Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Passionate leaders and organizations have one thing in common…they have an idea, hope, dream or aspiration that has grabbed hold of them and won’t let go. But if you’re like many of the leaders I talk with on a daily basis, you don’t consider yourself passionate because you erroneously think being passionate is synonymous with being the Cheerleader In Chief.

There is good news. There are plenty of leaders who are passionate and don’t wave their arms, pound the desk and give eloquent and stirring speeches. Passionate leaders do have four key characteristics in common however, and when they are in place they point to that which makes the leader come alive. These four key characteristics all begin with the letter C. They are:

Curiosity: They love learning and are willing to overturn rocks to learn and see what’s possible. Their curiosity propels them to read and learn as much as they can, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to learn and grow.

Courage: They are willing to challenge their beliefs and assumptions as well as those around them. They’re not arrogant know it all types, but they do strive to be experts in their fields. They seek out divergent opinions and willingly challenge themselves to push the boundaries of what’s known.

Commitment: Passionate leaders are committed to excellence and apply what they’ve learned quickly. They do so because they love what they do and are willing to apply the best thinking to get the very best result.

Community: Passionate leaders build communities of like minded co-collaborators who also embrace curiosity, courage and commitment. They create informal and formal networks where best practices are shared and the learning and growing process is accelerated.

Here’s my personal example: The idea of converting human potential into accelerated business results has grabbed hold of me and won’t let go. I love the idea of helping leaders see their job as primarily one of helping employees flourish professionally. If leaders do that, they will have flourishing customer relationships and in turn flourishing business performance.That’s something that propels me out of bed in the morning.

If you want to know what you are passionate about there are four key questions you have to answer.

1. What do you love doing?

2. What part of your work is the most rewarding?

3. What can you get lost doing because you enjoy it so much?

4. What’s the one idea hope, dream or aspiration that’s grabbed hold of you and will not let go?

After answering these questions don’t be surprised if you become the Cheerleader in Chief.

The Three Steps to Powerful Persuasion

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Video Notes

This week I want to talk about how you can persuade someone to do something. There are three parts to this process.

#1 The first part is that you have to build a strong relationship with the person. Building a strong relationship involves having a relationship characterized by trust and respect. These are two absolutely essential ingredients if you want to influence someone. Someone must have a trusting and respectful relationship with you if you are to positively persuade them.

#2 You have to know what is important to the person you want to influence. You can’t focus on what is important to you, but rather what is important to the other person. What are their dreams, their hopes, their aspirations, their goals or their objectives. You have to understand what is important to them.

#3 You have to make their life easier. You must bring a solution that helps them get what they want. Ladies and gentleman, for you to persuade somebody to do something you have to build a trusting and respectful relationship, understand what’s important to them and then bring them solutions that will help make their life easier.

If you do these three things people will be interested, engaged and listen to you about what’s important to you. It starts with you extending an olive branch to them and to go the extra distance to see the world from their perspective, and to help them get what they want. If you do that, you will be incredibly persuasive.

That is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here next week. Take care everyone.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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When you boil accomplishing extraordinary feats down into their basic elements there are seven focus areas that help you to think bigger and become more successful. They are:

1. Focus on an extraordinary exemplar. Find someone who has achieved something extraordinary and study them. Look for patterns of success, traits or characteristics that if you were to adopt them you too could be successful. Be careful to not waste time by reinventing the wheel.

2. Focus on a compelling aspiration. Recognize that thinking bigger is often about perfecting an idea and not inventing a new one. It is much easier to find an idea for improving an existing process or improving a customer or employee experience. Find your one idea and run with it and don’t exert energy starting from scratch.

3. Focus on a previous success. Recall a big success and what people said to you and what you said to yourself. Look for compliments and or specific acknowledgments and vow to take them and use them repeatedly. A previous success can be a precursor to future success if coupled with the other six focus areas.

