Archives for October 2015

The Number One Reason People Have A Negative Mindset Is…

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Have you ever wondered why some people are positive and optimistic while others are negative and see life as a long slow slog through enemy territory with bullets flying over their head? After studying leadership, mindsets and human performance for over twenty years I’ve concluded that there are nine reasons why people end up with a negative mindset. I will share the full list with with my newsletter distribution list over the coming weeks, but today I want to address the number one reason people have a negative mindset.

The #1 reason is: they don’t let go of the past.

If you and I chose to do so, we could sit down and develop a list of ten, fifteen or twenty-five things that have happened in our past that went “wrong.” The list could include not being admitted to our first choice of schools or flunking out of our first choice of schools. The list might include our parents getting a divorce, a death in our family or being overlooked for a promotion.

People who focus on the past and what’s not gone well, or how they’ve been hurt or taken advantage of, end up seeing the world through the prism of a negative mindset. They look at their past and believe it justifies or explains why they act like they do or why they can’t or don’t live up to their full potential. There is always a reason from the past that determines and explains their lot in life.

What you believe directly influences what you achieve.

People with a negative mindset believe their proverbial glass is half empty due to no fault of their own. They also believe your glass should be half empty also. If their glass is going to be half empty due to no fault of their own, then all glasses should be half empty. Actually, they believe your glass is not just half empty but it’s being drained and you simply don’t know it. The only thing that’s draining is spending time with them.

If you are in a leadership position at work, at home, in your community, at church or at school, this kind of mindset will dash any hopes you have of higher performance. You will feel as though you have your foot squarely on the accelerator hoping to drive 100 miles per hour, but another foot is firmly on the brake holding you back to an octogenarian 5 miles per hour.

What are you supposed to do?

  1. Focus on the future. Far too many people have 20/20 vision when it comes to the past and are vision impaired when it comes to the future. Clearly define your future without hyper-focusing on your past. I’ve had people repossess my families furniture at six years old, had business partners embezzle vast sums of money, and girlfriends be unfaithful. If my predominant thoughts were about these events as opposed to my desired future I’d be a basket case. Whenever you find yourself brooding on the past immediately shift your focus to the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that uplift you. The past is to be learned from, but not repeated over and over.
  2. Identify your negative mindset. Before you as a leader start eradicating negative mindsets in others my very first recommendation is to start with yourself. Are you a carrier for negativity? If you are, “heal thyself.” You can do that by reading my Twisted Thinking post and identify any twisted thinking traits you have. You’ll find it here.
  3. Don’t fly solo. Find a coach, mentor or therapist. You cannot change your mindset by yourself. If you do you will do it painfully slow and with way too much work. I have a coach and mentor and at times have sought out the expertise of a therapist. Every time I’ve used the expertise and wisdom of someone who has been there, done that and earned the t-shirt my performance as well as my enjoyment has jumped appreciably.

Which of these ideas has the most benefit for you?

2015 Reader Survey

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I want to ensure my blog does the best job possible of addressing your needs and interests. And that means I need to know more about you. To do that, I’ve created my 2015 Reader Survey.

Feedback-Key-r

Would you please take a few minutes to fill out the survey? By doing so, you will ultimately be helping yourself. Why? Because you will be helping me create content even more interesting and relevant to you.

Your input and advice is important to me. The survey is easy to fill out, and the results are completely anonymous. I can’t tell who said what. And you can finish in under ninety seconds. 

survey-button

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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The Five Strategies I Use To Accomplish More In Less Time With Less Stress And Greater Enjoyment

I have a lot of priorities. I have client projects, writing for my blog and book, business development responsibilities, creating online courses for Claris University and acting as the head chef and on site general contractor of our kitchen remodel. I’m very productive and was asked recently how I do what I do. I have five key strategies, none of which are earthshaking or new information to you. They real key to my success and level of accomplishment is in the summary at the end.

What I do:

1. I plan my week. Before starting my week, I spend sixty minutes planning the following week and what I will “accomplish” each day specifically. I review my priorities and define what a successful week will look like. I view this planning time as writing the next chapter of my personal and professional life. Either I write the next chapter or someone else will. I take full ownership of my week and never delegate my schedule to someone else. Ever.

2. I view time as finite. I used to engage in magical thinking with regards to time and my schedule. It worked like this: there was an infinite amount of time available to accomplish something the further I was from what I needed to do. INnturn, I magically thought I would be able to pull all of the requisite pieces of a project together within an hour. It never worked. I view all of my priorities through a “time is finite, precious and limited” prism and don’t engage in magical thinking.

3. I have good self-talk. There are two powerful voices playing in my head every day; my biggest advocate and my greatest critic. I listen more to my advocate now and remind myself of where and how I’ve been successful. If I’m going to listen to a voice it’s now a positive and affirming voice. To help with this I complete an accomplishment list before leaving the office each day. You can find it on my resources page here.

4. I focus on progress. I used to focus on perfection. I wanted all matters associated with my work to be “just right.” The problem was that I never achieved “just right” because the higher levels of accomplishment I achieved I in turn raised the bar to new levels. I never felt satisfied. I don’t do that anymore. I strive to make progress every day and move my most important work forward.

5. I eliminate distractions. When I turn off my phone and shut off my email I not only think more clearly, but I also think more creatively. For the longest time I refused to disengage from the hustle and bustle of work as I thought I was too important. Being disconnected was not an option. I learned an important lesson the hard way…when I don’t schedule quality uninterrupted time I never achieve consistent quality results. And, life becomes a long slow slog through enemy territory with bullets flying overhead.

Here’s the real kicker though. None of the above five strategies mean a hill of beans unless you have the VOLITION to implement them. Frankly, you know what you need to do. The question is which one will you without question start implementing today? Not tomorrow when XYZ is around…because that’s magical thinking. Today.

Which one?

Are You Chasing Success Or Is Success Chasing You?

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Notes:

Here’s the question for this week. Are You Chasing Success Or Is Success Chasing You?

This is not a philosophical question nor is it simply a sentence with a nice play on words. It is a question that get’s at the heart of how you think about success. Is success something separate from you and that you have to pursue with urgency, anxiety, and apprehension? Or, is it something that you already have and that you’re working to attract more of it?

Chasing success or success chasing you is a great perspective through which to view your personal and your professional life. If you want to have success chase you, there are three things that you have to do.

#1.  You have to have a success mindset. You have to develop a mindset that says, “I am playing to win, not playing not to lose.” You have a mindset that says, “I am successful and I am going to attract more success to me.” In all of my coaching and consulting work everything starts with mindset. Do you have a success mindset or a scarcity mindset?

#2. You have to behave like a success. You can’t have a success mindset and then shop looking for the lowest deal or the lowest price. That does not compute with a success mindset. The way you behave must be similar to how successful people with the same values as you behave. For example, you are generous when you leave a tip or are generous with other people. When you have a success mindset your cup runneth over and you willingly give to other people. You are generous.

#3. You have to spend time with successful people. If you have a great success mindset, and your behaviors are aligned with other successful people you respect, then you cannot spend time with people who are unsuccessful and who have no aspiration to become successful. They will weigh you down.

Yes, there are three things you must do. You have to cultivate a success mindset, you have to behave as successful people do, and you have to spend time with successful people so they nourish and uplift you to create even more excitement around success.

If you do these three things, success will chase you and that is a fabulous way to live your personal and professional life.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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One of the questions I like to ask my clients when we first start working together is, are you having fun?

This is not a theoretical or philisophical question. It’s a simple question that asks leaders an unexpected question and speaks to their mindset regarding work. More often than not I hear a conditional and nuanced answer such as “yes, but” type answer. For example, “generally yes, but for the last six months we’ve had a major project that’s taking massive amounts of my time and resources.” Fair enough. We all experience times of tumult and stress where work is not fun nor enjoyable; it’s necessary and important, but not fun.

That begs the question, is having fun at work important? Shouldn’t fun be found in the confines of the weekend with family and friends? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that in all of my coaching and consulting work with successful leaders, those who genuinely enjoy their work and answer yes to having fun at work, they perform at higher levels than those who answer no.

If having fun at work allows you to perform at higher levels, it is true for your employees also. When employees feel inspired, committed and rewarded the greater the likelihood they will describe work as fun and rewarding. And when work becomes fun and rewarding the payoff for leaders is that employees then create fun and rewarding experiences for customers. You can never create fun and rewarding experiences for customers unless you’re doing so for yourself and your employees.

What three strategies can you use for infusing work with more fun? Here are my top three.

1. Be ruthless in managing your calendar. Many leaders run from meeting to meeting with no time to spare. This creates massive amounts of stress and lower levels of effectiveness. Being ruthless about what goes on your calendar, when and with whom is one area where leaders can reduce stress and anxiety and find greater satisfaction and success. When you feel greater satisfaction and success work becomes more fun and rewarding.

2. Laugh it off. Yes, I know there are times when work is about life and death. Volkswagen executives are navigating the engineering fiasco that circumvented EPA emissions testing. Work right now is a life and death situation for 300,000 Volkswagen employees as well as their dealer network. But generally, the more serious the work the greater the need to schedule time to maintain strong personal relationships and to laugh and see the lighter side of life. Watching a Robin Williams or Jerry Seinfeld comedy sketch produces more endorphins and reduces cortisol levels. Laughing is an excellent performance boosting strategy.

3. Stop chasing success. The moment leaders stop chasing success and start allowing success to chase them, work is transformed positively and appreciably. This is not a play on words, but a fundamental shift in a leaders mindset. When leaders stop “playing to not lose” and start “playing to win”, their thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and behaviors change in ways that attracts greater success. Becoming a magnet for success as opposed to chasing success is a game changing shift for leaders. It is also a game changing shift for their employees.

My challenge for you:
Discuss all three of these strategies with your team and then brainstorm an even more extensive list. Then choose one strategy and deploy it for four weeks. Then review your list again and rinse and repeat.

Which strategy will you start with?

The Three Lessons I Learned From Robert Cialdini

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Last week I spent the day with renowned author Robert Cialdini. Bob wrote THE book book on Influence entitled, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. He’s sold over three million copies of Influence and was a perfect guest at a three day summit I attended called Thought Leadership.

I learned three things from my time with Bob. They are:

1. To influence others we have to be open to being influenced. Leaders, parents, partners, husbands and wives all want to have influence and shape the outcome of their interactions with others. What’s required is communicating that we are open to being influenced. When we don’t, those we are trying to influence see us as rigid in our point of view and are less likely to be open to our perspective.

2. Asking for advice trumps asking for opinions. When you poll your employees or customers and ask them for their opinion the question creates an “us” versus “them” perspective in the mind of the person asked for their opinion. But when you ask for advice the dynamic becomes one of partnership and collaboration to create a better outcome. A small shift in the words you use will produce a big result.

3. Negotiations are best when personalized. In contract negotiations where two sides have distinct and seemingly intractable positions, the likelihood is that the negotiators are viewing those on the other side of the table as the opposition and know very little about them personally. When negotiators start by sharing personal information and getting to know the people on the other side of the table stymied negotiations drop from 30% to 6%.

Each of the above lessons learned is simple to understand and can be applied without any training, education and or planning. The only thing required is a desire to have greater influence.

Which will you use today?

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom

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Outsiders see you with greater clarity than you see yourself. This is true for both your strengths as well as your weaknesses. For example, with my coaching clients I see their strengths and potential with greater clarity and enthusiasm than they see themselves. The benefit of doing so is that I can anticipate and position them for greater influence and leadership impact than they could on their own. There are three reasons why this is possible.

1. I pay more attention to strengths and less to weaknesses. Without reservation the vast majority of my clients believe correcting their weaknesses is the surest path to greater performance. I work to disavow them of that notion. My most successful clients know what they do well, what value they provide to their teams and customers and use this knowledge as the jumping off point for their professional development. They DO NOT start with shortcomings or weaknesses as this creates a harsh and critical focus on what’s not working versus what is working.

2. I talk to them more positively about themselves than they talk to themselves. If you recorded most people’s self-talk over the course of a day and played it back to them at the end of the day they would be stunned at how negative their self-talk is. Most people are far too critical of themselves to do their best work. Their internal critic pelts them with comments such as “I blew that” and “that was dumb.” This narrative creates a failure mindset as opposed to a success mindset.

3. I suggest plans based on previously undreamed of possibilities. My mentor, Alan Weiss, said to me “the majority of people make plans based on their fears of what might happen rather than on what their key constituents need or want.” Uncertainty and trepidation are a lethal mix that will always lead to lower performance. Having a deep rooted belief in our ability to learn and grow allows us to experiment and take risks.

If you wanted greater influence and leadership impact, which of the above three areas will serve you best?

How To Reduce Interpersonal Strife By 50%

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Note:

This week I want to talk to you about how you can reduce the interpersonal strife in your personal life and professional life by 50%. How do you do that? You get clear about the boundaries you have or need. For example, in my neighborhood there is a home that is getting ready for a massive remodel. I noticed they had someone draw boundary lines no doubt because they want to know how far they can expand their footprint. What I noticed is that their neighbor’s hedge is on their property line. I said to myself, “that’s going to be an interesting conversation. I can hear, remove your hedge!”

So there is a boundary line that has been crossed and the homeowner has every right to say, “no, please remove or move your hedge.” The same thing happens at work.

We have to be really clear about our boundaries. There are three boundaries that are absolutely critical, and if you get clear on these three, interpersonal strife will go down by at least 50%. Here are the three most important boundaries.

#1. Get clear about what you will and will not do. If your employer says you now need to start working on the weekends, and you say that your expectation was that you wouldn’t have to work weekends, you have something that needs to be negotiated. You have to get crystal clear about what you will do and what you will not do.

#2. You have to get crystal clear about when you will do it. If you say to someone that this is a four week project, and they say, “no, no, no…au contraire, it’s only one week” and you agree to do it, you’ve agreed to do it in one week. So the timing is really important about when you will do what you agreed to do. This is absolutely essential because if it’s late people will see you as untrustworthy.

#3. You have to get crystal clear about the quality of work that you will deliver. If someone says the project is going to be due in one week, you can say I will have it in one week, but it will not be fully vetted. In one week it will only be 60% complete, because we need the extra three weeks to get the other 40% done.

So get clear about what you will do and what you won’t, when you will do it, and the quality of the work you’re doing. If you do that interpersonal strife will go down by 50% and productivity will go up.