My wife and I recently had a very profound experience involving our grandson. So profound in fact, that my wife was inspired to write a piece called: “An open letter to my grandchildren: 10 things I want them to know”.
I was moved by what she had to say, along with thousands of others who shared her post. I think that you’ll agree the life lessons she wants them to know, apply to each and every one of us as well.
It is with great pride that I share her post with you.
Our grandson recently asked my husband and me “Will we always be together?”
I was stunned that a child would ask such a profound question. I’m not sure that he understood the depth of the question, until I realized that it was one of those stream of consciousness thoughts sandwiched in between, “How much longer before the movie starts” and “Does anyone have a snack because I’m hungry.”
But it did get me thinking. We will not always be together. Our grandkids are young and they have their whole lives ahead of them. I, on the other hand, have more days behind me than in front of me.
What words of wisdom can I give this younger generation, my grandchildren? What life lessons can I tell them that will make their lives happier, more meaningful and more purposeful?
I would like to share with you my thoughts.
Live Life on Your Own Terms
Each of us has special gifts and talents, so embrace everything that is unique about you. As you grow up, you will come to know these talents and you will develop passions – a life purpose and goals that you want to accomplish. If you want to be a painter, then paint. If you want to be a teacher, then teach. If you want to be an entrepreneur, that do that. Decide what is important to you and do it.
Whatever You Do – Throw Your Heart Into It
Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you put your whole self into it. Don’t hold back on love, relationships, work and involvement in your community or avocations. Give it your all. Take the brakes off and embrace your life and all that you do. You will find that it makes life so much more fun and you will get so much more out of it.
No Matter What Happens to You – Take Responsibility for It
Even if it wasn’t your fault. Especially if it wasn’t your fault, take responsibility for fixing it. Life has a way of bringing all of us a great deal of happiness, but it also has a way of hurting us.
No matter what has happened, it is up to you to resolve it. It is up to you to envision what should occur next and to put a plan in place to make it happen.
If you take responsibility and control you will imagine new possibilities and design something that you do want for yourself. You will take yourself out of the past and move yourself to a better place. This will make a profound difference in your life. You will be happier with your opportunities, your support systems and your environment.
Be a Lifelong Learner
Always be open to learning new things. Be curious about the people, the experiences, the events and discoveries taking place in the present as well as those things that we can learn from the past. Decide to continually understand the world around you and expand your thinking and ways of doing things.
Take classes, attend lectures, read books, hang out with others who are interested in the same things that you are interested in. Be engaged. You will find that your life is more interesting, you will have greater opportunities and …. you will never ever be bored.
There are Beautiful People Everywhere
I have moved many times in my life to different places. There was always a sense of sadness when I left the familiar and replaced it with the unfamiliar. It was hard saying goodbye to friends, acquaintances and support systems. It was challenging to start fresh and to meet new people.
I have learned that there are amazing people everywhere you go. People who will inspire you and with whom you will develop a close friendship. You will find people who you will love and who will love you. There are wonderful people no matter where you go. And when you develop a friendship with them, it will feel like you have always known them.
There will be some people who will take some time to get to know, and others that you will be good friends with right from the start.
Always be open to what can happen and you will find them.
Feelings Are Mutual
Someone starts to like you at the same exact moment in time that you start liking them.
A relationship is emotional and the feeling starts with you. It is uncanny. Something happens when you like someone. You lean into them, and you listen to them and care about them. You give the relationship energy and spirit.
I find that the moment when I warm to someone, the feeling is returned. The relationship may develop into a strong friendship or remain an acquaintance, but the feelings of mutual affection and respect will be there.
By the way, the opposite is true. Someone starts to dislike you the moment you start to lose patience with them or to lose interest in them. The whole vibration of the relationship changes and things get strained.
So, don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. If you like someone, be engaged, show that you are interested and stay open to wherever the relationship brings you.
Expect the Best
Say yes to life and be open to new experiences. You may not always get what you want, but you will generally get what you expect.
