Are you thinking for yourself?

Many of us like to think of ourselves as being independent. Independent in our actions, spoken and written words as well as our thoughts. Attaining a level of independence is certainly a goal many of us have. Although getting there will require you to ultimately do something you may not be prepared to do, or well prepared for. Making decisions on your own.

When we are growing up, we need to heavily rely upon others with our decision making. Namely because we do not have enough experience to consider the potential consequences of certain decision paths. More importantly their outcomes.

Regardless of your age, think back to when you realized you were both old enough and capable enough to make a decision without having to consult with everyone around you. Everyone will have a different response. In fact, some people’s attainment might be decades apart from one another. It’s also possible, you might not have reached this level yet. Although you or others would expect you have done so. It’s OK if you are not there yet, as there are likely contributing factors as to why you have not arrived.

Seeking other people’s opinions, advice or direction is something everyone does. There are also times in our life when we should be doing this, and other times when we ourselves will have to be the one we consult with.

When we achieve the point of being able to rely upon our own judgement, sans others weighing in, consider yourself arriving at a place in life that many people struggle to get to. This applies to both work and our personal life. In fact, most of our life decisions will be far more difficult to make than our workplace ones. This is typically due to the fact there are more emotions tied into them.

Leaders of both workplace and sports teams (e.g., coaches) are accustomed to making decisions with others involved. Often, they need a consensus of opinions to make sure their final decision will serve the majority of the people impacted by the decision in a positive manner. Not always, as they too will need to make difficult, gut wrenching decisions that will negatively impact others. Naturally, no one wants to be in the position of doing this, but their role requires them to own the responsibility for doing so.

Upon considering this topic, I thought about how do people learn to become better at, and ultimately able to completely make independent decisions? If I was asked to come up with a word to do this, it would be experience. It’s unavoidable to think you can attain being able to think independently without this. The conundrum for some, and those who have struggled to get to the point where they are, and without having achieved being able to think for themselves can be altered. If they want it to be.

Let’s say you or someone you know is in need of being able to think for themselves. Even at the most basic level. Ultimately at the critical thinking level. There are steps they will need to take in order to reach this achievement, and they will need to be willing to put in the effort to get there. If they are not, they will remain in their purgatory of always relying on others to assist them with all of their decision making.

So, if you want to begin your journey of being able to think for yourself, or help someone else do this, below are some suggestions I have for you to consider.

  • What is your favorite color? I’m sure you were able to answer this without consulting with someone. Ultimately you want to be able to reach a point where you won’t have to consult with someone with more difficult decisions to make.
  • Think of your favorite hobby you do when you have spare time. One that is family friendly. How did you determine this hobby was something you enjoyed doing? It was likely introduced or suggested to you at some point. Then you determined you made this decision to continue doing it. Perhaps because it provided you with some type of benefit (e.g., it was relaxing, artistic, helped someone else).
  • We all make numerous decisions on a daily basis. Try challenging yourself to see if you can make half of your decisions without consulting someone else on them. Ultimately work up to one hundred percent over a self-determined time line.
  • Consider a difficult decision you recently made, and that you conferred with someone about. Could you have made the decision without them? If not, what were the factors that contributed to you needing input from this person?
  • Are you challenging yourself or not challenging yourself enough to create opportunities for you to practice independent decision making? If you do not have enough challenging opportunities, is it due to a factor you have stopped to think about why this is the case? For many, it’s fear of failure. Or, ironically, perhaps fear of succeeding.

Eventually everyone will reach the point of being able to think for themselves. Especially if they are aware of this as a goal they wish to attain. Even if it is much later in your life than you think it should be.

We all reach different achievement milestones at the time which serves us best, and based on our life experiences which contribute to them. My hope is that you will reach this goal if you desire to do so. If not, that’s your decision. However, I will tell you, your career and life can be extraordinarily more rewarding when you reach this achievement.

Tags: #Business #Critical Thinking #Decision Making #Success #Work #Thinking for yourself #Independent thinking

What’s your growth plan?

