I recently came back from a speaking trip and was reflecting on the questions I received after my keynote. I have heard this question or a version of it almost every time I speak from attendees after the presentation. “I have this goal, idea, adventure or dream I want to follow up on but I don’t know how to get started. Do you have any suggestions?”
My first response is always write your goal down and give it a date for when you want to accomplish it. I then reference this study done at Harvard Business School years ago on goal setting. I thought it might be good to review this study again. I first heard about this study when I went to see motivational speaker Brian Tracy live. After his presentation I wrote down a goal of wanting to travel internationally.
Two weeks later I received a phone call from an old colleague about an international position. I interviewed and got the job as an international marketing product manager. I started traveling internationally. When I finished my career, I had traveled to over 40 different countries. I give a lot of credit to just writing down my goal of international travel.
Here is the essence of the Harvard study:
In 1979 the Harvard MBA program conducted a study on students that provided some interesting insights into the power of goal setting. In that year, the students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans. 13 percent of the graduates had goals, but they were not in writing. That left an incredible 84 percent of the graduates with no specific goals at all.
Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.
In spite of such proof of success, most people don’t have clear, measurable, time-bounded goals that they work toward. Which is why I always respond to question on “How do I go about fulfilling my dream or goal?” Write it down. We’ll talk more about goal setting in the months to come.
Have you ever asked yourself the question “What would it look like if I became my personal best on my next adventure? Most people just rise to a level of acceptability and not excellence. A great question Mike Rayburn (www.MikeRayburn.com) raised during a recent presentation. “Have you resolved to be your best?” What do you think that would look like?
In today’s world most people coast through life and that’s fine. The one thing you need to recognize and understand is that the problem with coasting is that it’s all downhill. If comfort is your goal, success is not in your future.
So what does it take for you to become the best at what you do? Interesting question because most of us know what we need to do but we just don’t do it. This why a sense of purpose is so important to us. What are those goals and adventures that are so important we don’t want to approach them half-hearted or in a coasting mode? Do you really want to be a half-hearted spouse, parent, friend or co-worker? Every adventure we embark on has an impact on others and do we provide a positive impact? Anything worth doing is worth doing well. But sometimes we need help and this can be our biggest stumbling block.
You’ve heard people talk about being self-taught and we all teach ourselves quite a bit and the Internet makes it easier everyday. However sometimes when we are self-taught we fail to notice that our teachers aren’t great in every area. Take the time and effort to find good coaches to help you with you adventures. It can have a big impact.
Sometimes when we set out on a new adventure we start by compromising when setting our goals. We aim too low and wind up settling for mediocrity and second best. Instead, continue to work on asking the question “What if? What would this adventure look like? How could I make this happen and what would be the positive impact on those around me?”
Tough questions to ask, even tougher questions to answer when you are true to yourself. But by asking these questions and answering them truthfully, you define who you are as you embark on your next adventure.
Thanks for coming along!
There I was, working and planning away on my new adventure and feeling good about it. Then I had an opportunity to go see Mike Rayburn(www.MikeRayburn.com) live at a recent program. He was absolutely phenomenal. Not only a gifted musician and storyteller but he really got you thinking. He has a book titled “What If?” and I would suggest purchasing it on his website. I wanted to point out just a few key things Mike got me thinking about as I plan my new adventure.
He asks the question, “What if?” Not meaning that you are going to do it but rather just asking what is possible. What if I could? How would that work if I could?
He points out that our default behavior in life is that we look at or for reasons not to do things. Instead we should change our default behavior to where we look for reasons we can do things! A very simplistic but astute rationale on how we can get things done. He also points out the only way to manage change is to create change. Again our default behavior is to fight change. What if we shifted that to creating change and embracing change? It creates a completely different picture doesn’t it? The one thing we know to be true about our plans is that nothing ever goes according to plan! So embrace change.
Here is the reason for these default behaviors: We take problems and put them on a pedestal and worship them. Mike’s perspective is, quit driving through life with the brakes on and get creative. The world need’s our creativity. He lined out three steps to get started:
1. Outside Observation – get that 30,000-foot view of what you are dealing with and get a handle of the size and scope.
2. Take a problem or situation and say, “What is the Opportunity?” Then ask, “What if?”
3. Open up creativity and take physical action on it.
Here are a couple of his other thoughts, which will get your thinking moving in the right direction:
A. Set goals you can’t achieve, not 5-10% increases. What does it take to double what you want to do?
B. Don’t start with what’s possible?, start with what’s cool?. The type of goal it takes courage to think about.
A sense of purpose is the most motivating factor. What is your sense of purpose? Some good food for thought until next time.
