Tag Archives: business coach

What if Hope IS a Strategy

Merriam-Webster’s definition | https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope

They say “hope is not a strategy” but… what if it is?

Don’t get me wrong, it can’t be the only strategy; but what if it’s the beginning? What if it’s the starting point? Heck, what if it’s the main point?

Stay with me here. As I was thinking about my goals, I kept asking myself what my single, solitary main purpose in life actually was. What was the thing that was going to get me out of bed in the morning even when I didn’t want to? What was the thing that was going to help me push through when I wanted to pull back? What was my single, solitary purpose for being on this planet?

I’d been wrestling with trying to identify this for quite some time. But I was thinking of the way I coached others, the way I wanted to support my children, the thing that I wanted and craved most during my own challenging life events, it came to me: HOPE. Giving and being hungry for hope was everything. Not just a big thing, but the biggest of things.

Here’s why: when someone has hope, they set big goals because they believe though they may be challenging, they are doable. When someone has hope, they work to clarify their vision because they not only feel called to do the seemingly impossible, because they know there’s a way somehow. When someone has hope, they love better, they give more generously, they rebound more quickly when they stumble and they help others to do the same because part of hope is knowing that there’s more than enough room for everyone to thrive.

When I didn’t have hope, I didn’t want to put my goals out there because it felt like it was doomed before I even said them out loud. When I didn’t have hope, I scoffed when other people dared to dream big because it hurt too bad to see them doing the thing I couldn’t. When I didn’t have hope, I was jealous when people accomplished things I wanted because the “pie” felt fixed; if they won, then I lost.

You see, without hope we are the worst versions of ourselves, playing small, wishing others struggle, bemoaning others successes, inflating our own excuses and more.

But with hope, we are the best versions of ourselves, wanting to give generously, encourage sincerely, share our gifts, and keep plugging away even through the hard. With hope we truly shine in our own God-given way and genuinely want others to do the same.

Hope makes us better and hope produces endurance. Hope is a strategy.

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Upstream vs. Downstream Habits

Habit formation is my life-long quest. I wasn’t aware of it until my 20s when I was selling books with Southwestern Advantage and I was introduced to The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino (see it here on my Best Books list as well as many others that I consider life-changing).

One of his scrolls (lessons from the book) writes “I will form good habits and become their slave. And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls it will be done, for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and replace it with one which will bring me closer to success.” Pretty powerful, isn’t it?

And at this point in my life, I had some habits; however, they weren’t really good habits. Now, lest you think I only have good habits today, let me fill you in on a dirty little secret: I still have habits to which I am a slave, but not in a good way as inferred by Og. Things like binge-watching too much TV, too much scrolling on social media, sloppy morning routines, allowing distractions to cannibalize my income-producing activities, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

If the above doesn’t describe you whatsoever, feel free to stop reading here. But, if you, too, have found some habits have crept in that aren’t serving you, then continue on and perhaps I will shine a light on habit-knowledge that might be useful to you in the future.

We actually have two distinct categories of habits. We have Upstream Habits and we have Downstream Habits.

Upstream Habits make us better, but like rowing upstream, they require work, energy, and consistency. You can’t row for a little bit and then take a break without moving backwards. You can’t keep your ores in the water and not create drag. You must row; you must act; you must keep going no matter what.

Downstream Habits, are just as strong (heck, maybe even stronger) than upstream habits. But they require little to no work to form—yet, TONS of work to break—and they certainly don’t make you better in a particular area of your business or life. Sometimes they take hold, and begin moving us backward without us consciously recognizing it until we catch that we aren’t at a destination we had been hoping for.

They both work similarly in the sense that once something truly is a habit it will have a tendency to continue with the aid of momentum and get easier with the increased muscle mass you have built. Upstream Habits are much like riding your bike uphill where you have to peddle—yet, as you continue on your journey of becoming a cyclist, you may find that a hill that was once near-impossible is almost a breeze now—versus riding downhill which only requires steering but peddling is quite optional.

They both get easier. But only Downstream Habits happen are effortless and thoughtless. Upstream Habits will continue to require your conscious thought, recommitment to your decision, reinforcement of your belief-system, and daily discipline of your Upstream Action. That’s not up for debate.

