• Your Business’s Greatest Assets

    I-Love-My-Business-500x383

    What is your business’s greatest asset? Is it your product? Your building? Your bank account? Your investors?

    It doesn’t matter in what industry you work, what type of service you offer…your team members (i.e. your people) are always your most valuable endowment. But if the mix and the engagement isn’t right, they can feel like your greatest obstacles.

    How can you create a culture of accountability and results? So your people can shine and be your greatest brand advocates? How can you achieve the highest performing unit possible? How can you begin to see your people as your most valuable assets?

    It starts with finding the right people—but it doesn’t end there.

    Put Your Living Assets to Work for You

    Why are your people your most valuable assets? Because when they’re feeling fulfilled, they will act as big, happy bullhorns for your business. They will tell people about your company, even in their spare time. Customer service will be no sweat—happy employees want to “share the love.” Profits will multiply, because every member of the team wants to see the business succeed.

    According to Fortune magazine, those businesses included in their current “100 Best Companies to Work for” list notice a 14% increase in stock prices, whilst the rest of the market only realises an increase of 6%.

    Notice that the list wasn’t built around companies that had the greatest product, or the best marketing campaign, or the most famous spokesperson; it was built around those businesses’ most valuable assets.

    So how can you not only make your team members feel valuable, but create the types of results that prove them to be indispensable? Here are some guidelines:

    • Hire people who share your business’s values. It can be difficult to work toward a collective goal when the goal isn’t important to everyone involved. Before you hire anyone based on qualifications alone, ensure that they genuinely believe in what your company stands for and what you wish to accomplish. There should be no “differences in opinion” to work out—there should only be another interview with a different candidate.
    • Engage your employees. You’ve probably heard that you need to engage your customers, but don’t overlook this very important provision for your team members, too. Everyone should come to work knowing that they will feel challenged and fulfilled. Know your employees well enough to put them in roles that will interest them and that they will feel compelled to take ownership of. Assign tasks to individuals with the intent of pushing them just past when they’ve already proven they can accomplish. Talk to them. Keep the conversation flowing. Listen and always remain open to change.
    • Empower your people. In order for growth and independence to bloom, a person must feel the freedom to be innovative and make mistakes. When an employee feels boxed in by rules that are too stringent, or if they feel that any new idea will be shot down, there is no growth. There is no freedom of expression. There is no empowerment to make the entire organisation better.
    • Always be clear with expectations. Every function within your company should be assigned to one accountable person. Know the difference between being accounatable and being responsible and never leave team members wondering about their roles and responsibilities. Always welcome questions and never end a conversation without feeling confident that everyone knows what is expected of them. Managers sometimes feel that this cages people—that they should be permitted to figure this out amongst themselves. To the contrary, when people know precisely what is expected of them, they feel more confident in moving forward and in turn feel more freedom to create and innovate.
    • Assign authority. As people begin to flourish in their roles, you will start to see the blossoming of gifts and talents. You will also see the expression of preferences. Use what you learn to put people in the roles where they will shine. In the end, they will feel more fulfilled, employee retention will increase, you will feel less burdened and your business will thrive.
    • Create a feedback system. An employee should never feel disempowered by having nowhere to go with their problems. Have a system in-place that provides a safe, confidential, judgement-free environment so they can speak their minds…for the betterment of your organisation.

    Your team members are your most valuable assets because when they are engaged and empowered, they will not only show up to work, they will show up ready to do everything they can to build your business. It’s been said that word-of-mouth advertising is the business investment with the highest ROI. I’d like to challenge that notion by saying that happy employees are the highest-ROI investments—because they not only create the best word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, they live them.

    Are you wondering how you can create a team that’s more engaged and empowered? Have you already begun to see the value of happy employees? Then let’s talk for 30 minutes about how your business can create an atmosphere that will attract (and retain) the best-of-the-best. Simply contact me here to schedule.

  • Measure your Business: 5 Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. (1)

    How’s your business doing?

    How do you know? Have you measured your progress? Tracked your conversions, returns and referrals? Compared all numbers to previous periods?  Made adjustments and monitored their effects?

    If you’re like most business owners, you’re canned answer is “Good.” However, you probably have little evidence to back it up, and there’s usually one reason why:

    Tracking your business’s progress is boring and tedious. Plus, it makes you nervous; it’s much easier to coast along, assuming you’re improving every month. There is a fear that measurement will reveal areas that need improvement…or worse.

