leadership incorporated blog

January 23, 2011

INSPIRED TO SUCCEED: Is your drive to create results getting in your way of achieving them?

Have you ever been so driven to reach your vision for growth so quickly, that you skipped steps?

Have you ever looked back to realize that you hadn’t even seen all the essential little steps along the path that you missed — and then had to compensate for?

It’s often in the nature of leadership to focus so much on scoring the home run that you neglect to touch all the bases. People who are driven to achieve results can create incredible forward motion only to arrive at a somewhat different destination than they intended OR show up to the performance only knowing half of the song. They want to start pitching business before writing (or revising) the business plan. They want to execute on ideas that excite them without exploring how (or whether) they fit into the mission. They want to execute new initiatives before they’ve fully explored (and planned for) all the potential pitfalls. They want to jump in and land their next gig without spending a lot of time or energy on knowing exactly what they are — and aren’t — looking for.

If this describes you (and it sometimes describes me) this story is for us.

I recently facilitated a workshop with the management team in a manufacturing company. We began with an activity designed to surface the challenges of communication between teams in remote locations. The task was for one person to build a structure using colored blocks then communicate to a partner how to build the same structure with a matching set of blocks, without either person being able to see what the other was doing. Two of the teams jumped right in and started directing their partners through the building process. The third team began by cataloging their blocks into colors, shapes and sizes. They made sure they each had matching blocks. They hammered out a common language to describe the various pieces. They created a strategy for working together.

I was beginning to wonder if they would even begin building before I called time. But then an amazing thing happened. They did begin to build and although they were second to finish, the total amount of time they spent in the actual building was about 1/4 of the time the building process took the other teams. They made no mistakes in the building, needed no time for corrections. And their result was a perfect replica. One of the other teams also created a matched copy, however, the third team demonstrated breakdowns in understanding and quality control that made for a hilariously mismatched structure.

Although this was a fun and harmless exercise, we only have to read the news to see that these kind of breakdowns happen in business — with much more at stake — every day.

So what’s the takeaway? Besides taking extra care to create trust, common vocabulary and other agreements among team members, the big learning is that being in a hurry to get to results doesn’t necessarily get you there faster — or get the job done right.

It doesn’t get you clients faster. It doesn’t grow your business faster. It doesn’t get you your next job faster. And the hurry can — and often does — lead to disastrous results.

What I observed with my client is totally consistent with studies that show that every 15 minutes of planning saves an hour. Perhaps this story begins to illustrate how that works.

We may feel that the time it would take us to get really clear about the results we want to create, to design a detailed and strategic path to our goals, to get others fully on board, and to prepare for breakdowns, will slow us down — but that’s just how we feel. It’s not what’s real.

Consider shifting your focus FROM the hurry to reach your vision TO making the time to create the conditions that will result in your vision. You’ll save time and breakdowns much faster than you think.





December 27, 2010

Are you taking the right kind of break to turbocharge your growth?

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop. — Ovid (43 B.C. – 17/18 A.D.)

Taking a break isn’t easy for me. (Can you relate?) But I know how important rest is for being on my game upon my return.

So, this past week in Mexico, I resisted the urge to work (with 2 quite minor exceptions) and instead read books that had no redeeming value and walked on the beach without trying to solve any problems whatsoever. I breathed dust at 25 km/h and learned to shift gears on an ATV and ziplined through the canopy. I practiced my Spanish with total strangers and ate more shrimp in a week than I have in the past 5 years combined!

And I came back full of ideas, even though I hadn’t been thinking about work at all.

If you want to create growth for yourself this year, breaks are essential for nurturing and encouraging the creativity and leadership you’ll need. Of course, you already know this, right? Right.

But did you know that not all breaks are created equal? YOU need a particular kind of break to act as muse to bring out your creative and productive best upon your return. And that may be a very different kind of break than I need. Or, more important, it may be a very different kind of break than your spouse or significant other needs!

