self-help

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Book Review: The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne


I re-read The Secret from a business standpoint recently and would like to share my thoughts with you.

My main point of disagreement with the book is  with the premise that you attract every single thing that happens to you.  No one attracts cancer, murder, rape, etc.  Children do not attract abuse.  My basic philosophy is that we cannot always control what happens to us but we can control how we respond.  That is the root of the word responsibility.

Having said that, there are a lot of good ideas to help you reach your busines goals.  It's worth looking at.   I have included several below.

1.  Be happy now.  -  Negative emotions and feelings weigh you down and turn off other people.  It's like trying to swim uphill.  Feeling good makes everything easier, especially getting new clients.

2.  Act as if you already have your goals.   -  Obstacles that seemed insurmountable become easy if you look at them from the vantage point of already having passed them.

3.  Focus on what you want, not what you don't want.   Most of us spend our time thinking about what we don't want, and that's what we end up with - not enough money, not enough time, not enough clients, etc.   If you're focused what you don't want, you will miss opportunities to get what you do want.  So look for what you want instead.  Vision boards, screen savers and putting pictures of what  you want all over your house are all great ways to do this.  So is writing down your goals and really looking at them every day.

 What did you get out of The Secret?  Post a comment and let me know.

Dealing with the Discomfort of Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone In Your Business or Any Other Area of Your Life

"Learning any new habit is like starting an exercise program: It can be painful at first, but as you exercise that particular muscle it becomes stronger and supports you better.  Over time the pain gives way to tolerance, tolerance to satisfaction, and satisfaction to exhilaration as you see the results of your commitment and persistence" -- C.J. Hayden

Your business is like creating a new habit - it is new behavior.  Any new behavior forces you outside of your comfort zone.  It may be just a small bit ouside, in which case the discomfort is very small and far outweighed by the benefits.  It may be far outside your comfort zone - in which case the discomfort can be very painful.   How well you deal with the discomfort will really determine how well you do in your business.   If it's only a little bit of discomfort -no big deal, your current coping strategies will probably be just fine.  If it's a  lot of discomfort, it's a very good idea to work on strategies to deal with the discomfort of the change as you make the change.   It's not realistic to say, expand your comfort zone -  that usually happens after you make it through the discomfort and discovered it hasn't killed you. 

So what can you do to make it through the change process of developing a new behavior?   I believe that there are several things you can do:

  1. Recognize and accept that there is going to be discomfort or pain and it is not necessarily going to be easy.  We live in a world of instant gratification that doesn't teach us patience or persistence, so we don't learn growing up how to deal with discomfort.  That is part of the reason so many people quit diet programs or regain the weight they lost (95%).   If you accept that there is going to be discomfort, then you can come up with ways to deal with it.  If you aren't prepared to deal with pain or discomfort,  it will derail you. 
  2. Create healthy ways to deal with discomfort or emotional pain before you experience it.   Practice them before you need them so they are available when you do.   You learn to fire a weapon and practice with it in basic training or boot camp, not in the middle of combat.   Combat is when you need things to be automatic.  You need to create new automatic behaviors that will help  you achieve your goals, not derail them.  Here are some good ideas:
    1. Practice meditating daily.
    2. Use EFT (emotional freedom technique).  A good resource for this is www.tapping.com.
    3. Exercise.   It's a great stress reliever.
    4. Schedule play time.  You need to recharge to keep going and having down time is an important part of being productive.   I ride my horse 4 - 5 times a week.
    5. Get a good night's sleep.  Everything looks worse when you're tired.
    6. Eat good, healthy food.  Don't skip meals.
    7. Create a visual representation of your goals and look at it in the morning and before you go to bed.  You could even create a vision board if you want.
    8. Laugh and be silly.  
  3. Set realistic expectations.  We often have very unrealistic expectations of how long things take.  Losing weight, developing a skill, or starting a business or practice are all excellent examples.  People don't get to be olympic athletes or millionaires overnight.  There's typically a lot of hard work and effort that goes into it that we don't see and the movies don't show us.  If you develop a realistic expectation of when you can reasonably attain your goals, you won't be disappointed when you don't see results immediately.   I usually tell my clients that if they can't believe in the goal, there's no way they can reach it - a good way to handle reason and desire is to use the words "at least" so that you are leaving room for better performance than you expect but you are aiming for what you can reasonably expect to achieve.  Here are some examples:
    1. "Lose at least 20 pounds in 5 months."
    2. "Make at least 10,000 per month by the end of next year."

It's a lot easier to persist through discomfort or emotional pain if you expect and plan for it, until you reap the benefits of your behavior change.

So what can you do to create a new habit that will help your business grow?

Taking Responsibility for The Circumstances of Your Life

My friend Linda Anger came to my NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) group Wednesday and spoke about the power of perseverence.  It was a great talk and I really wanted to highlight one of the things she said.  It was a question that I think is critical:

"Are you willing to take 100% responsibility for the circumstances of your life?"

You wouldn't ordinarily expect a question like this from someone like Linda - she's talking partially about her experience with cancer.  So how could she be responsible for her cancer?  Most of us equate responsibility to blame or fault.  The cancer is not her fault, nor is she to blame for getting cancer.  NO ONE is ever to blame for getting cancer.  There are things like diet and lifestyle changes that you can do to improve your chances of preventing some types of cancer, but there are no guarantees. 

However, what about responsibility?   My answer to that is "YES!"   

Jack Canfield has a formula ("How to Build High Self-Esteem" & "The Success Principles")  that states that "E (event or circumstance) + R (response) = O (outcome or result)"     We can't change the event.   Last time I checked, the only place you can go back in time is your memory or a book.  There's no way to stop or change an event after it has happened.   So how do we change the outcome?

Responsibility is really the ability to respond to events (such as cancer) that happens.  That's where the word comes from after all.   Responsibility is the only way to we have to affect the outcome.  The more you are willing to take "response-ability", the more you can change the outcome.  Linda's outcome was great!  The treatment was successful and she looks wonderful. 

The more you want to focus on blame or fault, instead of what you can do to change the situation, the less you can do about it.  And that means your chances of getting the outcome you want go down.  

I'm not much for gambling with things I can't afford to lose, such as my health or business.   I'd rather focus on what I can do to change it.

How about you?

Dealing with Business or Job Loss - Allow Yourself to Grieve

I have talked to a large number of people who were laid off over the course of my career.  One thing I have consistently noticed is that the vast majority have not yet moved on - they are still emotionally stuck in their previous job.  And, yes, I am deliberately using the words "laid off."  I believe that 'in transition' is a euphemism that doesn't do anyone other than the company who laid off the person in question any good.  It's an effort to shield you from the pain or stigma of being laid off.  In other words, any effort to avoid dealing with the emotional consequences of being forced out of a job you didn't choose to leave.  The same holds true if your business failed.  My guess is that you would have chosen to have it succeed.

Yes, some people take classes and change careers, but even most of those do so out of reaction - not from the basis of desire.  Do you think this is a very powerful way to live your life?   More the opposite.  What you choose out of fear isn't very likely to be what you really want.  It's either going to put you right where you were before you got laid off, or in an even worse situation.

Not only that, but when you do go on interviews, you take all the emotional baggage of the last job and how it ended with you.  Trust me, this does not make for a good or exciting interview.  It will also make it a lot more difficult to get said job.  Even if you don't say anything, you will still be projecting and filtering based on that previous job.  It's a lot like going on date with someone right after they broke up with their significant other.   Might be not be bad, but not someone you'd want to get into a relationship with. 

Allowing yourself to to through the full grieving process after a job or business loss allows you to process all the emotions and thoughts that come up so that you can move on and base your future and your planning on what you want, not what has happened in the past.  You will be able to be excited and interested in what's happening instead of what's in the past.  The last job or business is like last week's lunch.  It may have been a great meal, but you don't necessarily remember what you had.   Wouldn't you rather be excited about your future?

No one really talks about grieving in relationship to job or business loss.  Generally people are just expected to move on immediately.  Here's the rub - we're not robots, we're human.  Your relationship to your job or especially business may have been more long-standing than your relationship to your spouse or children, and just as close in many ways.   And not only don't we talk about it,  most people haven't a clue HOW to grieve and move on.  We're not taught deal with grief effectively in most cases when it comes to people and pets, much less jobs.   Has anyone ever told you "Don't feel bad, there's other jobs"  or something similar?   It wasn't particularly helpful, was it?

The best resource I've seen yet for dealing with loss (whether it's a job, a pet, a spouse, etc.)  is the Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russell Friedman.  It actually defines grief and forgiveness and walks you through a fairly straightforward process for dealing with loss.    I came across it through the book When Children Grieve, also by John James and Russell Friedman.  I checked When Children Grieve out of the library to help my son deal with our dog, who has cancer.  I  knew that what I learned about loss and grieving from my parents was not helpful to me (it basically consisted of "Don't talk about it") and I wanted to do better with my son.   When Children Grieve was immensely helpful in giving me some tools to work with my son, but it was also invaluable to look at where I hadn't dealt with loss in my own life.   

I highly recommend purchasing the book or checking it out of the library.  I can't do justice to the full process in a blog post.  You can also visit the website at www.grief-recovery.com.

My advice is work through your job or business loss before moving on to what's next.

 

 

The Real Magic of Business Development is Consistency

I was talking to a client the other day and she said, "I guess I was looking for a magic bullet or something."   I see that a lot when I talk to people.   It shows up in all sorts of areas, not just business development.  Weight loss, job hunting and career planning are all great examples of where I see this mindset.  They are looking for an easy, simple solution. 

The funny thing is that most solutions are simple.  What they are usually not is easy.  It's simple to lose weight - eat less and burn more calories. It is not easy to lose weight.  There's a fairly simple process for finding a job - again, simple not easy.

What usually makes it difficult is all the things that get in the way of you doing it in the first place or you wouldn't be struggling.  There is no quick answer to weight loss, finding a job or growing a business.  It takes time and consistent work.  You can make the work more efficient and effective, but it still takes consistent work over time. 

For business development for professionals, the formula is simple:

  1. Be very clear on who you want to work with (your ideal client) and focus on talking to them.
  2. Be clear on what solutions you provide to their problems.
  3. Focus on building relationships and providing value, not selling.
  4. Communicate to your ideal clients regularly and often.  They must know, like and trust you before they will be ready to buy from you.

The hows might vary slightly - you might prefer to blog, rather than do public speaking for example, but basically that's it.  Simple, but not necessarily easy.  Most people do not track their business development activities, so they often think they are doing more than they are.  It takes an average of seven to nine times of contacting someone before they are ready to buy, but most people give up after the third or fourth time.

Having a system and support to keep you on track and accountable really helps create consistency.    There are many different kinds of systems.  You can create your own and or use something someone else has created.  I use "Get Clients Now!" Outlook, and other tools.  It really doesn't matter as long as you do something that allows you to measure and track your activities.  Ideally, it will make it easier.

Also resolve and deal with the obstacles that come up when you start using your system and working on your business or career development.  If it's fear, get support and work through it.  If it's time management, stress or other issues - identify the problem and get help to get a solution.  Don't let it derail you.  There are always obstacles and for every obstacle, there is always a solution, and usually more than one.

Be consistent and use a system - there's your magic bullet.

Faith - Or How to Keep Going When You Don't See Results

When I talk with my friends and clients,  the hardest thing that we all face is often the lack of conviction that what we are doing is working and that we will see results.  Most of us are very far out of our comfort zones when we're looking for jobs or starting a business.  Hopefully, it's not something we do on a regular basis so that we're comfortable and confident.  That's part of the reason a lot of experts will recommend that you do go on job interviews on a yearly basis, even if you're not looking.   Most people don't.   That way, when you do seriously need or want to look for a new job, you are comfortable and secure in the process.

It's not an easy process either way.  If you're looking for a job, you could end up making dozens, if not hundreds of calls, go on many interviews and do a lot of searching online before you find the right job.   The process looks a little different when starting a business, but it's essentially the same.  You make dozens or hundreds of calls, go to many networking events or meetings and do much research before your business is established.  For the new entrepreneur,  you need to find not just one job, but many - which makes it much worse than the typical job hunt.   Someone looking to find a job only needs to make one sale.   An entrepreneur must make many sales.  Weight loss,  is by the way, often the same problem.  It takes a long time to see results and it's very easy to get discouraged.

Most people tend to get discouraged after the second or third call that doesn't go well.  If you're not a trained salesperson, it's truly difficult to get through the first several years of business.   I believe that most beginning entrepreneurs give up because they get discouraged, not because they run out of money.   They never raise the money they need to begin with.

So do you keep going when you don't see results immediately, the bills are mounting and nothing you're doing seems to be working?

For myself, it's usually that the alternative is much worse.  I would really rather not go back to working the same long hours and travel that I was doing when I worked full-time.  Not to mention that the job itself had long ago ceased to interest me.  There are things I don't like about what I do now.  I am not a natural salesperson and there are parts of the selling process that I don't enjoy.  I don't enjoy the paperwork and I don't enjoy having to deal with the IRS and being much more likely to be audited.  Not to knock them - our auditor was actually a very nice lady and everything worked out fine.  It was just very time consuming. 

The thing is, I love my business.  The core of what I do is helping people I develop.     And it's not just my clients.  I find it very worthwhile to be able to give people useful assistance, even if it's just connecting two people that might make great referral partners for each other, or giving some quick suggestions that may help a situation.  I love meeting new people, helping them develop and supporting their visions.  I meet so many amazing people now.  The parts of my business that I love keep me going and keep me fueled to keep growing my business so that I can help more people.   My faith is that what I am doing is worthwhile, not just to me, but to the people I help - and the alternative sucks.  It doesn't hurt that I'm stubborner that a mule either.  There a lot to be said for persistence.