The only question that remains is where do you want to go and what do you need to do to get there?

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How to Win at Communicating: Why focusing on being right is wrong

win at communicatingWhen I work with teams and individuals on the problems they face with clients, bosses, employees (heck, even their own family members) ten times out of nine, said problems are rooted in communication malfunction. Frankly, humans are difficult. We are nuanced, unique beings with a complex make-up of rational and irrational thought; a mixed bag of 21st century adaptation and stone-age reflexes. And to make matters worse, communication (with other humans, specifically) is one thing many of us are never taught.

Think about the hours logged to get certified in a particular industry. Or the amount of time passed in a math class. Or training hours invested in order to understand a new client database. Strangely, even my graduate program—a regularly recognized school for business—didn’t include more than a passing reference to different communication styles. Collectively many hours have been accrued learning the what and the how of the objective areas of business. But what about the subjective ones?

Have you spent anywhere near as many hours understanding the what and how of an ideal conversation with an insubordinate team member who gets his job done superbly yet no one wants to work with him? Or what about the passive aggressive administrative assistant who finds ceaseless reasons to not complete important parts of his role? Or the aggressive sales person that just thinks she is persistent?

For our purposes here, I won’t go into why communication is important. Frankly, if you aren’t aware of the why, you might be part of the problem. Rather, for the next four parts I’ll share ideas for the rest of us who know why, but don’t yet have a mastery of how.

To begin, let’s focus on a central truth that we as individuals want to be right. Even the most benevolent of individuals has chosen such a path based on a belief that it is indeed the “right” one. Consequently, the things we communicate are based on scenarios as interpreted through our lens. Thus, when we focus on being right, it is only our interpretation of what is right. If the other person has a similar lens, no harm no foul. However, problems crop up when his lens differs and then we tell him something that is inconsistent with what he believes to be true.

My contention is that all problems—Every. Single. One—can be over-simplified back to the differences between my lens and your lens followed by me telling you my lens is right and yours is wrong in an ineffective way. What’s worse, is even if I am right, pursuing it in this fashion creates a conflict whereby you are unlikely to come over to my side. Again, complicated human emotion (pride, shame, rebellion, spite, etc.) get in the way of us getting to the right outcome.

Therefore, it’s much better to pursue the right outcome then it is to pursue being right. That simple shift allows us to keep perspective of the long game.  In order to do that, we must  focus on four simple themes: 1) Ask More Questions, 2) Nurture Your Nemesis, 3) Watch Your Words, and 4) Speak Their Language.


1) Ask More Questions

Simply put, if we asked around 10 times more questions of our colleagues (family members, bosses, direct reports, etc.) we would see a dramatic drop in hurt feelings, resentment, team disunity and distrust, and sabotage.  Try it.

My prognostication is that we don’t ask more questions for two key reasons. One, we don’t always know what to ask (a function of that lack of training in the area as previously described). And two, we don’t want to (sometimes out of laziness, feeling rushed, or fear that we might be wrong). Fortunately, it is within our personal control to address both.

Picture this scenario: Sue then manager needs to reprimand her employee, Tom, who made a bad call…again. Most bosses would call Tom into the office, slap his wrist if she wants to keep him, or put a note in his file if she is trying to get Tom out. But what’s gained by this? Tom likely either doesn’t care much for Sue or his work at this time; or he’s learned that her bark is worse than her bite so his behavior won’t likely change. But, Sue was right; Tom screwed up. However, Sue didn’t get the right outcome (Tom fixing his behavior, discovering why he is doing what he’s doing, figuring out if he wants to be a productive part of this organization).

What if instead Sue asked Tom:

  • Tom, would you help me understand your process for deciding to solve the problem the way you did?
  • What other alternatives did you consider?
  • Why did you choose this one over that?
  • What were you hoping would happen?
  • What did you learn from this situation?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • How committed do you feel to the team?
  • What do you find gets in your way?
  • How would you like me to support you?
  • What should I expect from you going forward?

Do you think Sue would have more effectively engaged Tom with these questions than the aforementioned slap on the wrist or write-up in his file? Do you think Tom knows I have higher expectations of him now? Do these questions communicate that Sue cares? And do you think Tom is likely to be more thoughtful in his subsequent efforts? Hopefully yes to all four.

