Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Corporate Disconnect

Corporate Disconnect
Tim Connor, CSP

Corporate disconnect is the major contributor to every one of your challenges, problems or negative issues that undermine your growth, profitability and effectiveness as an organization.
I don’t care whether your sales are less than one million or over fifty billion; you have 10 employees or 50,000.  I don’t care if you are a start-up or you have been in business for over 100 years.  Let me repeat: Corporate disconnect is at the heart of every problem you face today, yesterday and in the future.  Do I have your attention yet?

Some of you may be wondering what corporate disconnect is as I am referring to it here.  One of the popular topics of many of my management and leadership programs is entitled just that: Corporate Disconnect – what’s contributing to it and how to avoid it.
In a global and rapidly changing world there are non-stop opportunities and challenges facing business owners, executives and business owners today.  These can literally put you out of business in a moment without regard to your history or they can catapult you into the future with tremendous speed.

Change is and has been the mantra for business leaders for a number of years.  Change has and will continue to plague your plans and your dreams.  Change will require that you keep the vigil and your hand on the wheel with courage, foresight and passion.  Change is not sensitive to your lack of direction, goals, plans or strengths and weaknesses.  It is totally indifferent to your previous successes and achievements.  And your lack of ability to anticipate, prepare for and adjust quickly to change whether you choose them, like them or agree with them is a critical ability that without it will doom your organization whether as a slow kill or an overnight disaster.

If you have ever been in an airplane at 40,000 feet on a clear day I’m sure you’ve had the experience of looking out the window and being able to see for hundreds of miles but also realizing that you couldn’t see any detail on the ground.

To describe CD I’m going to use the illustration of flying as a passenger on an aircraft.  This illustration is straightforward and easy to apply to the concept of CD and all of its ramifications, symptoms, causes and solutions. 

Let’s say you are returning from a business trip and you have been flying for a few hours over the western part of the US heading toward Los Angeles.  As the pilot announces that we are flying over the continental divide you peer out the window and realize that you can see the topography of several states; Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and maybe even a few others.  As far as you can see however you can’t see any detail.  No cows, trucks or houses.  You are just too high to make out anything other than the vast expanse of raw land. An hour later the pilot announces that we are beginning our decent.  As you descend through the 20,000 foot level you notice that you can’t see quite as far but the detail is getting a bit clearer.  You can see houses, roads and factories but you still can’t tell if that’s a cow down there or a truck. As you get closer to the ground you notice that you can’t see as far off in the horizon but the details are getting clearer.  Thirty minutes later as you approach the runway a thought occurs to you.  At 500 feet your view of the horizon no longer exists but the details are quite clear.  You can tell that there’s a red truck traveling on the highway off to your right.  You land and another safe trip behind you.

The analogy.  Presidents, CEO’s, CFO’s and other senior executives are typically flying at the 40,000 foot level in their organizations.  They can see a long way.  Their vision for the future is clear and their awareness of major storms or opportunities can be easily seen at this altitude.  But details?  Not a clue.  Middle managers, directors or senior staff employees are typically flying at the 20,000 foot level in their organizations.  They don’t have as clear a view of the horizon as their superiors since they are 20,000 feet lower but their view of the details is a bit more evident, not totally clear but better than at the 40,000 feet level.

Then there are the employees in your organization who are flying at the 500 feet level, almost at ground level.  They don’t have a clue what’s going on beyond their desk or the building next door but they can tell you what customers think, what policies or procedures are working or not working and what is generally going on in the bowels of the organization.  The know the details, they live them every day but they, for the life of them, don’t always see the connection between the reality at 500 feet and the vision or decisions at 40,000 feet.

Here’s the simple truth in once sentence.  If the reality of what is going on in the marketplace, with your customers, with your competitors or with your employees is not getting to the 40,000 feet level I will guarantee you are experiencing CD.  Or, if the vision, leadership or goals at the 40,000 are not finding their way to the 500 feet level I guarantee you are experiencing the many negative issues of CD in your organization.

So what is corporate Disconnect?  It’s when your employees who do the work don’t see a connection of their efforts to the vision of your senior management.  It’s when your senior management makes decisions or takes actions at the 40,000 feet level; new policies, new products or services, acquisitions, new divisions or branches, new anything and they do it with getting in touch with the reality at 500 feet – beware.  This is a recipe for lost customers, lost revenue, lost growth, poor employee retention, and any other negative corporate malaise you can think of.  Got a bad case of CD in your organization?  Here’s a little truth to consider. I haven’t found a single organization in my 40 year speaking and training career that didn’t have some degree of CD going on in their organization.  So, it would appear that have a case of CD is normal?  Yes, every company has it.

Here’s the real problem.  I don’t care how bad your case of CD is or whether you are aware of it, fixing it, ignoring it - whatever – As long as you’re CD doesn’t ever touch your customer of the market place, no problem, you will most likely survive CD’s symptoms.  However, if your CD does touch your; customers, suppliers, the marketplace, your prospects, watch you.  You may be in for a long and difficult recovery period and a few emergency room visits along the way.

