• 5 Tips on How to Be More Effective

    Manage yourself and be disciplined in the choices you make about what you do with your time.

    There’s a lot of talk swirling around about time management – but what is it, really? Time cannot be managed. It marches on, whether or not you complete the tasks necessary for executing your business strategy.

    What you can do though is manage yourself and be disciplined in the choices you make about what you do with your time.

    In order to become more effective in our actions, we need to learn to focus on outcomes, with ends not only in mind, but with intense concentration on those ends. This means eliminating distractions.

    We all live in the new age: the “dimension of distraction”.  With the relentless use of email, constant 24/7 bombardment of media from all different channels, and a sense that we need to be connected socially at all times, focusing has become more difficult than ever. In fact,

    The average manager is interrupted every 8 minutes[1] and the average employee spends 28% of their time wrapped up in unnecessary interruptions (plus recovery time)[2].

    These distractions can take up a huge portion of the workday and significantly reduce your level of productivity…if you let them.

    How can you, an entrepreneur focussed on success, eliminate the time you and your employees waste in distracted behaviour? How can you increase productivity? How can you elicit high-level activity for the realisation of goals in alignment with your business strategy? How can you enhance “time management?”

    Here are some tips for achieving all of the above:

    • Dissect every long-term goal into smaller, manageable short-term goals. And then, focus on each one without interruptions. Log out of email. Shut down social media. Silence your phone. Focus specifically, and solely, on the task (goal) at hand, and watch how quickly these things get done without distractions.
    • Designate “open door” times. An open-door policy dictates that you will be available for questions, comments and conversation during a predetermined times (e.g. 3-5 pm). At all other times, your door is closed while you work on executing your business strategy. Remember that every distraction requires five minutes’ worth of recovery. Multiplied over a week’s time, that’s hours of productivity lost.
    • Keep a journal to discover your most productive activities and times of day. Ever notice how some days are more productive than others? And how you seem to be most industrious in some environments (more than others)? Write down where you are, what times you’re there and what you’ve accomplished every day. Look for positive production patterns and repeat them.
    • Follow the 80/20 rule. Remember that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your work and time investment. Find out what’s most important to your business strategy, couple that with your most productive times, places, and tasks…and come up with your very own unique plan for getting the most done in the least amount of time.
    • Replace to-do lists with an appointment book. Appointment books aren’t just for meetings anymore. Use one to schedule tasks necessary to the implementation of your business strategy, and watch your commitment to, and results of, getting those tasks done improve. Block out times to work exclusively on specific tasks, in order of importance. Eliminate distractions during those blocked times. Assign a desired outcome to every time block / task, so you’re continually striving toward a short-term goal.

    Are you struggling with too many distractions on a daily basis and looking for the most efficient way to manage your attention to tasks…and therefore “manage your time?” Then might I suggest that we schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which you and I will discuss your unique business strategy and how to best execute it? Contact me here to schedule an appointment.

    [1] Priority Management

    [2] Basex

  • 7 Benefits of Delegating

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed.

    In the previous blog, you learned the difference between accountability and responsibility, and now it’s time to learn how you can remain accountable while delegating responsibilities to others.

    Many of you will admit that delegating is difficult. For some, it’s perfectionism or a lack of trust that keeps them from handing over tasks. Others feel that it’s just easier to do it themselves, they don’t want to impose, they enjoy the tasks they’re completing or they just don’t feel they have the time to monitor and follow up on delegated tasks.

    Letting go and trusting that others will complete tasks is a big problem for many business owners. They think that micromanaging is a better, more comfortable solution…but they end up disempowering their staff and generally driving down their businesses.

    The practice of business owners doing the highest value jobs, whilst passing other lower-level tasks to employees (or to managers, who then delegate to employees), is a good business practice that will ultimately result in the following benefits:

    1. You can devote the majority of your time to those tasks most important to building your business, its relationships and its reach.
    2. Employees get opportunities to grow and to feel empowered with responsibility.
    3. Employees feel challenged and proud of what they’ve accomplished, meaning they will be champions for your business—at work and on their own time.
    4. You are not highly skilled in every task. Chances are that someone else within your organisation is better at a lower-level task than you are.
    5. There’s no better or more efficient way to get things done than to delegate tasks to those people who are best equipped to complete them.
    6. Something that feels tedious to you will feed someone else’s passion.
    7. Developing your delegation skills (and overcoming your fear of it) is a valuable skill that will help you to advance your career.

