There is a lot that comes at us in life and business. We seem to have problems and things impacting us from all angles. Many times, we ALLOW these things to affect us and we waste a lot of time and energy on them without getting a resolution. We spend our precious thoughts and time worrying about these things.
There is a principle from a wise Stoic that gave a great approach to living a good life. His name was Epictetus. Born a slave in 55 AD, he was granted freedom due to his superior intellect and became a mentor to noblemen and emperors. His most important work was in The Discourses which influenced many leaders to come, including Marcus Aurelius. He boiled things down to a fundamental rule and truth which says, "There are certain things you can control and certain things you can’t control, and you must know the difference."
A lot of people have written about this over the years and expanded greatly on it and Epictetus' writings. Years ago, I was introduce to his principles and the 3 C's. I cannot take credit for the 3C's although I did adapt them and change them a little over the years. Here are my 3C's to handling the problems of life and living better.
Think about those for a second and how true they are. I love the simplicity of them.
There are things we can control in our lives and things we cannot. Why waste time on things you have no control over? Focus on what you can control and do it well.
For those things we cannot control, we can recognize them and their impact or potential impact on us, and cope with them. Not dwell on them. Simply cope with the fact they exist and there is nothing we can do about them and move on to the things we can control and impact.
Lastly, concentrate on what counts and matters. We cannot be distracted or derailed by the things we cannot control or have no sway over. Instead, we must ask ourselves what really matters and what makes the most difference that is in our control and concentrate out efforts there.
If you follow the 3C's, you will find that you will have less stress, be more productive, and ultimately live a better life. Start putting them into action today!
The pace of business today is fast. There is no way around it. Things move at a blistering pace and entrepreneurs need to be able to move fast, react quickly, and seize opportunity.
This also lends to multi-tasking and moving quickly from one thing to the next. I am as guilty of this as anyone. But when people depend on you to not only be fast, but to be right, it is important to make sure you don't move too fast.
What do I mean?
You have to move fast in today's world, but you also need to keep your attention to detail and make sure that your work and what you are delivering is solid and good. Moving too fast can lead to sloppiness, especially when multi-tasking. This happens because our mind gets stretched across all of the things we are moving through and doing. We tend to move too fast and forget critical, important items or miss details that are important. This hurts us down the line.
So, how do we combat this?
First, we must understand that we need to move fast, but recognize when we are moving too fast and slow ourselves. Second, we have to be careful not to multi-task, or at least focus on no more than 2 things at a time. And when we are doing a task, we need to be present and focused and not be thinking about the other tasks or items we need to do next.
One trick I've learned to center myself during these fast paced periods of work and day to day needs, is to just stop and take a deep breath. Then take a moment just to think through the task and how to deliver the best outcome. After doing that, block out distractions for just a few minutes and concentrate on what it is you need to do. This little 30 second exercise will help you to still be efficient, but better focused, and give you the ability to achieve better results in your work. Try it today!
I was on a call the other day with a large client. It was a big group of people discussing solutions for the future for the client. I know for many that selling and servicing clients via Zoom or virtually is newer to them during these times, but over a decade ago, I took my companies virtual and have been selling and servicing clients that way for a long time.
During the meeting, as the client spoke and talked about the future and their needs, I immediately could "sense" the way the meeting should go and how we could further help them. While others on the call were asking questions that really repeated what the client had just said, I listened and felt the client's needs and the beginning or their frustration as they repeated some things. Working virtually is hard, even if you can see people. It is not the same as sitting across the table. And, if people are just on audio, it is even harder. This is why you have to hone your skills in how you actively listen to voice inflection, tone, things like a sigh here or there, even a deep breath.
After a couple of minutes of back and forth with the group, I spoke up and simply and clearly articulated what I thought, based on their feedback was the best solution. And I brought in other people on the call, that hadn't seem to get what they client was saying yet, and helped them to understand how their skill and what they do could help accomplish the goal for the client. After another 10 mins of discussion and having some fun thinking about bigger possibilities, everyone was on the same page and excited about what we could do together,
One of the most important skillsets anyone can develop, for business and life, is the ability to "sense" others in the moment. This means sensing their feelings, quickly understanding voice tone and inflection, body language - and then being able to empathize where needed and find understanding. I wish I could say there was a magic formula on how to do this, but it really comes from experience. To get good, you have to actively listen and be on high alert to sense the different ways of communication and then figure out find the "sweet spot" in which all parties can succeed. As you do this more and more, you will be able to almost intuit what is needed and work across multiple parties simultaneously to reach the best outcome.
