What do you want?

Oddly sometimes it’s easier to not think about what you really want. To simply go along and not have anything change in your life. Yes, you can give great what I’ll refer to as “lip service” and talk endlessly about what you think you really want, but why is it that so many people do not pursue what they are talking about?

I believe this happens for a number of reasons. One could be fear of actually having what they want become a reality. Maybe they don’t think they actually deserve to have what they want to happen. Is this based on an underlining fear? Fear that they might try to go after something and not have it take place. 

Or, do people not fully architect either in their mind, in a written format or verbally what they want because doing so requires you to have some basis of a plan. Then, even harder, to put this plan into action. 

Let’s stay on the theme of having a plan to get to the place of knowing what you want. Either to do, or to craft as a way of going in a different direction than the one you are currently tracking on personally or professionally. Possibly both. 

For me personally, I approach considering what I want from what would be considered the visualization approach. In other words, I think about where I want to take my life personally or professionally, and then I envision what this would look like. Many athletes are accustomed to doing this, and so are people who have a performance or metric driven oriented profession or life. 

My Dad loves to ask me a multi-dimensional question. The question is “What if I won the lottery? How would this change my life, and what would I do with the winnings?” Typically, he asks me this when the lottery amount is staggeringly high, and the amount of money would certainly be life changing if you won. Of course, having more money than you might know what to do with is fun to think about, but let’s come back down to reality, and take this thought out of the equation.

I only popped this question into this story for the sake of giving you a way to begin brainstorming about what you really want. Think of it as a warm-up exercise. Now let’s move onto moving from being in a place where you are potentially stuck, or have not ever considered what you really want. Yes, this is possible. Namely because people have good intentions to figure out what they really want, but they get derailed at some point along their journey. Either by another person, circumstances, or perhaps because the life train simply leaves them standing on the platform, and then never get onboard another train. 

The train metaphor works well. Why? Because it also assumes life is a journey, and that we all have chances to decide when to get on-board with our journey towards what we want to pursue. Or, if we want to choose to remain on the platform, or on the same train for years to come. Perhaps because we think it’s easier to just go along with life this way. 

What if you wanted to begin thinking about and then putting into action what you really want to do? Below are some suggestions to help you to factor making this become a reality, as I believe all of us deserve a chance to craft the life we both want, deserve and have the courage to pursue. 

  • First admit whether you had an idea of what you wanted to pursue in your life or professionally and whether you have given up on this thought. If you have, ask yourself if there is potentially another way of pursuing what you wanted to, but in a different way? For example, I wanted to be an architect/interior designer when I was growing up. However, I stopped pursuing this dream because I wasn’t strong in math, and I was afraid I would be a failure. Fast forward twenty-five years, and I now act as an interior designer every day thanks to an interior design game app I play every day. Surprisingly, doing this has allowed me to resume my goal of being an architect/interior designer, just in a very different method than I had ever considered.
  • Begin with my warm-up exercise compliments of my Dad and start daydreaming about what if you were to win the lottery. Think about how it might change your life, and write down some ways it would. 
  • In the spirit of daydreaming about winning the lottery, think about if money were not object. Would you change the career you are in? Move to a different location, begin traveling or perhaps financially help others who you are close to who are struggling financially? Maybe you have so much money you are going to need to develop a charity, and spend the rest of your life giving away and donating your money to your favorite causes? The point is to thing “big”. 
  • You have heard of the expression “go big, or go home”. When you are thinking about what you want out of your life, don’t limit your thinking to only things you think you can attain. OK, perhaps have one or two things on your list, but make sure you have some seriously “big” goals to pursue. 
  • Having “big goals” can be more empowering than frustrating, as it challenges your mind to come up with solutions and possibilities of being able to achieve what you want. 
  • Is it possible for you to “test drive” anything you are considering pursuing as your “what I want to do” scenario? Factor in my example above of how I am leveraging virtual reality to satisfy my “what I have wanted to do” via playing the on-line game app which has allowed me to be a pseudo architect/interior designer”. In other words, really think out of the box if you have to. 

Pursuing what we really want to in our lives or professionally is something I have both personally accomplished doing, beyond just my example above, and what I help others to do every day. So, I know this isn’t an unrealistic concept to be considered just for fun. Drop in the comments section what your “what I really want to do” ideas are. I’d love to hear them. 

Tags: #Business #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment #Strategy #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration 

Feeling trapped by a title or industry?

