Get On Your Feet

Feet Floor

“Get on your feet. Get up and make it happen.”

Gloria Estefan’s timeless anthem of action and forward motion recently played from my Galaxy. A buddy of mine, in an attempt to get me pumped up for my day, selected that little classic to get me up and at ’em. (After all, sometimes the motivator needs some motivation.) They did the trick that day and I found that song bouncing around my grey matter for the rest of the day.

This morning I faced a slight dilemma. I’ve been going back to the gym, having recently made the decision to pay more attention to my health and make some necessary changes for the better. After a weekend off from the gym, there was one thing on my mind as my alarm music attempted to rouse myself from my sleep:

“No. This bed is soooo comfortable. Just enjoy it for awhile longer. Go ahead, you’ll make it up tomorrow.”

Choices. They tend to get us into trouble. Given the choice of effort or the path of least resistance, we unfortunately tend to gravitate towards the latte. However, this morning I had this thought that hit the override switch on my near choice selection to return to slumber.

“Get on your feet!”

No, it wasn’t Gloria singing to me. Rather, my mind was yelling at me, giving me it’s best barbaric yawlp to motivate me to sit up, put my feet on the floor, get vertical, and begin forward motion. And from there, it was on. Hit the gym, got my sweat on, and left with the feeling of accomplishment that generally comes with a good workout. Mission accomplished.

This same thing applies to life in general. Nothing happens until you get up and get going. Whether it’s in business, education, relationships, spirituality…absolutely nothing can come about with inactivity. When you’re faced with the choice between the proverbial (or actual) snooze alarm and forward motion, your success is contingent on forward motion. Don’t let opportunity pass you by.

QUESTION: What opportunities have you missed out on because you hit the snooze button rather than getting up and moving forward?

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How a 12 Year Old Sees Failure

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I had a conversation this evening with my fiancee’s 12-year old while on our drive home.  We talked about school and we talked about Doctor Who (our household’s latest obsession).  He’s the creative sort that likes to imagine and create, and he’s pretty sharp.  As a trainer at heart, I relish “teaching moments,” so I posed the question:

“Why is failure a good thing?”

Without missing a beat came his answer:

“Because that’s how you know where you have to improve and do better.”

My mind began to immediately race.  Was this something I had shared with him at a previous time, or was this wisdom he picked up elsewhere.  I decided to set my ego aside and bask in the fact that this young kid had grasped the concept that has escaped most adults.

We tend to believe that failure is both fatal and final; that it is something to be feared and is the proof of flaws within ourselves.  The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.   Failure is the world’s built-in mechanism to tell us that something didn’t go right.  The problem for most is that we tend to stop the movie there and shut it off, rather than to rewind and review what went wrong and the to apply critical thinking into what adjustments can be made so that next time it’ll go right.

So as we continued down the road, I pointed out the light bulbs on the buildings and street lights around us.  I asked the boy if he knew how many times it took Edison to invent the light bulb.

“About one thousand.”  He, at least, knew how the story went.

So I ask you this: which will you do when confronted with the notion that something didn’t go as planned.  Will you simply stop the story, or will you rewind and review?

QUESTION: How do you face failure and setbacks?  What could you do differently or better?  Please reply in a comment below.

Resolution…Or Goal?

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Right about this time of year, many folks around the country (if not the world) form one or more “New Year’s Resolutions” to accomplish something or things in the coming year.

I’m going to eat better and lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking.

I’m going to go to church more often.

I’m going to…(insert well-meaning objective here).

You’ve done them.  I’ve done them.  It’s almost a ritual in our society.  Yet for as many people who actually make them, only 8% are considered successful in achieving their resolutions (according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, December 2012).  Is this fairly low success rate due to lack of commitment?  Maybe, but I’d also like to offer that another reason for such a ridiculous success rate is that people are creating resolutions that are merely great ideas (if not wishes), rather than a concerted, concrete goal to achieve in the coming year.

