Making opportunities appear…and happen.

Why does it seem like some people are gifted in the area of having an easier life or more experiences and opportunities coming their way? Are they more magnetic than others in terms of attracting them? Actually, they are. However, the good news is that anyone can be in this situation.

When you think about looking from the outside into other people’s careers or lives, most people who are looking are doing so via the proverbial rose-colored glasses. In other words, they are not taking into consideration the how and why other people who seemingly have a charmed situation got there. I guarantee you it’s not the way you think they did.

Our perception of “how” other people have accomplished something is generally way off base from reality, and we typically envision that everything is much easier or convenient for someone else. Why do we do this? Because it’s nearly impossible to fully appreciate all of the experience and potential struggles it took someone to be a position which currently looks easy.

For example, we know that professional athletes spend decades preparing to participate at the level they are at, yet their career is generally one serious injury away from severely disrupting or ending their career. If they are fortunate enough to avoid or minimize their level of injuries, they have often done so via specialized training to strengthen their body to withstand injuries that non-professional athletes could not tolerated.

Depending on what your definition of career success is, and how you measure your success, the people you would classify as being successful in their profession arrived there as a result of many different and possible paths. The path all of them had in common was that they were all tenacious and persistent in their pursuits. Especially when they encountered setbacks. The setbacks which occurred are not always seen or appreciated by others, but play a critical part in the journey the individual was on.  

I love the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”. This basic phrase deliciously packages and summarizes what I have heard some of the most accomplished people state over and over again. Perhaps not exactly this phrase, but the purest sentiment of it. When others would see their situation being fraught with difficulty due to obstacles of any kind, the people who encounter them, see them as opportunities to recalculate and recalibrate. When they do this, they are crafting opportunities which did not exist prior to the setback.

Instead of bemoaning what could have, should have or would have been, the people who are able to move past what happened are able to take back control, and retool their situation.  In many cases, to have a far better opportunity appear.  Some of the best inventions we now live with are classic examples of what prior to it existing was a result of a prior failed one (e.g., wheels, electricity, automobiles, computers, refrigerators).  These are strong examples of someone being persistent and not allowing a setback, or many of them, to block their forward progress.

When I think about the leaders or sports coaches I have worked with, all of them would tell you they didn’t get to where they are alone. In fact, they are incredibly humble, and will often not take credit for what they have accomplished. They don’t claim to be luckier or able to outsmart others, but they do all possess what I would argue is also one of the key elements to making better opportunities appear. More importantly come to life for you, and others. The one element is their attitude. Not only is it a great attitude, it’s an admirable one.

These leaders and sports coaches also take ownership for when things go wrong. They are not looking for “scapegoats” to blame for what went wrong, and they are highly introspective and reflective about what they could have done better. This is a refreshing way of leading and motivating others. Namely because others are not operating in a state of fear of being blamed, and are intimidated by expressing their opinions and suggestions to support the team they are on. If you are lucky, you are, or have been on one of these teams. If you haven’t been on one yet, it might be time to start considering looking for one like this.

Now, let’s circle back to my initial statement about how do people make opportunities appear and benefit from them doing so? Here are some suggestions to guide you.

  • There is no getting around the fact you might need to have an “attitude adjustment”. If you don’t think you need to have one, I recommend you ask someone you trust how your attitude is. If you can’t handle the truth about what you might hear, it’s likely that you do need an attitude adjustment.
  • Being aware of your surroundings, circumstances and perceiving how you come across to others is critically important. If your level of awareness is “off”, it will make seeing opportunities harder to spot.
  • Having a perfectionist attitude isn’t going to help you in the long run. You are far better off trying and failing than to constantly strive for perfection.
  • Most opportunities are also in what might be referred to as a “grey area”, which is both hard to define, but you won’t see it if your “perfectionist meter” is set too high. Consider dialing it down to have more clarity into the “grey area” or “grey zone”.
  • Walk away. Yes, literally do this, as often when you are too close to any situation, you need to step away to gain a different perspective and angle on how you could better capitalize on your situation. Think of the expression, “you can’t see the forest via the trees.”
  • Are you seeing patterns in data or activities which others are not? This may or may not be something you are skilled at seeing. If you are, and you are not taking advantage of this, when you do, more opportunities will present themselves.

The how portion of capitalizing on opportunities is going to be dependent on your level of risk tolerance, ability to be timely with your opportunity appearing, and having the right support in place. Both mentally and physically, as most opportunities are more similar to a team sport versus an individual one. However, there are certainly exceptions, but the critical point to consider is to allow yourself to be openminded to appreciating you deserve to have lots of opportunities coming your way. In other words, have a mindset of bounty versus scarcity. You’ll be amazed at what can happen in your favor when you think this way.