So now you know what CD is.  Want to know how bad you have it – whether you need surgery or over the counter meds? 

Communuication Today - The New Normal

Communication today -
are we headed towards serious disconnect?
Tim Connor

Ever had a text argument?  Ever received an email where the customer explained a serious problem to you?  Ever gotten a text from your boss regarding your performance?  Ever had your cell phone break down and your spouse railed you for not responding to their call?  Ever found out on Face Book that your best friend was engaged? I could go on for hours with these examples, but here’s the point – technology is a wonderful and convenient tool, but it will never replace the need for humans to connect face to face or voice to voice.  Call me old fashioned, out of touch or whatever you want, but I believe today we are relying too heavily on technology to maintain, develop or fix relationships that may be in trouble.

 Think about it – how much you tend today to rely on technology to keep in touch.  Sure you can call for help at a moment’s notice with your cell phone, confirm an appointment with your IPod or pass on a new requirement with your I Pad and send a mass email to all of your customers and or prospects about a new product or service – these are all valuable approaches, but I believe most people are learning to avoid confronting their business and relationship challenges or opportunities because it’s so much easier to use technology as their primary method of – keeping in touch.

First of all the world, contrary to your belief, doesn’t revolve around you and your immediate need for a response, returned call or information.  Second you can’t presume that other’s are using technology to the same extent you are and third don’t assume that others are as competent with technology as you would like them to be.

We seem to be moving more and more quickly into a narcissistic human environment where people believe that everything should happen for them now and according to their needs, expectations or wants.  I have news for you – I have a cell phone but I refuse to see it as my 5th appendage.  I am not going to be a slave to your expectations and needs.  “Tim, get with it, the world has changed - technology rules – get with the program.”  Sorry, contrary to your belief my life doesn’t revolve around you or anyone else’s agendas. 

I have watched couples and families at a restaurant where everyone was on their cell phone at the same time.  I have watched business people during my seminars texting.  I have observed people putting other’s lives at risk as they try and negotiate through heavy traffic while having conversations on their phone.

I ask you a simple question – could some of this have waited 30 minutes?  Do you need an answer to everything now?  What are you sacrificing or losing in your relationships due to your obsession with technology?  Did you know the average person spends over 60 hours a month on the Internet?    Can you turn these off for 24 hours and not wonder what you are missing? 

How did successful business grow and prosper before wireless technology or even computers?  Again Tim, you just don’t get it – this is the new age.”  Well let me give you my quick take.  I believe in using all of these gadgets if they will improve the quality of my life but I also have to tell you there are numerous ways where they complicate my life more than it was ten years ago.

I am by no means suggesting that you give up all of your toys I am only asking  you to think for just a moment – could your life be less stressful, more fun, easier even more productive if you began to see all of this stuff as nothing more than just another tool – not the only one – to deal with life’s issues, challenges and opportunities?

Whatever Happened to Common Sense

Whatever happened to good ole common sense
Tim Connor

The more I observe people today - from politicians, parents, business leaders and everyone in society, it amazes me how few people seem to have any common sense at all. One of my mentors and heroes Mark Twain was famous for saying - "We need to stop calling it common sense. This assumes that it is common and everyone has it. We need to start calling it un-common sense because so few people seem to have it." 

This was said over 100 years ago by a common man. Yes, he was famous by today's standards, but a common man he was.
When I observe the behaviors, attitudes, decisions and actions today of teenagers, parents, business leaders 
- I could list every profession and every station in life here, but I'm sure you know at least one person where common sense seems to have left them at birth, I find it hard to believe so few people have simple common sense.

What exactly is common sense? Let me try and give you what I feel is a common sense definition, but first how about a professional definition. Sound practical judgment derived from experience rather than study. Or, words like - rational, reasonable, consistent, coherent, valid, logical or sound. OK, it's my turn.

Common sense is when you see a situation, decision or action in a way that loudly says - yes - both in the short and long term this is a good or the best course of action. It doesn't matter what other people think or believe as their beliefs and attitudes are derived from their unique and varied sources of mental conditioning and upbringing. Common sense, when all things are considered is the only way to proceed based on a variety of factors; experience, knowledge, information, wisdom, objectives, potential hazards, real opportunities and an internal emotional comfort level. It's a state of mind similar to intuition, instinct or a hunch where it just feels right. But beware - if you proceed only based on feelings or emotions without considering some of the other factors above, you might just set yourself up for disappointment, frustration or even failure.

Some people would assume that the older you are the more common sense you would develop. WRONG. Some people would assume that the more education you have the more common sense you would have. WRONG. Some people would believe that the more experience you have had, the more common sense you would develop. WRONG. Some people that the smarter you are, the more common sense you will have. WRONG.

