Archives for July 2015

How to Say No While Actually Saying Yes

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Today I want to share with you how you can say no, by actually saying yes.

There are times when having very clear boundaries and saying no to someone is important. And rather than just saying “NO, I’m not going to do that,” I’m going to give you a tool that I call the magic of three yeses.

Rather than saying, “no, I’m not going to do that,” which is my east coast version way of communicating, I’m going to give you the west coast version. What I’m going to say is, “you know, that’s actually a really good idea and yes I should be responsible for it. So there are three ways that I can get that done.” Here comes the three yeses.

The first way is I can act as an advisor. As an advisor I can give about two hours a week to make sure the project is successful and I can start that right away.

The second option is for me not to be an advisor but to take more of an active role; a co-lead of the project. I wouldn’t be able to start that however for six weeks, and the amount of time I would have available is about seven hours a week.

The third option is if we wait six months I can be the project sponsor and the champion and run it from start to finish. I won’t be able to do that for six months though.

Once you explain the three options to the person you ask one simple question, “which option do you think would work best for you?”

Ladies and gentlemen, you didn’t say no, you said “yes, good idea,” you affirmed them, you gave them three options and then you asked them which would work best for them. The magic of the three yeses is really, really powerful. It gives three options; people love to be able to choose from options, and you’re also giving options based on the priorities you have, the time required and the scope of the project.

If you do this you are going to have people seeing you as supportive, really helpful, and providing options. Doing so will make you much more successful, much more effective, and you’ll have a whole lot more influence.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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The customer is NOT always right.

When I order coffee at Starbucks I overhear orders that sometimes have five or more instructions. For example, “I’ll have a grande, decaf, skinny latte, with two pumps of sugar free rasberry syrup at 185 degrees with no foam.” This seems like overkill to me, but Starbucks wants their customers to be happy.

Yesterday, while waiting in line to order a coffee at Starbucks, the woman in front of me placed an order and then when presented with the coffee asked the cashier to remove the sleeve around her cup. She felt it was unnecessary. She then asked that the cashier remove the plastic lid and, get ready for this, asked the cashier to replace it with a lid from the trash.

I’m not making this up. She asked the cashier to remove the lid and replace it with one from the trash. The cashier looked in disbelief at the woman and said, “I can’t do that. It would be highly unsanitary.” The woman then blurted out “Starbucks is so incredibly wasteful” and left the store.

The woman making this request was not indigent nor did she look mentally unstable, but her request was not rational nor was it healthy. The cashier knew the customer was in the wrong and never missed a beat. She shrugged her shoulders and handled my order with grace and a smile.

Customers are not always right. It’s not heresy to say so, it’s actually the best form of marketing and leadership to know when to say yes and when to say no.

Here are three key questions I hope will help you determine if saying no is a skill set you and your team have.

1. Do your employees know when to say no? If yes, what specific story or evidence do you have?

2. Can they say no with grace and a smile leaving a customer with a positive experience? If yes, what specific story or evidence do you have?

3. Do the leaders inside your organizaiton have the mindset and the skill set to tell senior leaders no? If yes, what specific story or evidence do you have? If no, keep in mind that when leaders can’t say no the likelihood employees will be able to say no appropriately drops appreciably.

Everyday, in less extreme situations than the one I witnessed yesterday, employees are charged with creating noteworthy customer experiences all while saying no with tact and confidence.

If you want to help employees know how to say no while giving a customer the feeling of hearing yes, check out The Magic of The Three Yeses on next Monday’s Monday Morning Minute.

Listen to Understand and Not Respond

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This week I want to talk to you about listening to understand as opposed to listening to respond. Listening to understand is an influencing tool or technique I think is incredibly powerful.

Let me ask you this. Do you think that the vast majority of people are listening to understand you, or are they waiting for a gap so that they can respond based on something that you’ve said? Are they listening to respond or to understand?

Let me role model this for you. If you’re having a conversation and someone says, “you know, I had a wonderful weekend.” Someone who is listening to respond may say, “we did also, you know what we did? We went to the mountains, we went hiking, we went fishing, we had a BBQ and an overall wonderful time.” They just completely overshot what you said, didn’t acknowledge it, and told you what they did. They were waiting for a gap in the conversation so they could respond about what they had done.

Listening to understand sounds something like this:

“We had a wonderful weekend.” “Really, what made your weekend so wonderful?” “Well we went down to the waterfront and we did the ferris wheel.” “Was that the first time you rode the ferris wheel? What was it like? Were you afraid of the height? Did you like the view from up there? Who did you go with?”

