Category Archives: Change

What A Paleoanthropologist Can Teach You About Business

Last Thursday, September 10, 2015, a group of international scientists announced the discovery of a new hominin species in South Africa.  The name of the species is Homo Naledi. Homo Naledi, New Species

This is obviously ground breaking news!  And so what?—you may ask.  What does this discovery have to do with you, and with making your business more profitable?

The lead paleoanthropologist, Lee R. Berger, said this about the discovery, “I do believe that the field of paleoanthropology had convinced itself, as many as 15 years ago, that we had found everything—that we were not going to make any new major discoveries, and that we had this story of our origins figured out.  I think many people quit exploring; they thought it was safer to conduct science in a laboratory or sitting at a computer.  What the new species Naledi says,” Dr. Berger concluded, “is that there is no substitute for exploration.”

You do not have to be a paleoanthropologist to learn from Dr. Berger.  What he is pointing to is our tendency to think that everything has already been discovered, created, and figured out.  Berger has challenged us to continue to explore—to not give up and think it’s all handled—that we have seen it all.

How can I apply this information to my business?

  • Begin by questioning your assumptions.  (What about your business do you think is already figured out?  What does everyone know about your business?)
  • Then look to see if your business practices are stale, uninviting, and old.  What about your business should be upgraded and re-imagined?

This type of questioning can lead you to new discoveries and new ways of providing services to your clients.  It also leads to change, but I am not talking about changing for change’s sake; I am talking about inquiring into what you need to change, about being willing to change if you can see that the change could benefit your clients, and about implementing changes that will cause new results that are spectacular.


Why Not Change?

5.13.15You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.

William Faulkner

There is something about change that sometimes makes us cringe and hold back.  I think that it is the unknown and our lack of belief in ourselves that keeps us from accomplishing what it is that we want to accomplish—if only we could make that first step.  We know we are capable of changing but we hold back unless something calls us forth.  Often we let our fears, or imagined fears, keep us from moving ahead.  Sometimes we just have a first reaction of “no” for any change that is required.  Whatever the mechanism we have developed for holding back when change is present, it is time to call it out and see if it really serves us.

I recently talked to a potential client who had a different protection from making a change.  Her well-rehearsed protection is “changing everything all the time”.  She is an idea machine with an idea a minute.  She reminded me of a hummingbird flitting from one flower to the next.  She would touch on something then immediately move on to next great idea.  No wonder she was frustrated and unable to make a go of her business.  Her business changed every other day.  After listening to a seemingly endless list of ideas, I realized that she didn’t really like change, so to actually change she would have to pick one thing and just do it.

I agreed with her that the list of ideas was excellent.  In fact, I pointed out that I could see a theme in the ideas that pointed to her towards a vision for her business, and from a vision for her business she could start with one offering from the list of ideas.  She really didn’t like the idea of just choosing one and after some indecision she reluctantly chose one idea.  We then made a little plan on how she could implement that one idea.  The plan included how long the implementation would take, what the simple steps were needed to achieve the goal, how much she would charge for it, and an estimate on how much she could make.  Then I asked her to just follow the plan for two weeks and see what happened.  Part of the plan was to complete one step a day and report back to me every day as that step was complete.

You can probably predict the outcome of this plan.  Yes, it worked.  She stayed with the plan and began to meet people who really were interested in what she was doing.  Within a couple of days of focusing on the project she met people who were interested in using her services.  She was excited that her idea was well received and decided to follow through with providing the product.  She changed her way of being and it took courage to do so.

I don’t know if the change will last.  It really doesn’t matter because now she has tasted what it is like to stick with something.  I think this will be the beginning of a new way of being for her.

If you are stuck and know that change is required to move forward, please give me a call.  I would love to hear from you.


Photo courtesy of, Miles Stuart


Do You Know One Reason Why You Resist Change? It May Surprise You.

Blog 4.23.14What makes people resist change?  This comment from one of my clients made me think:

“Ah, resistant to change – who, me?  My first thought about change is that I am too lazy to change.  I’ve done something for so long I don’t have to give it much thought to continue doing it.  If I make a conscientious decision to change something, I have to get out of my comfort zone, I have to give it more thought than I normally would and I have to hit up against not knowing how it will turn out.  You’d think that if something I’d been doing hadn’t been working out well for me, I’d be more than willing to shake things up a bit, but human nature being what it is…”

But what if the resistance to change is simpler than that?  What if it is simply the avoidance of the domination of the change?

