It’s Too Big!

Get your mind above the waistline, dear reader. I’m referring to goals and dreams. I was working with a fellow participant in the #MFM2015 challenge, and we were trying to break through the barriers most humans seem to impose upon themselves on the path to success.

I’ve discovered that pushing through the not-knowing, the messing-up, the plans-not-panning-out is a growth experience, whether it ends in success or failure. It will change your perspective for the better and give you skills & wisdom that you can use in your next adventure!

LET GO OF THE self-limiting belief BUT KNOW THAT YOUR PLANS WON’T ALWAYS WORK

Your thoughts & beliefs can be the biggest obstacle to overcome. Many of us carry around beliefs about ourselves that need to be removed or improved. If you believe you can’t, you probably won’t even try. Start by recognising your negative mindset and taking action to overcome it. Time and persistence are key to eradicating these beliefs.  A one-percent improvement isn’t note-worthy (or even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run, when you factor in the compounded effect of a thousand small adjustments and corrections. There is power in small wins and slow gains. This will help you accept the fact that no matter how well you plan, and think through, your plans will never work out quite the way you expect! Be flexible and allow your plans to evolve. You never know what might happen!

LOOKING FOR THE BIG WIN

Making one HUGE step can mean having to sit back and wait to see if it worked or not. This makes the action more of a gamble and less of a consistent step in the right direction. Small actions built on another (called habit stacking) can lead to a big win further down the line. Compound effect again.

there’s no such thing as a “perfect” moment  

You’ll never see a perfect set of circumstances that allow you to leave your job/start exercising/change your diet/etc. etc. without stepping outside your comfort zone. Action is always better than inaction, and perfection is the enemy of progress. Pull a Nike and Just Do It.

PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE

Even if you’re raring to go, it’s going to mean little without the right people supporting it. Hold yourself accountable, and get someone else to support this. It doesn’t matter if it’s friends, family or a life coach. Without someone holding you accountable, your goal could vanish into the mist when the going gets tough.

IT’S OK TO FALL

Some people choose to let failure get the better of them and abandon their goals or dreams, but the truly resilient accept and understand that failure is perfectly OK, sometimes unavoidable and usually a great opportunity to learn & grow. If you keep this front and centre, it’s easier to accept failure and move on with a clearer vision.

PERSISTENCE & HEART

Millions of people set goals every day, but not all of them follow through, or give up when the situation becomes challenging. Persistence & heart are the keys to achieving your target. When the doubts pile up, when you’re hesitant, and when you’ve lost the initial spark, persisting is the only way to see your ideas through to fruition. Focus on how you’re going to feel when you make it. Have faith in your own abilities to keep you moving forward even when you face massive obstacles along the way.

Stay in balance

When you’re aiming for something, it’s easy to be totally consumed by it, but this momentum is difficult to sustain. I’m trying to eat healthier, but I have never been able to stay on any diet longer than 3 hours (the time between breakfast and lunch). So my new take on this is Monday to Friday healthy cooking for the family, and I allow myself goodies on the weekend. No, I don’t go overboard, I just revel in the fact that I don’t have to cook and can even try something new.

To maintain balance, reflect on why you set the goal initially. You control how you achieve this goal, so be purposeful about maintaining balance on your journey. There will always be challenges to overcome but they are part of the fun when you can compartmentalise them. Keep climbing that mountain, but stop to enjoy the view!

must_not_be_afraid3

Thanks to brepurposed.com for the image! If you enjoyed this post, sign up on the right for email notifications when I post again.

Give Your Idea Life 101

There is a happy place between paralysis by analysis and doing without thinking. In fact, doing without thinking is arguably riskier because you can waste time and money making mistakes which could have been avoided with some good spadework beforehand.

Before you launch your product at the world, start by running through this checklist:

  1. Identify similar offerings & research if they have have struggled commercially. Find out why. Are you about to make the same mistakes?
  2. Will you be competing against a more established company in this space or not? If not, why not? What do they know?
  3. Talk to a knowledgeable adviser about your target audience, distribution channel, or business model. Are there invisible risks?
  4. Map out the process for a single transaction of your product. How will your target audience hear about your product? How will they buy it? How will you handle a problem with the product?
  5. Research the competition. Look at financial statements for companies in your product area. How do they generate revenue? What was their initial outlay? Are you missing an element to compete? Do you have a realistic estimation of what it will take to get to market?
  6. Create a proposition for how you will make money, and describe it to a savvy friend or trusted adviser. Ask them to take your proposition apart! It’s not easy hearing someone poke holes in a long-held vision, but it will help you perfect it.

And then read this incredibly inspiring article about the Shake Shack, which went public today on the New York Stock Exchange!

If you want to read some more, here’s what I’ve got on my Kindle (some are free with my Kindle Unlimited subscription!):






Almost-New Year resolutions

I was so going to post yesterday. I really was! And then I got stuck into reading (decadence!) and researching and as my daughter succinctly put it,”Yeah, you got distracted and lost track of time.” Busted! (I didn’t add I was watching her Sea Monkeys get jiggy; I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a grandma soon!)

Anyway, back on track now….

I don’t really do resolutions. I do ideas of resolutions. It’s easier for me to stay focused on general concepts than one specific thing. It’s kind of how I cook, knit, craft…I’m always adapting (but I don’t mess with baking recipes). I’ve been inspired by all the great blog posts this month about resolutions, so here are some of my favourite ideas for this year….

Stick with the coaching: I’ve been working with the most amazing coach for the last 9 months. She’s made me dig deep & work through some really uncomfortable issues that I could easily have avoided for the next 20 years! But she’s also made me recognise my triggers, my values, my strengths. I can’t recommend her enough! (If you want her name, Contact Me; we use Skype for our sessions, so she is well equipped for international clients)

Catch up with friends & loved ones (face-to-face, if I can): we moved back to London almost 2 years ago, leaving behind good friends. Facebook & Twitter & emails help, but they’re not actual face time. My back-up plan is to send random I’m-thinking-of-you postcards because it gives me an excuse to indulge my stationery habit.

Use Yes & No with a bit more conviction: as a consultant who works on contract, turning down opportunities might mean that no one will ever ask me to do anything ever again! Ridiculous. Get ready to hear I’m-delighted-you-want-me-to-consult-but-I-am-fully-booked-until-(insert date)-Let’s-talk-again-then. Stretching myself thin just results in nasty panic attacks and a half-ar$ed job done. I will learn to say Yes to foods I haven’t tasted before, new coffee-shops, new sports…anything to step outside  the self-imposed barriers. Continue reading

People like pictures

 Coherence around a clear vision leads to a successful output

Remember that strategic planning meeting to discuss how the product/service fits into the overall vision? Remember the Powerpoint presentation and the talking? There was some sort of shared understanding of the current Reality and how the output was meant to improve the vision. Could you recollect the exact aims of the meeting after a week or two? Go on, fess up, did you use a fair mix of education and guesstimation to come up with what you thought you should be doing towards achieving the vision? Did your team-mates do the same? Thought so. This independent thinking probably resulted in a disjointed set of actions, potentially leading to a total departure from the vision. I’m kidding. Not really, but this is worst-case scenario.

From my experience in start-ups & small businesses, it is easier to maintain a steady flow of conversation, to confirm or negate what was agreed at the meeting, shortening the time-frame for ‘recalibration of vision’. In a large company, composed of multiple teams, the potential for nonconformity is much greater, and the time to catch & correct (re-calibrate) is greater.

“People like pictures, ergo Pinterest!”

A visual model is a powerful tool to counteract the memory fade. Our working memory can only hold 7 ± 2 ‘chunks’ of information, so we extend our intellectual abilities with models. They provide a mnemonic aid that enables us to see complicated relationships and easily move between various mind-sized groupings of things.

Truncate your Powerpoint presentation and structure the meeting with ‘doing’ activities  – build a visual model together through storyboarding, sketching, or other forms of creating. The model will encapsulate the vision, and help answer the question, “Why are we doing this?” It goes against the top-down authority mandates and requirement document rulebooks. It capitalises on the opportunity for buy-in & positive engagement from the people ‘on the ground’, and develops a sense of ownership in the strategic direction of the company.

As companies wade through increasingly nebulous product & service challenges, creating rich storyboards & building processes around clear diagrams could increase the prospect of delivering a successful product or service to market.

Communicating with my child

It is widely acknowledged that good communication skills help us to solve problems successfully and maintain good interpersonal relationships.

Communication with others begins at birth, through verbal and non-verbal output. I remember my baby girl used to stick her finger in her ear to tell us she was tired and due a nap. Our communication skills continue to develop through childhood and into adulthood, and as a mother, I want to make sure my child is equipped to express her needs, wants and feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully.

As an only child, her frame of reference has not including sibling banter, and she’s had to pit herself against two fairly outspoken parents. Knowing this, I took the time to get down to her level when talking to her, I would sit her on my lap when I was correcting her, or discussing her behaviour, and try to make it as safe as I could to say what she needed to say. None of this came easy. As a full-time employee that commuted long hours, my nerves and patience were pretty stretched when I had to tackle these issues. Yeah, I yelled a few times (and felt wretched afterwards, as all parents do!). But for the most part, I truly attempt to keep our chats calm and open – I’m playing the long game and I need to know she’ll still be talking to me when she’s a teenager!

I usually let her know how I’m feeling about a situation, and then let her respond. Something like,”When you did this, it made me feel/made me wonder…” and she has a chance to explain why she did or said something. Sometimes she’ll say,”I’m going to tell you something, but you can’t act on it”. I respect that boundary (unless someone is in danger, when all bets are off).

Recently, we instituted a journal (we got the idea from here). We write notes back and forth to each other. Sometimes, if she’s too mad to talk, she’ll write, and it calms her down. She leaves it by my bedside, and then I’ll read and respond. It works for us. It teaches her that communication is a two-way street and you have to listen to be heard.

We’ve stuck to a few simple rules to help us:

  • Think before you speak
  • Don’t shout or speak in anger
  • Speak clearly
  • Tell the other person how you feel – use “I feel” instead of “You did/said…”
  • Say all you want to say, but take turns
  • Listen carefully
  • Hug it out!

And of course, we make time for dates, where we hang out, drink tea & eat cake. Mmmmm – we cake!

IMG_20150120_162212

SMART GROWth!

I like to think I’m up to speed with all the ‘cool’ management lingo, but sometimes, old school is best. SMART & GROW are some of my favourite mnemonic acronyms. Although primarily a management term, I saw SMART objectives hung on a wall of a local dance school, detailing what the dancers were trying to achieve by the end of the term. Even if the alphabets have been assigned different meanings by different authors, the premise is the same: SMART objectives should be easy to understand, to do, and to confirm they have been done.

Combining SMART objectives with the GROW model can help a business set its goals and work towards achieving these goals.

Applying the SMART acronym can help guide the creation of goals. Goals should be:

  • Specific – a well-defined, unambiguous outcome
  • Measurable – what are the metrics of a successful outcome?
  • Attainable – is the goal is realistic and achievable?
  • Relevant – is the goal relevant to the business?
  • Time-bound – how long will it take to achieve this goal?

The GROW model covers the process of achieving the SMART objectives.

  • Set the Goal. It has to be clearly defined so the client knows when it has been achieved.
  • What is the current Reality?
  • What Obstacles need to be overcome to achieve the Goal? What are the Options identified?
  • Turn the Options into the Way Forward (the action plan).

Continue reading