Have a great sense of humor. Laughing has a healing effect on you both mentally and physically. We create so many of our problems by taking it all too seriously. Move through this life lightly, take care of yourself, create the life that you treasure – and laugh.
Don’t Forget Your Connection to All of Nature
There is a force, an energy that we all share, and it is the power that connects us all to each other. It is the source that we all came from and it is the energy that we will all return to. Don’t ever forget that you are part of something spiritual and eternal.
Make the World a Better Place
There is so much prejudice, criticism and judgment in this world. Never do anything to add to this negativity. Use your natural gifts and talents to make the world a better place.
It is really a beautiful life – live it!
As Neil Postman wrote
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we do not see.”
Before you know it, the year will be half over! Are you on track to achieve your business and personal goals?
Some of you might know exactly where you stand or specifically what needs to be done to achieve your goals. If you fall into this category, congratulations.
But far too many of us don’t take the time to consistently track where we are now in relation to where we want to be the end of the year.
The problem lies in the fact that even if you write out the goals you would like to achieve, they are all too often not accompanied by trackable action steps to achieve them.
Most people set an annual numerical goal they would like to achieve and then simply divide that number by twelve to create a monthly objective. That’s a great start, however, it doesn’t offer any help as to how to go about achieving it.
Tracking results consistently by keeping records and statistics is essential to stay on track.
Having these numbers also acts as an early warning system to let you know when you’re veering off-track.
Fact - Successful businesses keep records. Those records represent both leading indicators and lagging indicators for success.
The best example of a lagging indicator would be your commission check or client payment for services. It comes at the very end of the sales or engagement process. Don’t get me wrong, it serves a good purpose to let you know where you stand. It does not however help in either predicting future revenue or to determine if your current actions are of the right type or correct quantity to achieve your goals.
Every business has its own set of relevant metrics. Here are some for you to consider:
1 Closing Ratio
How many prospects do you need to ask to buy your product or service before making a sale? This is a critical ratio to know. It will allow you to figure out, what type of weekly activity you need to close enough sales to reach your revenue goal.
2 Time Lag
What type of sales cycle do you have? Is it short (30-45 days) or long (2-12 months). Knowing this number will tell you how many potential sales you need to be working on at any one time.
3 Outreach attempts to appointments
How many prospects do you need to connect with before one agrees to see you? I have found all too often that most people don’t know the work, time and effort that is required to produce the results they want.
4 Appointments to active sales pipeline
How effective are you once you meet with a prospect? Knowing this ratio not only helps to determine the work effort that’s required as in the previous ratio, it also helps you to determine how effective your technique is to move from lead to prospect to client.
5 Repeat sales to new sales
In my coaching practice I have seen far too many people go back to the well too many times. Sure, it’s so much easier to work with existing clients than to find new ones, however this practice leads to what the late Al Granum called “Premature retrogression”. What the heck is that? Premature retrogression is when by only working with existing clients, your book of active clients (an active client is one that will buy from you again) will diminish.
Some clients become saturated and won’t buy from you again. Others will move on for different reasons. Once your active client list becomes too small, it has the same effect as starting your practice from scratch. Keeping track of your brand-new prospects and clients is essential to your long-term success.
6 Mix of business
We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”. If you are a wealth advisor, your advice your clients is to diversify their portfolios. You should try to do the same with your product portfolio. Of course, you may have a strong focus in one area, but be aware that sometimes there are external circumstances that might make that singular focus unsustainable.
In addition to knowing your leading and lagging indicators, there are six critical prerequisites* for achieving success in sales. They are:
1. An unwavering commitment to your career mission that is in line with your personal values.
2. A vision that provides a detailed mental picture of the future you want to create for your career as you pursue your mission.
3. Clearly-defined goals in which you specify what you need to achieve to make your vision a reality.
4. Mastery of the sales success factors, or the behaviors, motives, attitudes, traits, and self-concepts that contribute to superior performance.
5. Action plans that provide road maps for accessing people and resources and for using the sales success factors to achieve your goals.