Likely your questions will be different but the idea is that you ask rather than tell. If Tom knows he messed up, Sue telling him doesn’t achieve anything. If Tom doesn’t know, Sue telling him will only reinforce his beliefs about her but it likely won’t change his opinion of himself or respect for/trust in her in any positive way.


2) Nurture Your Nemesis

In helping Tom achieve the right outcome, questioning only works if Sue nurtures Tom in the process.  If Tom feels as though he is before a firing squad, he will act accordingly and rebel (fight) or cower (flight).  Do either of these scenarios get Sue to the right outcome? Obviously, not.

Your mom was right when she told you how you said things mattered. Our tonality, body language, and empathy are critical here. If these don’t come easy to you, practice is essential. If you don’t care enough to incorporate these things, you likely aren’t getting lasting right outcomes from your people. You are missing opportunities for personal growth as well as for impacting (more specifically, you may be inhibiting) the growth of those around you.

Again, I doubt that if you are reading this that is the case. It’s more typically a case of howHow do you sound more empathetic and nurturing? How do you even practice a soft skill? To practice and thus develop sounding (and actually being) more empathetic, catch yourself talking to people you really care about when talking about something you really care about.  Listen to you volume, vocal inflections, cadence. Most likely it’s lower, slower, and more rhythmic as opposed to loud, fast, and unvarying.  Write out your questions and say them the way you would if you were saying them to that person whom you adore.

Practice being nurturing and asking questions in situations where there isn’t much as stake—like making dinner plans or talking to friends about unimportant issues.  If you don’t figure out how to find your nurturing voice when you don’t need it, you’ll never find it when you do.


3) Watch Your Words

Though I said your mom was right because tonality matters, she may have overemphasized that the what-you-say didn’t. Said differently, our words do matter.

Take the phrase “that’s not my job” or insert “our policy” or “my problem”; how does that make you feel when you hear those words? Even if (or especially when) delivered in a sing-songy voice.  Did your blood pressure just increase a few points? Were you jolted back to the last time you heard that?

Our words matter. They matter even when tonality is involved but especially when it isn’t so be extra careful with (read: avoid at all costs) sending emails in a difficult situations.

Some additional trigger words and phrases that I have heard recently and would encourage you to avoid are “interested in”, “what can I help you find?”, “you would love…”, and generally anything where you are assuming something about the other person instead of asking.

Rather than saying “are you interested in meeting about X?” ask “would you be open to talking about X?” “Interested in” implies a commitment, “open to” indicates that we are still exploring.

Rather than asking what you can help me find, for which I will most-definitely respond “just looking, thanks”  without hesitation, ask “for what occasion are you shopping today?” or “where you browsing for yourself or as a gift?” These questions make me think rather than give a knee-jerk, insincere response.

Rather than telling me how I would love your product (and make me feel trapped if I don’t), let me know people who have X,Y, Z problems love your product, but it’s okay if I don’t; then let me self-identify in my time.

Words matter. They matter especially when we are feeling frustrated, irritated, and annoyed. Yet, it’s when we are feeling that way that the right words are hardest to articulate. So again, practice your words when little is on the line.


4) Speak Their Language

In high school I went to France on a class trip. Madame Blanc assured us that speaking French is Paris was a must. But not to worry, once they heard our verbal skills, most Parisians (who knew better English than our lot) would jump in and rescue us in our native tongue. The Parisians weren’t looking for mastery; they were looking for an attempt.

It is my belief that the attempt is what most of us really want. A little effort. A bridge. The opportunity to meet in the middle and to see that you are as uncomfortable as I am.

When we only speak “our language” we rob people of helping us and seeing our vulnerable side. We also rob ourselves of growth and right outcomes. When I coach clients, our organization uses the Extended DISC model. It’s not a personality test, but rather a communication style assessment.

Each of us has a unique way in which we interpret the world. We have a preference as to how we get things done. And those interpretations and preferences can be summarized using two axes. The vertical axis defines if a person sees problems through the lens of tasks or people. For example, if the internet goes down in my organization, am I thinking of which boxes to cross of to get it fixed (call the IT company on record, notify the managers, call top clients)? Or am I concerning myself with the people-aspect (will this affect how people view us, which customers does this impact most, which employees will be best at smoothing over the issue?)