    All of this is understandable and natural. It’s comfortable to ignore what could be bad news and instead choose to live in the blissfulness of ignorance. However, if you want your business to be successful, to grow…you must measure what matters and use what you find to make adjustments. This is the most direct (and speedy) path to business growth.

    More than half of UK businesses don’t survive past five years,[1] and one contributing factor is the unwillingness of business owners to track their own progress (a.k.a. step on that virtual scale). Improvement is practically impossible without knowing what areas need improvement—and in what order and to what degree.

     

    Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    Tracking the progression (or regression) of your business can be a tricky habit to form. Not only can the undertaking be fear-inducing, it takes time. Here are some pieces of advice for getting starting and staying on-track with tracking:

    • Establish a starting point. Your second measurement will only give you as much information as your first measurement allows. So get going! Launch the analytics. Open a spreadsheet. Start recording this month’s net profits, new customers, returning customers, website visitors, new social media likes/follows/shares/Retweets, referrals, customer complaints, merchandise returns, lead time for order fulfilment, employee turnover, shipping costs…and whatever else will serve as an indicator of your business’s progress.
    • Define your focal points. Determine what three areas of your business are most integral to the fulfilment of its mission, then focus most intensely on those areas. Determine what number(s) will most accurately measure the performance of those areas. Put these at the top of your tracking list.
    • Set improvement goals. After you’ve gotten into the swing of recording your metrics of business performance, set goals for improvement. A 2% net profit increase or a 5% increase in employee retention over the next two years are examples of performance goals.
    • Stay committed. As your business grows, you will try new things and explore new markets. The only sure-fire way to know if any of this is working is to measure the results. AND the only sure-fire way to assign specific results to specific actions is to measure regularly (monthly). Skip your tracking exercises for even one month, and results will be skewed.
    • Utilise a syndicated service. As your tracking becomes more sophisticated, you are likely to benefit from the use of a syndicated tracking and measurement service. Google Analytics is just one example.

    It’s so easy to make excuses—to take a guess at how your business is doing. The unfortunate truth about this behaviour is that your business is likely to join the majority of start-ups laid to rest in the business graveyard.

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. Close attention to the numbers that matter will not only tell you if you’re on track, they will highlight areas in need of improvement so that your business can be the best it can be.

    Need more information on how you can track your business’s progress and use what you learn to grow it? Then let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll discuss your unique business, your goals and the best way to achieve them. Contact me here.

    [1] RSA (a British commercial insurer)

  • 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

  • 7 Reasons Why Business Coaching Won’t Work For You

    Picture1

    There is much evidence to prove that having a good business coach can have a significant positive impact on your business.

    An industry study in the UK found that CEOs who consent to business coaching are able to improve their working relations by 77 percent, leading to a 53 percent boost in productivity and increased profits of 22 percent. The International Coach Federation in another study note that PricewaterhouseCooper have established the average return on investment from coaching to be 787%.  Whilst the evidence is strong, business coaching is not appropriate for every business.

    If you are reading this, you might be wondering if you are right or ready to hire a business coach help you to grow and develop your business. However, before you invest in finding a good business coach check out 7 reasons below why having a business coach won’t work for you:

    • You are happy with where your business is today. If you satisfied with your current level of organisation growth and performance, there is no need to look at ways to grow the business further or faster.
    • You are reluctant to change. Whilst you may want to grow your business or feel frustrated at certain areas within your business, if you are not willing to accept that changes are required, and that most importantly you may have to change your thinking and behaviours, then there is no point engaging a coach in your business.
    • You would prefer to stay in your comfort zone. It is quite natural to feel uncertainty and doubts at times, however these fears can keep us stuck doing the same things. To get different results it is necessary to do different things and this can sometimes feel challenging and stretch us out of our comfort zone.
    • You don’t feel the desire to learn new things. If you run your own company, you may feel that the last thing you have right now is the capacity for learning new ideas and ways of doing things.
    • You are not particularly interested in feedback on your performance. If you are confident that you are doing a reasonable job, then you may not feel the need or desire to get feedback on how you are doing from either a coach or your employees.
    • You don’t feel you can afford to make the investment. As you are running your business and you will have many demands on your money and time. Hiring a coach will cost money and require you to make the time for meetings. Maybe you don’t feel that you can commit the time or money required to make a lasting difference to your business.
    • You aren’t committed to taking the actions required to move forward. There is a world of difference between knowing that you need to do verses actually applying this in real life. Implementation is the key and without the commitment to take the right actions on a regular basis nothing will change.

