Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Time For a Change #15: Finding Your 80/20 Path

by William Reed on May 18, 2012

The unlikely economist turned philosopher

It seems unlikely that an economist would have an insight that ultimately inspired a philosophy of living, but that is exactly what happened. In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population, and that this ratio seemed to recur with regularity even in nature. This observation was picked up by management consultant Joseph M. Juran, who named it the 80-20 Rule, or Pareto Principle. Also know as the law of the vital few, it has become an accepted phenomenon that in business 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.

This was taken up as a core theme by Richard Koch, a successful management consultant, entrepreneur, and author, who wrote a series of books such as Living the 80/20 Way, centering on the law of the vital few as a Way of Life. He provides lots of anecdotal evidence on how the principle occurs and recurs in business, in nature, and in our experience, but also provides practical advice on how to get better results for much less effort.

The promise of his philosophy is a way to work less, worry less, succeed more often, and enjoy life more. It is a practical philosophy, one which focuses on getting results, not through the conventional approach of working harder or more efficiently, but by thoughtfully focussing on the 20% of your ideas, contacts, and activities that will yield 80% of your results. He speaks convincingly to business audiences on how most people work too hard for meager results, when they could accomplish and enjoy more by learning how to find and focus on the vital few.

Avoiding digital distraction

It is hard to fathom the degree to which digital technologies and computers have transformed our world. We can now virtually transcend space and time. New economies of scale bring goods from the world to our doorstep the same day. Computers give us windows on the world and affordable access to information, education, media, and entertainment. Through our smart phones and tablets the digital window points in so many directions, it feels as if we have the world at our fingertips.

For all of its fascination, fun and convenience, we should not forget that the world at our fingertips is actually a world under glass, a virtual reflection of what actually exists elsewhere in analog form. Moreover, since we are not actually there, we can easily go somewhere else. We are always just a click away from zillions of choices! Even if your mind is only preoccupied with 3 or 4 choices, that is already enough to cause you to become digitally distracted and lose your 80/20 bearings, losing sight of the vital few.

Bret Victor wrote A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design, an article which raises questions few people seem to be asking; about what we are giving up when we limit the many dextrous functions of our hands to the simple action of swiping our fingers or tapping on a screen. He believes that our future is in our hands, our ability to feel, manipulate and make things, and not in pictures under glass.

In our digital dreams we should not forget the importance of focus, the analog world of sensory experience, the world of sensory serendipity, the world which to appreciate you have to have been there.

Finding fun in focus

In his book, The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, Carmine Gallo attributes the success of Steve Jobs in part to his ability to “Say no to 1000 things.” Apple’s ability to focus has resulted in game changing innovation, making it one of the most profitable companies in the world today.

For most of us it boils down to the art of time management, which in fact is really the art of self-management. Edwin Bliss is an internationally known consultant on time management, and although his books were written in the 1970s, they as timely today as they were when they first came out. Written in brief chapters with practical advice on everything from managing your schedule to increasing your energy and focus, they are also illustrated with amusing illustrations that depict the dilemmas that we all face in time management. For a wealth of tips on how to manage your time and increase your productivity, is well worth reading his two classic titles on time management, Getting Things Done and Doing it Now.

Your path of least resistance

It is not only digital distraction and poor time management that take us off of the 80/20 Path. One of the most fundamental mistakes that you can make is to spend your precious life energy working hard on something that does not come naturally to you. Sadly, many people find themselves stuck in  a job or career in which they spend years developing an average level of competence, when they could truly excel at something else in a much shorter time if they found the right path.

This is not just the classic dilemma of the would-be artist who works at a detestable day job just to pay the bills and get by. It can apply equally well to anyone in any line of work. It is more a matter of finding your flow, according to Roger J. Hamilton your Wealth Dynamics profile. There is no sense in putting this off. It is one of the most important things you should know about yourself, if you wish to succeed on the 80/20 Path.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that only a few things matter. How tragic if you look back at the end of your career or life, and feel as if you frittered away your life pursuing things that did not really matter. Take an 80/20 inventory of your life now, and focus on your few true friends, gifts, and goals.