Neither is inherently right or inherently wrong and a well-functioning team needs all bases covered.

Similarly, the horizontal axis addresses my speed and degree of detail that most concerns me. Some people want the overview, the big picture, and tend to get bored with details. These are the “we’ll figure it out when we get there folks”. Then we have our “cross our Ts and dot our Is” crowd. The former usually makes quick decisions in the name of progress and momentum; the latter sees how ill-configured progress just creates more problems.

Again, both are right. And yet, neither are completely right.

If you’ve ever seen inherent friction between sales and operations departments, it is this communication breakdown at play. One group saying it must be done fast; the other saying it must be done right.

I had similar friction with an operations manager who was frequently sending back my contracts for revision and always irritated with me. It was mutual. The shift from disunity to a more united front began when I started calling her before submitting a contract. My approach was to communicate that I thought I did everything accurately, but would she help me by reviewing it just to be sure.

I chose to incorporate a question rather than a demand. My tonality was nurturing. I used words like “help” as not to sound ungrateful or that I wanted her to do it for me. And, by acknowledging that her communication style was exacting in detail and I wanted to do it by her standards, I was creating a metaphorical communication bridge between our very opposite styles. Best of all: it worked beautifully!

She was more helpful than ever. I was less irritated than ever. Contracts continued to flow in and occasionally she did do it for me (because it was her choice and not my demand).

The irony of the whole situation was that the actual process barely changed. The old way was: I sent her a contract. She looked it over. She called or emailed me disdainfully with my errors. I fixed them. I returned the contact.

The new way: I called her to let her know I was sending her a contract and asked her to kindly let me know if I missed anything “before I submitted it officially”. I sent her the contract. She looked it over. She called or emailed me with any errors (and sometimes fixed what could be fixed without me now that we were simpatico). If needed, I made corrections and returned the contract.

One phone call asking for help (me reaching across the aisle) led to her helping me where she could (her reaching across the aisle) and to both of us to enjoying and appreciating each other and our respective roles.

Because I desired the right outcome (office manager and me working more smoothly together while getting contracts submitted timely), I focused on what I needed to do to accomplish that. Rather than focusing on being right (“sales is my job, contracts is yours, do your job and let me do mine!”)

I don’t share this story to say “look at how I do it, I am awesome”. In fact, many more are the stories that I failed to take my own advice. But the laws of communication still stand whether or not I heed them. And other people believe they are right even when we know we are.

So next time you feel a tense situation coming to a head—or better, before any potentially tense situations—incorporate the immutable rules of 1) Ask More Questions, 2) Nurture Your Nemesis, 3) Watch Your Words, and 4) Speak Their Language.

My father-in-law once said “diplomacy is helping other people get your way.” No, sir, that’s just effective communication.



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In the Know

It’s amazing how telling people why you did something a certain way—or why you need something done—does so much to diffuse resistance and resentment.

My favorite coffee shop switched from paper towel to an air dryer in their rest rooms—not a big deal to the average patron, I know, but I suppose I am not an average patron. I hate air dryers. They take longer. I’ve read they breed more bacteria, so they gross me out. My hands never really feel dry. They take longer. And I hate them. (See what I mean?)

As I waited for my cup of tea, the manager and I were chit-chatting about their technology upgrades and I took the opportunity to casually mention that I didn’t like the Paper Towel-gate 2014.

When he told me why—that their downtown establishment had problems with people using the restrooms to bathe and then clogging the toilets with wads of paper towel which was then leading to needing a plumber on a weekly basis—I could empathize with the sound business decision.

He even went on to say that they don’t mind the bathing component. They weren’t angry with the people causing the problem (as they, too, could empathize with the homeless, or waterless population and were here to welcome all in the community). He added that they made attempts to unclog it themselves and when that didn’t work they considered locking the bathrooms and needing an entrance code (which would be a different kind of inconvenience for patrons).

By the end of our three minute conversation, I was on his side. I would have made the same decision if in his shoes. And ultimately, I was rooting for this coffee shop to succeed. I was now Team Air Dryers.

