You Can Use the Power of Visualization

Jimmy is giving a presentation to senior management on Thursday about his ideas for a new marketing campaign. He is feeling pretty comfortable about it, even though he got sick before his last presentation and spent half an hour in the bathroom with severe stomach issues due to the anxiety he had about speaking in front of others and nearly missed the meeting.

Visualization is the art of projecting your success into the future. You are imagining yourself achieving your goals and overcoming any difficulties along the way. Athletes use this mental technique to conquer obstacles, see themselves using perfect form, and simulate their performances.

Top executives use visualization to understand what challenges lie ahead and how to overcome them. They may also use the technique to consider how to achieve their KPI or goals for growing their company’s bottom line.

A 1980s study conducted by Dr. Biasiotto at the University of Chicago had three groups of students shoot free throws. The first group practiced for an hour every day for a month, the second only visualized making free throws, and the third group did nothing. After 30 days, the improvement in the first two groups was virtually the same (24% improvement for those that practiced, and 23% for the students that only visualized). The third group showed no improvement. Can you imagine what results they would have achieved if they had done both practice and visualization!?

In her Tedx Talk, Fitness Instructor Ashanti Johnson explained how she visualized a parking lot full of cars belonging to the customers of her soon-to-be-launched fitness program. With hard work and through a mountain of adversity, she was able to build a business that helped her clients shed a combined 20,000 pounds and filled the fitness center’s parking lot with customers, just as she had imagined.

Learning to use our mind as an ally can be one of the greatest gifts we learn through sport.

If you don’t have much experience with visualization, start with imagining the outcome of your efforts as Ashanti did. See the audience clapping for you as you wrap up your presentation, or crossing the finish line first while a stadium full of spectators cheer you on.

As you develop your skills, start to envision yourself in the activity. If you were Jimmy, maybe you are effortlessly answering questions, or smoothly moving from point to point in your presentation. Imagine yourself saying the words or overcoming the issue. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, act as if you are there in the moment.

Then a funny thing will happen… You will confuse your brain, and it will believe you have already achieved what you have visualized. This will not only sharpen your skills and progress, as it did for the basketball players but also quiet hypercritical thoughts that can sabotage your progress.

Here is an easy exercise that I do every night as I continue my entrepreneurial journey and you can do i, too. Before you go to sleep, imagine yourself achieving your goals. Be in the place, see the surroundings, conjure up the feelings, the smells, and even the taste.

If you are doing a sport for example, you may taste your salty sweat and feel the hugs of your teammates after winning the game. I often place myself on the balcony of a high-rise apartment, taking in the view of Yokohama Bay and sipping a peaty whisky as I reflect on what it took to get there.

If you are performance-focused, see yourself working through the event in as much detail as possible. I imagine changing the slides in a presentation and what I would say. But not just that, I see the room, the people in the room, and the expressions on their faces. I envision myself perceiving a troubled face in the audience and asking them if they have a question, then answering to their satisfaction, and the concern turning to a smile. This is a good exercise to do in the morning or when you are faced with a dilemma as well.

Jimmy learned these visualizing techniques. Instead of being nervous during his presentation on Thursday, he perfected his performance through dozens of imaginary presentations (and several rehearsals as well). He is feeling confident, ready to answer any question, and smoothly gliding through the material with the confidence of someone who has been in the situation hundreds of times before and crushed it every time.

Visualization can help you to have more success too. Start broad and continue to work on the image until you see yourself effortlessly achieving your goals. Soon, you will be doing the same in real life, too.

Sources / More Information:

Image credit – Yokohama Bay
Photo by Nagatoshi Shimamura on Unsplash

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Meet The Me You Don’t Know

Social situations can be difficult unless we bring the right mindset and social skills. Here are three ways to do that. As the holiday season approaches, we will attend more social events than we have in a long time. Whether with friends, family or business associates, we will be in the company of people we

Read More »

Why Having a CEO’s Mindset is Important

a woman sitting at the table

No matter what kind of work you do, you are working for yourself. One day you may wake up and discover that your company is letting you go, your big freelance clients suddenly went out of business, or the social media account where you communicate with customers has blocked you for breaking one of their antiquated rules. Ultimately, you need to be responsible to yourself (and your family). Consider being the CEO of your career.

Being the CEO of your career means that you think of your professional life with passion and vision. You consider your revenue streams as customers. And become more strategic about managing your career: not so that you build an attractive resume, but to do work that aligns with your mission and values. Here are four ways to do that:

Start with a vision

Entrepreneurs and executives alike have a vision of what their companies stand for and what they want them to become. They make decisions based not just on the immediate but also with an eye on the future. 

Consider where you want your career or business to be 3-5 years from now. Then make a plan to get there. You will probably not follow that plan to the letter, but it will help you stay focused.

As the leader of your organization, you should have a mission and driving values that are the essence of why you do the work you do. If you have a company, these are the seeds of your corporate culture. As an individual, we call this integrity. Staying true to this vision will make others want to follow you.