So why do so few people today seem to operate from a position of little or no common sense whatsoever? Well, from my perspective there are a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Personal agendas. Everyone has agendas. Some are noble while others are very self-serving or selfish. An agenda is nothing more than a life outlook or a mindset. But, this outlook, whether positive or negative will tend to have a significant role in how you behave, treat others or interpret life in general. It will often control all of your actions, choices, decisions and behaviors. A self-serving agenda will cause you to override what may be right or you feel is best for you alone.

- Poor perceptual understanding. Everyone sees life uniquely through a very personal mental filter. Something good for one person can be perceived as bad for the next person. It isn't about what is right or wrong or good or bad, but how each of us interprets the people and events in our life. Your personal filter will determine how you react or respond to life, people or circumstances. If your filter is cluttered with a great deal of past negative situations and outcomes you will tend to let these drive your behavior and not what makes sense given the current set of conditions.

- A history of mistakes, failure or errors in judgment. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes or poor decisions from time to time. The problem happens in the present when we let these memories have greater control over our present than what is really going on now. When we focus on either the past or the future and not reality, we will tend to bring a dysfunctional view to any circumstances therefore overriding what would seem to be right based on what is really going on now.

- Fear in general. There are only two emotions - love and fear. Fear tends to be the dominant emotion in most people most frequently. If you have a choice to feel hope or discouragement, joy or pain, acceptance or non-acceptance, because of the way the human brain is wired, most people will more often come from a fear position than one of love. (Not talking here about romantic love.) When you operate out of fear you will tend to critique your options, choices or circumstances in a pessimistic way. Common sense, the best or right thing to do, will be present, but it will be overridden by all of the fear threats and concerns.

- A concern for what or how others will think of them or about them. Many people who fail to use common sense are often more concerned about how others; view, define or feel about them or their behaviors or decisions than the person has or feels about themselves. I want you to like me, but me liking me is more important than you liking me. If I am being true to myself I may not make right decisions all of the time based on common sense, but at least I am making them for my reasons and not yours.

- Ego dysfunction. The ego wants to rule our lives. It doesn't like to look bad and it certainly wants to play a major role in all of our choices, actions and decisions. When common sense and ego are at odds - ego will win most of the time. It doesn't care what makes sense or is in your present or future best interests - it must rule your life it must make you look; good, smart, competent, successful etc. Common sense be damned - is its mantra.

- Greed, selfishness or narcissism. Greed is the number one cause of all crime and the need to own more, have more or do more whether we deserve it or have earned it. Greed speaks volumes when it comes to how people behave either overtly or subtly. Greed, if it drives you, will always override what is best or right for you or for others. Selfishness is nothing more than a self-centered way of looking at life. It is about what you get, have or own or who you are and how you behave towards others and life in general. Selfishness says - I am the only thing that matters, life revolves around me so just get on board and with me or you are against me. Narcissism is nothing more than excessive self-admiration and self-centeredness. In psychiatry, it is a personality disorder characterized by the patient's overestimation of his or her own appearance and abilities and an excessive need for admiration. Think these people will ever come from a position of common sense?

- Stuck in the past or future. The past with all its failures, mistakes, successes and achievements is gone. Living in either will cause a person to not see current circumstances in the proper perspective. Yes, both are important - past lessons and experiences as well as future goals and plans, but in the end what you do now matters more than what you will do tomorrow or have done in the past. Common sense blends the best from both yesterday and tomorrows and weaves them into appropriate and beneficial behaviors, actions and decisions now.

- The inability to turn information and knowledge into wisdom. Information is not wisdom. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to use information and knowledge in a right way given reality, potential outcomes, historical experience and personal objectives. When a person lacks common sense I don't care how many degrees they have, they will do dumb things for the wrong reasons and often regret them later in life.

- Emotional immaturity. No one matures at the same pace or rate. Each of us learns or fails to learn valuable lessons as we move from one year to the next in our lives. Emotional maturity is the ability to see or view circumstances in a way that you use your experience, wisdom, intuition and the available information at hand. A lack of emotional maturity is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to whatever happens, regardless of how stupid the action or decision is. No matter what, in our own mind we justify these often stupid behaviors and or actions.

Yes, there are many others, but if you feel you lack a credible amount of common sense and this lack is causing more pain than necessary, why not consider the above causes in terms of how you live, make decisions, interpret life, evaluate others or just go from day to day in your life.

I believe if we all had more common sense or used more of what we have we would experience far less stress, discouragement, frustration, anxiety or any other negative emotions due to life's uncertainty and adventure.

Want to gain more common sense or use more of what you have more often? Pay attention to the above items and stay focused in the present.

Losing The Human Connection?

Are You Losing The Human Touch?
Tim Connor

I’ll wager that today you will send and receive more texts and emails than you have conversations with your – customers, employees, friends and/or loved ones!  Am I right?

OK, so I’ll accept that that’s one of the primary ways we communicate today and it’s one of the primary advantages of technology – sharing information.  But I ask you to consider.  The good life isn’t about exclusively the exchange of information, but developing trusting, compassionate and enduring human relationships grounded in understanding, thoughtfulness, appreciation and being present. Yes, you can tell me what you had for lunch on Face Book but I’d much rather hear from you now and then – in person.

I’m not talking here about that quick text or email from your IPad or IPhone that – “I’m on my way.” – “Your order has been shipped.”.  “The meeting has been cancelled.”  What I’m talking about here is – well here are a few recent statistics you might find interesting.

-The average couple spends less than 27 minutes a week in shared intimate (not sexual) conversation and on average over 36 hours per week individually scrolling/searching the internet.

-The average salesperson sends out over 50 emails/texts a day and talks with fewer than 10 customers/prospects during the same time frame. I’m not including here sales folks who are involved in tele-sales or tele-marking activities.

-The average parent spends less than 20 minutes a week talking to each of their children one-on-one in important child rearing conversations.     

-The average manager sends more emails to employees in a week than they have conversations with them in a month.

Guilty of any of the above?  If so is it because you believe;

It’s easier, more convenient or gives you a paper trail?  It takes less time, avoids confrontation or allows you to send messages 24 hours a day? People are too busy today to talk?  People would rather use technology than have face to face or voice to voice conversations? My personal opinion regarding these and other excuses or rationales is – you’re wrong. 

The one thing that separates humans from all other species on Earth is the ability
and need to share fears, desires, frustrations, feelings, hopes, worries, dreams and yes your opinions and information.  Humanity is about the ability to create enduring one-on-one and

one-to-group relationships based on knowing the other person’s or group’s uniqueness and those special traits that make them human.

I am not against technology, but the evidence is overwhelming – we are losing the human touch with those in our lives both personal and career or business.  Don’t believe me! How many times have you gotten a “technology message” rather than a human when you have called any organization?  I know . . . that’s just the way it is today.  OK, so we agree that that’s the way it is, but I have to tell you last week it took me fifteen minutes and pushing multiple buttons on my phone before I could reach a live person. Frustrating?  Well, yes, and then the person I finally reached wasn’t the right person.  So, back to punching numbers on my phone and waiting and listening to their nine “telephone options” before I finally gave up and decided to no longer purchase from that organization, but find a new supplier.  Ever had this experience or am I the only one with this frustration? I seriously doubt it!

A question – do you think you might be losing business because of your overuse of technology?  Do you think one of your relationships might be in jeopardy because you are relying too heavily on technology?  Are you losing touch/connection with others in your life in a real and human way?

Don’t risk it.  The answer – use technology as a tool and not a crutch if you want to develop, build and maintain positive relationships with others in your life.  Disagree?  Go ahead and send me an email.  But only 15 people have my cell phone number so you can’t send me a text.

By the way if you think this issue is a problem with relationships today – stick around – it’s just getting worse.

Are You Cheating at Checkers

Are you cheating at checkers?
Tim Connor

Confused by the title and its relevance to your career or business?  Take a few minutes and read the following and it will help you achieve greater employee performance and improve accountability throughout your organization.

Remember when you were a kid playing checkers with a friend?  Here are the rules if you have forgotten.  We flip a coin to see who gets to move first.  You win so it’s your move.  After you move, it’s now my move.  The rules are clear I can’t move again or twice.  I move – you move – that’s the way the game is played until one of us wins.  OK got it?  Now, what does this have to do with employee performance?

Why not start playing checkers with your new hires or even your current employees.  Let me explain with a quick example.

When you are hiring a new employee the game begins.

You pace the ad – your move.
Now it’s their move - they respond.
Your move – you schedule an interview.
Their move – they show up.
Your move – you ask them questions and discuss the position.
Their move they ask questions.
Your move – you decide to offer them the position.
Their move – they accept or reject the job.  Let’s say they accept.
Your move – you provide them the support and training they need to be effective.
Their move – they take advantage of the training and learn the skills the position requires.
Your move – you help them continue to grow in the position.
Their move – they keep growing.
The game moves on.

Here’s the issue – what if after you move they stop moving.  For example you offer them the training they need but they fail to use the skills you have given them that are necessary for success.

Back to checkers.

When it’s my move in the checker game and I decide not to move for whatever reason - the game is over.  In order to complete the game successfully we both need to keep moving when it’s our turn until someone wins.  See the connection here?

When one of us for whatever reason stops moving the game is over.  Now back to the example.  If the employee fails to move after you have moved – the game is over.

So, how do managers cheat at checkers?

Typically when the employee fails to move when it’s their turn, for whatever reason, the manager moves again.  The problem is – it’s not their move now – they are not allowed to move twice in checkers they have already had one move so they are cheating when they move twice when it’s the other person’s move.

Why do managers cheat at checkers when it comes to the performance or behavior of their employees?  Simple – as their supervisor they don’t want to take responsibility for the failure of the employee so they just keep doing more than they should – keep moving for the employee.  Here is the fundamental flaw with this approach.  You get the behavior you reward.  So if you keep moving when the employee doesn’t move - what’s the message you are sending them?  Not sure?  Simple – you are teaching them that they don’t need to move and why?  Because you will keep moving for them even though it’s their move..

