Tuesday, 29 July 2008

What do you stand for?

I received an email this morning from my coach in Sydney and it literally stopped me in my tracks. It contained a story which I decided to share with you a little further below.

We talk about taking 100% responsibility for our lives. We say that the way we feel, the results we get, the responses we get from others around us, is all a choice. We discuss getting out of the blame game and creating the life we want and the goals we desire.

The story simply had me consider “what do I choose to stand for?” regardless of what I have achieved yet, or may want to achieve in the future, despite the successes I have created or the feedback I have used when outcomes have been “unexpected”.

Many people in business try and sell what they have to sell without consideration for what people actually need or want. Some businesses “go for the close” before asking their customers “what do you need?” or “how can I help you?” Occasionally businesses will force their product or service on someone and they may even buy, once.

Many businesses are so focused on their “competition” they forget to see how they can add value to their own customers. They are constantly looking for the opportunity to “beat the competition” rather than look to improve what they do for benefit of being better than they themselves are right now. Perhaps the only competition we have in business is ourselves?

But what do these businesses stand for? What do you stand for in your business, your life?

This story may help…Would you have made the same choice?

Two Choices

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection.Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?'

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!Run to first!'

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team, who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!‘Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

And the foot note that came with this story:

We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate. The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the 'appropriate' ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference.We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the 'natural order of things.'

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

You now have two choices: 1. Delete 2. Forward

May your day, be a Shay Day.

I receive many stories and video clips every day, many if which will invite the reader to forward it to other people. For me, my choice is to ignore that invitation as I, like you no doubt, don’t want to add to people’s inbox just for the sake of it.

Today however, I made a choice. This choice is based simply on the question I asked at the top of this article “what do I choose to stand for?”

Imagine a business world where people made choices like the baseball team in the story. Imagine a business world where everyone truly wanted to support each other to be successful rather than just “cut each other’s throats” for the sake of the quick sale. Imagine a business world that believed in “win/win” in the true spirit of the principle so well described by Stephen Covey in his book. Imagine your business if everyone you encountered tried to help you be successful and you in turn tried to help them.

Would you prefer to go to work each day knowing that everyone you meet wants to help and support you to win, or do you prefer the cut throat competitive world of mistrust and deviousness that results in win/lose or lose/win?

So ultimately, you really do have a choice and my success tip this week is simply this:

Ask yourself, “What do I choose to stand for?”

I trust you do indeed have a “Shay day” ;o)

If you want to know more about how leadership coaching and training can help you improve your results in business we will be happy to discuss this with you. Contact us here.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

See what you want, get what you see

It’s been a big week!...or more precisely ten days. I was at a leadership training event the weekend before last during which we studied some of the world’s most influential leaders, past and present; Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa. I was inspired by the vision of these people, a clear unrelenting energy towards what they wanted. They could see a different world; a world of equality and understanding; a world of peace and forgiveness; a world where people need not be poor or mistreated; a world where one person could really make a difference if they stayed true to their purpose.

Great leaders have a vision. Great leaders know what they want. Great leaders do whatever it takes to make their dreams a reality. They inspire people around them. They motivate and excite. They stand up for what they believe to be right. They take action and they engage people to do the same. King, Mandela and Mother Theresa did all of these things and they achieved so much.

We learnt to think big, as great leaders think. We learnt to get out of our own way, as great leaders do. We learnt that the only thing stopping us be, do, have or create the success we wanted was our own limited thinking, beliefs and boundaries we had created. We learnt that we had so much more to offer, if we chose to step up and be real.

Whilst reflecting on the learnings, and there were so many more than just these few, I was reminded of an “education slot” a friend of mine had delivered at a recent meeting I attended in which he had identified his 11 top tips for success in business.

Many of his tips relate to being a great leader in business and whilst we all may not wish to be so public in our demonstration of leadership as those world leaders we studied in Dublin, it is my belief that great businesses are run by great leaders.

So this week’s Success Tips, courtesy of Jeremy Cruiks (and my interpretation of his meaning), are:

Have clear objectives and a business plan – Get clear about where you want to be and plan how and what needs to happen to get you there

Employ the right staff – Create the right support team and resources around you and they will help you achieve what you want

Make it easy for the staff to do the right thing – Create systems, processes and provide training and development opportunities for everyone so that they feel valued, respected and have influence in the success

Do even the small things well – Attention to detail is vital, even the little things

Keep your promises – Be honest and act with integrity. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.

Use experts when you need to – Empower others and relinquish control when appropriate. Outsource to those who are expert in their respective fields. 1+1 = 11; the team is greater than any individual.

Create a positive company culture – Get clear about why you exist, your purpose, vision, mission, and create standards that everyone lives up to.

Know your figures – Keep your finger on the financial pulse.

Turnover is ego, profit is king – Keep your keenest eye on the margins and profitability. Manage costs carefully and invest wisely in those things that can provide a measurable return on that investment, e.g. training and marketing.

Diversify – too specialised, too exposed – Be open to the possibilities and don’t get too emotionally attached to one product or service.

Remember cash flow – Keep on top of credit control and manage your accounts well.

So, successful businesses are created by great leaders. Great leaders are those that inspire others through their absolute determination so that they see what they want and get what they see!

Jeremy Cruiks is an Independent Financial Advisor and partner of Pensions, Mortgages and More. According to Jeremy and his team: “Independent financial advice means having an advisor acting for YOUR interests and one who can access products from the whole of the available market. Experience is also invaluable when dealing with mortgage lenders, insurance companies and investment companies. As IFAs we must give you the most suitable advice given your own set of circumstances”

If you want to know more about how leadership coaching and training can help you improve your results in business we will be happy to discuss this with you. Contact us here.

Getting yourself out of a rut

I was asked a question through one of our recent AskSimonSmith.com free teleseminars “How do you get yourself out of a rut?”

Not an easy question to answer because of course it really does depend on the context of “the rut”. However, I came across the question again recently and it reminded me of a story told to me some years ago about a guy who had got himself so badly in debt that life literally didn’t seem worth living. It seems topical right now, given all the negative news we are exposed to almost every day, that the world is going into recession, fuel prices are higher than they have ever been, food costs are soaring, the credit crunch is biting, and life is becoming harder and harder.

This guy had a good job, a nice house, company car, regular holidays, spent time in the pub with his friends, had a supportive family around him, and yet still managed to spend more than he earned. His family wanted more material things around them and he wanted to be able to provide for them. His friends invited him to social events and he didn’t want to miss out. Credit card companies and banks offered him more and more money to provide him with what were essentially luxuries, and he took them up on their offers and continued to spend. Life was great so to speak.

Unfortunately, it became increasingly obvious that he was in fact living beyond his means and before long the payments were becoming a burden and there was no longer any spare money for the things that the family had become used to. He began to worry about how he could keep providing for himself and his family in the same way he had previously. The more he worried, the worse it got.

Eventually it got to the stage where he had no choice but to own up to the situation he found himself in, and talk to his family. He had been so wrapped up in the problem that he found himself considering suicide so that the insurance would settle everything and his family would get what they needed, or wanted at least. However, he realised that he simply had to own up to the reality of the situation and talk it through with those who were most important to him. The relief he felt was enormous and unsurprisingly, in hindsight anyway, his family remained absolutely supportive and helped him see that there were indeed options available to him.

Through talking to his family, he was able to see that there were alternatives and life could continue, albeit things would have to change. His attitude began to shift and he became more positive and resourceful. He calculated the reality of his financial situation and wrote letters to the credit card companies and the banks. He was honest with himself about what was possible and then was honest with his creditors. Some of them resisted at first but when they realised that they had a genuine offer on the table they relented and allowed him to make payments according to his plan. His family continued to support him because they realised they could help. The light at the end of the tunnel was dim, but it was definitely there.

It took time, it took patience, but in the end he got out of his rut and he and his family looked forward to a much more fulfilling and exciting life together. They had got through “the worst” and were moving on “for better” as they had vowed together some years before.

This guy’s “rut” was created because he had bottled everything up and had not been honest with himself or his family. He had, as they say, buried his head in the sand, in the hope that things would go away. In fact, his solution was closer to him than he had realised, and just by being honest and having a conversation he was able to see that options were actually available to him. Life became easier and a future of possibilities was discovered.

So this week’s Success Tips are:

Be honest with yourself and with others – by being honest opportunities become clearer and the “burden” is relieved.

Communicate with people around you – if it is simply too much of a stretch to talk to those close to you at first, talk to a friend, coach or mastermind buddy.

Get out of the problem – ask yourself “what is the problem not?”

And a bonus tip not drawn from the story told to me; remove negative media from your life. The current economic climate may not seem all that rosy but the media do nothing to help the situation. We have a choice about how we feel. Don’t allow others to influence the positive choices you can make for yourself. In simple terms, only allow positive influences and people in your life. Turn the TV and the radio off when the “news” comes on. Read positive material. Choose positive friends.

Some people will say that by removing all the negativity from our lives, we are simply hiding from reality. I maintain that the truth is just an interpretation of events or circumstances. My truth is that life can be as positive as we want to make it, we really do have a choice how we feel!

If you want to know more about how coaching and masterminding can help you improve your results in business and in life in general we will be happy to discuss this with you. Contact us here

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A Day for Success - Are you ready to unlock the power within YOU?

A message from my very good friend Martin Laschkolnig:


I know that you have been thinking about how to get better results…we all do. So the question “did you ever think about how to improve things" would be an insult to your intelligence and your life experience, so I won’t ask.

But let me ask you one thing:

Do you think that it’s possible to double your income and your time off within two years or less?

Sounds too good to be true? Sounds impossible? Sounds like: “well perhaps, but not in my situation”?

What would life be like if it were true? What if we could show you a way to do just that – no matter what industry you are in or what your business or situation is like?

Well, I’m not babbling – I learned from the best and I am honoured to be his exclusive European partner: Jack Canfield – America’s Success Coach, as featured in The Secret, author of The Success Principles and co-author with Mark Victor Hansen of the book phenomenon Chicken Soup for the Soul with more than 120 million copies in print across the world.

I did not only learn from Jack, I also applied what I learnt and did exactly that last year…doubled my profit and my time off!

Check out on the next page what you could learn and join Simon and I on 26th September in Belfast – and you can do the same (well, only if you want to…)

To your Success – with my best wishes

Martin Laschkolnig

On 27th September you will discover how to:

- Identify what you really want

- Motivate yourself to not only get started but complete what you start, so you actually get the rewards you want

- Identify what is most important to you and live a life of passion

- Create success habits and integrate them into your life forever

- Stay focused on your “core genius” and use that to raise your game

- See what you want and get what you see

- Identify your unique purpose in life

- Handle setbacks and “failure” to your advantage and make you all the more powerful

Get practical strategies and techniques to:

- Stop settling for second best, saying “no” so that you can say “yes” to success

- Identify when you perform at your peak and how to manage your time for high performance results

- Eliminate limiting beliefs and decisions and silence your inner critic

- Build your confidence and stay resourceful in any situation

- Reduce stress, frustration and other negative emotions within minutes

Plus so much more…

Book now and join us on this special day and begin the life you always wanted to live!

Your investment:

Regular: Booked and paid for after 15th August £197.00

Early bird: Book and pay for before 15th August £147.00(save £50!)

Super Saver Offer:

Bring a partner or buddy: just £97.00 (save £100!)

Book now and save £50 off the normal price. Book a partner or friend at the same time and save a further £100!

Lunch and refreshments included.