    So whilst you may want to improve and grow your business if you can recognise or identify with one of the reasons in the list above then this is a pretty good indicator that business coaching won’t work for you right now.  There may be other approaches that will work better for you to achieve your aims but it would be better not to waste your time or money investing on business coaching.

    For business coaching to work well the desire for change in your current business must be strong enough, or the frustrations you are facing intolerable enough.

    Business coaching is based on the principle that what got you here is unlikely to get you where you want to get to.  A good business coach will challenge your thinking, encourage you step out of your comfort zone and create a tracking structure that to hold you accountable for your actions.

    To have a successful coaching relationship you will need to be open, willing to listen to and learn new ideas, concepts and principles and be able to hear feedback on your performance – the good, the bad and the ugly.  It is facing this honest truth that you will help you to grow in self-awareness, develop your leadership skills and give you the confidence to lead your company to its full potential.

    “I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their full potential.”  Bob Nardelli, CEO Home Depot

    If you think that your company is right and ready for business coaching, then please contact me to find out more about how business coaching could help your company to reach new levels of growth and success.

     

     

  • Sat Nav for Business Growth Strategy

    Isabel Knich coaching

    Your business growth strategy is what you want and need to do to achieve the growth you desire.  Is it devised after thorough and extensive industry and market research to identify what is required to increase your access to more customers, more talent and more capital—the three things that most companies need to grow their business.

    As we have discussed in earlier blogs, in order for your business growth strategy to succeed you need to have some key elements in place:

    • You need to know WHY you’re in business…your desire.
    • You need to establish a clear VISION for where you’re going…your destination.
    • You need to identify your core VALUES that will show HOW you are going to deliver your vision…your drivers.

    After you have put these elements in place, it’s time to create your PLAN:  WHAT you’re going to do to move toward realising your vision.

    Your plan is the map showing the route you need to take to get you to your desired destination.  It sounds obvious to have a map or to use a sat nav to get to a place you have never been to before, but it is astounding the number of businesses who don’t have any sort of plan for getting to their desired destination. But then, many businesses also don’t know where they are heading. Remember that a having a vision in place is crucial.

    In many cases, stopping to take the time to create a plan isn’t a priority for management.  However, as you may have experienced in your car, finding your way when you are lost without a map is really very hard. You need that map; you need that sat nav—you need it to make the plan that will get you there.

    So what sort of plan do you need to create?  There are many different types of plans that you could use. The best ones, however, are those that are clear, short and easy to follow.  They should plainly state your destination, which can vary depending on the time frame, but the goals or outcomes that you want to achieve should be clearly stated as objectives.

    The specific strategic goals in your plan are then the places you know you need to get to on route to reach your final destination. They are your pit stops; the necessary stopovers that will contribute to the success of the arrival at your final destination (your vision).  For each goal, it is important that the objective is clearly stated with a timeframe (for more information about setting SMART goals, click here).  After all…

    A goal without a plan is just a dream.

    Do you want to turn your business’s dreams into reality? If so, then read on to learn how you can achieve your business growth goals with the help of a strategic plan…your Sat Nav for your business.

    Sat Nav for your Business

    As any good sat nav should, your plan will represent the fastest route by which you can get to your desired destination. It will help you to stay on track and, most importantly, get you back on track if you lose the right road along the way.

    To keep you focused on the right path, your plan should include the statement of your why, your vision and values. These help to keep the focus on the bigger picture and create a greater context for the actions that you and your team need to take to achieve your vision through your plan.

    Here are a few points to flesh out what I’m talking about:

    • Every strategic goal should have a champion—that is, someone who is committed publically to making it happen. The goal champion is accountable for the achievement of the goal (albeit not necessarily for all of the actions to ensure its delivery).
    • Every strategic objective or goal should be accompanied by specific milestones to achieve it over the months ahead. This helps create focus points along the way.
    • The entire business plan should be reviewed regularly with the team, (monthly at a minimum) to ascertain whether the work toward each objective is advancing and what obstacles need to be overcome to keep moving forward.
    • Progress on actions taken for each goal should be measured every month to continue progress in each area.
    • All employees, not just ‘the team,’ should be made aware of the business growth plan. If people know where they are heading and that there is a plan to follow to get there, everyone is much more likely to want to engage and support the champions for each goal so that the objectives are delivered.

