You. The Individual

It’s been 12 weeks since Ben asked me to help with his individual ‘offer.’

He has worked hard in the transition from back-room support act to become Managing Director of the family firm, the organisation that had earned his mum and dad a reputable business, a healthy clientele and a good living.

We had just left a brand new prospect for business. ‘Smithy’ and his board, are now asking for more. More on prices, more about deadlines and more about styles from Ben’s bespoke product range – always a sign of good things to come.

So I thought.

No regrets, no more looking back Ben?

‘I do understand the legacy I’ve inherited Charlie although I’m all too aware that I’m not my father! I feel inadequate that I can’t deliver his depth of knowledge, his connectivity or the rapport that I feel I need to deliver on behalf of those prospects looking for more.’

Ben, who was that in there? Smithy and his team don’t even know your father, they know the family reputation and now it’s all about you! Just have faith in the follow-up and your abilities.

Bring the individual offer to the table, be prepared to make stupid mistakes, do boring stuff, make idle conversation and be the difference that separates you and dad.

Self-confidence comes with the qualification of success Ben, you are certainly not your father (a strong character with an overriding presence) and although you should, of course, follow his example … it’s equally important to develop your own persona – clients like ‘Smithy’ are indeed asking for more, that’s great – more from Ben, no-one else.

Your existing customers already know the company, right?

The exciting thing is, after three short months they’re starting to get to know you now Ben – just as you are finding your feet, your own network is learning too. Be different … please … try NOT to fit in, you don’t have to ‘fit in’ everywhere, right?

It’s ok to be individual Ben, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, they just don’t come close.

People buy from people, be the change you represent and people will love you for it.

What’s the plan?

Ok, here’s the plan. It’s Monday morning and Ben was feeling just a little apprehensive with this first day of being officially ‘unemployed.’

Now I don’t know about but first thing in the morning tea needs to make an appearance before I’m ready to go. My colleague was no different, we chatted and I soon had his ear … after all he had asked for my help.

‘Here’s a routine for you Ben.’

The face dropped …

‘Routine? I’ve just left a routine after 15 years Charlie, and I’m not looking for anything similar just yet.’

‘Trust me now Ben, here, take a biscuit … before we start the day, take a look:’

Decide...

Know what you will be doing before your day begins. This will be your plan. Without it, you’re just making things up as you go along.

Prepare…

Know where you need to be and what you need to have with you to execute the plan. For instance, if your plan is to follow up the old contact list, you need to be organised, you shall probably need the names, the numbers, a reliable phone and a notebook.

Show Up…

Be ready, get yourself to wherever your plan says you need to be – on time and ready.

Do the Work…

Execute the plan. You’ve made a decision, so now is not the time to question motives or skip the steps. Show up. Do the work.

Repeat…

You will soon get the idea. We’re back to the top of the plan with ‘Decide’ again. Tomorrow’s day plan will probably be slightly different but, let’s look at it this way…

Look at how professional athletes work Ben, they work on all aspects of their game to achieve success. Like us their own goals may not change, the larger plan is constant with the daily plan looking a bit different. It’s the routine, the willingness to decide again and tackle what’s on tomorrow’s plan.

Nice and easy, keep it simple. Keep showing up and repeat the process, put the work in and understand that of course it’s not about the goal, it’s the journey isn’t it?

Change, get out of your way.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Are you a positive influence or one of negativity? Do you sugarcoat things or get straight to the point?

Much has been said about the best way of approaching business development or implementation of change, it can be stressful for many. Each of us have our goals (or we are working on them) and we all strive to do the best or be at our best … but are we willing to do what is needed to achieve the reputation for being ‘the best?’

If we are to be the best, to succeed in our chosen field, we must be single minded on the task at hand. Know your industry well; take time for education whether through formal training or peer groups, subscribe to those blogs, industry magazines and newsletters.

Show others what you know and stand out by delivering.

The ‘scary bit’ … change. Even the smallest focus in a different direction is going to alienate one or two who thought they knew our intentions. Change though is good if you are not achieving.

Lets find that fine line where our intentions to excel offer inspiration to others not alienation and ensure we ultimately offer vision for them to achieve and raise their own levels to where they never thought possible.

So for that particular goal you are working on? How about trying to be someone that is the calming force, offers advice, someone that might be counted on in times of need.

Who has the time for answers? You do. Who is the person not settling for ‘good enough?’ Who leads by example? You do, of course.

We all have it inside us to become better and to be the best. But are we willing to really make that happen?

Let’s get out of our own way, be the change you seek. Don’t dream, but do.

Time for coffee?

Breakfast was over, I had grabbed a coffee and was about to head toward the office when the ‘phone rang. Now the other hand was busy.

On the other end of the line was Tricia. Tricia had recently started a physiotherapy business and returned from holiday with what is recognised as a seasonal ‘gripe’ – although perhaps a little more of a reality check for those such at Tricia – a newbie to running her own business.

“Charlie, I’ve been away for two weeks, batteries recharged and ready to get back into ‘it.’

‘Good for you.’ I heard myself reply as I juggled the coffee and found a seat.

‘The trouble is, there is nothing happening – all my regular clients are away on holiday and I’m sure I’m not going to hit my targets for next month. I’m worried about my year-end totals.’

When I say that this reality check is something that many newbies find difficult to deal with, it happens to us all and it’s essential that we understand that business – like the people that run the business – its a seasonal thing and we need to make allowances for the roller-coaster of enquiry, order, invoice, payment and the impacted cash-flow.

‘Think about this Tricia. I began. Worry shows that you are aware of where your business should be although the emotion of ‘worry’ does not help you get ‘there.’

‘But it’s mid September – and just fourteen weeks until the end of the year …’ came the reply.

‘More likely just the 12 weeks Tricia.’ I suggested. Think about Christmas.

Stony silence from Tricia. She was listening and I wanted to help her.

Fifty two weeks of the year, take away your three weeks of holiday/vacation, another 10 days of public holiday, all topped by your best customer taking a much needed break … it means we need to really sit down and take a look at our business ‘seasons’ and budget accordingly.

‘Don’t worry about not making the end of year targets, there is nothing you can do to impact this just now. Stick to your original plan, keeping close to your clients and keep pitching the business.’

Take it month by month, week by week and prioritise your daily tasks. ‘Make it easy for you to finish the week on top every week – and start thinking about how you would like to finish the year.’

It’s great that Tricia is thinking for the future as next month we’d be talking about how she wishes to start the year in understanding that business is indeed seasonal, as we take time for a coffee and plan the reality check that is the ‘first year in business.’

image courtesy http://www.whyimcray.com

Compass due north?

It can be tough at the top … just ask any owner/manager.

During the busy times there are simply not enough hours in the day, we’re pretty much stretched just coping, ‘making hay’ when we’re busy and when those quieter times arrive?

We take the opportunity to ‘kick back’ don’t we? We embrace the ‘down time,’ take in some exercise perhaps, hit the gym, reward ourselves for all the effort, eat cake(!), make time for some fun, relationships.

After all, it’s no good chasing the business when the rest of the world is on holiday …

Is it?

Whether you have a written plan in place or not (if not, you need one!) we set our goals and accelerate the actions to achieve those goals. We have performance indicators in place (in mind or on paper), to help gauge our progress then adjust the plan to accommodate any improvements needed to keep us on track. We have a plan, we are goal aware.

Accordingly, with one third of 2016 now passed and better weather(!?) on the way we can be forgiven if we start thinking of a few days away from business to spend time with family maybe … BUT before we do that, why not take a breath, grab what’s left of the cake and think about the past four months. Ask yourself…

Am I happy?

Simply compare the business progress to plan. Is business fun? Do you enjoy supplying the results of your efforts? Is your business rewarding for you? Are you making money?

If the answer is yes, yes, yes and more yes – great! Even if it’s no, no, no and some, speak with those who will listen, business people like you, maybe those who have been around a little longer, ‘newbies’ as well – share the wear, get out there and seek opinions. It can be tough at the top.

So … time to check the compass. What direction is your plan taking you? Might it now be time to assess core success? Embracing where best results have come from will enable you clarity. Clarity to stay on track, avoiding the energy sapping trends, clarity to support your own particular success.

A compass shows us true North. When in doubt listen to your intuition, check-in with your peers then go back to the compass, adjust and refine direction where necessary and stay on course with the plan … then can really enjoy the ‘kick back.’

The one golden nugget

What do you get reading about elite performers … about their drive, their discipline? It’s different feelings for each of us as we hear how others set out to achieve ‘best in their field’ status – learning more about themselves as they work at reaching those goals.