4. Focus on building your confidence. One of the most effective ways to think bigger while also strengthening your confidence is to create a success file that captures your list from #3 and review it and add to it frequently. When you see the pattern of what you do successfully and how you’ve done so repeatedly, your confidence increases and your willingness to think bigger grows also.

5. Focus on what you read and watch. You can only hold one dominant thought at a time. If you plant the seeds of entitlement, victimization and defeat through the books and movies you watch, you are planting in the fertile soil of your imagination these attributes. If you immerse yourself in the biographies of people who have achieved something extraordinary and learn from them, you plant theses seeds in your imagination. The latter is far more valuable.

6. Surround yourself with big thinkers. Without question, the environment where you spend the majority of your time nurtures in you the thinking that created the culture. Regardless of your position on the nature versus nurture argument, your environment is a significant factor in your thinking and how successful you’ll be. Spend less time with people who limit themselves to safe “in the box” type of thinking and venture out to the farther reaches of what’s possible with expansive bigger thinking people.

7. Focus on how you use your time. Time management is a priority issue and not a resource issue. If something is important to you you’ll make it happen. If it’s not you’ll resist making the time available. In turn, review your calendar every morning and determine which one task or appointment you’ll think bigger about and devote time to think in advance how your avatar would approach it, how you can use your previous success as a catalyst for even greater success, or how would someone who thinks bigger approach this issue? These three questions specifically will jump start your thinking and accelerate you toward greater success.

What will you focus on today?

Purify Your Thinking

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about pruning the trees in your yard.

Ladies and gentlemen, outside my window is an apple tree that has been pruned over the weekend. That apple tree looks a whole lot better. It had long spindly little branches that had grown erratically because it had not been pruned in five to seven years. We’ve been in the house for three so we left it alone because we had different priorities during the remodeling process. But over the weekend I said to my wife, “the apple tree is starting to interfere with our view. Let’s let’s have it pruned.” We did and now I have more natural sunlight, I have unobstructed views towards Puget sound and the yard looks cleaner and better maintained. There are a lot of benefits to pruning the apple tree.

I’m going to suggest that there are things in your life that need to be pruned. For my purposes it’s not the tree in your front yard, it’s the things that are growing in between your ears. If you’ve participated in my Transformational LEadership Project you’ll know this as the purification principle. It prompts you to determine one thing from last week you thought did not work well for you. What’s one thing, either from a professional perspective or from a personal perspective? Just notice one thing, without any judgment, that did not work and commit to not doing that again next week.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you can look in your yard and see a garden that needs to be weeded, or a tree that needs to be pruned, what would lead you to believe that cannot or doesn’t happen in between your ears? I want to suggest to you that you embrace the purification principle. Find one thing every week you don’t want to replicate or duplicate next week and vow to either reduce it or eliminate it. If you’ll do that, the view that you will have of your personal and professional life will be much more expansive, you’ll have a lot more natural light coming in to your thinking and your well being, and you will enjoy your week so much better.

That ladies and gentlemen is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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If you want to dramatically grow your leadership there are nine strategies you must implement in order to be successful.

1. Rapidly ask for, accept and apply feedback from an outside trusted advisor.

2. Surround yourself with internal colleagues who will tell you the truth about you and your leadership.

3. Find one aspect of your leadership to accentuate and one aspect to eliminate each week.

4. Invest quality time with the people you want to influence the most.

5. Spend time with like minded leaders who think big and who want to make a difference.

6. Devote yourself to helping your customers, employees and key stakeholders flourish.

7. Lead from your strengths and avoid playing to your weaknesses.

8. Spend three minutes thinking about your leadership purpose every morning before leaving bed and every evening before going to sleep.

9. Take fifteen minutes each day to do something from this list.

Before you stop reading this post let me remind you of one last thing. You know all of the above because you’ve heard it before. Nothing that I’ve shared is new information. But there is a huge chasm between knowing something and doing something. That’s why item number nine is so important. Number nine requires faith and perseverance. Faith in your ability to make a difference and perseverance to keep going in the face of setbacks and failures.

