March 27, 2013
I came across a recent article by Jeff Haden in Inc. magazine, which appeared in the Huffington Post website, on personal productivity. These 8 steps or tips are things you should keep in mind as you try to get more out of your work or personal day.
The only thing I would add my comment on is #8, “don’t quit until you’re done”. Be sure the task you define is something that can be done in that period of time you have in mind. If you underestimate that, you could be back to where you started from, working indeterminately until you’re done.
And that means you need to know how to take really big projects and cut them into manageable pieces. It’s like the eating contests some restaurants have … “Eat a 48-ounce steak in 45 minutes and it’s free.” I don’t recommend it, but the guys who do this know how to take that 4-pound steak and break it into bite-sized pieces. They certainly don’t try to cram 4 pounds in all at once!
October 26, 2012
A couple of weeks ago while my dad was visiting my house I had to call 911. Just before the paramedics arrived, things were looking very scary to me since I didn’t know what was happening. After they walked in, he started to look better, and by the time they left for the ER, he seemed to be much better. But I still didn’t know what caused this scary scenario.
I had all sorts of thoughts running through my mind. What if it’s this? What if it’s that? What do we do if it’s this? Or that? How will this or that change his life? I had to remind myself to stop. There was no point thinking myself into a frenzy, until I knew more from the doctors who would examine him and probably run tests.
It occurred to me later that the uncertainty of this scenario is reflected often in business too. Something’s going to change, but you don’t know what, or how it might affect you. Or maybe it won’t affect you at all. But you fret about it even though you don’t have any new information to fret about. And then most of your energy goes into thinking about what if this and what if that.
It’s difficult, but you have to ignore the vicious circle of thoughts and “what ifs” that will swirl around in your head. You must force yourself to not think about things, until you know more. I don’t mean put your head in the sand and act like it’s not there. I just mean you keep looking, listening, awaiting more information, and putting off your worrying and decisions until you know more.
It’s perfectly human to fall into the “what if” trap, but try to be super-human and avoid it. At least until you get enough information.
Oh, about my dad? He ended up being perfectly fine. All tests came back normal, and he walked out of the ER with me later that evening. They really didn’t have any explanation for what happened, other than it’s just one of those things. My dad enjoyed the rest of his visit with us, and returned home.
September 26, 2012
I came across a good article at the FastCompany website that was directed at creative freelancers, who are independent contractors. Being a contractor is not much different than being self-employed. The points offered by the author are actually applicable to all independents, whether you’re a freelancer, consultant, attorney, CPA, therapist, or any other type of solopreneur.
Check out the article, and take note of some very useful tidbits of advice.
September 24, 2012
A good part of what might hold us back is indecision. We might waffle on whether we should take a certain course of action, and as a result take none. Or we might hestitate to fix a team chemistry problem, wondering if we’ve read the situation incorrectly. And again do nothing. Or we might put off talking to an employee about a performance problem, for fear of not having all the information we need. Meanwhile the problem continues.
There is fear behind indecision — the fear of making a mistake. If we take that specific course of action based on what we know, we fear that we might be making a mistake because of incomplete information. We put off talking to a problem team member, again because we fear that we might be mistaken about whether they’re the problem or not.
And this fear could be in the face of strong and certain feedback that we’re reading the situation correctly, but we still fear making a mistake. A business owner I know, even though he was unhappy with an employee because of multiple job performance issues, was still unsure if he really should bring the subject up. He was afraid he might be wrong.
If you can lose the fear of making a mistake, then you will solve any issues you might have with indecision. I don’t ever mean that you make decisions based on little or no information. But I do want to remind you that we will never feel that we have enough information to make things perfectly obvious, even if we have a ton of information. You just need enough information so you can use your judgment and experience.
And try not to worry about making a mistake. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” According to Teddy, the wrong thing is better than nothing!
August 30, 2012
Apparently, exercise and working out make you smarter, according to information presented by OnlineCollegeCourses.com, as summarized by Morgan Clendaniel of the FastCompany Co.Exist website. Check out this point of view — it makes for another reason to keep up your exercise routine.
