Are We There Yet?


No statement can exasperate a traveling parent like a cacophony of whiny “Are we there yets?” continuously barraged over backseats by bored child-like passengers.

Everyone has agreed on the trip’s destination goal. Most travelers have at least some estimate of travel time and an estimated time of arrival, assuming all goes as planned. So, why is it often difficult to simply sit back and enjoy the ride? I have come to believe “getthereitis” is caused by a lack of measurable waypoints to mark the passing progress towards a goal.

As a pilot, we learn to fly by finding identifiable landmarks on the ground and we calculate how long it will take us to fly from waypoint to waypoint. If we are ahead of schedule we have more favorable winds, if we are behind, then the winds are slowing our progress and if we can’ t find the waypoint, we are lost. The pilot’s goal is to safely arrive at the correct airfield before the fuel runs out.

I primarily coach sales executives for my chosen profession. Sales organizations always have a revenue growth goal or sales budget which they use to track performance. Most often it is based on a monthly, quarterly and yearly calander. They often benchmark their progress against last year’s sales as well. The challenge for these financial mountain climbers is they often develop a pass/fail attitude which is similar to getthereitis. Sales managers often check the sales figures and whine, “are we there yet?” Meaning, have we achieved our sales goals yet? The problem is they have spaced out their financial waypoints too far and do not recognize their progress or lack there of, often enough. Every moment they are not at their sales goal, they feel like they are failing because they are not there yet. This anxiety can cause a hyper focus which can become counter-productive. Are we there yet? No. Then we must push harder. Sales getthereitis can set in even when performance is actually right on schedule. It’s like saying, Disney is still 300 miles away, let’s drive faster!

Imagine if your goal is to lose 25 pounds by Summer. A reasonable strategy would be to calculate a weekly pounds to lose goal and then track your daily weight. You can celebrate each ounce you lose and correct quickly for any plateau or minor gain. Most importantly, you can track your progress and see if you are on schedule to Bikiniville. This is a much more encouraging and effective strategy than weighing in around the first day do Summer to judge if you were successful or a failure. Tracking small wins and celebrating each success while correcting each minor setback is a proven success strategy.

Asking “are we making progress and are we on schedule?” are more effective questions than “are we there yet?” I hope my kids will read this post before our next vacation.

Do you our your team suffer from getthereitis? Maybe setting some milestones and celebrating each bit of progress can make your life’s journey much more enjoyable.

What Difference Does It Make? Possibly All The Difference In The World!


what difference.

what difference. (Photo credit: moonpies for misfits)

 

Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State of the United States, famously deflected a pointed question in a recent Senate hearing saying, “…What difference does it make?”  Whether or not you agree with Mrs. Clinton’s politics is not my concern.  Asking “What difference does it make?” in the context of one’s personal and professional growth and development is one of the most powerful questions one can answer for oneself if we seek to discover a path forward towards one’s goals.

 

Insoo Kim Berg and Peter Szabo wrote an amazing book for coaches titled, “Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions.”  In their book, they offer tips and techniques for coaches to use to rapidly move client’s forward in the direction of client’s desires.  One technique they recommend is asking a client, “What would be different in your life if you achieved or acquired what you desire?”   Also, “How would you know this difference has happened?”

 

Looking for the difference that makes the most meaningful difference in a person’s attitudes and behaviors is often the most significant clue to self-discovery.  Human’s are naturally “sometimes creatures.” We are sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, etc.. We are seldom if ever “always” anything.  What we often fail to realize is that we can sometimes learn most what we need to think or do differently from when we sometimes get more of what we want.

 

For example:  An Advertising Account Executive, named Ben is experiencing a sales slump.  He has been with the company for 7 years and has been a top performer in the past.  This year, Ben has lost a major advertising client and has been unable to acquire enough new advertisers to replace the lost revenue.  Ben is not achieving his revenue budget goals and his personal income, which is based on commission from his advertising sales, has suffered.  Ben met with me to talk about how he could find some new advertising clients and perhaps what additional training he could obtain to get back on track.