So, let me ask you. What item will you do tomorrow?

A Flourishing Business Requires Flourishing Employees

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk about flourishing. Flourishing is actually a word I prefer to use over thriving. They’re synonyms,  but I like flourishing.

Flourishing is a good word because you know you can have a garden that flourishes, you can have an emotional well-being that is flourishing, and in some of my Monday Morning Minutes, I’ve talked about how my business is flourishing and how gratitude has played a part in that. But I want to chunk this down into very, very simple terms.

If you want a flourishing business, that means you have to have a flourishing relationship with your customer. Your customer has to flourish. No if’s, and’s, or but’s, your customer has to flourish. If you want your customers to flourish, then that means that your customer facing employees must be flourishing in order to create a flourishing customer relationship. If you want those individuals who have the most contact with your customers to flourish, that means you as a leader or manager, that you have to have a flourishing relationship with them.

This is really pretty simple ladies and gentlemen. If you want a flourishing business have a flourishing relationship with your employees.

How are you doing in that regard? Would you say your employees are flourishing? If they’re not, you’ll never have a flourishing business. Let’s not try and put a square peg into a round hole, it will not happen. If you want flourishing employees that allow you to have a flourishing business you have to ensure that your leadership enables employee flourishing.

What are you going do this week to make this happen? If you do something this week to help your employees flourish you’re going to have a fabulous week. You will flourish.

That is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Plan your work and work your plan is a common bromide about having an effective professional life and a rewarding personal life. I agree with this premise, but believe there are three questions that need to be asked in order for you to take this insight and implement it effectively. The three questions are:

1. What do I want to accomplish?
2. Why is this important to me?
3. How can I accomplish this objective in the most effective and efficient manner?

From my perspective, these three questions are essential questions for creating an effective plan. Here’s my step by step process recommendations for using these questions.

Step One. The first step is to get crystal clear about what you want to accomplish or the result you want to achieve. This can be complex or simple. An example of something complex may be to refresh your company website which involves rewriting the copy used on the home page and developing a more user focused experience. This involves a lot of moving parts and has a higher level of complexity. Or, it might be simple. For example, your objective might be to lose five pounds in three months. In either case starting with the what is essential.

Step Two. The second step involves answering the question why is this result important to you. Why is it worthwhile for me to exert the effort necessary to accomplish this result? If you have a clear and compelling why to what you want to accomplish it will fuel your thinking and accelerate you toward your what.

Step Three. The third step is to brainstorm a list of how’s. A word of caution first. I’ve seen smart and talented people jump from what to how and get stuck. They get stuck because when they don’t know specifically how to do accomplish something they dismiss the what as being unrealistic and lose energy for moving forward. If the result you want to accomplish is important to you, and if there’s a high payoff for doing so, then developing a list of the five or seven different ways you can accomplish it is easier.

Never over complicate this process of planning. The best plans are ones that have a clear what, a compelling why and some clear and actionable how’s. Yes, your how’s will require having a deadline and smaller sub tasks to ensure things don’t become overwhelming. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish and why it is important, you can certainly find someone who has accomplished your objective successfully, learn from them and implement a plan.

The following three questions will help you establish a plan for your next step in being a transformational leader.

1. What is it that you want to accomplish in your professional life? If you look 6 to 12 months in the future what is the ideal state you want to experience? Make this as crystal clear as possible. What will the future look like, what will it smell like, taste like or sound like? Use all of your senses to envision what the future holds for you.

2. Why is this important to you professionally as well as personally? What is the payoff for accomplishing this objective? How will it benefit you, your colleagues and even your customer? Are your answers motivational and do they prompt you to take action? If you look at your answers to the why question and it doesn’t motivate you or stir you to take action quickly, then your why is not compelling.