For some people, the thought of putting a growth plan in place might seem difficult to do. Conversely, for others, they couldn’t imagine not having one. Especially one that may be refined at the beginning of a new year. Do you fall into one of these categories or possibly in-between?

Although Stephen Covey may not be known as a self-growth champion, he is certainly well revered for helping millions of people become organized and focused on creating daily or longer-term actions to be focused on. Sure, you could potentially consider action plans to be associated with a growth plan, but my take on a growth plan is slightly different.

When I think about crafting a growth plan for myself, I consider a number of different factors prior to launching into this project. One of them is to factor in what my values are. Typically, I choose around five values to weave into my growth plan. The second thing I do is to think about what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. I also break down this list into smaller time increments so that I am able to see steady progress.

As I am contemplating the items I want to include in my growth plan, I will also think about whether my goals are purely self-serving, or if in fact I have some which will positively impact others. Having goals which will impact others is important to me, as it supports my value of giving back to others. It also personally supports another goal I had not considered until about three years ago when I was experiencing suicidal level pain from a back injury. Which I was fortunate enough to have back surgery to address this challenge. The goal I am referring to is to craft something tangible that I can leave behind as my legacy one day. I’m referring to my content that I develop and share with others.

For the last several years I have published one book a year, and as of December, I began writing my sixth book in the Wisdom Whisperer series. When Covid came into our lives in the first quarter of 2020, it impacted my plans to launch and promote my second book called Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer. Sure, I could have altered my plans to promote my book differently, but instead I chose to hold back and re-launch my book in 2021.

Publishing one book per year is one of my goals which is both something I personally want to achieve as part of my growth plan. It is also a way for me to give back, and impact others by sharing my experience with them via my writing. For those of you who prefer audio or video, I’ve got you covered in my plans too, as I’m working on an audio recording of my first book this year. Prefer watching video? I’ll be back in the TV recording studio to record my 26th Murf & E Unfiltered show this month.

You might be surprised to know that one of my growth plan goals this year is to leverage my TV content, as I have admittedly not done a good job with promoting it. However, about a dozen of my shows are available via my YouTube channel in case you want to check some of them out.

Now that I have shared a few of the steps I factor into developing my own growth plan, below are some other ways you can approach developing your own, as I am a firm believer everyone should have one.

  • Brainstorming what your growth plan will look like can be one of the first steps in your process for assembling one. You can informally do this alone, or with someone who you trust to support making this happen.
  • The statement “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words” both make sense, as it is easy to verbally express your plans and goals. However, stating them out loud doesn’t always support committing to them, unless of course you recorded them, and have proof you said them.
  • It is a more supportive approach to write your growth plans down. You choose whether you prefer paper or a digital format. Either is fine. The point is to have physical evidence of your commitment to your growth plan.
  • Once you have determined what you want to accomplish as part of your growth plan, apply a timeline to each of the elements. As I mentioned previously, you might want to break down into smaller increments some of the growth plans you have. This can make it easier to achieve them, and see your steady progress.
  • Consider whether your growth plans are in support of your values. If they are not, you will be conflicted with wanting to pursue them. Don’t self-sabotage your ability to achieve your plans because of this misalignment. 
  • If you have never put a growth plan in place, I applaud you for doing so the first time. Once you have put one in place, you will find it much easier the next time to do so.
  • Some growth plans will need to be modified. This is perfectly acceptable. However, I suggest you put careful thought into why you need to modify your plan, and consider putting more structured thinking into how to achieve the goal with your modified plan.

By crafting a growth plan, you will set yourself on a path to achieve more than you would have accomplished without this plan in place. There is tremendous satisfaction we can experience when we are at various points during the year, and look back on what aspects of our growth plan we have achieved. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be achievement oriented, I guarantee you will want to at a minimum attempt to put your annual growth plan in place.  You have nothing to lose by doing this, and so much to gain. Good luck!

Tags: #Goals #Business #Success #Growthplans #Growthplanning #Self-achievement #Leadership #Motivation #Goals #Goalplanning #Achievement #Achievinggoals #Sales #Marketing #Teams

Why do we follow leaders?

