Thankfulness – Two Books, One message

Tis’ the season to be thankful, grateful, and to have an attitude of gratitude.   Our economy has suffered over the last seven years, to the extent that many have lost their jobs, their homes, and their future security.  Yet, we seem to have learned some important lessons from that era.  Here are some things we learned not to do during this time:

1. Living on tomorrow’s income
2. Taking equity out of your home
3. Depending upon the stock market to keep going up
4. Trusting others with your money decisions
5. Taking your job for granted
6. Waiting to save for retirement or not saving enough
7. Assuming emergencies happen to everyone else

When the dust finally settled, we were wiser people.  One of the strong lessons we learned is to be grateful for what we have – our loved ones, home, job, daily necessities, transportation, and the ability to do what we have to do to make ends meet.

There are two books, I have read that do a good job of focusing us on gratitude.  One is “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker and the other is “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor.  Both impacted me in a positive way.

The premise of “7” is to encourage you to spend seven months doing with less in seven areas of your life.  Jen chose food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress.  During each four-week interval, she and her family could only choose seven items to use for the category they were focused on.  For example, only seven foods for a month, only seven pieces of clothing for a month, give away seven things every day for a month, eliminate seven forms of media for a month, adopt seven habits for a greener life for a month…and on and on.

One thing that hit home for me as I went through the exercise of identifying extraneous or overindulgent aspects of my life was my access to clean water.  Count the number of places you can get clean water at your home.  Don’t leave out both faucets in the master bathroom or the water coming into your washing machine, or the spigots outside.  Compare that number to those who have no access to clean water.  It is very humbling.  In fact, it will make you feel guilty about how much we have and take for granted.  The point is not to feel guilty, but to feel thankful and to identify ways to use our blessings and privilege to find peace and do good in the world.

The second book, “Happiness Advantage”, suggests that you choose one of five ways of developing or reinforcing habits, which will impact you in a positive way.  Here are the five:

  • Journaling every day, e.g. positives that occurred or that you influenced.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Meditating every day.
  • Entering into a gratitude journal three things you are grateful for every day.
  • Sending thank you emails on a regular basis – to those who have helped you or positively

The assignment is to choose one, complete it for three weeks so that you develop a new habit, and hopefully continue it.  I chose the gratitude journal.  I am happy to say that I am continuing that habit.  Some examples of things I have listed over the last several weeks are:

  • Meaningful work
  • Love of family
  • Beautiful Sunrises
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

This weekend, in the afterglow of Thanksgiving, I hope that you will pause long enough to be in awe of the good things in your life.  Find ways to bring that awe with you through the season and into the New Year.

BRH

Words in the Workplace: Resilience

The human capacity for resilience has always fascinated me.  Everyone has it to varying degrees, and it is amazing to watch – personally and professionally.

Let’s examine the definition:

Resilience

  • The ability to spring back.
  • The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
  • Toughness.
  • Positive adaption to significant threats.

Continue reading “Words in the Workplace: Resilience”

Uniqueness Matters

I ran across a quote this morning that I think is thought-provoking.  Not one that I hadn’t seen before, but still stimulates thought.

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” – Peter Drucker

If you are at a crossroads in your business or your life, it is time to take stock.  It may be time to make some tough decisions.  It may be time to make major changes.  When I talk about change with clients, they usually think of small changes and rarely think of significant changes.  Change that is comfortable is probably not true change.

Here are some definitions of change that may help you think about change differently:

  • the act or instance of making or becoming different
  • a new or refreshingly different experience
  • a clean or replacement phase

These definitions seem to remind us that true change is more dramatic than we would like it to be.

If you are ready for true change, ask yourself these questions.  Think about your answer for each question for several minutes:

  1. How are you spending your time?  Is your day over scheduled or under scheduled?
  2. Are you doing what you should be doing?
  3. How is what you are doing truly unique compared to your competition?
  4. Are you excited about what you are doing?
  5. Are you learning something every day?
  6. Are you getting the results you want?
  7. What would others say about what you are accomplishing?
  8. Who should help you when making change decisions?
  9. What should your goals be?
  10. What are the next big steps/changes you should be taking to accomplish your goals?

No one else will have the same answers to these questions.  Your answers, your decisions, and your next steps are unique to you and your business.  You may need a sounding board but don’t wait to begin making changes.  Begin now!

“Personal leadership is cultivating the wisdom to recognize our need for renewal and to ensure that each week provides activities that are genuinely re-creational in nature.” – Stephen R. Covey

Sales, Sales, Sales

Is selling an art or a science?  I have, personally, thought of it as an art (can you really teach someone to be an insanely successful sales person?).  But the methodicalness in me wants selling to be a science.  Of course, as always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

When I watch natural sales people in action, they do it without hesitating.  No one had to teach them to pick up the phone, knock on the door, take the risk.  No one taught them to handle rejection with aplomb.  No one insisted that they make 25 cold calls, 10 warm calls, and 10 follow-up calls today.   These individuals you don’t have to worry about, they will MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The next tier of sales persons are those that have some natural ability, maybe a warmth about them, maybe a passion for what they are selling, maybe more organization than the next person.  These individuals are also successful without much assistance though a few tools thrown there way will help them MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The last tier in the sales ranks are those who probably will not make the big sale, probably will not make their quota, probably will have every excuse in the book why they haven’t made it, probably are big fans of incentive sharing.  These individuals may have some of the necessary skills to get the job done but they don’t have the drive, resilience, and natural abilities to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Why then, do so many organizations hang on to sales people who don’t sell, who don’t produce results, who barely justify their existence?  I don’t know.  It is beyond me.  At some point, there are no excuses that hold water under these circumstances.  But I see it happen over and over again.  Is it loyalty?  Is it blindness?  Is it fear?  What is holding the organization back from making a change?

My conclusion about sales – natural abilities matter, organization skills matter, knowledge of the products and services matter, but what matters most is RESULTS!  Get your sales staff the assistance, training, and tools they need, set realistic expectations, coach them to the next level, but at some point, they have to show that they can MAKE IT HAPPEN on their own!

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

– Conrad Hilton, Hilton Hotels

News, Thoughts, and Ideas!

Organizations Being More of Who They Are

Sometime ago I read that people who win the lottery do not change they just become more of who they were in the first place. In other words, money just brings out the best or worst qualities.

As I have observed recent decision-making in organizations, I have come to believe the same is true of organizations. I also believe that the same phenomena occurs in the extreme times – burgeoning economic times and lean times.

Examples:

1. A company chooses to keep people in jobs even when the company is marginally profitable or breaking even. The message is, “We, as a company, value people over short-term profits. We don’t want to add to the problems.”

2. A company chooses to reduce the workforce when don’t really need to from a financial viewpoint. The message they are emitting is, “We, as a compnay, wer not willing to tell someone they were a sub-par performer so we use the economic environment as an excuse to get rid of marginal performers.”

3. The first company in good times, typically makes the right, carefully thought out decisions, considering people’s needs as an important factor in the decision-making process.

4. The second company in good times, may make self-serving, rash decisions and is not as concerned with others’ needs.

What can we as organizational leaders learn from these observations? We need to:

  • Examine our values as leaders and as organizations and ensure decision-making matches these values.
  • Be transparent in our decision-making and communication. If we are not, trust will deteriorate and trust is difficult to rebuild.
  • Be open and honest about where the organization stands. If difficult decisions need to be made, the employees should not be surprised.
  • Ask for input, gather facts, and compare notes with other respected leaders prior to making decisions of import.

Think about who you are; think about who you are as an organization. Ensure it doesn’t change based on the economic changes – up and down.