Saturday, March 30, 2013

Goals, Dreams or Wishing

Goals, Dreams or just Wishing?
Tim Connor

Have you ever had to let go of a dream? If so, was it due to someone else’s feedback or did you just outgrow or lose interest in it? Or, does it still linger deep in your consciousness or soul waiting for you to finally take some positive action?

Are you working towards some goals that you just are not making progress towards as quickly as you had planned or hoped?

Got some special wishes buried deep in your heart that you would love to experience but just are not sure if they are possible?

Don’t ever give up.  We create what we secretly desire only when we take consistent, positive and right actions.  But, there is a common denominator in the above three areas and that is – If you want something you can have it or achieve it as long as you believe strongly in your mind and heart and never let go of the passion and desire to accomplish it.

Yes, contrary to conventional wisdom you can accomplish anything in your life you want – you just can’t accomplish everything – there isn’t enough time (that is unless you have set the bar really low).  You have to focus on what is important and why and never give in or up to outside negative influence or allow inside negative messages cause you to let go of hopes, plans or desires.

If you start with this premise then the rest is simple but it will never be easy.  Achievement requires effort, patience, courage, persistence and action.  If you really want to achieve your dreams, whatever they are, if you only dream - that’s all they will ever be – dreams.  But, if you move steadily in the direction of your dreams with courage and behaviors that help you achieve the desire you say you want – one day you will look back and say to yourself – I knew I could do this.

So, if all of this is true why do so many people let go of goals, dreams or desires?

Is it fear or insecurity?  Could it be that you want to avoid the rejection of others? Or, is it simply you just don’t know how to begin?  Could be all of these so what CAN you do?
S T A R T and let go of what the end will look like.  You might think this is contrary to much of the inspirational and motivational teaching of the day – well it is.  No one and I mean no one can predict the future or know exactly what tomorrow will bring – be it achievement or disappointment, success or failure or stress or inner peace.  All we can do is just keep taking one step at a time with the end in sight but without attachment to it.

We all have goals, dreams, plans and desires whether written in stone or they are just wandering aimlessly around in our consciousness.  We all want something better or more whether in our spiritual, financial, physical life or our relationships.  But wanting will never be enough - you have to create a “white heat” of passion and desire and then turn off the inner and outer negative messages that can often be the only cause of our failure to begin. I might add that developing the necessary skills will always be a critical part of any successful journey into the future. So the choice is yours – keep getting better and smarter or accept staying stuck where you are!

You don’t know what you can do or is possible until you try. But, you have to be willing to turn of the naysayers in your life and all of the mental baggage that may stand in your way.  Easy?  Never.  Necessary? Always.  So just go for it and let the chips fall where they may.  You have nothing to lose by trying and everything to lose by not trying. 

“Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who is responsible?

Who is responsible?
Tim Connor

Let me begin with two simple and yet often ignored basic premises – you are responsible to people but not for them and you are responsible for yourself and your life’s outcomes, circumstances and situations (a concept that many people today are either ignorant of or just refuse to honor as they live each day).

Make poor choices and decisions and you will pay the price.  Yes, you can blame all you want but in then end – you made them.  And yes, I understand making good decisions or choices when under pressure of some kind is difficult and challenging (I’ve done it numerous times) but again - in the end – life is a neutral concept – it lets you make choices but it also insists that you will inherit the consequences.

Everyone wants a stress free life as the weeks and years flow by one after another with inner peace, prosperity, success and happiness. This is a normal life outlook; however it doesn’t take into consideration the realities of life with all its dramas, frustration, disappointment, failure and mistakes.

So what’s the answer to this simple idea of responsibility?  Trust me I could go on for pages and hours if we considered the millions of people who live every day of their life in blame, denial, finger pointing and a sense of entitlement.  But I will save you my ranting and raving and leave you with a few things to consider.

