What to Do — and Not

Man-Working-TableA couple of years back on the Chic-fil-A Leadercast, John Maxwell was having a conversation with Good to Great author JIm Collins and Jim mentioned that he has a “to-do” list AND a “to-don’t” list. Author Peter Bergman recently blogged about this topic at Lifehacker.

Peter shared a story about how busy we can get doing things because we are trying to leverage our time, etc. He was running late to a meeting and as he entered the elevator where his client’s office was located, he pulled out his smartphone and began typing an email to the CEO with whom he was meeting. When the elevator stopped, still typing away, he started to get off when a familiar voice said, “Wrong floor.” Of course, it was his client!

His client was a finalist for an “entrepreneur of the year” award, and was just returning from a meeting with the judges. He had made two explicit decisions before entering the room with the judges: he wanted to win; and he was not going to look at his Blackberry while in the room.

Many of us know what we want, but how many of us know what we don’t want? As Bergman points out, many keep lists of what they want, but how many keep a list of things we don’t want?

Rather than Collins’ cute “to-do / to-don’t” names, Bergman calls his lists:

  • Your Focus List (the road ahead)
  • Your Ignore List (the distractions)

Isn’t that the real challenge we have, keeping focused and ignoring distractions?

Develop your own lists and review them daily. When you know what you really want and what you need to avoid, you will be more productive and increase your influence with others.

 

Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning at Lifehacker

 

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Empowerment is Influence

MP900341425Susan Mazza, a fellow leadership coach, on her blog at Random Acts of Leadership shared a powerful and touching story about empowerment, taking risks, and the influence it gives a leader… and as my mentor John Maxwell says, “The true measure of Leadership is Influence–nothing more, nothing less.”

Susan’s father, Jim, was faced with a dilemma. Walt was a valuable employee. Walt  was also unhappy. Jim visited him in Walt’s office. After reassuring Walt that he was not going to fire him, Jim offered the junior man two recruiter contacts and suggested that he explore what were his options. “Personally, I hope you stay, but I know a bright guy like you has options,” Jim said. “It is important for you to know what is out there. Please keep me posted. My door is always open.”

Why do this? Walt’s unhappiness was becoming clear to all. Jim realized that creating awareness of the problem and helping Walt figure out what he was going to do would be much more helpful to everyone than Walt continuing to stew and affect the team. Addressing the problem made it safe to discuss openly and constructively.

In the end, Walt stayed. He and Jim became close, lifelong friends, and continued the mentor relationship throughout their careers.  Choose to empower those around you. When your people know that you value them and you help them do their best, you will be able to accomplish so much more than you ever did before. As Steve Jobs said, “Managing is getting people to do something they don’t want to do. Leadership is helping people discover they can do much more than they thought they could.”

The Ultimate Source of Empowerment at Random Acts of Leadership

Related Posts

Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 1) at Leading in the 21st Century

Poison Phrases for Business

Over on the Inc. blogs, Peter Gasca recently wrote a great article, 5 Most Destructive Phrases in Business. I know from personal experience coming up in the business world that these are poison phases that lead to lost opportunity. Further, they are poison in just about any relationship, after all they are all about unbelief, fear, and doubt:

  1. “I can’t (fill in the blank).”
  2. “That’s not the way it’s done.”
  3. “That’s impossible.”
  4. “If we only had money.”
  5. “The problem is (fill in the blank).”

Sure, you might not personally be able to do something, but that means that the job is bigger than you…you need a team. Why not go find it and take on the challenge? Why not choose to grow into the leader who can get it done?

Now let me be clear, I am not talking about violating your values. But when confronted with a problem/challenge, look carefully and see if there really is a values issue involved. Sometimes people cloak their personal fears in terms of their values to avoid confronting them. So live your values, but challenge your beliefs.

If you want to grow your business, eradicate these phrases from your lexicon. If you want to succeed in your family, eradicate these phrases from your lexicon. Create new ones like these:

  • “Working together, we can (fill in the blank).”
  • “How can we do this better?”
  • “Who will help us get the money?”
  • “Let’s figure out a solution to this challenge.”

5 Most Destructive Phrases in Business at Inc.

Gratitude made clear

Readers of my blogs know that I am a big fan of gratitude. It really is “the secret sauce” that makes live savory and delicious. It is the real fuel of success that beats away fear and doubt when things get tough. Marc over at Marc and Angel Hack Life wrote a great post just in time for Easter to help us realize that we have so much to be grateful for. Here are his 6 Reasons Someone Wishes They Were You:

  1. You are educated enough to read this.
  2. You are reasonably healthy.
  3. You have the freedom to choose.
  4. You have enough wealth to live comfortably.
  5. You have a home.
  6. You still have a chance.

Now, you may be thinking that all six are not true for you. but if you are reading this, I guarantee you that numbers 1 and 6 are true, and because they are, you have the ability to make all the rest true. But even if only one or two are true, there are people who wish they were you because of them.

