Now 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.
Are you angry that others disappoint you?
Remember you cannot depend on yourself.
I get on my high horse at times about things people do. My latest rant has been about people who don’t return calls or answer personal emails from me. Maybe they have asked me a question, or even asked me to do something for them. I respond and then I don’t hear anything—nothing. I am left with not only not knowing the ultimate outcome, but am also left resenting that I put my self out for them.
Last night, I was in full rant mode about this, and then I received this quote:
Are you angry that others disappoint you?
Remember you cannot depend on yourself.
Hmm, its true, I am sometimes undependable. I do not keep my word all of the time. How I interpret the quote, is essentially, clean your own house before you criticize another. Now that is humbling. It was also a wake up call for me.
I am now on a mission. I am looking to see, checking myself out, to find those things in me that I criticize others about? Am I doing the same things they are? If I am, I am cleaning it up.
I bring this up to you because it may be useful for you to take a look at yourself. It may make a difference to you as it has for me. If this seems not very important to you, that’s fine too. Who am I to criticize?
In the space below, please share about some of your aha moments and what you have done to bring them into being a lasting part of your life. I look forward to hearing from you!
Change is certain. Peace is followed by disturbances; departure of evil men by their return. Such recurrences should not constitute occasions for sadness but realities for awareness, so that one may be happy in the interim.
Several years ago, I was the subject of a campaign of hate fueled by nasty rumors, gossip, and even some threats. The result of this campaign was being socially “black balled” by a large influential segment of the community. Naturally I was devastated and felt misidentified and maligned. I also felt very alone.
That very event was a catalyst for my growth and development. I made wonderful new friends, deepened my spiritual path, and gained the confidence to build two new businesses.
Until yesterday, that past was mostly forgotten. I had moved on. Then I had lunch with an acquaintance from the that time. Lunch was delightful and stimulating. I was so happy that we re-connected and as we asked for the bill, she said, “I need to apologize to you.” She was quiet for a few moments. Then she said, “Please accept my apology for believing the gossip and rumors about you.” She said she was now puzzled as to why she ever gave the gossip any credence at all.
This was one of those huge moments that come into our lives sometimes, both for her and me. It takes a big person to apologize for perpetrating harm, real or imagined, on another. It takes courage to apologize—and its scary.
I was a little stunned and quiet as all the old hurt and isolation re-occurred for me. Then I said, “Of course, I accept your apology, thank you”. The moment was over, the damage undone, history once again tucked away in the past. We both left that lunch looking forward to the next time we would see each other.
This woman’s courage and bigness has inspired me. I am writing this blog today with the intention to inspire you too. It is my goal to encourage you to apologize to whomever you think you may have hurt. I promise that you will discover yourself to be a bigger and more complete person.
In the space below, please share with me times when you have apologized for wrong and what happened. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
So what the is grit? And how do I get some?
According to Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania: “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future—day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years—and working really hard to make that future a reality.”
It turns out it is not talent, good looks, intelligence, or amassing financial stability that make us successful—it’s grit.
Of course to develop grit you will have to operate as though failure is not a permanent condition—you may have to give up self pity—after all, you have not failed until you quit, until you have left the playing field forever.
I do believe if you are an entrepreneur, you already have grit. It takes passion, stamina, and working hard, to be an entrepreneur. Putting your self out there with a business that you created, and which depends on you to make it work, is grit.
One of my clients called me this week and asked if I would take some time to “visit’ with him. I knew that he recently suffered a devastating business blow and nine months of hard work had been crushed when his business plan was rejected by an important investor. I assumed the “visit” was going to be about how he was quitting. I was ready for the predictable fallout from this disappointment. I was wrong.
He wanted to tell me that he had a new idea about how to make his business succeed. And for the next, forty-five minutes we talked about his new idea for the success of his business plan. He told me that he wasn’t giving up and that it was probably good that he didn’t get the loan. He thinks his new idea is even better and will make him more successful. This guy is a working model of grit. You see, he doesn’t believe that failure is permanent. He has grit!
In the comments below, please tell me what you think about “grit”. I look forward to hearing from you.
Today is the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Please join in remembering the victims by observing a moment of silence.
for the victims of September 11th and their survivors
Billy Collins, Poet Laureate
Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name –
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner –
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds –
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.
Life has rules, and the rules of life—your life—are not necessarily those rules and regulations which are most obvious. Some are hidden; others appear to be of little consequence, and to complicate matters more, they are not the same for everyone. But these are not the only problems with rules, nor are they the greatest. The main problem arises when we make the rules a moral issue, when we make it right to obey the rules and wrong to disobey them. Over the years this has created a huge amount of mischief and misery in people’s lives. If you want to enslave a group of people, all you need do is present them with a set of rules and convince them they are morally wrong if they don’t obey them.
For the most part, you and I have made the rules in our lives a moral issue. Why do we do this? I don’t know. Man has been doing it for thousands of years. But that doesn’t mean we must continue doing it. Try this on. Begin to think of the rules of life in terms of workability and unworkability, rather than in terms of right and wrong. The result will be that breaking a rule is no longer wrong; it simply has a consequence, and you don’t have to obey a rule if you are willing to deal with the consequence. Obviously some consequences are not something you want to deal with. For instance the consequence of you killing your neighbor would most likely be life in the penitentiary. But is it wrong? I don’t know. For a samurai in sixteenth century Japan, to whom honor was everything (in theory at least), killing had a whole other meaning than it does for us.
