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Archive for March, 2010

In just one moment our lives can change—for the good, for the bad, forever. One little moment in time can define who you will be for the rest of your life.  Why not make that moment in time right now for the good?  Why wait until something is lost, taken away or failing for you to have your defining moment?

“Dad’s got cancer” or “they found a lump” are all too common words we have heard throughout our life.  Everyone I’ve ever spoken to about those life events said their life changed forever in that minute.  And everyone I’ve ever asked said if given the opportunity, they wished they’d handled some things differently.  They all agreed that they were unsure why they waited until it was too late.

We wait because we defy fate.  We teeter on believing that we either play the hand we’re dealt or that it won’t ever happen to us.  We save those changes for some day or one day or tomorrow.  What would your tomorrow have in it that your today hasn’t found time for?

Part of my writing today is for reflection and part is for empowerment.  One of the biggest questions I ask myself today?  Why is making change so difficult and why does it take something life-changing to well, make us change our life?  My friend Andy Andrews taught me about a Union Army General who later became the 32nd Governor of Maine, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  Chamberlain penned one of my favorite quotes, “My future is immediate. I will grasp it in both hands and carry it with running feet. When I am faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something, I will always choose to act!”  Man that’s good!  And if you haven’t seen Gods and Generals yet, Jeff Daniels plays the role of Chamberlain and its pretty powerful stuff.

The amazing part about Chamberlains life is that he was relatively unknown in the Battle of Gettysburg we hear so much about, but his life, his legacy and his words live on forever.  You see, he made changes in an instant that became the defining moment in his life.  He was wounded four different times and was even told that one of his wounds would surely kill him…and it did, fifty years later!  You could say he had four defining moments in his long life.

So, let’s get back to you and me.  What will be our defining moment?  How could our morning be different?  How could we better interact with our families?  Who are we going to be to the people at work?  What legacy are we leaving behind?  How do we begin the process?  Will we wait until a defining moment happens TO us?

Chances are the answer is yes.  Yes, because we’re too busy being busy to create our own destiny.  BUT, we do have the opportunity right now to change our attitudes, our character, our priorities, our relationships, and our future with one decision.  That decision requires you to become a person of action.  Right now, in THIS very moment, what you do matters.  Every effort you make counts.  Every word you say has an impact.  Every life you touch will never be the same.  You are already that powerful and your defining moment is now!  I’m leaving you with 6 steps to creating your own defining moments:

  1. Define what happiness is to you and take stock in these things, especially the little things
  2. Set super realistic goals like doing one easy thing every day from your to-do list, then step back and admire your work
  3. Don’t do things that make you unhappy, and if you can’t find something that makes you happy, do something for someone else
  4. Say “I’m sorry” to people you need to say it to and while you’re at it thank them for the life lesson you’ve learned through the experience
  5. Say no.  No, to the extra meetings, the after hours obligations, the spot on the civic committee.  Taking the necessary “you” time, getting ample rest and pulling back actually leaves you rejuvenated and able to be a better mom, wife or employee.
  6. Ask for help when you need it.  And know that it is a sign of strength to acknowledge your weaknesses and learn from others’ strengths.

Who knows what will result by the end of this week, but you may be on your way to defining your very own moment in time!  Let’s do this!

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Sometimes you just gotta put it out there and claim what’s rightfully yours! I’m not talking tangible things that you may have earned ownership rights to; I’m talking about being on a personal and professional vision quest and staking claim to your desired result.

I know so many of the “self-help gurus” tout that you should visualize your dream home, dream car, dream job and you will get it.  So many people follow their guidance to the letter yet fall short of getting even their dream scooter, let alone their dream car.  Why does it work for some and not for others?  Don’t you think that if it was that straight-forward we would all be realizing our dreams?  Is it because our dreams are not really heartfelt or because we have focused on things like cars, homes and jobs in the first place?

I believe that when our dreams stand to benefit the greater good, we are more likely to get what we want.  Maybe even then we’re more comfortable with asking.  And maybe when we’re comfortable with what we want we are likely to ask for it in a way that actually calls it into existence.

Part of the mystery of being comfortable with our desires comes from acknowledging the goal, visualizing the end result then feeling the emotions that are tied to the bigger picture. For instance, what feels better to you: wanting and asking for a $125,000 sports car or wanting and asking for your family to have a safe, well-running vehicle?  For me, it’s the safe and well-running car that can take me on the long-term journey.  Because unless you win the lottery, the journey will most likely be longer.  And having all that you need to sustain you is of utmost importance.  Now, let’s just say that owning a Maserati is something that could benefit the greater good, then by all means name it then claim it.

But I like to name and claim the little victories along the way. Baby steps!  For instance, our company was recently looking for office space when we found the perfect space, in a great building, with a great view.  The square footage was double what we were looking for and so was the cost.  It was almost as if we all had an epiphany when I said, “Let’s claim it guys. This is our space.”  Sometimes you have to takes steps that say you’re ready for success.  Within days we landed three new clients.  DAYS!  THREE!  And any one of them could justify the larger, pricier space.

Not being desperate and not clutching onto the dream is key in moving in baby-step fashion to the desired result.  And moving with confidence doesn’t hurt either.  I like to think of it as a proactive, positive, calm approach to realizing good to manifest in your life.

