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The Real Reason You Should Have Goals

I recently had a conversation with someone who shall remain nameless (you know who you are) and was flabbergasted to find out that they don’t have ANY current goals that they are working toward. Since this is a foreign concept to me, I asked him why he did not have any goals. He replied that he was happy in his current position at work. Of course I responded by asking him if he was completely satisfied in all areas of his life – health, finances, relationships, his knowledge and skills in his current job, spirituality, or simply who he was – there’s nothing he wants to change or grow? Surprisingly he didn’t have a response. I hope I planted a seed or two for him to think about.

So let’s focus this on you dear reader. Do you have anything you’re working toward? If so, great! Let’s get to you first – are the goals you have ones that will make you a better human being? Are they ones you’ve chosen for yourself and not because someone (or even you) said that you “should” be pursuing them. Understandably sometimes we need to achieve the goals someone else has set for us – like at work, but for your own goals – are they truly yours?

For those of you reading this that don’t have goals at all – why is that? Consider your life at this moment – are you who you imagined yourself to be? Are you pleased with your current skill level in your line of work, your current relationships, your health, and any other aspect of your life? If not, it’s time to set some goals. Like the individual with whom I spoke, some people think goals need to be related to some external event – like he had it in his head that he likes his current position, doesn’t want to get promoted, so therefore he doesn’t need to have any goals. To me, goals (and really achievement) is not about gaining external things like promotions, trophies, awards, diplomas, etc. Rather, it is about the person you become to achieve those goals. The challenge and perseverance that each goal provides us helps grow us into a wiser human being. Which then leads to us being more able to tackle what life will inevitably throw at us with more confidence and resilience.

Hopefully, I’ve provided a different perspective on why each of us should have goals. If you already have goals, why not review them today to see if they are what you truly want and if accomplishing them with grow you as a human being. If you don’t already have goals – for goodness’ sake, please write out at least three today!

Reasons We Procrastinate

Hey superachievers! I’ve spoken about procrastination before because even us superachievers fall victim to it. I recently came across the work of Michelle Tullier, in her book Overcoming Procrastination, and wanted to share what she said are the thoughts and feelings going on when procrastinating. She identified 10 main categories. They are (see if you see yourself in any of these):

Fear: Fear of failing, success, or how you’ll be judged.

Perfectionism: Making tasks more difficult and the anticipated outcomes more critical than they need to be.

Being overwhelmed: Finding a task so difficult or cumbersome that you don’t know where or how to begin or end it.

Feeling frustrated: Having a low tolerance for the ambiguity or delayed gratification that comes with some projects.

Adrenaline rush addiction: Relying on the thrill that comes from getting something done at the last minute.

Negativity toward the task: Disliking or being uninterested in the task itself.

Rebellion: Having negative feelings toward the person who assigned a task or who will benefit from it and resenting that you have to do it.

Unrealistic view of time: Having a faulty sense of time and how much you can get done within it.

Psychological issues: Disorders such as clinical depression or attention deficit disorder, among others, make it difficult to get things done.

Physical problem: Having a physical ailment that drains your energy and makes you less likely to get things done.

Knowing why you are procrastinating on a particular task will help you figure out the best way to overcome procrastinating. I am a big fan of what Mark Twain once said – that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. In summary, figure out why you are procrastinating and then just eat that darn frog first thing in the day to get it over with.

Making a Good Impression to Achieve More

We are all aware of how important others are to our success. Quite simply, we need others to get to where we want to go. If you’ve read, watched, or listened to any of my other material, you know how strongly I feel about this. We need to be consciously aware of how we interact with others – whether it is a meeting, networking, or simply running into someone in the hallway.

One of my podcast guests, Lee Caraher created a great product for her employees, called Everything Speaks, which you can learn more about at leecaraher.com. Some tips she recommends are:

  • Introduce yourself with your first and last names – clearly pronouncing them.
  • Shake hands when introduced with someone new, or when seeing people you don’t see often. Be sure your grip is confident and not a limp “dead fish.”
  • Make a positive impression by smiling. Smile when you’re meeting someone new, smile when someone is giving a presentation, even smile when walking down the hallway. You might even brighten someone’s day.
  • Rising to greet someone who just entered a room shows respect. Stand to shake hands when saying goodbye (yes, both men and women).
  • Stand up straight – if you’re nervous, it will help you hide your nerves.
  • Show that you are present in conversations, meetings and lunches by holding eye contact with people, and let them know you are paying attention.
  • Professional attire doesn’t have to be stuffy, but make it work in your favor (even in casual professional environments.) Before leaving the house, ask, “What does this outfit and accessories say about me?” If the answer does not contain confident, sharp, professional, then you may want to consider changing.
  • Just say “no” to gum – when you are with a client or in a meeting. If you do choose to chew gum outside of these circumstances, never chew with your mouth open or snap it.
  • Enjoy your favorite beverages and food but remember to freshen your breath afterwards.
  • Perfume or cologne can be overpowering when too much is applied. More and more companies have no-scent policies, so make sure you check before you go to someone else’s office.
  • Personal hygiene is VERY important. From grooming (nose hairs included) to knowing what time our deodorant fails, make sure to put your best, fresh, foot forward.

There you have it folks – some tips for making a good first impression. Once you’ve done that, you’ve opened the door to building a successful relationship with others, upping your achievement efforts.

Moving Forward When Goals Fail

Even us superachievers don’t always accomplish our goals. I recently came across Heidi Grant Halvorson’s work in her book, Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals and wanted to share the valuable information she has for moving forward when we fail to reach our goals.

Unfortunately, even the best planned and written goals sometimes fail. How do we move forward? Here’s how to keep going:

Get grit! Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals and to persist in the face of difficulty. You can increase your grittiness by choosing the right goals – ones that you want for yourself (not what you “should” be going after): self-chosen goals create a mindset that makes hanging in there for the long haul much easier.

Blame your effort, not your ability: If you believe that you are having a hard time reaching your goal because you lack the necessary ability, and that you can’t do much to change that…well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. Effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

You can’t have it all: While it’s almost never a good idea to abandon a goal because you think you lack the ability to achieve it, that doesn’t mean that it’s never in your best interest to give up on a goal. It’s important to recognize that you only have so much time and energy at your disposal to achieve your goals, and sometimes that means something’s got to give. Don’t be afraid to abandon a goal when achieving it becomes practically impossible.

Sometimes the price isn’t worth paying: It’s also perfectly okay to walk away from a goal, even when it’s something you’ve really wanted and could in fact reach, when the costs of achieving it are too great. Some sacrifices aren’t worth making – they are too painful, or they require you to give up too much.

Out with the old, in with the new: Knowing when to give up a goal that is just too difficult, or too costly, to attain is an essential part of being a healthy, satisfied person. To make the process not only easier, but even more rewarding, be sure to replace your old goal with a new one. This will enable you to maintain your sense of engagement and purpose, and to keep moving forward with your life.

There you have it superachievers! Hang in there and move on when it’s required.

Setting Goals the Right Way

How are you doing in the your goal setting process? First of all, are you setting goals? That’s the first part to achieving what you desire. Next is to make sure that you are setting your goals in the most effective manner possible. I recently came across some of Randi Bussin’s work and wanted to share her insights on goal setting for success with you. (You can learn more about her at aspireforsuccess.com.)

Here are 10 tips for goal setting:

1. Create a big picture of what you want to accomplish in your life. Take a piece of paper and write down everything you want to accomplish in the next 10 years (or use whatever method that works best for you). Be sure to include goals for all major areas of your life and as you make a list of your goals, ensure they are what you want to achieve and not something others desired for you.

2. Prioritize the goals by time frame. Return to the list you created and break the long list of goals into three smaller time frames. Three categories are short term (next 12 months), medium term (two to five years), and long term (six to ten years).

3. Rewrite your short-term goals in S.M.A.R.T. goal format and be sure the goal is written as a positive statement. Not sure what a SMART goal is? SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. To learn more, simply Google “SMART Goal.”

4. Type up your goals, put them in several places where you can see them, review them daily and revise them as needed. This action of putting your goals in a visible place becomes a daily reminder of what it is you are trying to accomplish. Spend a minute each day in front of your list of goals and read them to yourself.

5. Identify the obstacles that you will have to overcome to achieve your goals. What is going to get in the way of you achieving your goals? What is a limiting factor for you? What within yourself is holding you back?

6. Identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies you need to achieve your goals. Which skills do you need to be at the top of your game? What one skill, if you developed it, would have the greatest impact on your life or career? What one skill, if you developed it and did it consistently, would help you achieve your most important goal? Identify it and begin to work on it every single day.

7. Identify the support team you need in place to achieve your goals. To achieve big goals, you will need the help and support of many people. Identify the list of family members, work colleagues, and mentors you need in your life. As you think about your support team, think about ways in which you can be a giver and not necessarily a taker.

8. Celebrate successes. When you achieve a goal, take time to enjoy the satisfaction of having reached the milestone. Treat yourself to something to mark the accomplishment. Take the time to relish in your success, which will help boost your confidence.

9. Organize your 12-month goals into smaller more manageable steps, from the beginning to the completion of the goal. Planning is very important to reaching your goals. The 80/20 rule (the Pareto principle) states that 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts. So how will you spend your time?

10. Act every day. Lots of baby steps add up to big goals. If you’re having a very busy day at work, don’t beat yourself up. Just do one thing, one little thing, each day that will keep the momentum going and you moving forward.

Think about how you will implement these today!

Embrace Your Nervousness!

Us superachievers are often stretching outside our comfort zone and there are times when we find ourselves in situations that can be a bit nerve-wracking. It could be that you are about to speak up in a meeting about an idea that you have to people who have the power to make the idea happen or to squash it. Perhaps you are about to take that leap into entrepreneurship from the safety of a secure job. Or, it could be that you are about to take a different kind of leap – perhaps out of a plane. Whatever it is, because you are a superachiever, you are choosing to do something that scares you every day and that is often accompanied by nerves.

So here are some ways that you can manage your nervousness when you’re out there doing great things for our world. This advice has been gathered from various sources over the years.

Know Your Triggers: When you are aware of your triggers – what leads to your nervousness – you can plan and prepare for your reaction before it happens. Perhaps it is speaking in public that riles you up, or sharing an idea that you have come up with yourself and feel very strongly about. Whatever triggers your nerves is unique to you and self-awareness is the first step in pretty much everything, right? Knowing what triggers you will allow you to be prepared for when the nerves start hindering you.

Breathe: Engage in deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system. This is a very important process is in working through your nerves. When we get nervous, we tend to take quick, shallow breaths. The deeper and slower your breathe, the more your nerves will dissipate.

Accept it: Admit your nervousness and quit beating yourself up over it. Guess what? You’re human and there is no Perfect 10! Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect and do your best.

Reframe it: Instead of thinking “I’m so nervous!”, think “I’m excited!” Changing your interpretation of what your body is doing will help you motivate you to rise to the challenge. A great resource for this is Kelly McGonagall’s TED Talk on stress. Google it.

Prepare, prepare, prepare! Mentally and physically prepare for what you want to say or do. The more you prepare and rehearse, the easier the action you take will be. Why do you think law enforcement and military constantly prepare and rehearse responding to various events? It is so that their subconscious programming and muscle memory can take over and get the job done and nerves have less of an impact. This applies to anything in life – even rehearsing going through airport security with your kids so they’ll be less likely to be nervous and have an emotional meltdown.

Focus on your mission. Remember the “Why” behind what you’ve chosen to do. Keeping focused on the Why will help you move past the nerves.

Put it in perspective. Whatever you are about to do or say is a fraction of your life (even a fraction of your day!) Change your internal dialogue by reminding yourself that this is but a few moments of your time, so you can step up to meet the challenge.

There you have it superachievers – a few tips for moving past the nervousness that naturally occurs when you’re out in the world doing great things. Pick a couple to practice today.

Are You Personally AGILE?

I recently read the book, Focused, Fast, and Flexible: Creating Agility Advantage in a VUCA World by Horney and O’Shea, and while they related the AGILE model to organizations, I thought it would also fit for superachievers. To implement strategies for more adeptly handling both positive and negative changes in the work environment; we must first be aware of our current level of agility. So, let’s dive into strategies for you to be more AGILE in the work environment (or any environment, really).

To do this, we are going to apply the AGILE model created for organizations by Horney and O’Shea to you as an individual. The AGILE model stands for:

Anticipate Change: This means paying systematic attention to potential changes coming your way not just at the individual level, but also in your field of expertise (both internal and external). In this step, you think about the future with imagination and wisdom, develop an early alert system for anticipating changes coming (like setting Google Alerts for your industry), and then monitor the system, being ready to survive and even thrive with the change.

Generate Confidence: This is your ability to inspire others to trust you to be competent, accountable, authentic, and a good communicator. This means that you are connecting, aligning, and engaging with others to further develop their confidence in you. The more confidence people have in you to show up and do what needs to get done, the more you will succeed in a fast-paced environment.

Initiate Action: This is your inclination toward proactive action – a sense of urgency and active collaboration. Superachievers are doers – so no problem here, right? This is also the ability to be comfortable in ambiguous situations, which will help you succeed in a fast-paced environment every time.

Liberate Thinking: This is your inclination towards innovation – originating and incorporating innovative ideas. According to Horney and O’Shea, this means that you engage in FIT – fresh, innovative thinking. You are open and looking for innovative ideas about what is being done, what should be done next, and how to do it better and faster (even when things are working great.)

Evaluate Results: This is your ability to align vision to action. You acquire knowledge and facts necessary to improve the actions you have taken in the past, seek feedback, and engage in after-action reviews.

As part of the AGILE model, Horney and O’Shea (2015) included an agility personality profile. Consider how you would rate yourself in the following areas:

Focus: Your ability to create goals and concentrate upon them until completion. You can stay on track even when it is difficult to do so. You also become fully engaged in tasks.

Confidence: You approach work with a sense of self-assuredness. You have a high degree of trust in your own abilities and you are eager to face challenges.

Proactivity: You avoid a reactive mindset. You anticipate tasks and continually look for ways to make progress. You also accept the need to act without complete information.

Optimism: In this area, you look for positive aspects of demanding situations. You can bounce back after failing to achieve. You find hidden opportunities within problems or challenges and you like team collaboration.

Inquisitiveness: You value the opportunity to learn. You are comfortable in new situations. You seek and benefit from experiences that demand the acquisition of new knowledge or skill.

There you have it superachievers – take some time to reflect on your personal agility today!

Coach Yourself To Achieve Goals

One of the many subjects I teach leaders, so they can be more effective in developing their employees, is basic coaching. In a recent workshop, it dawned on me that we can also use this very simple model to coach ourselves. Although I recommend that you get your own coach, this is a simple model you can utilize when you’re in a pinch.

The GROW model was created by Sir John Whitmore and colleagues in the 1980’s and it is a process to guide a coaching conversation in a more structured way. We used this model to train leaders in the FBI to coach and I continue to use it in my leadership workshops in my post-FBI career. To relate this to self-coaching, we’ll call it a coaching conversation with ourselves.

Here are the steps:

Goals: In this step, you define what you want to achieve. Once you decide on the specific goal, you then create the objectives and tasks that would need to be completed to accomplish your goal. You can use this for small goals, such as to get a report done by Friday, to big ones such as own your own business. Once you’re really clear on what you want to accomplish, you move onto the next step.

Reality: In this step, you explore where you are now. Is it realistic for you to achieve the objectives in the amount of time you’ve given yourself and with your current resources? What is working for you in achieving this goal? What is working against you in achieving this goal? Make sure to check any assumptions that you’re making during this step as well. Basically, question everything. For example, an assumption could be that you have a report due on Friday and it cannot be done in time. Check this assumption by going through your schedule and moving to the next step.

Options: In this step, you brainstorm all the diverse ways you can achieve the goal you set. Get as creative as you’d like. Let’s say in the previous step you made the assumption that there is no way you can get your report done on time; however, when you explore options, you come up with a number of creative ways you can do so – cancel your attendance at an unimportant meeting, have someone go in your place, set aside time in the evening to finish it, etc.

Way Forward: In this final step you commit to specific actions. This becomes your action plan – you will do “x” to accomplish your first objective by “x” date, and so on. You also look at the resources you will need, and the accountability support you may need to implement to ensure you get what you need done by the deadlines you’ve created. Some of us need more support than others, especially if it is a goal that we are not particularly excited about, so you come up what works for you. Accountability partners work well for this, too.

In summary – Set your Goals, examine your Reality, explore your Options, and then determine a Way Forward that works for you.

Why not try this simple model out today?

Let’s Talk About Personal Accountability

I am convinced that if every person on this planet decided to be personally accountable, we would finally achieve world peace – seriously! President Harry S. Truman was a champion of accountability. He had a sign with the inscription “The Buck Stops Here” on his desk that was meant to indicate that he didn’t “pass the buck” to anyone else but accepted personal responsibility for the way the country was governed.

Personal accountability is about following through on your commitments and doing what you said you’d do. It’s about recognizing that others are dependent on the results of your work. It’s also about open, proactive communication to keep others informed on the status of your commitments because it has a direct impact on their ability to achieve their own commitments.

Not surprisingly, accountability in the workplace is linked to higher performance. The question this brings us to is, “How do you know you’re being personally accountable?” Enter the Ladder of Accountability.

I came across the Ladder of Accountability when researching high performance. Unfortunately, I could not find to whom I should give credit for this great piece of work; however, apparently it has been utilized for many years in business courses across the globe.

The Ladder of Accountability has eight rungs:

  1.  I Didn’t Know: If you’re sitting on this rung you pretend there isn’t a problem. As if not acknowledging it will make it not exist.
  2. Blame Others: This is where you are aware the problem exists, but deny responsibility and shift blame to others. If you’ve read my book, Quit Bleeping Around: 77 Secrets to Superachieving, you know that blaming others is for losers!
  3. Excuses: When you are sitting here, you avoid responsibility by claiming confusion or incompetence. You’re avoiding tough issues and situations.
  4. Wait & Hope: When you are here, you know that there is a problem that requires action, but decide to wait and hope that things will magically improve.

All of the four rungs on the bottom of the ladder are considered “victim behaviors.” This is where your mindset is that things are happening to you – you take no responsibility for either your behavior or your responses to external issues that arise. Now on to the “accountable behaviors” where instead of things happening to you, things happen because of you.

  1.  Acknowledge Reality: When you are here, you acknowledge the reality of the situation, event, or circumstances.
  2. Own It: When you are here you own the problem and honor your commitments and responsibilities. No excuses, no blaming others.
  3. Find Solutions: When you are here, you own the problem and the solution. You actively seek to implement solutions either by yourself or through others.
  4. Make It Happen: When you are here, whether or not you are the sole decision-maker, you assume responsibility for implementing the solution and ensuring its success. You are completely personally accountable.

Even the more accountable of us vary which rung they are on depending on the circumstances. For example, you may normally find yourself on the top half of the ladder, but then blame traffic for being late to a meeting, which means you dip down to the second or third rung.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to improve your personal accountability today:

  • Do I admit my mistakes, am I honest with myself, and look at what my role is when things go wrong?
  • Do I voluntarily apologize and take responsibility when something goes wrong?
  • Do I continually seek feedback from others on how I can improve myself as well as look for ways I can make positive changes in my work or home environment?
  • Do I seek out responsibility, get things done, and carefully review my bandwidth before agreeing to new responsibilities?
  • Do I meet my commitments and don’t make ones I can’t keep?

Just a few things for you to reflect on today!

Achieve More With Resilience

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sums it up best when he says the meaning of life IS meaning – whatever it is, where ever it comes from for each individual. We have to make that meaning ourselves; each of us. Which leads us to this – the meaning you give to your life in the face of stress, setbacks and failures, can build your resilience. Us superachievers need to continually build our resilience because go after what you want in life is no easy task and often comes with much rejection and failure. But we still have to pick ourselves up and get motivated enough to continue to pursue what we desire.

It is not the events themselves that determine our level of stress, it is how we decide to view them, and ultimately cope with them. Check out Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk on stress for more information on this. Do you see change in your life as a setback or as an opportunity? Do you think of yourself as the kind of person who has a strong need for stability or one who relishes a good challenge?

The heart of resilience, like the heart of thriving, depends fundamentally on your ability to actively rebalance the positive and the negative in your life. Studies have shown the brains of highly resilient people show much less activity in the part associated with worrying and “what if” thinking. Highly resilient folks are more responsive to what is happening in reality, whether it is good or bad, rather than what might happen.

Increasing your resilience takes discipline and practice; it can be done! Two strategies for doing so are mindfulness and learning to shift your perspective. Maureen Gaffney, in her book Flourishing, states that if you develop a habit of mindfulness in your daily life, it will pay dividends when stress strikes, allowing you to observe negative thoughts without letting them take hold of you.

As for the second strategy, researchers found that resilient people stay hopeful about the future. It is this capacity to feel positive even when feeling negative that is at the heart of resilience. So a way to adapt your perception is try to see things in a positive light, then take direct action to tackle the problem.

Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, recommending asking yourself the following questions in the midst of adversity:

  1. What is life expecting of me know, at this particular moment, and in this particular situation?
  2. Given what has happened, who do I want to shape myself to be?
  3. Is there anything about this situation that allows me to do something positive that otherwise I would not or could not have done before?

There you have it superachievers, several ways to build your resilience. Choose one commitment you will make based on this wisdom today.

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