I notice a lot of people (clients and friends) who take breaks that aren’t their most nourishing choice. Sometimes we have a particular kind of break forced upon us (family trip!). Or our situation may demand a particular kind of respite: for example after a period of intense activity, you might need a chill-out week, regardless of your style. But more often we don’t even think in these terms. And when we don’t proactively plan our breaks with the intention to nourish our own unique constitutions upon our return, we are missing an invaluable opportunity to turbocharge our growth.

So how can you know if you’re taking the right kind of break to bring out the best in your leadership style?

To find the ideal way for you to get the stress relief and creative inspiration you need, base your vacation plans on your personal professional style and what motivates you.

Take this quick self-assessment for a broad brush idea:

If you are ambitious, direct, decisive, driven, competitive and independent: you need physical activity. You’ll want to find ways to sweat out the stress and distract your active mind. Take a break that gives you a fun challenge, that lets you get your competitive ya-yas out. Treat yourself physically, as well: massage, yoga, steams, ocean water. Make sure that you can set a pace that’s as fast as you want. Bring reading that you can absorb in small bites.

If you are a people-person, highly expressive, enthusiastic, friendly, demonstrative, and talkative: your vacation should be all about the experience. Build in fun, new people and things. Make sure your vacation has a social component. You thrive on connections — and the space for long conversations — but take care that it’s with people who are compatible with you and each other or you’ll find yourself very drained on the other side. You need a “safe” environment to be yourself. And you need to set your own pace. Make sure you have lots of unstructured time so you can choose to spend time with others or dive into some great fiction or a book that allows you to reflect on who you are and how you can improve.

If you are highly organized, methodical, reliable, steady, and loyal: make sure your time off includes lots of rest. Indulge in massage, hot baths, lying under a warm sun. Get rid of any hurry and keep your pace slow and relaxed. You can get a lot out of a break with others, but make sure you get your alone time, too. Nothing will rejuvenate you as much as reading a great story (or even some nonfiction) and dozing, reading and dozing.

If you are highly analytical, contemplative, careful, a perfectionist: You need time alone to fully recharge your batteries. You also need a structured break. You need to know where you are going and what you are doing, even if it’s nothing at all. You need to be someplace where things run well and you don’t have to deal with any irritations at all. Bring some meaty nonfiction to nourish your active mind. Solve a puzzle or two.

With all this in mind, depending on what motivates you, you might pair the above with:

  • An educational vacation
  • A focused break with a clear purpose
  • Beauty and aesthetics – art, theater, nature
  • Doing-good – about helping others
  • A leadership vacation — you’re the guide providing a great experience for others (family, friends)
  • A highly structured vacation – a yoga retreat or a biking tour in which every day has specific planned activities and all you have to do is show up

Of course, your style may be a complex brew of types and your best growth nourishing break may include aspects from more than one of the above broad categories.

If you’d like to get a deeper understanding of your personal professional style and motivations, email me at sr@leadershipincorporated.com

November 8, 2010

7 Questions That Accelerate Business and Career Growth

Meet Jennifer,* leader of a small and rapidly growing business. Her current team does excellent work, provides great customer service and through some smart marketing they have more than tripled her business in the last 6 months. Now, she is seeing the limits of her business approaching fast. She is maxed out. To get bigger, in her mind, means a move, a much scarier commitment to more expensive space, finding people she doesn’t know exist, building a bigger operation than she feels ready to take on. And pursuing all this, in her mind, would make it impossible to deliver on the work she is currently doing.

So, although Jennifer would like to grow more, she is putting on the brakes — or has certainly taken her foot off the accelerator. She is bumping up against her infrastructure. But more than that, she is bumping up against her limiting thoughts about her business and what it can and can’t handle.

This concept also applies to personal career growth. I’ve talked to at least 3 profoundly talented and experienced people this week who are looking for work, but whose vision for themselves is limited by their perceived value of their resumes. Their capabilities go far beyond what’s on the page, but their search is being driven by their negative perception. And this limiting vision is causing them to look for work that is significantly below what they are capable of.

How about you? Where are your beliefs about what you or your business can’t do getting in the way of your potential growth?

Jennifer (and the job seekers I mentioned) are all in the wrong conversation with themselves. By focusing on what is not possible, they become the main thing limiting their own growth.

Let me say that again, the thing limiting your growth is not the economy, not your clients financial situations, not the job market. Not the cost of real estate. Not your resume. Not the increased responsibility.

It’s almost always your own thinking that limits your growth.

There are no rules or limits. Except in your own mind. (Of course, there are laws — so please don’t violate any of those! 😉 If you can create the vision, it is not against the rules to leverage absolutely anything to make it happen.

When I asked Jennifer the following 7 questions, she expanded her story of what was possible for her business and a whole new vision was born. Suddenly she can imagine how she can go beyond her limiting visions and restructure her business quickly so it can continue to grow without overwhelming her.

If you’ve been thinking growth isn’t possible, brainstorm as many answers as possible to these 7 questions, in writing. No limiting beliefs allowed. Just for the purposes of this exercise, expect that all things are possible:

1. How would I choose to grow over the next 6 months to 2 years if nothing could get in my way?

2. What would I need to make this possible?

3. What would I need to make that possible?

4. How could I grow in spite of any limitations I see?

5. How would I need to see myself and/or my business differently?

6. What would I need to become my biggest vision — without depleting myself or my resources?

7. Who or what could accelerate or ease this process for me?

I urge you to expand your story. Be creative. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what could become possible.

Get growing.

*not her real name

October 25, 2010

Making the Leap: 7 steps to create rapid nonlinear growth

Had enough recession? Ready to leap into growth mode? You don’t have to wait for the economy to bestow growth upon you. You can proactively bring it on.

As I’ve worked with people and organizations going through major change for over 5 years, I’ve noticed that  people are seeing the greatest results in the area of non-linear rapid growth.

What do I mean by that? Well, linear growth is the simple, steady continuation of what you’ve already been doing. And you may be able to create growth by simply dialing up your activity in your same areas and with your same clients. But sometimes this isn’t enough. Particularly in a world that is rapidly shifting in many ways, in order to grow we need to innovate, to shift, to become something new, or become a resource to someone new.

I’ve identified some steps that can help you create rapid nonlinear growth whether you are leading a middle-market organization, a smaller entrepreneurial business or simply leading yourself into a new career:

1. Perform a strengths inventory. Put aside what you think you know and do a clean reassessment. Ask  current clients and associates to tell you what you do better than anyone. What problems do you solve best?  What new skills have you developed? What old untapped skills, tools and perspectives might become useful with a fresh coat of paint? Don’t edit at this point. Surface everything you and your team can think of.

2. Identify important need trends in the marketplace. Once you have looked inside, turn your attention outwards. What’s going on out there? Look at your current client base first. Brainstorm. What needs do they have beyond the ones you’re already aware of and serving? Then look to new audiences. Who has needs that might fit your areas of strength? No editing or judging at this point. Get it all down on paper where you can work with it. I  like to scribble it all up on a large piece of butcher block paper affixed to a wall.

3. Find intersections between 1 & 2. Look for themes and new applications. Mix and match. Put on your detached perspective hat, as if you and your organization weren’t the topic. Again, no judging or editing, think up every possible way you might use your identified skills, tools, & perspectives to meet the needs of various audiences.

4. Now, create a specific vision for your growth. Specific is the operative word here. Now is the time for editing & discernment. Don’t worry yet about the how. Focus on the vision itself. What excites you? Where is your biggest possible vision? Who would you be working for/with? What will you be doing for them? What value will you create? What results will you produce? How will you be compensated? Paint a detailed picture of success.

5. Imagine that you have already achieved this picture of success. What will you and your business become once you have realized this vision? Will you be a bigger entity? Who will now be a part of your team? Will you need a bigger space? Will your brand have evolved? Will you have developed new skill sets? What new activities will you be engaged in? What new resources will you have access to? Define your future state as clearly as you possibly can.

6. Prioritize and Plan. Now that you’ve defined the objective, identify the shifts that will make the biggest difference. Also note those that may make no difference at all.  Zoom in on the former. Be creative. Don’t do this alone. Get people you trust to play devil’s advocate, to poke holes in your plans. Keep planning until you have visualized the clearest, shortest and most effective path to your picture of success.