Perhaps it’s the ongoing Pandemic, but I feel like I have hit a wall with being trapped inside for too long. The more challenging part of this realization, is that I don’t see my personal situation changing any day soon. Yes, I know it will, and that plenty of others feel this way too, but patience is not one of my specialties. Results are, which makes feeling like I am trapped even tougher.

Ok, thanks for letting me vent. I feel better now, and can get on with talking about another form of feeling, or being trapped professionally and what you can do about this. For me, having a solution, even just one, makes me feel empowered and able to conquer any obstacle in my way. In terms of a person who is feeling defined by the work they do, or the industry they are in was something I was having a conversation about this morning.

The conversation was in fact energizing. It also made me consider some alternatives to how I could offer advice to others who might be feeling trapped. Either personally or professionally by the role they play in an organization.

Although you might not consider people at the top of an organization would feel trapped or isolated in their roles, I can tell you for a fact and through experience this isn’t the case. Many top executives or leaders have experienced a sense of being defined by their roles, the organization they work for, or the industry they are in. Many of them are proud of having achieved the roles they are in, but many of these same people are not experiencing the satisfaction you might imagine they would be.

I was reading an article the other day and came across an interesting title. The title was Chief Wellness Officer. The role was loosely defined, and underscored the fact this was not a human resource role. I found that to be interesting, but given the mental health crisis occurring in our society currently, and the fact it is being exacerbated by the Pandemic, I thought this newly defined role was refreshing to learn about. Also, quite timely.

Although the definition of the Chief Wellness Officer role wasn’t clearly defined, it struck me as a moment in time when reality and the needs of employees were catching up to be in synch. Now, the challenge will be to see this role better defined and implemented.

Let’s circle back to the situation you might be in where you are feeling unfairly defined by your title. If you are in a supportive role, there is a greater chance you are feeling trapped in playing a follower role, versus a leadership one. However, not everyone is meant to take on the role of a leader, but if you think you are, and you not in this role yet, I guarantee you know what I am referring to. Now, let’s imagine for a moment no one had a title. What would this type of work environment look like, and how would it exist without structure and by well-defined rules to play by? It might be completely chaotic, or it might flow well. Most would say it would be chaotic, but I would bet they have not experienced the type of work environment which would make them think differently.

If you are wondering how to do what I’ll refer to as reassemble the direction of your title or the industry you are in, one of the things you will need to do is to embody one word. That word is “pivot”. It’s become one of my favorite words. One in fact I have embraced and lived by as a guiding support the last four years as a business entrepreneur. I’ll credit a wise woman name Anita Brearton for introducing me to both this word, and the concept of it. Thank you, Anita, for sharing this with me at exactly the time I needed to hear it.

Although by definition the word pivot is clearly defined, the exact direction you go in from your pivot will depend. It will depend on how you want to leverage your skills, your knowledge and your network to help you to head you in a more preferable direction. I like the word pivot because it factors in leveraging all of your acquired experience and then taking it into the direction of your preference. Whether that be into a new role with a completely different type of title, or potentially a different industry.

Since I generally provide suggestions in each of my articles, I’ll continue with this tradition. Here are some ways you can pivot in your current title or industry.

  • Clearly define and write down why you want to change from the role or industry you are in.
  • Do you feel held back, incomplete, underutilized or invisible in the role you are playing? Consider the factors contributing to this. Are the majority of the reasons based on circumstances beyond your current control (e.g., You want to own a surf shop and you live in Oklahoma)?
  • It’s easier to cast blame on others for why you are potentially stuck or trapped in your role or industry. Honestly think about whether this may or may not be true.
  • Are you leveraging your network to help you to pivot? Have you expressed to anyone that this is something you want to do?
  • You know the old adage of “Those without a plan, are setting themselves up to fail”. Make sure you have some version of a plan to set yourself up for success.

I could add numerous other suggestions, but at some point, if you are going to seek and change a situation you are in, you have to be the one in charge of doing so. Yes, you can ask and should seek support, but ultimately only you can be the one to put your foot on the accelerator to move forward. Just make sure you have enough fuel or that your battery life is charged up enough to take you to where you ultimately want to go. I’ll see you there!

TAGS: #Leadership #Management #CareerAdvice #Motivation #ChangeManagement #PeopleDevelopment #Business #AnitaBrearton #Success #Howtopivot #Pivotingyourcareer #Pivotingyourexperience #Mindset #Professionalnetwork #Pandemic #Feelingtrapped #Feelingtrappedinyourrole

ABL: Always be learning…

School was never fun for me, and I always admired the people who said they loved school. Although I didn’t love all the aspects of gaining an education, the part of it I really liked was the continuous learning process. The unveiling and unraveling of new information that I was building on as I consumed more knowledge about a particular topic.

