Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Building Great Relationships - Be of Service

I find it interesting, when I reflect back on some of the things that I have done in my life, that where I have created the “best” results are the same times that I have come from a place of “being of service”. Conversely, where I have not got the result that I said I wanted, was generally where I had an ulterior motive or so called “hidden agenda” that of course, was not hidden at all!

It therefore occurs to me that, in all areas of life, if we start with a genuine desire to be of service to others we will fulfil our grander purpose and live a truly happy and contented life. This is true whether we are in business, working in the corporate world, spending our time looking after “domestic matters”, using our time for charitable purposes, in church or our community or simply within our relationships.

I think back to when I spent my time trying to grow the business I was responsible for in the corporate world. All of the great results we achieved were delivered when we were focussed on improving customer service, therefore being of service to the “end user”, or creating the next team incentive scheme or competition, therefore being of service to the staff, or facilitating a great management meeting, therefore being of service to the managers, or developing the next big promotional activity, therefore being of service to the Company or the suppliers, and so on and so forth.

Yet, when there is a “hidden agenda”, we become manipulative and deceitful. We have a plan and we don’t want to show it. These are the times when things inevitably go wrong, when things show up for what they truly are and when people end up mistrusting us. Once lack of trust has been created, it is difficult, if indeed ever possible, to rebuild and repair that trust.

Stephen Covey said “seek first to understand, then be understood”, and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen coined the phrase “ask, ask, ask”, which I interpret in this context as meaning, “seek first to be of service, then ask honestly for what you want”.

If we explore this in the context of relationships, my experience has always been that when I have asked first “what do you need from me” or “what do you want”, with a genuine desire of wanting to know the answer, and then do what I can to provide what is needed, I have felt fulfilled and more often that not, have received what I want or need at the same time. This is also true in sales or purchasing negotiations. If I have come from a place of “how can I help you”, the prospect has been more likely to buy into what I am selling and the supplier provided the support for the initiative I have proposed.

When we are marketing our business, it is said that we should “get in the customers shoes” and see how they would feel, what they want. We should understand our target market, know how they think, when they will buy and fulfil their wants and needs. If we did not approach marketing in this way, we would not be providing what the customer wants and therefore would not be making any sales. We would not be saying “what do you need” and we would not be asking for the close in the sale. We would therefore not make any profit.

Sales and marketing strategies are no different to relationship strategies. In fact, of course, they are just relationship strategies anyway, hence the term “Customer Relationship Marketing” or CRM. So, if we want to be sure to build great relationships in anything that we do, we would be wise to start from a place of “how can I be of service”, in this relationship. Once we have asked the question of ourselves, we would be equally wise to simply ask the question of our partner, child, parent, friend, business acquaintance or team colleague. If we don’t ask, we will assume, and as a very good friend once told me, if we assume we make and ASS of U and ME!

So, my invitation is simply this; in any relationship you have currently or have in the future, start from a position of “how can I be of service” and then ask it!

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Sunday, 21 October 2007

Passion Creates Success

It’s Sunday afternoon and the finale of the Grand Prix season is running as I write. Lewis Hamilton is fighting to overtake enough people to win the world championship, Filipe Massa is winning the race but will give up his place for Raikkonen to win, if asked to do so by his pit team.

Passion is what has got Lewis Hamilton to this position. He has dedicated his life since he was 11 years old to be the F1 World Champion. He followed his dream and his passion to be on top of the F1 world. We don’t know what else will unfold during the race but it really is so exciting to see these guys follow their passions to achieve their dreams.

And why am I writing on my blog? Well, the ITV coverage means that we put up with pointless adverts throughout the coverage of the race. Some of you will say, get out of complaining and talk to somebody who can do something about it. I did, and I have. I have written to ITV and I have submitted a posting on their blog. In the meantime I thought I would use the time usefully rather than watch adverts that do nothing for me and do not persuade me to rush out and buy the latest Honda, car insurance or indeed spend some time thinking about mind health! Not sure where that came from in the scheme of F1 advertising!

Anyway, the race is now over. Kimi has won and well deserved. He is the new world champion!

I look forward to seeing the next F1 season and I trust that ITV will review their coverage and let us, the viewer, enjoy the passion rather than the sponsors!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Effortless Life

It was a great day yesterday! Life was effortless…

Having long ago decided that getting in the game was far more fun than simply letting life slip me by, I decided it would be a day for stretching. I therefore set out to do many more things than I would normally plan for one day, with the anticipation that creating some action, even if it might need some correction through feedback later, was better than no action at all.

I had committed to myself to publish an article somewhere new, and did. I was being interviewed for a radio show at the BBC and trusted myself to deliver a powerful piece of work, and did. I stretched by asking something of someone new to help me deliver on one of my goals, and did. I found myself in a coaching situation that I had not anticipated and committed to provide value beyond expectations, and did. I planned to catch up on outstanding emails, and did. I planned to build my network by inviting lots of new people into it, and did. I arranged to meet someone new with no preconceived ideas of an outcome, and did, and I decided on spending some time in “critical thinking” (see previous posting), and did!

And after all that and much more, I found myself thinking about my mother, as I so often do on the way home in the car. She spent her life inspiring me to be who I really am and encouraging me to step up. The irony, in some ways, that I was delivering our Step Up to Success programme this evening, did not escape me.

So, when I’m feeling great and remembering my mother, I do what comes naturally to me and sing at the top of my voice, in the privacy of my car I might add, to Il Divo. (My devoted, adoring and so supportive partner says I can’t sing, so this is the only opportunity I get!).

The words may appear a little maudlin when seen on paper so allow me to indulge myself as I share them with you, because when sung at full power with the volume so loud the car is vibrating, the energy is amazing and the feelings of “unstoppability” (in myself) and “connection” (with Stevie, my Mum) can not be explained in words alone - I guess you had to be there…

Mama sung by Il Divo from the album Il Divo

Mama, thank you for who I am
Thank for all the things I’m not
Forgive me for the words unsaid
For the times I forgot

Mama remember all my life
You showed me love, you sacrificed
Think of those young and early days
How I’ve changed along the way [along the way]

And I know you believed
And I know you had dreams
And I’m sorry it took all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
And I miss you, yeah I miss you

Mama forgive the times you cried
Forgive me for not making right
All of the storms I may have caused
And I’ve been wrong. Dry your eyes [dry your eyes]

‘Cause I know you believed
And I know you had dreams
And I’m sorry it took all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
And I miss you, yeah I miss you

Mama I hope this makes you smile
I hope you’re happy with my life
At peace with every choice I made
How I’ve changed along the way [along the way]

‘Cause I know you believed in all of my dreams
And I owe it all to you, Mama.

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Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Playing the Game

I was at a seminar last night in Dublin and the trainer presented us with what he described as three of the most important keys to success in business:

Critical Thinking
My Idea + My Experience = Disaster

Whilst much of the material was not new, he did get me thinking about critical thinking time and he suggested two questions which occurred to me could be very powerful to consider.

The first was based on the idea of shifting our thinking from “How do I win this game?” to “How am I going to play this second half?”

So, if I consider that life is a game, not of chance but of skill, then it seems to me that we are far more likely to enjoy the process if we do indeed adopt a position of “How am I going to play this second half?” rather than “How do I win?”.

As Art Linkletter asked in a CD programme I listened to on the way home; “How do you make God laugh? – tell him your plans!”

The second question which got me thinking was:

“What if I was given the opportunity to have one last thought – what would it be?”

It seems to me that if we were playing the game of life for the fun of it and just enjoying the process rather than the constant striving to have more, get more, earn more, buy more, we might enjoy and appreciate the people around us more. We might be more inclined to help others around us. We might be more thankful for the gifts that we have. We might be more generous in our opinions of others. We might be less interested in our image or our clothes and more interested in being ourselves. We might be willing to make more mistakes and learn from them.

We might be more willing to play full out!

So I concluded that if were given the opportunity to have one last thought I would probably like it to be:

“Wow! That was so much fun!”

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Thursday, 4 October 2007

Cheering up with Passion

The all new Passion Test has already hit #1 on the Amazon bestsellers list.

I loved this when I saw it...check it out if you want cheering up!!!


Tuesday, 2 October 2007

What is Inspiration?

I’ve just got off a call to my coach and we’ve been discussing inspiration. The light bulb came on for me when I looked at the meaning of the word and found that one definition is “the drawing of air into the lungs; inhalation” which implies that inspiration comes from the inside. If this is true then my job as a coach and trainer is to “be inspired” from the inside with the intention of “being inspirational” on the outside.

When I think about the people who have provided inspiration for me, too numerous to list, I very quickly conclude the reason they inspired me is because they were first inspired themselves. They have an internal energy and motivation that comes from a desire to learn, grow, improve and develop, soaking up new information and insights and sharing these with those around them.

If then, my purpose is to inspire others; I must first “Be Inspired”. If I choose this path of service to support people in living a fulfilled and happy life, create success in their career or business, relationships, health and leisure, personal growth and contribution, my responsibility to them is to be inspired myself.

So, when I am “looking for inspiration” which is a phrase I find myself using often when I am writing or preparing for a coaching or training session, I might first look inside, perhaps through meditation or simple quiet reflection, and search for where I am inspired. It is no surprise therefore that when I look back, some of my most interesting insights have come whilst meditating or being around people who are themselves inspired in some way.

This then serves to reinforce the point that we should indeed surround ourselves with people who have a positive impact on us, who inspire us in some way.

So, my invitation is simply this: Consider who you surround yourself with in your day to day life. Are they inspired? Do they provide you with inspiration? If not, what steps might you take to provide that inspiration in your life?

Be Inspired!