    Even with all of these benefits in mind, it can still be difficult to get started in learning to delegate. Many leaders choose to bypass the acquisition of this valuable skill—and unfortunately, their businesses suffer.

    A survey has found that 46% of companies have a high level of concern for their employees’ delegation skills. However, only 28% of them offer training to develop those skills[1].

    It rarely works well for the same person to be both accountable and responsible for any task or project. For this reason, delegation of duties is crucial to success. But as you can see in the above stat, there isn’t a lot of support for developing those skills.

    So, what can you do to get started? The first step is recognising that everybody in an organisation should be doing tasks that are their highest value.  What tasks/roles do you have that add the highest value? Focus on freeing up your time to do more of these higher value tasks and hand down everything else.  Specifically delegate those tasks that are:

    • repetitive
    • a complete task, rather than part of a bigger task
    • of interest to an employee
    • within an employee’s specific skillset
    • important for building an employee’s skillset
    • outside your own skillset
    • of low importance
    • not urgent (yet!)

    After you have identified tasks that would work well for delegation, follow these guidelines when communicating the tasks to your employee(s):

    • Give a clear explanation of what the job entails.
    • Stipulate what you expect the employee to learn by completing the task.
    • Ensure that the employee knows where to go for help or support.
    • Clearly communicate what you expect as an end result, but leave the method up to the employee.
    • Ensure that the employee knows who is accountable for the task (i.e. who should be reported to).
    • Invite questions and opinions.
    • Agree on a plan of action for moving forward (due date, etc.).
    • Articulate your confidence in this person.
    • Monitor their progress, particularly the first few times they complete this type of task.
    • Give feedback and recognise the employee for a job well-done.
    • Remember to reward the completion of tasks, over time, with benefits, raises in pay, promotions, etc.

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed. You may not realise it, but many of your employees are just waiting to be given more responsibility—because that is an indicator of your trust in them. Learn to trust your staff and to delegate and you will be surprised at the level of talent already in your business waiting to be discovered. By learning to delegate you are developing your staff by helping them to grow and increase the highest value tasks that they can do in an organisation.  If everyone spends most of their time doing their highest value tasks your business will grow rapidly.

    Need some guidance as you break through your fear of delegation? Or are you wondering if your current delegation plan is the most effective and efficient it can be? Let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation. We’ll discuss how you can use delegation to fuel your business’s success. Contact me here.

    [1] Institute for Corporate Productivity

  • Failure. Who’s to blame?

    blame

    Turn on any news programme and you’re likely to hear a story about a corporate scandal, political faux pas, horrible accident…and a CEO talking about being responsible, or accountable—or both.

    Here’s the thing: in business and life, there is rarely a situation in which the same person is both responsible and accountable for “what went down.”

    The difference is:

    Accountable: One person is answerable for a project’s success or failure. This accountable person must be capable of giving a complete account of what happened (and how and why). The accountable person reports and monitors tasks as they’re being carried out; however, the completion of those tasks is rarely within this person’s direct power. The accountable person’s main assignments are managing, tracking, and monitoring progress.

    Responsible: A person is charged with completing a task, directly. The person is totally in charge of (responsible for) the task’s success or failure. This person takes hands-on action, and the task’s completion is within his or her direct power. The responsible person generally reports to, and works for, the accountable person.

    In most cases, when a task or project fails, one person is publically accountable for its failure—but is rarely directly responsible for that failure.

    When Donald Trump (U.S. Presidential Candidate) was found to be giving away hats made in China (despite the fact that his campaign touts bringing jobs back to the U.S. from China), he was held accountable for the faux pas—even though he was not responsible for ordering those hats. (He may have been just as surprised as the public to see those tags.) Mr. Trump, because of his position, was required to take accountability for that campaign failure. He was not, however, required to be responsible for it.

    We exist in a business (and life) culture centred on placing blame. When something goes right, we want to take credit. When something goes wrong, finger-pointing ensues. I believe this culture has contributed to a lot of the confusion surrounding accountability and responsibility. And this confusion has, in turn, contributed to an overall lack of accountability.

    However, if we were to increase our knowledge around these concepts, we might be more inclined to put them to work. Consider this:

    The probability of reaching a goal is 95% when a specific accountability appointment is made[1].

    In other words, if someone is made explicitly accountable, a project is more likely to be completed—regardless of whether or not that person is responsible for its completion.

    It can help to remember that, generally, managers are accountable and workers are responsible. This doesn’t mean that managers are never responsible—they often have their own tasks outside the projects they’re accountable for.

