What’s Holding You Back?

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has a safety belt campaign that’s basically, “What’s Holding You Back?”  The idea being that if you aren’t wearing your safety belt, you put your life and safety at risk in an auto accident.  So, in this case, “being held back,” is a good thing.  When it comes to individual performance and success though, it’s not so good!

However, “What’s Holding You Back,” is a good question we should ask of ourselves from time to time as individuals and as an organization.  Most of us could achieve much more than we do if we could ask ourselves this question more often and act accordingly.

There are things we can and can’t control that impacts how well we do.  Too often, people come to me with performance issues and want help in fixing their situations or their environments, both personal and business.  We forget though that most of the time, it’s not what is outside of us that needs fixing, which are things usually beyond our control, but it’s what’s inside of us that needs fixing.  The outside things such as a tough economy, irritating co-workers, or stifling organizational culture are often things we can’t change or things that take a long time to change.  The inside things we can change today!

The thoughts, feelings, and attitudes we carry around with us directly impacts our performance.  If we are being negative, are scared, or keeping a minimalist mentality, we will behave negatively, hide, and hoard our resources which will cause people around us to behave in a similar fashion.  However, being positive, facing our fears, and being generous will allow us to behave positively, accomplish more, and share our resources which will in turn bring us more opportunities as people around us reflect what we display.

So, asking ourselves, “What’s holding me back,” and taking an honest look at what we are thinking, feeling, and believing can allow us to make great strides in our performance.  If I’m thinking, “I can’t do it,” and realize I’m doing just that (and possibly not even trying,) then I can change my thinking to, “I can do it,” and act positively and get better results.  It’s our choice.

If we can’t ask ourselves this tough question, which is often the case, (otherwise we would already be doing better,) we need to get outside, honest, objective help.  A coach, mentor or confident that can say it like it is, straight to your face, can be a huge factor in your success.

The Givers Gain Philosophy

I recently attended a Business Network International, BNI, meeting as a guest.  They are a successful networking organization with chapters all across the country and most likely one in your area.  The fundamental concept is that business professionals meet on a regular basis and refer work to each other and build long term relationships.  I learned their philosophy is “Givers Gain.”  How true!

Success in all we do comes through this philosophy which correlates with “No man is an island.”  We can’t do it alone.  It takes support, encouragement, and a little kick in the butt when we need it and these things often come best from outside ourselves.  We need to have an innate ability of course but most of us give in to bad habits, procrastination, and negativity at some point and it’s the people around us that can help us get back on track.  Maybe more importantly, we need to be sure we are there for others when they need us.  That takes commitment to helping others.

We have to be committed to being available as business referral sources, mentors, or just as friends.  When people need help, and we all need help, we need to listen and be supportive in whatever way serves them best.   By providing that service, we become better leaders, better followers, better business partners, better stewards of the community.  It’s good for all of us in many ways.

It can help us build our business such as through the BNI organization, help us grow professionally and personally, and it can help us create stronger communities.  So, the question becomes for each of us… “How can I give today?”

Be Positive, Find Success

Times are tough as we all know.  People are dealing with job loss, business closings, uncertainty, fear and depression.  However, if you look around, there are some people and businesses doing fairly well and it begs the question:  How do we do well when everything seems to be so bad?

In general, there are a number of things we can look at to get us out of the negativity.

1)  Accept What Is.  This is one of the hardest things to do but it’s imperative to get us moving in the right direction.  Times are tough and we can agonize over it or we can say to ourselves, “OK, I get it.  Now what can I do?”  This question puts us in a pro-active state of  mind and gets us out of the victimization mentality that plagues so many.  We either keep spiraling down or we stop ourselves and start to spiral up!

2)  Get Busy.  Once you’ve asked the question above, it’s time to do something with it!  Being productive is key to success but it is also key in generating a positive state of mind.  Less to do means we have more time to dwell on the negatives of the past or the uncertainty of the future.  Idol hands…

3)  Change Your Environment.  If we watch the news 24/7, guess what…we’re going to get depressed!  The media reports on what people want to dwell on and what gets their attention and a lot of people are in a negative place right now.  If you want to get out of the negativity, watch the news a little less, stay away from negative people (yes, this is doable!), go do something fun.

4) Set a Goal…A Big Goal!  Getting busy is helped by having a target to aim at and the bigger the target, the easier to keep at it, get inspired by it, and find a reason to celebrate achieving it…all positives!