3. What are the five to seven different ways you can go about accomplishing your desired result? Find an exemplar or someone who has already accomplished this and go interview them about specifically what did they do to accomplish their result. Do not try and reinvent the wheel. Find someone who has been successful, learn from them and implement their recommendations.

There you have it. Three questions that will make your days more effective and your nights more rewarding.

Seven Traits of a Transformational Leader

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Video Notes:

This week I want to share with you seven questions that really get at the heart as to whether or not you are a hopeful, optimistic and positive person.

This is important because hope, optimism and positivity are contagious, and leaders who exhibit these traits create the same wherever they go. If you’re able to do these seven things, then I think you become transformational and do exemplary work. So, do you want to know what the questions are? Here they are:

#1. Do you have a mindset that infuses positivity into your daily routine? Do you do that intentionally? Do you do it purposefully? That’s number one.

#2. Do you let go of past wrongs and not hold grudges? Whatever has happened, do you move on and make the best of it?

#3. Do you focus on your assets and not on your liabilities? I don’t know of anyone who has done exemplary work while focusing on their liabilities. I just don’t ever see that.

#4. Do you live without fear, regret or guilt. Really? Yeah, that’s one I had to work on myself. But I live without fear, regret and guilt and it’s absolutely essential to being transformational.

#5. Do you have positive self-talk when the yogurt hits the fan? Can you automatically move into a positive frame of reference and communicate positively through the adversity and come out on the opposite side in a positive way?

#6. Do you have a compelling purpose? Do you have something that is really compelling that you want to accomplish and that infuses your entire thinking.

#7. Do you avoid comparing yourself to others? Are you comfortable in your own skin and look at becoming the very best you you can be?

Ladies and gentlemen, the above have nothing to do with the technical or professional side of your work, but it has everything to do with the type of person, the type of thinking that you bring to work. If you bring this type of thinking to work it is contagious. When you infuse hope and optimism into your workplace, amazing things happen.

That is the Monday Morning Minute, I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my wife’s car to be serviced, I overheard a conversation between a man and woman that illustrated the choice we have when dealing with adversity. The man, in his late sixties, had fallen head first and bruised his face and lost several teeth. His speech was slightly slurred as his lips were swollen. A friend walked in and after seeing him expressed deep concern. The conversation went like this:

Her: Oh my word, what happened Paul? You look as though you’ve been attacked by a brick wall.

Him: I stumbled and fell face first into a table. I wasn’t able to catch myself and that’s why the big bruise and missing teeth.

Her: I am so sorry, that’s awful.

Him: Thank you, but the prognosis is good. Once the swelling goes down they’ll fix my teeth, the bruises will go away and I’ll be as handsome as ever. But, you know, I’m not one to cry over spilled milk. It happened, I’ve got good medical care and I’m already starting to recover.

Her: Well, yes, but that’s a nasty bruise. And you could have more damage than a bruise and missing teeth. Have you had a specialist look beyond the bruising?

Him: No, that’s not necessary. I have a good doctor that I trust, and besides, I’m already on the mend and if something comes up later I’ll deal with it then.

Her: Paul, have you heard about all of the people who are misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed? You really should have a specialist look at that.

Him: (Laughing), Thank you, but I’m comfortable with the care I’m receiving and not one to go looking for problems that aren’t there.

Her: I heard about this woman who had a breast exam and was told she was all clear only to find out six months later that she had stage three breast cancer. She should have at least had a second opinion, maybe even a third. Don’t you think that would be wise for you to do the same?

Him: Are you suggesting I have a breast exam? (Laughing) I appreciate your concern, but I had an accident, I have a good doctor and am already healing well. Tell me, how are you doing? (Changing the subject)

There are two ways we can respond to personal adversity. The first is that we can accept that something regrettable, unfortunate or painful has happened. We can then get the appropriate expertise to address the situation and then take positive action as Paul did. Paul was certainly aware of “what” had happened and “why” but was more focused on “how” he could heal in the best way possible.