Want to play checkers fairly with an employee?  Explain to them that as long as they keep moving you will too.  But when they fail to move when it’s their turn – the game is over.

Are You A Cheerleader or an Invalidator

Are you a cheerleader or an invalidator?
Tim Connor

Managers have many roles and responsibilities the least of which is to contribute to an employee’s self worth and not invalidate them.  Know which is your tendency?  Know the direct and indirect consequences of each?

A cheerleader – an uncritically enthusiastic supporter. To make others feel valued, worthwhile and encouraged.

To invalidate - to prove that something is wrong or make something worthless.  To send a message to others that they are less important than you in some way.

Now that we have that out of the way let’s take a look at how people invalidate or encourage employees and their outcomes.

You invalidate employees when you;

-          punish them for mistakes made without giving them the positive reinforcement helping them to learn in the process.
-          Exclude them from meetings where their contribution would be beneficial.
-          Show up late for meetings with them.
-          Interrupt them when they offer ideas, solutions or creative approaches to issues.
-          Fail to listen to their ideas.
-          Give them inadequate feedback, appreciation or recognition.

There are hundreds of additional ways that management contributes to poor employee attitudes and performance as a result of their negative management style but in the end if you want motivated and productive employees this is a poor way to achieve it. 

You encourage employees when you;

-          Catch them doing things right and give them positive feedback, appreciation or recognition.
-          Applaud their achievements or accomplishments in public.
-          Give them the freedom to make decisions that are appropriate for their roles or responsibilities.
-          Empower them to act on their own.
-          Trust and respect them regardless of their talent, experience or other personal or career profile issues.
-          Treat them fairly regardless of their personal situations

Again there are numerous other ways to send a clear message to employees that they are valued and appreciated but in the end if you want employees to consistently give you their best, this is the best approach and management philosophy.   

The consequences of inadequate or no encouragement.

Everyone wants and needs to feel self-value and when they receive feedback or messages that reinforce these personal needs people will tend to give you their best, try harder, be more loyal and bring increased creativity and solutions to challenges, problems or issues that need these important mindsets.  When you fail to recognize and show timely and appropriate encouragement and positive reinforcement you will tend to get the opposite of these outcomes.

Whether your organization is on a roll or facing challenging times you need motivated and creative employees to help you continue your success or to emerge from challenging times with success and sustainability.

The outcomes and results when you build employees up through encouragement.

I’ll make this easy – read the above two paragraphs again but with a more positive outlook or mindset.

I’ll leave you with two quick questions – which approach is your dominant management approach or philosophy and how is it working for you?

Are You Reaching Your Potential

Are you achieving your potential?
Tim Connor

Ask the average person if they are reaching their full potential and I’ll bet the answer would be no most of the time.  Ask them if they were to  achieve more of their potential if their life would be better in many ways and I’ll be the answer would almost always be yes.  So why the disparity?

Is it a lack of faith or self-belief?  A lack of self-confidence and desire?  Or could it be a mindset of a willingness to settle for what is as acceptable given the extra effort, dedication, commitment or courage required to reach for more and use more of their God given talent and right to do more with their life?

I have read dozens of books that focus on achieving potential and the common message in all of them is that each of us could do more with our life.  If this is true why do so few people stretch their limits, reach out for more and just lack the motivation to go for it?

One of the major issues is the fear of rejection or failure.  No one likes to have either of these in their life but to reach for more you have to risk both.  The only way to succeed or accomplish more is to try and to try always brings with it the potential for mistakes, failure and lessons that need to be learned.

Potential is simply what is waiting in the wings of your life patiently hoping one day you will believe in it and embrace more in life whether it is in relationships, a career or some interest that you have failed to accept or decide to embrace for fear that in the end it might not work, so we play it safe.  Playing it safe is not a recipe for achieving excellence or doing more with your time, talent or resources no matter how limited they may appear.

No one knows how much potential they have to do more but the thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t try you will never know what you could have done.  Are you OK with this?  Well most people are.  But, we are all fortunate that over the years there have been thousands of people who stretched their boundaries and went for it.  Whether it’s been in medicine, technology, travel or any other area in life or society. Think for a moment how your life might be dramatically different if so many people who have done so much with their potential had settled.  I could give you a list that could go on forever but how about a few; Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Bill Marriott.  There are thousands of people over the centuries that because they were unwilling to settle changed life for all of us.  So, the question remains buy settling what are you not accomplishing for your; family, employees, customers or society in general?  Or yourself?

A Day is a Lifetime

A single day can be a lifetime
Tim Connor

Many people take each day that they are given for granted.  They assume that they have time to play, work, love and just enjoy all of the gifts they are given each minute of every day.  As I look back over the past year I can tell you that a day can be a lifetime filled with wonderful memories or riddled with regret, disappointment and unfulfilled dreams, desires and painful memories.  It can also be spent taking the positives from the past into each new moment with faith, confidence and passion.

I don’t know how many years have passed for you as you read this article but I can tell you that no matter your age, experience, gender, race or nationality that you too have squandered many of the days you have been given.  Squandered with guilt, worry, aimlessness, grief and possibly the frustration that your life just isn’t or hasn’t been quite the way you would like it or have liked it.  Welcome to the largest club in the world – the “I wish things were different” club.

As I was driving to the post office this morning, a thought occurred to me, one that I’ve had numerous times in the past, but for some reason today it resonated with me more than at any other time – each breath and each heartbeat is a miracle.  The mere fact that I am still alive, when so many of my peers and friends have passed away far too soon I might add,  and I can still see, think, feel, love, plan, hope and just be in the flow of life for another day.  Wow, what a gift.

As I was pondering this thought another occurred to me – as I look back over the many relationships I’ve had during my life, I had to wonder, how many of these people saw the time we shared as a gift or did they see it as just the passage of time, one day after another until what was, ended whether badly or positively isn’t the issue here. How they ended doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but were they filled with joy or sadness and regret for what was in each moment at a time while they were active?

Life begins, moves on and ends.  What really matters is what you do with the gift of time between the beginning and its ending.  So, back to the title – A single day can be a lifetime or it can just be another day.  We make the assumption that we will all have 25,000 days or 600,000 hours (about 70 years) of life.  Subtract 200,000 hours from this total (sleeping time) and you are left with around 400,000 hours or about 16,000 days.  When you think about it, that’s not very many days to live if you squander many of them with worry, stress, frustration, anger, resentment etc.

Each day is a lifetime.  Think of it this way.  If today was your last day, it would be your life.  Yes, you’d have lots of memories, achievements, work done and undone, but in the end would it all really matter?

What I’m suggesting here is that from now on rather then seeing each day as just a day, but as the summation of your life and all of its elements – relationships, financial, spiritual etc.  Living each day as if it is your entire life may change how you live all your remaining days.  Think about it as this year comes to a close . . .

Active vs.Passive Selling

Are you playing – the wait and see game?

Tim Connor

If I hear one more time, “I’ll just have to wait and see how this potential sale goes”, from someone who says they are a professional salesperson, regardless of the industry they are in, I think I will just have to scream out loud – YOU JUST DON’T GET IT.

Selling isn’t about manipulation, but controlling the sales process.  It isn’t about wait and see - it’s about creative sales approaches and strategies to continually move the process forward.  It isn’t about wasting valuable selling time on poor prospects, but having an effective prospecting system that allows you to spend time and resources on people who are good prospects now or will be in the future.  It’s not about trying to turn poor prospects into customers with pricing strategies, giving away the store or losing your integrity because of your desperation or ego.

I believe in keeping things simple, it makes it easier for me.  There are generally two types of selling – active and passive.  What’s the difference?

Active selling is where you are in control of the process.  Let me repeat I am not talking about manipulation.  Who do you want to be in control of a challenging health issue you face – a Doctor you trust or yourself as the patient?  If you haven’t been to medical school I would suggest you turn the process over to the Doctor.  If you don’t trust the Doctor get a second opinion.  The same is true of selling.  The salesperson knows more about the product or service (or should) than the prospect.  All the salesperson needs to do is determine how important the prospect’s problems, needs or wants are to them and why.   If you have both – product knowledge and prospect information – you should stay in charge of the process – active selling.

Passive selling is when the prospect says; I need to talk to so and so, I need to think it over, I need to check with another supplier – etc. and you give up, stop selling and yes, just wait and see.

I find it interesting as I evaluate many of the clients I have worked with over the years and their sales teams and sales processes - regardless of the product or service, value proposition, industry, reputation or market  exposure, how many so-called professional salespeople – just wait and see – hoping that the sale will close.

Without an effective sales process which includes; prospecting identification and qualification strategies, presentation approaches, closing and overcoming resistance techniques and an effective follow-up process, you will likely end up playing the wait and see game.    

Active selling requires an effective and engaging probing approach that doesn’t intimidate the prospect, but does create some discomfort, uneasiness or a sense of urgency or uncertainty that will come with their inaction or poor choices.  It requires a customer-focused message and the ability to disarm sales resistance early rather than respond to it later.  Obviously it requires a closing approach or strategy that may not come from the sales books or sales gurus available today, but from a mix of your experience, skills and knowledge of the prospect’s concerns, fears or buying history.  And finally without a clear and repeatable follow-up process most of the previous steps will be wasted over the long term.

So, why don’t most salespeople today have a system that they can rely on to avoid the wait and see game?  Is it stupidity?  Fear of rejection or coming across as pushy or manipulative? Arrogance? Naïveté? Or just laziness?  Or possibly a unique combination of them all?   

Words to Live By

Words to live by in 2013
that can change your life forever.
Tim Connor

Would you like 2013 to be one of your best years ever?  I would ask you to consider the following simple yet powerful approach to creating permanent change and improvement in the area of your life you most desire.