    Every task must have an accountable party and at least one responsible party assigned to it. In order to keep projects and tasks on-schedule (to properly carry out the business plan), many business owners and managers have turned to the RACI matrix—a method for organising and tracking the completion of tasks. Here’s how it works:

    • R (Responsible): the worker, the person in charge of completing the task
    • A (Accountable): the manager, the person in charge of managing and tracking progress
    • C (Consult): the person whose consultation is necessary for completing the task (2-way communication before the task can be completed)
    • I (Inform): the person who is informed when the task is completed (1-way communication that may result in their starting of another task)

    In order to create your own RACI matrix, simply list tasks down the left side, people involved along the top, and assign each cell with one A, at least one R, and Cs and Is as necessary. Here’s an example:

    Project ABC

    John Blair Sandy Rob Jenny William
    Interview A R

    I

         

    Case Study

    A I R

    C

       
    Press Release

    A

    R

    C

         
    Campaign A C     R

    R

     

    • John is accountable for the ultimate completion of Project ABC. He must oversee all tasks and monitor them to ensure they’re being completed.
    • Blair will conduct the interview, and he will inform Sandy when it’s finished so she can proceed with the research and writing of the case study.
    • Sandy will consult with Rob for the case study, and will inform Blair as soon as it’s done so he can start on the press release.
    • Blair will consult with Sandy about the case study, so he can write a thorough press release.
    • Jenny and William will consult with Blair in order to create a marketing campaign.

    It’s always helpful to share the RACI matrix with all involved before any project is started, to ensure that everyone understands their role(s). This will promote a smooth workflow, will cut down on the “passing of the buck,” and will help to ensure that clear, defined action is taken in order to fulfil the business plan.

    Are you wondering how a better understanding of the difference between accountable and responsible can help you to get things done, in pursuit of business success? Then I invite you to schedule a 30-minute consultation with me. Let’s talk about your business plan, and how implementing it with purpose and efficiency can contribute to your ultimate success. Contact me here.

    [1] American Society of Training and Development

  • Movie magic in the meeting room – get the popcorn out!

    35

    Business meetings have gotten a bad rep. Not all of them are pointless, but when you consider just how many are, it can be difficult to give the good ones any credit.

    In the U.S. alone, 11 million business meetings are conducted each day, and it is estimated that $37 billion is squandered every year on unnecessary meetings[1].

    So why all the senseless meetings? Why all the waste of time and money? My guess is habit and protocol. For millions of years, people have been coming together to solve problems—and at one time, when the ‘coming together’ was necessary to life and limb, they worked. There was a noted reason for the meeting. A problem had to be solved, or people would perish. As centuries and centuries have passed, the meeting has become less about solving problems and more about coming together just to say ‘we talked about the problem.’

    Action is no longer at the core of business meetings. The meeting has become the core of the meeting.

    How can you make your business meetings more productive?

    Think of it this way: We all love a good movie. We seem to learn more from a movie than we do from most business meetings, and yet the meeting is obligatory and the movie is for entertainment purposes. That just doesn’t seem right, does it?

    What if you could make your business meetings more like an engaging and entertaining movie? Do you think more people would actively participate and remain focused? Do you think more people would learn and go away inspired to make changes and achieve goals?

    So why not fashion your business meetings after movies? Here are a few things you can do to make this happen:

    • Schedule only necessary meetings. No one goes to see the same movie 52 times. So why would you hold the same, useless meeting every week of the year? Start by decreasing the frequency or the duration of these regularly scheduled meetings. Then, move onto scheduling meetings only when necessary.
    • Create a hook for each meeting. When every business meeting is announced, stir up anticipation by hinting that there’s something important to discuss, or that there’s something exciting to announce. You can be vague or specific—the choice is yours. The suspense will get people’s attention, even before the meeting starts.
    • Know your ending. At the beginning of every meeting, state the purpose of the meeting, along with what you intend to accomplish. This will keep attendees focused and motivated to achieve stated goals, and you will remain driven in a particular direction, with one specific goal in mind.
    • Stick to the plot. Make every attempt to stay true to the plot you’ve created for your meeting, and avoid going down rabbit trails. In order to accomplish this, manage the discussion to ensure that it always relates to the meeting’s goal. Getting sidetracked not only meddles with your meeting’s purpose, it eats up valuable time that you could be using to accomplish great things.
    • Choose a narrow cast of characters. Choose attendees in accordance with the purpose of the meeting. Not everyone needs to be involved in every meeting, and when you limit attendance to a need-to-know basis, individuals will feel more responsible for the outcome of what is discussed.
    • Encourage conflict. Every good movie has conflict and resolution…and learning by all involved is a predictable result. When a disagreement or difference in opinion arises, do not discourage it. Instead, ask attendees to weigh in on both sides so the full spectrum is represented. This is how change and forward movement happen.
    • Create a sense of urgency. Like an action flick, every meeting should generate a level of excitement that motivates people to move forward and enact the change that’s been talked about. Positive outcomes should be discussed, so everyone has a clear idea of what completing their tasks will do for themselves and for the organization. Make it clear that the sooner these tasks are completed, the sooner good things will happen.
    • By the end of the meeting, have a sequel in the works. People should not leave the meeting without a clear set of tasks to accomplish before the next meeting. Its purpose is to facilitate action, and therefore change. This can only happen if everyone understands his or her role and the importance of completing their assignments by a set deadline.