TAGS: #Leadership #Motivation #Teams #Leader #Sportscoach #Coach #Business #Sports #Seekingopportunity #Opportunity #Howtocapitalizeonopportunities #Opportunities #Sales #Salesteams

Asking for help. Is there a good way to do so?

Yesterday I was having a serious conversation with a person I know. Someone in fact I have known for decades. I could tell by the sound of their voice that someone was wrong, or perhaps that they were struggling with something that didn’t come up initially during our conversation. Sure enough, my instincts were correct, and I asked a few more questions, and the person revealed what was going on.  In fact, there was too much going on, and they were so overwhelmed, they didn’t know what to do. Or, how to ask for help. 

This person’s situation was quite extreme, and from an outside perspective, you would have thought they could have easily been seeking help. They were not. Instead, they were suffering alone, and ironically, were helping everyone else around them. 

Perhaps because this person finds it to be so easy to help others, that they have either neglected being able to help themselves, or they have fallen into a common conundrum. The conundrum is failing to provide self-care. This can often happen, and is sometimes done unconsciously. One of the reasons this occurs is that although it may sound counter intuitive, for some people, it is sometimes easier for them to care for others than it is to care for themselves. 

Another person I know who was admittedly challenged with self-care, would say that he would struggle with being able to metaphorically “put the oxygen mask on first”. Being able to take care of yourself first, appears to be a “no-brainer”, but it isn’t always for everyone. This scenario can be further complicated due to the situation the person finds themselves in (e.g., work, or personal). Although if someone is challenged with being able to ask for help from others, it typically is something which impacts all aspects of their life. 

When I started thinking about whether we are taught how to ask for help, I thought back to a time in my life when I was learning to be a lifeguard. As I was going through my training, there was a great deal of focus on how to simultaneously help the person you were rescuing, while also making sure you would be safe too. This seems obvious, but when you are in a situation when you are rescuing someone, sometimes they or the surrounding circumstances can make it much more difficult to rescue them. 

Having the right tools to help someone is critical. A large part of being able to do so, is knowing what questions to ask the person, with the goal of getting them to open up and share with you what is going on. However, let’s turn the scenario around, and put ourselves in the “shoes” of the person who is in need of help. Everyone has been in this situation, and admittedly, some are better at being able to ask for help than others. The people who have cracked the code on being able to ask for help, are in a much stronger position than others. This is despite the thinking for some people that it is a sign of weakness when you ask for help. I’m not sure where this thinking came from, but it does not serve anyone well to think this way. Especially those who are in leadership positions. 

Both personally and in the workforce if someone doesn’t and should be asking for help, and the situation they are in which needs attention, tends to decline further. Ignoring a situation because someone doesn’t want to ask for help generally does not end well, and I can guarantee most of us have given this option a try before. 

Yes, it can take courage for some people to ask for help. However, asking for help shouldn’t be tied to pride or emotions which conjure negative associations (e.g., appearing weak, exposing something you don’t know how to do, being embarrassed, you don’t deserve the help). Although I realize for many people these are common reasons they do not ask for help, asking for help can get much easier to do, and it applies to all situations. Practice.

Below are some suggestions you can consider if you are the type of person who does not like asking for help. 

·      Asking for help takes practice. So, if you need or think you will be in a situation where you will need help at some point, don’t let your situation get to the point of putting you in an extreme situation before you ask for support. 

·      Think about the factors contributing to why you are uncomfortable with asking for support. Are they rational or reasonable? 

·      Why do you think you have to be able to do everything yourself? No one person is an expert at everything, and no one is perfect. 

·      Is there something you can do to help the person you might need help from? Perhaps you will be more comfortable asking them for their support if you are able to help them in some way?

·      Have you considered that people want to help you or others? Most people find it highly gratifying to help someone. 

·      Will your situation improve if you were to ask for help? 

·      Do you want your situation to improve? It can if you ask for help. 

There isn’t one perfect way to ask for help, and when you need help, I hope you will get to a point of being able to comfortably and confidently ask for it. Remember, people by nature like to help others. Keep this in mind when you are reluctant to ask someone for the help you need. 

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Workplace #Professional #Personal #Help #HowToAskForHelp 

What’s your one thing you are known for?

If someone else were to name the one thing you are known for being good at doing, or perhaps want to be known for, would they be able to do so? How critical is it that you would want them to be able to get this right? 

