When I was six, Columbia Pictures released the original Karate Kid movie. I loved it, and used my newly learned karate skills to punish the neighbors fence. (oops!)
I now have a six- year-old. The Karate Kid has been on my mind this week. (yikes)
I started playing hockey my freshman year high school. I was terrible. I could barely stand. I spent more time crashing over the boards than celebrating goals. I can’t even remember my first goal, probably an accidental redirection off my stick, between my legs.
But I do remember my first coach. Bill Miller. He was a great guy. Loved hockey, loved the thrill of victory, but mostly loved seeing the development of hockey players.
My phone rings and I frown. “Not him!” Does this ever happen to you? True story, this just happened to me. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling the way that I was. I like the caller, we get along very well and have a lot of similar interests, but for some reason, I felt an urge to not pick up the phone. How do you say “no” with respect?
In retrospect, it wasn’t him, it was his requests. Every time we talk he has something he “needs” my help on. And because I like and respect him, I have a hard time (ok impossible time) saying “no”; everything from relationship advice and moving furniture to last minute rides and finishing projects at work.
Boundaries are tricky aren’t they?
Even when you determine that saying “no” is the right decision, it still requires actually saying “no”. How do we make saying “no” a little bit easier?
11 steps to softening the “no”:
Get to know your “yes”- Before you can get really good at declining offers you need to understand what you want to say “yes” to. What are the things in your life that take priority and then say “yes” to those first. Otherwise you may end up saying “no” them by default.
Practice- The first time you say “no” you may find it difficult, but as you work on it and gain more experience it will become easier. Start with small inconsequential requests and move on to larger requests as you develop.
Listen to the request fully and respectfully- Give the person making the request the opportunity to fully articulate the need.
Pause before responding to any request- Take a few moments to think about what is being asked and evaluate it against your other commitments and responsibilities. Determine if it is a “should” or a “could”. I have a friend who never agrees to anything immediately when asked. Her response is always “let me check on a few things and get back to you”. This gives her the opportunity to fully vet each request and when she does accept a request she is fully committed.
Simply say “no” (or as simply as possible)- When you determine that you cannot accept a request respond with a clear decline. Do not try to soften the response by being vague or cryptic. Either you can or you cannot do what is requested.
Recognize your time is your time and it is valuable- Each request is taking something from you, your time, and that has value to it. Know your priorities and what you can realistically accept.
When appropriate give a brief reason for declining- It is important to be honest and when appropriate you can share why you are unable to accept the request. People will respect your directness.
But don’t feel obligated to explain- You are in control of your life and your reasons for declining are your own. You do not need to justify or be confrontational when you decline.
Script it out- When you know a specific unrealistic request is coming you can prepare by writing out a response ahead of time. Or you can respond to a request through email or text which will give you a chance to fine tune and wordsmith your response.
Have alternatives- A great way to decline a request is to couple that “no” with alternative options. Maybe you cannot help but could Sally?
Finally, stay firm- Once you have made a decision stand your ground and stay committed. A good decision made after deliberation shouldn’t be changed in the heat of the moment.
Whatever steps you choose and use know that you are making a decision for yourself to prioritize what is important to you. Nobody has control or power over that. Say “no”…firmly, frequently and with respect.
If you read last week’s blog post than you already know about the fishing, the fireworks, the creek, the mud, the upset dad. My weeklong trip to Northern Saskatchewan wasn’t as relaxing as the brochure promised.
Thankfully, the truck came out, we got it cleaned up and we actually caught some pretty decent fish. If you didn’t read it you can here.
But, the story can’t end there.
Because, just like our goals, even after we get back on track, there can be detours, and there usually are. It is not all smooth sailing to goal success, right?
After a week of fishing, it was time to drive back home. A short 24-hour jaunt. The group split into three vehicles, me driving the now famous mud truck filled with the young folks. The “adults” took the other cars.
The plan was a direct trip back, all 24 hours, stopping only for gas. I got out ahead of the group, but thought I was in the back. Uh-oh. I sped up little by little trying to catch up to the group behind me.
Until… I ran out of gas.
Fortunately, I found the only freeway ramp inside 20 miles and coasted right up to the gas pump.
Unfortunately, it was 5:30am, the gas station was closed, and the folks with money, cash and credit cards, were not there.
Twice within a week I found myself in trouble. The difference was I didn’t cause this diversion.
