Posts Tagged ‘soft skills’

P.O.W.E.R

It is a new year with new opportunities and new challenges. According to Forbes magazine, over 40% of Americans prepare a New Year’s Resolutions list. Self-improvement (48%) is the top category for resolutions; weight (38%), money (34%), and relationships (31%) round out the top four “Resolution Types.”

Age seems to play a huge role in the success rate of achieving your New Year’s Resolution. 39% of the people in their twenties achieve their resolution, while only 14% of people over fifty do so. 25% of the people who take the time to write-up their New Year’s Resolution, only last one week, before going back to their old ways. That number jumps to 34% by the end of one month. The Statistic Brain Research Institute found that only 8% are successful in achieving their resolutions; now that is a depressing number.

Is there a better way to approach having a more successful year? I think so; it doesn’t take much to improve on a 92% failure rate. Instead of approaching the New Year with just a Resolution list, maybe you should “also” give some consideration to approaching the New Year with a new system for addressing each day. In preparing for one of my programs, I was researching my client and found something, I feel, would be tremendously useful to anyone; it came from their Value Statement. They created an acrostic for the word POWER.

Power - 4

If you incorporate these five values into the way you approach any task, problem, challenge or goal … you will greatly enhance your chances for succeeding. You have just begun writing the 365 page book that will chronicle YOUR new year. You are the author, editor and publisher … the one fully responsible for how your book turns out. Artist and writer, Christine Mason Miller once stated, “At any given moment you have the POWER to say, ‘this is not how the story is going to end.’” Your past doesn’t have to decide your future. You have the choice and the opportunity to start anew and there is no better time to do that, than right now.

So, instead of fretting over not accomplishing one of your New Year’s Resolutions, pay more attention to how you address, approach, and attack each day. When you have Pride in your work, always delivering an Outstanding effort, keeping a Winning attitude no matter what the circumstances, never losing sight of what is Ethical, while always Respecting others … your reputation will soar. Always remember:

It takes P.O.W.E.R. to be successful.

Forget Something?

A while back I did a huge favor for someone and never heard anything from them … zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Just a simple “Thank You” would have been nice … but they acted as if it was expected of me. To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly.

To me, disappointed is a very powerful and scary word. You see, disappointed can turn into other “Dis” words, such as disgruntled, discouraged, disenthralled, disillusioned, disheartened, and possibly even dissatisfied with our current personal or business relationship. I might start noticing that this relationship (business or personal) is really all about YOU and how YOU can benefit; the words reciprocation or gratitude don’t seem to be in your vocabulary.

Everyone likes to be remembered, thanked or appreciated for doing favors, going above and beyond, being courteous, considerate, thoughtful or kind. Being “taken for granted” stinks. Forgetting to show any kind of appreciation for someone who did something for you … that they didn’t have to do … can end up causing you problems later on. You will never know when someday you may need a helping hand and all those people you took for granted and/or never thanked, might NOT be so readily available to help you out.

Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, did some research on gratitude and looked at 41 fundraisers at a university, all receiving a fixed salary. The director visited half of the fundraisers in person, telling them, “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The second group received no such expressions of gratitude. What was the impact of the director’s thanks? Gino said that “the expression of gratitude increased the number of calls by more than 50 percent” for the week, while fundraisers who received no thanks made about the same number of calls as the previous week.

Organizations and leaders who miss chances to express gratitude, lose opportunities to motivate people that actually costs them nothing. Simply stated: Gratitude is free and profitable. People may not show that they are upset about not being thanked … but when the time comes for them to help YOU out again, they may just be a little too busy that day. You can transform your relationships, business and personal life with the Power of Gratitude! Never underestimate the power of a thank you and never pass up on the opportunity to say those two words.

It is not happy people who are thankful.

It is thankful people who are happy.

Anonymous

 

Don’t Second Guess

We all have to make decisions every day. Some decisions we make require little thought and the consequences will not be earth shattering or career changing. But, there are other decisions we have to make that can have an enormous effect on our lives. Decisions like … who we are going to marry or do we stay single, where are we going to live, should we have children, what career/job we choose, should we change jobs, do we get a college education or advance our education even further … these are big, tough, critical decisions that aren’t easy to make and the FINAL DECISIONS are life changing. 