You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need framework and a dream.

Understand what your Stakeholders want

There is always someone else impacted by your work: your family, customers, boss, and colleagues. Understanding how you can meet their expectations and put forth your best effort while serving them is vital to achieving continued success. If you are not sure of your stakeholder’s expectations, ask.

Use goals to advance the mission

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, made the goal-setting technique V2MOM popular in his book Behind the Cloud. This model for measuring success can help you focus on growth. 

  • Vision – How do you want the future to look?
  • Values – What are your core values, and how does your vision align with those?
  • Method – What are the actions you are going to take?
  • Obstacles – What are the real and perceived obstacles to getting you where you want to go?
  • Measures – What are the objective metrics you use to measure your progress?

We have already talked about vision and values. Next, let’s look at method. Method focuses on the tasks, or deliverables, you need to achieve to make improvements, grow your market and achieve success as you define it. 

As a teacher, I started planning lessons with the end in mind. At the end of the lesson, I wanted my students to be able to achieve X. Then worked the process backwards to the very start of the class where I chose an exercise that allowed me to evaluate their ability to achieve the target. Then, followed the adjusted plan for the remaining time. 

Your choice of method is much the same. You know the goal. What do you need to do to achieve that? Once you understand that, the other pieces fall into place: What are the pitfalls you may experience (obstacles), and how do you know if you are making progress (measure)?

A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.

Obstacles are the things that get in the way of your success. Do you need to work another job while you develop your passion? Are there too many applicants for the job you want? Is the cost of advertising or sales too high? Considering the roadblock to your success and coming up with some alternatives to break through those will improve your chances of success.

Finally, measures – you need to have some way to measure your success. Choosing effective measurement metrics will help you realize early on if you are moving in the right direction. Then, aid your ability to navigate effectively into the future. 

When choosing your measurement metrics and evaluating your initial data, take the time to study the results and consider if you are measuring the right things. Do the results of your metrics equate to the success you hope to achieve?

An example of this I recently encountered was in running Google Ads. My impressions and click-throughs looked impressive until I realized that people from 18-24 were being served up the ad impressions. No wonder they were not converting to my goal of booking free consultations. I adjusted my campaigns to reach people from 30-60, and now I am attracting the right prospects.

Do the stuff you do best

Focus on the areas where you make the biggest impact. As solopreneurs, we often need to do everything. Regardless of if you are a company of one, an employee, or a business owner; it is vital to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Then, delegate, as much as possible, the things that someone else could do faster and better. 

In a company, we may ask someone who is skilled at making pivot tables to do that for us while we turn the draft of their report into a clear and well laid-out document. When we work for ourselves, it may be better to pay someone else to do the work that is not in our skillset. Then, we can focus on more valuable work.

By thinking like a CEO, you will improve the way you look at your work, no matter what it is or your position in an organization. You will make better decisions about how to grow your skill sets and live a life of value. It does not matter if you are the manager of a big company, an individual contributor, or a solopreneur; taking control of your professional life will enhance the value you provide to your stakeholders. And that will ultimately enhance your level of success.

Sources

Interested in developing your CEO Mindset? Check out my CEO Bootcamp Course.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you

When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall.

However, if you are working as a solopreneur or a freelancer, your clients are not going to bend their deadlines just because you are not performing at your best. They expect results regardless of the situation.

I faced a similar dilemma recently when I launched the Discovering Your Ikigai course and had 30 new clients waiting for their first seminar. I could feel my throat tightening and my temperature rising. But calling in sick was not an option. And in most cases, it shouldn’t be for you either. Here are three reasons why.

You can still get some of the work done even at less than your best

Choosing tasks that require less mental power, and adjusting your priorities will allow you to get something done rather than having work pile up while you are away. That will make your work more manageable in the long run. While you may feel a sense of worthlessness in being a body at the desk, you are still getting something done and that makes all the difference.

Work from Home

Since the onset of COIVD, there have been more opportunities to work from home. For better or worse, this means that when you are in a contiguous state, you could theoretically work from home too. In addition, if you have sick kids, you could spend some time on the job even if that is from home. Getting some work done is better than zero production.

Most bosses expect you to work, even when you are sick

58% of managers thought that employees should come to work with flu-like symptoms. Additionally, more than 60% reportedly expected employees to work while experiencing severe physical ailments like back pain or recovering from surgery, according to this article by the BBC. It may seem unbelievable that managers are so unsympathetic to their staff, but this is a byproduct of our results-driven society, where meeting deadlines is one of the most key important performance indicators, KPI.

There are, of course, times you should call in sick. If you work as a manual laborer and feel dizzy or have a high fever that leaves you disoriented, are infectious, or have a high fever, you should visit a doctor and stay home. Usually, if you can be productive at all,  do your best to make a contribution.

