Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year. New You?

 A new year is dawning and it’s the time of the year when we want a fresh start; to wipe the slate clean and start over. 

We’re going to change our ways, right?  But as Marshall Goldsmith says in his new book, Triggers - “meaningful behavioral change is very hard to do.”

In fact he has come up with 16 belief triggers that can hinder our quest to change.  As we work on our resolutions and goals for 2016, we may want to keep these triggers in mind, so we don’t self-sabotage our efforts to change.

1.     If I understand, I will do
There is a big difference between understanding and doing.  Just think of the big plans you had after attending a conference, and how when you got home, those ideas never materialized.   

2.     I have willpower and won’t give in to temptation
Few of us foresee the challenges we will face. Something always comes up to sink our boat.  This belief is triggered by overconfidence.

3.     Today is a special day
We pick a date to start but likely there will be momentary lapses and we can’t just self-exempt ourselves every time.

4.     At least I am better than….
Other people have to change more than we do.  We’re not the worst and so we use that excuse to take it easy and lower the bar.

5.     I shouldn’t need help and structure
Marshall believes one of our most dysfunctional beliefs is our contempt for simplicity and structure.   We have faith that we can succeed on our own.

6.     I won’t get tired and my enthusiasm will not fade
We rarely realize that self-control is a limited resource.

7.     I have all the time in the world
We totally underestimate the time it takes to get stuff done and we believe time is open-ended, all of which leads to procrastination.

8.     I won’t get distracted and nothing unexpected will happen.
Reality is that we seldom plan or allow for distractions. We have unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve.

9.     An epiphany will suddenly change my life
Often this is when we hit rock bottom, and for a while we “see the light.” Marshall calls this magical thinking.  He’s skeptical of the instant conversion experience.  Yes, there may be change in the short term, but it is not likely to be long-lasting because it is based on impulse.

10.  My change will be permanent and I will never have to worry again
He compares this belief to the fairy tale ending of “happily ever after” which isn’t based in reality.

11.  My elimination of old problems will not bring on new problems.
Reality is that fast as we get rid of old problems, new ones will arise. 

12.  My efforts will be fairly rewarded
This, argues Goldsmith, is a childhood fantasy that all is fair in the world.  If you are only pursuing change for external rewards – like making more money – it’s not going to work well for you.  Getting better has its own rewards.

13.  No one is paying attention to me
Therefore no one will notice if you lapse.  When we revert back to old behaviour, people always notice.

14.  If I change, I am “inauthentic”
Sometimes we refuse to adapt to new situations because “it isn’t me.”  For example, saying that “I am not good at giving positive recognition.  That’s just not me.”

15.  I have the wisdom to assess my own behaviour
But are you being objective?  Often we credit successes to our efforts while the failures are caused by others.

16.  My environment is my friend
We think we are in sync with our environment, but actually it’s at war with us claims Goldsmith. Throughout our day we enter new environments which can change our behaviour in sly ways, and we need to pay more attention to its influence on us.

It’s a daunting list isn’t it?  Makes you wonder why we bother, but if we don’t change and grow we can become stagnant and too set in our ways. 

Goldsmith goes on to provide strategies to make the changes you want in your life and your business.  Using the Wheel of Change, he recommends you

  • ·      create something new,
  • ·      preserve what’s working for you,
  • ·      eliminate what isn’t, and
  • ·      accept what you can’t change.

Then to keep you on track, he has come up with daily questions to ask yourself, so you can measure not just how well you are doing but how much you are trying to change.

As Goldsmith shares no one can make us change unless we truly want to change.  The key there is self-awareness, of knowing where you need to change how you behave, how you think and how you show up in the world.  And that takes some tough introspection on your part.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Leadership lessons from the stage

"A like a shepherd.
He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead,
whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along
they are being directed from behind."

 Nelson Mandela

And you just never know where or when you are going to learn some important leadership lessons.   Recently I witnessed true leadership when musician Jesse Cook performed on stage in Guelph.