    A business growth action plan is a well-defined and specific step-by-step set of actions for implementation. Whilst you may go off-course some of the time, your plan will help you to stay focussed on where you want to get to and help you get back on track and determine the next action. With the right plan, this creates the structure and discipline for efficiency (doing things well) and effectiveness (doing the right things) to achieve your goals and vision. Your plan—like a sat nav—will always be there to guide you and take you to where you have decided you need to go.

    Are you ready to design your plan for WHAT you need to do to realise your business growth strategy? Or are you ready to improve a plan that perhaps hasn’t been working so well for you? You may be wondering where to start, what road to take first, and how to strategise your route for the fastest and most effective way to get to your destination…your goals and vision. Please contact me via email or phone for a free 30-minute consultation. We’ll talk about how you can get clear on the plan for growing your business, with a sat-nav-type guidance system that will guide your business in the direction of unprecedented success.

     

     

  • 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

  • 4

    10 Tips To Help You Live A Life Of Passion

    I believe that passion has become rather one dimensional in our lives, with the focus only on sexual desire.  What a shame.  Passion is actually gloriously multi-dimensional, expressing powerful and compelling feelings or emotions and bringing life into vivid Technicolor.

    Living our lives with passion though is not how most of us choose to live.    Most of us go through life wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else or living somehow differently.     When was the last time in your life that you truly felt the blood pumping in your veins, your heart uplifted and experienced being totally in the moment?

    But “passion can be dangerous” you say.  Goodness, who knows where living passionately will lead us! How much easier to play safe and stay in our comfort zone, dulling the emotions and flattening our life experience.

    For the brave who choose to take the path to a passionate life, the journey takes time and is undoubtedly challenging.   If you are up for the adventure the rewards are profound.  Whilst the destination will vary the features are the same: a life lived with passion is one filled with joy, enthusiasm, simplicity, a sense of purpose, energy and feeling of being connected to yourself.

    Choosing to live your life with passion starts with shifting your mind-set.  It requires deciding that living a life with passion is a goal worth pursuing.  Apathy and lassitude are prevailing forces in our culture, so learning to live a passionate life requires discipline and commitment to overcome these tendencies.

    To pledge to a passionate life requires overcoming a lack of belief that is it possible to do so.  It requires giving up closed or negative thinking that can keep us stuck.  It requires focus, responsibility and the requirement to simplify life.  No one can be passionate if they are feeling cluttered, overscheduled and overwhelmed in life.  Being passionate by definition means to experience powerful emotions.  It is not possible to live a passionate life if you are emotionally unhealthy e.g. depressed, anxious, stressed etc.

    Passion in life starts with having a vision, goal or desire that inspires you, helping you to move towards what you want to be, do or have.  As with changing any old ways of thinking and behaving living life with passion takes time and is testing.  Being willing to keep going no matter what is one of the keys to living a life you love.

    How can you live a life with passion?

    1)      Take time – you can’t make changes in life unless you make time to reflect.

    2)      Change how you see yourself – consider who would you have to be to live the life you want?

    3)      Believe in yourself – you are the creator of your life. You are 100% responsible. You can make it happen.

    4)      Speak from the heart – dare to be honest with yourself and then with others.

    5)      BWTEIM (begin with the end in mind) – create a clear vision of what you really want your life to look like and stick your flag in the sand in front of you.  Now you have a destination.

    6)      Face your fear – look it square in the eyes and take the first step anyway.

    7)      Shut out the self-chatter – be an observer and don’t get enrolled in your mental noise.  Keep focused on vision.

    8)      Write it down – get it out of your head and onto paper in words or pictures.  This helps clarify our thinking and makes it real.

    9)      Look for fun – we miss so many amazing things in life by being so busy, keep an eye out for what brings you joy and happiness.

    10)   Keep going – learning and growth happens in your breakdowns. Have courage, be committed be curious.

    One really good coaching question I like to ask clients who may be stuck looking for their purpose and passion is to ask them:

    “What would you be doing if you only had a short time to live and/or money was no object?”

    I ask this to you now.  I would love to hear in the comments below what are you passionate about?