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The Truth About Feelings

June 30, 2014

“Feeling is what you get for thinking the way you do”. – Marilyn Vos Savant

Author, coach and all-around wise man Steve Chandler forwarded that quote to me.  It really got me thinking.  (Which I was careful about…)  What are the “feelings” that are most useful to my business, and which feelings are detrimental to my business?  And what thoughts trigger those feelings?

When I was younger, I knew a guy – I think we all knew this kind of guy – that won everything.  He was “good” at anything he tried.  I played him in air hockey once.  Now I was pretty good, I had a friend who had a table in his basement and we played a lot.  But this guy ALWAYS won everything.  And I didn’t.  So I was worried.  He wasn’t.  He was going to win, and he knew it – and I knew it too.

Can you guess what happened?  That’s right – he won.

Why – because he was better?  Maybe.  But I think it was because we both already knew the outcome, and we only had to play it out.  My mindset was on losing.  His was on winning.  I didn’t stand a chance.  Looking back on the experience, I felt weak and insecure.  I felt afraid.  I’m guessing that he felt none of those things.

Many years ago I was in a new business pitch for a major client.  Our greatest challenge was that we never quite found “the idea”.  We were heading in to a pitch that we didn’t feel prepared for.  Our idea was good, it would have served the client very well, but none of us on the team felt it was our best work.   Then as we were setting up for the pitch in our client’s offices, we could hear our competitor pitching in the room next door.  Lots of laughter, engagement and joy sounds coming from that room.

Already “feeling” insecure, we began to spin stories of doom.  We convinced ourselves that our competitor had the upper-hand.  By the time the client entered our room, we were done for.  We lost that pitch – as you might imagine.  Nothing in our demeanor showed us as winners.  We lost – in our minds – before we ever opened our mouths.

How does that relate to business today?  What we think about our businesses sets us up for how we feel about our businesses.  How we feel dictates our experience in our business.  Getting to the root of the issue, we need to manage and direct our thinking in order to have the experience we are looking for in business.

When left to our own devices, we tell ourselves stories about our own business.  Stories we call “fact”.  Things like:  “The market is tapped out, there are no more customers here”, “That’s as good as it gets in this economy…”, “We can’t handle any more business if we got it…”

These are real-life stories I’ve encountered with clients.  None of them true, by the way.  We disproved each of them.  The truth was always more open and filled with possibility than the lies they were telling themselves.  Once discovered, the truths created a far different set of feelings, and a very different experience of their businesses.

That’s where a Coach comes in.  A good coach will partner with you and help you identify the stories that you make up, replace them with truth, and then hold you to the truth.  A coach can help you transform the experience that you have in your business.  If you don’t have a coach, I recommend that you get one right away.

Do you have the experience that you want in your business?

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The Breakthrough

May 13, 2014

What does it take to have a breakthrough?  That’s like asking how long is a piece of string?  How long do you want it to be?  The answer:  It takes what it takes.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague.  I called to ask him how to accomplish an offering that I was working on.  I knew he had lots of experience in this particular offering, and I had very little – and it did not include positive results (in my mind).  My confidence in myself was low, so I wanted to check in with an expert.

What I received was much more.  I had a breakthrough I didn‘t even know I needed.  In discussing this particular offering, he pointed out to me the intricate workings of the process, most of which were in my own consciousness before the actual offering began.  As it turns out, I didn’t need direction for a “how to” process (although that helped), the REAL difference was in my entire perception of the process.

In order to accomplish the goal I was setting out for myself, I did need to know the best steps to get there.  But to an even greater degree, I needed to shift my consciousness around the entire process to make it work.  It went from a thing I could do, and it might work out for me (ie: “make some money”) to a thing I GET to do, in order to help people in profound ways.

Here are the key ingredients as I see it:

  • Acceptance:  I admitted that I don’t know everything I needed to know to pull it off
  • Asking for Help:  I reached out for help from an expert
  • Willingness: I was open to the information that I received
  • Commitment:  The complete and unmoving knowing that it is already done

I don’t often go looking for a breakthrough.  Often, when I need one most, I’m secretly blaming others, the economy, or something else for my challenges.  But then – it happens.  And while nothing has changed, everything is different.

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Show Me the Value!

November 13, 2013

Don’t TELL them the value of what you are providing.  At least not as much as you SHOW them the value.

Bringing Value

I went to a fascinating event over a recent weekend.  It was touted as “3 days of value – learn how to…”  “These are industry secrets that no one else is sharing!” and so on. There WAS some excellent information shared.  There WAS some terrific opportunity to clarify my goals and intentions in regards to the subject of the event, and networking opportunities abounded.  But… and this is a BIG “but”…  I heard over and over about how valuable this information was. How exclusive and wonderful.  How much never-before-revealed information I received.   As I described it recently to a friend – it was a full day’s worth of information packed into 3 days.