Thanks for coming along.
Sometimes the most difficult item in coaching people is getting them to move forward. People are afraid of making mistakes and they hold back and don’t grow. If you think about martial arts, you start as a beginner and learn the basics of movement from using your, hands, elbows, feet, shins and your head. Each new belt you add skills. You make mistakes but learn along the way. In fact if you make the same mistake over and over in martial arts, you will have the bruises to show for it. The secret is not to repeat the mistake but rather to learn and grow from the mistakes and missteps and aggrandize.
In business and life it’s not always about being right all of the time but rather learning, growing and contributing. Once one becomes a black belt it doesn’t mean the journey is over. Rather it means the journey has just begun because now you have the skills to take it up to the next level. Keep working on your management and leadership skills the rewards are big.
Teaching and learning need to be in sync to be successful. Whether it is in school or the business world. To be able to learn and then apply your learning is even better. Sometimes we have material put before us and there is just not a connection nor an application. Simon Sinek has a very good TED Talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action. It’s a few years old but if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth watching.
Start with why — how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA
There are times when we need to have a difficult conversation and it is just tough to turn that difficult conversation into a positive experience. Our brain does some very strange things during difficulty and stress and we wonder why it is so difficult to accomplish our goals.
This short video utilizes the skills of riding a bicycle to demonstrate how our brain works and the default behaviors we acquire. What is intriguing is the difficulty in overcoming these default behaviors. Consistency is a big factor in creating new constructive behaviors.
After watching this video think about the skill sets, behaviors and routines we have that come to us as easy as riding a bicycle but yet may be holding us back from what we want to achieve. We may not even be aware of these behaviors until we start to analyze why we haven’t reached all of goals.
Copy and paste into your browser to watch this unique video. (Smarter Every Day 133)
We have all heard that lazy people procrastinate. They just don’t want to put out the energy or effort to get things done. But now that we understand some basics about the brain, especially the amygdala, let’s take a look at procrastination and why it might be a survival function instead of laziness.
If you are a sales person, parent or teenager and have to make a phone call where the outcome is not a given, your amygdala will flare up and start talking to you. “If you make that phone call to the customer, you don’t know if that customer will appreciate your product or service. What if they say they don’t want it or need it, what do you say then?”
If you are a parent calling about your child’s behavior at school, absenteeism or grades, your amygdala is warning you, “You may get accused of being a bad parent, delinquent parent or uninterested parent in your child’s welfare.”
If you’re a teenager getting ready to call or even text for a date you may not be sure the person you are calling will say yes. And what if the conversation gets awkward?
Your amygdala warns you of the catastrophe you may encounter. By not doing the task the amygdala gets a break and goes “Ahhhhh, see told you so.” You get rewarded because the amygdala goes off high alert and you feel a soothing response. Everything is back to normal and you stay in a good mood.
“I’ll just do it tomorrow when things are better,” is a classic response we tell ourselves. And how many times have we encountered the next day being a whole lot better and more conducive to making that call? That’s what I thought, rarely.
Over the last several weeks I’ve had an opportunities to talk to several groups about default behaviors we have and how they can get in the way of us achieving our goals.
One big default behavior we all exhibit at times, if not most of the time is the knack for not listening properly. The knack for not listening properly? That’s right, we don’t listen to understand but rather we listen to reply. We wait until the other person pauses for a breath and then we jump in with our perspective or our bit of advice or our sales pitch. It’s as though we don’t want any silence at all and the important part of communication is what we say not the listening step to hear what the other person has to say.
Years ago I was working with a new pharmaceutical sales force. This sales force was made up of young, eager and enthusiastic men and women. We called them the reps that would show up and throw up. Meaning they started their sales pitch and the words just kept tumbling out. When the customer had a chance to respond, if they paused for a breath, the sales rep would take over the conversation again. Few listening skills of any kind were utilized by the sales reps. I know I have been guilty of doing the same thing in the past.
