Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 1% Advantage

Napoleon Hill, in his book the Law of Success, spoke about the concept of Service.  He felt that your personal level of success would be driven by your ability to help others get ahead.  Really, he was speaking about the need to 'over-deliver'. 

"The importance of rendering more service and better service than that for which one is paid"

We often hear about the need to 'go the extra mile', the need to 'over-deliver' on our promises to others in order to stand-out and differentiate ourselves.  However, for many of us, we are already struggling to keep up with everything on our plates, juggling already too-busy schedules and workloads.  How then, could we possibly consider going a mile beyond what we are already struggling to produce?

In short... we can't.  But... we can make the goal a little more realistic, a little more 'doable'.  Instead of considering an 'extra' mile, a 100% increase in our output (yep... not very realistic!) consider instead simply doing/giving/being 1% more.  1%.  That's it!  Think of the beauty and simplicity of that.  We could all likely manage to do 1% more, to give just 1% more effort and focus and time to a task. 

On its own, that 1% might not sound very significant.  However, look at it from its cumulative effect.  Consider... if you did just 1% more per day, for the next month, how much more would you have accomplished and delivered?  Would that increase in output be enough to have differentiated and distinguished you from your competition?  Quite likely.  So many people are under-delivering that increasing our output by only 1% definitely gives us the edge.

Think about the momentum created by that 1% advantage. When we take on a task that's too large for us, we often become overwhelmed by it all and stop taking action, believing that we'll never be able to achieve it.  However, focusing on just 1% improvement each day - that's achievable.  That's doable, and that allows us to rack up success on success rather than failure.  For most of us, that daily positive reinforcement would not only be welcome... it would be invigorating and inspiring.  It would spur us to find ways to give 1% more tomorrow and the tomorrows that follow.

Think... if you grew just 1% per day for the next month... would you even recognise yourself and what you've achieved?  How would you feel about yourself and your life after that month?  Here's my challenge to each of you...  Do 1% more tomorrow.  1% better, 1% extra.  Just 1%.  See how you feel at the end of the day... could you give just 1% more the following day?  Build up the momentum and the power of the effect of accumulation of those 1%'s over time (it's sort of like compound interest!). 

And then... have a totally wild and crazy day where you challenge yourself to double it.  Yep... every so often be so wild, so bold, so daring... as to go for 2%. 

Double-dog dare ya!

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is Not a Dress Rehearsal

A few weeks ago I sat in an ambulance, that was parked outside my home, watching as EMT's used a defibrillator to shock my husband's heart.  He would not have survived the 5 minute drive to the hospital unless they could shock his heart back into a normal rhythm.  I can't begin to describe the intensity of those moments.  It's only now... now he is fine... I realize that not only had he been 5 minutes away from his life  ending, but I too had been those same 5 minutes away from the life I had been living from ending as well.

How quickly things can change.   How quickly all that we know can end.  The life I had envisioned for the future... our future... would have been gone.  This threw me.  This was something I couldn't control and, for those that know me, I do so love to have control!  The 'event'  had fundamentally shifted the way that I needed to view my world, forcing me to consider a phrase that I had often heard in the past...

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

This is it.  This is the only shot you get.  How are you choosing to live it?  It needn't (and shouldn't!) take a potential life and death moment for us to examine ourselves, our lives, to ensure we are living a life of our choosing, a life that fulfills us.

If you feel that you are just going through the motions each day, it is likely because you have gotten caught up in living to other people's expectations, wants and needs, with little conscious thought or effort being given to your own.  If so, it's time to sit down and take what I am now referring to as the 'Paddle' test.  If they had to put those defibrillator paddles to your chest, would you choose to do things differently afterward?

Paddle Test

1.  Take Stock.  Use a sliding scale of 1-10 to determine your current level of satisfaction with various aspects of your life.  Consider...
  • Work/Career (think about your current role, your career path, your relationships at work, dream jobs...)
  • Relationships (think about the quality of the relationships you have with your partner, parents, siblings, children, friends...)
  • Finances (think here about your current debt to savings ration, your salary and earnings potential, your retirement plan/fund...)
  • Spiritual Connections (think about your sense of connection to the world around you, sense of belonging, how engaged you feel, how often you experience joy in your life...)
  • Personal Growth (think about your view of 'self', how much do you challenge yourself with new activities/tasks/learnings, are you committed to life-long learning...)
2.  Gain Insight.  Review your self ratings.  Certainly, anything less than a '10' rating implies that there is room for improvement, but... let's be a little more forgiving!  Take a look at the areas you scored yourself lowest in.  There is likely room for improvement here.  Consider why your level of satisfaction is low in that area.  Is there anything you could do to change this, to improve it?  Do some brainstorming, generating some ideas without qualifying them.  All you want to concern yourself with at this point is 'What would bring me more satisfaction?"

3.  Take Action.  You have generated a list of ideas that would help you raise your current level of satisfaction with your life.  Pick one... and do it!  Even small steps, when accumulated, can lead to big changes.  If the items on your list seem too big or daunting, then identify the one you're most excited about and break it down into smaller, more manageable steps.  We're only concerned with taking a positive step forward, not with the relative size of the step!

4.  Rinse and Repeat.  Keep going!  Build that forward momentum by continuing to work through the items on your list!

As for me?  I am giving more thought, planning and action to managing my financial future better and I'm definitely making more time for the non-work related activities I love... my glasswork, TaeKwondo, reading and... husband, children, grandchildren.  I'm even planning a 'real' vacation - to Italy - no laptops allowed!

Those 5 minutes taught me a lot about where my focus needs to be... Now.  No more 'some days'... there's only Now and how you choose to spend it.

What can 5 minutes teach you?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Presence and its link to Promotion

A lot of my work, whether through training sessions, coaching or a combination of the two, is focused on helping people to strengthen their personal presence, in an effort to enhance their career opportunities.  This tends to be an area of development that many miss on their bid for the top, preferring to focus on developing their technical skills, knowledge and expertise.  However, as business guru Mike Litman puts it...

"Every level of income demands a different you".

Think about this for a second.  As you move up within an organization you don't just have to be able to do and deliver more, you need to 'be' more.  This involves more than just simply being able to manage the work.  In order to get the job done, you must be able to instill in others the confidence that you can get it done and, likely, that you can inspire others to get it done too.

You don't have the same skills and knowledge today as you did when you first graduated from college or university.  Your skills have grown.  You are capable of doing more.  You need to ensure that the 'you' that accompanies those growing skills is keeping up though.  It is easier and more comfortable for us to focus on the more technical aspects of our career growth , and it is likely the area that our organizations expense their training budgets on developing and providing us.

It is up to us to ensure the 'us' that is accompanying those developing skills keeps pace.  We need to display more confidence, more professionalism, more poise as we move up.  If we only focus on what we need to DO, on what we need to produce, we will overlook being what we need to BE.  Without the combination of the two, we will likely be recognised within the company for our technical knowledge, but our career will take a backseat to those that are also seen as having the strength and ability to manage, to lead others.  This requires someone that has demonstrated the content and that projects the presence to get others to follow.

Consider then...
  • what do you need to be?
  • what do you need to project?
  • what do you need to think?
  • what habits do you need to have? order to be 'seen' as a person that could fill that coveted next role.  It's a total package that needs to be strategically put together if you want to succeed.  Consider then, for that next level up, not just what technical skills and experience you need, but what aspects of you need to be strengthened and projected in order to 'sell' yourself into the role seamlessly.