7. Step into the change. Stop thinking that your business will change once growth comes. The secret of creating rapid growth is that if you create the change, the growth will follow. Shift now. Start thinking, acting, talking, being, and making the choices and decisions of that future state right now. And get your team doing the same.

This is not for the faint of heart. To be successful, you have to fully commit to staying on this path even if you get some “nos” early in the game. Remember that successful ventures rarely look exactly as they were envisioned. You’ll need to pay close attention to what’s working and what’s not and be able to balance staying the course with allowing your vision to evolve as you go.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, it may be time to recognize if your efforts at linear growth are actually leading you nowhere. If so, perhaps a little reinvention is exactly what you need to leap into growth.

October 4, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: 6 ways to get your innovation wheels turning

Recently I’ve had the great honor of working with a brilliant client who is the head of R&D in an organization that develops and manufactures medical devices. I’m supporting him in creating a culture of innovation in his company. So I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and thinking about innovation lately.

There are plenty of thought leaders out there who will tell you that innovation has become more essential than ever to the survival of every organization. All you have to do is look at the rate of change happening in virtually every field to know that if you aren’t riding the wave, you will be left behind. People’s needs are changing. Fast. And not only will your current competition be working hard to beat you to the solutions, new businesses will spring up with new ideas as well.

Change is the new status quo and innovation is the vehicle that allows you to ride that change.

Now, when most people talk about innovation they mean changes in their products or services. Innovation can also refer to your methods of delivering that product or service. Or your ways of getting and keeping business. Or the way you approach virtually any aspect of your business model. And innovations can be suggested by or inspired by anyone inside or outside your business…not just the “creative” people.

So the first thing to do to get your innovation wheels turning is open your mind, break through any limiting thoughts and broaden your description of what innovation might mean for you.

By the way, innovation is a relevant concept even if you’re in transition right now. Because the old ways of looking for work don’t work anymore. Those who are open to creating new approaches will prevail. (For more on this, visit http://www.layoffbounceback.com.)

Whether you are a solopreneur, or leading people in a global conglomerate that employs millions, the basic principles for encouraging innovation are the same:

1. Articulate your desire to innovate and your reasons why. Don’t just assume that anyone (including yourself) will automatically shift into a state of innovation without encouragement, reminders or connection to the vision. Put it in writing. Speak it frequently.

2. Create space. Innovation doesn’t like to be crowded. Schedule empty time for yourself and your people to allow the kind of thinking that leads to innovation.

3. Encourage failure. And then drop the word “failure” from your vocabulary. Failure = Learning. Learning leads to new approaches. New approaches lead to…you guessed it.

4. Reward new thinking, whether it moves forward or not. Don’t forget to reward yourself as well as others! Make new thinking synonymous with success and you will have many more new ideas to build success with.

5. Encourage play. Play is critical to innovation. It relaxes the mind and encourages new pathways for thought. Provide yourself and your people with the tools that encourage play. This might look like paper and markers, clay, building blocks. It might also look like a field trip to an art museum or other places where you can be inspired by the ways others have thought outside of their boxes.

Try something new this week and feel free to let me know how it goes.

August 22, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Why New Hires Fail 46% of the Time

An associate of mine was meeting with a business owner whose business was struggling.

He mentioned how onboarding principles might help her. She paused for a second, gave him a strange look, and asked, “Does it really work?”. He replied emphatically that it does. She then asked, “Do you use it with all the employees?” He responded that he requires onboarding of everyone in the company now, and they love it! “They do???” she asked, seemingly stunned.

At this point my associate looked at her right hand man who had his head down and was shaking it back and forth. He said, “Eric, she thought you said water boarding.”

She wasn’t alone in not understanding the meaning of the term onboarding. I often find that people who have years of business experience have never heard of this practice of supporting a hire or promotion in making a successful transition into their new position.

So, it’s not surprising that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months. Only 19%  achieve unequivocal success. The training most people receive upon starting a new position tends to focus on procedures and technical skills. But only 11% of people are let go because they lack technical skills. Competence doesn’t even make the top 8 list of reasons people fail.