I’m not known for talking about politics, and in fact I don’t talk about them for obvious reasons. However, similar to business and sports team leaders, the people in these positions all play an important role in our society. Although their respective assents to their leadership roles are generally remarkably, and curiously different. 

Take for example just about any CEO or leader of a sports team organization. Or, a head sports team coach. If you were to ask them where they went to leadership school, most would look at you oddly. Why? Because there are limited ways for leaders to obtain their skills from an educational perspective. Skills that are truly meaningful.

In other words, leaders learn how to lead from actual experience of leading others. Not by simply reading about how to lead others. I’m not disparaging the wonderful leadership books out there, I’m just stating that I have yet to come across a leader who said they learned everything they needed to become an amazing leader via reading about the topic.

Similar to a trade role (e.g., plumber, electrician, welder), leaders gain the majority of their skills by practicing and applying them in a physical way. Although trade persons are highly skilled, they do not have to master the soft skills that effective leaders need to gain. Unless of course they are the owner of the company. Then I would place those individuals in the same category as business and sports team leaders.

The most impactful skills that leaders need to acquire and master are ones which are more difficult to measure. I’m referring to the skills of communication, influence and emotional intelligence (e.g., EQ). Granted I want to stress that the EQ skill isn’t something one can learn, as this is one of the skills in the innate category. You are either fortunate to have lots of it, or not enough for your or others liking. Having common sense is also one of the beneficial skills the top leaders possess. However, it’s one of the other skills you either have, or you don’t.

Of course, all leaders start out as followers. The interesting factor to consider is at what point is the cross over to leadership made? Depending on the type of leadership role, it could in fact take years before someone steps into that role. However, we have all seen instances where an individual is placed into a leadership role they are ill prepared to take on. Everyone suffers when this occurs. With a few exceptions.

One of the exceptions is that the newly minted leader is supported by others to buffer their learning curve. The supporters will play the role of advising the majority of the new leaders decisions, until they reach a point when they can make more of the decisions on their own. However, without this arrangement in place as an exception, the new under prepared leader will experience a steep and often painful learning curve themselves, and for those they lead. I guarantee you have seen this. Perhaps you have even had the misfortune of being led by this individual? The good news is that most of these ill prepared leaders will be filtered out, and replaced by an actual experienced leader. Although not always.

At what point do people know they are ready to lead and make the crossover into leadership? Below are some ways you will know when the time is right for you to make this leap.

  • Gaining experience takes time. Most leaders will need a minimum of a decade worth of experience to have had enough opportunities to learn, and to have made enough mistakes along the way to be effective when they step into their role. With this said, having 15-20 years of experience is even better.
  • You have had the opportunity to learn about multiple facets of the business, or acquire deep knowledge about the sports team you are leading. Additionally, you have had a minimum number of roles (e.g., 2-4) to provide you with insight only gained from having exposure to critical functions which impact the company, or sports team you will be leading.
  • You are at a point where you are able to mentor others.
  • People you respect and who are in leadership roles begin seeking you out for advice or your opinion on how to handle different situations.
  • You are able to see the big picture, and can effectively communicate strategically as well as persuasively to your peers and leadership members above your current role. 
  • You have made enough calculated mistakes and recovered from them without tarnishing your reputation.
  • Others trust your judgement and are comfortable with letting you make critical decisions, as you have solid track record for demonstrating this.
  • Not everyone who can step into a leadership role wants to do so. In fact, many shy away from the enormous responsibilities that go along with being the leader. It’s not a role for the faint of heart, or those who have difficulty with making, sticking to and applying decisions to be carried out effectively.

Moving into a leadership role is a privilege, and not one to be casually entered into.  In fact, I can tell you that you will intuitively know when you are ready to take on becoming the leader. If you can’t trust your gut instinct with this decision, then it’s not likely your time to step out of the follower role yet. 

Tags: #Business #Success #Leadership #Teams #Sportsteams #Headcoaches #Sportscoaches #Coaches #Headsportscoach #HeadSportscoaches #Strategy #Management #BusinessManagement

Preparing for what’s next.

Let’s face it. Having a crystal ball would help us in many ways. However, there may in fact be certain things we don’t want to know about. Although knowing some information ahead of time might help us to be better prepared emotionally. That would be the upside, but there is a downside too.

Due to the fact we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, or at least I don’t, how I look ahead and prepare for what’s in front of me isn’t a perfect science. However, let’s say my system is a work in progress and continuously being refined. I would say it’s better to have a system in place than not. Or, at least I find comfort in attempting to have plans in place, or a contingency plan.

When I talk to business leaders and sports coaches, I am always fascinated with their different approaches to how they lead and guide others. Especially in times of adversity.

Adversity is something no one is immune from experiencing. Especially teams as they can be more complicated to deal with versus comparing them to an individual and how they handle adversity. We all know that when you have multiple factors involved in a scenario, it tends to complicate the situation. However, there are ways to simplify and confront a team dealing with a difficult situation.

One of my favorite business memories was when I was working with a sales team who was struggling to meet their numbers. I’ll contrast this with a sports team I was also working with who was rebuilding their team, and the challenges that were present.

In both of the team scenarios, neither one had an adversity contingency plan. This is fairly common, as most teams will strictly be focused on achievement and the process of everything going well. As we know, this isn’t realistic, and precisely why teams and their leaders get into trouble when adversity shows up.

By discussing with each team leader how we were going to handle adversity if it occurred, I prepared both teams in an entirely different manner than they were accustomed to. At first there was some reluctance on both team’s leader/coach to the approach I was recommending, as they thought it would be detrimental to think about something negative occurring.

There is a phrase that I’ll make less crude, and refer to as “life happens”. We know it does, but we are not always willing to embrace the fact that things may not go the way we want them to. However, when we have a contingency plan that can prepare us for a situation that takes us off track, it is mentally much easier to deal with the adverse circumstances when they do occur. In fact, how often do plans typically play out one hundred percent the way you expect them to?

Let’s go back to the two different teams I was referencing. They both eventually conceded and agreed to putting a contingency plan in place. In fact, they put multiple ones in place in order to handle a number of adverse situations they may encounter. Once the contingency plans were in place, both the leader and coach admitted that crafting their respective contingency plans was easier for them to do then they had originally expected.

There is another expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I will often cite, and which is related to this topic. It is “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Yes, this might seem slightly harsh, but it has served me and many others extremely well. Especially when an adverse situation occurred.

So, if you are curious about some techniques you can apply to help you or your team prepare for what’s next, below are some ideas for you to consider.

  • Make a list of the positive outcomes expected from your team.
  • Using your positive team outcome list, create a second column and include one or two potential reasons the outcome may not be reached.
  • Leveraging your two columns above, create a third column. This column will include a proposed solution to handle the potential adverse outcomes of your plans.
  • Some of your contingency plans may in fact be able to cover multiple scenarios.
  • If possible, it is recommended you include your team in the contingency planning.
  • If you do not include your team in the contingency planning, make sure you convey to them you have a plan in place if they get off track from their expected positive outcomes.
  • Ideally, you will want to role play the contingency plans. This is because, if you have to put them in place, it will be a more fluid experience for the team since they have knowledge of what is expected of them to do in the contingency planning scenario.
  • Mindset plays a large role in helping your teams to get through adversity. Make sure you have thought about what plan you have in place to leverage your team’s positive mindset when you need to do so in adverse scenarios.

If you are wondering whether these two teams had to enact their contingency plans, I can assure you they did. More than once in fact. However, they were incredibly relieved they had them in place. Even better? They both achieved and exceeded their initial plans, despite the unplanned and encountered adversity along the way.

Tags: #Business #Success #Adversity #ContingencyPlanning #Leadership #Management #BusinessManagement #Strategy

What’s holding you back?