What a deal: work out, look better, and be even smarter!
March 9, 2012
Come Sunday morning, we’re going to have to set our clocks ahead one hour again, bringing to mind the phrase used when I was a kid, “spring forward.” And that’s the story of all of us trying to make something happen … to spring forward toward our goals. But what if you’re springing for something that’s not in reach?
I hear lots of workshops and seminars talk about having big ambitions and creating big goals. There’s an acronym I’ve heard from several different places, BHAG, for big hairy audacious goal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Unless you don’t know how to get from where you are to that big hairy goal.
That’s probably the biggest issue. There are plenty of people who can think up the big goal (“I want to become a millionaire, a billionaire, financially independent, well known and famous”, etc.). That only takes imagination. The reason why very few people make it to the big goal, is because most folks can’t connect where they are with where they want to be and develop an action plan. Some do develop the action plan, then never execute it.
That’s why I’ve always said, “Great ideas are abundant. Great execution is rare.” You must execute, and in order to execute, you must know what your steps are to get to your goal.
January 29, 2012
Ever run into the situation where you screwed up, and created an issue for a customer? Well, maybe you never have, but others certainly have, including yours truly. What to do? Should you act like it never happened, and hope that time heals and forgets? Or should you bring it out in the open, risking it getting bigger than you want it to?
The answer is, it depends, but it’s somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. In any case, you shouldn’t act like it never happened, because if you caused it, the customer is bound to point that out to you sometime. And if you didn’t take care of it first, he could think you’re trying to cover it up. That customer will start telling other folks, who might have been thinking of becoming your customers, too, until they heard from the unhappy one.
So if you’re in the (unlikely) event where you caused a mess for a customer, here are 3 things to do, in the form of 3 “A’s”.
- Acknowledge it. A simple statement will do, like “I realize I misspoke during our last conversation, and didn’t mean to say what I did.”
- Apologize for it. Again, keeping it simple, as in “I regret that, and apologize for being out of line.”
- Ask what you can do. “I hope I didn’t cause any undue harm. What can I do to rectify this?”
Then just do it, assuming it’s a reasonable request. Make it right, then move on. Don’t pine over what happened, or seek forgiveness. Even the best and most successful people make mistakes. A professional apology quickly delivered can help both of you move on and let time help the healing.
January 12, 2012
I hope the holidays and the ringing in of the New Year were good to you. I also hope you are off to a good start, for what you need to do to start the year. To be sure you’re off and running, look at what you need to do, or were planning to do, and do something. Not sure which of the 3 or 4 things you’re considering to start with? Just pick one — any one.
You could always change course if you need to. Just get rolling. More people miss their goals, not because they take the wrong action, but because they take no action.
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
December 31, 2011
Here in the Eastern time zone of the U.S., we’re a little over an hour away from ringing in 2012 as I type this, so I’ll keep this short. I hope the coming year will bring you closer to your goals and ambitions, whatever they may be. Remember that goals and ambitions start with dreams and are realized with actions. In 2012, strive to do something every day, every week, or at least every month, that gets you closer to your goals. Just DO something … take SOME action. Don’t just dream about it.
Happy New Year!
December 6, 2011
No one likes to make mistakes, but as it turns out, you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. Why? They cause more pain, and in general we remember pain a lot longer than we remember pleasure. A mistake also generally causes us to make some kind of change. It should, anyway, because if we don’t change from a mistake, we didn’t learn from it.
According to John Caddell in an article on the99percent.com site (I don’t think this has anything to do with the recent ”Occupy” movement), when you make a mistake, one of the most important things to do is to own up to it — take responsibility. Don’t look for others to blame. Look in the mirror and see what you can do to fix it.
Caddell outlines five other things you should do after your mistake: fix it, apologize, reflect/learn, change things, share the knowledge. Remember, if nothing changes after you’ve made a mistake, you didn’t learn anything. If you’re going to make a mistake, you might as well make it worthwhile.