In game five of the 1997 NBA finals, Michael Jordan played despite having food poisoning. He had been throwing up all night, and he was feeling very weak at game time. Yet, he still found it in himself to suit up and play. When asked about being on the court for 44 of the games 48 minutes and scoring 38 points, including the game-winning three, he said:

 

I didn’t wanna give up, No matter how sick I was or how tired I was, or how low on energy I was. I felt the obligation to my team, to the city of Chicago, to go out and give that extra effort.

Few of us will ever experience life on the level of a professional sports championship. Yet, we will all have times we are depended upon. Times when we can not bring our best. It is in those moments that we need to dig deep, relying on the knowledge, skills, and intestinal fortitude that is inside to make a difference in our work. It may not seem like a big deal to miss time, and maybe you think it’s your right. After all, we do get sick days, but the people you serve depend on you. What is your sense of obligation to them? For me, 30 new clients were glad I did not call in sick.

 

If you do need to work when you are sick the last thing we usually want to do is eat. However, finding foods with rejuvenation powers could have you back to some version of normal quickly. Here are seven superfoods that can speed your recovery. And a bonus at the end.

 

Garlic

Garlic helps to boost immunity. Many people swear by garlic’s ability to help maintain good health or quickly get you back to normal. I was sick recently, and a couple days of cooking with extra garlic helped me.

 

Onions

Cooked onions are high in antioxidants, vitamins B & C. Onion soup is one of my favorite ways to eat them when I am not feeling well. Onions are also good for your blod circulation. When you are sick, eating cooked onions makes them easier to digest.

 

Fish

Fish skin is full of nutrients, like Omega 3 and B vitamins. Simply fry it in the pan or bake it in the oven. I choose cuts with more skin or salmon which is a fish that is easy to prepare.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is high in antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins C and K. It is also contains a wealth of nutrients, but is low in calories. Broccoli improves digestion and helps to reduce inflammation that commonly occurs when we are sick. 

 

Nuts

Nuts are high in fiber and protein. They contain high quantities of minerals. Don’t feel like eating a full meal because you’re under the weather? Nuts and a meal replacement drink are a good alternative.

 

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics that help relieve an upset stomach. It also has vitamins and minerals that rapidly become depleted when your body is fighting illness. Yogurt is good to mix in smoothies for a power-packed liquid meal that is easier to digest than whole food when you’re not feeling well.

 

Soup

Warm and soothing. Soup is easy to digest and warms your body from the inside out. Choosing a clear soup like broth or onion is easy on the digestive system. Vegetable soups can provide you with most of the nutrients your body needs to recover from illness and it is a meal that you can keep on the stove and heat up all day long.

 

When you are not feeling well, it is easy to go to the drug store or medicine cabinet and look for a remedy. But eating your way back to health is gentler on the body and may see your condition change for the better more rapidly and consistently.

One new recipe I learned when I was sick last time was roasted garlic. Not only did it make my house smell great, cleansing the warm uncirculated air that is common when you are  trying to stay warm, it was also super easy to prepare. You could eat a head of garlic every day with no adverse effects. Here is how you make it:

Roasted Garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 or more heads of garlic
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C (350 F)
  2. Cut the top off of the head(s) of garlic
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic, making sure to get some on each clove
  4. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil
  5. Cook for 30-45 minutes until garlic is soft

Eat cloves whole, smash and spread on toast or crackers or use in your favorite recipe.

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can manage overwhelm with these 4 tips.

 

Prioritize

Order your list from critical to not essential. What are the few things that absolutely must be done? Are there tasks or assignments that would be nice to accomplish, but are not essential? And I’m sure there are also some that just seem like busywork. This list is going to keep you focused as you realize that only a few of the items on the list will actually get done.

Is there anything on your list that you can delegate? If necessary, you may need to call in some favors. You should focus on the things you are uniquely suited to handle or need to do for your peace of mind. That list is shorter than the list of everything you hope to do. In my Discovering Your Ikigai course, many participants say they do not have time to develop their skills. This is something that no one can do for them. So I stress the fact that they need to schedule time to enhance their abilities on a regular basis, and not give it up. That is much more important than vacuuming the house. Someone else could do that instead of sitting in front of the TV, computer, or checking social media on their mobile phone. Another example is preparing the children’s lunch on the weekend. Train them to do that simple task for themselves.. 

 

Keep your top priority front of mind

Keeping your essential priority at the front of your mind will allow your brain to work on that in between tasks and when you’re doing things that don’t need all of your process power. A sudden gap in your schedule will provide you the opportunity to spring into action and give your top priority the undivided attention it requires.

 

Look for opportunities

You may have a postponed meeting, extended deadline or canceled appointment. These changes in schedule provide opportunities to get busy on priority number one. Since you’ve already thought through what you need to do, you can get a quick start and be productive from the beginning of your newly available time. Use this time, but not a minute more. That way, you are not cutting into the time you need for another important task. Before you move on, reassess what the next steps are and be ready for the next opportunity to work on those.