Humans are complex, and it can be difficult to truly understand and appreciate one another on multiple levels. When it comes to the topic of talent, and being good at a particular thing, it is always interesting to consider how someone evolved to the talent level they have attained. Research supports that to master something, an individual needs to spend around ten thousand hours to reach the level of being exceptional, or considered to be an expert at something.

When you think about how many people actually get to the level of putting in the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery of whatever it is they are known for being good at, what does it take for this person to have this level of focus? Or, the command of discipline required to sustain those many hours of pursuing what they are doing? Does being passionate about something play a role in fueling the person to achieve the highest level of mastery?

Upon considering the people I have come across in my life who have reached the pinnacle of either their career, or the mastery of something they are known for that is not associated with their profession, I have found they all have one thing in common. What is this one thing they have in common? Surprisingly it’s a relatively simple concept.

All of these people will tell you that they love what they are doing. Matter of factly, they will also tell you that the time they are putting into, or have put into pursuing what they are doing or have achieved may in fact have seemed effortless to them. Not always, but many people who have reached a mastery level will also tell you that there were times when it was difficult doing what they were doing. Perhaps even times when they wanted to end their pursuit of mastery. However, all of them would agree that it was worth whatever they had to go through, sacrifice and endure.

This week I had the honor of speaking to a Gold Medal winning Olympian. I asked her what her journey was like to get to the level she attained. Her response was interesting. It was interesting because she only slightly references her own personal involvement in attaining her mastery. In other words, she talked about all of the people in her life, including her parents, coaches, friends and teammates that allowed her to achieve what she did.

This Olympian also mentioned that it was her sense of appreciation for being able to strive to be the best at what she was doing that was one of the contributing elements to her success. It was also the comraderie and support from her teammates along her journey that also contributed to making the difference in remaining focused on her talent contribution towards helping the team with the goal of winning an Olympic gold medal.  I asked her what impact winning an Olympic Gold medal had on her life?  She told me that it provided her with lifelong friends that she literally after many years, is still in daily contact with. Beyond this, they have supported one another via both numerous highs and lows in each other’s lives. However, she also told me that the best part of this type of friendship, is how they would literally consider one another to be family members, and support each other no matter what the circumstances were.

If you are on your way to mastering something you want to be known for either personally or professionally, below are some suggestions to consider to help you to continue on your path. Especially on days that might be slightly more difficult to do so.

  • Pause for a moment. During this pause, consider and make sure you are in fact focusing on something that you either are naturally gifted at doing, or have enough passion for to pursue achieving, regardless of how difficult it will be to do so.
  • Not everyone is intended to achieve a mastery level of something, but if you are inclined to be one of these people, make sure you have people in your life that will be able to emotionally support you on this journey.
  • Socially prune out the people in your life who are not supportive of your quest.
  • Always keep your end goal in mind, or written down and in a place you can reference.
  • Visualize both how it will feel, and what you expect your situation will be like once you master your “thing” you are striving to become an expert in.
  • Focus on the impact your mastery achievement will potentially and positively impact not only you, but others (e.g., you could be a role model for someone).
  • There may be days, even weeks when you might not be able to pursue taking your talent to the next level. Yes, this might feel like a set-back, but keep time in perspective, and understand you are metaphorically running a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Look for inspiration from others, nature, music, or whatever it takes to keep your motivation level where it needs to be in pursuit of your mastery.

Eventually, if someone wants to achieve something, and they have an innate and burning desire to do so, they will get to the place of being known for what they are doing and good at. Going on this journey will be a long one, but if you have the right mindset, and desire to get there, nothing can really prevent you from getting there. Even if the definition of your mastery level is altered at some point along the way, ultimately you are the one who is defining what success of your talent means, and what you are great at either personally or professionally. Perhaps both.

TAGS: #Success #Achievement #Mastery #Olympics #OlympicGoldMedal #Positivity #Mindset #Business #Teams #Teammates #Business #Teamwork #Friendship #PursuitOfSuccess #Goals #AchievingAGoal #Leadership #Mindset #Motivation

A Podcast about Teams.

I’m switching things up a bit this week, and providing you with a link to Dr. Jason Koh’s podcast where he interviewed me about the type of work I do with teams.

Here is the link to the Podcast interview.

Have a terrific week everyone.

How are you projecting your image?

Something I have always enjoyed doing is to observe the actions of how people interact with one another. Particularly in professional and team scenarios. My fascination stems from seeing things that when people are interacting with others, that I’m sure they are not aware of how they are being perceived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the way they are acting, simply noticing and considering how they could be doing something differently. More to their advantage.