6. A way to maintain progress on the journey until your vision of success becomes reality.
*(taken from my book, “What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No-nonsense Guide to Sales Success”. For a free PDF copy of the book, visit www.polarisone.com)
In summary, to help to guarantee your success, determine what are the critical leading indicators you need to know that will help you to predict the results you desire. Once you know what they are, be diligent in both tracking them and evaluating them.
Next, create action plans that describe exactly what you need to do each day and how they need to be accomplished to achieve your goals.
Finally, hold yourself accountable or find an accountability partner to keep you on track.
Good luck on your journey to success.
I have been a sales and executive coach for many years. I talk to both new and seasoned sales professionals and business owners all the time.
I would like to share with you some powerful lessons that have had a profound impact on me. I hope that these lessons will also have a significant impact on you and your business. Whether you want to work smarter not harder, achieve a better work-life balance, bring your business to the next level, increase revenue or take more time off, these lessons can help.
1 Live with intention
Don’t live your life by default. Sometimes we fall into the day to day hum drum routines that consume time and energy without reflection. Live your life with deliberate actions. Be clear about what is important to you. Know exactly what you want to accomplish and why. Discover your talents, your passions and embrace them. Don’t let others decide for you. The life you create from doing something that is significant is so much more interesting and fulfilling when you design it with purpose and with intention.
2 Do the hard things
Don’t run from challenges – ever. The willingness to overcome difficult situations develop your abilities and skills and will help you grow. The best accomplishments are often hard to come by. Building a business and mastering the sales process is tough. Once you learn how to take on difficult challenges you will find that you can accomplish almost anything.
3 Who we choose to be around matters more than you think
Watch who you spend your time with. Relationships should help you. Surround yourself with people who support you, who you are and who you are aspiring to be. The people in your life make a big difference to how you feel in the present and how you perceive and create your future. It is important that we limit our time with people who zap our energy. You become like the people you surround yourself with, the books you read, and learning experiences you have. Are you in growth mode or just holding steady? Do the people around you pull you forward or hold you back? Do you seek out others who support you and your goals and dreams?
4 New opportunities are always out there waiting for you.
I talk to many people who have had major upsets in both their business and personal life. Sometimes the setbacks are so severe that they don’t know how they will ever pull out of them. I tell my clients who are in difficultly and feel that they have run out of options that there are always new opportunities, new relationships and new situations in the future. The losses that we endure make us stronger, teaches us lessons and gets us ready for the next chapter of our lives.
5 Listen to your intuition
From early childhood, we’ve been taught to weigh out the pros and cons of a decision and not guess as which choice is best. This idea is reinforced throughout our lives. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. But consider what Malcom Gladwell has to say in his book, Blink. He suggests that the tiny voice we hear in our head is often correct, even if logical evidence is to the contrary. Based on my own experience, my gut feeling is more often right than wrong. How about for you? Take a moment to think back to a time when you heard that inner voice. Did you follow it or ignore it, and what was the outcome?
6 Watch what you think about throughout the day
Much has been written about this. Simply stated, we attract into our lives what we think about and focus on. What most people don’t realize is that we often focus on those things that we don’t want rather than those things that we do want. We often express our desires in negative terms. For example, we might think that we don’t want to fail rather than we want to succeed. As you reflect on what you focus on, is it stated in a positive or negative way? Is it clear or vague? I have found that you become what you think about most of the time.
7 Embrace the power of decision.
It happens to all of us. We become overwhelmed and can’t be clear about what to do. So, we do nothing. And this is deciding by default. I see this all the time. How many good ideas have you had about improving your business, yet you didn’t act on them? Perhaps you said to yourself, “What if it doesn’t work out” or “What will others think if it fails”? The best advice I can offer is to set some goals around what success would look like. Determine how much time is needed to see if the idea works. Then, evaluate your results against your goals. At that point you can decide to either, 1) Continue the practice because it worked so well, 2) Stop the practice because it failed to meet any of your expectations, or 3) Modify what you did as you achieved some but not all your expectations. Decide. Just decide to try a new idea. Move forward with a plan, evaluate results, learn from it, and move on.