    Ideally, every meeting should be unique in that it won’t need to accomplish exactly the same thing as the meeting before it. If you’re hosting reruns, then something needs to change. One meeting should be titillating enough to spark action.

    Are you tired of serial business meetings that are simply perfunctory, with no real purpose? Are you wondering how you can make them more interesting, more productive…something that people look forward to and that feels like a wise investment of time? I encourage you to put the above tips to work, and then schedule a 30-minute consultation with me to take your business meetings to the next level. I think you’ll be thrilled at what a few changes can do to advance your business strategy.

    [1] http://meetingking.com/37-billion-per-year-unnecessary-meetings-share/

  • From Vision to Reality, with ACTION

    Business-Vision

    Search for advice on how to write a business strategy, and the results are overwhelming.

    Look for advice on how to take action, how to implement that strategy…and the results are as disheartening as hearing that 87% of businesses fail to execute their business strategies[1].

    This number is shocking, particularly when you consider how much effort is put into writing a business strategy…and how exciting the big ideas created there can be.

    But it’s not as shocking as this number:

    For every $1 billion spent on business strategy development, $109 million is wasted through failure to execute[2].

    Where does the excitement go?

    Why aren’t businesses converting that energy into action?

    Even among companies that don’t fail—companies that are considered to be “high performance companies,”—33% report delay in action, 34% fail to consistently address a lack of action, and 11% tolerate inaction on a long-term basis[3].

    And to repeat: they are the ones doing well. If your business could bring down those percentages for itself, just think how much you could accomplish.

    How can you do that? How can you create a culture of action among your team members, so that all of the great energy built into your business strategy gets translated to ACTION that increases efficiency and profits?

    Here is a bit of advice for taking the action necessary for implementing your business strategy:

    • View ACTION as a necessity, not as an option. There is only one thing that can bridge the gap between vision and reality, and that thing is targeted action that is aligned with the SMART goals you have set forth in your business strategy. Begin to view action in this way, and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or to avoid it altogether.
    • See ACTION as more important than your business strategy. Yes, you read that correctly. Think about it: Isn’t a mediocre business strategy that is implemented more valuable than a brilliant business strategy that is not implemented? Just imagine the results you can experience when you implement a brilliant plan.
    • Stop putting perfection before ACTION. All too often, business owners adopt the belief that all operations, all products, all communications…must be 100% perfect before taking any action. They submerge themselves in self-help, in mentoring, in book-reading, and the procurement of mentoring before taking any action. This thinking generally means that no action will be taken, because nothing is ever perfect. Remember that adjustments can be made whilst marketing, whilst making connections, whilst building relationships…without wasting precious time.

    Perfect = Poverty!