If change is involved, then the ways that you have done things will have to be re-thought, you will have to put your attention on the steps to take to change whatever, since it will be new to you.  Your old way of doing things has been comfortable; they required a minimum of thought.  Now YOU will have to take concrete steps to make change occur.  Change begins to dominate you, and YOU hate to be dominated.  So, what do you do?  You avoid the change.  By the way, all of this reaction and inaction is not conscious, it’s was programmed into you when you were a little, tiny person.  Probably about 2 years old.  That was when bigger people started telling you “No” and you didn’t like it.  Remember?

The best way to have change be easy is to first ask yourself: Am I resisting the domination of change?  If the answer is yes, then ask: What’s in it for me?  Get clear about the benefits of making the change.  Are there any benefits?

Do you have things in your life that you have been putting up with, rather than changing them?  Think about one thing that you would like to change, yet haven’t.  See if you are avoiding the domination of change.  Ask yourself: Is there anything in it for me—really—or is it just a good idea, my own or someone else’s?  The answer may surprise you.


photo courtesy of


Are You Resisting Change?

Resisting Change“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
Legendary Basketball Coach, John Wooden

There you are looking at your results, knowing once again, clearly you failed.  The results are there staring at you, pointing their fingers at the failure sign above your head.  What do you do?  Once you have determined that something in your approach has to change, do you make the change?  Probably not.  If you are like me, you most likely try the same thing again, hoping you will have a different result.

What is it about change that we resist so much?  I did some research.  Lisa Quast, in Forbes, summarized it succinctly:

  1. Fear of the unknown/surprise
  2. Mistrust
  3. Loss of security/control
  4. Bad timing
  5. An individual’s predisposition

Bingo!  If you have 3 out of 5 reasons residing in you, you resist change.  So what are you going to do about it when you know that change is calling you?

I suggest that you do some work using the above 5 factors to be your guide.  Set aside some time and grab some paper and begin to write down your answers.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I afraid of?
  • Am I surprised about the change required?  And why?
  • Who do I not trust about making the change?  And why?
  • What about this change makes me feel insecure and out of control?
  • How does the timing of the change affect me and my business?
  • How am I about change in general?  Do I always resist change?  Why is that?

Allow yourself time to reflect on the answers and you may be surprised by them.  When you are honest with yourself, you can develop a strategy for the change that won’t be so jarring.  You will feel in control, and you can plan the timing of the change.  Who knows, you may even begin to like change.

I look forward to hearing your comments about this topic and what happened when you took a look at the change by answering the questions above.

Are You Using These Simple Questions to Bust Up Your Blocked Creativity?

Blog 4914Does this ever happen to you?  You have a great idea.  You know it’s going to change the way you do business or live your life.  You know it’s going to be great.

But—and this is a big BUT—you are stuck.  How do I start?  And how do I deliver on this great new idea?  All of us have been there.

Well, here’s a tip to get you moving.  Ask yourself these questions: What is my purpose? What are my three intentions in achieving my purpose?  Write out your purpose and three intentions for the project.  If you know both the purpose and intentions, the planning to execute it will come naturally.

Of course, you do have to do some critical thinking.  It sounds easy at first, but at second glance maybe not so easy.  The best way to go about it is to brainstorm the purpose.  I doubt seriously if your first purpose is the one.

Here’s an actual example from one of my clients.  She said to me that she was stuck in her email campaign for LinkedIn contacts.  She didn’t know where to begin the email after “Dear”.  She knew she wanted the contacts to know about a new program she had created; she wanted them to know how this program would enrich and enhance their lives, and she knew she wanted them to buy the program.  But what could she say that would communicate what she wanted to say?  The more she talked to me about it, the more upset and stuck she got.  She was stuck in a loop of thinking about it, getting more upset (therefore even less able to think clearly) and thinking about it some more.

I suggested that she brainstorm with me about the purpose.  She immediately said well, to make more money from having sales in the new program.  Really?  Is that the purpose or the end result?  “Oh,” she said, “That would be the end result.”  So, then let’s look at the purpose.  Suddenly, it was as if the creative gates opened up.  She said the purpose of the email was to introduce the new program to her list of leads, to tell them the about the availability and the benefits of the new program.  That was it.  That was the purpose.  After landing on her clear purpose, the beginning of the email started to flow.  The intentions were also clear.  Her intentions were to build trust and relationship, to inform, and to create interest in her program.  If she accomplished those three intentions it was a sure bet that they would contact her, and from there she would be able to enroll people in her program.

