Archives for May 2012

Monday Morning Minute – Memorial Day 2012

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Saluting is a sign of respect in the military. As a sign or respect for all of the men and women serving in of our armed forces – but especially those who have given their life for our country, I want to extend a heart felt thank you for your service.

For the men and women who as Lincoln said, “gave their last full measure of devotion” thank you is insufficient. But the words thank you, conveyed with deep conviction and sincerity are my small contribution to the generous outpouring of gratitude American’s express every Memorial Day.

So, Thank you!

For those of you who have not read the Gettysburg Address recently you’ll find it below.

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Relationships Matter

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We’ve all heard the admonition that people buy services, ideas, and products from people they know, like and or trust. At the same time we’ve also worked with intelligent, passionate and committed technical professionals who all too frequently becomes apoplectic when their client insists on doing things in ways that are counter to their recommendations. They’ve too frequently left meetings calling into question not only the intelligence of the client, but also their sanity.

Why would someone refuse to accept a recommendation from a brilliant, committed, well meaning and caring professional? Simply put…because the relationship side of the recommendation is broken. Even if the recommendation is flawless, the essential components of effective relationships; trust, respect, value contribution and the likability factor were not in place.

If you’ve ever become frustrated and or exasperated by a customer I have bad news for you. Your frustration is not solely rooted in what you believe is the low IQ of your client. It is equally rooted in your proclivity to see the world from your perspective, to hyper-focus on your recommendations, and to communicate in ways that are comfortable for you and not for your customer.

If you want to be more effective in getting people to see your perspective and to agree with and or follow your lead you have to become as extraordinarily gifted at the people side of your work as you are at the technical side. To help you with that here are seven strategies for building a stronger customer relationship:

1.  Build high levels of trust: In order for me to want to do business with you I have to know I can rely on you. I want to know that you are honest and forthcoming, that you’ll do what you say you will do, and that you care about me as a customer. I want to know that you have my best interests at heart and that you’ll focus on my interests first instead of your own. This can only be done by building a solid relationship with me.

2.  Build high levels of respect: Respect is closely alignment with trust and is about your talents and skills. I want to know that you are good at what you do and that whenever there is a problem you will bring solutions to the table that I hadn’t thought of. I want to know that you are capable of being a trusted and reliable advisor to me. In order for me to believe that about you you’ll need to have a relationship with me.

3.  Exhibit extraordinary communication: Talking with you needs to be easy and uncomplicated. What I really want is for you to communicate with me in ways that are helpful and insightful for me and not simply for you. I oftentimes feel as though you are speaking Greek and I’m speaking Latin. Whenever I don’t understand what you’re saying you talk slower and louder in the hopes I’ll understand you. That leaves me in a hurry to have you leave my office. Learn to speak my language and if you do I’ll see this as a clear sign that a relationship with me is important to you.

4. Create tremendous value: The goal of EVERY interaction with me should be to leave me with one piece of information that I believe can make my life easier. If you do this I’ll come to see you as indispensable. And yes, I want to have relationships with people who I deem to be indispensable.

5.  Forget Methodology: Keep in mind that millions of drill bits are sold each year to people who didn’t want the drill bit. What they wanted was what the drill bit provides…a hole! So put on the back burner any infatuation you have with your technology no matter how compelling it is. Get to know what’s important to me; especially what my hopes and aspirations are for my business, my team and my career. Whatever you’re selling only matters to me if it helps me achieve my business results. And you’ll never know what results I’m looking for unless you build a relationship with me.

6.  Don’t bore me: I want to work with someone who is well read, is curious about the world, and who has a thirst for learning and growing. I enjoy both personally and professionally when someone shares an intriguing piece of information and who finds a way to bring divergent thoughts together in new and exciting ways. Doing so leaves me intellectually curious and engaged, both of which are positive attributes of solid professional relationships.

7.  Think bigger than I do: There are times when I get overwhelmed with the urgent and lose sight of the important. Help me to see the bigger picture and how I can achieve something I was unaware was even an option. I can’t think bigger by myself – I need someone else’s help. If you want to be seen as a strategic business partner help me see new possibilities and then and only then is okay for you to start talking about HOW you can help me.

A friend and colleague, Dr. Peter Robertson, put it this way when he was discussing the importance of relationships in the business world:

“Business consists of interactions and transactions between individuals, teams, organizations and customers. Wherever these interactions and transactions occur, business success is dependent on the effectiveness of the interactions and the quality of the relationships that develop.”

If you agree with the notion that business success is dependent on the effectiveness of the interactions and the quality of the relationship that develop from those interactions, what are the three most important strategies you can you adopt this week to accelerate the quality of your most important business relationships? If you are in a leadership and or management role and want to see more about how to personally implement these strategies, make sure and watch the Monday Morning Minute for May 21.