Good luck on your journey to success.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, serving two terms. He was a 5-star General during World War II.
During his time in office, he built the Interstate Highway System and created NASA. He knew how to get things done. He had an amazing ability to be incredibly productive and was able to sustain high levels of productivity for decades.
His methods for time management, task management and productivity have been studied by many in the business world.
He is credited for creating what is now known as the Eisenhower Box, which is a simple decision-making matrix to help you become more productive and work smarter and not harder.
The premise is simple: some tasks are urgent, and some are not. Organizing your tasks will help you be clear about what is necessary to accomplish right away and what tasks can be delegated or eliminated. It is a great aid to help you organize your time.
Here is how it works:
· Urgent and important tasks are done immediately
· Important but not urgent tasks are done later
· Urgent but not important tasks are delegated
· Neither urgent nor important tasks are eliminated
Here’s what it looks like in graph form:
The advantage of this matrix is that it can be used to implement large scale plans and changes to your business or for smaller daily tasks. It provides a clear framework for making decisions.
One of the nice benefits of the Eisenhower Box is that it can be used for both long-term goals (“How best can I use my time to accomplish my yearly goals) as well as short-term goals (“What should I do today?”)
Other smarter not harder tips (check the ones that apply to you and then create an action plan and timeline to complete each one):
¨ Have a strong “why” for each goal
¨ Define what is the highest and best use of your time to achieve your goal(s)
¨ Time block your ideal work week
¨ Create a stick to a routine
¨ Stop multitasking
¨ Automate as many tasks as you can
¨ Maintain a positive attitude (as Zig Ziglar once said, “When was the last time you had a check up from the neck up?”)
¨ Use the Eisenhower Box to eliminate items on your to-do list
¨ Plan tomorrow's work today
¨ Every project needs to have a target deadline for completion
¨ Schedule uninterrupted and concentrated time to work on your business and not in your business
¨ Stop trying to “squeeze in” tasks
¨ Track your time to see where you can eliminate wasted or unproductive time
¨ Declutter your work space wherever it may be
¨ Schedule to work on your priority tasks and projects during your most productive body-clock time
¨ Learn from others who you perceive as working smarter and not harder
I hope that you discovered or even re-discovered an idea or two that will help you (if implemented) work smarter and not harder.
“You can call it what you like, but it boils down to this: Decisions should be made intentionally and purposefully on what you want your end result to be. See it in your mind's eye. Feel it in your gut. Act as if whatever you desired has already been achieved. Then go about your business and you'll begin to witness all of the ways your desired result will present itself to you.” – Robert A. Arzt
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” ― Peter Drucker
Good luck on your journey to success.
Do you have dreams and goals that you want to achieve but have been putting them off?
Why do we procrastinate doing the things that we desire? There are a multitude of reasons. See if any of these reasons apply to you.
· You fear failing
· Lack of confidence
· You lack belief that they are attainable
· Deep down you feel that you don't deserve it
· You feel that now is just not the right time to try
· You lack a passionate desire
· You don't have a support system to help you achieve it
· Your life is out of balance
· You're just too disorganized
· You're not clear about what it is you want
Food for Thought-Do it NOW!
I've written extensively about goal achievement and why some people seem to have an easier time achieving their goals while others struggle. The list above is a great place to start. If two or three items on the list apply to you, it's time to do some introspection.
Over the years I have been very fortunate to work with many wonderful clients in my individual, group and management team coaching practice. They have each taken the risk to reach out to achieve more. And they made great progress. Sometimes it came in flash, other times it took a little longer.
Why were they able to achieve at higher levels? What traits did they have in common? If I could identify the experiences of my clients that made significant differences in their personal lives, businesses, and ultimate success, it would include be the following 6 key factors.Read More
Remember that feeling when you first decided to become an independent entrepreneur? If you are like most people you probably experienced a healthy amount of both fear and excitement.