 

Knowing when enough is enough

When you have finished a task, it is usually good enough. In most cases, spending extra time on it won’t dramatically improve the quality. For example, when I’m creating a presentation, it is good enough to make the slides and have the information in the deck. I will work on accurate wording, animations, and design elements during my rehearsals.

 

Tying it all together

When you prioritize and only work on your most critical tasks, you can consciously take control of overwhelm. That will dramatically reduce your to-do list and help you fit the key tasks and projects into your schedule. Finally, be satisfied with the results you have created. In most cases, no one else will realize the difference between your good enough and excellent work. So be satisfied with your effort too. In this way, you will find opportunities to manage overwhelm and make what seems impossible possible.

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best

Read More »

How to Improve Your Life Through Ikigai

ikigai chart

A guide to unlocking the best within yourself

To perform at our best making the most of our abilities, talents, and time it’s vital to focus on the areas in which we are most qualified to contribute. This is the core of ikigai.

What is the concept of Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese expression 生き甲斐. 生き (iki) means life and 甲斐 (gai) means reason. Roughly translated then, ikigai is the reason for living or your life purpose. Living with ikigai equates to doing what best suits your skills, interest, and abilities for the betterment of society and also yourself.

What are the benefits of ikigai?

Living with ikigai is being at ease with your surroundings. Being grateful for life and the potential to make a difference. Connecting to your universe also requires embracing your ikigai: the people in your life, the work you do, and your interactions with the environment. 

Living ikigai for me is being grateful every morning. Once I’m up, I’m going to reflect and broaden my thoughts. Making contributions throughout the day that positively impact the world around me, and celebrating that day as I lay down to sleep. This kind of existence is a gift, and it instills a sense of contentment that lasts no matter how terrible circumstances get.

What are the 4 components of ikigai?

Your ikigai, or reason for living, can be found at the intersection of your personal evaluation of four key questions: What are you good at? What do you love? What can you be paid for? And what does the world need? 

What are you good at?

Consider all the things you are good at now or have ever done well. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not. Hobbies, professional skills, technical abilities, chores, for example; make a list of everything that comes to mind.

What do you love?

What are the activities or things that you love? This question asks for your interests, so you do not necessarily have to be good at these things. For example, I love playing basketball, but I am not very good at it. In this area, also reflect on things. Do you have a spiritual connection, a love of music, or something else that makes you happy? 

As with every one of these questions- document everything.

What can you be paid for?

Here, consider everything you could do to make a living. I know people with PhDs that are janitors. Anything and everything you could personally do to earn money goes here. 

One caveat: these income sources need to align with your values and sensibilities. If you don’t like small children, you probably wouldn’t be able to make a living working at a nursery school.

What does the world need?

Apart from the other questions, this one focuses on your perception of areas that need attention in your community and the broader world at large. Consider the benefits of service in this section and the gaps you perceive in the types and quality of products and services.

OK, you’ve done the evaluation. What comes next?

Now that you have your lists, examine how the four areas intersect with one another. What are the parallels between what you love and what you enjoy doing? Those are your passions. Make an passion list that includes those. Your potential professions are the things you are good at and can get paid for. Choosing work in one of these areas will provide stimulation as you continue to enhance your professional skills. Your mission equates the combination of what you love and your perception of what the world needs. Finally, your vocation, the kind of contribution you believe you are destined to make, is at the intersection of what the world needs and what you can be paid for. The kind of contribution you believe you are destined to make. 

You will now begin to see areas where your passion, mission, vocation and professions come together. This is your ikigai.

What is an example of ikigai?

My life mission is to leave people in a better state than when I first met them (I love educating, and the world needs that). As a teacher, trainer, and coach, this is my compass. It’s a job that I enjoy. I’ve developed into an accomplished trainer over the years, and I’ve been able to make a living doing it. I transitioned from teaching English as a foreign language to coaching and am now building an education-based organisation with courses that help people achieve their goals. However, I couldn’t live within my ikigai unless I took the time to reflect on each day and celebrate the ability to live another, while also improving the lives of others. The opportunity to impact lives is my reason to wake up every morning and get out of bed. Even when it’s cold or I don’t feel so great, I wake up excited to serve the world.

A butcher who can talk about the difference in cuts of meat all day long and slices of the most beautiful steaks every time you visit him is also living his ikigai. Similarly, the salesperson who finds joy in providing solutions to their customers’ problems and aiding their success has found where the elements of ikigai merge for her.

What do you get lost in and get a sense of contribution from? These are elements of what comprises your ikigai.

How can you apply ikigai to your daily life?

These six tips will help you live your ikigai not just in the work you do, but also in your everyday life.

Smile

Your life will definitely be better if you choose to smile.

Live in the moment

The past is behind you. The future is unwritten. All we have is this moment, so do your best with it.