1)  We all make mistakes, do dumb things and make poor decisions sooner or later.
2)  We have a choice – we can learn from them and move on or we can remain stuck in self-pity, self-absorption, anger, resentment or guilt.
3)  When you come from a mindset of blame you will seldom learn the lessons that life wants you to “get”.
4)  To see yourself as a victim is to wish your circumstances were to continue.
5)  When you refuse to take personal responsibility for your life circumstances you will only delay or even prevent their improvement in the future.
6)  Regardless of your life circumstances you always have choices.  You might not like some of them or feel they are less than ideal, but to feel stuck with no options is an immature life outlook.
7)  Negatives in life serve a valuable purpose.  You might not agree with this but consider – much if not all of the good you have in life is the result of previous responses to challenging situations where you chose to learn valuable lessons.
8)  The more you help others, the less you really help them over time and sooner or later they must face their lack of previous responsibility. And, the more others help you (no matter how much you believe you deserve it or are entitled to it) the same is true.
9)  Life is lived inside-out not outside-in.  When you live outside-in you always blame or point your finger elsewhere.  When you live inside-out you always take responsibility for both your negative as well as positive circumstances.
10) If you disagree with any of the above why not take a few minutes  
     and ask yourself – why?     

"People take different roads as they search for happiness, success and fulfillment. Just because they're not on your road
doesn't mean they’re lost." 
Yours Truly

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Dance of Love

The Dance of love
Why the music stops and the dance ends.

Love is like a dance.  

 If you don’t like the music, don’t know the steps, insist on doing it your way regardless of the routines of a particular dance or just don’t like to dance guess what – sooner or later the dance of love between you and your partner will end and usually badly.

There are as many reasons why the dance of love ends as there are people doing the dance.  Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, for millions of people each year, their relationships end with stress, anger, guilt and resentment.

Why does the music stop for so many people when most of these relationships began with hope, positive anticipation, love and caring?
Call it the human experience and the need, sometime dysfunctional need, for receiving and giving love.  Yes, there are many relationships that begin where the people involved are fully aware that - I shouldn’t do this, it isn’t right, it doesn’t feel right or I’m doing it for all of the wrong reasons, but in the end they override these inner urgings and plow ahead anyway. The bottom line – we all say we are following our heart when in many instances that is the last thing we are doing.  Following are some of the more common reasons why the music stops and the dance of love ends. 

Yes, there are many others, but I’m sure if you will carefully think about the following you will discover that your particular reasons are in some way related to these.
When the dance begins a new relationship is formed and each person tends to put their partner on a pedestal.  They only see the qualities, traits, habits and behavior that they want to see. 

When love is failing the same people tend to see each other through a different set of values and expectations.  It is almost as if they are looking for stuff not to like.

Why do people fail to see the other person clearly in a new relationship and why do we lose tolerance or even the simplest kindness toward another when a relationship is in trouble?

There are always clues that the dance will not end in a positive way.  Not to see them or to see them and hope they are only temporary is to be na├»ve.  To believe they will change them with time is to live in a land of fantasy. 

Another reason the dance ends is the inability to manage differences. If you don’t have conflict in your relationship it is probably because you have a long distance relationship or are living in denial.

Conflict is normal in every relationship no matter how new or long lasting.  Show me a couple who don’t have conflict and I’ll show you two people who have totally disengaged from the relationship or are in a complete state of emotional withdrawal.  Conflict is either positive or negative.  How can conflict be positive you might rightly ask? 

The real issue is trust and respect.  People who do not trust or respect their partner will generally let conflict further erode their relationship.  People who trust and respect their partner will tend to use the conflict to create better understanding and or acceptance of their partner’s views, opinions or attitudes.

So the real culprit here is not the conflict itself but the degree of trust, respect and unconditional acceptance that is present or absent.
A significant reason the dance ends is selfishness or – it’s all about me!

My definition of selfishness is when a person is concerned about tomorrow.  These people lack faith in themselves, God, and others to give them what they need (not what they want) in the future. Therefore, these people must guard every cent and every emotion with the concern that their emotional or financial bank account may run dry in the future.

Selflessness is when you give of yourself - your support, guidance, love, time, ideas, and encouragement - without a concern for the expectations, demands, needs, or desires of others. These people do not give to get, but just to give. They find their rewards not in the giving, but in the development of who they are and who they are becoming.

And finally the dance ends due to the lack of a safe emotional environment that causes trivia and communication issues to get completely out of whack.
What is a safe environment? It is an environment in which you can be perfectly honest without fear of judgment, ridicule, criticism or later retribution. If you are fortunate to have relationships that are very honest, open and sharing, consider yourself blessed. Most relationships have some areas or topics that are avoided to avoid another argument or hurt feelings. This situation, these hidden thoughts, feelings or attitudes can be acceptable as long as they are not critical to the overall success of the relationship.

If you have a lot of suppressed stuff with someone you are in a relationship with, I urge you to let it go, express it, or walk away from the relationship before it becomes too destructive on your emotional well being and health.

In many relationships two strangers share the same bed, sit at the same kitchen table every morning and grow further apart every day.  They know little about their significant other or sometimes even care very little about them.  There is dialog that is often superficial, self-centered, critical and judgmental. Few couples really know each other.  The years seem to have hardened one or both of these people and for some reason they have lost the love, intimacy and romance.  I know, it has happened to me and the pain of acting like you want to be where you are is almost unbearable.   
Living a lie helps no on one. So let me ask you, if you have been together for a few years tell me, what are some of the things you do or don’t know about your partner?

Some of us need more help, love and patience than others, as we tentatively bare ourselves to those around us.  Some of us however never really try.  We are afraid to be vulnerable and authentic for fear of a variety of unknown reactions.  So we live in a prison where only a few select souls are allowed visiting hours and only on our terms.

Every relationship has its emotional ups and downs.  These are caused by any number of emotional issues.  Some of the emotions that are evident in any relationship are: blame, anger, resentment, jealousy, happiness, joy, fear, guilt, emotional games, sadness, grief, pain, disappointment, unrealized expectations, cheerfulness and numerous others.

When I speak of emotional immaturity I am referring to inappropriate emotions given a certain activity, situation, or circumstance.  For example, carrying resentment around for several years after the cause of the resentment isn’t healthy either physically or for the relationship.  Blaming your partner for an action when they are just doing the best they can at the time with what they have is to invite a breakdown in communication and intimacy.  Not being sensitive to your partner’s negative emotional state due to a situation in their career or life is to send a message that you are emotionally distant from their needs, desires, dreams, hopes, fears or feelings.

Emotional maturity is bringing the right amount of emotional support, connection or outlook to any situation.  Each of us can contribute to our partner’s growth or we can sabotage it.  We sabotage it when we play emotional games and stay stuck in negative emotional manipulation.  We help them when we help them see clearly how their emotional state has contributed to their situation or how it keeps them stuck in the past or in negative issues.

I believe in the end the major reason why all relationships end, that could have lasted is because one or both partner’s lets stupid, trivial and unimportant issues get out of control as they dig in their heals to defend their opinions, values, goals, attitudes or life outlook.

I have observed many couples in public arguing about stuff that really doesn’t matter, but they have chosen t make the issue or subject a potential game-breaker that sooner or later will increase resentment, disappointment and even grief.  And so – another dance ends with regret, sadness or anger.

15 Keys to Growing Your Business

The Fifteen Keys to Growing Your Business
in an Uncertain Economy
Tim Connor, CSP

Far too many businesses have unnecessarily failed during the past few years and many more will follow in their footsteps.  Will your business be one of them? It doesn’t matter if you are a start-up or have been in business for over thirty years.  It doesn’t matter if you have sales under one million or over five hundred million.  And it doesn’t matter whether you own your market or have more competitors than you can count.  None of these will determine your sustainability during the coming years.

Regardless of your current or past positive or negative circumstances or business environment you can fail or prosper in the future and there are fifteen areas you should consider that will have the greatest impact on your future success.  I believe that how organizations address the following areas will determine whether they become a casualty or a continued market winner and influencer. Why not consider your organization’s approach, attitudes, philosophy or mindsets when it comes to the following. (They are in no order when it comes to their importance.)  Please keep in mind that even if you are successfully doing several of the following that only one can have a dramatic negative impact on your long term success.   

Back to the basics approach – One of the major drawbacks of technology is that it can tend to take our eye of the ball or what works as we attempt to stay current with the latest fads and approaches.  There is nothing wrong with embracing what is new and ever changing but to abandon the fundaments or basics in the process can be a recipe for disappointment at best and failure at worst.

Ask any winning coach and they will tell you that the basics are an essential strategy for sustained success.  Ask any artist, musician or successful business leader and they will all tell you that they experiment with the new or unknown but they never lose sight of what they know works.

To maintain success requires a careful blending of what is new with what is timeless and proven.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a marketing approach, distribution method, sales strategy, accounting premise or any other business process I will guarantee that if you stick with the basics or fundamentals as you experiment with what is new you will always achieve predicable results and outcomes.  The action – ask yourself two simple questions – what are you doing that’s working and what are you doing that’s not working?

Learn from the past  The past can be a wonderful teacher.  It’s unfortunate however how many people fail to take the lessons from the past into new activities, decisions and actions.  Yes, there may have been failures in the past and yes, there may have been successes but in the end we tend to only learn from mistakes or failures if we are open and receptive to the lessons.  Few people learn anything from success other than to just keep doing what seems to be working.  The problem occurs when you are riding high on the success bandwagon that you will fail to pay close attention to future challenges, problems or just adversity waiting around the next corner.  Tell me that three  or four years ago when your business was in high gear with success after success that you were not blindsided in some way with the economic derailment that hit us all a few years back.

Tell me you were totally prepared for the adversity waiting in the wings.  Tell me that you saw it coming and how it would impact your business.  If you did – congratulations.  If you didn’t you were like most business leaders basking in the sunlight of success assuming that the good times would just keep on coming.  The action – pay attention to all of the hidden and subtle signals from the past and carefully evaluate the contributors, causes and symptoms to those decisions or actions that failed to produce the desired or expected results.  Don’t just walk on by but dig into the details and use the lessons to prepare for the unknown future. 

Invest in employee development – You would be amazed at how many organizations hold back on employee development during challenging times.  This is a serious mistake whatever your rationales or excuses.  The single greatest asset you have in your organization during challenging times is the motivation, effort, creativity and passion of your employees.  If they are focused on fear, uncertainty or any other negative mindset during difficult times it is doubtful they will bring more creative energy or solutions or the issues you face.  What you need to weather these conditions and to emerge healthy, successful and prosperous are employees who embrace what can be not what has been or is. The action – don’t put off investing in your employee’s skills, attitudes or motivation using a wait and see attitude.  You will find this is one of the best investments you can make until things turn around for the better.  In fact doing this will tend to help you turn around more quickly.

Just keep sowing – It’s simple – if you don’t sew you can’t reap. Just thought I would keep this one short in case you are running out of time and rushing through this article.  Action – Stop sowing and guess what?  Nothing to reap in the future.

Connect with reality – What is reality and does it change?  Reality is nothing more than what is really going on not what you; want, hope is, need or would like to be happening.  When you come at life from what you believe or want rather than from what is, it is certain that you will make poor decisions and have behaviors that will tend to sabotage your outcomes.  The more you deal in facts or truth the better your chances for staying the course in a productive and effective way. The action – Stay in touch with your employees at every level of the organization.  Keep asking customers the critical questions – why do you buy from us, what could we doing better, what factors would cause us to lose your business and others like this.  Pay attention to the answers and act accordingly.