Listening to understand why an event or experience is important to someone is transformational in your relationships. Why? Because what you’re doing is expressing an interest and concern for the other person. By doing so you are communicating how important the person is to you. When someone isn’t important you don’t listen to them. Listening is a powerful influencing tool in that when someone feels listened to they feel heard, they feel valued, they feel important, and they feel that you were the person that helped make them feel that way.

This week, if you want to have a more effective work week, find one person you will listen to understand as opposed to simply responding. If you do that, and when you do that, you are going to have a much more effective work week.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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Leaders feel they are falling behind. They’ve taken the corporate mantra of do more, do it better, do it faster and cheaper to heart. They’ve increased the expectations they have of themselves and their teams and in turn increased their efforts in order to be successful.

But increased effort isn’t the answer. It isn’t the answer because the number one reason leaders feel behind is because of an obligation to say yes to an ever expanding list of priorities…priorities they will likely never be able to accomplish because of a finite amount of time and resources. Increased effort is essential in some circumstance, but what leaders need more is an increased amount of courage and confidence to have clear rules for what they will say yes to and what they will say no to. Without this courage and confidence leaders will continually feel behind.

In order to be a more successful and effective leader there are six key priority-setting questions that need to be answered. They are:

1. Do you have more than five top priorities? If you do, you have too many…especially if they are key, mission critical priorities.

2. What percentage of your priorities are driven primarily by task/technical accomplishment and what percentage are driven by people/relationship accomplishment?

3. Based on your answers to #2, what percent of your time are you spending on the task/technical aspects of your priorities and what percent are you spending on the people/relationship aspects of your priorities?

4. If your customers were asked if they thought they were a high priority for you and your organization would you hear a resounding yes? If yes, what priorities must you keep having, stop having or start having in order to maintain this success?

5. If your employees were asked if they are a high priority of mine would I hear a resounding yes? If yes, what priorities must I keep having, stop having or start having in order to maintain this success?

6. What are my bosses/organizations highest priorities for me? Is there alignment between my organizational priorities and my values and leadership purpose?

Leadership effectiveness is accelerated with a ruthless choice about what priorities to set. With courage and confidence, which question is the most important for you to ask and answer first? Answering this one question will have a positive impact on feeling less behind?

Never Underestimate The Transformative Power of Enthusiasm

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about “Never Underestimating The Transformative Power of Enthusiasm.”

I was on vacation two weeks ago in Walla Walla playing golf with my good friend Scott May. Scott if you’re watching, I’m going to talk about you and golf.

Scott loves golf. I think he may be addicted to golf, but that’s a separate Monday Morning Minute. Scott is someone who will spend an hour, or more, the night before playing a good course reviewing each hole and calculating distances for each shot. To which I’m thinking, “are you crazy?”

But here’s the thing, when we got to the course the next morning Scott’s enthusiasm for playing golf was absolutely contagious. Scott was a kid in a candy store and I got swept up in his enthusiasm. Now I’m not a good golfer. I don’t practice, every once in awhile I hit a good shot, but ladies and gentlemen Scott’s enthusiasm was transformative and contagious. I wanted to be around Scott because he was so terribly enthusiastic.

The same thing happens in the world of work. Imagine working for a leader that was absolutely IN LOVE with their work; they were so enthusiastic that they swept you up in their enthusiasm and you in turn devoted more time to understanding the subtle and intricate nuances of your work and the people in it. If you had that kind of enthusiasm you would be the pied piper throughout your organization. People would gravitate toward you because of your enthusiasm.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what we need in the world of work. We need people to be genuinely enthusiastic and passionate about what they do…and it starts with you. Whenever a leader is ho hum, very nice you know, and they’re simply going through the motions you’ll never create anything extraordinary. There will be nothing exemplary.

This week, if you want to have a more effective workweek, find that one piece of your job that just grabs hold of you and will not let go. When you do, people will gravitate toward you and they will want to be around you because you are absolutely engaged in what you do. If you do that, you’re going to have a fabulous week. You won’t shoot par, but you’ll have a fabulous week.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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There is a simple admonition about becoming successful that we all need reminding of from time to time. Successful people do things that unsuccessful people don’t.

The people who have achieved something noteworthy or inspiring have a set of beliefs and behaviors that allow them to be successful. Identifying what specifically successful people do and replicating it increases the chances of you being successful.

Here are my top ten suggestions for being more successful as a leader.