Sometimes this happens in our goals. We handle and account for all the distractions and diversions of our own creation, but sometimes things just happen beyond our control and then, Bam! We are back off track. What do we do now?
Luck, miracles, and a helping hand.
Somehow, the adult’s truck, the one I thought was ahead of us, pulled to the side of the freeway to wait. You see, they also thought we were behind them; hey, it was o’ dark 30 give us a break. They pulled over to let us catch up knowing we would be needing gas, as were they.
We ran up, met them, got the credit card, filled the tank and made it home. The end. (Of this story.)
When it comes to goals, and we find that difficult times arise, I find the best way to get through the distraction is enlist the support of a helping hand.
Without the credit card it would have been impossible for us to complete the journey.
Likewise, without mentors, masterminds and accountability it is impossible for us to make it through to the end of our goals. We can try to make it on our own, but the reality is most obstacles are easier to overcome with assistance. Mentors can take us to higher levels FASTER than we can go without them.
Look at every famous athlete: performance coach, every successful actor: director, every popular singer/performer: voice coach, and every successful CEO: mentor. Coaching, mentoring, mastermind groups and accountability partners are imperative to your successful journey.
If you don’t have someone holding you accountable to your goals, assisting you when you run out of gas, energy/motivation, or mentoring you through tough times, you need to.
Promise: Nothing in your business and life will have a more immediate impact on your success or a larger ROI than working with a coach.
Do you ever feel like you are just spinning your wheels? You set a goal, you have some big plans, you start down the road and then BAM! Sidetracked, or worse…. stuck.
The mud stuck truck.
A few years back, I went fishing up in Northern Saskatchewan with my dad. I make it sound like I am a big fisherman, I am not. I am terrible, impatient, loud and I bore easily. But a week away from the city would do me well so I went.
The group we went with are of opposite me. They love fishing, rising early, paddling out and sitting in silence for hours. It didn’t take long for me to get bored.
So, I came up with a win-win. I’d take the truck, drive the 50 miles back to town and get some milk and cereal for breakfast. They would sit silently and fish; win-win. So, I took off, on my own, in to town.
I didn’t make it. I got distracted.
Heading down the highway I saw a sign directing me to a firework factory (angels might have been singing in silhouette over the sign). I couldn’t pass it up. So, off I went in search of explosives. As I went deeper into the surrounding forest, I was faced with an adventure; if you define adventure as what you get into when not doing what you’re supposed to.
The trail took a sharp right and headed down the steep side of a hill. A little leftover rain made the road muddy and I slid to the bottom. Hello little stream. Well, it looked little.
As I slid into the stream, my truck, actually my dad’s truck, sunk about a foot deep. I gave it some gas and lost another foot. Out of frustration I gassed it again and found water at the bottom of my doors. I was really in trouble.
Do you ever find yourself in a similar situation in life?
You set a goal: lose weight, get a date, start your business, write a book or close a new deal; then set off towards completion, excited and ready.
But along the way something seemingly better jumps out, pizza, Netflix, karaoke night?
And Bam! Sidetracked and stuck in a stream.
Out of frustration you spin your wheels: buy new workout shoes, buy a book writing class, or rewrite your goals.
Eventually you find yourself stuck, up to your doors, no closer to your goal and lost. You feel alone, cutoff or worse, a failure.
What do you do?
First, recognize what got you off path. Acknowledge. What is your “firework factory”? The reality is, the road to success is loaded with enticing diversions. The road to success is hard, fireworks are awesome and that is how it begins.
The first step to getting, and staying, on track is to know the detours, diversions and temptations. Recognize what obstacles you face.
After realizing that spinning my tires was…. well, spinning my tires and getting me more stuck, I had to come up with a plan.
I jumped out into the muddy creek and started digging out each wheel. Why didn’t I call for help? I was way out in the forest in Northern Saskatchewan. It was just me and the chipmunks.
After digging out I stuffed branches, leaves, and grass from the creek back into the holes. I climbed back into the truck, put it in neutral, revved and popped the clutch. I moved about a foot, repeated, and slowly crawled through the creek.
Just as darkness began to settle, covered head to foot in mud, both me and the truck, and exhausted, I reached the solid side and got out.
It was too late, and I was too tired, to head to town so I just returned to the lake and admitted my mistake.
What did I learn and how can you apply it to your goals.
9 strategies to get back on track
Recognize you are off path. The first step always involves admitting to yourself that you have a problem J
You can’t panic: You may be way out of cell range and all alone but you need to keep a handle on it emotionally. It hurts to get off track from your goals. The guilt, the embarrassment, the wasted hours. But panicking does not help, it further hurts.
Hard work: Look, we all get off course, and the further off you get, the harder it is to get back on. If you really want to succeed you must put in the time. And sometimes that means digging out your wheels in the mud and muck. Get back on track with your goals by putting in the time to catch up to where you should be.
Creativity: Stuffing branches and leaves under the tires for traction and then popping the clutch wasn’t in any manual. In fact, most auto folks would recommend against it. But I was desperate, and desperate times call for creative measures; you like how I did that? Look at your goals and what caused you to veer off. Can you think of a creative way to stay excited and get back on track?
Give it some gas: When I pushed the gas pedal, prior to the creative stick stuffing solution, I just sunk deeper. When we get off track and we keep spinning our wheels we get more stuck. But if you employ the strategies of hard work and creative solutions- AND THEN give it some gas. Pop! You are out and back on track.
Never give up: Whether you are stuck in the mud or stuck on a goal you are not a failure and you are not irreversibly off course UNTIL you give up. The first dig, stuff, pop clutch circuit got me a foot, the second a yard and finally after a few tries I was back on course. Your first attempt to reestablish your goal may not work perfectly. KEEP AT IT!!
Get lucky: Luck is not just when preparation meets opportunity. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity, combined with your effort and creativity. When you put in the effort required, luck will be in your favor more time than not. Luck is something we recognize in the rearview. After a little time to reflect we wonder how we did it. We did it because we prepared, we worked hard and the opportunity presented.
Ask for help: We can’t, and shouldn’t, go it alone. Who is your support network? While I would have loved someone to help dig out my truck, the truth is, I had to do that part on my own; so might you. But once I got out I immediately sought the help of my dad, the trucks unhappy owner, to get cleaned up. Allow those in your life that care and want to help, participate in your efforts.
Learn the lesson: Never allow what distracted you initially to distract you ever again. No more firework factories. We have goals to accomplish and lives to impact. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.
Along the road to success we will see plenty of distracting diversions. We will get tired, we will question our commitment and wonder why we even thought it possible. But remember, if we got off track, we can get back on. We have the tools and the steps necessary. It doesn’t matter how far off course you feel, there is always an opportunity to learn and return. Dig out your wheels, pop the clutch and let’s go!!
Would you believe this is not the end of my Saskatchewan fishing trip story? How much more can go wrong? Find out in next weeks blog post.
The CEO of a company I worked for, my first job after law school, did something to destroy all trust and confidence I had in his leadership ability. He refused to stand up and bear the responsibility of his position. He gave up his ability to influence. Be careful that you don’t do the same. Today I discuss the story of my first CEO, his leadership blunder and 9 ways that we give up influence after becoming leaders; losing my leadership.
Episode Summary: Losing my leadership | 9 Ways to Give up Influence
Leadership is influence- When we start to lose it, we don’t notice until it is too late.
“That’s bull **** and you know it!” interrupted my friend Alan Snyder
And with that, I was reminded of the value of coaching.
Alan knows leadership. As a CEO, a Managing Partner and Founder, he has built multiple successful companies from the ground up. Along the way learning a thing or two about “straight talk.” He’s also a generous man who had invited me into his office this sunny afternoon to discuss my career.
Looking out from the top floor of his Wilshire Boulevard office, he correctly identified I had been lying to myself. It was the ::slap:: I needed. Quickly presenting a career choice never entertained.
That is a what a great coach does. ::slap:: They help you get unstuck.
I just finished a series on the Modern Leadership Podcast exploring success and influence. In my research, I read about Elite Achievers in business like, Jeff Bezos, Steven Spielberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, and the root of their success.
Guess what they all credit?
Surprise! They all recognize coaching as the catalyst to overcoming the enormous obstacles.
Most identified more than one mentor assisting different aspects of their life. Different problems, different coaches. They assist in identifying areas of focus as well as areas of avoidance. A good coach can save you time, help you see blind spots, develop creative ideas and stay accountable.
Author Harvey MacKay says, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” A coach helps you shortcut the learning curve, spend less time learning and more time doing.
BLIND SPOT IDENTIFIER- OBJECTIVE FEEDBACK
A coach creates a safe environment to explore areas of your life that are holding you back. As a driver, you are familiar with the blind spot in a car, that little area over your shoulder where cars hide from mirrors and turning heads. We have those same sneaky cars in our lives. Things unseen that are disastrous when trying to merge lanes.