How?   As a Juno-award winning musician, he has a big following and it would have been all too easy for him to just perform on stage and take all the limelight.  But he didn’t.   Here’s some of the business lessons I gleaned from watching him on stage.

Lesson #1 – Build a team of people who bring different talents to the group.
Like all good leaders he has surrounded himself with extremely talented people, who can play a wide range of instruments, many of which I suspect he can’t play.  

Lesson #2 – Let each person in the group shine and showcase their talents
Throughout the concert, each player in the band was given several opportunities to do a solo, enabling them to highlight their specific skills and feel part of the group’s success.

Lesson #3 – At meetings, introduce your team so clients know who they are
Jesse made a point of naming his colleagues whenever he could.

Lesson #4 – If people have been on your team for many years, acknowledge their contribution
It was impressive to hear how long the musicians had been playing together.  It also gave credibility to the group and spoke to how cohesive as a team they were. 

Last, it speaks again to Jesse’s leadership style.  It wasn’t all about him.  He was the shepherd.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2015 - The good, the bad, the ugly

I always like to reflect back on my business year, note the lessons learned and what I would do differently next year.

So here’s the good – (the brilliant actually.)

1.            An element of surprise wins the day.
People are still talking about Liz Radzick’s entrance to the Journey 2 Success conference (carried on a stretcher by four hunky firemen).  It was an amazing day and Liz set the stage.  Now who knows what she’ll do next yearJ

2.            Women want practical skills, delivered through hands-on training.
We started to deliver Yes You Can… one-day sessions on a specific topic where the women left with new skills, all set and ready to go.   

3.            When you let go and listen to new ideas, your business can soar. 
 We now have eight chapters and I am really wowed by my team this year.  They’re keen, capable women, all committed to helping women succeed.  Just watch this space for new stuff “coming to a neighbourhood near you.”

4.            Making soup is another way to network.
Who knew? What started as a casual conversation about making soup, turned into two classes on how to do it.  It was fun and the conversations fascinating as a diverse group of women connected over a meal they’d made together. 

5.            The brain cells are still working
I managed to get away to attend two conferences in the US.  Learning always fuels me, even if it takes me time to filter and implement what I have learned.

6.            I love, love, love interviewing and writing women’s stories.
Doing the interviews for the One Red Lipstick was for me a personal high. Not only did I enjoy hearing the stories, but I loved that I was able to help the women best articulate what they wanted to say.

The bad (well not that bad)

7.            Not practicing what I preach.
I’ve always said that we need to deliver what our customers want, rather than what we want to offer or think they need, and I still think it’s true.  But it struck me that I wasn’t strictly sticking to my rule this year. 

We haven’t offered as many evening events as in the past.  Why?  When I dig deep, it was because I didn’t want to work evenings.  There, said it.  My focus was on what I wanted, not the customers.  Wrong. 

8.            It’s not all about me
With my new team, that will change, because there’s another lesson deep in this, it’s not all about me.  I don’t have to attend every event (even if I could).

9.            We’re a last minute society
Late registrations are the bane of any event planners existence and cause endless stress, and it seems to be getting worse.  Just as you think you may have to cancel, the last minute gals sign up and suddenly you have a sold out crowd!    

The ugly (the tough stuff)

10.        Life is fragile.
On a personal note, we’ve had a sudden death and serious illness within our extended family, which makes everything else pale in comparison.  Unfortunately as we get older, there will be more of this, but you never get immune to the sadness it brings.

So what’s my main takeaway from the year?   I’ve built a business that doesn’t need me 24/7.  It can tick along beautifully with the team I have in place,  which enables me to turn more of my energies to writing and publishing books.

It’s been a year of transition, with key lessons on letting go, listening and learning.

So how about you?  What were the lessons, highlights, low points in your year?  When you take the time to reflect back, there are lessons to be gleaned if you are open to learn. And trust me, we can all learn.  I for one am a lifelong learner.