“Cruise Control is the enemy of success. We resist change because we overestimate the value of what we have and underestimate the value of what can be gained through change.”
When faced with change, there is often a feeling of disorientation. One minute you are cruising along in a certain direction on a path that you believed was leading you towards a desired goal or certain future, and then . . . BAM.
But is what you originally envisioned your only future?
A New Palette
After graduating with a degree in business, Erik Wahl became a high-powered executive at a corporate firm. He had charted his course and knew where he was headed. Then, after eight years, he lost his job when the dot-com bubble burst.
It was then that he shifted his focus to art, and in particular, speed painting.
To most, this was a complete turnaround in that he went from suits and cell phones, to paint brushes and canvasses.
However, and because he was able to adapt and imagine a new future, Erik Wahl is now one of the country’s most sought after business speakers. His speed art presentation called “The Art of Vision,” has enthralled audiences and motivated business professionals from organizations such as AT&T, London School of Business and Ernst & Young to see beyond the familiar to achieve greater outcomes.
At the heart of his message is the belief that it is more important to be creative than to be stable, especially in times of change.
The question is how do you go from resisting change when the rate of change is not going to slow down. What’s the secret for embracing unpredictability? The following four steps will help you to get there . . . wherever your “new” there is.
1. Your First Reaction Is Not Your Best Reaction
Beliefs are at the core of our foundation, and influence our desire to change or move or try something else. This is a principle that I covered at length in my first book, entitled Customize Your Career (2004). Beliefs or “perceptions of self” determine your values and ultimately the goals you both set and work toward achieving in terms of your future success.
As a result, and whether expected or not, change actually threatens your belief system. This is why you may – like so many people, summarily resist it, because it shakes up not only your view of the world, but your view of yourself.
This is why you have to look beyond your initial reaction and open yourself up to the possibilities associated with change.
You may very well discover that what you initially considered to be an upset is, in reality, the doorway to a bigger and brighter future.
2. Be Willing To Let Go
I once saw a picture on a friend’s office wall of a baseball player sliding into base. Above, the caption read, “You can’t steal second with your foot on first.”
Are you someone who likes to (or needs to) hang on to the past? Do you spend your thought power on looking at what has already happened, instead of influencing what will happen? For most, there is comfort and certainty in the familiar. However, sometimes these are not accurate indicators that you are on the right path. Sometime they can actually mask the fact that you are in a rut.
An essential step to embracing change requires you to let go. A priest recently shared his wisdom with his congregation, where he said that if you live in the past, you will live with regrets! But if you live in the present, you’ll live with passion and opportunities. Are you ready to take on the world of possibility?
3. Believe anything is possible
When my Mother turned 88, I remember asking her how she felt about getting old. Her response was most inspiring. She said: ”Roz, when I get there, I’ll let you know.” My Mother lived her life to the fullest and taught me that attitude is the force that makes the impossible possible.
For me, I never believed that I would be travelling around the world, privileged to be speaking to Fortune 500 companies. What’s the change you see possible for yourself, and are your looking through a clear and fresh lens of objective enthusiasm?
Take a step back, and pretend that you are at the beginning of your career when everything is new and all things are possible. At this stage you’re likely not invested so much in your present vision of what the future should look like. As a result, you have an elasticity in terms of options, and are open to trying new things. This is the spirit you want to bring to the table when a change is happening in your career and life.
In other words, look to the future for possibilities, but use the present to lay the foundation.
4. Find Your Undiscovered YOU
Change does not mean that you compromise your values, or attempt to do something that is clearly outside of the scope of your unique abilities.
However, change may actually enable you to discover an untapped well of capability and skills that you have never used. I call this finding the “undiscovered you.”
The questions you need to ask yourself is simply this: Do you have a hidden talent and capability? Is there a gift that you possess that is muted and hidden under the obfuscating belief of what you think you are, as opposed to what you could be? What do you enjoy doing that inspires others to recognize your talents? What type of work energizes you and gives you enormous pleasure?
Going back to my story about Erik Wahl, a sudden and unexpected change was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. Why should change treat you any differently?