Monday Morning Minute 05-21-2012

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Monday Morning Minute 05-14-2012

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Monday Morning Minute 05.14.2012 from Hugh Blane on Vimeo.

10 strategies for reversing negative self talk

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As part of my Monday Morning Minute for May 7, 2012, I mentioned a list of the top ten strategies I’ve learned for reversing negative self talk. By doing them intentionally for thirty days you can and or will change the quality of your internal dialogue for the better.

1. Focus on one of your greatest successes: This strategy is designed to refocus your attention on one project or activity you’ve done really well. Specifically, you want to remember what you heard people say to you or about you and your performance. You then want to create the longest list possible of affirming feedback and view it daily for thirty days.

2. Inventory your self talk: Noticing what type of conversations you have with myself is important. Are these conversations positive and affirming or the opposite? Learn to catch yourself when they are negative and review your list from #1 above.

3. Meditation and or prayer time: The most important time of your day is the first thirty minutes. How you spend this time determines the quality of the rest of your day. If you spend your first thirty minutes checking email, watching the news, or reading negative newspaper stories you’ll be toast. Spend this time in meditation, prayer and or reading inspirational works. This is the time to reconnect with who you are spiritually.

4. Get an accountability partner: One of my best decisions was to hire a mentor/coach. Whether for triathlons or for my business, I benefited immensely from having someone other than myself view my plans and results. You will want to have a personal board of directors; a group of three to five people who call you on your stuff when need be. If you’re like me you’ll recognize that we all have advanced ways of fooling ourselves and need a trusted and respected accountability partner in order to grow and prosper.

5. Affirmations and visualization: Develop a list of qualities and traits you want to exemplify. Read your list every morning before leaving bed and every evening before turning the lights out. While this process is not scientific, this process will have a positive effect on your outlook and demeanor within one week of starting.

6. Have an internal contrarian: Whenever you fall into negative self talk you will benefit from taking a contrarian point of view. For example: if you start to generalize from a negative specific situation, you should stop and ask yourself to find evidence that points to an alternative conclusion. You’ll typically find at least five alternatives, and from the five choose one that seems the most plausible. This one plausible alternative outcome is proof that your current negative perspective is skewed.

7. Set a higher standard for how you talk with yourself: This is a really important strategy. Why do we talk to ourselves in ways we wouldn’t accept from a friend, client or family member? It’s oftentimes out of habit or conditioning. If a friend talked with you in the same way you talk with yourself you’d be gone. Have the same standard for your own negative self talk! Learn to mentally get up and walk away from negative self talk by saying “stop it – this is a habit you’ve learned, but it’s not working any longer.” If you won’t stop your own negative self talk who will? No one!

8. Practice assertive optimism: Somewhat similar to contrarian thinking, assertive optimism is the practice of seeing people, events, and situations from an optimistic perspective. How many times have you been upset with someone only to find out later that their behavior was rooted in either a family emergency or receiving bad news? Too many times. Keep in mind that there is always another side to the story and you don’t know it. Each situation and any corresponding negative expectations are rooted in a story we tell ourselves…typically about something we’re afraid of. Work to assertively insert optimism into all of your interactions and transactions. If you see me doing differently, you are free to let me know.

9. Choose your words carefully: Whenever we’re tired and worn out we become sloppy with our language. We say things like “I’m so stupid” or “I’m completely blowing this.” Instead, stop and use words like “I’m tired and can’t concentrate” or “this is not my best performance. I will do so much better when I’m rested.” The words you choose are planted in the fertile soil of your imagination and take root. I recommend choosing words that are known to produce a bountiful harvest and not a bed of weeds.

And last but not least…

10. Don’t dwell on negative self talk: It’s really easy for us to fall into a pattern of focusing on that which we don’t want. When we don’t want something its oftentimes because we’re afraid of the consequences…so we procrastinate and dwell on it. For example, there was a period in my life when I was really afraid to fly because I thought the plane would crash. I would spend entire flights saying (to myself of course) “we’re going to crash.” The problem was that I was remembering an event from my childhood and wrongly assumed that ALL flights would end in a crash. It wasn’t until I met a pilot who understood my concerns and proved that what I was worrying about was the least of my worries when flying. Now when I fly I focus on the positive saying “I may not love flying, but it’s safer than driving my car.” The first conversation creates fear, the later creates clear thinking that leads to a more enjoyable flight.

I have a couple of questions for you:

1. What other strategies have you found helpful?
2. Which of these strategies resonates with you?
3. Which of the ten strategies, if you were to more fully embrace it, would have a positive influence on your personal and professional life?

Monday Morning Minute 05.07.2012

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Monday Morning Minute 05.07.2012 from Hugh Blane on Vimeo.