1. Get clear: Have a clear end goal or purpose that is compelling and uplifting. Knowing what you want is an essential first step to greater success.

2. View failure as necessary: Failing is a part of life. You’ll stop failing after you’re dead. Look at failure as the next steps in your learning and development. Failure allows you to learn from your mistakes in powerful ways.

3. Have positive self-talk: I tell my coaching clients that what they tell themselves about their leadership is ten times more powerful than what I tell them. Their self talk will either support or sabotage the conversations we have. Having positive conversations with themselves is crucial.

4. Find an exemplar: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find a real world exemplar for what you want to accomplish and study them. How do they think, what do they believe, what do they do and say that helps further their success?

5. Invest time and energy: You may have the talent to be a brilliant violinist or heart surgeon, but if you don’t invest the time and energy into perfecting your talent you’ll never live up to your full potential. Plan to grow your skill set or mindset by 1% every day and you’ll be 100% more successful in 72 days than you are today.

6. Surround yourself with successful people: Just as you cannot have happy customers with unhappy employees, you cannot become more successful if the people you spend time with are unsuccessful. Successful people are an inspiration and accelerator of success. Unsuccessful people wear you down and hold you back.

7. Find a coach or mentor: Athletes are known for having coaches. They know that the best return on investment they know of is in themselves. Yet, too often employees in organizations make that investment last or not at all. This is a career limiting maneuver.

8. Play to your strengths: Russell Wilson, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, knows his strengths as does the Head Coach Pete Carroll. They’ve designed the Seahawks offense in ways that compliment his strengths and by doing so, have had two Super Bowl appearances in three years with one win. That epitomizes playing to your strengths.

9. Focus on the process and not the prize: Too often people lose sight of the importance of their processes. Yes, having a clearly articulated purpose is essential, but having a process for achieving your purpose is mandatory. Without a process you will focus on your purpose but lack a clear vehicle for achieving it. That results in the maximum frustration possible.

10. Cultivate a success mindset versus a scarcity mindset: Mastering your mindset is the greatest accelerator of success a leader will ever find and use. Building a supreme self-confidence in what’s possible and valuable is what Nelson Mandela, J.K. Rowling and Steve Jobs used to not only become supremely successful professionally, but to enable citizens, readers, employees and customers to live a more rewarding and enriching personal life.

Which of the above, if you were to make it a habit, would provide you with the greatest leadership advantage?

Two Truths of Leadership

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk about the two truths of leadership. The two truths about leadership are:

When in your professional or personal life you see things you don’t like or find unsatisfactory, one of two things has happened: you either created the situation or you allowed it to happen.

For example, if there are instances where events that are not of your creation and you don’t stop them from happening again, you’re allowing them to continue.

In instances where events happened unintentionally and you’re unaware of the negative consequences and don’t take steps to resolve the negative consequences, you created the situation. You’re responsible.

There is a tremendous freedom in this simple formula. The simplicity is that you can always make a different choice. Whenever you find yourself saying, “wait a minute, that’s not at all what I wanted to have happen” you can make a different choice. Whenever you find yourself saying “wait a minute, I thought people would react more positively to my recommendations” you can make a different choice about how to move forward.

When you get clear about what you want to have happen and what you won’t accept or tolerate you can ask yourself one important question: what’s the one thing I’m going to do to take responsibility for my leadership and correct this situation? What’s the one baby step I can take that will reverse or correct this situation? That’s all you have to do. If you ask this question you’re going to have a really effective work week.

Hugh’s Weekly Words of Wisdom

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There are three questions that are central to being successful at work. These three questions are deceptively simple, but carry powerful insights into the nature of your work.

1. What are you doing? This question ferrets out two important aspects of work. Does the role and responsibilities of your work excite, engage and use your talents and skills to the best of your ability? Does your role fit into a larger strategic puzzle that enables you to use your talent, skill and passion in ways that fosters individual and organizational success? There are times when either through a merger, an acquisition and or a leadership change you cannot be successful and it’s time to find greener pastures.

2. Who are you working for? Do you value and appreciate your customer/patient/member/constituent? Are they people you want to give the very best of yourself in the hopes that their lives will be better? Is the well-being and comfort of the people you serve more important to you than your own well-being and comfort? Putting the people you serve ahead of you does not require you embody the sacrificial giving of Mother Theresa, but it does require you value those you serve in caring and loving ways.

3. Who are you working with? Do the people you work with develop your passion, talent and skill to the highest level possible, or do they suck the life and energy out of you? When confronted with a lack of passion, incompetence and or indifference by others do you respond by doing more, doing it better and doing it yourself in the hopes that higher productivity will prevail? If you do you no doubt believe strongly in #1, but you also do so because you hope that by doing so your discontent will be reduced. It won’t work. If you are working in an organization and or with people that drain you, no matter how passionate and talented you are you will never be able to do exemplary work.

Hugh’s perspective on your answers

If you can answer all three questions in the affirmative you and your fellow employees are flourishing as are your customers.

If you can answer two questions affirmatively you can tolerate the absence of the third for a period of time. How long? It all depends on whether you have the resources and courage to walk away and find greener pastures.

If you can answer only one question in the affirmative, regardless of the question, you are simply surviving at work and at risk of burning out professionally as well as personally.

If you found these questions helpful and want to think about your answers in positive and powerful new ways, check out my Mastering Your Mindset teleconference. You can find the teleconferences page here.

Declaring Your Independence From Negative Thinking

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Video Notes:

This is the Monday Morning Minute after the celebration in the United States of our Independence. Our independence from Great Britain 239 years ago.

239 years ago, thirteen colonies said they no longer wanted to be under the thumb of Great Britain. They wanted to be independent.

As I went through our weekend, where there were parades and all kinds of fireworks with family and friends, I said to myself that there are a lot of people that watch the Monday Morning Minute, the people that I coach, the people that I consult with, who are not free. They’re not independent. They are under the thumb of something.

Notice I said something, not someone. Ladies and gentlemen, the vast majority of people who are watching this are oppressed in some way. But it is something of their creation and or something they’ve allowed to happen. What is that thing? It is your thinking. It’s your mindset. It’s what you allow to happen in between your ears.

What I want to suggest to you this week is that if you want the independence from, “I can’t do that,” if you want to separate yourself and have independence from a scarcity mindset, if you want to fully wrap your arms around the idea of being independent and living the most rewarding and enriching life possible…what should you do? You should write your own Declaration of Independence.

Your Declaration of Independence doesn’t have to be a long document and it doesn’t have to take the five days it did with our founding fathers. That’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that you write down the things that you believe to be self evident. The things you believe are sacred for you.

If you want freedom; the psychic, emotional, mental, and or mindset freedom, you have to start by writing down what you believe and what is important to you. It is absolutely essential. The moment you write your Declaration of Independence. You will attract them to you. You’ll see the hyperlink to last week’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday, use it as an example. Don’t copy it, but use it to create your own.

I do the Monday Morning Minute because I aspire to in some way provoke, cajole or inspire you to do something today that will help you live the most rewarding and enriching life possible. I want people to be independent from the negative aspects or their life and move towards something that is truly rewarding and enriching. So, in order to help you flourish, my first recommendation is to write down what is it you really believe and want. What happens when you do is that you will start to create those things in your life. You’ll move towards them and providence will move also.

Do you want a fabulous week? Start by taking ten minutes to write down what it is you believe. If you do that, you’ll have a fabulous week.

Link to Words of Wisdom Wednesday; July 1, 2015

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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All too often people think in terms of what’s not working as opposed to what’s working. They see the proverbial glass as being half empty as opposed to half full and expect the worst will happen. There are nine negative consequences to this type of thinking.

1. Our mindset shifts to playing not to lose as opposed to playing to win.
2. Our energy plummets as does the energy of those we interact with.
3. Our customers become reticent to engage with us fully.
4. Our ability to use our talents and skills in compelling and powerful ways is diminished.
5. We live in a place of scarcity as opposed to abundance.
6. Our creativity dries up.
7. Our personal relationships suffer.
8. Our health and well-being are eroded.
9. We attract even more of what we are thinking about.

I’m not suggesting that when there is an issue that is negatively affecting you, your team or your performance you stick your head in the sand and avoid the issue.

What I am suggesting is that even in the face of downturns, setbacks and the loss of your biggest advantage, there is an opportunity to convert what isn’t working into something that works even better.

Don’t believe me? Think of Viktor Frankl and his experience in German concentration camps and recounted in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Think of Thomas Edison and his 10,000 experiments with the storage battery. Think of Wilma Rudolph who contracted polio at age four and went on to win three gold medals at the Olympics.

Today, find one thing that you find exemplary, excellent or inspiring and keep that in the front of your thinking all day. Use it as a meditation of sorts for what is possible and what’s been achieved by yourself or others.

If you do, not only will you enjoy the day more, but you will accomplish more and be an exemplar to others.

What is the one thing you will focus on today?