 

Ben:  I am hoping you can give me some advice on how I can find some new business in this rotten economy.  No one has any money to advertise and I am worried if I am going to make enough money to pay my mortgage.

 

Andy:  Let’s look at what you’ve been up to and what has been working and not working as you would like.  Ben, think about when you have been the most successful in attracting new advertisers.  What where you doing differently then from what you are doing now?

 

Ben:  Well the economy being better was a big help.  I had Big Box Brands as my largest account.  Things were just going my way.  It was almost like I was just lucky or something and now my luck seems to have run out.

 

Andy: Luck may have played a part, but in my experience, the harder and smarter someone works, the luckier they seem to be.  If you look at the other Account Executives in the office, are all of their sales down as far as yours?  Wouldn’t the impact everyone’s sales somewhat equally?

 

Ben:  I guess so.  Yes, some of the top sales people have grown their portfolio of advertising clients this year.

 

Andy:  So what could those top performers possibly be thinking or doing differently than you are that is making the positive difference?

 

Ben: Nothing specifically special comes to mind. They really are no better at their job than I am, or I guess I should say than I was before this slump hit.

 

Andy: Think back to a typical day when you were feeling lucky.  Walk me through what you did from the moment you woke up until the moment you went to bed.

 

(Ben tells Andy a typical past day’s activities.)

 

Andy: When you compare that lucky day to what you did yesterday, what was the difference which made the lucky day lucky?

 

Ben: I guess I was so much busier with the extra work that Big Box Brands required.  I had to prioritize my prospecting for new business into blocks of time, because I had to get so much else done and if I didn’t set aside time to contact new clients, it wouldn’t get done.

 

Andy: When was the last time you scheduled a block of prospecting time?

 

Ben: I’m embarrassed to say, it’s been several months.  Since Big Box Brands stopped advertising, I guess I’ve been kind of frustrated and I have not wanted to contact a bunch of new prospective advertisers.

 

Andy: Seems possible to me.  What would you need to do differently to be more like the top Account Executives and your old Lucky self again?

 

Ben: Book double the amount of prospecting time into my schedule and make it a fixed appointment.

 

Andy: Is anything stopping you from doing that?

 

Ben:  Just my own pride and reluctance to accept that I lost Big Box Brands and it is not coming back.  I need to move on I guess.  It’s time to get back to the basics of selling.  I know what I need to do, I just have not had it in me to force myself to do it regularly.

 

Often we know what we need to do to achieve our goals, but we may not have the motivation or the discipline to do what we know how to do.  The will to do what we know we should do is often the difference that makes a meaningful difference.

 

What goal have you been struggling with lately?  What do you do differently when you are on the path and making progress towards achieving your goal?  What do you do differently when you feel you are the most frustrated and struggling to make progress?

 

What can you choose to think or do differently that will make the biggest difference in your life?

 

What difference does discovering the most meaningful difference?  All the difference in the world!

 

Finding your difference that matters can be a spark to Fire Up  Your Life!

 

 

 

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be a Bad Thing


Big Ice Cream Weymouth
Image by boliston via Flickr

More is Not Always the Best Answer

If you are not getting what you want out of how you are choosing to live your life, then is continuing to do more of what you are not happy with, the most effective strategy to be happy? Too often we do more of what worked for us once, even when we are confronted with undisputable evidence that we are failing to be successful in achieving our desired goals or outcomes.  It’s tempting to say, “I guess I’m just not good at that anymore.”  When in reality, you may be suffering from too much of a good thing. Overuse or misuse of a personal strength can often appear to others as a personal weakness or limitation.

Know Your Strengths

In my book, “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!” I suggest that a great way to uncover and understand your natural, personal strengths is to purchase Tom Rath’s best-selling book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” and complete the accompanying online personality assessment.

