Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let It Go!

As we rush/stagger/grind/step towards the end of the year, many of us reflect on what was and what may be. While I encourage this (not just once a year, but every quarter/month/week - as best you can), it seems that "resolutions" - regardless of when they occur, rarely last. On average, only 15% of those who make New Year's resolutions keep them for at least 30 days. What a shame!

Part of the problem most have with adopting new behaviors is that they are still embedded in the rut of old habits (muscle memory and/or mental hang-ups.) Here's the key that all successful professionals know: Before you can successfully follow a new path, you have to stop walking the old, less-effective path. In other words: what keeps us from adopting effective new habits is INeffective old habits.

Japanese culture has some interesting rituals for the transition between one year and the next. For example, many hold "ending of the year parties" (called "bounenkai" - or "forget the year"), where they ceremoniously cut ties with anything holding them back from growing/improving for the upcoming year. Another tradition is called "osoji", where everyone deep cleans their homes, offices, and schools to literally begin the new year with a "clean slate". While I don't follow these practices, I do appreciate the acknowledging of how we must create closure for one chapter before we can successfully begin a new chapter.

So, as you begin making plans for your next chapter, please consider what you need to STOP doing - or let go of - BEFOREHAND. Once you've confronted that detrimental anchor, then and only then will you be free to sail forward towards whatever exciting new adventure you have in your heart.

One final word of encouragement: If you're not living the life of your dreams, then why not? When are you planning to live your unique purpose? No matter where you are today, the very best time to begin is NOW. Don't wait another day. No more settling. Take the first few steps and you will begin to see an amazing shift in momentum toward the lifestyle you've always wanted.

You will never regret it, I promise. I can guarantee you the inevitable: you'll regret not starting sooner if you wait.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Alternative To Change

If you don't like change, I understand. But you're going to like mediocrity a WHOLE lot less.

The real problem with change is, despite what many claim, it is NOT always good. In the real world, we've all been burned by change at one time. So, what's the alternative? Don't focus on change - focus on improvement!

Here's the TRUTH about legitimate improvement in your life:

1. The definition of "improved" is determined by YOU.
2. Improvement, by definition, must be different...but different in YOUR direction!

Bottom line: All improvement requires change, but not all change is an improvement.

Are you clear about what you want that is different/better? If not, invest some time to figure that out. (Today would be good.)

Are you willing to take action and DO what is required to create that improvement? If not, then prepare yourself for a life of pain and disappointment. Regardless of what all those foolish Secret/Name It, Claim It fad philosophies claim, it doesn't happen by magic...and no one will do it for you. (The good news? The effort is worth it. Really!)

Here's an interesting factoid to consider: Have you noticed that only about 5% of people who make New Year's resolutions see them come to fruition? What percentage of people do you consider to be truly successful in life? About 5%? Do you think there's a connection? I believe in both cases, it's simply because the successful people are clear about what they want/what direction to move in order to improve, AND they invest the required effort to achieve their goals. That's not always fun or sexy, but it works at Disney and other world-class companies, consistently. (Yes, ANYone can be successful!)

Are you setting the stage for an improved new year? If not, why not?

How will 2011 be different/better than 2010 for you? What will YOU do differently/better to actually make your goals a reality this time? (Hint: The best time to start is NOW!)

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Facebook Versus Face Time

A key to both business and personal success is how well we can really connect with others. What works best to really connect with someone: Meeting in person? Calling them? Talking to them? Talking with them? Mailing them? Emailing them? Texting data/information? Sharing opinions? Sharing feelings? Sharing secrets?? The options continue to grow!

Obviously, the start of the answer is appropriately connecting using whatever resources are available. At Disney, we asked WHY we wanted to connect to determine the best option. Best long-term solution? Quality rather than quantity. And no, they are not mutually exclusive - you can have both!

Today, much is being discussed about the varying forms of social media: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. There's nothing wrong with those tools as long as they are each considered as only a part of your efforts to truly connect.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in being so focused on a task that we forget that how the task is done is just as (many say even more) important. Appropriately including your personality in the sharing of information is what makes all the difference. After all, if there's no "you" in the interaction, then they could've gotten the information from some inanimate computer or something. "You" are not required. If that isn't unsettling, it should be.

Think about any recent interaction you've had. Here's a simple test: After the interaction, did the person know more about you, understand more clearly how you are aligned, or like you/respect you more than when they started the interaction? If not, it was probably not engaging. "You" added no special value. Your role could have been automated...and will be - unless you do something about it.

Want to improve? Here's a challenge for you: Think about the people you want to really connect with. What access methods (face-to-face, phone, email, text, social media, etc.) do they value? [Tip: Use those methods] The next time you have the opportunity, purposefully ask questions about potential ways your interests overlap. Discuss common opinions and feelings about issues that are relevant. Focus on how you interact and make sure it engages the other person.

Then watch how your connection dramatically improves.

Then watch how your business improves!

Think about it. But more importantly do something about!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cutting Through The Fog Of The Unknown

Coming to the end of one year and the beginning of another brings to mind "the future". Most of us do some sort of business forecasting (even if it is informal) to determine how we want to position ourselves to be as successful as possible in the coming year.

Forecasting your future is complicated by the many unknowns - after all, the future hasn't happened yet. However, being brutally honest about your current reality can serve as a good launching point for the near-term future. Here are a few "behind-the-scenes" questions we explored at Disney that you may want to consider:
  • What's really happening in the world? What trends/needs are becoming obvious and likely to be long versus short term?
  • What different/better offerings are missing that your target market values?
  • What are your (potential?) capabilities that could service/take advantage of those trends?
  • Do you have the team and knowledge in place that can service those developing trends/needs?
  • Do you have or can you find the resources to service those developing trends/needs?
  • Are you willing to make the effort to position yourself and execute the actions required?
Connect these dots and you will begin to clear the fog (and thus the fear) of the unknown. Rather than only doing this once a year, consider doing this every 3 months - or even more often, if your work dynamics call for it. The more you attend to the reality of your situation, the easier it is to influence it.

Having the discipline to make time beforehand to strategically explore these issues and then the assertive drive to execute your plan will determine your results. Don't wait until New Years to make the traditional "resolutions". The only way to get a jump on your competition is to start before they do.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!