Archive for the 'Business' Category

What’s Ahead for You in 2013?

Living in AZ provides us with unlimited possibilities for hiking, an activity that Ed and I both enjoy.

My bottom line description of hiking is taking a walk on a trail.  That said, all hikes are not equal.  Three weeks ago we revisited a hike in the Superstition Mountains. On that first attempt in January, 2012, we started out mid-morning on the Garden Valley Loop Hike, an 8 mile, 5 hour hike.  We got back to our car as the sun was setting behind the mountains, and pulled away with our headlights on!  For more of the drama- and the lessons learned- read my previous blog post.

As we re-walked the trail we were impressed with the challenge of the terrain. We didn’t remember it being so difficult: bald rocks, washes to cross without markings, trail signs (cairns- piles of rocks), many, many natural steps both up and down, narrow passes, broad flat lands…and almost always, rocks of various sizes covering the trail.

Garden Valley Trail, bald rocks

Garden Valley Trail, bald rocks

 

Garden Valley Trail- cairns

Garden Valley Trail- cairns

The variety in the trail prompted me to take a number of photos.  As I walked over and around the rocks,  I thought about what a picture this is of our lives- and at this point in the year, Dec. 22, not only reflective of 2012, but also a potential picture of 2013 that is unfolding.

If you are evaluating 2012 (as I am) and you are planning 2013 (as I am), perhaps these thoughts can encourage you and prepare you for what lies ahead.

On the trail, sometimes the rocks were quite large- and our pace and progress were definitely slowed.  Does that describe any part of 2012 for you?  How did you handle that? What were the lessons? As you are looking at 2013, and writing down Plan A, do you have a Plan B?

Garden Valley Trail

Garden Valley Trail- large rocks

 

Garden Valley Trail- small rocks

Garden Valley Trail- small rocks

 

Garden Valley trail-uphill

Garden Valley trail-uphill

The majority of the trail was strewn with many little rocks-slowing the pace only slightly, requiring adjustment of immediate attention, while continuing to move forward.  I thought of the many daily distractions that become momentum-busters, and the necessity to focus on the big picture of what needs to be accomplished for the day, the week, the month. I recently was reminded of this planning tip: Before the end of the day, take time to write down the 6 things you wnat to accomplish the following day.  On the new day, start with number one and pursue it until it is done.  Then start number two.  Whatever is not completed moves to the next day’s list.  Brian Tracy calls this technique “Eat That Frog” and further says that if there are two frogs that must be eaten, eat the ugliest one first!

Sometimes we were climbing up- and sometimes we were climbing down.  During those climbs I was very thankful for the walking pole that I had: it provided stability, so that I could keep my pace fairly consistently, and gave me confidence that I had help if I needed it.  What’s your tool?  Do you know how to use it?  Are you using it?

Because we were constantly navigating rocks of various sizes, we were immediately aware of  ‘smooth,’ no rocks.  We definitely took advantage of the change!  Whoever was leading shouted out, “No rocks- let’s make up some time,” and we immediately quickened our pace.  When the terrain changes in your life, when opportunity comes, are you ready to move forward quickly and gather momentum- or do you fail to notice the change and therefore lose the opportunity to gain ground?

Garden Valley Trail- smooth!

Garden Valley Trail- smooth!

Hikers are typically a friendly lot: they’ll tell you how far it is to the next marker, share a sandwich, point out an unusual bird or other animal, or share a tale

 

about someone who got lost on this very trail!  Many of us are in a ‘people business,’ regardless of our industry.  Are you ready to talk to people you meet? I have found that it’s best to have a friendly attitude: ‘to have friends, show yourself friendly.’  It is difficult to maintain a friendly disposition if you are sick, not feeling well, or are ‘under the weather.’  Do your best to stay healthy: maintain (or gain) a strong immune system.  If you need some assistance in this area, please give me a call.  One of the most rewarding aspects of my business is knowing that I help others to be the best they can be on many different levels, including their health.

Hiking is a great metaphor for facing a new year.  Both are best done with a good measure of preparation: mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.  Both hiking and a new year have aspects of predictability and serendipity.  Be prepared for both and enjoy the ride!

What are you looking forward to in 2013? And how are you preparing for it? I’d be delighted if you would share your thoughts and plans below.

Have a blessed Christmas and may your 2013 be your best year ever!

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Looking at Things Differently?

My first business mentor, Patti, made an interesting comment during one of our early conversations.

“Some people take a Ropes Course to challenge themselves. We choose to open our own business!”

Fourteen years later, I still agree with that assessment.  Owning your own business is an amazing vehicle for personal evaluation and development.  Areas of your life that were not an issue suddenly become very visible to everyone, including yourself!  Whether you are a sole proprietor, managing employees, or recruiting others into your business, you are undoubtedly looking at things differently than when you were an employee.

Although I discovered there is a continual flow of decisions that a business owner must make- marketing, vendor choices, best use of work time, family time, ROI- my biggest challenge in being a business owner is coming to grips with who I am as a person: fine-tuning character qualities that seemed to be OK, until they were put into the daily context of dealing with customers and making business decisions.

Dr. Robert Rohm of Personality Insights, a psychologist and corporate trainer from Atlanta, GA, and a speaker at a recent conference I attended, addressed ten components of LEADERSHIP. One of those qualities was integrity. He reminded me that integrity is doing the right thing even when it is inconvenient or doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

I never thought much about this issue of integrity until I became a business owner.  I had already been a teacher, a successful coach, a pastor’s wife, a mom,  a friend.  I figured I had done an OK job of doing what I said I was going to do.  If I didn’t do it right away, no one seemed to notice, including me.  I didn’t get called on it.  There didn’t seem to be any big consequences if I didn’t follow through in a timely way.  Maybe you can identify.

Then I started my business.  I dealt with customers, with corporate deadlines, with other people’s expectations.  Gradually it occurred to me that I could not continue to be inconsistent with what I said and what I did. In fact, I realized that sometimes when I didn’t follow through, it cost me a customer, or money- or both!  But there was a subtle personal cost. My actions were not in alignment with my values, and the more times I acted without integrity, the further I drifted from who I was or thought I was or wanted to be. The results were internal chaos and business paralysis.

I had to realize that my word is my reputation.Integrity is as important in business as it is in friendship and family.  Integrity is a personal quality that is crucial in life.

Consequently I have become much more conscious of being consistent with my words and deeds.

However, I confess I can still get tempted to fudge on commitments with a variety of excuses. For example, I have said ‘yes’ to attending a meet-up meeting, a club meeting, a social, even posted it online that I am attending.  But when the time comes to get ready to be there, I re-evaluate. Any, or all, of these thoughts may cross my mind: it won’t make any difference if I’m there or not- I don’t have a meeting responsibility. Nobody will notice if I’m not there. It looks like I’ll be late.  I’ve heard that topic before.  I don’t know anyone who is going to be there.  (Add your own rationale!)

Then the still small voice kicks in: You said you were going to

And I am on my way.

What about you? Have you said you were going to call someone- and then neglected to do so? Have you said you were going to send someone a piece of information- and let it slip right out of your mind? Have you committed to a meeting or an appointment and let a minor distraction derail you?

Here’s my suggestion: Get back on track. Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.  That directive is not original: it’s from Matthew 5:37.  Apparently there is a universal need for a reminder to be honest with our words!

What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments below.