    • Stop using the “I’m too busy” excuse. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of running (or starting up) a business. And sometimes this becomes so consuming that you’ll put it before executing your business strategy, thinking that you must complete those routine tasks in order to keep your business afloat. Always remember this: Without taking action, you won’t be busy for long. Your business will be non-existent. Ask yourself exactly how vital those daily and weekly tasks are. If they are indispensable, hire someone to cover them.
    • Act in the present. Do not dwell on what you should have done yesterday or last month. Do not think about what you will do next week. Instead, be very blunt with yourself about what you can accomplish now, in this moment. No matter if it’s making a phone call, writing an article, submitting a proposal, refocussing a team member…do it now.
    • Understand that ideas—and motivations—go stale. Remember that intense excitement you felt when you came up with your very first business idea? Well, maybe you don’t. You see, immediate action is necessary not just for getting things done, but for motivational and inspirational purposes, too. Every day that an idea sits in your mind without implementation equals a proportionate drop in interest. Before you know it, your brilliant idea doesn’t seem so brilliant any more. Motivation is gone. And you’re on to looking for alternate ideas that are, in all honesty, less likely to be as brilliant as your first. For these reasons, I recommend taking action immediately after your business strategy is written, so that ideas and excitement are fresh, and no opportunity dies in the bread drawer.
    • See ACTION as a competitive advantage. It’s easy to sit and think about what the competition might be doing right now, or wondering how you can match or out-do their actions. It takes courage, however, to focus less on what they’re doing and just do what you do best. Take that step, and believe that you are outdoing your competition with every decision to take action NOW…because statistics say they might not be doing that.
    • ACTION begets ACTION. Once you take action, you may find it difficult to stop taking action. The satisfaction (dopamine rush) you experience from accomplishing something you’ve envisioned is so powerful that you’ll go out of your way to look for more business-enhancing action. This is the only uphill path that will be as easy as a downhill one. It’s the road to success through action, and the more you get, the more you’ll want.
    • Disprove your own self-doubt. Fear and self-doubt are huge players in the condition of inactivity. The voice in your head will tell you, “That won’t work,” “You can’t do that,” “You’re wasting your time,” and more. Make it your objective to prove that voice wrong. Do this enough, and it will disappear completely, slinking into a corner and rarely coming out…as long as you remain active in your business strategy implementation.

    These are just a few pieces of advice you can use as motivation to take action—to take your business strategy from vision to reality. Understand, at all times, that without ACTION, your business strategy is useless. It will do nothing for you or your business. Without execution, the creation of your strategy was a waste of time and resources.

    Are you ready to take action? Are you clear on what actions to take? Contact me for a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll talk about your next move, and the motivation to get it done.

    [1] http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/thirteener.htm

    [2] https://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/PMI_Pulse_2014.ashx

    [3] Harvard Business Review, March 2015, Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, Charles Sull

  • Who’s stealing your Time???

    2014-08-04 16.23.38

    Who doesn’t wish that there were an extra two or three hours in the day to just get everything done?  One of the most pressing issues that we face daily is how to manage all the demands placed on us by work, family, friends and others, whilst also maintaining our health, well-being and emotional sanity.

    It is all too easy to become victims of working too hard, playing too little, perhaps drinking too much and sleeping too poorly.  No wonder we end up drawn out and stressed, feeling like we are barely surviving rather than living with passion.  Whilst I am a big supporter of endeavouring to be more, do more, have more, give more, this cannot be to the detriment of our inner alignment and ensuring a fully balanced life.

    How can we stop this vicious cycle of feeling constantly that there is not enough time?

    The first place to start is to ask: “Where is my time going?”

    To Do or Not To Do?

    Do you start your day with a clear achievable plan of what you want in terms of results for your day?  Or are you just blindly following your “To Do” list?  I know that for much of my adult life I have let my To Do list be the dictator in my life.  My To Do list is never satisfied; it is a hard task master and never acknowledges me.

    No matter how hard you work during the day do you end the day feeling a sense of overwhelm with just how many things that there are still on your list?

    So here is some bad news…there will always be too many things on your list to ever get finished.  The good news though is that you can change how you view your To Do list so that you become master of it and use it to serve you in your life to get what you want.

    The first place to start is to use Steven Covey’s time management matrix (from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to assess what is important to you and how you are spending your time.

    So create a table like the one below with 4 boxes labelled as shown in the diagram. Re write all your To Dos in each of these 4 boxes depending on each task’s level of urgency and importance.

    Isabel

    Like most people you will probably find that most of your To Dos are in quadrant 1 whilst those tasks in quadrant 2 (those what will make a positive difference in your life) perhaps keep getting moved from one To Do list to another e.g. update CV, write chapter of my book, create business plan, organise “date night”, go to new yoga class etc.

    One of the key ways to feel a sense of accomplishment every day is to look at your To Dos daily and pick at least one thing from quadrant 2 and make sure that you take one step towards completing the task each day.  This way you know that you are moving forward and step by step making a difference in your life.

    Where Does Time Go?

    How can we ensure that there is enough time to get done some of the things in quadrant 2?

    One important exercise is to start monitoring how you are actually spending your time.  This will help you to raise your awareness to see if you are getting results or simply “being busy”. It is very easy to be the latter so start by splitting your day into 15 minute slots and use the same quadrants you have created previously to note down how you spend your time.