One thing I place high up on my value list is motivation. Fortunately, I am also intrinsically inclined to be self-motivated, but I realize not everyone is. This is precisely why it is something I help others with, and is woven into my professional work.

We all know that excuses are easy to make. I hear them from people all of the time. I’m certain you do to. I also know that sticking to doing something productive and worth your time and attention isn’t easy to do. If it was, more people would be celebrating their achievements on a regular basis. So, what’s holding you, or others back?

Actually, the answer is obvious. You are holding yourself back. No one else is. Sure, you can recite numerous reasons you think others or some perceived reason is holding you back from accomplishing what you want to, but they aren’t. It’s you.

Do me a favor. Look in the mirror. Seriously. Look in a mirror. Tell yourself out loud that someone or something else is holding you back from your accomplishment. Do you believe this? Are you really going to lie to yourself?

OK, instead, let’s try looking in the mirror and telling yourself that “I am the only one holding me back from accomplishing…fill in the blank.” Did you feel different telling yourself a lie versus the truth? Chances are you are more comfortable with lying to yourself about whatever is holding you back. However, when you face yourself, and look yourself in the eyes and say and hear the truth, you are setting yourself on a path that will be freeing to you.

If it is as easy as pausing and committing to stop lying to yourself and blaming others or situations for holding you back, and you can accept full responsibility for no one or nothing else doing so, you can accomplish exactly what you want to.

Sure, you might be skeptical about what I am saying, but there is plenty of research and evidence to support what I am telling you.

I don’t like being hypocritical, so I’m never going to write or talk about something I don’t believe in. As a matter of fact, there have been a number of times in my life when I have had to come to terms with accepting the fact I was the one getting in my own way. Was this easy to do? Not at first, but just like anything you become good at, it takes some practice. Toss in a bit of discipline too.

Of course, jumping right in and agreeing with the fact you are the only one holding yourself back from “fill in the blank” might require some additional direction. So, I have included some suggestions about how to go about doing this below.

  • We know there is no such thing as perfection. Although many people strive to have everything, or as many things as they can be their definition of perfect in their lives. If this sounds like you, you still might in fact be holding yourself back and blaming others for not allowing you to achieve what you deem to be perfection. News flash! It’s no one else’s fault you did not achieve perfection. It’s yours, as it is impossible to be perfect all the time.
  • Stop wasting time and energy playing the blame game. Consider how many hours, days, months or years you have been guilty of doing this. Where did it get you?
  • No one else is holding you back. Look in the mirror like I talked about earlier and tell yourself this. Seriously. Do this as many times until you start to believe what you are saying.
  • Timing and circumstances may play a minor role in holding you back, but I guarantee you there will be a time when these two items are no longer a factor, and can’t be used as an excuse for why you can’t do or accomplish something.
  • Is there someone in your life who is enabling you to remain stagnant? They may be part of your excuse cycle, and a factor contributing to holding you back. However, consider the fact that only you are letting them do this. Again, this points back to you holding yourself back.
  • Think about the type of people your surround yourself with. Do they encourage and motivate you? Or, do they do the opposite, or possibly, they are simply neutral. Being neutral doesn’t generally add value, but it can keep the peace, but it won’t propel you towards what you want to do.  
  • Have you considered whether you really want to succeed at something? Seriously think about this. Maybe you are afraid of being good at or successful at accomplishing or doing something which will be beneficial to you and your life.
  • You need to have a mindset that you believe and know that you deserve to go after and be able to achieve what you want to. Without any excuses.

Given the fact it is the end of 2020, and what for many will go down in their minds as one of the most challenging years to get through, it is more important than ever to now be focused going into the next year with a different mentality. One that will allow you to have a clear forward. One that will be free of any excuses about what is holding you back from going after, and accomplishing everything you want to.

Only you can make this happen. No more excuses, and you will be happy someone was honest enough with you to tell you this.

TAGS: #Nomoreexcuses #Motivation #Business #Sales #Positivity #Encouragement #WhydoImakeexcuses #Howtobeaccomplished #Productivity #Tipsonhowtobesuccessful #Success