How about you?

In your career, have you ever been let go less than 18 months into a job?

Have you ever been in a position without quite fitting in or figuring it all out?

Or perhaps you’ve been the one who hired a disappointment, but you put up with the situation anyway, perhaps for years?

What was the cost to you? To others? To the organization?

  • Financially?
  • Emotionally?
  • In lost productivity?
  • In lost opportunity?

Onboarding makes a significant difference in helping people avoid the main causes of failure: (note many new hires fail for more than one of the reasons below)

  • 75% of new hires fail because they don’t fit in with the organizational culture
  • 52% of new hires fail because they are unable to build a support team around themselves
  • 33% of new hires fail because they don’t understand expectations and prioritize accordingly
  • 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback
  • 25% fail because they lack political savvy
  • 23% of new hires fail because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions
  • 17% of new hires fail because they lack the necessary motivation to excel
  • 15% of new hires fail because they have the wrong temperament for the job

Most people don’t just naturally know how to manage change and transitions well. And most managers don’t know how to help others transition effectively, either. Many companies have no process in place for the successful assimilation of employees into the company.

Onboarding is about shortening the learning curve. Being brought onboard to an organization (or any new situation, really) in a deliberate and thoughtful way. Onboarding takes into account all aspects of the experience ahead. It supports both organization and individual by planning for success and anticipating breakdowns. It addresses the building of emotional intelligence, communication skills, relationship development and early and consistent wins, to name just a few of the areas generally overlooked in hiring.

And it compares very favorably with waterboarding as a tool for leading change.

*Statistics come from: 1) a Leadership IQ study of 5,247 hiring managers from 312 public, private,
business and healthcare organizations. Collectively these managers hired more than 20,000 employees
during the study period. 2) a Manchester Inc. Study of executives in Fortune 1000 companies

August 16, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: How To Turn Business Losses Into Wins

This week I heard the loser in a recent congressional race interviewed on the radio. As the numbers came in and it became clear he was going to lose, he received a call from former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton told him that the way he handled this loss would decide the rest of his political career. If he moped and was bitter or negative, people would feel justified in not having voted for him.

So instead, this candidate went out and, as he put it, “acted as if he’d won.” He thanked everyone profusely. He was positive and gracious. He focused on what had worked and not on what hadn’t.

You don’t have to be a fan of Clinton to see that this thinking applies to your business, as well. Whether and how people — your staff, your clients, your peers, your supervisors, your associates — will follow your lead, will trust you, and sometimes whether or not you will get a second chance, depends on how you respond when you lose; what you do when you are faced with challenges and problems and failure.

Whether you are leading an organization, in middle management or searching for your next job opportunity…

Here are some tips on how to win even as you’re losing:

Play the long game. Know that success often looks like failure from the middle. Don’t quit in the middle.

See failures as part of the process. Expect it. Perhaps more important, stop expecting not to fail. Things will always go wrong. So what?

Embrace failures as a learning experience. If you’re not failing occasionally it means you’re not taking risks. Which means you’re only doing what you’ve always done and not moving forward. Forward movement and change are essential to long-term success. So are failures.

Make failures part of your plan. And plan for what you will do when you fail. Know how you will respond now to failures you haven’t even imagined yet. Although this may sound counter-intuitive, there is almost no failure you could experience that others haven’t experienced before you. You can have a strategy in place for what you will do when the “unexpected” happens. And that will make all the difference.

Stay in the flow. Don’t stop to fight reality. Reality wins, but only every time. The clue to help you notice when  you’re fighting reality is feeling stuck. Accept your interim setbacks and look for their message for you to inspire your next move.

Associate failures with success. Some people choose to use failure as an excuse to stop trying or to shoot lower. Guess what? You can choose to use failure to learn how to do it better and keep aiming higher. That’s what the spectacularly successful people in our world have done. Click here for an incomplete list of successful people who’ve filed for bankruptcy — some over and over again.

Help those around you to embrace failures. Encourage people around you to take sane risks, find the learning and keep moving forward.

Keep your focus on the now with an eye to what’s next. Look back just long enough to get the lessons. Stay grounded in the present, with your eyes to the future.