When you are stuck, please use this simple tip: Ask yourself “what is my purpose and what three intentions do I have?”  You will find that this action will move you toward your goal with ease.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Improve Your Business Now

fly4214Now that April is here there is a new energy and excitement in the air.  Can you feel it?  It’s the month for change.  It brings Easter, with its remembrance of renewal and re-invention.  In many parts of the world, it’s time for spring vacations and a respite from doing business or school for at least a couple of weeks.

It is also the end of the first quarter of the year.  Those of us who are in business use April as the time to pay taxes and reflect on our 2013 business success and/or disappointments.

It is also time to look at where we are in both our business and the business of our lives.  With the first quarter of the year behind us, we can forecast where we will be at the end of 2014.  April can give us the time to review where we are and make decisions about adjustments to make to both our businesses and our lives.

Are you dreading making a first quarter review?  I can get it.  Often the facts we face are not those we thought we wanted.  I urge you not to be scared.  Use this time to re-invent, re-new, and start something new.  Failure is not an option since all it does is point us to a new direction.  It is with this review that you can make the changes needed to have a successful year end.  The review will give you a blue print from where to go next with your business.

If you are reading this and think, well, I am not in business, then substitute the word “business” with the word “life”.  It’s really not much of stretch to realize that our lives are our business.

Here are some questions that will give you insight about the state of your business.

Is your business standing up to its stated purpose, vision, and mission?

Is your business meeting its sales forecast?

Is your team clear about the results you want to achieve?

Are your products or services excellent and wowing your clients?  If not, what has to change?  By when?

Are your clients satisfied with your services?  How do you know if they are?

If you look at the questions and discover what is missing, then add the missing pieces.

I look forward to hearing from you about the results from your first quarter review.  As always, I am here for you and am your biggest fan.

What Does Drucker Have To Do With My Life?

Chair on ocean-smallWe have been discussing the brilliant work of Peter Drucker.  He was the leader in the development of management education and invented “management by objectives”.  He wrote dozens of books about business and management.  Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.  Our discussion is based on Drucker’s 12 Keys to Success (

I received a thoughtful comment from a reader.  The nugget of the comment was now that he is retired he doesn’t have anything to manage except his life.  Of course, that too is a big job.

Perhaps, you too are thinking the same.  What does this have to do with me?  I am retired now and business is behind me. 

I think that the principles of Drucker’s 12 Keys to Success also apply to living a successful life.  Perhaps if you apply these keys to living a life you love, you may find that your life is more satisfying and meaningful.  Please try it on and tell me where I am wrong.

Today let’s look at Keys 6, 7, and 8 with the viewpoint of how do they apply to my life.

Key 6: “Measure innovations by what they contribute to market and customer.”

Let’s look at this key in reverse.  How do the changes that you make in your life contribute to you?  I am substituting the word “changes” for the word “innovations”.

Each change we make to our life is our innovation.  We do this to live a more satisfying and perhaps more comfortable life.  You can ask the question: Does this change contribute to me or am I doing it just for the sake of change?  If you drill down in the question you may find that most of changes that you make don’t make one iota of difference to you.  You are changing something for the sake of change.  If that is so, I respectfully say: Stop It!

Secondly, do the changes that you make contribute to your circle of influence?  The phrase circle of influence is your market.  Customarily, we make changes without a thought about how that change affects others.  I think that is a mistake.  When you make a change, consider if it is a contribution to others.  If not, you may want to re-consider the action.

Key 7: “Often a prescription drug designed for a specific ailment ends up being used for some other quite different ailment.”

You planned for something that you created in your life to be useful in a certain way.  It wasn’t, but instead is an inspiration to someone that you hadn’t even thought of!  Instead of being disappointed, it would be more valuable to celebrate that you made a difference.

Just because it didn’t turn out how you thought it would, it still turned out.

Key 8: “Innovative ideas are like frogs’ eggs: of a thousand hatched, only one or two survive to maturity.”

And that is the key to living a life well.  We try things, they didn’t work.  However, you don’t stop trying new things, failing and trying again.  This way of living—finding in failure the need to try again differently—can bring more joy and satisfaction to your life.

I am looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below.  Please share about the changes that you have made and how they have contributed to you and others.  Bonus points if you also share where you have failed and what you did to turn it into a win.

Banish Your Predictable Future – Try This!

Blog2.1914_1280Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.

Henry Adams

As you look forward to the future of your business, is it ho-hum or exciting?  Does it bore you?  Does it energize you?  Does it make you want to go to work, as opposed to having to go to work?

If thinking of the future makes you uneasy or bored; if it is something you have to do instead of something you want to do, I assert that your future has become predictable.