Learning to "sense" others and in business, "sense the customer" may be the most important skillset you can build and foster in your company.
Every Sunday, I have a routine. It's a simple routine that I have done for over 15 years and it has probably been one of the biggest factors in maximizing my productivity. The routine takes 15 mins to do and can change everything for you.
The first thing I do, is take 5 minutes to clear email out from the previous week. I go through and clear anything that has already been worked on or delegated. I keep a post it for notes and make any notes actions or items I need to do from clearing the email or anything that is left.
Next, I go through my calendar for the last two weeks and look at all my meetings. I do this to make sure there isn't any follow up or actions needed that I may have missed. I write anything down on the post it note.
Once I've done this, I take out a sheet of paper and open my calendar for the coming week. I create 5 columns across the sheet of paper (one for each day of the week). I then go by day and write down all of the things I have to do for that day and what time any meetings are. I write down everything I am going to do, even things like "working out" or "mediate for 10 mins." Literally, everything I will do for that day. I look at the post it note of items that I've jotted down that need action and I add them in to the days that make the most sense to action them. For example, if something is more urgent , then it goes to Monday or Tuesday, something less urgent, later in the week.
Once I am done, I have my week planned with all the action item I need to take each day. I then simply wake up each day and get to work. I then look at it at the end of each day and do any planning for tomorrow. If I finish everything for a particular day and have more time, I can work on anything for the next day and so on.
Taking just 15 minutes to do this plan each week has increased my productivity to levels I never thought possible and allows to get everything done across all my businesses in a normal work week. Try and see the difference it makes for you!
It's the beginning of a New Year full of opportunity and possibility. What are you going to accomplish this year?
I'm sure you have a laundry list of things and hopefully, you are not like most people that give up on this list after a couple months because many of them have not been accomplished.
I've often said that we live in an "instant society" where we stop the microwave with 3 seconds left - we cannot even wait 3 seconds anymore! And that is the issue. We start the year with all this excitement and list of accomplishments we want to make happen, but because they don't happen right away, many of us just give up.
One of the things I coach people on and help them to understand is this simple mantra, "We overestimate what we can accomplish in a week and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year." You have to learn to play the long game if you want to succeed consistently over time. This does not mean that we have wins in the short term - sometimes big wins. But, more importantly, it is the smaller wins that add up to get to the larger goal over time. A year in today's age seems like an eternity, but it really isn't. It truly is amazing all that can be done in 365 days.
So, how do you make sure you don't get trapped by our "instant society?" Simple - you choose the long view and delay gratification sacrificing the instant impulses we have been conditioned to have. Today, you can choose the one big thing you will accomplish by the end of the year and then go to work on your little wins, week in and week out to get there, knowing you are going to do it in the course of a year. Ask, yourself, "What will I sacrifice in the short term to get a bigger benefit in the long term?" Answer that question for yourself and you will be on your way.
Remember, "We overestimate what we can accomplish in a week and underestimate what we accomplish in a year."
Here's to your long game success!
Life, in all aspects, is beautiful, amazing, wonderful, exciting, and full of everlasting change. It is also challenging, hard, prone to suffering, and comes with loss.
This past week, I lost my last surviving grandparent. She was a wonderful woman who lived a great life and passed away peacefully in her sleep at 93. As our family came together to grieve and celebrate her life, I started to think about the impact her loss has on our lives and how we cope and deal with it. Of course, as I thought more about this topic, my mind wandered toward the losses we face in business and entrepreneurship.
Coping and dealing with losing and loss is not something that there is a step by step handbook for. We learn how to deal with it in our own way through our experiences over time.
And when it comes to entrepreneurship, one of the best things we can do to help our success is to learn to how to thrive despite losing. In fact, as entrepreneurs, we tend to lose more than we win.
So, how to do you thrive through loss? Personally, I have found a few things over the years that really work for me.