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” – Admiral Jim Stockdale
We are all probably familiar with the above excerpt from Jim Collins’ book Good To Great when, in the chapter titled “Confront the brutal facts,” he shares with us the compelling story of Admiral Jim Stockdale.
Stockdale, who was the highest ranking U.S. officer to be held prisoner in the notorious Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war, talked about the fact that those who did not make it out of that harrowing situation were the optimists.
The reason he gave is that they kept setting times for their hoped for release. When said times repeatedly came and went without their being freed, they eventually lost all hope and gave up on life.
Even though we may not, in setting our career goals, be facing the actual life or death situation that Stockdale and his fellow prisoners had faced, the same principle that saw the Admiral persevere and overcome is still very much relevant to our own dreams and aspirations.
In other words, your focus should not be on self-imposed time limits such as by the age of 30 I want earn X amount of dollars, or by 45 I want to be CEO. This is because there are always going to be circumstances beyond your control that can impose unexpected delays or a change in course.
This doesn’t mean that you should not set goals. What it does mean is that in setting goals you are aware of time, not driven by it.
What About Deadlines?
Now some of you might be thinking “that’s easy for Roz to say,” as she probably doesn’t have a boss who has given her a task that must be completed by a specific date.
As someone who has written many books and dealt with publishers and editors, I do understand deadlines. Especially the line drawn in the sand kind of expectations in which there is little if any flexibility.
However, this doesn’t change the applicability of Stockdale’s advice. Specifically, that while facing or acknowledging the “brutal fact” that you have a cast in stone deadline, you do not lose faith in your ability to deliver. This last point is the key!
If you make your assigned task about meeting a deadline, then you make time your enemy in that you will lose focus on what you need to do to be successful.
Think about Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
As much as any other quarterback in NFL history, he has led his team from defeat to victory in the final two minutes of countless games.
While being aware of the clock, Brady did not focus on the time he had but, what he needed to do to drive his team down the field to score the winning points.
It was both his focus, and the faith that he would prevail, that enabled him to get the job done.
Urgency Is Not The Same As Desperation
In your everyday business life, you need to possess a sense of urgency as opposed to desperation.
With desperation, time becomes your enemy as opposed to your ally.
When you however pursue your goals and dreams with a sense of urgency, it drives you to focus on the individual steps and tasks that you must complete to get to where you want to go. Or to put it another way when you, with diligence and integrity, work towards achieving your goals, time is on your side.
Even though you might not attain the desired success within the time frame you had originally hoped, like Admiral Stockdale you will get there, and it will be no less satisfying.
Do you know the difference between the fear of success and the fear of failure?
My guide How To Make 2015 Your Breakout Year will not only help you to recognize the common obstacles that befall all of us, it will also enable you to take action within the framework of your own unique gifts and abilities to make this year your most successful ever.
The above quote came across my Facebook page and I must admit that it got me to thinking . . . what makes me, or for that matter you, amazing?
It seems like a ridiculously easy question for which there is going to be an equally easy answer. At least the answer should be easy.
Then I found myself wondering would others have their own opinion as to what makes me amazing and, would it be the same as my answer? This is a lot to think about which is why I decided to write this post based on what I will call the “no one is ordinary” quote.
Suffice to say, we are all one of a kind creations who while sharing similar characteristics are, in our own way, truly unique.
In this context, I have often times talked (and written) about discovering and capitalizing on your unique ability*.
For the purposes of clarification, It is important to differentiate between a unique ability and an excellent ability. Simply put, a unique ability is a gift or talent with which you were born. An excellent ability is a skill set that you acquire through education and experience. In other words, it is learned as opposed to being inherent.
In this context, what gift or talent do you have that is inherent to you, and you alone?
Then the next question you have to ask yourself is this . . . am I using my talent to its fullest potential?