As an Executive Coach, my emphasis is now more on motivational workshops, presentations and coaching sessions.  Helping people find their positive energy, make a difference, and find success is what they need and what I do best.

Personally, as a runner, I’m looking at running my first ultra-marathon in October to support fund raising efforts for cancer research.  One hundred miles in memory of and in honor of 100 cancer victims and survivors.  That’s a huge motivator for me and doing something for others helps to keep my mind in a positive state which helps me stay productive.

Where’s your energy and what’s your goal?  Let me know.  Thanks! – Ernie

Learn, Act, and Compete at a Higher Level

During this recession, we see businesses struggling, mass layoffs, and a high degree of fear of what the future may bring.  At the same time, we see an increase in the number of individuals seeking additional education and training which makes sense in that people realize the need to learn more because of the changing economy.  They see the need to reinvent themselves so that they can compete.  As the economy changes, so changes the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to stay competitive.  As individuals, whether unemployed or not, we must accept this and adapt but also as business owners, we must accept this and adapt as well. 

However, for many businesses we see the opposite behavior in that many have cut training and development dollars, and put on hold leadership development and continuous improvement efforts.  It’s a difficult thing to do as a business…to create change…because of the risk involved and the typical organizational inertia and lack of revenue.  None the less, we cannot just adapt or worse, react, but we must be prognosticators to a degree and attempt to change the right way.  Change too much, too little or in the wrong direction and we will fail.  The difficult economy and the tight margins make our need to move correctly even more important than in easier times.  Most importantly, we cannot create the needed positive change without the support of dedicated and skilled employees.

We must find the path to the right change and do a better job at planning for our future and implementing our plan.  That takes good people and the realization that the need for individual and organizational accountability is at an all time high.  If we can also realize that most employees are willing to get on board to create change that brings organizational success, and job security, we can move not only the organization in the right direction but we can move mountains.

As business owners, we must invest in those activities that support growth and development, leadership, and positive change for only through these efforts, can the organization compete at a higher level!

Time Management in the Virtual World!

I’ve always naturally tended to organize and sort my day so time management has always been fairly easy for me.  However, in this new virtual world that so many of us are finding ourselves in, I’ve had to learn some new tricks to stay productive.  On the computer and on-line, we have a wide variety of tools to help us be successful but the number of tools can be overpowering when we step back and take a comprehensive look.  In my case for instance, I have a couple of websites, a new blog, an email newsletter, and profile pages such as LinkedIn and Facebook.  I still type my own documents, manage the network in-house, and mostly troubleshoot the software and hardware myself.

All of this can be time consuming and stressful especially now that I am taking on new social media and networking opportunities.  Here are a couple of things I’ve started to do or do differently:

1) Organize (and use) my computer desktop.  I used to keep a clean desktop with very few shortcuts.  Now I keep shortcuts for key websites, programs and files.  I sort by type including administrative, programs, websites, and frequently used files.  The trick is keeping it current by taking a few minutes once in a while to delete unnecessary items, which means no more icons that you can’t even remember what they were for.

2) Integrate Outlook with LinkedIn.  There is a downloadable LinkedIn application that allows users to access LinkedIn profile information directly through their MS Outlook program.  You can easily check profile information and stay current with your contacts and build your network at the same time.

3) Budget and block time for the necessities.  Each morning, I schedule about one hour to access profiles, websites, and blogs as well as check and answer email.  That way, even if the rest of my day is crazy, I will still be somewhat current and provide decent response times and service.  Larger projects such as a long blog post may need to be blocked and completed separately.  I also have started to block time to actually learn more about social media tools and their use and there is a lot to learn!

4) Update and replace.  Evaluate all you are doing and look for ways to be more efficient and effective.   In that vein…if you have a blog, does the email newsletter become outdated?  How does Twittering fit in? Can they be integrated?  There are many possibilities in this virtual world so keep asking questions.  I know I am!

5) Stop procrastinating.  An old school time management must that should be etched in stone, or for some of us on our forehead.  Procrastinating in the virtual world not only slows us down personally but it potentially reduces our virtual footprint or even worse causes it to age and that’s not good because it’s all visible to the masses.

6) And finally, find some balance and some downtime.  Staying connected 24/7 can be draining.  Once in a while try to disconnect by turning off the cell phone, setting aside the laptop, and going for a walk or a run in the park.  Connecting with nature and some decompression does a body and a mind good.

That’s a little about how I am “saving” some time to get more done and I know I have a lot more to learn.  Let me know how you manage your time in the virtual world!

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