For a visual summary of these ideas and approaches download here the 80/20 MANDALA. Catch up on other articles and Mandala downloads in this series by accessing the Time for a Change file on GOALSCAPE Connect.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Resilience Engineering #24: Thanksgiving and Success

by Gary Monti on November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving has provided a great time to inventory what is good about life. For myself, that included looking at things from a business perspective. One of the line items is project success. This may seem a bit funny since resilience engineering is about accidents, failures, damage, etc. The reality, though, is resilience engineering asks the question:

Why does failure occur when people plan to succeed and work to do just that?

Focus on Sustained Success

In line with Thanksgiving and in its simplest form the resilient engineering frame of mind avoids taking success for granted. Stated another way, it is a proactive approach to failure that is done in a unique way and answers the question:

What does it take to establish and maintain continued success?

One of my favorite people, Andy Groves, co-founder of Intel, to this day has a piercing focus regarding this question. He is a professional paranoid regarding success. Does that mean he has a negative attitude? Quite the contrary. He is just aware that while success can be quite powerful it is also paradoxically frail. Forces both within and without the project or organization need to be constantly monitored and managed to keep the project or even the entire organization on a balanced footing.

Part of Thanksgiving is appreciation of a powerful sponsor who avoids reacting to someone yelling, “squirrel!” and, instead, stays close to the project, practices governance, and avoids micromanagement.

This brings us to another line item regarding Thanksgiving, having subject matter expert who take full responsibility for their work. This not only includes doing the work but also addressing the associated quality and risk management PLUS being aware of the ripple effect behaviors have on other parts of the project.

When these things occur we all have something to be thankful for, can genuinely be at peace, and are free of the need for the tryptophan that comes from eating too much turkey.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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What do you do when there is never enough time to do everything thoroughly? In resilience engineering (RE) there is a concept called the efficiency-thoroughness trade off (ETTO). What does one do? Let’s look.

First thing required is identifying the environment. This is easily done when talking with a new hire. If you find yourself saying or hearing something like the following you are in an ETTO environment:

“It will take a while but you’ll get the hang of it. We have plenty of policies and procedures. The trick, though, is knowing which ones to apply on any given day. Things change around here pretty rapidly and you’ll have to learn how to keep up.”

That daily change can lead to erratic behavior. Why? What is defined as “efficient” changes from day-to-day based on what goal management is chasing. One day the focus is on everyone getting his or her documentation current. On another it is billable hours. Still another the focus is on proposal generation. It goes on-and-on and end dates never move.

So why write about something so obvious? Simple. I’ve found that in technical environments the organization can be biased heavily towards task-oriented people. What this means is there is inherent insensitivity towards the politics of the situation and the shifting priorities. There is something else that occurs that is rather insidious.

“Those who are task-oriented can run the risk of being so close to the work they have a very short time horizon. This leads to inability to look ahead and confront early potential trade-off situations where thoroughness is so lacking that rework and additional expense are guaranteed.”

In my practice probably the most common thing heard is, “I hate politics.” To tell the truth, I do too. I came to it kicking and screaming. “Just let me build my brainchild,” was my mantra. Others can do the politics. Now, the huge payoff associated with understanding and using politics is obvious and a big part of Center for Managing Change’s work. By understanding politics one can get a feel for the ETTO and how to manage the situation.

Look at it this way. List all the work-related issues you talk with peers about at the lunch table or over coffee. See if you can take the conversation further by brainstorming ways to approach the people and situations that are so frustrating. When you do this you’ll find that personalities start coming into play almost immediately. This is where the work begins.

List your frustrations regarding ETTO. See if the group can brainstorm what key players’ hot buttons are. Determine how those hot buttons can be pushed to get the movement you want (which is usually more time and resources to get the job done right the first time.) Then take it up a notch. Try connecting all those hot buttons and see if a strategy can be developed for talking with your stakeholder population so they will see the benefit of giving you the time to be sufficiently thorough. That last phrase, “sufficiently thorough,” is the key. It’s not about perfection. It’s about getting enough time to give the customer what they need and not have to revisit the deliverable in order to get it right.