If you keep learning in the present and stay firmly committed to winning in the long run, success is the only possible outcome.

August 9, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: How To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Create Change

(568 words, less than 3 minutes reading time)

Want to get unstuck? Last week, we talked about being able to recognize the signs that you — or people you’re trying to work (or live) with — are resisting a change that needs to happen.

Here are 6 steps you can take to confront resistance and leave it sniveling in your dust.

1. Own it. Recognize and accept that you are in resistance. When we deny resistance or ignore it, resistance owns us. Example: When other things keep bumping the thing you need to do from your list, that’s resistance. When we don’t own it, it’s so easy to believe that those things were urgent and postponing the change unavoidable, day after week after month. When you own that you are in resistance, you are better able to see how your priorities may be interfering with the bigger picture.

2. Know the cost of staying in resistance. What happens if you don’t make the change? What are the predictable outcomes of remaining on your current path?

Yes, financially, but also in terms of:

  • other impacts on your business
  • lost opportunity
  • state of mind
  • physical and emotional energy
  • health and wellbeing
  • impact on others
  • what else?

3. Know WIIFM – (What’s In It For Me) While you do want to know the potential negative impacts above, fear is not ultimately the best motivator for the long haul. What are the predictable positive outcomes for you if you successfully create the change you want to see?
Yes, financially, but also in terms of:

  • sense of accomplishment
  • creation of new opportunity
  • state of mind
  • physical and emotional energy
  • health and wellbeing
  • impact on others
  • what else?

4. Get specific and Get positive. What is the specific action you need to take? This step trips up a lot of people. For example: increasing revenue, landing a job or losing weight are not actions. These are goals that can help define direction, but we often mistake these for what we need to do. You can’t actually DO any of these things, they are the outcomes of other actions.

Positive actions you might take to create revenue are making a certain number of calls a day to set up meetings with prospective clients. And developing a strategy for converting meetings into business.

Stopping something you do is a negative rather than a positive action. You’ll be more effective if you plan the action you will take instead of the one you want to stop.

5. Tell the story of the change you want to see. In detail. the most basic tool of change and any other thing you want to create is the word. And it’s most powerful form is the story. Start to paint a detailed visual picture using words, for yourself and others. Repeat this, allowing it to develop and guide your actions and decisions. When you start to live the story the change you want to see begins to materialize.

6. Take away the option of not changing. When we say we’re going to do something but we allow something else to distract us and we accept that excuse, we allow the option of not doing what we need to do. Instead, commit to taking action, whether or not other things come up. If not acting isn’t an option, you’ll be amazed at the change you can create.

For other perspectives on getting out of your own way, check out my friend, Mark Goulston’s work:

Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior

Get Out of Your Own Way at Work…And Help Others Do the Same: Conquer Self-Defeating Behavior on the Job

August 2, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Do you recognize resistance when you see it?

So, I’m trying to lose some weight. And I notice that the days that I declare to myself, “No sugar today,” I end up eating sugar earlier than ever. I actually forget that I have even made myself this promise…usually until just a moment after the sugar is melting from my tongue.

Can you relate? Maybe not in this area, but we all have places where we do not keep promises to ourselves. Where do you do this?

Not following through on commitments is a form of resistance. You can probably see clearly how this resistance might sabotage my efforts toward my goal.

My resistance is brilliant. It continually takes new and different forms and is quite good at disguising itself and finding new ways to outsmart me. Your resistance is brilliant, too.

Resistance will keep us from achieving what we want and need. Worse than that, resistance has the power to sending us and our businesses careening in exactly the opposite direction.

Whether you are a leader in an organization or in your own life, anytime you find yourself in a change situation, you will find resistance. If you don’t, you are not looking hard enough. It is the way of things. You will resist. Your staff will resist. Your boss will resist. Your clients will resist.  Potential employers will resist. Your family will resist. The higher the stakes, the more resistance you will find.

If we are not aware that resistance is at work, resistance wins. But only 100% of the time.

Your only hope of overcoming resistance is to expect it. But even that isn’t enough. You also have to value it and embrace it. You have to work with your resistance, not against it.