So the message I walked away with – and I ALWAYS try to walk away with something – was one of value.  In other words, in any endeavor, deliver ACTUAL value.  If I am blowing smoke, people will smell it.  Maybe not everyone, but enough so that my brand will suffer.

I really liked our host.  She is a powerful and engaging woman with a great message.  I just think she got caught up in the “producing” of the event and let the “purpose” of the event slip away.  And that can happen in the best of businesses.  We can easily get caught up in the selling, and getting and growing, that we forget a little about the delivering.  But we mustn’t.

One of my coaches, Steve Chandler, said to me:  “Provide so much value that they want to pay you handsomely!”

Providing Real Value

I am at work on creating an event for Business Influence Group.   I’m involved with this business because it is all about serving and growing your business.  Check it out here: www.businessinfluencegroup.com. The event will have 3 days of value packed in to one.  Or less.  We have better things to do with our time than to HEAR about value.  I know I want to be sure and DELIVER REAL value.   This event will provide a number of speakers who will share sure-fire ways to increase value in your business so that you are paid more.  Stay tuned for details as they unfold.

In the meantime, I am looking at ways I can provide increasing value to my clients right now.  And it is not always in the way I would think.  It is definitely not in a way that will “make them like me”.  That is “me” focused.  I am looking at ways that are “client” focused.  I’m finding ways to demonstrate value, rather than talk about it.

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Is This Reality?

October 24, 2011

Did you ever notice that things tend to play out the way you think they will? And information and actions tend to support the ideas that you already have about a person, subject or situation?

Cognitive Bias
In the CIA (and other places, too – I’m sure) they call it Cognitive Bias. It’s what they do NOT want their intelligence analysts experiencing as they put together briefs. They want clear, unbiased information, because the best decisions are made that way.

In organizations, this can be a challenge when a manager sees something, or someone as a problem, then every action or issue tends to support that perception. This creates an even bigger challenge: poor decisions based on faulty or incomplete information. As leaders and managers, we must do our best to remove the Cognitive Bias factor so that we can make clearer decisions.

Awareness is the Goal
We must ask ourselves: “Am I seeing only what I want to see?” This takes a great deal of self-awareness. The best leaders are very self-aware. They know their own blind-spots, and put someone in place to point them out to them – like a coach, or trusted advisor. The goal must always be to seek greater self-awareness so we can make the best possible decisions for ourselves, our organizations and our world. .

This also takes courage – at first. Eventually it becomes second nature to question our own understandings and motives. Over time, it becomes much more matter-of-fact. We become fearless decision makers. We get better and better at questioning ourselves in service to clarity. Clarity becomes more important that ego. It’s our ego that wants to be right in our assumptions. For successful businesses, families and lives, clarity is critical to making sound decisions. Ego is helpful – it just works better when combined with the clarity that comes from self-awareness, and asking ourselves the right questions.

Next time you are looking for evidence to support a theory, spend an equal amount of time (or energy) searching for points that do NOT support the theory (or support the opposite). You may be surprised by how much you find, just by looking for it. In the end, your decisions will serve you and your teams better.

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Selling or Serving?

September 29, 2011

Most of us have a sour feeling about “selling”. If we are great designers, doctors, lawyers, composers, architects, or coaches, we want to do those things. We want to serve our clients—we don’t want to sell!
I know I’ve had dreams of just being SO good at what I do that I would NEVER have to sell! I thought ‘why should I? I’m so good people will just “find” me!’
Well, I am good. And in the past I’ve been the “best-kept-secret” kind of good. The “if you only knew” kind of good. The problem with that kind of good is you can’t eat it. You can’t deposit it, or use it to pay mortgage.

Change your Thoughts
Selling, it turns out, is a critical part of what we all do. The problem, at least in my case, was what I THOUGHT about selling. My thoughts got in the way of my progress at every step.

I always thought:

  • Selling is SEPARATE from serving clients
  • Selling is ASKING FOR (or begging for) stuff for me
  • Selling means manipulating
  • Selling is wearing a plaid jacket and hiding the dents in the used sedan I’m trying to unload

The problem in my thinking was I had it all wrong. When I perform my service, I am helping people. I help businesses, teams, relationships, profit, operations, and many other things.
Selling is, in fact, SERVING.
And service is the highest form of consciousness. We are the best of who we are when we serve. And there are no rules that say we can’t be paid for serving.

