What Are You Willing To Give Up?

What Are You Willing To Give Up?

I frequently ask my clients, What are you willing to give up to get what you want?  One of my favorite marketing books, admittedly an old one, is Ries and Trout's 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. For me, many of these 22 laws are relevant to life as well as marketing. Law #13, The Law of Sacrifice, resonates for me for making life choices: You have to give up something to get something. What I notice in my conversations is those who are willing to let go of something move forward. They invent the new products, hire the person who will free them up to do what only they can do, take the next job or start the next business. These people are willing to give up something to get what they want. The 'give up' may be something we believe. It may be fear (of failing, being wrong), or simply comfort with what we have or what we know. The 'give up' may be tangible, dollars...
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Better, Better, Maybe Not?

The notion that we can constantly make ourselves and our companies better, in theory, is a great idea. But when does it become too much? For me, the best way to answer this question is to notice our strengths and work to enhance them. As an executive life coach, I refer to this as discovering and working in our genius. Sometimes we become so focused on achieving that we cannot appreciate who we are or what we have already accomplished. When we are constantly reaching, it's a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction.  What? Wasn't I just quoting Florence Nightingale a few weeks ago, who said discontent leads to innovation? Yup. It is indeed a delicate balance, isn't it? For me, the subtle difference between striving to make the world a better place and pausing to celebrate accomplishment comes with self-awareness. The stoics said it well. We must be careful not to become reactionary or to accept, without question, the status quo. We must know ourselves, know our geniuses, and...
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Boundaries Do Have Consequences

As leaders in the 24×7 culture of the 21st century, we all must set boundaries. And they are different for each of us. Some of us like to stay at the office until the work for the day is complete and separate work time from family or playtime. Some of us want to be connected all the time, handling things as they come up. These folks prefer a more integrated life rather than a separation. Still, others want to be home in the early evening and choose to “catch up” later on when everyone in their family has gone to bed. There is no right or wrong; some of it is generational, some of it is just personal desire. And, what I have noticed, in the years I have been coaching executives, is that regardless of preference, setting boundaries is something many people struggle with. And people with young children struggle the most. People with families often agree to boundaries rather...
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Now That We Are Here

Business is good for most companies and has been for quite some time.  And yet, the economic signals are there; we are nearing the end (are perhaps at the end?) of this long economic recovery. Your industry may have more runway, or you may be in an industry that is a leading indicator. Regardless of your industry position, an equal perhaps more important question to ask is, what percentage of your customers fall into each of these categories and those in-between? In short, are we diversified? Anyone who has hired an investment advisor knows, all of them advise first and foremost, to build a diversified portfolio. And, despite all the data supporting the long term benefit of diversification, some investors believe they can pick the winner or time the market. There are LOTS of stories in the investment press about the risks and consequences of these choices. Those of you who are frequent readers know that my background is in financial services and investments and I often compare running...
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Can You Forgive Yourself for Not Being Beethoven?

In interviews with Rolling Stone and CBS last year, Billy Joel shares why he stopped writing songs. "I just wasn't as good as I wanted to be. It was driving me crazy. And it was wrecking my personal life too, just not being able to be satisfied." That frustration led to a bout of drinking, he added. He went on to share that he once read a quote from Neil Diamond in which Diamond said he had "forgiven himself for not being Beethoven." In that moment, Joel realized, "my issue is,  I haven't forgiven myself for not being Beethoven." Am I enough? No matter how accomplished, this question often plagues those of us who are driven. Is it the asking of this question that is behind this word: drive? Without it, perhaps we would accomplish less. And yet, the question of how much is enough - money, legacy, career advancement, businesses, and stuff - is a personal one that each of us must answer for ourselves. The message for me in Billy...
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I Me Mine

This blog, by guest blogger, Greg Bustin, business advisor, author, and fellow Vistage chair, tells the poignant story of the Beatles breakup.  This story is a wonderful reminder of the importance of aligning our values and goals with our purpose, and most importantly our relationships.  And, it also reminds us that while values seldom change, goals and purpose evolve and therefore so must our relationships. Elisa K Spain Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner and want to learn more about my Vistage Group, click here ******************************************************************  As 1968 became 1969, George Harrison felt as if the Beatles “were reaching the end of the line.” While it may have been twenty years ago that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play, in the 16 months since that landmark album’s release, the Beatles had morphed from collaborative colleagues into bickering bandmates barely able to stomach studio sessions together. “Sgt. Pepper was our grandest endeavor,” Ringo remembered. “It gave everybody—including me—a...
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The Power of Not Knowing

Many of us as leaders, especially new leaders, feel we must have all the answers. Some even feel a sense of shame when asked a question, by a client or an employee, and they don't have the answer. And, despite these feelings of inadequacy most of us have felt at one time or another, I also hear stories of the magic of saying "I don't know". One of my favorite stories came from one of my clients who grew up in his family business. I met this man ten years ago and before I knew him, he had worked every job in the company and truly had all the answers. In fact, he was the answer man. Everyone came to him when they needed help figuring out what to do next. This worked fine when he was on the line and even when he was the operations manager. By the time I met him, he was president of the company and being the answer man...
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Begin At The Very Beginning

I am often in conversation with people I coach where the person is focused on action. I hear things like… I am experiencing turnover, what can I do to stop or reduce it? Not sure if my people feel valued or are contributing to their full potential? We have a diverse group, wondering how do I get them to bond and behave like a team? Much has been written including various techniques to answer these questions. While these are important questions, and I am sure techniques for monitoring and evaluating these challenges are valuable, for me, it is difficult to address these issues without a pause. For me, asking these questions is starting in the middle rather than starting at the beginning. If we were to start at the beginning, these are questions I would ask: What is the purpose of this team or workgroup? What do I as the leader expect, what is my vision of success? Do I and the...
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Making the Most of Downtime

When was the last time you wasted time? When you were “wasting time,” did you feel joyful and creative, or — if you’re like me, did you feel even a tiny bit guilty for "being unproductive?” How much better might it have been, how much more would you have enjoyed your time — how much more would you have gotten out of it — if you didn't feel guilty about it or feel the need to explain it? Here’s a fact: wasting time is a key part of our lives. However, wasting time poorly is a sin (or whichever word you prefer), because not only are you forgoing the productivity, generosity and art that comes from work, but you're also giving up the downtime, experimentation and joy that comes from wasting time. If you're going to waste time (and I hope you will), please do it well; and find inspiration by nurturing your butterflies within. Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain...
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The Quality of Bending Easily Without Breaking

When I began this blog about flexibility, I googled the definition and the first definition that came up was this: the quality of bending easily without breaking.  Which begs the question, how can we as managers find a way to bend our expectations to accommodate different styles of work, without breaking our culture? It's become a new trend for CEOs to require folks, who previously worked at home, to come to the office. The reason given is culture. But, what about the high performing employee who prefers to work on their own schedule, at least for a few days a week? What are the consequences to this person's performance when they must adhere to this new structure? The thing I am reminded of each day is despite our common humanity, our styles vary. Some of us like structure, others feel more comfortable with variety. While the need for flexibility is attributed as a common trait amongst millennials, my experience, as with most of our differences, is...
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