There are a few takeaways that I learned from Paper Towel-gate:

Keep your patrons in the loop when you make changes—even if said changes seem insignificant. Your best customers may offers insights or other alternatives that weren’t considered. You may find they support you even more.

If possible, confide in them the fact that you considered other options. When he mentioned what else they had contemplated and even attempted, I realized that this really was the lesser of evils. Again, this helped diffuse any frustration or resentment I had because I concurred that the other avenues were even more cumbersome. Your best customers—the ones that are the 20 percent who bring you 80 percent of your business—they want you to win. If this change helps you win better, they will likely support your decisions that lead to your success.

Tell your story, your “why”. In this case their “why” was the fact that they didn’t want to eliminate the option to wash up or punish the people who were washing up in their restrooms—man, I love that about this place—but rather eliminate the costly and hassle-laden occurrence of needing a plumber weekly. You may find your customers like you even more when your “why” aligns with your core values and theirs.

It doesn’t have to be a saga. A three minute conversation was all it took. But it could be a public note. Or a blog or status update on social media. Or an op-ed. But find a way to communicate with your customers (preferably in the way that is relevant to them).

Doing these things helps your customers feel like part of the team; like they aren’t just customers anymore, they are friends, they are family, they are your people. And when we are friends, family, and community, we keep each other in the know.

P.S. These same principles apply if you are a boss making a change.

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She said ‘Yes’

I have this amazing opportunity in front of me. However, taking it means giving up one of the projects on which I am currently working—which I love. In fact, I love it so much when I was approached about this other opportunity I informed them that I likely wasn’t interested.

My personal philosophy has always, but especially lately, been to be a “yes-[wo]man”. I believe this so whole-heartedly because I’m convinced that our subconscious minds are constantly working on our behalf, in a Secret-y, Law of Attraction-esque way we are searching for the answers—and solutions—to our souls biggest dreams.

In doing that we are drawn to those solutions even though they don’t always present themselves as solutions. In fact, sometimes they present to us as problems, inconveniences and nuisances. Because of this trickery, I have a personal policy to always say ‘yes’.

(Note: I realize there are some people that can’t say ‘no’ and so they become pushovers bombarded and bogged-down with ‘yeses’, and while that is a problem, I think saying ‘no’ too frequently is a greater epidemic. In the case of the aforementioned, time-management, setting boundaries, and understanding that guilt is poison are the oft real issues but that’s a post for another day.)

So, because of my Policy of Yes, I was very upfront with my suitors that I am always open to having a conversation but that I wasn’t sure that I could take on both projects with adequate attention, therefore, I may not be the right person for them. If, on that basis, they wanted to continue the conversation, I would be delighted.

And the conversation was had.

I was actually very intrigued.  And because of some other factors in my life, it actually makes more sense than I would have given credence to two months earlier. Oh, and I’d be damn good at it.

However, I kept finding myself wallowing in this pit of sadness. Feeling like if I changed directions I failed. And if I stayed put I was shooting myself in the foot—the proverbial damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t.

But then something dawned on me. The other side of the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t coin is blessed-if-you-do, blessed-if-you-don’t. For the first time on this particular journey and maybe in my life, I realized that I really do win either way. This is literally—and I don’t use the word ‘literally’ lightly—a win-win!

I am still scared. Believe me. It’s scary but if we are not scared, we aren’t growing. And if we aren’t growing we aren’t helping ourselves or those around us. See, we need to be evolving, improving, enriching in order to help others do the same. Stagnation is death (think: bed sores, the slowest zebra in the pack, moss overtaking the pond—sorry for the imagery, I suppose I could have just said ‘literally’).

If you aren’t scared, you are comfortable; and comfortable people are rarely at the top, living their dream.

reaching_the_summit copyUpon this realization, I felt a huge sense of peace wash over me. In finding peace we are free to try our hardest and know it still might not work out but that we are better for the effort, improved for having the opportunity.

And if we win, what a blessing.

How are you blessed-if-you-do, blessed-if-you-don’t? Are you ready to be a ‘yes-[wo]man’?

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The 10-minute List

You can’t make more time–I’ve tried–but you can use the time you have a little bit better.