Some of the key reasons why people go out on their own are to:
- Control their time
- Create a healthy work/life balance
- Make decisions without having to consult a boss or committee
- Spend more time doing what they love and less time doing what they don’t enjoy
- Gain financial independence
- And many more…
It doesn’t take too long before entrepreneurs feel overworked and sometimes overwhelmed with all of the roles and responsibilities they must accomplish day in and day out. When this happens, they feel trapped and exhausted. They feel that they are no longer running their business, but that that their business is running them.
Staying in this state of stress for too long is unhealthy both for you and your business.
So, what are some common symptoms that you are being run by your business?
- Your to-do list only gets longer and longer
- You and/or your team solve the same problem multiple times
- You continually miss important family functions
- You don’t, can’t or won’t delegate
- You’ve lost sight of your vision
- You are constantly interrupted
- You’ve stopped learning and growing
Can you relate to any of the above? Is so, don’t lose heart. There are solutions available to you. Once you have recognized and admitted that there is a problem, you’re on your way to make the necessary improvements. Here are some suggestions:
- Revisit or create your personal Vision Statement of what you want your business and personal life to look like. It is important to be able to articulate and envision the life you want. This is a powerful tool that will keep you on track by providing a way to evaluate what is a mission critical task vs distraction.
- Delegate, Delegate, Delegate – In the short run, it may be more efficient and time effective to just do it yourself, however, it will hurt you in the long run. Continually ask yourself this question, “What is the highest and best use of my time”. If you are spending too much time outside of those functions and tasks, you’re adding to the problem.
- Technology – Is your technology up to date and are you and/or your team taking full advantage of its capabilities? Improvement in this one area could free up a significant amount of time that could be put to better use.
- F.O.M.O. – Fear of Missed Opportunities. Are you a slave to your email and phone? Do you constantly monitor both? There’s no need to do that. All those self-imposed interruptions are cutting into your efficiency. Create a schedule to check on both voice mail and email messages.
- Outsource – Now that you’re thinking about what your time is worth and what the highest and best use of your time really is, it’s time to consider outsourcing those tasks that represent too much of a drain on your time.
- Playbook – Are all your processes documented? If not, it’s time to get started. Whatever can be reduced to writing and tracked can be improved.
To feel like you’re running your business like a business, spend a few hours each week evaluating, planning, and strategizing what’s working and where improvements are needed. Be sure to keep your vision in mind as you gage the success and effectiveness of each operation.
Good luck on your journey to success.
Many of you were trained to create to do lists every day. If the list got too long, you were taught to determine what is most important and then to prioritize A1, A2, B1, B2, etc. That system may have worked before we all became very busy and over-worked and our lists got longer and longer.
As a result, many of the things that needed to be done, go unfinished.
There are many reasons for this. Some reasons are totally out of our control. Yet you would be surprised to learn how many times we are the cause for our own lack of accomplishments.
According to research from iDoneThis (a project tracking software provider), almost 67% of professionals write to do lists, yet only 41% of all to do list tasks actually get done.
The Problem with To Do Lists
According to Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, to do lists have three major problems:
They don’t consider how much time a task will take.
To do lists are a great way to do a brain dump about everything we can think of that needs to get accomplished. This is an excellent start. But often that’s as far as it goes. We need to estimate how long each task will take. Without knowing that vital piece of information, we can’t plan accordingly.
They don’t distinguish between which ones need immediate attention and which ones are less important.
Traditional to do lists don’t necessarily distinguish between which ones are critical vs urgent vs important. This information is needed to properly schedule when the tasks need to be completed.
They contribute to stress.
These traditional to do lists that never seem to get shorter add to our tension levels. Just knowing that you have so much unfinished business, drains your energy and often prevents you from accomplishing what’s most important. It actually leads to procrastination.
Suggestions for Improvement
I’ve long been an advocate for the concept of time blocking (see my blog: (http://polarisone.com/blog/help-i-need-to-get-organized-once-and-for-all) My theory is that if you can’t plan what a perfect day looks like on a piece of paper, you have no hope of carrying out in real life.