Take it slow

When you rush, you create two problems: 

First, you can not fully embrace the moment. If you eat your meal too quickly, you may not even remember the taste, for example. If you spend an evening out with friends and are constantly checking your phone, you are not giving your friends the pleasure of your company.

Secondly, rushing through an activity inevitably means you are not giving your best effort. You will miss details, and the sense of pride you feel from a job accomplished expertly will never materialize.

Surround yourself with good people

You will be more optimistic and create a sense of accomplishment when you choose to be around people who lift you up rather than finding faults. These people generally value life a great deal and want to be part of the solution rather than the cause of the problems. 

Have gratitude

Being thankful for what you have in life, no matter how insignificant, will make your life fuller and more noteworthy. You do not need to have the biggest house or the nicest car to feel gratitude. It’s better to celebrate your health, the people in your life, and your opportunity to serve.

Connect with nature

We are all animals and part of the larger environment that surrounds us. Working in an office building all day and then commuting home creates a disconnect from the natural world. However, we can regain that sense of connection by taking a walk in the park or a hike in the woods. Even listening to the sounds of the sea or a mountain stream on YouTube will take you closer to nature and help to recalibrate your connection to the world around you.

Embrace imperfection

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese expression that means embracing imperfection.  What this suggests is that in everyday life we should be content with our efforts.  Things will never be perfectly the way you want them to be. Celebrate that  you’ve done your best with what was available.  

You may be making a meal for your family, and the vegetables come out overcooked while the meat got cold because it was finished too early. While your family will be perfectly happy with the meal, you find many reasons to complain about it. Instead, you can choose to feel joy by looking at their smiles, appreciating the conversation, and knowing that you are providing energy for their minds and bodies.

Summing up

Applying ikigai to your life will give you a heightened sense of purpose. You will meet each morning with joy and go through your day with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you have made a difference in the world and to yourself.

Want to discover your ikigai, and live in balance with your environment? Join my discovering Your Ikigai workshop here.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Meet The Me You Don’t Know

Social situations can be difficult unless we bring the right mindset and social skills. Here are three ways to do that.

As the holiday season approaches, we will attend more social events than we have in a long time. Whether with friends, family or business associates, we will be in the company of people we may have spent time with in the past, but don’t know all that well. This is a good opportunity to develop your social skills.

You may have worked with Jane in payroll for five years, but did you know she has a cat and spends her weekends trying new recipes? The same can be said of Uncle Bob, who always sits off by himself and usually drinks too much. His business has been slow the last couple of years and he worries every day about making payroll, so he doesn’t have to lay off any of his employees. Family parties are his opportunity for him to put that anxiety on hold, even if it means downing a few too many drinks to get there.

Three ways to engage

Despite spending time in the presence of these people and countless others, we don’t take the time to get to know them, and that’s a shame. You never know who holds the knowledge that will help you grow to your next level of achievement. You can change that by looking for commonalities, showing interest in others, and having gratitude for sharing an experience. Using these social skills will help you to have a more enjoyable time.

Finding commonalities is a good way to break the ice. This may require some detective work or a keen eye towards observation. What are they eating or drinking? How about their fashion? There must be something you can find in common. Then ask them about that. 

Starting a conversation is the most difficult part. Don’t worry about being socially awkward. Many of us are. It’s the effort to apply social skills that will help you break the ice that open doors of knowledge and social presence. 

Showing interest is a courtesy that one should focus on achieving in every interaction during social gatherings. It is not hard, but it does take effort. If people are shy, you may have to share something to get them to open up. Commenting on the environment, asking questions, and following up on their responses in ways that make the other person believe you are really listening and interested in them are all the tools you need to make a success of casual conversations. 

Professionally, this is a good way to build your network. Personally, you may have added to your circle of friends. It’s always good to have a friend in the payroll department. They can help to ensure you meet deadlines for reimbursements or fast-track a change in status. And learning about running a business from Uncle Bob in a more sober moment would have its benefits, too.

These opportunities will be possible if you treat the other person with respect and gratitude for their taking the time to converse with you. These types of manners used to be commonplace, but have now been given up for more casual engagements. That doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Using people’s names, looking them in the eye, and paraphrasing their answers are examples of how you can demonstrate you are engaged.

In Japan, they call a good conversationalist someone who is good at catch ball, or playing catch. Playing catch ball means answering the question you are asked and throwing back a related question. By doing this, you can virtually keep a discussion going on forever. This will make the time, at a previously perceived as awkward and time consuming, social gathering appear to fly by. And you’ll be wishing the evening could continue. That’s usually the sign of a good time.

Succeeding in social situations requires us to be polite. We can do this by showing interest in others and finding commonalities to converse about. Applying these social skills, you may come out of the year with more high quality relationships than you had going in. That’s a great way to welcome in the new year.

This story originally appeared on Medium.com

Share this story
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did.