Predictable futures are good in some instances:  For instance, you can predict that the newspaper will be delivered in the morning and that you will receive an electric bill at a certain time of the month.  That type of predictable event provides a stability that enables you to live without sweating the small stuff.  Predictability also gives you a certain rhythm and comfort in life.  Predictability is generally a good thing as it pertains to life’s necessities; however when your future becomes predictable, then you get bored, tired, cranky, listless.  Where did the excitement go?  The looking forward to life?

Has predictability taken the joy out of your business future?  If so, try taking these actions:

  • Make a list of 3-5 business results you are committed to accomplish by the end of this year.
  • Condition the end results: Conditioning is looking at what elements need to be present to have the results occur.  Include any costs or expertise of other professionals.
  • Define the qualities you want the results to have.
  • Determine the actions you need to take.
  • Put a “by when date” next to the actions.
  • Schedule the actions and the “by when dates”, and put them on your calendar.
  • Begin implementing your plan which is already a success – you planned it from the future.

Please let me know what it is that you are going to do to stir up an unpredictable future.  I am here to support you in causing a hoo-hah of unpredictability in your business.

How To Open Your Box

open your box 2To continue last week’s discussion, we were asking “What it is that really extraordinary people bring forth that allows them to operate outside of the boundaries of their psychological (ontological) box?” — the purpose being to give us equivalent access.

Look and see for yourself.  There have most likely been times in your life when things just worked, when life seemed almost magical, when you made exactly the right moves at exactly the right time, when other people suddenly appeared to assist you somehow at just the point when they were needed.  Granted, for most people it seems accidental — seems like it just happened.  But maybe not.  Maybe you brought something special to the party.  And more importantly, what we are after here is, how can you cause this state of being in your life and your work?

What conditions are present that allow people access to miraculous living, and not have their ambitions and dreams be either just more of the same box sized futures, or else another bunch of airy-fairy nonsense?

First, you will see that they are 100% committed to something that cannot be accomplished unless they re-invent themselves as bigger people.  And that takes courage.  The kind of courage that can be with not knowing how, with being uncertain, with being afraid.

Second, they have at least one person who knows that they are big enough to do it and who is there to remind them of that fact when they themselves forget.  That’s why smart people who are up to big things have coaches, be it a business associate or a professional coach.  Mohammed Ali had Angelo Dundee; Roger Staubach had Tom Landry; Joe Namath had Bear Bryant.

Third, they somehow keep going when reality screams that they should quit, or change course.  Remember what we said last week: you invented that old reality anyway, in response to some very pressing conditions.  Now it is time to invent new ones!


Photo courtesy of Unsplash- Vee-O

New Year’s Resolution Hack – A Guide to Making Them Work Out

New Year Hack 1814This New Year, 2014, stands shiny and bright before you.  It’s the time when you are prodded to by coaches, gurus, wise persons of every ilk, to make resolutions, new plans for your future.  There are even free courses on the internet about how to design your new game plan, your new 2014 business.

And all of that is good, I think.  BUT… I notice a certain desperation, a certain hopelessness, already creeping in around the edges of the new year, even with the promise of a brand new beginning.  I hear from some of my clients, in a breathless voice, “I must get in shape!”  Or, “I will make $100k this year—No, that’s a promise . . . or at least a go for.”  Then the hopelessness creeps up.

When I saw this quote from author Neil Gaiman: I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes… you’re Doing Something.  I said to myself, “Finally someone who is making sense of this nerve wracking season of new goals and resolutions.”  I couldn’t agree with him more.  This is what I wish for you too.  I too hope that you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes… You are doing something.

I am all for setting intentions which are conditioned by measurements similar to promise numbers and go for numbers. Your intentions, promises and go fors are even more powerful if you share them with someone who is committed to your success.  But I want you to be realistic.  It will probably not be smooth sailing.  You are going to make mistakes, but instead of finding that part of the process to be humiliating and frustrating, have it be the best part.  The most useful part of your process.  Be prepared to pivot and switch to a new way to solve the challenge.  Reach out for help if you need it.  It is refreshing to hear, “Hey, I was going to start a new store front on the web. Then I found out…someone else beat me to it using the same idea that I had.” Now what?  Yes, indeed now what.  You have no time for a pity party.  Seriously, now what?

How can you pivot and switch your idea to be even more powerful?  Even more compelling?  If you cannot figure out your new path, talk to someone who can help you.  Do not even try to do this alone.

I invite you to think about what mistakes you will make in 2014.  I am all ears!

photo courtesy of