I’ve talked about Power Hours many times before. In my opinion, it’s the single best way to maintain a high level of consistent achievement. But how do you get their if you are falling into the procrastination doom-spiral?

I’m one of those people who tends to freeze when I feel overwhelmed. If something feels daunting, then better to take my mind off the problem altogether with mind-numbing social media or by binge-watching Netflix than to face and solve the problem. This is my nature, my default state.

This is a problem for me—or it can be if I don’t address it.

Well, now I have a new way to address it. Not so much new as in different, but new and improved. Like ketchup or something, it’s already kickass but it’s now kickass-ier, with real sugar or non-GMO tomatoes or whatever.

Back to making Power Hours more kickass-ier. As I have talked about before, I traditionally recommend Power Hours in three blocks of 20-minute segments, two times per day, for a total of six segments. This works for a lot of reasons I have mentioned so I won’t rehash.

The problem is it doesn’t work for the person, also like me sometimes, who is feeling overwhelmed, feeling like the goal is too big or frankly just not feeling like doing it.

(I know I shouldn’t admit that there are lots of times I just don’t feel like doing something.  I know there are people out there who haven’t had an out-of-discipline experience, but frankly, I’m not talking to those people—or if I am it’s to help them understand the people like me who don’t come perpetually disciplined. This is for the rest of the worthwhile, talented individuals who occasionally struggle with motivation, and those who lead them.)


Ya, dishes and laundry are the domestic hot-potato in my home. #Embarrassing

So, again, back to making Power Hours more kickass-ier. Here is my list, here is one sliver of one fraction of what I need to do today. I have been procrastinating on my taxes, well, for months now. I know it’s a job that’ll probably take me a couple hours. Laundry, that’s just a given at my house. There is never a time laundry doesn’t need to be done. The next three are for a consulting project I am working on; it’s a fairly substantial project about to take 50-plus hours. I have got about five in, and would likely leave the last 40 or so for the weekend before the deadline… if it weren’t for this trick.

  1. Set my phone timer for 10 minutes.
  2. Dive into starting whatever is first on the list—like a sprint. Go!
  3. Because it’s only 10 minutes, I start swiftly, like ripping off a Band-Aid knowing full-well the Band-Aid will be off soon enough and I can go back to Words with Friends. Just kidding. Sort-of.
  4. Timer goes off.
  5. I keep going because I am in the middle of something important.
  6. Often the task gets completed in its entirety (depending on the scope) and always I get further than I would have.
  7. Feel accomplishment. Relief. It’s over.
  8. Tackle the next thing on the list (BECAUSE IT’S ONLY FOR 10 MINUTES!)

That’s it.

No magic. No brain-surgery. No super-human powers or Spidey-sense required.

Just a list. A list of deconstructed issues I need to tackle. The key is two-fold:

  1. The list needs to be bigger than a simple task such as “call the plumber” because, at least in theory, that isn’t a multi-faceted issue to be addressed. Although, you will see, I do have “dishes” on my list, and there is nothing complex about that (i.e. empty the dishwasher, load it, and wash any that don’t fit) but I detest it enough that I can easily put it off for hours if I don’t address it formally. This isn’t a to-do list as much as it’s a list of issues to be addressed (and I assure you, in my house, dishes are issues). Just use your good sense, you know what’s an issue for you.
  2. Be willing to stop when your timer goes off. This is probably more important than the first point. It is in this willingness that the fear of starting disintegrates. It is in the fear disintegrating that we start. And it is in starting that we realize it’s not so bad and often-times keep going. But we must be okay with stopping. No pressure. No guilt.

That’s all that needs to be done: A list of important task somewhere between not-overly-simple and not-overly-complex and the acceptance of only subjecting yourself to that “horror” for 10-minutes. Allow the feeling of accomplishment sink in. Lather, rinse, repeat. Or don’t. But do bask in the feely-good-feelings of getting that list out of the way.

If you want to take it to the next level as I will with my “Tax” item, which obviously is more than a 10-minute endeavor (although I spent 20 or more), you can break it out further next time. So my list for tomorrow will say “Receipts”, “Donations”, “Mileage” as these are the next steps that I identified missing from my pile-o-taxes today. But headed into today, I didn’t even know what I had gathered and what was missing. And I wasn’t making any progress starting to look for it.