Rather than create another resolution that, statistically, you’ll most probably bomb on in the next 30 days, try creating a SMART Goal for yourself.  SMART is an acronym that goes something like this:

S – Specific.  Give it some thought…what do you actually, really want to achieve?  Losing weight, ending a bad habit or creating a new, positive habit?  Take a trip to your dream destination?  Throw the most amazing birthday party of your life?  Those are all things you could do, but the first step is to figure out exactly what you want to do.

M – Measureable.  You must have a quantitative measure to know if your goal is a success.  I want to lose weight is not enough, because with that all you have to do is lose an ounce and you’ve technically achieved your goal.  A better goal would say I want to lose 30 pounds.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

A – Attainable.  I had an old boss who used to tell me about my wide-eyed, bushy-tailed goals, “Scott, no ‘pie in the sky’ goals.  You’re setting yourself up for failure.”  He wasn’t being a pessimist…he had just had the experience and worked with enough guys like myself at the time to know that I was shooting myself in the foot.  What’s the point of setting a goal that you can’t reach.  Yes, I’m all for creating stretch goals and really having to work to achieve something truly worth the result.  But don’t put your goal so far out of reach that you end up missing it and discouraging yourself.  I want to lose 30 pounds in the next 30 days. Morale fail.

R – Relevant.  The goal ultimately has to matter to you in some way, shape, or form.  You have to find some kind of benefit to help you realize that the juice was worth the squeeze (as it were).  Whether your success is tangible or intangible, you need to be able to savor the thrill of victory…or the sting of agony if you miss it.  Losing 30 pounds carries all sort of health benefits to me, so it’s very relevant.

T – Timely.  Your goals must have some kind of deadline attached.  I want to lose 30 pounds is a great start, but it lacks any kind of finish line. (Otherwise, if I attain it in 30 years, then technically I’ve succeeded…but let’s face it, if you need to lose 30 pounds, then 30 years probably isn’t a realistic timeframe.)  However, if you say I want to lose 30 pounds in the next six months, then you’re onto something.

One more thing I want to add that’s not a part of this equation…find yourself an accountability partner to keep you honest and on-track to achieve your goals.  Very few of us possesses the discipline to make it happen on our own.  Find someone you can check in with maybe weekly or every other week, and give them permission to ask you the tough questions about your progress.  You just might find yourself crossing the finish line with your New Year’s SMART Goals in 2013.

QUESTION:  What are your SMART Goals for 2013?  Respond in a comment below.

The Key to Overcoming Setbacks and Failure

How many times have you fallen off the wagon, hitting the dirt face-first and ended up with a mouth full of asphalt?  Did you stay down…or did you get up?  The choice is up to you.  Check out my NEW video blog on YouTube to find out when you know you’ve failed.  (Simply click the photo below and you’re there!)

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QUESTION:  How do you deal with adversity?  Reply in a comment below.

Where’s the Passion?

Hands in pockets.  Shoulders slumped.  Expressionless face.  Closed body language.  Basically, everything about these salespeople was screaming, “If you want to buy my product, that’s fine.  If you don’t that’s fine, too.  Whatever, just follow me on my tour as I tell you stuff.”

Watching these people was a terribly underwhelming experience.  Each and every single sales rep from this company was missing a key ingredient from their sales schtick (I couldn’t quite tell if they were asking questions and matching needs with solutions).  That one ingredient is this…

Where’s the passion?  I’ve written about this idea before, but then I see it happen again and again wherever I go.  Lack of passion is a plague and it’s not showing much, if any, signs of improving.  I’ve heard it suggested a couple of times recently that wages and salary caps are to blame.  (Which, of course, begs the question, At what salary can we expect excellent customer service and effort?)  Lack of incentive might also be a cuplrit (in this economic climate, however, the primary incentive should be receiving a steady paycheck).  I have a different theory personally.

Management.  Pure and simple.