Before you create that ideal day or week, get really clear on what’s important to you.
What are those key goals that you want to achieve? Each one of your to do’s must support those goals. If not, you’re wasting time.
Once you have that clarity, you can now begin to craft what your idea schedule should look like. Figure out how much time each task needs and then actually block off that time in your real calendar, much as you would an appointment for your best client.
Then show up at the appointed time and work on that task.
Your ideal week should also include both business and non-business activities to help maintain a good work/life balance. (For a sample Ideal Work Week, go to http://polarisone.com/free-book and download my book What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No Nonsense Guide To Sales Success for free.)
Make Actionable Statements
For an even more powerful approach to getting more of your to do list completed, once you have eliminated the non-essential or non-important items, convert the ones that are left into actionable statements. A well written action statement will take the guesswork out of what you need to do to accomplish it. It should be broken down into manageable small steps that will be easier to check off as complete.
Charlie Gilkey suggests that each action item be written as if you were writing it to someone else. This will make it easier to recall what needs to be done.
Action items should include as much useful information as possible. For example, when does it need to be completed? Does it need to be turned in or forwarded to someone other than you? Once you complete it, do you need to track any next steps? Can the task be assigned to someone else? If so, what background do they need to know?
In other words, tasks that get scheduled in your calendar that are written as action items stand a much greater chance of getting accomplished.
Determine Your Optimal Time of Day
Here’s a secret I learned many years ago. Determine what time or times during the day you are the most productive. Don’t squander that time by doing mundane tasks like checking email or social media. Leverage that time to make a real difference in your personal and business life.
Good luck on your journey to success.
“I’ll get to later.” We’ve all said something like that from time to time. The problem is, the more we say it, the worse it makes us feel. But more than that, if you don’t get it under control, it will limit your success, curb your potential, be the cause of missed opportunities, stress and even feelings of guilt.
Simply stated, procrastination is putting off doing something until a later date. According to Edward Young, “procrastination is the thief of time.” Contrary to what you might think, procrastination is usually NOT related to time management.
So, what does procrastination sound like?
Perhaps you have heard others (or even yourself) say the following:
“I need to get organized before I tackle that project.”
“I need to wait until my prospect gets to work and has time to settle in before I call.”
“I’ll need to set aside a large block of time before I can start that project.”
People who procrastinate subconsciously look for distractions such as checking e-mail, doing paperwork, work on proposals or spend time on nonproductive activities. Reasons for Procrastination
Most of the literature about procrastination states that fear of failure is on the top of the list as the most likely cause of procrastination. Other reasons for procrastination include:
· The task seems hard or difficult to do
· It will take too long to complete
· Don’t know how to do it
· It’s got to be perfect
Strategies to Overcome Procrastination
Recognize that you have the freedom to choose to do what you want to do. While some tasks are more pleasant than others, the choice (and consequences) of doing them or not is yours. Here are some suggestions that have worked for others I've coached in overcoming procrastination.
1. Have realistic expectations of yourself and the task at hand
· Don't under or over estimate how much time a task will take. When in doubt, allow more time not less.
· Start by blocking out a specific amount of time that you will work on the task or project.
2. Don’t worry about “finishing it” right now. Focus on “starting it.”
3. Do the hard or difficult tasks first.
· Get them out of the way early. You'll feel great checking them off as completed.
4. Break it down into a series of smaller tasks or steps.
· It's a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.
· By taking a step at a time, you'll be making progress.
· Track your progress. Each step you mark off as completed will give you a sense of satisfaction and the encouragement to continue.
· It’s OK to devote as little as 5 – 15 minutes at a time to the task or project
5. Reward yourself for putting in the incremental time.
· Even just a pat on the back is enough.
6. Delegate tasks wherever possible.
· Only do those tasks that only you can do, delegate the rest.
7. Ask a trusted friend or associate to help keep you on track by checking your progress.
· Being accountable to someone else goes a long way in helping to get things done.
8. Keep a balance to your life. Work, play, have fun.
· By only focusing on the problem, you make it worse.