In a TED.com discussion stream regarding talent, the following comment speaks volumes:
I do not think talent is a necessity in life. Many people spend their entire life doing a job that requires no talent. I do believe that a person who chooses to use their talents will by far be a happier person though. I do not have what I consider a ‘real’ talent. I don’t sing. I can’t dance. I am horrible at math. I am, however, creative and I have an extremely friendly personality. I connect well with children therefore I am working on my teaching degree. Is this a talent? To a degree, yes I believe so. Not everyone can or should do it. Not everyone should sing…I definitely should not. I could have chosen to be a mechanic. My husband is and he is excellent at it. I am smart enough to learn to do it. I don’t want to however. My ‘talent’ lies in other areas therefore, my decisions and choices in life revolve around my talents. Would I be happy as a mechanic? No. I feel a person should use their talents. Their education should revolve around those talents. Learn everything you can…you’ll never know too much, but using your talents will lead to a more fulfilling life.
How many of us after overcoming the first hurdle pertaining to identifying our talent, actually use it in our work? How many of us have focused our education or ongoing development solely on enhancing our excellent ability skill sets while ignoring our true calling ability?
I know someone who successfully built up a software company and sold it for $12 million only to lose it all in the dot.com implosions. What was interesting is that in losing it all, he gained something of far greater value. He discovered his true calling. Today he is one of the top people in his field, being recognized for his unique ability as a speaker and writer. In other words what he believes makes him amazing now aligns with what others believe. He has never been happier!
So this is my question to you . . . what is your unique ability or abilities that make you amazing and, are you using them in your present position?
* In providing the concept for the book Unique Ability: Creating the Life You Want by Catherine Nomura and Julie Waller (2009), Dan Sullivan refers to your unique ability as “the true source of your personal power which stems from those abilities you have that are unique to you.”
No!… But, I have my own company for about 20 years now. And if anyone should be fired it should be me. Thanks to my team for keeping me on the straight and narrow. So, I guess the answer is choose loyal, faithful people, let them know you can goof up, and they will cover your butt. Be sure to recognize their input regularly – Caroline Bond
Of the many comments regarding my last post On The Firing Line (Part 1): How to respond if you ever hear the words “your fired,” the one above stood out as the perfect segue into today’s post.
If you have ever been a boss or had the responsibility to oversee the work of others, then you will likely have been put in the position of having to fire someone, or know of someone who has.
Obviously an unpleasant duty, I cannot help but think that given the litigious nature of today’s workplace, coupled with the belt and suspenders focus on avoiding legal action, very few companies actually take the time to look beyond the event itself.
Specifically, how did the employer – employee relationship break down to the point that termination was the only remaining option?
After all, no one looks to start a new job with the intention of one day being fired. Nor do the managers who do the hiring. So why does it happen?
The answer I believe rests in Caroline Bonds’ response. Within her words you can find two key points as to how one can avoid being on either side of the firing line.
To start, she demonstrates a disarming humility when she states if anyone should be fired it should be me. Thanks to my team for keeping me on the straight and narrow.
Whenever we look upon our position as one in which we are the boss, the ultimate lawgiver so to speak, we create a wedge between ourselves and those we have supposedly chosen to work with us as part of our team.
The story of a rising young executive named Randy, about whom I wrote in my book, immediately comes to mind here.
With an expected promotion on the near horizon, Randy had a bright future. Unfortunately, he equated being a successful leader with producing results at the expense of establishing and nurturing relationships. Despite overseeing an important project that was successfully completed in eight months as opposed to the estimated twelve months ̶ with an overall savings of $350,000.00 ̶ he forgot an essential leadership quality. In his haste to succeed, Randy failed to recognize the need to be inclusive and acknowledge the contributions of others as absolute “must haves” in order to rally the team and reinforce management’s decision to promote him.
In the end, Randy did not receive the much anticipated promotion because as the CEO put it, “no one wants to work with you again.”
Unlike Caroline, Randy never established the connection with his team either as individuals or collectively.
The second key point in Caroline’s comment So, I guess the answer is choose loyal, faithful people, let them know you can goof up, and they will cover your butt, is an obvious yet elusive quest.
According to a CareerBuilder Survey two-thirds of American companies have made business mistakes surrounding the hiring of employees. Sixty-nine percent of those employers who responded to the survey indicated that bad hires had “lowered their company’s productivity, affected worker morale and even resulted in legal issues.”
So who is ultimately responsible for a bad hire . . . and the resulting need to terminate someone’s employment?
Rather than getting into how one should conduct a proper series of interviews as this in and of itself would provide the basis for a separate post, I would simply say that the person doing the hiring ultimately bears the responsibility.
