Friday, July 4, 2014

Four Agreements

Last month we introduced the Do/Say ratio to monitor how well you follow through with doing what you say you will do. If you practiced that concept regularly you likely noticed some significant changes. If you started to practice it but then stopped you don’t yet know the difference it can make for you. Making a lasting change is dependent on making a commitment or agreement with yourself. Achieving that kind of permanent change is self-mastery.

A classic book on self-mastery is The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. The four practices are at once simple and difficult. Initially they are quite challenging but when learned and fully integrated into your way of being they are powerful and life changing. The Four Agreements are:

1 – Be impeccable with your word.

2 – Don’t take anything personally.

3 – Don’t make assumptions.

4 – Always do your best.

We will explore each of these in more detail in the next four editions of Peak Perspectives. If you have personal experience with learning and living these we welcome your comments and contributions.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Do Say

The CEO was upset, she expected to have a meeting with the VP of Sales to review the mid-month report of sales and current opportunities expected to close before month end but he only had the actual sales to date. He explained that the sales managers have all been traveling and could not complete the forecast portion of the report. Regardless of the excuse, she was upset because he said he would have the report yet he didn’t.

How frequently does a scenario similar to this play out in your organization? “I will have it on your desk first thing in the morning.” “I will be there this afternoon at two.” “I’ll give you my input for the newsletter by the end of the week.”

It happens to all of us at one time or another and we also likely fail to do what we said we would at one time or another. Unfortunately some organizational cultures allow this to become a pattern of urgency and excuses of other priorities that get in the way.

To break that pattern personally or as a team, we find it helpful to think of this as the Do/Say Ratio. If I say I will do two things but only do one my ratio is .50. The lower the ratio the worse I am at doing what I say I will do. The higher the ratio the better I am at managing my commitments as well as my performance.

Before tracking others, we suggest first tracking yourself for a few days or a week. As you monitor your do/say ratio you become more aware of what you are saying and begin to be more deliberate about both the commitments made and the actual doing of it. It can make a big difference personally and professionally. When done throughout a team it can be huge.

Please give it a try and let us know about your experience.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning to be Happy

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines happy as “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.” The implication of that, and common perception, is that we are happy “because” of something. As often happens common knowledge is not correct. Certainly the environment, people and situations around us can make a contribution to our happiness but we control it much more than common knowledge would tell us.

The recent
ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference, with the first ever specific track for men, had Shawn Achor as the keynote speaker. His research has documented both how happiness can be developed and that performance in organizations improves when employees are intentionally practicing happiness techniques – happiness fuels success not the other way around. The recommendation is to pick one of the following strategies and try it for 21 days in a row to create a new habit for lasting change and happiness: 

  • 3 Gratitudes: Write down 3 new things you are grateful for each day.
  • Journaling: For 2 minutes describe a meaningful experience from the past 24 hours.
  • Exercise: Add 15 minutes of fun active cardio.
  • Meditation: For 2 minutes a day, watch your breath go in and out (calms the mind and undoes the negative effects of multitasking).
  • Conscious Acts of Kindness: Send a 2-minute email thanking one person in your social support network. 
Wishing you happiness then success!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bowling Through a Curtain

At the company picnic the VP of Operations watched the softball game between two groups of employees and she was amazed at how intense the competition was. People were playing hard with a clear determination to be a contributing player on the winning team and actively encouraging their teammates to play well. If only she could get that kind of energy from them on the job, she thought, we would be ahead of our plan instead of behind.

Many leaders have had similar thoughts. Why are people highly engaged in what they do when they are off work yet disengaged at work? A simple answer is most people work at jobs where they are essentially bowling through a curtain. They know what they are supposed do and may even do it quite well, however because of the curtain they have no idea how they are doing let alone how the whole team is doing. They simply do what is asked and once a year or so they get told the score along with some suggestions on how they can improve.

As Stephen Covey explained in The 4 Disciplines of Execution performance falls behind plan because people don’t understand the goal; if they know the goal they don’t understand what they can do to help achieve it; they are not sure how well they are doing; and there is no timely feedback and accountability. The secret to getting things done on time with excellence is to have no more than two to three major goals; focus on lead measures that people know they can control and directly influence the goal; have a compelling scoreboard in a place everyone can see that tracks the lead measures; and have regular accountability and feedback meetings to celebrate progress and adjust to overcome problems. Those disciplines along with people who fit the job and a leader who helps them feel and fare better create an outstanding team. Like a lottery number if you don’t hit all of them you don’t get much.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Response Ability

On a bitter cold and snowy winter day in the Midwest two sales people prepare to start their day. One sees the weather report and decides it is a good day to catch up on paperwork since no one will want to talk to a salesperson on such a terrible day. The other one bundles up eager to get out and start making calls after concluding that most people he wants to call on will be in the office, especially the average sales people.

What gets in the way of success? Common excuses are government, taxes, weather, traffic, relatives, neighbors, economic conditions, illness, bosses, and company policy. The better, but not common, answer is “me”.

We are the difference makers in our journeys. All sorts of things will happen to get in the way of our plans for success but those things generally happen to everyone at one time or another. The difference is in each individual’s ability to respond to those disruptions and detours. Jim Rohn, the famous motivational speaker and network marketer said “It’s not what happens to you that determines the quantity and quality of your life; it’s what you do that changes everything.”

Will 2014 be a ‘wow” year because of your different response to things that happen or will it be like previous years with standard excuses and responses to what happens? 
 
Develop response-ability and make it a “wow” year.
 
 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

FOCUS

In January it is common to be considering possibilities for achieving better results this year than last year.  As we’ve discussed here many times before, results are produced by a combination of skills and action so to get better results either better skills or more actions are necessary.  New skills and behaviors generally require time to develop; however, leveraging existing skills and actions can be accelerated to produce amazing results more quickly.  It is done by focusing actions toward one specific result and eliminating or at least reducing distractions that interfere.  In other words having a goal that is your focus and then to actually focus your attention and effort on it.  Doing that for a day can be difficult; doing it for a year is rare but those who can do it are the ones who achieve success.   If you want more focus in 2014 it may be helpful to keep in mind its definition as both a noun (a main purpose or interest) and a verb (to direct your attention or effort at something specific).

The two keys to being able to maintain your focus are it cannot not be a detriment to other important aspects of work or life but at the same time it is vitally important to you.  Most often people fail to maintain focus because the end result is not significantly energizing and other good ideas, daily routines, or suggestions/requests from other people, become distractions.  Avoiding such disruptions requires another aspect of focus; adjustment or re-focusing.  Other people and the rest of the world will not remain in place while we do our thing.  To achieve the end result of a yearlong goal we will need to repeatedly focus and refocus on our focus.
Whatever your focus is in 2014, we wish you great success!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Magic Formula for Success

A common question coaches pose to a client is ‘what would you do if you couldn’t fail?’ It helps the client identify dreams and aspirations that are limited by fear of failure. It can be freeing to think of a risk free venture; it opens up new possibilities when confidence is at a high level. However, another way of considering that question is in the context of high risk. If the stakes are so high to have life threatening consequences you would be acutely aware and deliberate to take necessary action.

As we all look forward to a new year and plans for business and personal success it may be helpful to consider ‘what will I do in 2014 if I can’t fail?’  Applying both aspects – high confidence and deliberate actions – is the magic formula for success. We wish you the best for the holidays and the new year!