Another way to deal with personal adversity is to focus on the negative as Paul’s friend was. We can remain hyper-focused on the “what and why” and look for a deeper more troubling aspect of the regrettable, unfortunate and or painful event. Paul’s friend didn’t mention his positive attitude in the conversation and by ignoring it missed an opportunity to affirm his positive approach to healing from his injuries.

Is knowing why something happened an important aspect of overcoming adversity? Yes, without question. But, the more we focus on why something happened the more we remain stuck in the past. The more time we devote to how we can overcome the adversity and do so with power, grace and gratitude the faster we will move forward.

My recommendation is to quickly understand why something happened, and equally as quickly, move to the powerful and empowering how can I take action that will positively help me.

In what area of your professional or personal life do you need to move on quickly? If you’d like to learn how to do that, you can download a copy of my Mastering Your Mindset teleconference here.

Seven Steps To A Compelling Leadership Brand

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One of the most beneficial activities I have my leadership coaching clients participate in is my Brand Audit. Specifically, they answer three leadership branding questions:

1. What is their default brand?
2. What is their desired brand?
3. What is their designed brand?

My brand audit involves the following seven steps.

Step 1. Define your Default Brand. The starting point for building your leadership brand involves writing four words or phrases that you believe best describe your leadership. Don’t overthink this; simply capture what you see is the essence of your leadership. This is your default brand from your perspective.

Step 2. Create a list of eight to ten people you trust and respect. They can be colleagues, managers, coworkers, direct reports, former employees, and or friends. Your list should be a list of people whose opinion you value.

Step 3. Ask for their insight. Call and or speak in person with those on your list and let them know you are involved in a leadership activity that requires candid feedback. As someone you respect, his or her assistance in seeing your leadership from an outsider’s perspective is essential. Specifically, ask them to provide you with four words or phrases they believe best describe your leadership. It can be a one word descriptor such innovative or inspiring. It can also include phrases such as “can do attitude.”

This step will capture thirty-two to forty words that represent what others see as your leadership brand. Review the words you received and compile a list of themes or patterns. Similar words or synonyms should be distilled into a one-word descriptor that best represents what you believe is the tone and or feel of the words.

Step 4: Clarify your brand from others perspective. The overarching objective of step four is to clarify your leadership brand / reputation from others perspective and to distill the feedback you received into the fewest words possible. To do so, whittle your list down to a list of four or five words that best represent your leadership from others perspective. After completing step one through four you will have your Default Brand from your perspective as well as the perspective of others.

Step 5. Look for gaps. Determine if there is a gap between the personal descriptors you generated and the list generated by your observers. Ask yourself the following questions:

a. Am I being seen in ways consistent with my goals and aspirations?
b. Is my list of descriptors (both my own and from my observers) distinctive or simply the price of entry for being in my role?
c. What is the upside and downside to my leadership brand / reputation?
d. Am I excited about the words used to describe me, or am I neutral?

Step 6. Define your Desired Brand. YOur Desired Brand is exactly that. The brand you want to be known for and that will enhance your influence and reputation. You determine your Desired Brand by asking yourself the following questions:
1. What is it that I want to be known for?
2. What traits, characteristics and or values are essential and or non-negotiable to me?

This step is less about logic and what’s probable; it is rooted in articulating your highest hopes and aspirations for you and your leadership.

Step 7. Define your Designed Brand. After determining your Desired Brand, ask how you can behaviorally live your Desired Brand. What behaviors will you exhibit in order to be seen as your Desired Brand? Again, ask yourself if the behaviors you’ve identified are distinctive or simply necessary for being in your role?

These seven steps take courage to undertake. It especially takes courage to see ourselves as others see us, to isolate the gaps and to venture into a new way of leading that is more effective and rewarding.

If you have any questions, or would like help working through these seven steps on a guided basis, drop me an email at hugh@clarisconsulting.net or call me at 206.829.9413.