Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Seeing Apparently IS Believing!

Take a look at the following video.  It explains a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, where what we hear is overridden by what we see...

Is it any wonder that the reports of eye witnesses to accidents and crimes can vary so much?  What about the interpretations of what we 'believe' someone has said to us?

We know that the biggest percentage of the impression we create is driven by the Visual.  The McGurk effect is one more example of how much we rely on our vision, our view of the world around us, to shape our interpretations of it.

I've been speaking with clients for years about the need to ensure that our 'visual' cues work in alignment with our voice and content to create a consistent message.  Inconsistent messages are going to result in mixed messages.

Make sure that you have clarity over your Personal Brand and then ensure that what you say, do and even how you look works in support of it.  Otherwise, we really are leaving our message to chance and are left to the mercy of the McGurk and other as-yet-to-be-discovered effects that skew our messaging off course.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bragging through Networks

Let's face it, few of us like the thought of Bragging.  We want our work to speak for us so that we don't have to.  We will more than willingly put in more time, accomplishing more 'stuff', if it means we don't have to talk about it. However, as we hear so often, working harder isn't necessarily working smarter. Those who may produce less but promote themselves and their accomplishments more often tend to gain more recognition, rewards and opportunities.

How then can someone who is, by nature, quieter and less vocal about their achievements, gain recognition and advancement?  One key tactic is to use your Social Networks more strategically.

To gain recognition, and the inherent rewards that accompany it, people need to know who you are and what you've done.  You need to give a voice to your accomplishments.  However, it doesn't require you to shout it from the rooftops to all within hearing.  What is needed is for you to ensure that you keep your network informed and up-to-date.  By doing so, you are arming these people with the tools needed to help promote you effectively to their network.  As so often happens, it is not about who you know but who 'they' know that will count in the long run.

If you don't share anything with anyone, then you have sent them out into the world with little ammunition to fight on your behalf.  Instead, consider your close network to be your Personal Marketing Team.  You need to train them on what you want them to be promoting by keeping them informed about what you have been accomplishing.  Providing them with small updates will give them tidbits to share, information to drop into conversations on your behalf.  This ripple-effect serves to strengthen the power of your voice, helping it to carry further and faster than you can possibly do on your own.

Keeping your network educated about what you have been doing isn't about persuading them about your worth, it is about helping them to persuade others.

Try out the following tips and tactics to help your Voice carry further throughout Networks...

  • Don't think of an update as a long, yearly summary of everything you have done (like those family inserts to Holiday cards!).  Instead, we are talking about small brag-bites of information dropped into and peppering your conversation on a regular basis.
  • When asked by an acquaintance 'What's new?' don't respond with phrases such as 'Oh, nothing much' or 'Same old, same old' or even 'It's been crazy busy'.  These were bragging moments that you let slide by.  Instead, provide them with a very brief summary of what you have been doing.  'I've been really involved lately with wrapping up Project X.  We're ready to launch it on Monday.  I'm so excited to see it go live'.  
  • Use web-based Social Media networks strategically.  Don't just fill in your profile on Linked-in and expect it to 'work' for you!  Post updates to your skills, share expertise in the forums, initiate online connections with those you've met 'live', post blogs... work it!  You can create a web-voice without having to actually speak!  Great for those introverts out there!  (bear in mind though the difference between promoting yourself professionally versus personally.  Build your business persona, not your personal one,  if your goal is to get ahead)
  • When doing favours for those at work, never use the phrase 'No Problem'.  It's almost always a problem for you when you adjust your schedule to fit in their request.  Don't diminish the favour you're doing (or that they owe you!) by indicating it's not a problem.  Let them know it's a challenge for you but that you're willing to make it work for them.  
  • Show interest in what others are working on so that they will reciprocate.  Helping to promote others will often lead to them wanting to return the favour!
Your bragging moments need not be big or brash to be effective.  You simply want to provide others with information that you would love for them to share with others, thereby creating your own mini marketing team.   You are your own small business after all!

(for more help and direction on Bragging... check out our NEW online Bragging Rights program.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

No Such Thing as Failure

If there is one lesson we learned and remember well from our grade school education it is the lesson of

Passing and Failing.  There was always some predetermined and pre-set target we had to meet or exceed in order to have passed.  Of all our lessons, this one was taught and retaught, learned and re-learned until it became a permanent fixture in our lives and our definition of 'success'.

Despite the fact that I am unable to strike the word 'failure' from the dictionary, I urge each one of us to strike it from our own personal lexicon.  It is often the fear of 'failure' that prevents us from taking risks, from even trying to obtain what we want out of life. It is the fear of 'not' achieving that holds us back from achievement itself.   Imagine though if there were no failure, no negative measure to avoid?  What would hold us back then?  What might we go on to achieve in our lives?

Consider a world in which we simply tried, tried and tried again until we succeeded, a world in which our lack of immediate success did not inhibit us from continuing to try to attain a certain goal.  This is the perspective I want us to adopt, the belief that there is no such thing as failure, only results.  Our actions lead us to results.  Period.  If they are not the desired results then we need to engage in different actions, and continue doing so, until we obtain the desired results.

There would be no negative connotation from the attempts that missed the mark, they would simply be learning experiences that helped us to narrow down our future choices.  We wouldn't hesitate to continue to strive for our desired results because there would be no stigma attached to missing.

No inventor gets it right the first time.  They use a constant feedback loop to help them narrow the choices they make and actions they take until the desired result is achieved.  Rather than being stymied by failure, they view the misses as opportunities to refine their approaches and narrow the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

How might you adopt this same approach to achieving your desired results?  Instead of beating yourself up over undesirable results, you embrace those results for the learning you received and the insights into the new actions you could take to get you closer if not exactly what you want.

Next time you find yourself criticizing yourself for having 'failed' to achieve something, adopt a new mantra...  tell yourself...

I didn't fail, I simply achieved a different result.  

Then... Consider what you can do differently to drive a more favourable result.  

This positive and proactive approach leaves you with control over the choices you make and the actions you take, without undermining your sense of confidence or personal empowerment.  Trying and Doing become the new mantras of Success.

Monday, February 13, 2012

GPS Your Day

Few of us (in particular those of us that are 'directionally' challenged - like me!) would contemplate driving somewhere totally new without taking our GPS.  At the very least we are going to check Google Map for directions.  I know that the moment I am heading out to a new client location I am plugging their address into Hugh and taking him along with me for the ride... just in case!  (okay, okay... yes... my GPS is named Hugh...  so named because of the voice setting to Australian male... made the connection yet?)  We do the above automatically, without ever questioning the need to obtain directions 'before' setting out for our destination.

However, how many of us strategically plan out the 'how' we are going to get to our desired destination in life?  We may think about and establish the desire end result but... we leave the getting there to chance.  We don't think beyond that end destination and begin planning what steps are required DAILY to get us where we want to go.  Is it little wonder then that weeks, months and, most depressingly, years go by without our actually achieving any progress?

Instead, we need to operate a little more like our GPS (Australian accent is optional!) and consider what actions we can take to move forward, to ensure we are moving in the right direction.  In this instance it is always easier to plan in reverse.  Take that desired end result and break it down into smaller 'chunks'.  Each of these, in turn, gets broken down, those get broken down... and so on.  This way you end up knowing just what you need to achieve annually, monthly, weekly and daily to reach that ultimate destination.

Consider those daily action steps as your GPS directions for the day.  Each needs to be followed if you are going to be, at the end of your day, where you needed to be.  You wouldn't consider stopping two blocks from a meeting location and believe that it's 'close enough'  Why settle for less from your day?

I have many of my clients highlight a small section of their daily planner where they drop in the one action step that they can take that day to move their personal goals and agenda forward.  This one item, no matter how small, becomes an absolute.  No matter what else happens in their day that necessitates carrying other items forward, this one item MUST get done that day.  In doing this, most report that regardless how the rest of their day went, looking at that item and knowing they took even one small step toward the achievement of their goal always made them feel that something worthwhile got done.

Try this out for yourself, GPS an action step into your daily plan and see how it works and feels for you.  Getting that one thing done each day will likely have you feeling that you had a successful day too.  Hmm... pardon me...  a g'day mate!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Being Invisible doesn't get you Noticed!

One of the phrases heard often from Introverts is that they feel invisible in group situations, especially those
with a number of extroverts present!  In a society that tends to recognise and reward extroverted behaviour as the 'better' of the two, is it any wonder that introverts can be left feeling like a poor second cousin?

One of the biggest challenges of course is that if the extroverts are the ones that get 'seen' then they are also the team members that get remembered.  They stand out while the 'invisible' introvert gets left out!  Remember that dreaded feeling of being the last one picked for school gym teams?

With the 'busyness' of today's workplace it is necessary to be seen, heard and remembered if you want to stand a chance at getting those plum roles, the exciting projects, the big promotions.  Otherwise we run the risk of our best stuff going largely unnoticed.

Unfortunately for introverts, many behaviours exhibited by them will often be misinterpreted by others, in particular by the extroverted team members.  This is only a problem if and when that misinterpretation gets in the way of something but... if you don't control your perception you are leaving this possibility to chance, increasing the odds that it's going to come back and bite you in the butt.

The quieter nature of many Introverts will often lead people to believe that they lack confidence.  This may or may not be true, but it will tend to get interpreted that way.  Consistently.  Introverts are, by nature, much more introspective than Extroverts.  The source of most of their energy is internal, while for Extroverts it's externally oriented.  The assumption that many will make is that the quieter Introvert simply didn't have anything to share, thereby discounting their overall value to the meeting or even team.

Introverts instead need to find ways to heighten their visibility.  Not by emulating Extroverts, but in a quieter, more comfortable way.  Try a combination of any of the following tips on for size...

  • Dress just one small step better than your peers.  Maintaining a quiet, but polished and professional image does get noticed and helps you to get noticed in a positive way.
  • Don't underestimate the value of good posture.  Introverts often make the mistake of trying to 'hide' in the crowd and they do so by slumping or slouching, making themselves appear physically smaller.  You might not be the loudest voice around the table but your posture should be strong and erect, communicating your confidence and engagement.
  • Consider the possibility of creating a 'signature' look.  This could be a small element that you integrate into your personal brand statement that just lends a distinctive and unique element into your personal look.  Perhaps you're the only one writing with a fountain pen, you carry a distinctive leather notebook, you are known for your unique jewelry or shoes (I have a client that always has on fabulous shoes!), great glasses.  A small but distinctive statement can also help you stand out and be remembered.  Just ensure that it is in a way that is appropriate for your environment and audience.  Oh, and... no bow ties please!
  • Speak up and share a point early in a meeting.  As the meeting goes on you are going to get bogged down with more and more thoughts, making it more difficult for you to interject those thoughts into the conversation.  Share early, when there are fewer thoughts in your head vying for your attention.
  • If you do have ideas, suggestions or thoughts about a meeting after its done (and you've had time to process), ensure that you jot them down in a succinct, concise email and forward them to the team members.  Don't just forward them to the chair... this minimizes your visibility.  Demonstrate your value by letting others 'see' your contributions.
Try any of the above, or share some of your own below.  The idea is to find ways and means that are 'doable' and comfortable for you that help to move you from being invisible to showing up on the promotional radar!