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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Go Ahead, Drop Some Balls

A friend of mine recently received a significant promotion. While he is excited about his promotion, he is searching for his replacement and, for now, is doing both jobs. When I asked him how it was going, he responded, "just trying to get it all done, without dropping any balls." This conversation reminded me of one I had with one of my clients. She was lamenting the challenges one of her executives has with burnout. In this case, the CEO said, "I wish he would learn to drop some balls; his effort to get everything done is what is causing his burnout!" The' to-do list' can seem endless for those who want to dot every I and cross every T (I admit I am one of them). What I heard this wise CEO saying was, "go ahead, drop some balls," just choose the ones you are going to drop. What if, instead of starting each day with a list of what we are going to do, we...
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Perception ≠ Reality

We often hear the phrase perception is reality. Philosophers tell us that we cannot perceive reality directly; perception is all we have. “If a tree falls in the woods…..” As leaders, we transfer this rule into behaviors, i.e., how we perceive a product becomes what it is. How we perceive a person or a company’s reputation is who they become for us. And, at work, how our peers, subordinates, and bosses perceive us becomes their reality and drives their expectations of us.  And yet, perception is often far from reality. Even in the physical world, if we don’t have enough information, reality can be variable, e.g., without knowledge of time, darkness can be perceived as either night or a storm. I was reminded of this fact recently when I attended a gathering with other coaches. Coaches as a group tend to pay attention to the subtleties; after all, we are trained to do so. Therefore, one would think that this would translate to “knowing” that what we perceive may...
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Labor Day in a Pandemic – Year 2

When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" (in the words of the AFL).  We have come a long way since then. Today, especially in this war for talent, most employers focus on offering opportunities and benefits to attract and retain talent. Yet, the disruption from the pandemic continues. Help wanted signs everywhere, a labor shortage stretching from unskilled workers to high-level professionals and executives.  Pundits of all types are offering commentary on this topic. Some say it's a permanent shift only to be resolved by wage and price inflation. Others say we have a move away from work and that automation will resolve the issue.   The Economist recently published a report entitled Will the Rich World's Worker Deficit Last?  The authors estimate the current employment deficit to be 3% below the pre-pandemic level. While acknowledging demand shortages, their research...
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How Do You Find Serenity?

Sometimes the demands of one part of our life, work or family, consume us. Sometimes because of a crisis, sometimes because of a spike in workload or children's sports or…, sometimes just because we become depleted. These days, mobile devices link us 24/7 to the office, our bosses, employees, and coworkers. We are, as I heard it said recently, living in time poverty. Now more than ever, it may be necessary to pause, regroup, and allow ourselves to do something counterintuitive; listen to music, go sailing, jogging, practice yoga, make pottery, or go for a walk. Why counterintuitive? Because our responsible self says, stay with it, do the work, finish the project, take care of the sick loved one, etc. We tell ourselves it's selfish to do something for ourselves "at a time like this." If we think of our lives as a three-legged stool….when one leg is gone, it won't balance and falls over. We can't just go back and forth between the...
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Is It Time for Something New?

Our parents taught us, and we teach our children, the importance of sticking to something, the value of not giving up, and continuing to stay the course even in the face of adversity. But what about the flip side? What about the importance of recognizing when it is time to find something new? Time for the entrepreneur, who doesn't have traction after five years, to try the next thing. And instead, she shows up every day to try, try try, but it is not fun, perhaps never was, and the results show it.Time for the founder who created something special, had fun when it was small, and is no longer working in his genius to move on. Perhaps hire a president, possibly sell, maybe even shut down. And instead of moving on, he shows up every day to try, try, try; but it is no longer fun, and the results show it.Time for the young professional manager to pause and think about...
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Declare Your Independence

One of my favorite books and one I recommend to all my clients is Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud.  In this book, Cloud uses a metaphor of rose bushes and compares them to our businesses, careers, and lives. He explains that a rose bush cannot support all the buds it creates. The beautiful ones only become so because of pruning. Cloud describes three types of pruning: pruning the good but not great branches, pruning the sick branches, and finally pruning the deadwood. Perhaps the last two types are obvious, albeit sometimes hard to do in life. The first made me pause; really, I need to cut off some good branches for my rose bushes to flourish? As I think about Independence Day, I am noticing the parallel between necessary endings and independence. For some of our forefathers, my guess is the relationship with Great Britain was good but not great. It certainly had benefits to go with the taxes and other challenges. And...
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Is It Capacity Or Is It Making Choices?

As an Executive Life Coach for CEOs, I've seen several common traits in those who have successfully grown their businesses. I've told stories in the past about the importance of having a vision, having the right people, and having strong execution. Another more subtle characteristic shared by successful leaders, they seem to have an incredible "capacity." Webster defines capacity as: the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating  an individual's mental or physical ability the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating the facility or power to produce, perform or deploy: maximum output It's this facility for maximum output to which I am referring, the ability to take on more, handle more stress, be present regardless of outside circumstances, or simply do more. It's more than ability, it's, well, capacity. And, here's what I observe. While it appears that these leaders can simply handle more and do more than others, they also can choose. To make a choice and accept that when...
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The Way

Most of us learned "the way" early in life. Some of us learned it from our parents, some from our teachers or other adult role models. The way we learned was the way they did it. We observed, or they told us, how to live our lives; and in what order to do things. Typically it went something like this, get an education, get a job, get married, pursue/advance in a career, have kids, retire, enjoy our grandkids. For some, this may still be the way, and for more and more people, this is only one of many choices. Today we have more choices, and for most of us, a longer time frame during which we might choose multiple ways. For example, I know a grandmother who became a lawyer in her 70's; and recently heard about an architect who became a restaurant owner in her late 40's and a physician who became a professional singer. So, as you think about your way, whatever stage of life...
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Ending Is Beginning

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the question: How Do You Know When It Is Time To Go? I received so many responses that I was inspired to write this Part II. When a new client begins my You Pivot™ Program, I recommend a couple of books, one of which is Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. The premise of Dr. Cloud's book is that we must learn to let go if we are to move forward.  Often, the idea of letting go, we internalize as giving up. And, giving up is antithetical to our training. Starting from childhood, we are taught "don't be a quitter." So what gives? The answer says Dr. Cloud is in getting to the pruning moment. Throughout his book, Dr. Cloud shares stories of the relief and success people discover once they choose to let go.  My clients in my You Pivot™ program learn that the pruning moment can only come when they get unstuck. And that getting unstuck is a...
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