Be grateful for the many blessings you have. That gratitude, harnessed and put into action, will make your dreams come true.

6 Reasons Someone Wishes They Were You at Marc and Angel Hack Life

The Power of Gratitude at Dwayne Baptist and Associates

 

The Job Hunting Front and Getting Noticed

Resume Bar for Nick Begley. Source: ABC News
Resume Bar for Nick Begley. Source: ABC News

Resume Bar for Nick Begley. Source: ABC News

I have seen several interesting job hunting-related articles and posts around the internet recently. Let me share some of them with you.

If you are looking to hire, are you looking at prospects’ social media? Much of it is accessible to the public. Our friends over at Under 30 CEO wrote a post in favor of studying a candidate’s social media. You will learn several things, including:

  • Consistency. Do they say the same things to others they did to you?
  • Communication style. Did they write that awesome resume? Really?
  • What do others think?  …and they weren’t even asked…
  • Modernity. The world is changing. Are they?
  • Reputation. Yours, that is. Customers might run searches on people they are dealing with. Will the candidate embarrass you?

So, this is what employers might be doing. What are you doing to get noticed? You might turn your resume into a candy bar, just as Nick Begley did. Nick’s creativity and hard work paid off, too. I wrote about this and the job hunting environment in a recently published blog post, too. In the end, job hunting is about connection. Are you taking responsibility for your connections?

As you think creatively, be sure you get your story straight. This post by Maggie Tomas at Women of HR reminds us of some of the things we need to do to be ready for an interview. Key points:

  • Know why you want to make the change. Tell your story in a positive way that focuses on the position in question.
  • Be ready to prove your past success in the new role’s core competencies. You want to show that you really do have the goods. Don’t leave this to chance.
  • Demonstrate that you have researched the company. You pay a high compliment to others when you get to know them. You might also be able to link your story to their passions, creating a stronger connection, and perhaps even a new job…

There are lots to think about in the job hunting world. But if you remember that it is about connection in the end, you will do the hard work to reach your goal.

Should you indulge procrastination?

Chris Widener puts out a great newsletter. Recently, he talked about those times when we don’t feel like doing what we know we should be doing. Is that procrastination kicking in, or is it something else? Chris offers five ideas for confronting and dealing with these feelings:

  1. Honestly evaluate whether or not you need a break. It could be a desire to procrastinate, but take an honest look and evaluate whether it is evasion or fatigue. Sometimes we really are tired; if so, take a break. If you aren’t sure, try one of these other techniques.
  2. Start small. One way to work through the desire to procrastinate is to give yourself a small goal to work toward, after which you will take a break. For example, it is better to do a short workout than skip your workout all together.
  3. Change your routine. Sometimes, it is our boring routine that tempts us to blow things off. Why not change up the routine to make it more interesting?
  4. Reward yourself. Procrastination and reward seem at odds. They are. But why not figure out what must be done right now and give yourself a small reward? Celebrating victories is important to your self image. And if a small reward will keep you from goofing off, isn’t it worth it?
  5. Reconnect the action with pleasure rather than pain My take: think Mary Poppins. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find it, and snap, the job’s a game!”

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

Color my world

My new friend Justin Buck wrote a great piece the other day. Using a very interesting story about the paints Picasso used in his art. Read this great blog post, but the theme is that Picasso took the ordinary and made it extraordinary. We have the opportunity to do this, too, and Justin shares 5 points:

  1. Starving Your Talent is a Mistake
  2. Even Limited Resources Are Resources
  3. Your Greatest Resource is YOU
  4. Even Great Resources Can’t Guarantee Great Results
  5. We Choose Our Own Means

When coaching clients, I often have to remind them about points 2 and 3. The seeds for your success lay in your current environment. You will have to take action to germinate and grow your resources. What is key is changing the way you think so that you can see and act on the opportunities before you. Then you will be able to turn common house paint into a masterpiece.

Paint Does Not a Painter Make

Ronald Reagan on Procrastination

I’m reminded of a great story that was told to me a few years back about former President Ronald Reagan that illustrates what can happen to us if we procrastinate making decisions. When he was a small child, he had an aunt who took him to a shoemaker to make a pair of shoes. When they arrived, the shoemaker asked the young Reagan whether he wanted the toes of his shoes squared or rounded. Not sure of the style he wanted, he told the shoemaker he would come back in a few days and let him know.

A few days later, he returned, only to tell the shoemaker he still needed a few more days to make his decision. As soon as he walked in the door the third time, the shoemaker handed him his shoes with one square-toed shoe and one round-toed shoe. Reagan said years later it was a lesson that stayed with him the rest of his life. When he wore those shoes, he said, “It was a visual reminder that if I don’t make the decision, someone else will.”

–As told by John Maxwell at Success.com