I had to make a huge decision this week. I sought out council from people I respect and I measured all the pros and cons. I tried to consider all the “What If’s” and I assessed the consequences with doing it or not doing it. I had received advice like … “I should absolutely take the offer, no questions asked” … to … “no way take the offer, it is not in your favor”. I had been working towards this goal for several years, and when the offer came in writing … I turned it down.

So, what pushed me to say “NO” to the offer? Was it the 13 pages of fine print, written in their favor? No, that wasn’t it; I actually was expecting that. What really helped me decide were two things. The first thing was there was a huge “What If” question that had a very bad result, if all didn’t go well. The second thing was a statement they made: “This is our standard agreement that is non-negotiable.” Everything in business is negotiable and they just told me it isn’t. That one statement made me start re-evaluating everything … and to finally make a decision to say, “NO”. 

I started thinking, once we started doing business together, what else was going to be “non-negotiable.” That one statement triggered me to start thinking of alternatives, options, other possibilities, and a new direction I could pursue, if I said “NO” to their offer. I felt re-energized, stimulated, excited about the other options and even more surprising to myself … I was feeling no remorse about saying, “NO.”

Who is to say I made the right or wrong decision? Some people might say, “Only time will tell,” but, I still have a great deal to do with … the story that will be told. In all my years in business, I have learned two very important things about making decisions.

Ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if it fails … because if you can’t live with it – don’t do it.

NEVER doubt your decision, NEVER look back, NEVER SECOND GUESS…  because if you do, those actions will help to sabotage your decision.

My job now is to make my new direction the right direction, the right choice, the right decision.

You should never make a decision because it is the easiest thing to do, nor should you make it based on convenience and most importantly, never “Second Guess” the decision you made. Former President Harry S. Truman once stated: “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.” I would recommend we all follow his advice; I know I am.

The Fastest Way to Kill a Good Decision …

is to Second Guess it.

How Many Fans Do You Have?

In the world of entertainment, sports and business … entertainers, athletes, athletic teams and companies have fans. 142 million people follow Katy Perry on Twitter and Facebook. Soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo has 138 million fans following him. Justin Bieber (136M), and Taylor Swift (128M) followers. 59 million people follow McDonald’s, Disney (51M), Red Bull (45M), Starbucks (43M), and Pepsi has (36M) followers. The world of Social Media is rampant with fans.

My question to you today is, “how many FANS do you have”? If you plan on advancing in your business career, it is imperative to have FANS; people who will vouch for your talent, integrity, creativity, resourcefulness, positive attitude, tenacity, thoroughness, and/or energy. Do you have any FANS who will vouch for you?

I am not talking friends … I am talking FANS who are impressed with your skills and talent. Let’s look at FANS from a different perspective for a moment; your perspective. “If you were assigned a big project by your boss, that meant keeping or losing your job, and you were allowed to pick any 5 people out of your company to help you with the project, who would you pick? Would you pick your best friends or people you know are the most talented and who would be able to help you do an amazing job on the project?” I know what my answer would be without any hesitation; I’d choose the talented ones.

The five people that I would choose have a FAN base. They would be known throughout the company as REALLY GOOD! Their work ethic and record for getting things done is known by their peers. Their associates, managers and bosses all know who they are. Everyone wants them on their team. Associates ask them for help and advice and they are always happy to oblige. Doing the bare minimum is not in their DNA.

Developing a FAN BASE is no easy task. FANS are hard to impress. FANS are demanding and expect YOUR BEST all the time. FANS want winners. FANS require consistency, reliability, trustworthiness, stellar performance and are not impressed with words, promises and plans. FANS are impressed with accomplishments, not rhetoric. FANS hate excuses and apologies. Think back on the 5 people you would have selected for the project and ask yourself why you would choose them. Write down the things they do that impresses you. You now have identified why you would choose them … so why would anyone choose YOU? Here is an acronym that will help you with developing FANS. Be Formidable, Awesome, have Nerve and be Steadfast. 