I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong. In fact, my difficulty is that I know I suck.

We generally seem to gravitate towards doing those things we are good at and shy away from our areas of weakness. This is a big problem. When trying to develop a new skill or hobby, we are usually unsatisfied with the results that we are getting. Not only that, but we will continue to perform poorly at the new technique until we have enough experience to feel confident, or we decide to leave our egos behind and just make a go of it. Here are four things we can both do to make some progress.

Give yourself some time

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. To make tangible improvement takes effort and time. No time invested results in zero gain. It’s that simple. Start with scheduling time to work on your new skill. Develop a practice routine and stick to it. I find it easier to do this if I put it on the calendar as a recurring task. To get from where you are to where you want to be you’ll need to invest your time, lose your fear of failure, and learn to enjoy the process.

Lower your expectations

It’s not uncommon to give ourselves unrealistic timetables for seeing remarkable progress. Slow down, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. For me, that means learning to play the super-easy tunes from memory. No fancy strumming patterns just simple down strums to the beat from beginning to end. Once I can do that, I can add some upstrokes to make it sound more interesting. What is the most basic level of achievement that lets you know you are on the right track?

Look for incremental improvement

I’m not going to go from complete beginner to improvisational virtuoso in a year, and neither are you. Whether you are growing your spreadsheet skills, learning a foreign language, or have picked up a new musical instrument. You will go further if you are observant of signs that you are getting better. Analyze your progress and identify what you are doing better this week compared to last. That will help you to remain motivated and continue to try.

Choose the tougher road

There will be slips too. You may have a comparable skill that you can substitute for the one you are learning. That makes it easy to revert to your previous habits. Unfortunately, you won’t improve that way. You need to challenge the new skill. Sometimes it means taking a step backward so that you can take two forwards.

In baseball, switch hitters are usually better from one side of the plate than the other. For example, the greatest switch hitter of all time, Mickey Mantle’s batting average was 50 points higher from the right side of the plate (.330 vs. .281 from the left). Just having the ability to do both sent fear through the opposing manager regardless of where The Mick stood (372 home runs lefty and 164 batting right). Would you rather pitch to a right-handed hitter that gets on base an awful lot or a left-handed power hitter? There is no correct answer to that question.

Currently, Shohei Ohtani probably spends more hours practicing his craft than any other player in the majors. Because he needs to be both a good starting pitcher and a hitter worthy of a place in the lineup on the days he is not on the mound. That’s a tall order.

The same is true for you. The only way to develop new skills and abilities is to work at them and put them on display.

Being good at new skills and abilities is fun. Going through the learning process is not. For me, it means not letting my guitars collect dust, and playing easier versions of the songs I like. It also requires that I add guitar time to my schedule and find joy in my improvements, no matter how small. I could write about music. I am pretty good at that. Though I think it would be more fun to play. I know the older, wiser version of myself will thank me for sticking with it.

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall. However, if

Read More »

Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can

Read More »
ikigai chart

How to Improve Your Life Through Ikigai

A guide to unlocking the best within yourself To perform at our best making the most of our abilities, talents, and time it’s vital to focus on the areas in which we are most qualified to contribute. This is the core of ikigai. What is the concept of Ikigai? Ikigai is a Japanese expression 生き甲斐.

Read More »

Four Ways to Grow Your Digital Business

Growing a small business from a creative streak and a laptop into a trusted company isn’t what it used to be. With competition fiercer than ever and the cost of everything from supplies to marketing on the rise, bootstrapping isn’t really an option. What can you do then if you have a vision but very

Read More »

How to Do Better Live Video Events

Hosting my first live video event.

Recently I hosted my first Facebook Live. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I did, however, learn how to do better live video events.

In this story, I’ll share tips for having a successful live video event. Whether you use Facebook, YouTube, or another channel these strategies can help you before, during, and after your event to ensure success. Not just this time, but in future events as well.

Before

Prior to my live, I organically marketed the event both in the Facebook group and to my own friends. I also got my more influential friends to invite people. Because my group is private, one needs to be a member to participate. So I saw my community grow due to this activity.

I have supporters all over the world. Therefore, choosing one time for my event was difficult. I decided to do the same program in the morning and in the evening. This was a big plus (more about that later).

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same.

My email list is modest, and many of the people on it are also in the group. Nevertheless, I did send out a reminder about the event. My mom emailed me back and told me the links to the event didn’t work. This was true for non-members. So I had the opportunity to send out an “Oopsie email”. Saying there was an error in the initial email. An “Oopsie email” is one where you admit you made a mistake in the one you sent out earlier. This email allows you to re-engage an audience and piques interest for those who may not have seen the first one. It worked! This text-only email actually had more opens than the first fancy one that included images and stylized formatting.

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same. This event was to introduce my book and show appreciation to people for their support. My plan was to read an excerpt from Win the Day then explain the format and finally take questions. I practiced reading, made a simple deck, and practiced about ten times.