In the coaching work I do, I have the opportunity and honor of professionally evaluating and critiquing how both leaders, as well as team members interact with one another. The next step in this observation process is to convey back to the leader and their team what I am seeing. The majority of the time, the leader is the one asking me to conduct this work, and their team is generally unaware that I am watching how they engage with one another.

Of course, it’s much better when people are not aware of when someone is observing them, as they will more naturally act how they ordinarily would. Observing sports teams is much easier to evaluate than work teams, as you get to see the team members interacting in a concentrated scenario when they are playing or practicing their sport. However, it is possible to observe work teams, it just takes longer to do, as you need to see them in a variety of settings within their environment to accomplish this.

I remember the first time I was asked to evaluate a work team and the leader of it. The leader initiated this process, as he admitted he was not fully aware of why he was having challenges with interacting with his team, and his management peers. He also wanted to better understand what was going on. This was a brave and bold move on his behalf, as it can be intimidating to have someone knowingly observe how you are engaging with others. However, the benefits of having me conduct this work for this leader and his team far outweighed any feelings of his awkwardness. 

The results of what I observed were quite revealing, especially with one example which was the body language I was observing this leader display. One of the main body language expressions he was routinely doing, was to immediately cross his arms when he began an interaction with another person. This particular body language expression signals that you are closed off and not fully open to hearing what the other person is saying. It also conveys a form of being defensive. Neither of these body language expressions were what this leader intended to convey. In fact, just the opposite. However, he was unaware that he was doing this, as he didn’t have a mirror or video capturing him doing this during every one of his interactions with others.

Upon being made aware of this one simple action, then having awareness of this happening, and course correcting on this behavior, made an incredible difference in the engagements this leader then had with his team and leadership peers. This one simple example is something that many people do, yet are not aware of this occurring. So, you too can take notice of whether this is something you are also routinely doing.

The first sports teams I had the privilege of observing was initiated by the head coach. He had been coaching for decades, yet admittedly had no idea how his coaching style and his coaching behaviors were impacting his team. He wasn’t sure if how he was being perceived was positive, negative or perhaps neutral. However, he wanted to know which category he fit into, and more importantly, if it was in the “negative” category, that he could course correct on this.

After observing the coach for several games, it became obvious there we some things he was doing as a coach that he was unaware of. One of these observations was that he wasn’t listening to his players when they were attempting to engage with him on the sidelines. He was unaware that he was being dismissive of their attempts to talk to him. When I shared this observation with him, he was completely surprised by this. In fact, he was upset that this was happening, as he prided himself and perceived himself to be very open to communicating with others.  

By adjusting the coach’s awareness of how he was interacting with his players in a way that was contrary to how he thought he was interacting, was a “game changer” for his team going forward. Why? Because the team members and the coach were now able to actually communicate openly with one another. The results of this coach’s team performance also demonstrated the positive impact from this one small change in behavior too.

So, what can you do to see the type of image you are projecting? Here are some suggestions to “test drive”.

  • You will first need to commit to being open to having someone provide you with constructive feedback, and not consider it to be criticism and feel like you are being attacked.
  • Find someone you implicitly trust to evaluate you, and who has experience successfully leading others.
  • The image we project may or may not be something we are intentionally coordinating with our actions, and if possible, if you can observe yourself on video, this is ideal. However, you still will want someone who can neutrally provide you with feedback about what they are also seeing in person and via the video, as you still might not see what they are seeing.
  • Although you might think you don’t have a great deal of control over the image you are projecting, you actually do. In fact, the image you are projecting is multi-faceted, and involves how you speak (e.g., the tone of your voice, how fast or slow you speak, how you enunciate your words), how you stand or sit in front of others (e.g., standing up tall, versus slumping your shoulders) and what you choose to wear (e.g., generally in professional situations, always select clothing which presents the best impression of who you are, and yet doesn’t distract from your actions or how you will be communicating). This applies to both women and men.
  • Think about what type of image you want to project. When you intentionally consider this, it will be easier to accomplish it.
  • After thinking about the image you want to project, look the part of how you want to project yourself in your organization, versus not giving this factor any or enough consideration.
  • Ask someone who’s image you admire, for suggestions on how they have developed their image. I guarantee you they evolved to the image they are projecting, and you will benefit from knowing how they accomplished this.

Projecting the image you want to requires a conscientious effort to do so, and can take years to perfect. Your image can also be fluid, and evolve over time. What you want to master or become comfortable with, is that your awareness of your image matches the reality of how others perceive it.

TAGS: #Perception #Image #HowDoYouProjectYourImage #HowAreYouPerceived #Business #Management #Teams #Leadership #Leaders #SportsTeams #Coaching #TeamCoaching