9. Take the time to recharge
· Figure out what works best for you and just do it. It will help you to regain much needed perspective and renewed energy.
10. Embrace the self-suggestion, “Do it Now.”
Discard the attitude, "I'll get to it when I get to it." To make great strides with your procrastination problem you have to adopt a sense of urgency. This attitude is contagious. It spills over to both your staff and your clients. This can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
The more tasks that are put off to tomorrow, the less of a chance there is to complete them. I hope you will be able to apply some of these strategies to reduce or even eliminate your procrastination. Realize that procrastination is caused by some form of pain or unpleasantness that is associated with the task at hand. Turn that pain to pleasure by rewarding yourself for beginning the task. Celebrate your progress and forward motion.
As Lord Chesterfield said to his son;
“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
Good luck on your journey to success.
Are you on track for achieving all that you intended to achieve in your business this year?
Reflect on this: Way back in January, what were the business goals you set for the year?
Whatever they were, one of two things happened: you are either on target to accomplish them, or you are not.
If you are on track, congratulations!!
If you are not, remember one important piece of advice from Dennis Waitley:
"Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer."
Perhaps it is time to take a more strategic approach to business growth.
Below are 7 things that you can start doing now to help you strategically move your business forward.
1. Vision and Belief
· Vision Achieving goals are not ends in and of themselves; they are only a means to an end. Where do your goals fit into your overall vision or philosophy? This question is critical to answer. What are the consequences of not achieving your goals? What are the rewards and benefits for accomplishing them?
You have to know why you are doing what you are doing. There should be a sense of purpose for your business. What impact do you want to have on your clients? I talk to a lot of people in business and it is rare that they are successful without a clearly defined purpose
· Belief Are your goals something you believe you can accomplish? Belief in the attainment of any goal is a critical requirement in the achievement of that goal. Do whatever is necessary from writing out affirmations to visualization to giving yourself rewards for incremental progress.
2. Review and Assess
Review the goals and objectives you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Are you on track to achieve them? Review each one and determine the strengths and weaknesses of each component part. Once completed, decide if that particular goal is still something you want to or need to achieve. Be realistic. You only have a limited time frame to get each goal over the finish line. Create a short list of must be accomplished goals.
3. Strategic Goal Planning
To dramatically increase your chances of achieving your goals, limit the number of goals and write out very precise statements of exactly what you want to accomplish and the exact date it will be accomplished. Then, break that goal down into mini-action steps that have the same amount of specificity as the goal itself. The more specific and measurable each step is the better.
4. Avoid Obstacles
Determine what obstacles might stand in the way of achieving your goal. What potential problems can you see on the horizon? Develop plans and processes to determine and overcome the obstacles that will prevent you from successfully achieving each goal or action step.
5. Schedule the Time
Goal achievement takes time. Create an ideal schedule that carves out an ample amount of time for each goal activity and then stick to it. First, create the ideal schedule on paper. Next, transfer it to whatever calendaring system you are using. Be sure to account for each and every activity that is required for you to achieve your goal.
6. Keep Score
Review and track your progress every day. Every morning and evening review what you have accomplished that has moved you one or more steps closer to achieving your goals. If no progress was made, determine why and how to do better tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to revise, fine tune, or totally recycle goals as necessary. A particular goal may have sounded good at the time you wrote it out, but if it no longer resonates with you, throw it out. Keeping a goal that you have no strong emotional intention to accomplish drains your energy and takes away from accomplishing your other goals.
Celebrate your victories, no matter how big or small along the way. Enjoy the successful accomplishment of each milestone. This positive reinforcement will keep your energy and enthusiasm high.
I sincerely hope that by implementing these ideas you will have more successes to celebrate at year-end. When you look at the big picture, isn’t it really the sum total of all of the “little” steps we take that make such a big difference in our lives and businesses?
I’d like to close with two quotes from Vince Lombardi, the great football coach. He said,
“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
The most successful people in business have some things in common. They have mastered and maintained excellent habits and attitudes.