The 10-minute list trick gave me the motivation to start with the peace of knowing I could stop.

I believe that’s part of the psychology of procrastination and fear. We procrastinators build up in our heads—some based on reality, some not-so-much—the pain that doing something is going to cause. Scenarios like “It’s going to take forever”, “it’s so horrible” and the like pervade our consciousness until that’s all we can see making the whole project much more daunting than it really is.

That’s why the 10-minute rule works: because even the most wildly abusive torture can be endured for 10-minutes. And then usually in that time we realize it wasn’t that hard or horrible. And once we are at that point we are already victorious. Regardless of if it was or it wasn’t, we have accomplished more than we would have had we not started.

What’s been haunting the back of your mind for some weeks now? What tasks and goals can you chip away with today by using the 10-minute list?

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Prospect as if your life depends on it. Sell as if you couldn’t care less.

This has been one of the hardest lessons for me learn. Doing so is a tightrope walk somewhere between hustling relentlessly for sales survival and then flipping the switch in order to sit nonchalantly with a prospect and ask him the tough questions.

A minuscule lean toward detachment from the end result and I am spiraling into slacker-land. A slip toward the desperate desire to be in control and I am tippy-toeing delicately as not to offend. I surely can’t be the only one who has to negotiate the tricky art of controlling of my destiny and yet simultaneously letting go of each individual outcome.

One way to get better footing is to have a fat funnel. Having enough appointments on the books makes it so, so—SO—much easier to be relaxed. Knowing that it’s not your only chance to close a deal this week (or this month) can calm the nerves enough and allow you to stick to your system. Also, having a frequent number of appointments maintains momentum for solid technique.

In order to have a fat funnel you must identify your root leading indicators. Leading indicators are any of the activities that lead to the results that you want; not the results themselves. For me, the number of presentations I do is a leading indicator of appointments which is a leading indicator of sales. Go a layer or two back to identify your root leading indicators. Isolate the first set of crucial activities that have a direct correlation to sales results.

Finally, look for efficiencies once you have enough data to know what can be improved, increased, added or eliminated. Look for areas that might be time sucks. Look for ways in which you can improve your technique ever slightly to make big gains.

If you really do prospect this meticulously, it will be easier than you think to sell as if you don’t care—because you won’t.  You won’t care because your focus will have shifted away from what you can’t control (sales) to what you can control (your attitude, behaviors and techniques).

Sales are just a logical result of those things becoming fully aligned and refined.

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You Suck! (But, I promise that’s a good thing)

pacifier copyI’m not athletic. I’ve never been. I can remember as a child being so paralyzed by fear of sucking, and thus getting made fun of, that I would never try anything remotely athletic—not even lessons to help me suck less.

Fear of sucking, and getting made fun of (even behind our backs) prevents us from stepping outside of our comfort zone.

And not leaving that zone prevents us from doing the thing that will help us get better—at anything.

Yes, it’s true. You suck. You suck at all of the things you haven’t done yet. And you can avoid sucking by not doing anything new.


You can suck. A lot. And suck really badly. Often. And you can do that until you don’t suck anymore at that particular thing. But then you will (or at least should) have new goals and dreams, at which you will suck. Again.

The lesson here is if you aren’t sucking at something, right now, then you aren’t shooting high enough. Your dreams aren’t big enough.

And if you don’t get over—or at least figure out how to ignore—the fear of sucking, you won’t go for anything bigger than what you already are. And well, that sucks.

So bask in your suckiness. Because if you suck at something, it means you are growing. It means you are going after what you really want. It means you are willing to stretch and be uncomfortable for a chance at something better.

And only then will you find a life that doesn’t suck.

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The Devil’s in the Details

When I was a little girl I asked my mom to tell me about the devil. She went into the history of evil and explained to me how the devil was tempting people to do naughty things. She was thorough and accurate.

Until I started bawling hysterically.

When she asked me what was wrong I told her that I didn’t want to be evil or trick people into doing the things that they shouldn’t do. Confused she asked why I thought that was me. Sheepishly, I pulled out a t-shirt that my grandma had gotten me that coyly says “I’m a little devil”.