So, remember. If you want the time do the politics.  Now, if it were only as easy to do as it is to say!

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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A Good Business A Great Life #9: Preferable to all Others

by Jack Hayhow on September 26, 2011

Peter Drucker famously said the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.  In order to do that, of course, your business must provide a product, service or experience the customer judges to be preferable to all of the other products, services or experiences currently available.  In other words, you must create a compelling offer for the customer to buy what it is you sell.

A compelling offer has four primary characteristics.  It is:

  1. Meaningful to the customer
  2. Divergent from the competition
  3. Intensely focused
  4. Concisely communicated

Let’s consider each of these characteristics…

Meaningful to the Customer

Since Edward Chamberlin first coined the term “product differentiation” in his 1933 book, The Theory of Monopolistic Competition, marketing gurus have beat the drum of differentiation.  And differentiation is critically important.  But not all differentiation is created equal.  Some differentiating qualities matter to the customer, others don’t.  For example, you might be the only bank in town that has horse in your logo.  That probably doesn’t matter to very many people.  On the other hand, if your bank is open 24 hours a day, that might be meaningful – especially in a community with a large number of night shift workers.

Divergent from the Competition

The second characteristic of a compelling offer is that it is divergent from the competition.  It’s unlikely that what you sell can be completely divergent from your competitors.  But if your product, service or experience isn’t divergent is some significant way, it simply doesn’t provide the customer with a compelling reason to buy from you.

Intensely Focused

The third characteristic of a compelling offer is that it must be intensely focused.  In their wonderful book, Made to Stick, the Heath brothers lobby for focus with this quote from a defense lawyer,

“If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room they won’t remember any.”

Customers and prospects simply don’t have room in their heads for all of the wonderfulness of your product.  So focus.  Tell them what matters most – emphasize the one thing that is most likely to compel them to buy from you.

Concisely Communicated

Finally, the fourth characteristic – your offer must be concisely communicated.  In the screenwriting trade, this is called the logline, or more commonly, the one-line.  The one-line tells potential viewers what the movie is about.  In his book, Save the Cat, Blake Snyder uses these examples of a one-line:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists (Die Hard)

A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend (Pretty Woman)

Your one-line must explain to the customer what he or she gets, and it must do so in a heck of a hurry.  If your customers and prospects can’t easily remember and repeat your one-line, you probably need to keep editing.

If your offer contains these four components, it is likely to be compelling and your company is exceedingly likely to grow… leading to… A Good Business, A Great Life!

Jack-Hayhow Jack Hayhow is Chief Executive Servant of Opus Communications in Kansas City. Opus provides tools and techniques to help business owners build their business. Jack is also the author of two highly acclaimed business books, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig: Guidance and Inspiration for Managers and Leaders and, Breaking Through the Barrier: What Companies That Grow Do Differently
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As the Paradigm Shifts #J: Judgment

by Rosie Kuhn on June 15, 2011

Probably the single most damaging undertaking is the practice of judging ourselves. We judge ourselves, we project how others might judge us as well we judge others in relation to our own self-judgments. You can imagine how much energy this takes moving throughout the day.

In my previous writing I shared how you have set intentions about how your day will unfold before you’ve opened your eyes. That’s because you have set judgments about yourself, life, jobs, money … you’ve set judgments about everything and anything. These judgments take the form of assessments, assumptions, expectations, beliefs and interpretations, and before your feet hit the floor you are operating based on what you’ve already decided will be happening for the rest of the day and how that influences the rest of your life.

In your work environment, suspending judgments begins by flexing muscles that cultivate conscious choice-making regarding who you be and how you be in whatever role you play.

A client of mine, Chuck, works in the marketing department of a Fortune 100 company. At 47 years of age, he’s at a point in his career where he is rethinking what it is he is wanting to do for the next 20 years. Should he stay in corporate work and move up into a director position; leave Los Angeles and move back East to be closer to his aging parents – he carries a worry that if he doesn’t move back now he might regret it in the future; or should he go into a field that he is passionate about. He wanted a session with me in hopes that I could help him figure it out.

Chuck does a good deal of comparing – how he measures up to others around him. He begins to think he should be more like Candice who is strategic, smart, innovative and develops relationships effortlessly. He begins to slump in his chair as he describes Candice’s attributes. In many ways, Chuck is very accomplished and has had an exceptional life; however he continually carries an extraordinary list around in his head of what he should be and how he should be. He has little idea what he really wants for himself in relation to his career because every want is followed by a “Yes, but, I should be …”

Within our session, Chuck began to observe the degree to which he automatically assesses his actions by projecting an assumed reaction from his colleagues. He doesn’t really know what their judgments are, but they influence him none-the-less. He’s judging himself based on some preconceived interpretation about how he thinks he measures up or should measure up. Again, this is exhausting. And, Chuck is not alone. Millions of us are continually assessing and judging ourselves and others and we have little idea that we are doing it.

Bringing shifts and changes into business begins with you. It starts with you cultivating awareness about how you be who you be and by noticing your judgments about yourself and those with whom you share your day, be it your boss, direct reports, customers and clients. It begins with acknowledging this automatic response and then getting curious about where those judgments and interpretations come from. That curiosity will begin to allow you to expand your awareness and wonder how you came to choose what has become so automatic.

What’s the Alternative to Judging?

We will always judge, compare, assess and interpret. These are essential and valuable tools in distinguishing and discerning what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. However, because they are used primarily unconsciously they create more harm than healing. We don’t have to stop judging, but it may be helpful to suspend it long enough to notice the value that judging brings.

If you are wanting to bring change into the workplace, or if you just want to cultivate awareness in yourself, what is it that you want to practice in relation to judging, expecting, interpreting and assuming?

Notice when you judge something as right, wrong, good or bad; notice where something or someone is too slow, too fast, not enough or too much and needs to change. This also goes for noting these thoughts about you. The object of this practice is just to notice. You’ll notice too that you’ll begin to judge yourself and what you notice, saying “yes, but, I am right,  or they are wrong.” What’s the point?

What does judging and assessing as a practice do for you? How does this empower you? Does it allow you to create change in relation to yourself and your environment? Does it allow you to feel righteous and better than, and if so, how does this impact on the reality you are wanting to create for yourself?

Coming back to Chuck for a moment: Chuck recognized that he was afraid of being judged and through his continuous judgment of his work environment he always played it safe, staying within what he assessed as appropriate. And up until our session he hadn’t realized that this practice of judging and assessing is what keeps him from getting promoted to a more senior position, where he would have to lead in ways that would be innovative and may be perceived as risky. He is now at a choice-point where he can choose with awareness, what he wants and what he is willing to practice to support that outcome.

The automatic thinking that we do always consists of judgments. Just bringing awareness to our judgments allows us to be curious about just how true they really are. This allows us to choose differently if it serves us to do so. Enjoy the exploration!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Every organization whether it be for profit or non-profit are in their line of business in order to gain something – it’s most likely in their vision statement. My vision statement, for example is:

The fulfillment of the human spirit through the empowerment of every individual on the planet.

This vision requires an acquisition of fulfillment and personal empowerment.

Gain

Whether to gain access to clean water, acquire political power, or to expand one’s capacity to lead effectively, we are all out to gain.

With the economic turn, the way it’s going, businesses are facing major dilemmas. On the one hand they – the choice-makers are facing potential loss of everything they’ve gained. Too often this drives them to act in ways that will hopefully allow them to not lose anything. Fear too often drives them to act in haste, making choices that may not be in alignment with their original vision. They are afraid. People make interesting choices when they are afraid.

We like to think of ourselves as gainfully employed or engaged, yet few of us want to associate ourselves with words such as greed. However too often we are unconscious of when and how we withhold what we’ve gained out of a fear we aren’t even aware of. Our greediness is often disguised.

On the other hand of the dilemma, there are those companies that are looking at their circumstances not from a fear-based perspective but from one that can benefit many during this time of adversity?

When we start to shift our contexts we see what’s to be gained – not from fear-based greed, but from some place other than fear – generosity.

Less is More

Do you remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, in A Christmas Carole? Scrooge’s greed wasn’t limited to money. He was greedy with his heart. We find out why, as we’re given the opportunity to witness specific events in his life that created devastating loneliness and heart break. Because of these events he chose to withhold and be miserly with his gains, which greatly impacted many people.

Like Scrooge, every one of us experiences, to some degree, loneliness and heartbreak. We experience, like Scrooge the inevitability of abandonment, betrayal and rejection. And, much like Ebenezer, we bury the pain deep inside, distancing ourselves from that pain, which wreaks havoc on the façade we’ve invented. This façade has us look and feel powerful and invulnerable, yet inevitably we find, as Scrooge found that this limits the potential to fulfill our true potential.

Fear is an enormously powerful muscle that is exercised far too frequently; so much so that we are unconscious as to how much it impacts on our choice to enjoy being engaged in the business of doing business. Our fears limit the pleasures of relating, connecting and sharing ourselves and our talents in service of our vision, which inspired us in the first place.

All of us – the Human Race – have the capacity to overcome the adversities of our pasts. Hiding our hearts in a scrooge-like fashion, though, is not the way to do it, but practicing generosity can be.

The Muscle of Generosity

This muscle called generosity is always with us. It just hasn’t had a whole lot of exercise.

Exercising this muscle generates the experience of abundance, openness and allowing, innovation and expansion. Scrooge found this place after his journey with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. He came to see that he had nothing to lose and had so much to gain in discarding his lengthy practice of greed.

As the paradigm shifts, we are so much more capable of witnessing our attachments to our gains, our fear of losing what we’ve gained and of finding that through some playful curiosity we can discover other ways to gain without fear of losing what we’ve gained.

Those committed to bringing spirituality into the workplace may feel like they have an uphill battle ahead of them. Simple exercises now will, however generate the necessary strength, courage and wisdom to engage in what’s to come. You will find the shift easy and effortless – trust me!

Just for one day I want you to try something (Maybe for some of us, it will be just an hour or a minute.): Notice opportunities to share a smile. Notice who you are willing to share a smile with, and from whom you withhold a smile. That’s it! That’s the practice.

You’re probably asking: “What’s a smile got to do with generosity?” Good question. I could explain it to you but it wouldn’t be the same as having you experience what happens when you smile. Plus, this practice isn’t about whether you smile more or less. It’s about noticing when you choose to allow yourself to smile and when you choose to withhold a smile. It’s about noticing how you are choosing to choose to smile. This choice-making process underlies so much of your being with fear, with gain and with spirituality.

Notice what it feels like inside you, without judging or assessing yourself. Our actions can be so automatic sometimes that we aren’t even aware of the thoughts or feelings we’re having underneath.

How can we be the generosity we so wish to experience?

I have the following three suggestions:

  1. Smile more often, even when you are challenged by your circumstances;
  2. Notice your desire to complain about anything and everything;
  3. Notice if what you are doing inspires generosity of spirit in your own heart. If it doesn’t inspire generosity of spirit in your own heart, consider doing something else.

Know that each and every one of us comes into our work environment anticipating and hoping that we will experience generosity of spirit from those we engage with during the course of our day. Like Scrooge, many of us don’t have the capacity to even share a smile. Even though it may be disappointing, see if you can share compassion to those who have less capacity to be giving of their hearts. Your compassion may be the most generous gift of the day. You may gain far more from that activity than you ever imagined.

… and of course, your sharing goes a long way, be it through a smile, or through this article. So, do share your experiences via your comments.

Enjoy the Exploration!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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As the Paradigm Shifts #F: Fear

by Rosie Kuhn on May 18, 2011

The current paradigm within which we are deeply rooted and that is ingrained in every cell of our body is cultivated solely around fear-based thinking. Research shows that 70% of our thoughts are precipitated from fear. Imagine that! How did we come to reside in such an environment permeated with a pervasive and automatic trigger to think fear-based thoughts? Is there another way? Do we have a choice in the matter?

In the previous blog I distinguished essence-based thinking from fear-based thinking. We have a knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are something far beyond the fear-based reality within which we are immersed. At the same time, there is a field or paradigm that corrupts this knowing fragmenting it into millions of tiny particles that then reflects back to us in mere instances the brilliance and radiant beings that we are.

History of war and persecution for thinking and being different than what is prescribed by political and religious dogma reminds us that we are not immune to the horrible things that human beings can do to one another. We remember and imagine what it has been like to be subjected to such treatment. And, the same time we may be living it, unconscious of the pervasiveness of it within our everyday life.

Notice Your Thoughts

Imagine heading to work. You in your car, on the train or bus and you’re sensing some anxiety, resistance or something that isn’t peaceful. If you were to just notice for a moments the thoughts running through your mind that is the catalyst for these feelings, what would you notice? If researchers are right and 70% of what you are thinking is negative and fear-based, what environment are you creating inside your head as you prepare to engage with the work, the people and the environment? Are these thoughts and bodily sensations preparing you for a day of peaceful, fun and creative interactions, or are they preparing you to do battle with yourself and everything that confronts you? Are these thoughts memories of what occurred in the past? Are they worries about what may unfold, or are you thinking about what you might say or would like to say to someone who is really bugging you?

So much of what is occurring in our brains are random firings of impulses that have become habitual in nature. Honestly, we have no clue as to how many programs are running concurrently in our brain. Some of them are essential and some of them are just a form of masturbation, stimulating endorphin and adrenaline that make us feel good about ourselves, and at the same time allow us to distract ourselves from feeling bad about ourselves.

Say STOP!

As long as we are in this game of focusing on maintaining what we’ve gained, avoiding loss of any sort, and ignoring the choice-making process that keeps us playing the same strategies over and over again, winning will never be the outcome. It isn’t even a possibility because we’ve limited our capacity to think beyond the fear-based paradigm.

Einstein’s words come to mind.

“We can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them”.

There’s a practice I’ve been working with for years. When I catch myself thinking thoughts that are not serving my essence-self, which desires peace, clarity of purpose and fulfillment, I just say STOP! A couple of curious things showed up when I first started this practice. First, that part of me that wanted to think all of the “what if’s and shoulda’s and coulda’s; it didn’t stop. It went right on blabbering. Much like an unruly child, my mind had learned it didn’t need to respond to my demand that it stop. I had to become more insistent before it would even consider listening to me. And…

I realized too that when that unruly part of me stopped creating thoughts that contributed to, well essentially nothing, what showed up was fear. I found myself fearful of not having fear-based thoughts! I experienced a great deal of fear when I insisted my mind take a break. I didn’t know who I was when I stopped thinking.

Questions to Ask Yourself

In the workplace, we are constantly bombarded with circumstances that require an incredible amount of attention. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the degree of quality you are bringing and is it in alignment with what you are wanting for yourself and your business?
  • Is fearful, anxious, antagonistic or resistance the foundation upon which you want your actions to come from when engaged with customers, clients and all of those with whom you interact?
  • What commitment is underlying this come-from?

For me, I come from anxious, worried and disempowered when I’m committed to staying in an old story of a helpless, powerless, victim. I have to ask myself frequently; am I really committed to that story? I then have to give myself an alternative – that to which I know I’m committed – empowered, engaged and empowering of others.

Yes, I too sit in the dilemma of what to choose – my fear based commitments or my essence-based commitments. More effortlessly than ever before, I’m able to take action in alignment with my choice to grow myself and my work from my essence-based truth.

Shifting the Paradigm

Shifting our paradigm requires each of us to be willing to perceive our reality through lenses that reflect the positive attributes of our reality, making that the 70% of our thinking process. This in itself would make such an incredibly profound contribution to our work environment, not to mention to our family, friends and the world at large.

Consider being curious about your thoughts and emotions. Notice that your emotions are just energy that is generated by your thoughts. Shift your thoughts and your emotional state will shift immediately. I know it’s a lot to ask, however, I believe you are ready to step into the question. Enjoy the journey!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Many people assume that most any business can become a big business.  But if that’s true, why is it that 95% of all businesses in the United States never reach a million bucks in annual sales?

Surprising as it may be, most businesses simply don’t have what it takes to grow significantly.  In fact, only two or three businesses out of a hundred will ever grow past the Mom & Pop stage – past the owner’s immediate span of control.

If you’re a small business owner with visions of growth, these facts can be a little unnerving, and more than a little disheartening.  What these facts tell us is that if you want your business to grow into a substantial enterprise, you need to do something that roughly 25,000,000 other business owners have been unable to do!

So where do you start?  You start by confronting the brutal facts.  You start with perhaps the most important question a business owner can ask:

Is the market sufficient?

Two factors comprise the market, demand and attachment.

  • Demand is about quantity – how many people want what you’re trying to sell.
  • Attachment is about quality – how much do people want what you’re trying to sell.

For a business to grow significantly, there must be high demand or strong attachment, preferably both.  Although it’s a little unwieldy, here’s a question that gets to the core of market evaluation:

Do enough people care enough?

Sometimes, the answer is no.  Last year about this time our company released an online service called ReallyEasyHR.  The service provided a complete small company HR program for $30 a month.  It was a great service and a remarkable value.  But guess what?  Nobody cared.  It turns out that small business owners have virtually no interest in spending even a few dollars a month on HR.

I believed ReallyEasyHR was going to be successful.  And I suppose I could berate myself about how wrong I was.  But here’s the thing:  You don’t know how the market will respond until you start trying to make sales.  The hard truth is, until you ask a prospect to fork over some cash, it’s all just guesswork and speculation.

That’s true in small companies like ours and it’s also true in huge, wildly successful organizations.  Not so long ago the brain trust at McDonald’s looked at emerging demographic trends and saw what they thought was an opportunity.  People were living longer and the older adult population was burgeoning.  In response, McDonald’s spent $300 million to develop and launch the Arch Deluxe, a sandwich positioned as “a more sophisticated burger for the adult palate”.  The Arch Deluxe was a complete flop. As it turned out, people didn’t want a sophisticated burger from McDonald’s.  Which just goes to show you that some of the smartest people on the planet can be flat-out wrong when projecting demand.

Demand is one thing your company can’t grow without.  Unless enough people care about the product or service you’re trying to sell – and care enough to go out of their way to buy it – survival is unlikely and growth is impossible.  So here are two important reminders for owners who want to grow their businesses:

  1. You won’t know if there’s enough market for your product until you offer that product for sale.
  2. There’s a chance you’ve overestimated demand, so don’t go all in.  Make sure you live to fight another day.

In my next article, I’ll offer some thoughts on the other factor of market potential, attachment.

Jack-Hayhow Jack Hayhow is Chief Executive Servant of Opus Communications in Kansas City. Opus provides tools and techniques to help business owners build their business. Jack is also the author of two highly acclaimed business books, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig: Guidance and Inspiration for Managers and Leaders and, Breaking Through the Barrier: What Companies That Grow Do Differently
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Project Reality Check #19: Focus on Success

by Gary Monti on April 26, 2011

As different as they appear to be Success and Failure can have a lot in common! They both can bring about a fair degree of misery unless a proper focus is maintained. That focus comprises a subtle but important distinction. Let’s explore.

Plan Without Consequence

The trick with success is to plan without consequence. It sounds paradoxical so some explanation may help. The idea is to avoid getting attached to the success. Or said another way:

“Attach to success to the same extent you would attach to failure.”

Now what does that mean? Simple. It means if someone chooses to define himself solely in terms of what happens to him then he should prepare for a life of misery. If he has lots of money, fame, or what ever else he craves then he thinks he is good. If he loses what he craves he thinks he is bad. It is similar to how some people view disease, i.e., if they get it, they must be bad and God is punishing them. “Plan Without Consequence” means strive to achieve by remembering:

“I am more than what life does to me.”

Looking at it from another direction can help. “I was successful” and “My plan was successful” are two very different statements. With the former statement there is the risk of identifying with my project plan and losing my personal boundary. With the latter statement detachment is present which brings something very powerful to the table. It is the ability to maintain options. It is this capability that makes for a high-quality project manager. This subtle difference can be seen when contrasting two words easily confused.

