Your Ideal Day Is Waiting For You

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Each week the Monday Morning Mindset strives to help you create the mindset that is instrumental in creating your ideal week. Today, I want to talk to you about creating your ideal week.

I had two conversations within the last two weeks with engineer friends who work for a very large airplane company here in Seattle…they will go nameless. One of the things they’ve both said is that the company purports to put “people first.” But what’s become evident over the last five years it’s really more about “profit first” and people are secondary. Work has become a four-letter word for them and work is a slog to get through to the end of the week.

That is unfortunate, because I think there is an ideal day and an ideal week that is waiting for all of us. What needs to be present for you to have an ideal day? I believe there are three aspects of an ideal week you can benefit from. I also want to help you map out your ideal day. Here’s what I know.

#1. Love comes first. I know that for an ideal day to be present we have to love what we do. If I needed a surgeon, I want a surgeon who loves surgery. I don’ t want someone who simply likes surgery. Yes, you can be a good surgeon if you like your job, but you can be a REALLY good surgeon if you LOVE your work. For me, my ideal day starts with doing something I love doing.

#2. Talent comes second. My ideal day allows me to use my talents and skills every day. That doesn’t mean my days are a cakewalk. It means my day can be challenging, but because I’m learning new talents and new skills I overcome my challenges and can be successful.

#3.Value is essential.  My ideal day always involves doing something that is of value to someone in such a way that they appreciate. I strive to hear “it was really helpful for you to be involved in this project and I’m grateful for your insights.”

When you think about it, these three aspects of an ideal day, even though expressed differently for each of us, make for an ideal day. What would you add to this list? By making your own “ideal day” list and crafting what your ideal work looks like, the likelihood of your achieving it goes up appreciably.

Now, the two individuals I mentioned who are exasperated with management that has profit first, it may not be possible or it may be harder there, but they can articulate in context of the environment they work what they love doing, how they will use their talents and abilities to the best of their ability, and how they will provide value to others. When you and I do this I believe you’ll achieve your ideal week.

The Transformational Gift

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This week I want to talk to you about the transformational gift.

Sometimes when we give gifts, we think that we should go out and buy a nice bottle of wine, some flowers or chocolates, maybe even a new watch. We try and think of the person we’re giving the gift to and what they’d like, but the transformational gift is not a thing.

The transformational gift is our presence.

Yes, the transformational gift we give to others is not a thing, but rather an experience we share with someone. I realized this first hand recently when my wife, Alyson, who has become enamored with stand up paddle boarding ask me to give her the gift of my presence.

Alyson has purchased two stand-up paddle boards within the last two months. One is a flat-water board and the other is a board that can be ridden in rougher waters. She came in from paddle boarding and in preparation of her fiftieth birthday said, “Do you know what the greatest gift would be for my fiftieth birthday?” I said, “No, what’s that?”

She said, “the greatest gift would be for you to be out on the water with me on a stand-up paddle board.” “Hugh, it’s gorgeous! I see fish swimming underneath my board, I see herons and eagles flying overhead in the gorgeous blue skies…and I’m getting great exercise. It’s just gorgeous! And the one thing I want more than anything is for you to be out there with me. I know you’re never going to get into stand-up paddle boarding in the same way I have, but I love it so much that I want the love of my life to experience it with me. That would be the greatest gift.”

What Alyson didn’t know at the time was that she transformed my thinking substantially about gift giving. She gave me the gift of saying, “I love you and I don’t need or want more things. What I want is to spend time with you and I want you to enjoy this with me.”

I am in turn going down to Hood River, Oregon next week for the third time in three month to buy a stand-up paddle board from Eddie at Big Winds. Eddy has helped us so much that he is now one of our new best friends and I’m sure he’ll be on our Christmas card distribution list.

I want to remind you that it takes a shift in mindset to say that the gift I’m going to give someone is to simply to be present with them, and that by doing so I’ll cultivate a memorable experience.

Sometime our presence needs to be transactional. For example, I’m in your presence because I have to communicate something to you about an expectation or a task that needs completing. Yes, that’s necessary.

But the greatest gift is when I don’t “have to” spend time and communicate with you, but rather I choose to spend time with you. Imagine hearing, “I want to spend time with you.” That is a transformational gift.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week if you want to shift someone’s mindset, either in your personal life or your professional life, spend time with them. Don’t go in with an agenda, just be fully present with them. If you do that, it will be transformational.

Why Separation Is Preferable To Unification

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This week I want to talk to you about why separation is preferable to unification. You may have noticed that separation has gotten a bad rap. There are several reasons for that. There is the bad rap that came from the separation of the races in the deep south, and there was the separation that can from Bernie Madoff engaging in separating  people from their money.
But there are really good aspects of separation. There is the separation of wheat from the chaff. By removing the husk; the inedible portion, we’re left with the corn. There’s the beneficial act of separating the impurities in our water so we can ingest healthy water.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to suggest that there are three things you need to separate yourself from this week in order to be really successful.
#1. Separate yourself from low expectations. The very first thing you want to do is separate yourself from people who have low expectations. These are people who are willing to settle and who don’t have the same aspirations as you do. They want to coast and they are content with the status quo. Ladies and gentlemen when the status quo becomes attractive or acceptable curiosity and innovation go out the window. You want to separate yourself from people like this.
#2. Separate yourself from people that believe failure is bad. Failure is not a permanent blemish on your character. Rest assured, there are people who are incredibly successful that look at failure as simply the next step in achieving something extraordinary. You want to unify yourself with people who believe failure is not bad and separate yourself from people who see failure as a terrible thing.
#3. Separate yourself from victims. Separate yourselves from people who see themselves as victims, that they believe someone is doing something to them. These are people who don’t take responsibility for their actions and that don not want to be held accountable.
Ladies and gentlemen, you do not want to be separated from the above types of people, and while many organizations admonish leaders and teams to work together, if you are trying to achieve optimum performance you have to separate yourself from these types of people. People who want to raise the bar and are striving for something extraordinary typically do not believe life is a struggle and believe they can be better next week than they were this week. This mindset attracts similar mindsets and is repelled by the opposite. Unification is not the answer in all cases; separation is a great answer to accelerating performance.
I ask you this week: where do you need to separate yourself, or where do you need to separate some of your team, so they can perform at a higher level? Answer that question and you’ll have a fabulous week.

What You Really Believe and Why It Matters

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I want to talk to you today about beliefs. I want to do so as a catalyst for you to clarify what you believe. Why? Because I believe if you get clear about what you believe, you can then focus on making it become more real.

To that end I’m going to role model what I believe you can benefit from doing.

I have fifteen things that I believe.

#1 I believe love makes the world a better place. Every major faith tradition believes that the world in which we live was created in love and for love and that we have a responsibility to live in alignment with that principle. I believe that love does make the world go round, but far too many of us forget the importance of love.

#2. I believe that generosity stems from gratitude. I think that when people are not grateful for what they have they hold on to what they have and are not generous with other people emotionally, spiritually or financially.

#3. I believe that to those who much has been given, much is expected. I have been incredibly blessed in my life, and I believe that in turn it is my role, my responsibility to share what I have learned with other people so that they can benefit accordingly.

#4. I believe we need to retire the word retirement. The statistics are that when I reach the age of sixty-five with and I’m reasonably healthy that I will live to ninety. I cannot imagine sitting dormant; as many people believe retirement to be, doing nothing for twenty-five years. I love what I do and as long as I am making a contribution to the world why would I stop?

#5. I believe we need to jettison the Golden Rule. Yes, jettison the Golden Rule and embrace the Platinum Rule instead. The Golden Rule says that I’ll treat people as I want to be treated. The Platinum Rule says that I will treat others in the way that they want to be treated. I believe we should do that as long as it is in accordance with our values and we are not violating them to do so.

#6. I believe we’re growing or dying. If we are not growing we are dying. If we’re not learning something new and thinking differently, we are decaying. Yes, grow or die.

#7. I believe in experiencing beauty daily. Whether in artwork or in a natural landscape, seeing beauty enriches us and uplifts our soul. Every day we should look at something beautiful and allow it to stir our soul and enrich our lives.

#8. I believe mindset trumps skill-set. I believe there are incredibly talented people who never reach their full potential because their mindset is tainted with issues from the past that have not favored them well. Their mindset soils everything that happens to them.

#9. I believe in creating value. Each day we should strive to create value for others; our customers and our employees yes as well as for ourselves. We should create high levels of value and stop looking for a deal. When we do we’ll receive value in return for what we’ve created.

#10. I believe people live in fear. Fear has become pervasive, and based on past experiences drag around the past. I believe fear stifles all creativity. In my own life I have had to jettison fear because it was a large part of how I grew up. I think there are far to many people walking around living in fear.

#11. I believe in assuming positive intent. There are people we will interact with that will not to be the best of interactions, but we should assume they had no ill intent. People are not out to take advantage of us.

#12. I believe society has fostered a victimization and entitlement mindset. There are people who believe they should have the same outcome in life as someone else. Just because you are able to go into business does not mean you should have the same outcome. Each of us is entitled to the same starting point, but not the same finishing point.

#13. I believe that being overwhelmed is a choice. When we lack clear priorities, roles, expectations and what we can say yes and no to, when we have not focused on the critical few things that absolutely have to be done we will feel overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can be overcome by making one or two choices that allow us to feel empowered and in control.

#14. I believe that life is for savoring. I believe there is so much beauty to see as well as interesting people to meet in interesting locations that we cannot marvel at the worlds around. And yet, many people are simply surviving and not savoring life. I think that is a terrible way to live your life, and that ladies and gentlemen is a mindset issue.

#15. I believe I can help you live a more rewarding life. Without question I have a fabulous and what I call a very blessed life. I believe that in some small way by doing this list of what I believe I may help you compile the five, ten, fifteen or twenty things you believe. I believe that by doing so you will get clear about what you believe and in turn focus on making those things become real.

I also hold the belief that some of you will share this with someone important to you, and that by doing so you will help someone live a more rewarding and enriching life. Writing your list can be a life enhancing and powerful exercise.

Ladies and gentlemen, when you get clear about what you believe, you’ll hyper-focus on them and you’ll make them become even more of a reality…and I believe that makes for a fabulous week.

What Beliefs and Perceptions Have to Do with Behavior

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Oftentimes, we look at someone’s behavior that’s different from our own and say, “that’s bad behavior or I don’t like their behavior.” When we judge someone’s behavior as less desirable than our own we create a barrier between the other person. This barrier reduces our leadership influence and effectiveness.

When you are a leader or in a position of influence or authority, I suggest you not do that. I recommend you no longer look at a persons behavior and instead look at the beliefs and perceptions that drive their behavior.

If we want to influence how someone behaves, we can do so more effectively when we modify a belief or perception the person holds. When beliefs of perceptions change behavior follows suit.

Let me give you an example. If an employee believes that by walking into work their work life is going to be a long slow slog through enemy territory with bullets flying over head, and their perception is that nobody cares that they’re in the battlefield, their behavior will be protective and uninspired. They will not be concerned with what happens to customers or other employees because they’re in hunker down and self protection mode. If you as a leader were to look at their behavior you’d likely determine they’re disengaged, disrespectful toward others and lacking concern for the customer. If you did you’d be missing the bigger picture. You’ll have gotten trapped in focusing on their behavior as opposed to what drove their behavior.

You and I have beliefs and perceptions that are not serving us well. As a matter of fact, there are aspects of your behavior that are not conducive to you accomplishing what you want to accomplish. But you can’t perceive these limiters and need a vehicle for seeing your beliefs and perceptions in a new light.

A vehicle for shedding light on your behaviors is my Mastering Your Mindset Special Report. If you have not downloaded your copy please do so. Outlined in the report are nine negative thinking habits that will help you uncover the beliefs and perceptions that are hindering you from performing at the very highest level possible. Below is a link for you to download it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to make a counter-intuitive recommendation to you this week. If you want to change someone’s behavior, don’t pay attention to their behavior. Pay attention to their beliefs and perceptions and try and alter them in some way. Provide a new perspective, a new data point, a new insight from a trusted colleague. When you do their behavior will change automatically.

This week, remember that the greatest leverage you have in securing higher levels of performance comes from changing the beliefs or perceptions about higher performance.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Questions:

1. What beliefs or perceptions do you have that are holding you back?

2. What’s the impact your beliefs and perceptions are having on others?

3. What strategy from the Mastering your Mindset Special Report will help you address these issues?

6 Steps to Getting Clear

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Clarity is essential to improved performance. Leaders and teams must have clarity about the objectives to be achieved, the methods for achieving the objectives and whose responsible for driving progress toward the objectives. Without this level of clarity progress is stalled.

This came to mind after several interesting conversations last week. One conversation involved being approached to be the keynote speaker for eight hundred people at an annual conference for one of my clients. I spoke with the individuals charged with vetting speakers, and they outlined the desired leadership subject matter and thought I was a perfect fit based on my Transformational Leadership Program.

But before I commit to speaking to an audience I always ask to talk with the executive responsible for the success of the event. I want to hear first hand what they want audience members to walk away thinking, knowing, feeling, believing or doing.

On this call I learned that the ultimate goal of the event is for people to work better together. I mentioned that this was different from what I heard earlier. “Well, if you go to our website you’ll see that what we’re saying aligns with what’s listed on our website for registrants”. When I visited the site the primary focus I found was how to overcome obstacles.

After additional calls and meetings to get clear as to how I can help make their conference a great success, I realized that there are six aspects of getting clear; whether you are planning an event for eight hundred people or for a meeting of eight people, you must have clarity in to make progress. They are:

1. Clarify the purpose. The first question is, ‘what is the purpose of being together?’ What is it you really want to accomplish and or what are you striving toward?

2. Clarify the results. How will you know that you’ve been successful? What’s the end result and what will people say afterward?

3. Clarify the required skills. What skills or experience do you need? If you need a keynote speaker, do you want them to have a message focused on leadership, teaming or overcoming obstacles?

4. Clarify the time frame. What’s the time frame for making decisions or achieving milestones?

5. Clarify who is accountable. Who’s going to be accountable for certain decisions and or budget issues?

6. Clarify the reporting process. How are you going to communicate and report to everyone the progress you’re making toward item number one?

When you get clear you will accelerate toward that which you want to accomplish.

Hugh’s Key Question
Which of the above six aspects of getting clear do you need the most help with? If you were to have clarity around this issue, what would be the impact on your performance?

Converting A “I want a deal” Mindset To A “I want The Highest Value” Mindset

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Do you have a “looking for a deal” mindset or a “looking for value” mindset?

I was involved in a conversation the other day where someone asked my wife about purchasing a standup paddle board, and if by attending an event she recommended they could get a good deal. This conversation piqued my interest because the person asking is a successful business owner and someone with a positive mindset.

I believe they asked the wrong question. As a successful entrepreneur they should not ask if they can get a deal. They should ask whether by attending an event they can find a standup paddle board that provides them with the highest value.

This is an important distinction. When we look for a deal, what we are looking for is either a reduced price or for someone to add something to the pot as a sweetener. A two for one deal for example or a 20% discount.

When you go through your day with a “looking for a deal” mindset you cannot simultaneously cultivate a “looking for the highest value mindset”. High value relates to something enriching, rewarding and beneficial or valuable. It’s something with a high return on investment.

One of the principles we live by at Claris Consulting is the high value / high return on investment principle. For example, if a client invests $10,000 with us we want to turn the $10,000 invested into $100,000 worth of value for the client. This ROI mindset permeates all our interactions and conversations.

If you are going through your professional life looking for a deal you are not looking for, creating and communicating value. The people you interact with pick up on this subtle clue and in turn try to get a deal from you. They look for a deal with regard to your fees, and in turn your revenue and profit goes down.

If you want to increase your fees, revenues, and or profitability, you should stop focusing on getting a deal and start focusing on providing extraordinary value to the people that matter most to you and that are willing to pay you a commensurate fee for the high value you undoubtedly provide.

This week, invert your mindset. Start thinking about how you can create and communicate extraordinary value in each conversation you have. When you focus on the value of your high return on investment ideas, products or services, your revenue, profitability and performance will go up.

The 3 Strategies For Cultivating a Flourishing Mindset

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This is a wonderfully clear purified glass of water that just came from my water purification system in my kitchen. This is a glass of water that is filthy dirty. If I were to host you and offer you these two water choices, which would you choose? You’re going to choose the clear purified water.

Let’s consider for a moment that the glasses represent a person’s mindset. If this is the mindset of an employee that is interacting with one of your customers, what would the customer experience be like? It will be 180 degrees different than if it were from this glass of water. One represents clear thinking and without impurities. It is healthy for us and is appealing. This dirty glass is the opposite. This begs the question, which do you want your customer to experience?

I’ve been studying mindset for over twenty years and I’ve concluded that a leader’s primary job is to create an employee mindset that cultivates a customer experience that is rewarding and highly differentiated. That means that there are times when an employee’s mindset needs purifying. How do you do that? If you’re a leader or manager or you’re someone that sees a negative mindset, I suggest you do three things:

  1. Clarify the desired customer mindset. You have to get crystal clear about the mindset you want the customer to have. You have to articulate what each customer will feel, think, know and believe about your organization.
  1. Clarify the desired employee mindset. Leaders get crystal clear about what kind of mindset is required in order to create the customer mindset. By that I mean, leaders get very specific about the behaviors, attitudes and thought processes an employee will cultivate in order to create the customer experience.
  1. Measure your mindset. One of the most important questions a leader and employee then asks is, “did I do my best today to cultivate the mindset outlined in step two?” I suggest a self-rating system of between one and ten for each trait. Also, once a month at a team meeting, each employee and manager shares where they have been successful and where they are struggling and best develops best practices.

Ladies and gentlemen, you do not want a dirty mindset showing up in front of your customers. You want a clear and compelling mindset…and it is your primary job to create it. If you utilize these three steps you’ll cultivate a customer experience that will be truly extraordinary. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the best way to purify your mindset, purify your employees mindset and create a mindset that the customer really wants to experience.

What You Tell Yourself Matters More Than What Others Tell You

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There is one idea I want all of my coaching clients to understand and own. It is that:

“What you tell yourself is of far more importance than what others tell you.”

You see, what happens in between your ears is incredibly important. It’s so important that I wrote the Mastering Your Mindset special report to address the nine negative thinking habits all of us engage in. Here’s an example of how important what you tell yourself is.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting two people who have been watching the Monday Morning Mindset for a couple of years. I had a hard copy of the report and I asked one of the individuals if they would like a hard copy. They said, “I have an electronic version, but I’d love a hard copy also”. I asked, “what is it about a hard copy that’s appealing?” They replied, “Because I’m old.”

I stopped and said, “Wait a minute. What did you say? Did you say you are old?” I suggested; actually, I may have blurted out, “How you describe yourself determines the way you show up with other people”. Do you want to describe yourself to others as old?”

The most successful clients I have describe themselves in positive terms. They may describe themselves as generous, grateful, vibrant, invigorated, intriguing or interested in others. Imagine if you described yourself in this way. What would be the impact on your behavior? It would be powerful because the words we use to describe ourselves are planted in the fertile soil of our thinking, and they take root and they grow.

Now there is no real harm if someone says I want a hard copy of your special report because as I get older I need glasses. That’s okay, but I would even put a positive spin on needing glasses. I would say; “It’s much easier for me to assimilate information in a hard copy as opposed to electronically”. It’s a small but positive twist ladies and gentlemen, but the small twists we implement make a huge difference.

This week, pay very close attention to the words you use to describe yourself, your work and your customer interactions. To take this idea of using positive self-descriptors to heart, I recommend you create a list of four or five vital and invigorating words that best describe you and use them everyday for a week. When you do, you will have a much more effective workweek.

The Worlds Simplest Formula For A Happy Customer and Employee

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Do you know what the world’s simplest formula for a happy customer is?  It is surprisingly simple.

Here it is: Do what you say you’re going to do.

Doing so results in happy customers as well as happy employees.  When you articulate what you stand for as a business and or as a leader and act accordingly you’re seen as credible. You build trust and respect with the people who matter most to you because you do what you say you will do.

The moment you fulfill your promise a customer and or employee feels good because their interaction and transaction with you was completed in a way that’s in alignment with what they expected. In essence, you’re making a persons life easier because you are confirming they made the right choice in choosing to do business with you. When you don’t act in ways consistent with what you said you’d do your credibility goes down, trust goes down, and customer loyalty goes down also.

I’m experiencing that firsthand where I have reached out to a particular organization where I shop and asked for an update on a particular product. Not once, but twice. I haven’t heard back from them. The first time I asked, they said, “yes, we’ll get right back to you.” One week went by. One week! And I didn’t hear anything. Then I tried to be somewhat light and said, “hey, whoever has the information about where the particular product is, can you go hit them over the head, can you shake their shoulders and tell them, the customer wants to know? And we can’t tell them one or two more weeks. He wants to know specifically.” That was on Monday of this week. Five days later…no call. Nothing.

So now I’m in a difficult situation. I like the people and I like the product, but they don’t do what they say they’re going to do. Now I’ll have a conversation with the store, but some of your customers are not like me and won’t have a conversation with you. They’ll just leave.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week; where are you fulfilling the promise you’ve made to your customers or your employees? Where are you doing this well? Identify it and celebrate it.

And then ask, “where am I not living up to my promises? Where am I not doing what I said I was going to do?” If it is with a customer, TODAY, not tomorrow, implement one strategy to alleviate this because it is the death knell to your business.

Do not let today go by without identifying one place where you’re fulfilling your promises and one area where you’re not. If you do so you’re going to have a fabulous week!