The Truth about Selling
The truth about selling is this:

  • Selling is OFFERING the best of what you have
  • Selling means EDUCATING
  • Like a beautiful ballet, selling and serving are one, integrated thing.
  • Selling is being exactly who you are

Nothing has ever been sold outside of a conversation. A conversation that is based in service. Many clients tell me that they get nervous in “sales” conversations. I encourage them to look at EVERY conversation as a “sales” conversation. And if it helps, think of them as “service” conversations. After a while they aren’t nervous any more. Serving, after all, is FUN! It’s uplifting! Serve people ALL DAY LONG and you will have all the business you want.

If we are in SERVICE in our conversations, we can’t go wrong.

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Think Outside Your Box

August 27, 2011

Unless owners and managers are constantly looking at the latest thinking, trends and understandings—and many are—then they don’t have a choice but to stay with what they know when a RESET happens. In other words, if you don’t have any options, then you can only do what you know. But more than staying up-to-date, a savvy business owner, manager, and even employee must be doing their own inner work as well.

In small companies, the owners must invest in “talent development” for their people as well as for themselves. And this work not only involves industry knowledge, business trends, and the like, it is also the tough, inner work of looking at the blind spots, beliefs, understandings, and feelings that they carry around limiting their effectiveness. It’s like if you ask a fish, “How’s the water?” they’d say, “What water?”  Similarly, we have our beliefs that are so real to us that we don’t even think about them. They are just there.

Beliefs are important. It is our beliefs that determine our actions, and our actions create our business. So getting clear on what our beliefs are is critical to creating the successful business that we want.

My belief was that I could create a business just like I had in the past. It was the only way. I actually tried twice, with two different sets of two partners! I didn’t even realize that I was running a belief that I needed two others to be successful!  What beliefs are you running?  One way to identify these beliefs is to ask yourself: What is keeping me from the success I know I can have?  Are there any absolutes in there or anything definite?

Like “I need an MBA, then I can sell myself as a . . .” or “It’s just too crazy out there to grow anything,” or “No one wants to buy this in this economy!” These statements presuppose a truth, and that “truth” may be false, a lie we perpetrate on ourselves. Really, no one wants to buy?  It is not possible to grow? Who says?

Those are the beliefs.

Now, just because you have beliefs, doesn’t mean that they are not true. If you had all the skill and talent to create amazing eight-track tape stock, and you have a belief that there is no market for 8-track tape stock, then you might actually be accurate. But wait!  Is that really true?  What about collectors?  What about an alternate use for eight-track tape stock?  Maybe there is a novelty item or a highly sophisticated use for this capability that you have!  Or maybe there isn’t. The point is; ALL beliefs are worth exploring, and exploring IN DEPTH.

Many smart business people work with coaches to help them spot their hidden beliefs and rewrite them with something more useful. I once believed that I could not write despite the mounds of evidence to the contrary. Do I write well? That’s a matter of opinion, and you may have yours. The fact is, I can write. I consistently have clients willing to pay me significant amounts of money to write for them—proposals, brand copy, speeches, and more. Not only am I a writer, I am a professional writer and published author!  That never would have happened if I continued to believe all of those old beliefs.

In essence:  When we carefully examine what our beliefs are about our business, our role, and our marketplace, we may, in fact, find opportunities lurking there that we had no idea existed. We are in charge of our beliefs. Why not create some that work for us?

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Magic in your Business

July 1, 2011

What is the “magic” that is in your business? We all have it. Sometimes, we just can’t see it. It may take a third party – one who thinks highly of us – to point out our magic.

I was coaching a client this morning, and she told me that she was looking at all the different kinds of business she was doing within one client company and she was bemused by the fact that none of them knew half of what she was doing to help their business! She was sharing that since one group wasn’t talking to the other, they were missing opportunities to grow their own business!

“That’s it!” I said. “You have something that they don’t have, but desperately need. You have perspective!” And not only that, she has the talent and skill to use that perspective to create a powerful overall strategy for her client.

I give a talk every now and again that I call “5 Ways to Grow Your Business Now.” Number 2 is “Move up the Food Chain.” My client was working lower down on the food chain by effectively executing marketing programs. What she CAN do is move up that food chain and deliver powerful marketing strategy – which she can effectively execute. Moving up the food chain gives her the ability to design and create her own opportunities to then execute. And, not insignificantly, she can SERVE her client better. She is plugging a gap that exists within the client’s structure. In fact, if she doesn’t step forward and begin to offer this higher level offering, she is doing her client a disservice!

We are all hired to do what we do, and do it well. When we advise our clients on better ways to achieve results, then we are doing our job. In fact, it’s magic. When we just do what they ask because we don’t want to upset the apple cart, then we are shirking our responsibilities.

This is only one example of hidden magic. It’s everywhere. All it takes is to step back, and look at your business as though it were a trusted friend’s or your son or daughter’s. Either that, or have a good friend or coach take a look at it with you. Their perspective and feedback can really help your business grow by pointing out the magic already present.

Bottom line: Look for the magic. If you look, you’ll find it.