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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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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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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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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How Do You Know When It Is Time To Go?

Whether you are a business owner, a professional manager, an advisor, or anyone engaged in an enterprise for an extended time - how do you know when it is time to go? "Nothing is forever," the saying goes, and yet sometimes, perhaps even frequently, we stay too long. We watch professional athletes stay past their prime, and we participate in the debate about term limits for our congress. Yet, when it comes to our own engagements, how often do we look inward and debate our own need for term limits? When I was negotiating my exit from the corporate world years ago, I remember a conversation I had with a friend. My friend asked, "What are you going to do if you don't get the deal you want?" My answer was, "I guess I will stay one more year." Her response, "How many more years are you going to say, one more year?" At that moment, I realized it was time for me...
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The Unreliable Narrator: Part II – The Flip Side

Last week I featured the familiar unreliable narrator story, the one where we judge ourselves harshly and thus tell an unreliable story of our accomplishments. As I reflected on this story in conversations with readers, I was reminded of an unreliable narrator of a different sort that can be equally misleading. In this version, the narrator tells a story of accomplishments that may also be lies, i.e., the flip side. As a reminder, the unreliable narrator is a storyteller who withholds information, lies to, or misleads the reader, casting doubt on the narrative. Authors use this device to engage readers on a deeper level, forcing them to come to their own conclusions when the narrator's point of view can't be trusted. In the flip side story, the narrator has convinced himself (or herself) that s/he is bulletproof. A while back, I watched two documentaries, both of which chronicled storytellers who were later indicted for fraud, Billy McFarland, founder of Fyre Media, and the Fyre...
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Are You An Unreliable Narrator?

Last week I wrote about the importance of telling your today story before answering the question, What is Your Tomorrow Story? One of the challenges I observe in my work as an executive life coach is we are often an unreliable narrator of our own story. Successful people tend to focus on what is next. They become accustomed to asking themselves, "what could I do better?" "What could my company do better?"   While this approach is perceived to drive results, it also leads to negative feelings and perceptions, judging ourselves, others, and our circumstances. This judgment then shows up when we tell our story. I recently began work with a CEO who had spent the last seven years transforming a founder-led, founder-dependent company into a steady, stable, independent profitable growth company—the result: a company that couldn't find a buyer, sold for multiples of EBITDA. Yet, when I asked him to tell me his story as he prepares for his next gig, I heard a story...
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