Then my mom, feeling terrible, had to back-peddle and explain the difference between what the shirt meant and the doctrinally sound explanation previously given. She did a decent job but we both knew the damage couldn’t be undone. That bell couldn’t be un-rung.

How often do we assume we know where someone is coming from and just answer their question from the depth and breadth of our knowledge? How often do we seek to share our expertise rather than seek to understand their position?

When we do this we dig a hole, getting out of which may be impossible.

Sandler’s solution is to ask clarifying questions any time a prospect inquires about anything that we aren’t 100 percent certain of the reason or back-story. It takes practice. Some even say it’s manipulative.

But I suggest to you that the manipulative thing to do is to assume we know what someone needs before truly understanding from where they are coming. It’s manipulative to be so concerned with selling our product or service that we push through without taking the time to listen and gather information. It’s manipulative to be more concerned with getting a deal than getting to the truth.

So the next time you are asked a question, pause briefly to determine if you are certain why they are asking such a question. And if not, ask them a question back. You’ll be surprised at the new—and helpful—information you learn.

For more information on Sandler Training Solutions visit http://www.flywheel.sandler.com

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Success by Osmosis

garfield_osmosisI remember this Garfield poster hanging on my fifth-grade classroom wall. Garfield had books roped around his head and he was attempting to learn by osmosis—a concept for which I ached to be true. It was a joke of course because, you can’t learn by osmosis. Or can you?

First of all, do you remember the fifth-grade science concept of osmosis?

Technically: a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semi-permeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane.

Or, less technically: what is denser will fill what is less dense until both parts are of equal density.

Consider your goal (basically a goal is something you are learning to do, how to earn or how to become, right?). Now consider what forces are in a sense pulling you away from, or pulling you toward, your goal.

Are there people in your life that are naysayers, doubters, and Debbie-downers pulling you away from the achievement of your goal? Or are you surrounded by people who are cheerleaders, accountability partners, and challengers lifting you toward it?

Are you using the time in your car to listen to music and commercials which distract you from your plan? Or are you listening to motivational, educational and inspirational CDs and books?

Are you socializing too frequently without purpose? Or are you mentoring someone or being mentored?

Do you read books and magazines that are helping you reach your goal? Or do you solely read your Facebook newsfeed for hours on end and get sucked into the black hole of social media negativity?

Is your TV blaring from the moment you get home from work until the moment you go to bed? Or do you have partake in something like a Power Hour where you are actively and purposefully building momentum toward the achievement of your goal?

Hear me clearly that none of these things alone is bad: music, socializing with friends, fiction-reading, social media, etc.

Where we tend to run into problems, however, is when we let these time- and energy-sucking activities control us rather than controlling them. We can easily get sidetracked from our goals when we allow these things to creep into our lives like the proverbial frog slowly boiling to death as the pot of water heats up.We don’t even notice being distracted and ruined by them, it just happens a little more at a time.

In my five steps to goal achieving, step number four is to live intentionally (you can listen to the audio here). In doing this, we can use some of our vices as rewards, or we can insert these activities into our day in a controlled fashion. It’s not necessarily how you choose to do this, just that you do.

I like to tell people that the degree to which you lives intentionally is the degree to which you will achieve success.

If a person chooses to partake in time-wasting activities that slowly begin to control his precious time he risks losing his drive and determination. In choosing to be surrounded by success-draining individuals he forgoes the very creativity that inspired the goal in the first place and the energy to persistently attack it. In effect, he will have failed by osmosis.

However, if a person makes a concerted effort to be surrounded by other successful people, immerse himself in his goal, and live intentionally, he will effectively influence his success—through osmosis.

Garfield may have been missed the mark, albeit humorously, trying to tie books to his head.  But he wasn’t so far off by suggesting that what we let surround us does indeed impact us—whether or not we notice it.

On that note, ask yourself if who and what you surround yourself with is helping to create the more successful you or is it stealing your goals from you bit by bit? Ask what else you could add to your day or week to increase success by osmosis?


[Author’s note: this is in no way to say that just by being surrounded by successful people and reading goal-related books one will become successful. Action is absolutely required. However, by doing the aforementioned activities, action becomes easier and more likely; creativity and motivation more freely flow.]

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