No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.

Checking RSVPs, I found that my morning session had about ⅓ of the participants registered as the evening. A quick check of the morning audience allowed me to more specifically target the presentation and provided a smaller audience to test my content on.

During

The first thing that happened was that my frame rate was too low. Facetime would not let me access my video. So I immediately switched to my phone. That did work. However, the text was so small that I couldn’t tell how many people were actually watching, nor could I read their comments. To remedy that, I turned from portrait to landscape mode about five minutes in.

Ha ha ha, the video was sideways. It turns out that the platform will use your initial video to lock in an aspect ratio, So I was literally sideways for the remainder of my video.

Whatsmore, on the iPhone, I was unable to use my slide deck. I couldn’t read some of the questions and comments either. Luckily my reading glasses were on the desk. So I put them on and was able to read the scroll. That helped the Q & A session to go ok. There were a lot of personal questions about the journey that I hadn’t practiced answering. As a result, I was overly emotional. I am glad I had that first run with a small audience before doing it again later in the day.

For the second session, I had a friend help me to check my video and I had access to the Facebook dashboard. That was helpful, because 35 people attended, and all told there were more than 300 comments. That’s what I call overwhelm. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone with a larger following would manage the constant feed of questions and comments on their own. Talking, planning the segue ways, and reading comments all at the time could have led to panic. Fortunately, my preparation and practice had me prepared.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.

Due to having an earlier run at the same content, I was more confident and less emotional in the second session. While I didn’t answer every question, there were more than enough to get me through the sixty-minute session.

After

I received feedback from members of my inner circle and deconstructed the event. It was definitely successful, and I met my goals of authentically engaging with my followers. It would have been better if I had a handle on how to manage the comments and questions. When I watch live events, it seems kind of funny that the presenters are squinting to read the screen. I discovered that is the result of the limits on technology. Having the audience start their questions with “I have a question” helped find those needles in the haystack.

I didn’t really enjoy that the only engagement was messages, and the focus was all on me. Being more familiar with virtual meeting software, maybe using Zoom or a similar platform in the future, would provide a way to better engage the audience.

While not directly related to the event, reading my introduction aloud helped me to find some areas of it that could have been written better. Following this event, I went back and edited the introduction again. As far as writing and editing go, reading stories or chapters aloud definitely helps to write in a tone that is more fluid. After all, most of us silently speak the words we are reading.

Conclusion

Doing a live event is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend you promote your event to get people excited. Encourage your connections to invite their friends and colleagues. They will only share your event if the topic is clear and has value to them. Plan and practice several times, on video if possible. Planning will help you handle adversity and practicing will help you to sound more authentic. Get a friend to do a trial run with you, and expect the unexpected. Then when the time comes to turn on your camera, take a deep breath and prepare to excite your tribe. It’s showtime.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks

As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand your expectations and systems. That calls for training that doesn’t suck.

I told them a hundred times, but they still don’t get it!

Providing proficient training means you need to understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to have a handle on their communication styles and how they learn. You can’t expect everyone to think and act the same way you do. That kind of top-down training leads to unmotivated and unproductive employees.

Having a clear vision of who you are training and what makes them tick will allow you to modify your training so that it meets your objectives and has you feeling confident in delegating tasks to the new members of your team. 

Are your employees’ visual learners? They will need you to demonstrate what you want them to do. Are they kinesthetically focused? They will need hands-on time to grasp the concepts you had planned to lecture them on. Do your new employees do better reading? For those folks, creating a manual would be sufficient. And if they are verbal learners, having them explain how to do the task will help to stimulate their minds. There are seven different learning styles and their variations. Each type of learner will benefit most when the training is adapted to their learning modality.

You will also want to consider your team members’ DiSC profiles. Are they leaders or followers? Are they perfectionists or is it sufficient that the tasks are done acceptably? Understanding your employees’ working style preferences will help you to adapt the training. DiSC knowledge will also enhance your ability to decide strategically who to assign tasks, and how to hire for specific roles. You can learn more about DiSC here.

What do I teach them?

You have a wide view of the tasks and how those benefit your company. However, your new employees may only see those as chores that they need to complete in order to get a paycheck. You’ve got to change that perception. Employees are highly motivated by the sense that they are contributing to the organization. Therefore, don’t just tell them what to do, also include some background information. They’ll want to know why. That makes them feel like they are part of the process.

When you consider how you are going to explain the tasks, break them down to their smallest elements. Don’t miss a single detail, because some people will need to niche it down that much. While others will take a more holistic view. Those people will do better by learning as they go. Remember, you are managing people, not tasks. Keep the needs of your staff in mind as you dispense new assignments.