    If you are like me when I did this exercise I was amazed by just how much time was spent in quadrants 3 and 4.  These are areas where time can be regained as To Dos in quadrant 3 and 4 can often be ditched as they are either other people’s agenda, or it is simply wasting time (e.g. filing, cleaning, meetings without purpose etc).  If you want time to do things in quadrant 2 note how you spend your time and start to limit or entirely stop doing these To Dos in quadrants 3&4.

    You can only improve that which you measure.

    Small steps pursued consistently lead to massive change.  Learning how to manage your time is a key skill to master, to help you feel more fulfilled each day and enjoy a sense of well-being and achievement.

    Try these two small steps for the coming week (review your daily To Do’s using the Covery time matrix model and monitor how you spend your time), and see what a difference it makes to you.

    As always awareness brings its own rewards and note what happens this week when you do these exercises.

    My own experience is that by monitoring my time and making sure that every day I do something from quadrant 2, I have found myself becoming more efficient and less distracted by activities in quadrant 3&4. Over time I have learnt to spend less time in fire-fighting mode and more time focused on really moving my life forward and spending it doing what I love.

    Certainly by making and spending time doing things that are important to you, life feels less “busy” and you start generating positive results in your life helping you to feel more fulfilled and stay aligned to your highest purpose.

    For more information on how to create aligned, high performance teams click here to get your free e-book:

    Engage, Enthuse and Empower your Teams

  • Alignment is the key to High Performance

    Alignment is the key to High Performance

    The world we live in seems to be moving at warp speed, and one of the biggest challenges facing most of us is to feel a sense of alignment. Our lives are often composed of a demanding array of disconnected components all of which bid for our attention, focus and energy e.g. work, children, partner, health, fitness, friends, home, finance, leisure, spiritual practice to name but a few. With all these different areas of our lives competing for relentless amounts of our time, it is easy to be distracted, flitting from one thing to another, feeling slightly out of control much of the time and leaving us with a disappointing lack of fulfillment. Who has not wondered at some point: “Is this all there is?”

    Whilst the obvious solution to the problem of too many demands and not enough time might be to learn better time management skills, a more fulfilling and sustainable solution to creating a more harmonious, engaged and empowered life starts with looking inside ourselves. We feel dysfunctional as individuals because we are not aligned with our highest values and what is important to us. The key to feeling well, energised, and with a sense of purpose in life, is to create alignment in the four key areas of life: mind, body, heart and spirit.

    Most of us tend to focus intently on one area – often using mental energy at work and perhaps exercising obsessively or to extremes in our spare time. Whilst we are overusing our energy and flat lining in one or two areas, we generally under-use or ignore our needs in the other areas. All four areas need to be aligned for us to feel whole and connected again and to be able to function at higher levels of personal performance.

    Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in alignment.”
    Brian Tracy

    We have become misaligned as a result of a life time of poor habits, shortcuts, staying in our comfort zone, fear of failure and resistance to change. To feel aligned we need to spend time exploring what our values are, what is important to us, how we need to take care of ourselves and how we can return to our core, our true inner self.

    Creating internal alignment takes time in much the same way that re-educating the body through physio and exercise takes time after it has been stressed or injured. It has taken years of misalignment to get to this point so it is important to spend the necessary time and be patient to be able to realign all four areas of life.

    One of the first things we need to start the process of realignment is to shift old ways of thinking. The way that we live in the world has/is/and will continue to change dramatically. Collective ways of thinking are changing and with that new paradigms are being created daily.

    As individuals we need to create new paradigms for the way that we operate in life. The old mindset consists of beliefs such as:

    • We need to manage our time;
    • Reduce our levels of stress;
    • Be disciplined;
    • Work hard all the time;
    • Financial rewards and recognition drive performance.

    However to enjoy a more fulfilled and engaged life these mind sets need to be altered to encourage new paradigms along the lines of:

    • Manage our energy,
    • Enjoy intense but limited levels of stress,
    • Introduce habits and rituals to support us,
    • Take time for recovery,
    • Purpose is the key to high performance.

    The key to high performance is creating alignment in these 4 cornerstones of life:

    Mind – our ability to focus our attention and organise our lives
    Body – our fundamental physical well-being which is the key source of energy in life
    Emotional – our ability to manage our emotions, connect with others, access positive emotions and experience joy, challenge, excitement and inner calm.
    Spiritual – our connection to, and courage to live by, our deepest values and a purpose beyond self-interest.

    I will explore in further blogs what it means to be aligned in each of these areas and things that you can start to do to find greater alignment in your life.