Think about if we changed our listening skills so that we truly tried to listen to what the other person was saying. If we listen to a customer with the intent to truly understand, the customer will share with us what their wants and needs are and the solutions they are looking for to solve these wants and needs. By listening appropriately, we can recognize how our products and services can satisfy their wants and needs. When we listen appropriately, we can help our customers grow their business and guess what? Our business grows. Listening, it takes practice but it is well worth the effort.
Thanks for coming along.
Last week we talked about unmet emotional needs and the impact they play on our behavior. We had talked about the five key emotional needs consisting of: Safety, Power, Acceptance, Respect and Value. When we feel one of these needs is not being met, our brain sends out warning signals and our behavior can change.
Let’s take a look at how change can affect how we are feeling about ourselves, especially when dealing with the fear of the unknown.
I had a discussion with a surgeon who was complaining about a piece of equipment he had bought. It had cost him $80,000 but his staff wasn’t spending the appropriate amount of time learning how to use the equipment and getting it into the patient flow process.
Think about why people struggle with change. In the current mode people are recognized for their performance. Their rewards are based on this performance. They know the process, can multitask, balance out the workload, understand the patient flow and all the various intricacies of the process. Now you ask them to introduce a new piece of equipment that will interrupt the process as the staff goes through the learning curve. The staff is not familiar or confident in running the machine and even less confident in answering questions by patients.
They begin to question their value. Will they be as effective and be able to provide the same performance as they have in the past? They second-guess quite a bit about having to use the equipment. The piece of equipment begins to take on a negative nature.
As the surgeon watches the piece of equipment gather dust he realizes that if it doesn’t get into the process quickly, he is going to have a very expensive boat anchor on his hands.
The amygdala portion of the brain picks up warning signals about this piece of equipment and the staff ‘s struggle with getting trained on the equipment and getting it into use. Many times one of the key warning signals is the fear of the unknown. How will this equipment affect our process? How will it affect our workload? Will we be able to process more patients faster or fewer patients? Will someone lose a job because this equipment is utilized?
The best way to soothe the amygdala is at the beginning of the change process. Communication is key at this point and the time spent explaining why the equipment is coming into the practice is time well spent. Don’t assume the explanation has to be done only once. Get someone trained on the equipment fast enough so they can help train others and take away the fear of the unknown. So many times sales reps show staff what the equipment can do but don’t allow for hands-on-training. The hands-on-training takes the fear of the unknown away.
Anytime you can remove a fear, you’re moving in the right direction.
Thanks for coming along.
Last week we discussed how the amygdala part of the brain can affect how leaders can either play big or play small in dealing with stressful situations. One key point that we focused on was how easy it is for the amygdala to “awfulize” and think of all the bad things that can possibly happen. The amygdala naturally does this to prepare for the worst that can actually happen to us. In some situations it can be a great benefit. In other work environment situations it can stop us in our tracks. To understand why the amygdala reacts in certain situations it’s important to understand what the baseline is for a non-reactive amygdala.
We all have emotional needs. Maslow in his work mapped out the emotional needs of humans. People have added to his work and changed portions but Maslow’s work still provides a solid foundation. I like to keep it simple, so I focus on five key emotional needs. They are:
These five needs are applicable to children and adults. When these needs are met the amygdala is pretty content. When these needs are not met, people will act out. Watch what happens to a small child when they try and interrupt talking adults to show them something. When the adult says, “Not now, can’t you see we’re talking.” The child will walk away and pout. They don’t feel accepted or included and the amygdala will go into action and they pout and withdraw.
Now watch in a business meeting when people are sharing ideas and when one person finally gets a chance to speak up and the meeting leader says, “Sorry Cindy, but we need to move on.” Cindy will typically do what a small child will do. She will sit back, cross her arms and withdraw. I have watched men and women do this in meetings for years. They don’t feel like they are accepted or treated fairly (respect) or valued (feeling heard). The amygdala goes into action and the person doesn’t even realize they have sat back and folded their arms.
Exceptional leaders know the combination to Playing Big by recognizing unmet emotional needs and the acting out by the person who experiences this situation. A quick comment by an exceptional leader can bring Cindy back into the meeting in seconds. “Cindy we are short on time but I would like to get your input after the meeting.” In seconds Cindy feels valued. Simple example but the combination to playing big is not complicated. When you see people acting out, whether its children or adults, you can be pretty certain that there is an unmet emotional need not being met. We’ll share some more examples in the next couple of blogs because observing and understanding what is happening in stressful or difficult situations can help you work on becoming an exceptional leader.
Thanks for coming along.