They know what they think and expect and how they direct their energy has absolutely everything to do with their success.
The habits and belief systems that you have right now is a direct reflection on how you are doing in your business.
If you are not happy with where you are now, you can change, reorient yourself and start a new trajectory.
Here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful.
1) Have specific goals
In my coaching practice, I’m continually surprised about how many people just don’t have specific goals accompanied by the action plans needed to achieve them. What’s even more significant, is that too few people who have specific goals don’t have a compelling reason WHY they want to achieve them.
Goals should serve as an inspiration for you to achieve. They should pull you forward. They serve as a starting point. Having specific goals allows you to create a blueprint for how to achieve them. This blueprint contains both the strategies and tactics for how to get there with benchmarks along the way to gauge your progress. These benchmarks will also allow you to make any course corrections that are necessary.
2) Develop your niche
Who is your ideal client? I’m not talking about what personal characteristics they possess or which demographic group they belong to. While it’s important to know those things, you might not be able to leverage those factors to get in front of more qualified prospects.
Niches have three requirements:
- There are enough prospects in your niche to last at least one year.
- The people in your niche have something in common.
- The most critical requirement of a niche is that the members of the niche have enough commonality between and among its members that your reputation can precede you!
The members of the niche should have a formal or informal way to communicate with each other. Ideally, they should meet as a group on a regular basis and that you can be a part of that group. Participate as fully possible. Serve on committees, write articles for their publications, conduct value added workshops or brief presentations. You be surprised how many members of the niche will feel that they know you, even though you may never have met them face to face.
3) Implement a consistent marketing system
Do you have a marketing plan? If so, do you carry it out on a deliberate and regular basis? Here’s a brief checklist of potential marketing activities and actions.
- CRM (Client Relationship Management) – Do you stay in touch with prospects and clients on a regular basis? This also applies to Centers of Influence and other referral sources.
- STRATEGIC ALLIANCES – Have you developed any proactive relationships with other professionals whose clientele matches your ideal client?
- WRITING – Have you or can you write articles that will appear in the places that your target prospect and current clients can see?
- SPEAKING / WORKSHOPS – Can you regularly speak in front of groups or conduct workshops that will attract your ideal prospect? Whenever you can get in front of more than one person at a time is an excellent use of your time.
- NETWORKING – Do you regularly attend appropriate networking events?
4) Get control of your time and practice management
Do you know where you are investing your time? Can you describe what is the highest and best use of your time and currently what percentage of your time do you engage in it?
- DO FIRST THINGS FIRST - Increasing the percent of time you invest in the highest and best use of your time will make a significant difference in your effectiveness and in the achievement of your goals, whatever they may be.
- TIME BLOCK - What many people do to make improvements in this area is to time block. Schedule specific time slots in your daily and weekly calendar to do specific tasks and then have the discipline to stick to doing those things at those times.
- WRITTEN SYSTEMS - The next area to make big gains is to have written systems and processes so that you can become more effective and efficient. They save time and reduce errors. If you find yourself re-inventing the wheel or solving the same problem repeatedly, this strategy will yield big dividends.
5) Surround yourself with effective teams
You can only grow so much working solo. At some point, you need to get help in order to continue to progress. For some, it means hiring your first assistant. For others who may already have help, it’s how can your team be more effective.
I have a system that many of my clients use called Most Important Objectives (MIOs) and Expectations, Standards, and Sources. It lays out in very specific terms what needs to get done, how it should be accomplished, and how will you know it was accomplished in that way. Here’s the gist of it. MIOs clearly define:
- Roles and responsibilities
- What needs to get done (expectations) and how it is to be accomplished (standards)
- Procedures and processes
- Measures of success
The key to the system is meet on a very regular basis to review and discuss both the achievement of the expectations and any obstacles that may be preventing their accomplishment.
No matter where you are in your business, there is always room for improvement. When you constantly try to improve your skill set, attitudes and habits become more effective. When you become more effective, the more successful you will be.
Good luck on your journey to success.