With a team 1+1 can be more than 2. Your idea builds on your teammates idea and his then builds on yours, and so on. The concluding solution formerly never existed. A coach stimulates creativity in the same way a teammate can. Your coach brings a different background, experience and perspective. Different creativity.
It is easy to get excited and start, much harder to keep going. I call this the messy middle, the place where goals go to die. Your coach ensures that you stay in committed pursuit of your desired goal. Sometimes a nudge, often a push and occasionally the ::slap:: you need.
Whether you are a professional golfer (Tiger Woods), a software billionaire (Bill Gates), a major movie maker (Steve Spielberg) or an aspiring success story (you: ), we can all take our businesses and lives to the next level by surrounding ourselves with those who will push us. Did you know that not having a coach is limiting your success?
I’m a decent swimmer, but I don’t want my seat cushion used as a flotation device. But, this is a real possibility if my plane drifts off course. Being only a single degree off diverts a plane 1 mile for every 60 miles traveled; meaning New York bound planes from Los Angeles would end up 40 miles away. Only 1 single degree… it seems like an inconsequential amount but the reality can be life changing.
Brace for landing: success detours
In airplanes, missing your destination can result in outcomes ranging from minor inconvenience to catastrophe. The same principle holds in our lives and goals. If you are not committed to staying on course, you can easily find yourself drifting. The longer you travel “off course”, the further you will be from your desired destination (results).
Along your success journey you will need to readjust or reorient yourself, get back on the route. No one can walk the path to success directly without making adjustments. The key to arriving at your destination is to recognize when you are off course and make the adjustment quickly, bringing yourself back in line with your desired outcomes. One way that we can do this is to recognize the obstacles that will challenge us.
Here are the 8 ways we get sidetracked along the route to success:
No end in mind– related to clarity, no end in mind, is not understanding what you really want out of life. Here’s a secret, the result will be missing success. How can you hit a target you do not have? You must have goals to hit and dreams to aspire to.
Solution– Remember this Lewis Carrol quote- “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (meaning nowhere)
Fear of failure– The possibility of failure exists. If it doesn’t, you haven’t set your goals high enough. Don’t be petrified by the possibility of failure and miss the opportunity for success.
Solution– Remember this Michael Jordan quote- “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” The real failure is in not trying.
Over extending– accepting too many assignments or attempting to many projects. Your desire to please everybody can set you up for failure. Often we take on more than we can accomplish effectively and accurately. The result is postponement of our personal goals as we try to meet the needs of others.
Solution– Remember this Paolo Coelho quote – “When You Say Yes To Others, Make Sure You’re Not Saying No To Yourself.” Choose yourself, your goals and dreams first before agreeing to give time to others.
Imposter syndrome– not believing yourself capable of your goals. Everybody experiences a little self-doubt, feelings you are not “good enough” or “worthy enough” to have success. Even those you look up to as mentors and leaders experience self-doubt.
Solution– Remember this quote by SNL’s Stuart Smalley – “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” Recognize that you have talents and abilities that others don’t have. To be truly successful you must learn to overcome self-limitation and rise above doubt.
Shiny object syndrome (squirrel)– chasing every new technology, strategy or process can distract you from what you need to accomplish. Rather than seeing objectives through to completion, you abandon goals already started and chase after something new that has caught your interest.
Solution– Remember this Gabby Douglas quote- “It’s very tough for me to focus. I’m like: ‘Look, something shiny! No, focus. Oh, there goes a butterfly!’”. Focusing on your objective without distraction is vital to staying on course. “No, focus!”
Failure to launch– ready aim aim aim…. Many “would be” successful goal-setters miss their objective because they never get out of the planning and preparing stage. They find paralysis by analysis more comforting that progress.
Solution– Remember this Francis of Assisi quote- “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”. Just start and as you move down the path you will overcome all obstacles.
Lack of clarity– As Zig Ziglar inquired “are you a meaningful specific or a wandering generality”? If you do not know your destination or the steps necessary to reach it, you will not take the shortest, most direct, route to success. You will wander aimlessly hoping to stumble upon it; always busy but never productive.
Solution– Remember this Brendon Burchard quote- “People are remarkably bad at remembering long lists of goals….the longer their lists of to-dos and goals, the more overwhelmed and off-track they got. Clarity comes with simplicity”. Having a road map and a simple direction will keep you on course.