Managers, if you want passionate sales and customer service reps (or all team members in general), you need to do three things:

1.)  Train the passion.  Granted, I can’t give somebody passion as if it’s a Christmas present (though I wish I could).  But I can show my team how to express passion in two words: body language.  Open posture and gestures.  Smiles on faces.  “Yes” phrases instead of “no” phrases.  Genuine interest in a prospective or current client’s questions, and wanting to let them do most of the talking.  Train your team on expressing passion…and you could see an uptick in your closing ratios.

2.)  Foster the passion.  Maybe you can’t pay higher salaries or fat bonuses.  (Of course, if your sales team closed more sales, this might not be an issue.)  But you can do more to encourage people to get jacked up on their jobs.  Contests, incentives (doesn’t always have to be about more money…find your team’s hot buttons and get creative), and other morale boosters can get your team excited about their jobs and give them more reason to come into work each day.  Share your vision, your goals, and how your team members contribute to the success of the company.  Try some transparency and trust that they’ll catch on to what matters.

3.)  Model the passion.  It starts at the top.  There isn’t a manager on the face of the planet who could possibly expect his or her employees to have passion for their work if they, themselves, don’t personally model it.  I tell middle and frontline managers to suck it up and show their direct reports their own passion for their work and company, even if the higher ups don’t do likewise.  But upper level managers, if you’re reading this, believe this to be true…if you’re not doing it, don’t expect your team to do it, either.  They’re watching you and will resent you if you don’t practice your preach.  You want them to model passion?  You be the first to model it.

If your team is currently lacking in the passion department, there is no easy fix or turnaround.  But you can right the course of your vessel if it’s off by following these three principals.  It’ll take some time, but the results will be noticeable.  And profitable.

QUESTION:  How can you best model passion for your team (regardless of your position in the company)?

Mediocrity…Be Gone

I don’t remember a whole lot about his class, but I remember two things about my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Langelle.  First was that his roots were from Nova Scotia, Canada.  And second, he had a saying that he shared fairly frequently in class (hence the reason it has stuck with me some ___ years later) – “Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity.”

Mediocrity by its very nature deals with the ordinary, the average, and at the very least the status quo.  Mediocrity determines that I go half-way on the effort, I go lukewarm on the intensity, and I don’t put forth my very best effort in my professional and person life.  Mediocrity is the antithesis of passion; it is the poison in today’s society that keeps people from truly excelling and achieving everything they were meant to achieve.

Some people are so driven to achieve that mediocrity is a foreign word.  But for the majority of people, mediocrity is a frequent obstacle that they’d like nothing more than to get around.  I would submit to you that there are three ways to kill mediocrity in your life:

1.) Find your passion.  There’s nothing worse than trying to hack away at something in life for which you have absolutely no desire, drive, or ambition to make happen.  Find what drives and motivates you, and pour your creative energies into it.  Mediocrity tends to arise as a result of the mundane…counter it with that which ignites your passion.

2.)  Share your passion.  Nothing keeps the fire going more than continuously adding fuel.  One way to do that is to share your vision and drive with those around you.  You have to be careful about and selective of whom you share this with – there are people who will tell you to get your head out of the clouds, get realistic, or otherwise try to extinguish your passion.  You need a support system to keep you ignited and motivated.  Find that valuable few and keep them posted.  If they have your back, they won’t let you even remotely consider mediocrity.

3.)  Cultivate and grow your passion.Once you discover what your passion is and share the vision with others, then move forward with developing yourself with that passion and seeing it through to fulfillment.  Whether it be starting a new business, completing a project, or exploring a hobby, put your heart and soul into it and see where it can grow.  Devotion equals passion.  When you’re devoted to your passion, mediocrity will have no room to take root.

If you follow these three basic concepts, mediocrity will be just a memory and passion will be the name of the game.

QUESTION:  How do  you beat back mediocrity from your own life?  Share with us in a comment below.