Words can have a powerful influence on your life. We bring into our life what we focus and concentrate on so why not choose one of the following words and focus on it and LIVE it for 7 days as you go through a week.  When you have completed all 12 words/actions begin the process again with the list and repeat this approach four times during the next twelve months. You will be amazed at how this simple exercise can impact your year for the better. I didn’t invent this simple technique; Ben Franklin did many years ago.  My word choices are a bit different than his were at the time, but the process and outcome can be the same.  The order in which you select your word each week is not important - what is – is that you let that word and all it implies have a positive and complete impact on your actions, attitudes, decisions and behavior during that week.  Do this for 48 weeks and I will guarantee that 2013 will be one of your most productive, successful, happiest and peaceful years ever. By the way, I have given you a list of fifteen words to choose from - so just pick the twelve that most resonate with you.  Try it, you have nothing to lose!
Passion – Passion isn’t about what you are doing, but who you are. Passion does not depend on experience, education, age, gender or any other external factor. It is an inner mindset that drives your actions, attitudes, beliefs, decisions and behavior.  Without passion you are doomed to just pass through life one same day after another - with it you can achieve your dreams.  Do not let others or circumstances determine your passion.  Live it each day and watch as your desires and dreams become reality.  

Faith – Faith is not just a spiritual belief, but a strong faith in yourself, your dreams, goals, ability and your future. Too often people or circumstances challenge our faith and we have a choice – give in to these outside influences or obstacles or maintain our faith in what we desire and are working toward and one day want to achieve or become. Faith is not always easy as circumstances can relentlessly challenge our ability to maintain our faith in the face of adversity or obstacles. 

Wisdom – Wisdom is not intelligence.  “Let your wisdom give you understanding”.  We are constantly overwhelmed with information. Information is not power – wisdom is.  Wisdom is knowing what to do and what not to do, when, why and why not, how and how not and for how long.  Wisdom requires knowledge that is properly applied in the right way.  Do not be misled.  Information is not power – wisdom is and it will only come from learning, understanding and then application.

Effort – Nothing of any consequence was ever achieved without effort. In spite of what you may have heard – there is NO free lunch.  On the surface it might sometimes appear that some people achieve their goals with little or no effort, but do not be deceived. Responsible effort is the common denominator for success and happiness – for the long term.  The wrong effort will tend to give you the wrong results while the right effort will contribute to your walking into your future with achievement, success and satisfaction. Contrary to the popular beliefs of many there is only one way to achieve anything and that is with effort.   

Hope – Every human wants to live with hope. Hope for something better, different or new.  No one wants to live their life, especially when life throws them hurdles or curves without hope.  It is in our DNA.  No matter what is going on we want to live with hope.  When we lose hope we lose life not only emotionally but often physically. Hope is simply believing that tomorrow will be better than today or yesterday in some way and it only requires that you hold on to it with every breath you take no matter how dire circumstances may appear.    

Patience – A major cause of stress in life is a lack of patience. I want it now.  I want it the way I want it and I refuse to accept anything less.  Life works on its own schedule and timing and it often has no regard for your preferences, demands or expectations. Patience is the ability to accept life as it shows up.  This does not mean you don’t try, work, plan and hope, but in the end the world functions on a simple cause and effect basis and there is often little we can do to control either the causes or the effects. What we can do is flow and not try and push the river as life adjusts, happens and appears from moment to moment.    

Belief – What you believe - you will manifest.  What you focus on you will tend to increase in your life. Having goals, affirmations and even action without belief is to fail to give yourself the potential for outcomes you say you desire.  Belief is an imbedded strong conviction that fills your mind and heart with attitudes and intentions that will bring to pass what you believe whether negative or positive. It is like an alarm clock that keeps reminding you of how to think, what to feel and how to act. When your beliefs are noble, positive and consistent you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.   

Optimism – It’s a medical fact that people who are optimistic and positive live longer and get sick less than people who are negative and pessimistic.  Optimism isn’t about sticking your head in the sand and living in La La land where the glass is always half full.  Both positive and negative people must deal with the same life challenges, adversity, failure and problems.  The difference is focus.  Optimists focus on finding a solution, alternative or a way around the obstacle while pessimists stay stuck in the problem. There is no guarantee that this year will not give you your share of challenges and problems, the question is how you choose to interpret them and then respond to them.

Gratitude – Have you ever considered that you get 80,000 heartbeats every day? I could go on with the many blessings each of us receives every minute of every day, but the question is – how often do you thank life and God for all of your special gifts? It’s been proven in the medical field that people who live with gratitude tend to have happier and healthier lives.  Just stop every now and then every day and just say thank you. 

Kindness – They are called random acts of kindness – to a friend, a co-worker, family member or even a total stranger.  Showing kindness to others will tend to keep you out of self-absorption and focused on being of value or service to others.  You never know – from where or when your acts of kindness will be returned.  But fail to give them and I’ll wager that you will receive very few of them in return. 