Validate employees – You would be amazed at how often people invalidate others in so many ways often on an unconscious level. How do we invalidate people?  Interrupt them, don’t listen to them or send subtle negative messages. Be late for meetings or appointments.  These and so many others send the clear message that I am more important than you, smarter than you and better than you. Whenever you invalidate an employee, customer or even a total stranger you will tend to lower their self-esteem in some way and this will have a definite negative impact on their actions, decisions and productivity. The action – spend time validating employees and customers with appreciation, recognition, and respect and watch the relationships get better and better over time.

Pull the tooth – If you have ever had a toothache I’m sure you didn’t live with it for weeks or months.  You went to your dentist and if they said the tooth couldn’t be saved and they needed to pull it that you would go along with their recommendation. What pains are you or your business dealing with now and have for weeks or months and you have failed to pull the tooth.  Yes, fix it if you can, but if it needs to be pulled, failure to do so will only guarantee that the pain will continue. Is it an employee that needs to be let go?  Is it a customer that you need to send on their way?  Is it a policy that is anti-productive?  I could go on.  The actionPull the tooth or live with the pain.

Act like a bird – This past summer I was watching as a bird was building a nest in my garage.  The thought occurred to me that the bird had never been to architectural school, didn’t have a blueprint or written plan to create the finished product.  The bird just kept bringing in one leaf and one stick at a time.  He didn’t get upset if the nest wasn’t being completed fast enough.  He didn’t get stressed if it wasn’t looking like he thought it should and he wasn’t deterred by the weather or other circumstances.  He just kept bringing in one stick and one leaf at a time and one day the nest was complete and ready for the eggs.

What does this have to do with growing your business?  Quite simple really. Just act like a bird and don’t get wrapped up in what you want or think something should look like and when.  Just keep moving forward one step at a time and before you know it the results will be there.  Caution, don’t get too attached to what you want it to look like, however as everything is a work in progress and subject to change.  The action – just keep taking one step at a time and don’t become obsessed with pre-conceived notions on what or how, just keep focusing on the why and let things flow.  This doesn’t mean sitting at your desk and wishing and hoping, but like the bird, one step at a time.

Maintain a healthy corporate culture – Corporate culture is a predominant contributor to employee performance.  If your culture is negative, invalidating, and insecure or has any other negative influencing factors, employees will adjust accordingly. For example – if your culture has – a we vs. they - as one of its characteristics, employees will tend to be more concerned with their own survival or personal success than the survival or success at the overall organization. You can imagine how their actions, decisions and behavior will impact other department’s even customers. A healthy culture encourages creativity, responsibility, recognition and appreciation as a routine element of how people treat each other.  A healthy culture permits people to speak freely and always share integrity based information and feedback.    The action – culture is created top-down and lived bottom-up.  Find ways to ensure that the culture you are creating is positive and validating and that there is no disconnect between what you think is happening and what is really happening.

Creativity – When creativity is stifled for any reason new and innovative ideas and approaches will never surface or be realized.  Everyone has a creative spirit and capability regardless of their age, gender, race or history.  The problem arises when for whatever reason this creativity is not encouraged and embraced.

Organizations that continue to thrive in spite of economic or market circumstances do so because they create an environment where creativity is appreciated, valued and often rewarded.  Organizations that are stuck are generally in this malaise because the creative potential of its employees is not seen as a major part of their roles or responsibilities.