My StrengthsFinder 2.0 ® results revealed that I had the following internal primary motivations:

Achiever-Feels most satisfied with daily, tangible accomplishments.

Activator-A person of action–a doer.

Belief-Hardwired internal values and ethics determine choices and behaviors.

Learner-There is always something new to know in life’s laboratory.

Maximizer-Make the most of the personal gifts you have been given.

Responsibility-Personal commitment to dependability.

In my professional roles as a motivational speaker, human performance improvement specialist, trainer and executive coach, I regularly blend my strengths to perform in ways that successfully meet the demands and expectations of these roles and provide a great sense of personal satisfaction. That’s how it works for me on a good day, when I’m at my best.  On a not so good day, when I’m not able to come up with a winning strengths blend, I tend to choose my strongest strengths by default and things don’t always work out as well. For example, when my achiever-self teams up with my activator-self and desperately want to “just get things started so we can get something done!”  I can appear to others as someone who is lacking in patience, prudence and might be someone who is prone to rushing to judgment.  But, hey man, I am just trying to use my strengths to fire up my life!  What could be wrong with doing that?

A “Life Match” represents the flame of one of your personal strengths and when used properly, they can fire up your life.  When used inappropriately, they can become an overly large open flame in an explosive environment which can cause a disaster.

Too Strong for Your Own Good

Many of my executive coaching clients are often frustrated when their most natural behaviors do not get them their desired results.  For example, an exceptional former salesperson whose strength of persuasive influence provided him/her years of sales awards, might be shocked to have his/her peers and staff described this same behavior as appearing overly pushy, manipulative and inflexible during a 360 degree feedback report of his/her performance as a sales manager.  One’s strength in one role can be perceived as a weakness in another role or situation.

It’s not that one’s strength has suddenly become a weakness. The strength has just been inappropriately used. It was the wrong tool for the wrong job.  Sometimes using 50% of a limited capacity may yield more effectiveness than using 100% of an inappropriate strength.

How do you know if you are abusing your strengths?  Ask people who care enough about you to be candid and brutally honest, which of your behaviors irritate, bother and bug them the most.  As you begin to get a picture of how others view your behaviors, you can then evaluate your motives, desired outcomes and most importantly, your tactics or behaviors that you used to try to achieve your desired outcome.  If you are lucky, your workplace may provide you with an opportunity to participate in a program that offers anonymous 360 degree feedback of our performance.  Your report will typically give you an idea of how others perceive your behaviors.  You can then explore what behaviors and strengths you are using and decide if they are the appropriate ones or if there is an area of limited capacity that you might need to better manage around.

For example, if one of your strengths is the ability to focus your attention for extended periods of time while working on a project it might allow you to produce an exceptional volume of work in a relatively short period of time.  The challenge might be that this focused work might cause other areas of your work to suffer, such as responding to co-workers’ e-mail messages or allowing telephone calls to divert to voice mail.  Your hyper-focus might be perceived by others as negligently ignoring them or as being unresponsive to their requests.  You may not have an actual weakness in communication, but your hyper-focus strength might be so strong that it overpowers your desire to be available to collaborate.

Coaches See What You Can’t

A professional coach is an excellent resource to help someone sort out which of one’s behaviors are counter-productive.   A coach can often see behavioral blind spots and bring them to one’s attention.  Once someone is aware of one’s blind spots, s/he can choose the most effective behaviors in a given situation that are most likely to achieve the most desired results.

It is possible to behave in ways that leave others feeling like someone is too much of a good thing.  That’s a bad thing and can become a limiting factor in one’s career advancement.  Knowing your strengths is a great start to living a fired up life, but knowing the proper strength to use in a given situation and the appropriate intensity of that strength is usually wisdom gained from candid feedback and thoughtful reflection.

If you are feeling ineffective, perhaps using too much of one or more of your strengths is to blame.

%d bloggers like this: