fill out, procedures to learn, paperwork to slow you down. Remove the drag and focus on the actions that really matter. When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was once told by a manger they couldn’t connect servers because their new building had not yet been wired, Ellison supposedly hammered a hole in the drywall, pulled through a loose cable, and told the manager he was now wired. Cut down the drag to pick up speed.

Step 7: Produce results

Successful change efforts produce results early. For example, the South Beach Diet took the U.S. by storm five years ago not because of its breakthrough science but because it was simple to follow and produced noticeable results in two weeks.

Step 8: Create perceived motion

Talking to successful entrepreneurs like Manchester usually feels like being on a bullet train. Things are moving quickly and if you don’t grab on you will be left behind. Humans are designed to notice motion, not static movement. So create a sense of velocity for your investors, employees, and customers. Don’t just talk about what you are doing until you succinctly describe how the world is changing (e.g., “technology is getting simpler, consumers are driving adoption, China and India are emerging … and that is why this opportunity is available now for the first time”).

Putting it to work

Have you reached discontent? If not, find it, talk about it, get your team a (little) depressed. But jump to step 2 quickly, before you lead your team to destructive discontent.

Does your new vision make you anxious or complacent? If so, redesign it. I personally see some parts of my vision completely excite me, others less so. So I’ll revisit those.

Is realizing your vision important? Does it link to your values? If not, ask “why is this important to me and to the world?” I, for example, am building an online tool based on my process and sometimes forget why: to help everyone make smarter decisions every day. Reconnect to your purpose.

What strategic metaphor captures your plan? For me, it’s to build the “Bloomberg” for change makers. If you don’t have one, create one.

What will you do to block doubters from sapping your enthusiasm? What works for me is a group of mentors I can call, who think big, and can inspire me.

What are you wasting time on? Stop doing that. For example, I spend too much time setting up conference calls. I’m going to start picking up the phone instead.

What immediate results are you playing for? For me, it’s to launch “proof of concept”…which we will get to you next week!

What preamble will create a sense of acceleration for your idea? If it does not feel like a bullet train, rewrite it. I tend to start with theory. That doesn’t work. Instead I will launch into my “accelerator” preamble every time I speak to a new client or investor.

 

 

 

 

 

The Anatomy of Results
by On June 21, 2012

This TEDx presentation was released several days ago and is already one of the most viewed new TED talks on the internet today.

Eric Plantenberg breaks down the Anatomy of Results and highlights why some people are able to consistently create terrific results, and why most people do not.

If you are not familiar with Ted.com – here is a brief overview of their mission as posted on their website.

Our mission: Spreading ideas.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. This site, launched in April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress, and you’re an important part of it.

At Freedom Personal Development, we are thrilled to promote Ted.com as we believe that ultimately we share the same purpose: to deliver the Freedom to Choose. Good ideas make that possible. Congratulations to Freedom Personal Development president, Eric Plantenberg, for being invited to share his ideas along side of the planet’s “most inspired thinkers.”

Please post your comments about his talk on YouTube or this blog.

Be Free!

Freedom Personal Development

The Power of Owning Your Time
by On June 14, 2012

Not a whole lot to share this week with regards to my use of the 2-Hour Solution.  We are out in Bend, OR for Strategic Planning so I cleared my calendar.  That being said, I started doing something that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but in retrospect really helped boost our productivity in these meetings.

I changed the outgoing message on my office phone to reflect my travel plans (go ahead and check it out) and to let people know that the best way to get a hold of me was via my cell.  Great, now all calls should be coming to my cell.  But I know I will be in meetings most of the mornings, and then again in the afternoons.  And these mornings and afternoons are two hours behind my clients in the Midwest.  Plus, these aren’t exactly the type of meetings that I can jump out of in order to take a call.  I need to focus on these meetings, but I also don’t want to miss a client call! (Can you feel my stress level rising?)

So here’s what I did, and it’s not rocket science.  Thanks to the genius that is my iPhone, I can change my outgoing message REALLY quickly.  I simply decided when I would make myself available on a daily basis and shared that with anyone who called.  Here’s an example:

“Hi, you’ve reached Robb, today is Tuesday and I am in Bend, OR attending meetings in the mornings and afternoons.  I’ll be available to return calls from Noon until two o’clock Pacific time so go ahead and leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.  Make it a great day!”

This week I’ll simply update my outgoing message every morning so I can focus my energy in the mornings and afternoons.  I’m not stressing about who is calling or leaving messages because they know my plans and when they can expect to hear back from me.

Try this out.  I realize it’s just a little thing, but sometimes that’s all it takes.

What are the little things you do to every day to be totally clear with your schedule and your time?  Drop a comment below.