When I think back to how learning is set-up before you are 18 years old, most of the information was delivered in a format that wasn’t in synch with my particular learning style. My ideal learning style is a combination of hands on (e.g., kinesthetic) and visually learning about a topic. Of course, not all topics in school can be taught this way, but when they were, I found I excelled and retained the information much better.

Finding your learning style is important. It might not be something you have considered, but I’m certain you have a preferred method of consuming information (e.g., reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, talking to an expert, etc.) as a few common methods. If you take a moment to consider if you favor one of these learning methods over another, you will realize you do have a preference. Figuring out what your ideal learning preference is important, as it will make it much more enjoyable to become someone who is always learning.

Recently I was talking to one of my younger clients. They were telling me about a future profession they want to pursue. However, they did not appreciate the work or mastery of information consumption that it would take to get to that level. This wasn’t the first time a young person expressed that they didn’t see value in educating themselves to get to the professional level they desired. However, the reality is that at some point they will need to invest in the time it will take to consume the knowledge they will require. Otherwise, they will be short changing both themselves and those expecting them to have attained a mastery of their professional knowledge. Realistically, there are not any short cuts to attaining certain professional careers or goals (e.g., becoming a medical doctor).

Yes, it would be ideal if we could skip steps along the process of educating ourselves when we either struggle or are not intrigued with a particular learning segment involved in our journey to master a topic. Although it is during the times when we are struggling and having to grind through to learn something, that we will recall and remember the most vividly, and can serve to help lock in the information we need to understand.

One of the tricks to being able to consume information that we can’t skip over, is to find creative ways we can make the information more palatable. Think in terms of gamification. Is it possible to learn the information via perhaps a kinesthetic approach (e.g., hands on) versus having to read about it? Or, could you find someone who has already mastered the subject and have them talk you through gaining an understanding of the information? Maybe another option would be drawing out and making the information come to life visually?

When I worked in the tech world, I would often ask the computer engineers to visually show me on a whiteboard what they had created. Upon seeing the information come to life both verbally and visually was my ideal way of learning complex information. This method worked for me every time. However, it took me a few years early on in my career to figure this out. Once I did, it unlocked ways for me to learn and then be able to communicate this information to others, which was an essential part of my profession.

A challenge many people face, is that they don’t realize they become too comfortable with reaching a knowledge plateau. In fact, this happens frequently after people finish their basic educational requirements. Fortunately, after a person gets past completing their basic requirements, they are free to begin only consuming information which is of interest to them.

Realistically there are many people who consume information simultaneously they are interested in, in combination with their required learning. If this wasn’t you, and it wasn’t me, after graduating from college was a liberating experience for a number of reasons. The number one reason was being able to learn what I wanted to learn about, and via the way I wanted to learn it.

Here’s my challenge to you. Are you willing to “Always be learning” (ABL)? I hope so. If you are, please consider these additional reasons to do so:

  • Instead of talking about others, when you are continuously consuming new information, you can share it with others to have them benefit from the information you learned versus being “that person” who is only able to talk about other people.
  • Challenge yourself to learn about topics you don’t understand, or don’t embrace. You will gain an entirely new perspective that will serve to inform you as you are factoring this new knowledge into the rest of your life. For example, learn about a different culture than your own to appreciate both the differences and similarities you will discover.
  • Whenever possible, and hopefully we will be able to do this more post the Pandemic, queue up a list of places to travel to. Seeing and interacting with people from different places either in your country, or in a different country can serve as some of the best sources for helping you to ABL.
  • You will be multiple levels happier when you are learning more about the topics which interest you, but that you have not achieved a mastery level of yet. When you can go both wide and deep on a topic, you will be inspired to continue fueling your level of knowledge and expertise in an area.
  • Become the person others describe as an “interesting person”, as a result of the knowledge they have amassed and regularly apply it in both their personal and professional lives. No one wants to be categorized as “dull” or not able to add value to a conversation.

Now that you have some reasons to always be learning, think about some of your own ways you can challenge yourself to do so. Learning is an investment in yourself, and with the amount of access to free information available to us either on-line or more traditional methods, there is no excuse for anyone not to take advantage of this.

TAGS: #Business #Management #Sales #Marketing #Success #Learning #Whyyoushouldalwaysbelearning #Lifelonglearner #Leadership #Mentoring #Mentor #Leadership #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