    To be fully engaged in our lives, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.”
      Jim Loehr

    Creating high performance teams starts with creating highly aligned individuals. If you take the analogy of the body again, if you have an ache, pain or injury somewhere, the body will try to compensate for this but in doing so other parts of the body will become misaligned, leading to strains and pain elsewhere. The same is true for machines. If there is a part that is misaligned then the rest of the machine will not function in a coordinated fashion and damage and excessive wear and tear occurs.

    The most empowering condition of all is when the entire organization is aligned with its mission, and people’s passions and purpose are in synch with each other.”

    Bill George Peter Sims

    If you want to create great results in your organisation it is necessary to work with the individuals in the organisation to ensure that they are aligned in themselves and aligned as a team. It is hard to have one without the other. Creating individual and team alignment takes time and can be undoubtedly challenging. The rewards, however, are immense, not only in terms of the business results generated but also in terms of the creation of highly energised, motivated and engaged individuals. Who wouldn’t want to work in a team or organisation made up of people like this?

    For more information on how to create aligned, high performance teams click here to get your free e-book:

    Engage, Enthuse and Empower your Teams

     

    For more information on how to create personal alignment click here to get your free e-book:

    The Secrets of How to Produce the Results you Want in your Life;

     

     

  • Freedom through Responsibility

    When I was growing up I remember that “being responsible” was something that adults seemed to be all the time and thankfully children didn’t need to worry about.  Over time though I began to realise that if I wanted to make it as an adult, I needed to find out what “being responsible” really meant.

    Interestingly, there are no classes at school on how to be responsible in life.

    IMG_0298

     

    Inevitably, through life experiences we learn to become responsible as adults.  We learn to be dependable and reliable, we learn to take on obligations and positions of responsibility and at some point many of us become responsible for people, children, parents or pets. Very few of us, however, actually learn to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives.

    Understanding what responsiblity means and being personally responsible is a key leadership skill.  Whilst people expect leaders to be in a position of responsibility, the measure of a truly great leader is someone who is willing to be accountable for something within their power, control, or management.

    People often confuse being responsible with being “in power” in some way. In a sense this is correct in that everyone, no matter what their position in life, has the scary but liberating and powerful option of choosing to be personally responsible in life. This means being fully responsible for all your actions, behaviours, thoughts and feelings.  I believe that there is nothing that gives an individual more freedom and power than being willing to be 100% responsible in their life.

    Being responsible to this degree means really knowing that you are the master of your destiny.  Rather than waiting to blame external circumstances or other people for things that happen in your life, it is possible take back your power by choosing to be responsible.  Being responsible gives you the option of how you want to respond to extrinsic events outside your control.  By looking intrinsically it is possible to be responsible for how you feel and the actions you then take.

    What is responsibility in fact?

    Responsibility = the ability to choose how to respond (response – able)

    Interestingly most people choose not to be responsible. It is much easier to avoid responsibility and blame or complain about others and expect others to solve their problems, rather than take responsibility for the way things are and then take actions to change things. Being responsible means asking the question: “How am I the cause in this that has happened?” 

    Of course external events happen that are out of our control.  Being responsible though, means that rather than reacting on auto pilot you have the option at any moment to choose how you want to respond.  Your state of mind is entirely within your control and your responsibility and how you choose to feel and think is not dependent on someone or something else.

    Learning to be in control and responsible for your life is a key life skill we are ill equipped with.  Simply being aware of the thoughts in your head and your emotions are two of the most important ways that you can start to be responsible in life.

    Here are 6 ways in which you can start to be responsible for your life:

    1)    Raise your self-awareness – the root of your life is in your mind, take time to observe it

    2)    Take control – stop complaining and feeling a victim in life and choose to be the one in control

    3)    Act rather than react – notice how you react automatically to situations (emotionally and with actions) and choose how you would prefer to think and act.

    4)    Accept that you are the cause in where you are today – for good or bad.  By accepting that you have created your past and present you can also be cause in your future.

    5)    Be aware of your fear – fear is a parasite and feeds on doubt, judgements, opinions and hates change.

    6)    Believe in yourself – the two most powerful words in the dictionary “I CAN”

    Learning to be responsible for your life will help you to feel more in control.  It is important to remember though that whilst you can learn to be responsible for your own life, and choose how to respond at any moment in time, you cannot be responsible for how others think and behave.  You can only show others how to take reasonability by leading by example.

    If you enjoyed this article then you can find more on being responsible in your life and many more ways to be successful, in my ebook called:

    “The Secrets to Producing The Results You Want In Your Life”

    For your free copy please click here.