An example of greater relevance to you and me are the consequences of tax evasion. They are a lot less concrete than the consequences of murder. For instance, if you take a few excess deductions and then get challenged, or even if you fail to file a return, you will have to pay a fine and some interest, but that is all. On the other hand, if you file a bogus return and get caught, you may very well go to prison.
And there is the sleep problem as well. Worrying about getting caught is a consequence. And the worry may not be immediately obvious. You know—break a little rule here and another one there, without being responsible for the fact that there are consequences, and by and by you will start looking and acting like someone who has something to hide. Your life is no longer yours.
What is the practical point of this discussion? This. For most of us, we have a lot of useless and even counterproductive rules in our lives. We break them all the time, and then feel guilty about breaking them. If you shift rules from being a moral issue to being a practical issue, then you won’t experience the pain of guilt if you break them. You still have to deal with the consequences. If you’re not willing to deal with the consequence, don’t break the rule.
One of my clients sent me this quote: “Perfectionism is the father of procrastination”. He suggested I use it for a blog post. I thought that was good idea. So, in order to make the blog of greatest interest, I asked him about how that particular anonymous quote inspired him in producing his art. He said, “I saw if I don’t keep fussing with my paintings, I’ll get more done.”
Bingo! I think we all, to some degree or another, are procrastinators and perfectionists. If we weren’t both procrastinators and perfectionists, we wouldn’t be performing at the top level of our various professions. Let me explain. People who use a coach are people who want to achieve far more than they can on their own. In that sense, they are perfectionists in their field. They cannot accept doing half baked work. They expect a certain excellence of performance from themselves.
I think we all do some procrastinating before we get to work. Most likely, I am thinking, because to reach our goal of performing work that has a high degree of accuracy or excellence requires our full attention and intentionality. And that takes focus and energy. So it is no surprise to me that clients, particularly artistic and creative professionals procrastinate before they begin a project. It is always their intention that their work is excellent, or why bother to do it?
Where the mischief lies is in the distinction between the quest for excellence and perfectionism. Perfectionism is driven by fear. Fear of what? Of criticism, of ridicule, of failure. You could say that excellence is a path, a place to come from; whereas perfection is a place to get to, an imaginary point in the future that is impossible to ever attain.
This leads me to what my client said when I asked him about the quote, he said: “…if I don’t keep fussing with my paintings, I’ll get more done.” He had suddenly unlocked a door to increased production in his art work. He saw that he can trust that his creations will reach his measure of excellence just because he is the one who makes the art. His being afraid of failure just stopped the fluidity of the precess. Perfectionism slows down, or stops, the production.
Try this idea on for your self. In the comments below let me know what you think. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
As you may have noticed there are a plethora of free offerings on the internet and coming into your in-box. It seems that June opened the floodgates of generosity coming from the most unlikely places. I say unlikely since some of the free offerings usually do have a price tag on them, or are some cleverly hidden come -on’s to buy a product or service. But, not now!
What I am noticing is that free means just that. It doesn’t mean free “if”. It does mean free. Some of the people making the offerings actually are up front with they will do if you take them up on their free product. Usually you sign up for the free item and the offer-er will be entitled to send you more offerings. The ones that are the most up front also say that you can opt out or cancel your membership in their campaigns at any time. I find it all very refreshing. I tend to be drawn to web-sites with authentic free offerings. I am betting you are too.
There are some internet marketers who are still playing games with all of this free offering stuff. I have noticed when you do “opt out” you have to read the message very carefully or you are “opting – out” of one thing but giving permission to be put on another list. I think that’s very tricky and I don’t like it and usually, mark the whole thing as junk and block the sender.
The offerings that I am taking right now are wonderful, value packed and exactly what I have been looking for to either move my career a little further or totally entertain and sometimes,even train me in something I am interested in. For sure, given the way the offerings are made and delivered to my in box, I will continue to look forward to hearing from these people.
I would love to hear from you! What is your experience of free offers on the internet?
Let’s continue the discussion we began last week, when I said, “ . . . to make keeping your word a moral issue saps it of much of its power and all of its joy.”
Look and see if you feel righteous when you keep your word, or especially when other people don’t. Do you get angry when people don’t? Disappointed? If so, then it’s most likely a moral issue. I did the right thing, or they were wrong. It’s been drilled in us since we were children; good people keep their word; people who don’t are bad, but such a stance is quicksand. If you are good, someone must be bad. The word good is meaningless without bad. Suppose that:
“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.” John Steinbeck
And then consider this: When someone says to you, “I’ll do it,” and you accept his word, then you are a party to it; you have assumed a certain responsibility in the matter. Is this true? Not among ordinary people in the world. It’s true only for the truly powerful. The question is: “What is your intention? To be good? Or to be powerful?” (powerful: producing, or capable of producing, an intended result) This is the real value in keeping your word.
Generally, when we think of powerful people, we think of the rich, the famous, and and those in power; and yes, some of those people are powerful. But ask yourself: If the people in high places are so powerful, why does there appear to be so much effort involved in their lives? The people I know who are truly powerful don’t spend their lives in an effort to amass great wealth, fame, or importance. They seem to have a sufficiency of whatever they need, whenever they need it. When they say something, it happens. They don’t have to hammer other people; the people around them get to win too. How do they do this? By not setting other people up to fail. But, more important, powerful people don’t set themselves up by expecting—or worse, depending upon—unreliable people to keep their word.
Keeping your word is like using a muscle; it gets stronger and stronger with use. The outcome of this is that your word has power—what you say, happens. The place to start is right here, and the time to start is right now.