Listening to critics and naysayers– The world is filled with people willing to tear you down and trample your dreams. If you listen to the critics, the nonbelievers, you will be distracted and begin to drift off course. The more you surround yourself with negativity, the more you become a part of that negativity. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Solution– Remember this Paolo Coelho quote- “[C]ritics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am”. Knowing who you are, that your dream has value, and igniting your passion for it will silence even the most obnoxious critic.
Secret: wanting something is not enough
Guess what? There will always be obstacles. (sorry) The more something is worth to you, the more you may have to fight for it. You cannot allow anything stand in the way of your success. As you get closer to achieving your goals, as your success destination gets closer, the above 8 detours to success will be more present. Commit now to reaching your potential. Avoid success detours.
Journaling matters. “If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique individual, keep a journal. Don’t trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down. When you come across something important, write it down.” – Jim Rohn
Journaling has been an important part of my life for many years. I continue to use it daily (in some form) to collate my thoughts and work through issues and find answers.
Did you know that some of the most successful people in history are known journalers? It’s true. Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Winston Churchill, it is well document, often carried notebooks to record their thoughts.
Still not convinced?
Here are 7 reasons why you should keep a journal:
Regular writing stimulates your mind- Like exercise for your brain, journaling helps build memory and your ability to recall and stay mentally active.
Journaling helps your creativity- When we were young, we have wild and vivid imaginations, allowing us to think outside the box. We came up with unique solutions. When we journal, we unleash that imagination from our past and creative problem-solving emerges.
To better understand yourself and your thinking pattern- nothing brings clarity to your mind and familiarity with yourself like journaling.
Life’s little details- with so much information swirling around us daily and so much media vying for our attention, the best way to remember the important details of our life is to write them down.
Journaling is motivation – write positive affirmations, write favorite quotes or song lyrics that pick you up. Return to your journal when you need a boost, a smile or some motivation.
Make a connection – journaling helps you connect your emotions with your values and your values with your goals. Like the dot-to-dot pages you worked on as a kid, journaling connects thoughts, feelings, intuitions and observations that you hadn’t connected previously.
Track your development- what is measured can be improved. Journaling is a tracking method for keeping tabs on how you are doing, where you are succeeding and areas of improvement.
Convinced? How do I start?
Here are 4 tips to get started:
Keep it simple- there is no “right” format, don’t get hung up on spelling or grammar and especially don’t concern yourself with penmanship. Find a style and a voice that works for you whether it is narrative, in the first person, or third person, or if you prefer checklists or doodles; to each their own.
Frequent- write often. Cramming 6 months of observations, feelings and ideas into an afternoon of writing is not as productive as 2 minutes before bed jotting down your thoughts for the day.
Consistent- set aside a time and a place on a daily or weekly basis to recap notes, quotes, ideas and feelings. I recommend carrying a notebook always and writing when ideas come. Then, have a consistent time to debrief and connect ideas.
Enjoy- take a deep breath and keep your journaling an enjoyable experience. Do not judge what is written or share it but keep it as your personal treasure. Have fun and occasionally take the time to reread your writings and relive the joyous journey.
Looking for ideas?
Here is a list of ideas to keep track of in your journal. Remember, this is your journal, you should record whatever you inspired to.
Personal situations and lessons learned
To do lists (who doesn’t love keeping lists?)
Goals you’re working toward and steps to achieve them
Music you are inspired by
Websites to remember and return to
Books to read and reread (take a look at my bookshelf here)
Record your successes.
I am a huge believer in the power of journaling. It is one practice that has had an important impact in my development and maturity.
As Jim Rohn taught, so I try to be, “I am a buyer of blank books. Kids find it interesting that I would buy a blank book. They say, “Twenty-six dollars for a blank book! Why would you pay that?” The reason I pay twenty-six dollars is to challenge myself to find something worth twenty-six dollars to put in there. All my journals are private, but if you ever got a hold of one of them, you wouldn’t have to look very far to discover it is worth more than twenty-six dollars.” How much is your journal worth?
The accountable leader has a leadership superpower characterized by focus and analysis. It is also one of the most critical platforms of leadership. How do we become more accountable leaders but remain flexible?
If accountability is your superpower you are in good company; Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Mary Barra (General Motors) & Stewart Butterfield (Slack).
Episode Summary: Stay Accountable: Your Leadership Superpower