You have to get intimate with resistance. And that starts with recognizing it. Here’s what you want to look for:

Obvious resistance is  easy to spot:

  • Refusal
  • Arguing
  • Disruptive behavior

The most powerful forms of resistance are usually much more subtle:

  • Not being available
  • Not getting started
  • Getting distracted and not completing
  • Offering misleading information
  • Bringing up other issues
  • Becoming very busy with something else
  • Getting sick
  • Anger
  • Irritation
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Criticism
  • Silence
  • Feigning acceptance, without asking necessary questions or working out the details
  • Finding reasons to be removed from the task
  • Surfing the web
  • Compulsively checking your BlackBerry or iPhone

Oh yeah, and forgetting.

Which of these do you do? Which do you see the people you work with doing? Which do you see in your clients? Start noticing the signs of resistance in you and the people around you.

Remember resistance is very creative.

Next week, we’ll talk about a few ways to work with your resistance.

July 26, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Is this the reason you’re missing opportunities?

Let’s say you’ve just met someone who could be a good potential business
connection for you
and this person says, “I’d love to know more about you. Let’s get together.”

Do you:

A. Say, “Great. I’d love to do that. I’ll call/email you.”

B. Say, “Great. I’d love to do that. Let’s set a date.” And pull out your calendar.

C. Hurry to tell them about everything you do right then and there.

Several times in the past few days, I’ve been with people who’ve chosen C.

Short of screaming “YES, I’M TOTALLY SELF CENTERED AND DESPERATE FOR WORK RIGHT NOW!!” C is about the worst thing you could do.

Yet, at some point, and probably the time when we had the most at stake, we’ve all chosen C.

Choosing C is an indicator of a larger and more widespread mistake — which most people make — and which stops success in its tracks.

Let’s back up a moment. In fact, let’s back up to the moment in which this most recently happened and look at it from the receiving end. I was at a networking event and was truly interested in the person in front of me. I had sought him out at the end of the meeting to open the door to a subsequent conversation. It was the end of the meeting and time to get back to my workday. I had just listened intently to about 30 people, each sharing information about themselves and their businesses. I was very clear in my communication: “I’d like to get together with you sometime to learn more about what you do, because I think there might be some interesting synergies between our businesses.”

He launched full-force into a seemingly endless mouth race to tell me all about himself and his business before I walked out the door. He didn’t take the time to learn anything about my interest and expressed no interest in me. As he didn’t know what the basis was for my interest, he didn’t set any kind of context for the information he was vomiting out. He both oversimplified and spewed far too much disjointed information at me.

After a few minutes I fatigued on trying to pull all the pieces together. I started to wonder when he would stop talking. I left the situation thinking he was desperate and self-absorbed and would probably not be a good business partner. I left far less interested in knowing more about him.

In a flash of reactiveness he, perhaps permanently, destroyed the sincere interest I had felt just 3-5 minutes earlier.

Have you ever been on either side in this kind of situation?

Do you see the bigger mistake he made? Can you see how he went on autopilot, fell in love with sound of his own voice, fell in love with his own stories and forgot there was another person standing right in front of him, open to a real and potentially mutually beneficial relationship. He was unconscious to the truth that there are two parts to every communication, what is said and what is received. And if we want success we must be mindful of both.

When we go into unconscious reaction mode, we lose more opportunities than we will ever know we lost.

I know this because I used to spend a lot of time in unconscious reaction mode  (and I can still go there occasionally). When I started to intentionally become more conscious and thoughtful with the person in front of me, amazing things started to happen.

It is so incredibly simple (yet, maybe not easy) to change this. Here is the secret:

Listen. Really listen. Listen very literally to what is said. But also, listen for what is not said. Listen for what’s important to the person in front of you.

Almost no one listens. And people want to be heard. People want to work with people who listen to them. If you just take a moment to listen, you’ll see a huge shift in the opportunities and successes that come to you.

Hope this inspires you this week.

(Note: by the way, the best answer is B. If you want to know why, just think about how often people who’ve said they’ll call you later, actually do it.)

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