When Caroline chose her people, I would imagine that they possessed qualities that best aligned with hers. Once they joined the team, Caroline then created the work environment that nurtured these individual traits and in the process empowered each employee to perform at their very best.
This is of course the responsibility of any employer. Within this context, and if and when you find yourself in the position of having to let someone go, view the situation through this more enlightened and compassionate lens. Or to put it another way, there are three sides to most every story. With the exception of those rare instances where an employee has acted with malice intent, chances are the employer has played at least some part in the employee’s inability to do the desired job.
Perhaps the best way to sum it all up is by referring to the closing paragraphs from a recent article by Inc. Magazine columnist Jeff Haden.
In his article “I Fired Joe, and We Both Have to Live With It” Haden would write;
Hiring, firing, disciplining, promoting… each is an everyday task for a leader. You need to make difficult and agonizing decisions about employees. So you think, you decide, you act, and then you put that decision behind you and move on.
That’s the job.
Yet doing that job can dramatically change the life of other people. No matter how hard you try to get every decision that changes another person’s life right, sometimes you won’t. Those decisions — and those regrets — you soon realize you will live with forever.
Those decisions — and those regrets — you soon realize will also change your life.
Hats off to all of you who try desperately to get every people decision right… and then pay the unseen price of wondering whether you got one wrong.
Like all Canadians I was so proud of our country’s performance at the just concluded Winter Olympics.
While we fell one medal short of our total in 2010, it was nonetheless reflective of a stellar effort on the part of all of our athletes to compete at the highest possible level when it mattered the most.
Even though it is understandably difficult to select one standout from such a successful showing, I would have to say that personally, the Men’s Hockey Team left the greatest impression on me.
Yes I know that hockey is supposed to be Canada’s game, and that claiming back-to-back gold medals are in and of themselves noteworthy reasons. However, something else stood out for me that as far as I am concerned goes well beyond this tournament and the world of sports. What I am talking about is team play or playing as a team.
With this squad that was laden with superstars, it might have been easy for the athletes to play as individuals showcasing their own unique talents. Yet, and as so prominently demonstrated by captain Sydney Crosby, this was not about standing out on your own, but instead working together to achieve a shared dream.
Crosby like greats such as Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux before him, is one of hockey’s most dominant players. A prolific scorer, the young star is accustomed to putting the puck in the net or setting-up one of his teammates to do the same. Yet in the 2014 Olympics he managed only a single, albeit important goal.
Now one might think that when a goal scorer doesn’t score he isn’t doing a good job. However, and as anyone who followed the round robin competition will attest, his presence both on and off the ice were nothing less than monumental.
The reason? Crosby, like his fellow teammates, realized that to be successful the sum (or team) was greater than its individual parts (or players). As a result, he did not lock himself into one particular role, but adapted to the moment and played in a manner that enabled him to have the greatest impact.
In the end, his as well as his teammates’ selfless play, delivered the ultimate prize . . . a gold medal.
This led me to wonder how many times do we in our daily lives, confine our focus to those areas that we feel represent our greatest strengths while overlooking opportunities to become part of a bigger team and ultimately having a greater impact. I am not talking about doing something for which one does not have a natural affinity, nor am I suggesting the we ignore our unique abilities.
What I am saying is that had Crosby focused solely on scoring goals rather than playing as part of a collective team, would the Canadians have been as effective as they were in terms of shutting down the opposition. Would they have been able to win the gold?
Or to put it another way, if Crosby had led the tournament in scoring but Canada failed to win it all, would he have been successful?
This was a hard lesson that was learned by Randy, whose story I wrote about in my book The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand.
After you read the following story, I would like you to ask yourself the following question . . . “do I have the big picture view of where I fit in and, where I can do both my team and myself the most good?”
I recently wrote a post for my Remarkable Leader blog in which I made reference to a comment that Colin Powell made about leadership.
According to the former four-star general and the United States’ 65th Secretary of State, Powell stressed that the “true definition of leadership” is based on trust. And that the only way to gain trust is through serving selflessly as opposed to being self-serving.
Upon further reflection of the difference between serving selflessly and being self-serving, the story of Randy, a rising executive with a promising future, came to mind.