So many times we confuse trying with doing.  Trying suggests that you may fail; doing suggests victory!  It’s no wonder Nike chose “Just Do It” over “Just Try It.”  Not very empowering, eh?  Part of realizing your goals and dreams is the act of doing the little things along the way to get you there.  You can’t just sit back, visualize the sporty car and in effect do nothing by way of steps to get it. You have to make preparations (like getting larger office space to accommodate a larger staff because you landed bigger accounts), you have to proceed with confidence; you have to name it and claim it to be yours on the front end then work your tail off calmly and confidently to get the things you want.

Might the end result in a big, fat paycheck at the end of the year, yep…but that’s not what I visualized.  My big picture consisted of a happy, healthy work environment, great office energy, a dynamic team and a vehicle (not the 4-wheel kind) to areas of my life I want to develop such as public speaking and writing; all of which are happening now.  Not because I’m trying to make these things happen, but because I’m doing them!  I named it back in November and I’m claiming it every step of the way, right now!  Go name and claim it for yourself today!

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In business as with everything, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  I’m not sure who the sicko was that coined the phrase, but I get the gist of it; not everyone needs/uses the same techniques to accomplish the same goal.  Being a person who marches (and sometimes skips) to the beat of her own drummer, I totally get that concept.

What’s interesting about the saying regarding our poor little feline friend is that like everything it has more than one interpretation according to several internet dictionary sites:

  1. there are more ways than one to achieving the desired result,
  2. there are many ways to skin a catFISH, which was shortened to “cat,”
  3. performing a type of gymnastic exercise, involving passing the feet and legs between the arms while hanging by the hands from a horizontal bar (ouch) and
  4. actually skinning and turning a hide in-side-out to dry out well, a cat skin

The point is that there are rarely only two options to solving any one thing and even more interpretations.  But many times I see people limiting their own potential by presenting only two choices such as, it’s either this…or it’s that!  And I say now is always the right time to introduce “the other” and then again “another” as far as options are concerned.

Limiting your options, for obvious reasons, limit your results.  So often you hear the term “think out of the box,” but that saying has gotten so over used that people have begun to think that their one or two options are really out of the box thinking. In reality, having only two options can be terribly limiting. What is truly an out of box experience is more like moving outside of a comfort zone, taking a few chances, maybe even moving beyond what most people might attempt.

Albert Einstein summed it up best when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Chances are, when you’ve deduced the problem down to only two solutions, you’ve used the same “head” that got you into the mess in the first place.  I’m gonna say that me and old Albert had some things in common…and at this particular moment it might only be our heads…rather our hair; I got caught in the rain tonight and it’s a bit on the Einstein side right now.  Anyway, besides our wild hair, I have a wild hair about problem-solving.  It’s more aligned with the whole skinning the cat thing and turning things inside-out and backwards.

If you begin your problem-solving process from the desired result and work backwards, you’re more likely to uncover perspectives that you wouldn’t have seen using typical methods. It is similar to an old trick in radio we used to use called back-timing where you would program your music and segments from the top of the hour backwards so you hit the :00 of each hour with perfect timing!  That’s also my wild hair approach to problem-resolution.  It’s not about knowing what exactly the desired outcome is, but more like knowing what you want it to look and feel like then moving back from there.  It’s not the theory of relatively, but it is all relative. Every problem has many solutions that will result with varying outcomes, and one thing we know for sure is that there is more than one way to skin a cat…or a fish…or a gymnastic move…or a problem!

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If we operate 100% of our career in the black, we never get the growth opportunities that only occur in the red.  I know that may be contrary to Wall Street or even your street, but there is something to be said about the valleys as well as the peaks.  If the only training ground we have is at peak level, we’ll never be prepared for even the slightest of valleys.

So why do so many people running projects run scared at the possibility of seeing red; or even seeing a little pink?  Some won’t even utter the words “at risk” until it’s almost too late to do anything about it; even worse, they change the “requirements” to keep the project from going red.  No one wants to run below par, but changing the rules doesn’t fix the problem.  I’ve never understood that concept. If something is broken or if more information is required, what is it in our business society that keeps people from telling the whole truth and working through the issues? Is it fear? Is it pride? Is it stupidity?  Maybe it is a combination of the three.

However, I’ll say it again, if you don’t have sufficient practice in the “reds,” you won’t have what it takes to climb to the highest “blacks.”  To become a great leader means you have to be able to adapt and overcome to just about any situation—this goes for being a leader in your home to being a leader in your company to being a leader in your community.  It’s good to have a healthy dose of nail-biting uncertainty every now and again, but when faced with a downhill slippery slope, there are three simple steps to reporting and righting the red.

  1. identify the issues (all of them—large or small)
  2. ask for the right help from every source (up or down the ladder)
  3. allow the people who have solutions solve the problems

It may sound oversimplified, but in 2003 DirecTV suffered four years of losses only to achieve a $4.9 billion gain in 2009.  They weren’t afraid to ask the right questions and get the right help.  Their strategy may have entailed a bit more than simply identifying, asking and allowing, but that was the basic premise of their turnaround.  If it worked for DirecTV, it can work for you. 

Part of the problem is that people try to make it more complicated than it has to be. Simple is good. Three easy steps are good. Identify, ask, allow. These steps work well in all of our business matters and relationships, especially when we’re in the red—and my favorite power shoes?  They’re red, too!

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