For some people, putting their faith in God works well.  I have several friends that have a wonderful relationship with God and "he" or "she" supports their endeavors.   I think that's great and more power to them.   It works for them and that's what matters.   It never worked for me - my spiritual views are not that tangible and I've never been able to relate to God as a being.     I have other friends that have such supreme self-confidence that they cannot conceive of failing.   Again, it works for them and that is great.   It doesn't work for me when it comes to my own business.   I am hoping that 10 or 20 years from now, I will have that supreme self-confidence.    

I don't think there's a one size fits all or even a one size fits most answer when it comes to the faith or courage to keep going when you don't see immediate results.   I do encourage you to look for the answer that works for you and will keep you going.  I also don't have a good answer for how to find that faith.  All I can do is suggest the above as places to look.   It has to work for you.

In the meantime, here are some ideas that will help:

  1. Focus on the small wins:  For example,  even getting the meeting or interview is a win.  Having someone call you, even if it doesn't go anywhere is a win.  Feeling energetic and awake rather than bloated and tired is a win, even if you haven't lost an ounce.   Write them down daily in a success log.  Americans have a tendency to ignore everything but who comes in first and this leaves us with a very distorted view of success.  Coming in second is still winning.  So is even making the playoffs.
  2. Remind yourself several times a day of all the good things about what you are doing now.  If you don't know what they are, write them down.  Notice them.
  3. Look at your goals daily.  Remind yourself on a daily basis of what you ultimately hope to achieve.  Not the money or the job, but what that money, job or client will get you. 
  4. Set daily, weekly and monthly short term intermediate goals.   Breaking things down helps you recognize your progress.
  5. Reward yourself when you complete difficult tasks and reach intermediate goals.  The big reward at the end is great, but the little rewards along the way are important too.

I'd love to hear what you come up with.  What keeps you going?

 

"There is Nothing Either Good or Bad but Thinking Makes It So" - Shakespeare

About 3 weeks ago, my mother was sent to the emergency room for a very fast heart rate.  She had gone to the doctor because she had been running a low fever and was feeling kind of lousy,  expecting to go home with a prescription for antibiotic and cough medicine.   Her pulse was very rapid, so her doctor did an EKG.  He was concerned about what he saw and sent her to the emergency room.

I certainly wasn't expecting to get a call from my mom at dinnertime saying she was in the emergency room and had been since 3 pm (and that's a whole different conversation).  And I really wasn't expecting to have my mom tell me that they had found a very large aortic aneurysm when I got there about an hour later.   They found it by accident trying to figure out what was causing her heart to race.

My mother was admitted to the hospital that night and the next few days were a bombardments of tests, IV antibiotics and caridiologists.  She was stunned and overwhelmed.    I was confronted with the fact that my parents were getting old and I wasn't really ready for that - and neither were they.  This is another whole separate conversation that I will post about another day.  It was just completely unexpected.  Neither of my parents have ever really been sick with anything more than a cold or sinus infection since I was a baby.  It's usually me on the short end of that stick.

We had to learn very quickly what an aortic aneurysm was in detail and what the risks were of having an aortic aneurism.  It's very serious.  They usually don't show up and don't have any symptoms.  Either you find out by accident, like my mom did, or you keel over dead very quickly when it ruptures.  There isn't time to get to the hospital or get into surgery.  

If they find the aortic aneurism before it ruptures, the treatment is open heart surgery to replace the part of the aorta that has weakened.   There are no long term consequences if the surgery goes well and there are no complications. 

My mother had open heart surgery a little less than a week after she was admitted, after they treated her for the infection that was the original cause of the visit to the doctor.  The surgery was successful and she's now at home and recovering.   There's a very good chance that she'll live for a very long time now.  

The misfortune of having to go to the hospital for an infection saved my mother's life and may save her brother's, her children's and grandchildren's lives as well, including mine.  It's very likely that she would have died in the next few years if they hadn't found the aneurysm.  Her misfortune was very good fortune indeed.

They don't know what causes aortic aneurysms.   It may be all or partially genetic.  Knowing that we are at risk allows us the choice of being tested for it.  

It's your choice how you view the events and conditions in your life.  Things that initially seem bad, such as my mother being in the hospital, often turn out to have wonderful opportunities or good luck.  It's just a question of seeing it the right way.

What will turn out to be the wonderful opportunities or good luck in your life?   It's worth looking.

Stuck

Do you feel unappreciated or unrecognized for the job you do?  Do you have more responsibility without the title and compensation to go with it?  Do you feel like there's no communication at your company?    Feel like you're at a dead-end?  And things are not going to get any better at the company you're at, but you're afraid of ending up in exactly the same situation if you change jobs?  Are you really frustrated, stressed out and angry?  And no one can help you?

If you feel this way, you're probably right.  No one can help you.  You built the box you're in, and only you can get yourself o

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