Archives for November 2016

How I lost my mind and then found it

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On Tuesday of last week we traveled to Rhode Island to meet with my mentor, Alan Weiss. We came to discuss our hopes, aspirations and plans for my business in 2017. There was one problem. I didn’t show up.

I was physically present, but mentally I wasn’t there. What happened?

The night before our meeting I had one of the worst nights of sleep in a long time. I slept for a total of ninety minutes. The night before that, the fire alarm in our hotel went off at 2:45am and we were thrust out of bed and into the lobby of the Crown Plaza.

These two nights of poor sleep meant I went to meet with Alan with both hands tied behind my back, and the two brains cells I had left were fighting for who would go to sleep first.

Right out of the chute Alan asked me a fundamental business question. “Hugh, how are your clients better off for having worked with you.” The answer I gave broke the cardinal rule for my work as an advisor to executives and entrepreneurs. I answered in methodology and not based on business value. Alan said in his best New York manner, “that’s not what I asked you. I asked you how are your clients better off?” I tried again. It didn’t work. I tried to answer his question again, and again wasn’t able to answer his question. After working with Alan for six years I know what comes next. A double barrel of Alan love.

In the seconds that followed my third and unsuccessful attempt to answer Alan’s question I felt inept. Actually, I felt afraid that Alan and Alyson would think I had lost my mind or 100 IQ points and that this time was going to be wasted. Alan was looking at me, as was Alyson, and all of the work I’ve done to align my thinking with a life of flourishing, joy and success disappeared.

But, actually, I didn’t lose my mind. I found it.

I found my mind after recognizing that one of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to stop worrying about what other people think of me. To be in the moment and show up as the best version of me I can. If the way I show up doesn’t please you, satisfy you, impress you or convince you I am worthy, well, frankly I could give a rip.

That’s what I did with Alan. I said, “Alan, I’ve not slept well the last two nights and am here on fumes. I need to regroup on our agenda and start in a different place. If we do that I believe I can get up to speed.”

Was Alan okay with this? Of course. Was I okay with this? Not until today.

Over the last four days I’ve come to see that finding our minds is rooted in losing our minds. Losing the tight grip on how we are seen, perceived and the tightly constructed persona that we present in order to be seen as successful, intelligent and worthwhile. All of the gyrations I’ve gone through to manage this persona is BS. I have good days as well as bad days, and defining myself by how I engage in one meeting is a complete waste of time and saps me of energy for doing my best work. If not addressed quickly I revert back to old patterns that rob me of love, joy and connection.

If you ever find yourself in the same situation I have three recommendations of you:

1. Stop trying to please others. Do your best and move on.

2. Be in the present moment. The joy and fulfillment we all desire is never found in the past or the future. It’s in the here and now.

3. Take a baby step toward your ideal day or week. Your life is far more rewarding and enriching when you focus on progress and not perfection.

That’s what I did and it worked wonders for me. I trust it will do the same for you.

What other recommendations do you have?

Are You A Cost Center Or A Profit Center?

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Are you seen as a cost center to be minimized or profit center to be maximized? That’s a pithy question, but it’s also a very powerful question.

Cost centers are minimized because they don’t produce a lot of value. Profit centers get additional investments because leaders know that an extra $100,000 given to a particular department or person will be turned into $1,000,000.

Executives inside your organization are making financial decisions every day. Their question is similar to “Is this a valuable service or product that we should invest more money into? Or, is it not a value add and should we reduce our investment or spend it elsewhere?”

As an employee you want to be seen as a profit center. Not wholly in literal sense, but certainly in the sense that leaders see you as making a meaningful contribution to your customer. You want to be seen as a profit center so that if there are any additional resources to be given out, you would convert those resources into additional profit and performance for your organization.

How do you do that?

1. Cultivate a strategic business partner mindset. You’re not simply an employee. You now wear the moniker “Strategic Business Partner.”

2. Build your brand. Build your brand around being a strategic business partner. Think strategically about what’s in the best interest of the organization. Become known for fostering new and innovative ways of thinking.

3. Communicate passion for the customer experience. Talk about the customer experience relentlessly. Forget your methodology and become hyper-focused on what the customer is experiencing.

If you do those three things you will be seen as a profit center and your career will never be in jeopardy.

How To Create A Culture of Courageousness

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This week I want to talk about the number one strategy for creating a courageous culture. I was leading the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive webinar today and one of the questions asked was: “how do you promote, coerce, or condition yourself to move outside of your comfort zone and do something that might be labelled as courageous?”

That is a great question. It gets to the heart of what leaders are trying to do…have people move from the status quo to something much better. How do you do that? I suggest that courage is the secret ingredient. The word ‘courage’ comes from the French word coure, which means heart. That means you have to have heart for change.

I will contend that the best way to have heart for change, to do something that may be uncomfortable, is to have a much bigger yes. By that I mean you must have a purpose or aspiration that is compelling for you. Your aspiration must leave you announcing “I will not allow this to go undone” or “I really want to do this!” It’s then that you’ll find yourself doing things because you have a heart for them and because there’s a big idea, dream, hope or aspiration that’s compelling.

I also suggested that we each need to do something daily that is a little scary. If you get used to being on the edge and going beyond what’s normal, safe and predictable; doing something scary, over time you’ll build the habit of moving outside your comfort zone.

How do you cultivate a culture of courage? Have a much bigger yes and do something that’s a little scary each day.

The Ideal Perspective To View Your Results

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I want to talk to you about the optimal way to look at your results. We’ve been trained to look at our results as good or bad, right or wrong. This is a very binary approach that I don’t think is the right one. I believe it leads to judgement and harsh criticism, and most certainly doesn’t lead to doing our very best work.

I suggest you put this binary approach aside and optimize how you look at results by using the good, better, best approach. What does this mean?

Good:

The “good” response means that every result you get may not be the ideal result, but it’s a good result if the result teaches you something about your process or how you do your work. There is nothing wrong wth looking at a situation that didn’t play out the way you wanted and saying, “we got a good result because we accomplished A, B & C, we learned a lot, exerted a lot of effort and grew as a result.”

Better:

The “better” response is when you add “but there’s a better result that’s possible. If we modify what we do by implementing this new step or process we’ll get an even better result next time.

Best:

The “best” response happens when you add, “but if we did this we may get the best result imaginable.”

When in a leadership position, especially in a time when everyone feels overwhelmed and overburdened, it is easy and natural to default to ‘right or wrong,’ or ‘good or bad.’ Just tweak your thinking ever so slightly. When you do you will change the way people perceive their results, and you’ll continually find better and better ways to achieve your results.