In 2009, Randy was scheduled for a major promotion when he was asked to launch a new division for his company. This project, which had to be completed within twelve months, represented a critical opportunity for Randy on many levels. To start, he would be able to demonstrate why he had earned upper management’s confidence. In addition, he would then be responsible for a huge number of diverse reports, opening the door for expanding both his creditability and respect with those who would ultimately report to him once he assumed his new position. It seemed like the ideal scenario.
However ̶ and this is where he came to the fork in the road that differentiates a selfless leader from a self-serving leader ̶ Randy forgot an essential leadership quality. Specifically, he just needed to be inclusive and recognize the contributions of others as absolute “must haves” in order to rally the team and reinforce management’s decision to promote him.
Even though the project was successfully completed in eight months as opposed to the estimated twelve months ̶ with an overall savings of $350,000.00 ̶ Randy did not understand the realities.
Following a brief celebration of the launch, Randy was invited into the CEO’s office, accompanied by his boss. Expecting to be promoted, Randy could feel the adrenaline rush for an exciting future. Shockingly, Randy was told by the CEO, in an apologetic tone, that a search company was being hired to find the right candidate to run this new business. When he asked why he was being passed over, Randy was told that based on the overwhelmingly negative feedback from those under him, there was no way he could effectively lead the division. In other words, he lacked a following. To quote the CEO, “Randy, no one wants to work with you again!”
In his self-focused agenda to successfully complete the project, Randy forgot about those committed individuals who gave selflessly to achieve success.
The moral of the story here is pretty clear. Randy used his team as a means for him to accomplish “HIS” goals, instead of being sensitive to their needs. He neither found opportunities to publicly acknowledge their contributions nor demonstrate his appreciation for their efforts.
“No man is an island.” We are all connected to each other. A prerequisite for success today, we must always remember to choose selfless leadership.
In what is today a competitive business world where no one is safe or indispensable, toiling in relative obscurity is a surefire way to find yourself on the outside looking in regardless of the results you deliver. In other words, you have to support performance with the right amount of exposure to ensure that your contributions are recognized and appreciated.
The question is, what is the right amount of exposure and how do you achieve this without looking like you are seeking to hog the proverbial spotlight.
In my book The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand, I talk about the importance of standing out by making the move from backstage to front-stage. This is something that is not accomplished with a look-at-me banging of the drum proclamation, nor by elbowing others out of the way.
The best way to move to the front and to stand in the spotlight is to shine from within.
“Be a beacon of hope to every one you meet. Every moment you have the opportunity to change your life and make a difference in the world. Make today worth remembering – Zig Ziglar”
So how do you shine from within?
To start what are the values upon which your goals are based?
Those who seek to serve others, or to be as Ziglar put it “a beacon of hope” to everyone they meet, exemplify the servant leadership mindset that should be at the heart of everything you do.
In other words, within each and every one of us is our own personal spotlight. When it is directed towards serving the best interests of others, we can’t help but illuminate our value to the world around us.
Unfortunately, and far too often, we see the spotlight has being external to who we are and what we believe and do. A place that is both unnatural and uncomfortable for most of us. A zone of self-directed self-serving interest.
In this context it is no wonder why the majority of us have a dim view of being in the spotlight.
Going forward, the real question you need to ask yourself is not how do “I” get noticed but, how do I help “others” to be successful. When you help those you seek to serve achieve their goals, you will ultimately bask in the brightness of a shared spotlight.
Being humble is admirable, but it could be a career blocker. Most people don’t know how to explain their value, and if you never talk about your vocational accomplishments, your workplace progress could come to a standstill.
It’s crucial to be prepared to promote yourself in a meaningful way, and that requires having a well-crafted elevator speech at the ready.
The point of the elevator speech is that it allows you to capture the essence of what you do. It’s not necessarily to move others to adopt your idea but rather to offer information that begins a conversation. It’s a chance to:
· Talk about your accomplishments and promote your credibility.
· Let people know what you’re good at and what you can handle.
· Showcase what makes you essential to the business.
The trick is to customize the message to your audience so that you present your elevator speech differently to different audiences.