First, is perspective. In order to deal with a loss, you must maintain perspective historically and in the moment. For example, for me this week, I was obviously saddened by my grandmother's death, but at the same time, I took solace in remembering her amazing life and knowing that she left us peacefully and did not suffer. And because I am a believer in Christ, I know that we are all just passing through this life to our real home. She is now home and it makes me smile. Keeping this perspective helped me and discussing it with family helped them as well. We all know death on this earth is a part of life, but we put it aside until we have to deal with it and perspective helps us in those moments.
Second, I do my best to separate emotion from logic. This doesn't mean I throw one or the other out - it just means I separate them and understand them and don't act impulsively in the moment. Emotions drive our actions in life and logic can help us make sure we are acting with the right emotions. For example, there were a number of circumstances due to Covid that made it hard on my grandmother in her final days and made it hard on her family - even keeping some members from being able to see her or severely restricting this ability. It sucked. It really did. And it made me angry in the way it was handled by the center in which was living. But, letting that anger control my actions and thus my life was not something I could do. I had to separate the emotion and ask logically if I should be letting the anger run me during this time. I chose not to let it impact me and got rid of it.
Lastly, find something positive to focus on. We become what we think about and if we focus on the negative, we will get negativity in our lives. During hard times or time of loss in life or business, we must find positive things to focus on. In my case, I was truly inspired and filled with happiness as I looked at all the family members that are in this world because of my grandmother. When you take into account that any one person's chances of being alive are 1 in 4 Trillion, to see all of these incredible people and all the grandchildren that are a result of one woman - it is truly breathtaking. Her legacy will live on for many generations.
Loss is a part of life and business. It is how we cope and deal with it that matters most. Think on this topic for yourself and ask how you can prepare yourself to deal and manage through loss in your life. It will help you tremendously.
2021 is under way and if you are like me, you have been strategizing on how to make it your best year yet, no matter what gets in your way. As I have been planning and starting the year acting on my plans, one thing that has become apparent is how important it is to be focused this year. And when I say focused, I mean making sure that I really understand and know the things that work and drive the results needed to meet my goals, and stay focused on them.
For that, I use the 80/20 Rule. The rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts or activities. And many times, it is more like the 90/10 or even 95/5 rule. But, that begs the question and the one you should be asking - "What are my 20% activities?"
The answer will give you the places you need to focus and double down on your efforts. So, as you get going into this year, take some very serious and focused time to really analyze the actions and activities you take in your life and determine which ones make the most difference and drive the most results in reaching your goals.
Then, put those into action, double down on them. Cut out the noise and shiny objects. Work at them, make them better, and don't stop. Many people think success is this flashy thing, but it's not. It's not Hollywood or what you see on TV. Success is really disciplined, consistent focused application of the 80/20 Rule. It's lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, sometimes, it can be downright boring - but who cares if you are reaching your goals and dreams that you aspire to. It doesn't matter if it looks good or flashy - it matters if you reach the goal or not.
Put the 80/20 Rule to work for you and go make it happen!
If you are sport fan like me, you've no doubt gotten pretty excited when you favorite team is "on a roll." You know what I mean. They seem to have it all going well for them. They are scoring at will. Everything the other team tries doesn't seem work. In short, your team has all the momentum.
This is very easy to see in sports and it's also amazing to watch the changes in momentum in the course of a single game.
Entrepreneurship is the same. We go through and ebb and flow of momentum on a daily, weekly, or even annual basis. Many entrepreneurs fail to notice these momentum swings as they are so mired in the business and day to day. Because of this, they are missing out on one of their biggest secret weapons - taking advantage of and fostering momentum throughout their organization to help them be more successful.
Momentum is contagious. Even watching a sports game on television, you can feel it. You can feel it happening, the energy around it, the good feelings, the excitement, and so on. Think about how you feel when your team is on a roll. Think about how strong and powerful they seem and how you tap into that. They are like a soaring eagle.
It's the same thing in your business. When you business gets on a roll and has momentum, it's up to you as the leader tap into it and foster the energy and excitement throughout the organization. Momentum is contagious, as long as people are aware and have the ability to tap into it. It's your job as a leader to help spread momentum throughout your organization and make it known. The more engaged people are into momentum to longer last and more successful it will be.
