Asking for favors and not reciprocating?

Don’t get me wrong. I love helping people, and when someone asks me for a favor, the majority of the time I say yes. However, when I was recently asked a favor by someone, and then a second and third one, curiously there wasn’t any offer by the person to reciprocate. Not even a verbal one. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this pattern, had the third “favor” not followed the second one so swiftly.

Yes, there can be a fine line between helping others, and getting taken advantage of. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, and this is the point I am conveying. I want people to become more aware of when, how often and what type of “favors” they are asking for. More importantly, I want them to also be cognizant of the fact they can offer to do something in exchange for the favor they are asking.

Returning favors do not have to be equal in value. In fact, they should be in alignment with something that you can easily do for the person who granted you the favor of your original request for help.

When I began thinking about the imbalance of favor requesting, I was beginning to see a pattern emerge. I also started thinking about who was asking for these favors, and why I was their choice of who they requested. For clarification purposes, all of the people who have requested favors from me are business-oriented favors based on my expertise. So, it made sense for people to request them from me.

The common thread by people who were asking for favors was that they trusted me. They also knew I would not disappoint them, and that they could count on me to help them with their request. My hope from all of the favors I have granted other people, is that if in fact I am not the recipient of a returned favor, that they pay the favor forward to someone else. Although, once in a while it would be refreshing to unexpectantly experience reciprocity.

If you are at either end of the spectrum when it comes to asking for or doing favors for others, I encourage you to think about whether there is a middle ground? Perhaps this doesn’t matter, and in full disclosure, the majority of the time, I experience a sense of joy in helping others, and more so when we have a balance in our lives. This pertains to requesting and doing favors too.

To stir your brain around whether you fall into one category or the other, I believe it is fair to acknowledge that people who are doing lots of favors for others know they are in this category. So, my suggestions below are intended to benefit those who may not have recognized they are in the category of always asking for favors. Or, that perhaps not reciprocating as much as they should be.

  • Everyone needs help from time to time. However, are you always asking others to help you, when in fact you could do (fill in the blank) yourself? This pertains to both your personal and professional life.
  • In the last week, how many favors have you asked from other people? If you don’t know, consider keeping track of the amount of favors you ask for. Then take a look at the list a week later.
  • Upon reviewing your list of requested favors, were you able to reciprocate any favors for the requestors? Or, could you do this in the near future?
  • Consider why you are always asking for favors? You might not in fact have realized this is something you might be chronically doing. Hint – this isn’t a behavior that many other people have a high tolerance level to engage with.
  • When you asked someone for a favor recently, did you ask them if there is something you can do in return for them? Not everything in life has to be quid pro quo, but it would be beneficial and score you some karma points by at least asking if you can help the person you have asked to help you.
  • There are times in everyone’s life when they need more assistance than others. Although consider whether you are in one of these phases, or if your life or professional circumstances appear to be dictating you are more often needing support via favors from others. If this is the case, there are likely other contributing factors which have placed you into this vicious cycle.
  • Think about the last few people you asked favors from. Now consider reaching back to each of them and asking them what you could help them with that would make a difference for them. They might not be able to provide you with an immediate answer, so let them think about this. The most important part of doing this is to follow-up and reach back out a second time to see if they came up with a way for you to return a favor for them.

Doing favors for others can be really therapeutic, especially given the fact the Pandemic world we are living in right now is causing extra stress and burdens in many people’s lives. Because of this, please do your part to be on the end of granting favors and reducing the amount of favors you are asking from others.

Tags: #Favors #HelpingOthers #Business #Success #Leadership #CareerAdvice #Mentoring #PersonalDevelopment #BusinessTips #Reciprocity

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

Is being helpful overrated?

I’ve always been a friendly person, and someone who has embraced the concept of reaching out to support others. Especially those who are too proud to ask for help. Sometimes simply acknowledging another person is a form of being helpful. Consider the last time when someone you know walked by you without say hello, and it would have been appropriate for them to do so. Perhaps one of your colleagues, or worse, your boss or a family member.

When was the last time you did something to help another person? Fortunately, the response from the majority of people will be that it was recently. However, what separates people who naturally gravitate towards genuinely helping others, from those who are possibly guilted into doing so isn’t such a stark contrast as you might think.

The reason some people help others more than others is tied to a number of factors. The first one is that there was a point in their life that they can point to when someone helped them. It was also an experience which made a significant difference in their situation. Another factor is that the majority of people will tell you they feel happier when they can and do help out another individual.

People will tell you that they are committed to helping others because they feel they have been granted more opportunities for success than others. Some might call this a form of privilege not everyone benefits from. Not everyone feels this way, but when they do, the difference they can make because of this emotion or recognition in others’ lives can be remarkable. Keep in mind that it is not always a monetary scenario that is helpful. Lending your time and attention to someone can be a more powerful way of supporting someone.

Fortunately, there are numerous organizations that are setup to support others, and also thousands of opportunities for people to tap into funding to provide them with support. I was reminded of this recently when I was doing some research on funding options for some projects I am working on. Unlike projects I have worked on in the past, the particular project I am focused on could be one to receive a grant to extend help others.

For years others have been tapping into grants to support their humanitarian efforts. It was eye opening for me to see how many funding options are available to provide help. However, this hasn’t been a route I have ventured down. Namely because the majority of my professional career prior to becoming an entrepreneur has been focused on commercial, for profit products and services.

Having access to funding options to help others is definitely something I will be looking more into. It opens up possibilities beyond what I imagined. Even better news is that I have both the ability to seek grants, and also the expertise to share with others to help support them. Both parties benefit from this scenario.

As a business entrepreneur, my mind queued up to consider possible new directions to assist others. From my perspective, this is a win/win scenario for everyone. This wasn’t always the case in the professional world I have evolved out of. However, I am grateful for the experience it provided me to be able to apply and share it with others.

Consider a time when things in your life, or a particular situation were not going well. Was there someone who seemingly swooped in to assist you? Were you surprised by who it was? Or, was it someone who routinely has been there for you? If it was the later response, consider yourself to be very fortunate. Not everyone has someone like that in their lives.

As a parent, I have had a plethora of situations to help our children. When they were younger, I would classify the type of help they needed as being more physical support (e.g., learning to walk, feed themselves). However, as they matured and became young adults, the type of support they needed was far different than I had anticipated. Why? Because it required a great deal of emotional and mental support as they ventured through their new experiences.

Prior to having children, I didn’t realize that the experience of managing other people would provide me with the skills and expertise as an advantage of helping to guide our own children. This has to do with the fact that many of the scenarios I had to help others manage through, are now ones our own young adults are contending with.

Being able to leverage my professional experience to help my own family and now thousands of others around the globe, is beyond something I envisioned happening. However, I’m eternally grateful this occurred, and want to express my thanks to those who supported me to be able to get to this point in my life. They include my husband Stephen Shinnick, my parents Daniel and Emily Murphy and my grandparents who are no longer with us.

So, would I say that being helpful to others is overrated? No. In fact it is one of the most humane acts someone can do. What will you be doing to help someone else today, tomorrow and beyond? I know what I’ll be doing, and I hope you have some solid ideas too.

Tags: #Communication #Havingdifficultconversations #Howtohaveadifficultconversation #Leadership #Management #Business

Uncertainty and decision making

Overview:

Let’s face it. Most people when asked if they like uncertainty will tell you they don’t. If asked to choose between the two, they will more often favor decision making. However, both of these topics can make people uncomfortable, yet they don’t have to. So, who are the people comfortable with both, and were they always this way? Can you be one of them?

Learning how to embrace uncertainty versus fearing or dreading it isn’t something which comes naturally. When we think of the concept of uncertainty, we often wish that we could definitively know what the outcome will be. When we can anticipate or predict the way anything will turn out, it also gives us a sense of comfort, or perceivably more control. Although some people don’t mind being surprised by an outcome. Especially outcomes that have a higher potential to be a positive one.

Although I am not an actuary, a significant percentage of outcomes mathematically will have roughly a fifty percent chance of a favorable outcome. So, why do we as humans tend to ere on focusing on the potential for a negative outcome? One of the reasons we do this is to protect ourselves from disappointment. If we expect the outcome not to be in our favor and it is, then we are happier about the results. Another reason we think negatively, is that we are not confident enough in our abilities, planning or circumstances to warrant the outcome we would prefer.

What if you could alter the way you think and embrace uncertainty? Part of being able to do this will involve re-training the way you think. This isn’t easy to do. Yet it can be incredibly gratifying to achieve being able to do this, even occasionally. To begin down the path of embracing uncertainty, one of the factors I noted above was to become more confident in your thinking this is something you can do. Let’s start there. Can you do this? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, as I know you can.

As you already know, our subconscious mind has a great deal of power. When we tap into it, and we suggest to ourselves that the outcome of any scenario will be favorable, we begin laying down the path for this to happen. Have you ever tried doing this? I’m sure you have, but potentially not all of the time. Consider a time you didn’t do this, and how much energy you put into thinking the outcome of your situation wasn’t going to be in your favor. Yet, it was. What if instead you could have channeled that wasted negative energy into something else? For one thing, you would have been less anxious, more fun to be around, and likely have had more energy to appreciate the positive outcome.

Let’s switch gears and focus on decision making as something you enjoy doing, and do well. For those reading this who feel they have mastered the art of decision making, consider how you could or would teach others how to do this. If you are in the category of needing to learn how to make better decisions, I have some suggestions on how you can go about doing this.

  • I recently met a woman who uses a method of visually thinking through her decisions. What she does is to draw a square box. In that box is the topic related to her decision. Around the box she places other boxes that have words or phrases that either support or don’t support her topic. This is similar to a pro and con list, but it is using a different visual representation to help you think through your situation.
  • Now would be a good time to consider putting together either an informal or formal board of advisors. It doesn’t have to be a big group, and it should be people who you know, and can rely upon to give you input from an objective position. Not necessarily what you want to hear, but a more neutral or alternative way of thinking about the outcome of your decision.
  • Depending on the type of decision you are making, is it possible to do research, or more research on helping you to determine an outcome? Perhaps a positive one?
  • Part of becoming a decision maker and mastering this concept, means you will become more comfortable with relying upon your gut instinct. Start slowly if you are uncomfortable with doing this, but think about what your first thought was. Then think about whether it is based on fear, or has merit for being a good decision.
  • When you vacillate on your decisions, you typically do this due to lack of confidence in your ability to decide. You will know you have mastered the art of decision making, when you stop vacillating on your decisions.

Yes, life is full of uncertainty, and we would be hard pressed to live a day without having to make any decisions. So, given the reality of this, the best course of action for ourselves is to embrace uncertainty and decision making, and to become pros at both of them. Let’s get you started today!

Tags: #Business #DecisionMaking #Uncertainty #EmbracingChange #Marketing #Sales #Leadership #MakingDecisions