However, we become skeptical when an elevator speech sounds commercial-like. If anything even hints at being a sales-pitch or fake sounding, people tune it out. If you rehearse it to the point where it is always the same, you might miss the chance to address the most important points for that person.
It’s helpful to think of your elevator speech like a 30-second commercial. It’s a great way to begin a conversation and offer the other person something compelling to consider.
At its core, the elevator speech needs to answer the question: What do you do?
You need to create a brag bag including:
- 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past several years.
- What have you done to contribute to those successes?
Next, here are a few of my basic rules for crafting an elevator speech:
* Communicate your Unique Selling Proposition immediately, focusing on the benefits that people will gain by knowing or working with you. This is a description of what you do, not your title.
* Display your acumen and unique insights into what you do.
*Be concise. You want to intrigue someone so they say: “Wow. Tell me more.” (That’s really the ultimate goal)
*Don’t mention your title or company name right away.
* Invest in rehearsal time. Practice your speech with people who know you well, and listen to their feedback. Remember, you want to sound natural, enthusiastic and approachable, not stale or arrogant.
In short, your goal is to be brief and persuasive and spark interest in what you do. Think of your elevator speech as a presentation that occurs as part of a natural conversation.
In any conversation there is almost always a 30-second moment that makes the meeting memorable. One way to craft your elevator speech is to borrow some best practices from top-notch TV commercials.
1. Deliver a clear message. One size does not fit all, so consider your audience (internally or externally) and tailor your message and delivery accordingly. Tell it as a story, and talk in points that inject the listener. Make sure to pause when appropriate to allow people to digest what you are saying.
2. Differentiate yourself. Let your audience know that you’re not just fulfilling a role but that you’re making results happen. Look at the bottom line: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would the cost be to your organization? Your clients?
3. Explain why you are excited about what you are doing. This gets you out of hey-look-at-me-aren’t-I-great mode. Ask yourself this question: What do you want your audience to remember most about why you love what you do? Have concrete examples available.
4. Know your talking points. Figure out ahead of time the three to five key points you want to leave your listener with.
Once you’ve crafted your elevator speech, it’s important to avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice, the more you’ll get used to naturally delivering your message rather than sounding too formulaic or prepared.
And while you don’t want to be self-conscious, be conscious of your body language and be aware of any of subliminal messages you may be communicating. One good way to do this is to ask your friends and family to critique your speech and point out any nervous habits or mixed messages you might be conveying. In addition, practice in front of a mirror and critically evaluate your delivery.
Lastly, understand the role that silence plays in your elevator speech. In other words, learn to stop talking after you’ve delivered the hook. You need to give the listener time to contemplate what you have said and become intrigued enough to ask you questions.
Bottom line: The well-prepared elevator speech that focuses on what you bring to the game is as critical to your business success as the real-time results you produce.
Here’s a sample that outlines a value proposition likely to prompt the listener to say “tell me more”.
Investment and insurance advisor: “Hello, I’m Brian Ashe. I get to help families live out their dreams by advising them on sound financial investments. Not only do they get to see their portfolios grow to their expectations, they feel greater peace of mind about what their future will look like. “
EXTERNAL NETWORKING PITCHING MISTAKES
At your next networking opportunity, whether you’re seeking out new customers, job opportunities or a career change, beware of the following:
1. Not reading your listener’s body language: Although you’re excited to explain what you do and how you do it, there’ll be times when your listener’s attention span is short or distracted.
2. Not leading with results first: By explaining how you help others, your listener can see how what you do can be relevant to them personally.
3. Not quoting others: Tooting your own horn doesn’t mean that you have to boast. Prepare your third party testimonials using specific quotes.
So, the next time you find yourself at a business function, think about what sets you apart from others and how you can highlight your distinctive qualities.
* Over 9 lectures and 2 hours of content!
* Make the move from relevant to essential.
* Showcase your unique abilities to “win friends and influence people”.
* Put your name at the top of your boss’s or clients list.
* Manage your brand before someone else does.
Now is the time to take that first important step towards creating Your Bigger Future by simply clicking on the following link: https://www.udemy.com/the-future-of-you-creating-your-enduring-brand/
Wishing you continued success!