Conversely, when you feel momentum slowing down, you need to do everything in your power as a leader to regain or find the next opportunity for momentum. You should always be on the lookout for your next momentum driver or inspiration.
If you make it a point to foster momentum in your organization on a consistent basis, you'll tap into a secret weapon that many entrepreneurs miss and find yourself and your business more successful.
Get out there and get momentum!
As we get into the end of the year and the holidays, I think we all welcome some real downtime. A break from it all. A break from the pandemic, a break from the rigorous day to day to keep business going, and a break from social media, the news - the bombardment of life.
This year will offer us a good opportunity to take that break, even if it is for just a few days or so. And when that time comes, it's always nice to lose yourself in a good book.
With that said, here are 3 of my favorites to enjoy during your break.
Top Fiction Book
I have really enjoyed delving into the James Rollins Sigma Force series of books this year. If I had to describe them, they are part Indiana Jones, part Jason born. And they are also "faction," and this is what I love most about James - he meticulously researches to find truth from history and science and builds an awesome story around it. I am always amazed at how much of the things in his books are true. So, not only are the stories/adventures page turners, I get to learn things as well. His latest book is called the Last Odyssey and is the book I started with before going back and starting the series from the beginning. The nice thing about the Last Odyssey is that you don't need to read the series to understand what is going on, so it is a great place to start. But, if you want to start from the first book, pick up Sandstorm. The "opening scene" of the book is awesome.
Top Non-Fiction Book
My top non-fiction book for the year is The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather. It is about the man who volunteered to go into the Auschwitz death camp and bring it down from the inside. I have mentioned this book before, not just because of how amazing the story is and how well written the book is, but because of what you will learn about what really happened in the Nazi death camps and get a healthy dose of reality and lessons for life. This book is not for the faint of heart, but is a must read.
Top Book to Make You Think
My top book for making your thinking and looking at society in a different way is The Parasitic Mind by Gad Saad. I admit, I recently started this book, but it is already incredible. It is all about how easily common sense can be destroyed by "idea pathogens" in our live and what we can do about it. It really helps you to better understand reason and become a better independent thinker. Dr. Gad Saad is one of the top behavioral science and marketing thinkers of our time.
The habits we have in our lives shape us, our lives, and our success. I once asked Zig Ziglar's son, Tom Ziglar, "What is the fastest way to success?" His answer was, "The fastest path to success is to replace a bad habit with a good habit." It's that simple. You pick a bad habit, replace it with a good habit, and then cement. You can then move on to the next. Think about if you did this multiple times in the course of a year - where would you be? You'd be in a completely different place that you are today.
So, with all that said, here are 3 habits you can start doing today that will make a major difference in your life.
You've no doubt heard about the power of writing things down and journaling. Many of the most successful people in their fields do this every day. Why? Because it works. When you write things down and get your thoughts out of you on paper - it helps you to crystalize them and get them in order so they aren't just bouncing around in your head. Taking 5-10 mins a day to write your thoughts down will help you be better organized, know what to prioritize, help you to know yourself better, and help you be more successful. My favorite tool for helping someone do this is the 5 Minute Journal. It makes it easy by giving you the structure, so you don't even have to think. And it takes 5 minutes to do each day! Click Here to Get a Copy!
This is an easy. Start going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. Set your times and adhere to them, even on weekends if you can. Studies have shown that your quality of sleep directly affects your energy levels and mental capacity. By going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, you create a habit of consistency for your body and its sleep rhythms that will help you be more rested, have more energy, and be more alert and on your game each day.
Commit to Personal Growth
You know this one, but it bears repeating because you can do it today. They say you are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with. I like to take that further by saying you are not just the sum of those you hang out with, but of the books you read and the things you put into your mind. And if you don't take the time to put anything into it, you cannot learn, grow, and get better. If you want to increase your success levels, you must grow yourself. Start small - pick one new book to read a quarter. Then maybe one per month, and go from there. Listen to podcasts like the Misfit Entrepreneur or take courses on things like Udemy. Whatever you do, commit to a personal growth plan. As Jim Rohn said, "Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you rich!"
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