They are now performing the basic functions, but I want them to do more

Congratulations, you created an effective training program, and your staff is meeting about 50% of its expectations. That’s a big win. But now you want them to raise their collective game. It’s time for feedback. Feedback is better done one to one. You will get more authentic communication that way. Ask the employee to evaluate their performance. Talk to them about how they feel the process and their productivity could be improved. Ask for their advice about adjustments to the system. Then give them the freedom to do their best work.

If their answers are not so free flowing, try suggesting performance enhancements you would like to see and create a plan together for improving productivity. It may feel like you are spoon feeding solutions to this type of person, but that is the level of engagement they will need to achieve the results you envision. Regardless of the employees’ working style preferences, make sure that both of you are evaluating the performance. That way you can agree on expectations, what constitutes success, and continue to improve the system. These were the goals of your training when you decided to conduct it.

Tying it all together

Training is an investment in your business and its people. It may seem that the process is labor-intensive, but after doing it a few times, you will have a system you can use for any employee doing the same task and more easily create new trainings as well. Furthermore, educating staff on the whys for your processes and spending time on feedback will make them feel like they are more than hired help. For any business, this builds loyalty and lays the foundation for great business culture. Finally, once your employees have demonstrated competence in these skills, it is one less thing you need to worry about. That will free you up to work on other needs, like growing the business.

Originally posted on Medium.com

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Get More Out of Your Physical Workouts

Apply what you learn in the gym to other aspects of your life

There are some activities we do in life that hold the key to success in several seemingly unrelated areas. Weight training is one such activity for me.

I started going to the gym about 3 months ago. During that time, I increased my strength by 21%. That is incredible. Over these last three months, I have rekindled my enjoyment of weight training, something I had not done in the last 6 years or more.

After achieving new thresholds, we rarely reduce our performance expectations. When we have breakthroughs in life we forget that we had to struggle to achieve them.

One thing I came to realize was that making gains in weight training is very similar to developing yourself in life. One way this is true is we are always pushing to our max, whether that be reps, weight or commitment to a project.

Success enables us to set new performance norms. After achieving those new thresholds, we rarely reduce our performance expectations. When we have breakthroughs in life we often forget that we had to struggle to achieve those. We expect this new norm to be the standard not just for us, but those around us too. However, it is through struggle that we learn how to achieve. In the gym a new weight means starting the process all over again. In life achievement comes with a new set of expectations.

I do three sets on each machine. The first two sets are at a weight where I can complete 12 reps. Then I raise the weight by 9 kg (20 pounds) and push out the reps to exhaustion. If I can do 10 reps of the higher weight two sessions in a row, I raise the base weight by 5 kg (10 pounds).

The first time I do the increased weight it seems impossible. I often think, “What an accomplishment it would be to lift that amount of weight 10 times.” I am lucky if I can complete three reps. In life, we may feel discouraged by such a low level of accomplishment. Gradually, however, that number climbs and your skills develop. Three this week, five the next couple of weeks, then eight and finally ten. It may take weeks or even months to reach the next weight, but with persistence it is achievable.

There are some things we need to do continuously and without seeing the results we desire to get better.

In most cases, I have only increased the weights I am lifting once in these initial months. In a few rare cases, I raised the bar twice or more in that time. Just like in life, some things we have more aptitude for and make progress in faster than in others. My strengths are torso rotations, leg extensions, chest press and pull downs. I make regular gains in those areas.

This is similar to the development I’ve experienced in my writing. Through the experience of writing a book, I have made substantial gains in the amount of content I am able to produce on a daily basis too. From struggling to write 700 to a 1,000 words in a day to now being able to push out upwards of 5,000 on a good day. In what areas does progress seem to come easily to you now?

Maybe I am measuring the wrong thing here. Perhaps I should evaluate my ability to reach down and tie my shoes without shortness of breath instead of counting the number of leg presses I can do at 300 pounds.

Conversely, I have made very little gains on the shoulder and leg press machines. Initially the reps always seem easy and like today will be the day I break my ten rep requirement. However, when I get to that last set I am lucky to complete seven reps. Some days I lift less than I did the last time I worked out. Just like in life, there are some things we need to do continuously and without seeing the results we desire to get better. I may not be lifting more weight on these machines, but my quads and shoulders are getting bigger, my balance is better and I have a feeling of accomplishment when I finish these two stations.

Maybe I am measuring the wrong thing here. Instead of looking to advance weights perhaps I should evaluate muscle tone or the ability to reach down and tie my shoes without shortness of breath. The shock that I couldn’t do that was one reason I started going to the gym again after such a long break.

Making improvements in life is not easy. It requires us to undertake challenges that are painful, seem insurmountable and sometimes even appear to be counter-productive. Then, suddenly we achieve a major breakthrough, and experience joy and pride in our accomplishment. Likewise, muscle training requires us to believe that what we are doing is making an impact, even if we can not always see the results.

If you are wondering about your progress, measure your results. Evaluate and consider if you are measuring the right things, then look for signs that you are moving in the right direction. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Improve yourself today and you will reap the rewards tomorrow.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin