Practice Autonomy

Success Tip: Focus on the Choices You Do Have

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“You are who you choose to be.” – Hogarth in Iron Giant

Create Success by Focusing on the Choices You Do Have

People who feel like they have autonomy are more productive, show more persistence at a task, and experience less stress and burn-out.  You and your employees feel more motivated when you have autonomy over how something gets accomplished. There are many things you can’t control. They key is to focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t control.  Successful people differentiate themselves by focusing on the choices where they can make a difference and have an impact rather than complaining about the things they don’t get to choose.

Quick Tip:  There is a difference between not having choices and not liking your choices. Take a moment to acknowledge you do have a choice even if you don’t like the outcomes.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Alexia’s Legacy: Lesson #7 – Take Time to Appreciate When Things Go Right

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book

 

Ray,

I will definitely take a look at this over the break and let you know what I think!

This week has been amazing so far! Nothing has been too stressful, nothing has been too pressing, everyone has been incredibly nice, and I have been getting to sleep earlier than normal!

We had a PLP SD holiday dinner tonight so I didn’t get home until after ten but I have gotten all settled in and am already curled up in bed ready to fall asleep!

Talk to you soon!

Alexia

 

From Alexia’s Journal:

I am thankful for:

  • The McKinsey Consulting Meeting
  • Time to call my parents
  • Such beautiful weather

 


Lesson: Take time to appreciate when things go right.

Celebrate your small successes. Take a few moments to stop and appreciate the things that are going right. As leaders, we are often caught up in all the challenges and problems we need to solve. We have long to-do lists that seem like they will never be completed. So as a leader, you have to consciously stop and appreciate what is going right and what you have accomplished. Celebrate small successes, personally, and with your team.

Opportunity: Every day, email a friend with a list of things that went right for you personally and for your team.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

6 Things Every Entrepreneur Has to Learn to Accelerate Growth

Starting a company is tough, but sometimes entrepreneurs find that growing their company is even more challenging. Here are 6 areas you should learn about to help you be more successful as you grow your company.

  1. Manage the big vision instead of the details – When you first get started, you are responsible for every little detail of the business. In order to grow you have to turn those details over to other people and trust they will handle them. This is more painful and difficult than many people realize. You have invested your heart, soul, and life into the business, you are often operating on a razor’s edge, and you don’t want anything to go wrong. But to grow and expand you have to let others handle the details. You can still confirm they are on the right path and do spot checks to ensure your big vision is still on track. But to grow, you can no longer do or know everything about the business.
  2. Build a revenue machine – There are many aspects to a business that you need to manage; from operations, technology, and hiring to product development and profitability. But the one thing that differentiates a business from a hobby is revenue. Is someone willing to pay for what you provide? In order to grow, you don’t just need one client, you need a system for continuously finding prospects and turning them into customers. A system that can scale and a system that you can turn over to other people in your company. We call this a revenue machine. You may always be involved with landing the big clients and overall revenue growth, but you need a revenue machine that continues to function even when you have to focus on one of your other 15 jobs within the company. In order to grow your business; build a consistent predictable revenue machine.
  3. Understand your financials – Are you profitable? Which products are generating the most margin? Which geographies? Which channels? What is your cash flow and run rate? What are your biggest expenses and how can you manage them? Can you afford to hire new team members or to invest in new technology and equipment? Clients and employees may be your focus, but your financials are how you measure your results and make key decisions about where you company needs you most. Without good financials, you will eventually grow your company into failure. If you want to successfully grow your business, make time to take a basic business financials course and hire someone you trust to not just “do the monthly books”, but to provide you with the financial insight that will ensure you grow successfully.
  4. Cash Flow is king – An often overlooked part of any business growth plan is cash flow. A simple way to look at Cash Flow is do you have enough money in your checking account to cover your payroll at the end of the month. Lots of companies have accounting profits and empty bank accounts. Without cash flow, you can’t hire more people, open new geographies, invest in new technologies, or even pay for travel to pitch new partners and clients. Many companies survive years without making a profit, but they all fail the day they run out of cash. So, to grow a company successfully you have to be vigilant about improving your cash flow. Whether that is customer growth, accounts receivables, loans from banks, or new investors; as the leader you have to ensure the company exists long enough to take advantage of the next big opportunity that is coming around the corner.
  5. Some clients are more important than others – It is a common refrain “every client counts,” and that is extremely true for the first few clients and maybe even the 10th or 15th But eventually, if you want to grow the company, you have to choose where you will focus your efforts. It may be because of size or for strategic reasons, but some clients will need to be at the top of your contact list while others drop down towards the bottom. If you can’t prioritize your clients and your time, you will not be able to grow your business.
  6. Always be looking for that next big deal – If you want to grow, you always have to be on the lookout for that next big deal. It could be that new giant client that doubles your size overnight, a new and lucrative distribution channel, a new product, or a new partnership. Whatever it is, you have to be diligent and focused about looking for and preparing yourself and the company for that next big deal. You can’t grow if you don’t get it, and you can’t grow if you are not prepared to handle it when it finally happens. If you want to grow, start looking and preparing for that next big deal right now.

Next we’ll share 7 ideas for helping you navigate the rough seas of managing people and yourself to accelerate growth.

Hopefully this list is helpful and you are on a path for profitable growth. What else would you add to the list?

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Alexia’s Legacy: Lesson #38 – Leaders Fight for Their Team

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

Six Flags Student Director Trip

In October, the Student Directors of PLP planned a trip to Six Flags. We all felt it was important to build relationships outside of “work.” We had purchased passes to go to the Fright Festival events; however, when we tried to enter they wouldn’t let us in. There was some confusion about the wrong kind of tickets and needing extra tickets. Naturally none of us were okay with that response since broke college kids have little money and the tickets were $20 each. The security guard mentioned a customer service booth back at the main entrance. So we had to turn around and walk 20 minutes back to the front of the park and most of us assumed we would just leave then and go home. But as we got near the customer services booth, Alexia looked at me and said, “Oh no! We didn’t pay $20 each to drive out here and leave.” We began discussing how we were going to “nicely” persuade Six Flags to exchange our tickets for the ones we thought we had bought. I used my iPhone to do some research and could not find any fine print on the ticket or website suggesting that what they were saying was accurate. So we all waited in line with Alexia at the front. Alexia, wanting to be a lawyer, approached the “judge” of Six Flags and the court was in session. She was passionate for us, but gentle. She became very passionate in her defense because she cared about our not wasting our time and money. She wanted what was best for us.

Fortunately, her gentle approach and the lack of evidence from Six Flags to support their position, led to our all getting the correct tickets. Credit is also due to the very nice person working at Six Flags. The point is Alexia cared about us and was willing to fight for us. I tell this story to show that, even though we weren’t best friends with her, friendship meant something to her. She fought for us with gentleness, despite her passion, showing that grace may abound in frustration.    Austin Hatcher

 

Lesson: Leaders fight for their team.

Leaders fight for their team and for what is right. Great opportunities to show your qualities as a leader arise when your team is not getting what they deserve or when you want to help get them something a little extra. Nothing brings a team together quicker than a common enemy or the feeling that being part of that team means something special. Step up when the time is right, and make sure your team gets what they deserve. Use your resources and energy to defend their honor or to make sure they are rewarded for their hard work and sacrifice.

Opportunity: Consider what battle you could fight to help your team get the recognition and success they deserve.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Check the Boxes

Through everyone’s life and career, there will be opportunities to make changes.  Some of those opportunities will not be specifically in our plan (driven by forces outside of our control) and some will be part of the evolution of our life plans.  During decision making in either example, it’s best to have a well calculated evaluation process that is fact based to help you cut though all of the obstacles.

I call that process – Check the Boxes.

In a Check the Boxes process, as you begin considering the opportunities, identify the key items that are most important to you and that you want to ensure you either maintain or acquire with the upcoming change.  As you outline these factors give each a rating of 1 to 5.  By using this simple system, you will be able to eliminate options from your processes and focus only on those that provide a favorable rating in your system.

By way of example, let’s say that you have the opportunity to look for a new job.  This may be because you want to continue to expand your career or that your current company is making some changes and you happen to be caught up in a force reduction.  Either way, look at it as a positive opportunity to make some changes and align closer with your ideal role and goals.  I use this process often with the university students that I mentor and colleagues I work with.

Start the process by identifying all of the potential factors in looking for a new role, whether they are immediately important or not.  Factors like: company, type of industry, location, work environment, commute times, salary & benefits, travel requirements, opportunities to advance, stability of company.  While the list could go on and on, each of the factors are relevant in a position.

Once you have the broad field of factors identified, begin to narrow it down to the key items that are critical to you and give them a weight of importance.  For instance, if type of industry is one of the most critical factors, give it a high rating and as you begin to evaluate opportunities, only include ones that align with this value.  This is what I call Checking the Box.

At the end of this initial process, you should have 4 – 5 key factors that you will want to consider in your decision making process.  As you go through the process, chose to move forward with those options that have the most boxes checked.

Again, the Check the Box process is one that can be used in most decision making situations, at a personal level or professional level.  Buying a car or entering a new market.  Taking a new job or hiring a new employee.

One of the key parts to the process is being true to yourself and basing your decision on fact based logic.  Obviously emotions will always play into a decision, but by using this Check the Box process you can begin to minimize the impact of pure emotion on your decision.

As you have learned from my previous posts, I like to keep it simple.  I hope that this is another simple process for you to use in your personal or professional life.

Have a great day!

 

Keep It Simple

Over my career I have been through numerous training courses, facilitated strategic planning meetings, seminars and coaching sessions.  Many of them focused on different methods and processes to drive the success of my company or organization.  Most of them are based on complicated and convoluted processes which focus on hundreds of moving parts and different formulas.

While I am sure that the methods are based on sound underlying foundations and if utilized, could have a big impact on the performance of an organization.  Unfortunately, due to their complexity, many of the concepts are never utilized after the initial meetings.   By keeping it simple and easy to understand, the likelihood of a process being adopted is much higher.

One of the first sales training methodologies that I learned early in my career was the KISS method.  While there are many variations of the acronym, the one I learned was Keep It Simple, Stupid.  The foundation of the KISS principle is that most systems work best when they are kept simple rather than complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

The KISS philosophy isn’t only for sales situations and actually originated in the 1960’s by the US Navy and Lockheed Martin from an engineering perspective.  The philosophy is also applicable to management and leadership.  If you base your leadership style on simple underlying principles, it will be easier for your team to align and follow.

Three Pillars for Keeping It Simple:

  1. Clarity of Purpose – by establishing a clear purpose at all levels in an organization, people will understand how they fit and support the broader purpose. Most people like to know that they are part of something bigger – establishing a single broad purpose across the organization helps them feel like they are making a difference.
  2. Focused Execution – without a focus on execution in an organization, the team can meander and not achieve their goals and targets. Ensuring that everyone understands the need to focus on implementing the plan will ensure targets are hit and everyone reaches success.
  3. Measured Accountability – by putting measurements in place and driving accountability in an organization your team will fully understand what is expected of them and how well they are achieving their goals. Accountability doesn’t mean micromanaging or not giving people the autonomy to achieve success in their own way.  It simply ensures that measurements are put in place to track progress toward goals and allows for course changes if necessary along the way.

While I have put these pillars in the context of leading an organization, they can be used in many different situations.  For instance in my last post, I talked about a 10 year plan (http://35.171.68.152/creating-a-10-year-plan/) – you can follow the pillars above to work your plan.  Have clarity in the purpose of your plan and each element.  Focus your execution to achieve the milestones and end points of the plan. And finally, you need to hold yourself accountable to delivering against your plan.

Leadership, Hugs, and Success

To be successful as leaders we have to connect with other human beings.  People want to follow other humans they can relate to and aspire to be, not untouchable royalty they have nothing in common with and who care nothing about them. They want to follow people who have a vested stake in their success and who they feel comfortable being around. Hugging and touching helps leaders communicate that connection in an instant. Hugs help us feel closer, build trust, and improve communication with the other person. A touch on the shoulder, a warm handshake, or a quick hug communicates appreciation and recognition much more effectively than just words. Hugs have also been shown to improve memory, reduce stress, and provide a feeling of safety. This is not just an emotional reaction; it is also a physical one. Hugs release oxytocin which is like a relationship hormone. It is found in increased levels in people with positive relationships. Hugging also increases serotonin levels, which helps people feel happier and more relaxed. Hugs help improve the immune system and the production of white blood cells and help us release tension. A hug can serve as a warm welcome, or a thank you at the end of a tough project. Hugs also show people you understand when they are working through a tough time personally or at work. Hugs open us up when we are feeling constrained and up-tight. A hug gives us permission to start a dialogue about what is bothering us and opens up channels of communication. Hugs are another way of communicating the importance of people in our lives. Hugging sends the message that they are important to us and they matter.
There is a false assumption that hugging and touching are not allowed in the workplace. People are more scared of the legal ramifications than interested in connecting with people on their team. The rule is simple; don’t hug someone that doesn’t want to be hugged.  Offer the hugs, don’t force them.

 

Give hugs freely and people will be attracted to your warmth and will work to support you as a leader and help you succeed.

 

The World Needs More Hugs!

 

“I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.”    Ann Hood

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Alexia’s Legacy – Make a Plan

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

 

From Alexia’s Journal: I dream of a very productive week! I will give my undivided attention to my work and get well ahead so I can have a FUN, RELAXING weekend in College Station.

 

Ray,

Today was a smooth transition back into work and classes! After work and class, I made a plan for this week and got some RA work done. I got a workout in and am now off to bed!

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Alexia

 

Lesson: Make a Plan.

Leaders make plans. Many people romanticize leadership as the charismatic person who just naturally knows what to do next. Although the “fly by the seat of your pants” and “instinctively know what to do” type of leadership might exist, it is not very common. Leadership can be as simple as being the person who takes time to make a plan. To be a better leader start by thinking about the big picture and taking time to organize your tasks and priorities so the next steps are clear. As the “organized person” you could become the de facto leader because you won’t be overwhelmed by the hundreds of swirling options. If you take the time to group or categorize those options and create a plan you can help get the team started.

Many people believe they are not the most organized person on the team. As a leader, your plan may be as simple as finding the most organized person and working with him or her to help you organize next steps and actions, prior to the team meeting. In other words, make a plan to recruit help in making a plan.

 

A few other benefits of being an organized leader:

 

  • Your team will have more confidence in someone who is clear on next steps.
  • Your team will become more cohesive as they accomplish small tasks together on the way to a larger goal.
  • Your team will begin to work independently as they create successes with your short term plan and can begin to visualize the long term potential.

 

Opportunity: Make a Plan for Your Next Team Meeting

  1. Pull your list of goals and priorities from the previous chapters.
  2. Brainstorm a list of actions you should take to reach those goals.
  3. Put the list in sequential order. What has to happen first before anything else can be done? What has to happen second? For items that don’t have a natural sequential order, but them in order of priority. Largest priorities first.
  4. For each action, write down the name of the person on the team who would be the best leader for that action. Who has the most interest or relevant experience and knowledge?
  5. Take your plan to the meeting and offer it to the team. Ask for volunteers and recommend the people on your list. Explain to the team why they would be best suited for the role.

 

Opportunity: Make a Plan for Your Week

 

  1. What are your goals and priorities?
  2. What do you have to accomplish or attend to this week?
  3. Put time on your calendar for each activity.
  4. Color code the activities by level of importance.
  5. Remember to leave open time for the unexpected.
  6. Follow your calendar and see how much you get done.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.