Awareness vs. Vigilance

What I am trying to say is expressed in a more entertaining manner in the book, Who Moved My Cheese. The book fundamentally gets down to the distinction between two words, awareness and vigilance. With awareness one simply looks at life as it is and makes decisions. “No more cheese here. Okay, I’ll move on and search somewhere else.”

“No more cheese here!!! Who moved my cheese?!” is more in line with vigilance. It’s the attachment mentioned above. It’s the poison of expectations. Expectations that confuse getting something good with being intrinsically good and deserving of more.

With vigilance misery results since there is an attempt to force life to conform to expectations. With awareness freedom is present; the freedom to choose other options and move on to different forms of success. Last time I checked, that freedom and the ability to explore options is at the heart of project management, i.e., a temporary endeavor providing a unique product or service.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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Flexible Focus #49: The eight frames of life: Personal

by William Reed on April 14, 2011

The Mandala Mirror

In the Mandala view, it is in the Personal frame of life that you meet yourself and address your personal issues. This is a space for reflection, but of a particular kind, and this is where the Mandala Chart provides a unique perspective.

We spend a lot of time interacting with the things and people outside of us. We need to spend some time as well exploring the world within.

Reflection is deep thinking. Looking deep into the reflection, rather than just at the surface of the mirror. This is a space for clarity and insight, not for melancholy or self-importance. You meet yourself in the mirror, the person that has been with you from the beginning and will be with you until the end.

You may think you know yourself pretty well by now, but ask yourself deeper questions concerning your mission and core message, and you will understand the need for deeper reflection to discover your living legacy. Your personal happiness is related in part to the time you spend in front of this Mandala Mirror, and what you do about it as a result.

The Mandala Mirror is quite different from the mirror of Narcissus, the proud and self-admiring hunter of Greek mythology, who died for being unable to leave his own reflection in the water. The Greek roots of the word Narcissus mean sleep or numbness, a far cry from the clarity of self-knowledge.

Personal Growth

Personal is an adjective. It works best when it modifies a noun, such as personal growth, personal development, personal happiness.

Personal development is about helping yourself to change in positive ways. Many books have been written in the self-help genre, but one author, Tom Butler-Bowdon, has undertaken a remarkable project which took ten years to complete, in which he read, reviewed, and summarized the essence of 50 classic books, from ancient to modern, in each of five categories. He published these in a series: 50 Self-Help Classics, 50 Success Classics, 50 Spiritual Classics, 50 Psychology Classics, and 50 Prosperity Classics.

What kind of a perspective does such a massive project give you? His selection spans world religions, cultures, philosophies, and even centuries of time. Each classic book is summarized, culling out the key points, including comments to put the author and the book in the context of why it was written. Each review includes a list of books which were influenced by that classic or share a similar view. Certainly a great deal of reflection went into the 50 classics project, and the author takes you on a reflective journey through the books of its leading lights.

Tom Butler-Bowdon spoke at the Speakers for Business Showcase 2011, at which he discussed the perspective this project gave him on such important topics as motivation and personal growth. In this talk he says he learned through this project that real personal transformation and lasting change is far more likely to come through the disciplined application of the strategies revealed in these works, rather than the emotional enthusiasm espoused by many motivational speakers in this field.

You can download a 50 Classsics PDF Mandala Chart showing the covers of his books and website which I created as an overview of his work.

Make a Wish List

The Personal frame of the Mandala Chart does not need to be used exclusively for deep reflection. It can also be used for constructive daydreaming, positive thinking, and image training to improve your condition or performance.

This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable uses of the Mandala Chart, because you get to use your imagination in the service of making yourself a better person, and living a better life. This is best achieved of course by helping and improving the lives of others. There is no happiness in hedonistic self-absorption.

But rather than drifting in fantasy, it is best to capture your wishes on a list. The Mandala Chart helps you organize your list into categories, and focus on implementation as well. Your wishes might be related to improvements in your character, behavior, or performance. The discipline of gradual improvement and repetition is also important. You don’t just wave a magic wand and expect your wish to come true.

Because presumably you will wish for things that you want, the element of pleasure and anticipation can lend just enough to incubate your wishes until they hatch. Then you can cultivate and nurture them as they grow. This is where dreams come true.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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