Now – Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed for everyone.  All you have is this moment as you are reading this short article. In five minutes whatever happened will be history.  Let me repeat – thirty seconds ago is gone with all its pain, uncertainty and opportunity.  The single best thing you can do to achieve success, happiness and inner peace is to learn to embrace each moment as it happens.  Leaving behind yesterday with all its regrets, disappointments, achievements and memories. If you can learn to live each moment as it is given to you, you will discover the true value of life.

Courage – I’m not talking here about the courage to jump out of airplanes or take physical risks, but the willingness to address each of life’s challenges as they show up in life with the ability to take them head on and not hide from them hoping they will solve themselves or suddenly disappear. Courage is the ability to confront your fears and uncertainties with resolve and bravery. Hoping they will solve themselves is to live in denial and often defiance. The value in facing your fears is that with time you will learn to prevent them rather than having to overcome them.

Appreciation – The single best way to keep your mind out of its natural tendency to come at issues and uncertainties from a fear perspective is to learn to stay in a mindset of appreciation. Your mind has only two options when it comes to emotions – fear and love.  All emotions are offshoots of these so to prevent or control – anger, jealousy, resentment, hate and so many others and their ability to rule your life is to learn to come at everything with the feeling or attitude of appreciation. Try it – for one week - learn to pay attention to everything in your life and I mean everything that crosses your path and just keep saying thank you.  You will be amazed.    

Compassion – No one in life escapes loss, grief or pain.  Sooner or later we must all face the inevitable consequences of life.  Death happens, illness happens, economic or natural crises hit many of us.  And, disappointment is a routine part of life.  I will guarantee that someone will cross your path today that needs compassion from you or others they encounter.  Compassion is not sympathy but demonstrating understanding and a listening ear. Compassion is simply caring about others regardless of their relationship to you or their status in life.  Ever needed or wanted compassion from others?  If not, you are most likely living in denial.

Confidence – I’m not talking here about ego domination or conceit, but having belief and many of the topics above as a natural part of your mindsets or life philosophy. False confidence will show itself for what it is sooner or later – insecurity.  We all have moments when we lose or lack self-confidence and these are normal depending on our circumstances or situations.  The ability to maintain a healthy self-esteem will contribute greatly to your self-confidence as you confront unknowns, uncertainty and unfamiliar territory in life.

That’s it. I encourage you to follow the instructions at the beginning of this article for the next twelve months.  If you do, at the end of 2013 as you look back on the previous year you will smile and say to yourself – what a great year this has been.     Make it a great one.  It’s in your hands! 

If Not Now . . . When

If not now . . . when?
Tim Connor

Do you know the biggest cause of procrastination?

It’s fear – fear of the unknown, what might happen in the future or some day or never, but nonetheless, millions of people put off what they can and should do today hoping that the task will get done or the situation they fear will just “disappear” on its own or some opportunity will still be there in the future when you are ready. Sorry folks – ain’t going to happen.

Those of you old enough to remember the old TV show Cochise might recall a line that has stuck with me for years.  Goes something like this;

Cochise’s braves were surrounded by the cavalry and were outnumbered 10 to 1.  One of the braves came to the chief and said, “What are we going to do?  We are all going to die.  We are surrounded.”  His response, “We are going to attack.”  “Attack, the brave screamed, we will be slaughtered.  Are you crazy?”  Cochise’s answer – “It’s better to take a dangerous chance than to wait safely for something worse.”  I love that response cause it’ so true.

Ever waited for something difficult to just go away on its own and while you waited it just got worse?  Or, have you ever hoped some dream on your bucket list would come true in the future? I know I have.  So what’s the answer?

Why do people put things off and I’m not talking here about cleaning the kitchen or washing the car.  I’m referring to relationship, career, personal, business or financial issues that plague many people’s every minute with worry, stress or anxiety wondering if they will ever be realized.  Again, the major cause is fear – fear of something – losing control, an unfavorable outcome or the need to find the courage to just dig in and deal with it.

If you think procrastination is just a short term challenge, how about those folks who put off – a trip of a lifetime that they have dreamed about for years - until the kids have grown and left home and then one of the partner’s dies before they can actually go.  How about that dream to own your own business and finally you find the courage to begin, but are suddenly confronted with health or financial circumstances that now stands in the way.

Or how about planning that special family celebration for your parent’s 50th anniversary when they suddenly are both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  I could go on with dozens of illustrations, but the common denominator is always the same – let’s wait until the time is right or circumstances are better or even perfect.

No one has a guaranteed future and that includes tomorrow, so if this is true, why do so many people wait to embrace many of life’s opportunities from; taking dancing lessons to asking your love to marry you.  From starting a new hobby to _________ (you can fill in the blank) or avoiding one of life’s many challenges.

Is it guilt?  Obligation? Regret? Fear? Resentment? Or one of many other and often justified emotional reasons?  I’ll bet if you have put something off in your life waiting for the best possible circumstances but with the passage of time you will one day look back with sadness wondering – why did I wait?

So, let me back up to the title – If not now – when?

“You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?
 Robert Louis Stevenson