F  ormidable … inspiring respect through being impressively intense and capable

A  wesome… causing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of admiration

N  erves… courage and control under pressure, fortitude, stamina, and boldness

S  teadfast…loyal, committed, dependable, solid, and trustworthy

If You Want Fans

Then Give Them Something to Cheer About

First, Last or Next

We have all had a lot of “Firsts” in our lives; our first step, first day of school, first kiss, first dance, first car and our first job. The list can go on and on with the things we have done for the first time. Some were really hard, some we thought were going to be hard but turned out a lot simpler than we feared and some just happened by accident … but we got through them all. Then we all have had some pretty neat “Lasts” in our lives as well: the last time you had to ask your parent’s permission, the last time you had a curfew on a date, the last time you had to study for a French, trigonometry, or chemistry final …or whatever courses you hated. Life is full of lots of great “First and Lasts”.

But, sometimes the “Firsts and Lasts” aren’t fun or exciting. Sometimes they are sad, hard, disappointing or even heart wrenching. I am sure you all can think of those without me having to point them out. I don’t want to address those today. I want to stay focused and positive about a subject I feel very strong about. I feel that truly successful people, those who stay on top of their profession for years, are always moving forward. They keep relevant, thriving, and successful by looking forward and moving on to the “NEXT” challenge, goal and soon to be another accomplishment. They don’t live in the past talking about previous successes. They finish what they are doing to the best of their ability … take a moment to appreciate what they have accomplished … and then move on; they relish what life has in store for them.

Your life is going to have countless “Firsts and Lasts”, whether you want them or not, but your “NEXT” accomplishment is up to you. The day you quit looking forward to your next goal, project, plan, mission, task, or grand undertaking is the day you stop progressing. When actor/comedian George Burns was 79, his career was resurrected in the 1975 film The Sunshine Boys, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He continued to work until shortly before his death, in 1996, at the age of 100. When he died he still had future engagements booked. He had more “NEXTs” planned out all the way up to his last breath. At 86 years of age, the famous poet Robert Frost recited his poem “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s Presidential inauguration. At 88, Michelangelo completed his sculpture Roudandini Pieta, depicting an aged man holding Christ. At 89, classical pianist Arthur Rubinstein performed his famous concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. At 104, educator/research scientist Ray Crist finally retired after an 80 year career that began at Columbia University.

But “NEXT” is not just for the elderly. Mozart was performing piano concerts across Europe at the age of 6. Bill Gates wrote his first computer program at the age of 13 and at 31 he had made his first billion dollars. At 15, swimmer Dara Torres set the world record in the 50-meter freestyle. Tommy Hilfiger opened his first clothing store at the age of 18, with his hottest item being bell-bottom pants. What do these people all have in common? They all kept moving forward to their “NEXT” accomplishment. 

If you want to study somebody who was really amazing at “NEXT”, take a look at Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He founded the first U.S. hospital, insurance company, police department, fire department, and book circulating library. He invented the Franklin Stove, the lightning rod and bifocals (to name a few). He was involved in founding two colleges. On top of all of those accomplishments, Mr. Franklin was also an Alderman, Governor, Ambassador and one of the founding fathers of the United States. He kept active and working right up until he died at 84 years of age. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral. Mr. Franklin’s entire life was a continuous journey of “NEXTs”. Here is an anonymous quote that I think sums up nicely the point I am trying to make. 

“You can’t start the NEXT chapter of your life, 

if you keep re-reading the last one.”

Personal Communication Filter

One of the definitions for the word “filter” is “a device that is used to filter out something unwanted.” You can buy a pair of sunglasses to filter out unwanted ultraviolet light. There are water purification filters, oil filters, fuel filters, air filters, pool filters, cigarette filters, coffee filters, aquarium filters, and furnace filters. You can filter emails, filter out spam, and put a filter on an internet search engine. You can even put a lens filter on a camera to reduce the amount of wrinkles people see on your face.