It’s great to hear of their dedication, their trials and the lessons in pursuit of accomplishments. Understanding how they’ve failed, they’ve developed.

It’s personal, that’s what is in it for me. That’s the ‘motivational nugget,’ the personal message.

I was walking off a beach the other evening and bumped into a local triathlete, it was around 7pm and ‘Bea’ having been in the water for the past hour, was off to bed. We had a little banter about ‘staying the distance’ and the sometimes obsession that the elite athletes have with gain, with beating the clock and the physical peak that seems to make up most of the cause.
As impressive as all the athletes are, behind each is a story. With Bea she talks about lots of stuff, including the toll her sport takes on her now 27-year-old body. She trains up to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s a level of physical dedication most of us find hard to fathom.
Just as Bea was making her way home for a well-earned rest, she hinted:

“People don’t realise how mental it is. As much as I pursue my passion, I feel like I have a really, really, good workout, just once a month.”

Bea loves the sport, amongst the dozen or so locals she trains with she will be the senior member of the group although she ‘hangs in there.’
But in the course of 6-hour workouts, 5 days a week, over an entire month, Bea only credits herself with having one good workout.
Bea makes a point of saying she is a perfectionist, that her own high standards are why she feels as though she only has one good workout a month. The rest let her down. … let… her… down?!
While her pursuit of perfection are admirable, she also certainly has a large margin of forgiveness. How else could she show up so often and put in that many hours on the understanding that most of what she does is not really any good.
I had to disagree with Bea on something though – I think most of us DO realise that routine and pursuit of goals is a mental challenge. It’s the harder part.I simply think we don’t know how to manage the mental aspects of our efforts with consistency and confidence.I think we’re conditioned to believe that every workout should be good, the best.
We tend to beat ourselves up if we don’t perform at peak, skip an hour or miss a particular circuit routine and we’ve failed.

The good news is, our own efforts rarely need to be as finely tuned as our triathlete. Our success is not dependent on such a high level of perfection. In fact, our ideas of perfection are merely perceptions that evolve with increased experience and competence. As we develop, we expect more.
One advantage (just one?) most ‘dedicated’ athletes have over us, is that in most cases someone has gone before them. There are rules, expectations, and often, established paths that when followed, aid in their growth. Of course there are no guarantees in the results they may be looking for but by following the plan, they’re well on their way to measurable results.
You and I though, not quite such the ‘elite athlete’ perhaps as we juggle our own daily challenges, find it difficult at times to choose who to listen to or what system to use. We’re distracted by every new idea under the sun, thinking there must be an easier way. We want to hear of the new trick to get us more sales or a better app to help us be more organized. We try a new social media platform believing it will magically change our business, and if we don’t try it, we will surely fail.

Lets just keep … it … simple.

Like I said, I love individual stories. The personal draws me in.
There are patterns everywhere if you look for them. The patterns tell their own story and interestingly enough, they reveal the easier path almost every time.
Here is a great ‘routine’ given to me by a friend … see what you think:

Decide – Know what you will be doing before your day begins. This will be your plan. Without it, you’re just making things up.

Prepare – Know where you need to be and what you need to have with you to execute the plan. If your plan is to make 50 sales calls, you gotta get organised, probably need 50 names, 50 numbers, a phone, and a notebook.

Show Up – Get yourself to wherever the plan says you need to be, on time and ready.

Do the Work – Do whatever the plan said to do. You’ve made a decision, now is not the time to question the plan or skip the steps. Show up. Do the work.

Repeat – You get the idea. Decide again. Tomorrow’s plan will probably be a bit different. Athletes work on all aspects of their game to achieve success. The goals may not change. The larger plan is constant. The daily plan may look a bit different. It’s time to decide again what’s on tomorrow’s plan.

OK, so you missed a day? Something happened to derail the plan? You only made about half the calls?
That’s no problem, because you’re not done. You didn’t mess it all up, it’s part of the plan …
Keep it simple. Start at Decide and go at it again tomorrow.
Let’s stop making it harder than it needs to be. Let’s stop winding ourselves up about this new app or that new method.

Find your ‘motivational nugget’ and let’s stop allowing a bad day to spoil the whole effort.

You don’t need to be perfect. In fact, you probably won’t be. Keep showing up, doing the work and understand that of course it’s not about the goal – it’s the journey on the way to that one golden nugget.

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