  • Are you a Human Being or a Human Doing?

    Are you a Human Being or a Human Doing?

    I have to confess that my default position is one of dynamic doing. I like to be busy doing things and I often exhaust my family, who watch me in a whirl of frenzied activity trying to get as much done as possible each day. I pride myself on being able to multi-task and I frequently try to more than one thing at a time, like writing this blog, whilst listening to an audio webinar and also planning what I need to get from the supermarket.

    Now whilst this seems very efficient I can often find myself very frustrated at the end of the day with no real sense of accomplishment. As I have been “busy” rushing from one thing to another my mind has felt flustered and befuddled trying to work out what to do next. Flitting from one subject and action to another, my brain simply can’t focus and I end up wasting a large amount of time being distracted. So life begins to resemble ground hog day – endless lists of things to do, which I busy myself doing then lo and behold it starts all again the next day – more never ending lists of things to do and lots more busyness. It’s mentally draining and frankly boring!

    So in an effort to break this repeating cycle and end each day with more satisfaction and inner calm I have been looking at how I can do things differently to get more done in less time and spend more time doing things that are important to me.

    Being Rather Than Doing

    Seeing how much of a human “doing” I am programmed to be I decided to try a different tack and explore how it would feel being more of a human “being”.

    “Being” rather than “doing” requires a whole different way of thinking. For a start it requires a lot more mental stillness and mental discipline. When you are being rather than doing there is the sense of time slowing down as you bring your mental focus to what needs to be done now. Being present and focused on solely the action to do now, helps to quieten the mind and actually results in the action being completed more efficiently and effectively. Distractions are kept at bay and the whole experience of getting the task done is less exhausting.

    For someone whose brain likes to rule the roost and charge full tilt from thing to the next thing, this has been a mighty challenge. To help me with the process of change I have looked for times in my life when I experience being rather than doing.

    Being in the “Zone”
    For me I often experience this sense of being when I am exercising. Through exercise I become present to what is going on in the moment. I can feel my breath in my lungs, I can feel the weather on my skin, I can feel the muscles in my legs. I am in touch with my environment. I notice the details of the road or path in front of me, the changes in the slope steepness or snow conditions, the feel of the water on my body, the sound of the ball on my racket. All these details show up when I focus my mind on being present in the moment.

    Often when people experience this it is called being in the “flow” or zone. We can also feel this at other times when we are fully engrossed in something we are doing, e.g. listening to music, making something, singing, driving, doing any hobby you are passionate about.

    Being present doesn’t exclude doing something at the same time. It just means being present to what you are doing in the moment. It is about raising your awareness so that you are conscious of what you are doing and not getting distracted by thoughts in your head about other things not to do with what you are doing NOW.  It is often called being mindful.

    Mindfulness
    Undertaking tasks with this level of mindfulness and intention takes some effort at first to still the mind. However I have found that when I can come from a place of “being” in my activities, things just seem easier. The tasks get done without all the head chatter and I finish them in far less time – thus in effect creating more time – to do non urgent things that I want to do.

    Being mindful has many benefits. Aside from the sense that there is more time, I find that the sense of focus that it required to be mindful helps me to feel calmer. The endless thoughts that spin through my head seem to slow and I have far more ability to simply observe them for what they are – just thoughts. And I have the choice NOT to jump on the negative thought train hurtling down the track to who knows where….

    So being mindful at least for a small part of each day can bring a sense of peace. Being mindful will not stop your thoughts – they are going to keep coming whether you want them or not. However being mindful will help you to become more of an observer of your thoughts. Once you can observe your thoughts for what they are, then the balance of power will shift and you can gain more control over how you respond to your thoughts. This is a great thing as this leads to a wonderful sense of really having choice and being in control – and who doesn’t want to feel more that they have more choice and control in their life.

    Ten Tips to being more Mindful

    In my practice to experience more “being” rather than  “doing” these are some of the things that I do to help me be more mindful:

    1) Daily meditation – just five minutes of quiet contemplation makes a difference
    2) Be grateful everyday – for what I have rather than what I don’t have
    3) Be really present at least once each day
    4) Connect with people
    5) Take time to appreciate the beauty around me
    6) Breathe deeply and smile
    7) Let go of the past – it is gone and can’t be changed
    8) Practice observing my thoughts and emotions
    9) Accept that all is ok now
    10) Enjoy the journey

    You might like to try some of them yourself and see if becoming more mindful helps to move you from being less of a human “doing” to more of a human “being”.

    Let me know your thoughts or experience of being practising being more mindful.