But, I haven’t found a filter you can buy for personal communication. There are a lot of people who have ruined their lives, be it on a personal or business basis, by saying something stupid, thoughtless, mean, malicious, despicable, inappropriate, condescending, cruel, hurtful, vicious, painful, and certainly uncalled-for. If they had just had a filter that would have removed their unacceptable statements, things would have turned out so much better for everyone.

Practicing good manners will serve as a filter, or possibly your experience will help to filter out the things you shouldn’t say. One simple way to protect yourself is to say nothing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “ Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.   Or you may want to follow the advice of the Canadian educator, Laurence J. Peter, who said, “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret”.  

Just as a water filter removes the impurities from water … I feel we all need a personal communication filter so we can filter out the impurities from our speech such as: complaining, anger, gossip, cursing, nagging, idle chatter, egotism, condescension, ridicule and hurtful criticism.  I wonder how many people you know would want to filter out certain things you say. Ask yourself this question: Do I brighten the mood of a room full of people when I enter the room or when I leave the room? Maybe you should consider filtering some of the things you are saying.

 Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something.”  Since there are no personal communication filters available for sale, it is going to fall to us to filter our words. So, let me give you a few rules that might help: Only speak what you know to be true, speak with integrity, before speaking ask yourself would someone be pleased with what you are saying about them, avoid at all costs speaking when angry, and when in doubt, stay silent. My final advice is this simple poem:

Be careful of the words you say,

and keep them soft and sweet.

You’ll never know from day-to-day,

which ones you’ll have to eat.

Ride For The Brand

A few weeks ago I asked you all to send me in your favorite quotes and the response was overwhelming. While I’m deciding how I am going to use all this great material, I thought I would share one quote that really stood out to me, because:

  • I had never heard it before  
  • I didn’t know what it meant and  
  • When I found out what it meant, I really liked it.

Sam Bertelsen, sent me the quote, who had it passed on to him by his Dad. Sam describes the company that he works for as … a small, fly-by-night company, called FedEx.  Sam is a real character, who lives in Montana and is fan of cowboy traditions and that is where the quote he sent me came from. The quote was, “Ride for the Brand.” It is an expression of loyalty to a cowboy’s employer or the particular outfit he rode for. I was now very intrigued about the expression, so I did some more research.

Most cattle on a cattle ranch are given a brand, a unique mark burned into the tough hide on the backside of the cow; it means that cow belongs to that ranch. But the expression, Ride for the Brand,” was more than just a mark that determined ownership of a cow. It became a symbol for those who lived and worked for the ranch and was a visual representation of the values and principles that ranch stood for. Cowboys were expected to dedicate themselves to the boss and the group of cowboys who worked for the ranch. The cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. I was really liking what my research was turning up, so I kept digging.

I then came across … Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West – by James P. Owens. Mr. Owens listed these points to follow:

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start 
  4. Do what has to be done 
  5. Be tough, but fair. 
  6. When you make a promise, keep it.
  7. Ride for your brand 
  8. Talk less and say more 
  9. Remember some things aren’t for sale 
  10. Know where to draw the line

Mr. Owens even notedRide for your Brand”, in his list. The reason why I share the quote with you is I think it is as fitting today as it was in the old west. Loyalty to your company should be a given. The company you are working for deserves your best, all the time. Sam said his father also told him  … to work every day hard and ask yourself would your company hire you again tomorrow based on your performance today?  I suggest you use that quote to measure your performance every day!

If you want to advance your career with your company, then Ride for YOUR Brand.”  People will sense the pride you have for your company and the appreciation you have for working there. Remember, the cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. If I was your boss and knew that was the way you felt about our company, wild horses couldn’t pull you away from me. I would do everything I could to keep you. But, for you bosses out there, you need to understand that employee loyalty comes from employer loyalty. If your employees are delivering for you, you need to always have their back, be in their corner and singing their praises.

Being Loyal Gains Loyalty

Ride For YOUR Brand

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