If you want new or better solutions or approaches – they exist in potential.  The question is simply are you willing to allow these creative instincts to flourish.  The action – ask yourself simple question – are you creating an environment that encourages and validates creative thinking and doing?
Focus on your strengths – When you ignore your core business and attempt new ventures, products or services that are not in line with your strengths and previous successes you will tend to fail to bring the same level of passion and commitment to these new activities.  This is especially true when you feel you need to expand your business, customer base or market share in some way during challenging times.  The best route for leaving the slow growth and poor performance of the past is to focus on what you do best – what works.  Yes, improve it, modify it, change it in some way if necessary, but stick with what you know works and has worked.  However, if what you do best is failing to deliver the results you expect and need, it might be time for renewal or modifications to improve your outcomes. The action – ask yourself a simple question – are you and your team focusing on your strengths or weaknesses?

A blending philosophy - Why people buy has not changed a great deal in the past 50 years, but how they can and do buy has been significantly affected by technology i.e. websites, blogs, I Phones, Email marketing etc.  To have a current effective sales and marketing strategy requires that these must be added to the mix, but the real  question is – what’s next or what waits around the next corner in terms of marketing and sales opportunities and how to best anticipate them, prepare for them, deal with them and take advantage of them.  Yes, you need to use social media with all its complexity, competition and opportunity, but consider for a moment how many millions of people are using this and what is the potential for awareness or even results.

I am a believer in adapting and adopting to change, but I am also a strong believer in continuing to use and embrace the basics or fundamentals.  In many ways technology improves our ability to keep in touch with others, but the way we use these approaches to keep in touch is most often void of the human touch.  We are losing human connectedness.  Yes, I know what you had for dinner last night and where you are going on vacation and thousands of other useless pieces of information on many social media sites, but when was the last time you met face to face, had a live dialog or just hung out with a client, friend or even your kids?

I have written numerous articles the past few years relative to the loss of human connectedness in the area of sales, customer service and management and the general philosophy I teach is - use technology as a tool not a crutch. When it comes to positive and consistent results in sales and marketing it is vital that you embrace a blending process when it comes to wide exposure, reputation building, positive word of mouth and overall success. The action – ask yourself a simple question – are you relying too heavily on a single strategy or are using a blending process in various areas of your business?

Continually re-invent yourself and your business - It’s  time to let go of what is no longer working  - no matter how long you have done it or how entrenched it is in your organization’s history or philosophy.  Re-invent simply means to – let go, re-charge, re-ignite, re-vitalize and take the lessons from the past, but not the processes or approaches into the future.  Re-invent is simply a – “throw-away-the-box mentality” and not just a - “think-out-of-the-box” one.  It means holding on to what you believe in, but not necessarilly how you deal with it.  The action - It requires surrender to the new-normal and how that is influencing your overall business approaches and their ultimate success. Are you routinely re-inventing yourself or your business?

Embrace change - There are a number of national and international organizations that are still being run by out of date managers and executives. These individuals, many of them are locked in a style of doing business that may have worked in the past. But times are changing. Many of these executives and managers are going to find themselves left behind wondering how did it happen, when did it happen or why did it happen to me or us.
Everyday you will have your attitudes, values, expectations and perceptions challenged. You must keep aware as you grow your organization, department or division into the next decade. There will be lot’s of new obstacles, challenges and problems to test your resolve. So relax and enjoy the ride into the future. The action – ask yourself a simple question – is change your friend or enemy?

Let me summarize with a few basic thoughts.

1)     Your successful history will not guarantee a successful future.
2)     Your employees are the critical factor that will determine how you sustain and improve your business.
3)     If you have a problem in your organization look up the ladder for the cause and down the ladder for the solution.
4)     Change is constant and is increasing its pace faster than ever before in history.  Embrace it or get left behind.
5)     Relevance is not about sacred cows or conventional wisdom but on staying ahead of the curves ahead.

The future is in your hands – what will it look like?

Surrender Isn't Giving Up

Surrender is not giving up.
Tim Connor

Many people fail to surrender to various circumstances in life where they would be better served if they adopted this philosophy or attitude simply because they don’t really understand the difference between surrendering to something and giving up or in.

Surrender – yield to a strong emotion, influence, or temptation or to yield or submit to some inner or outer condition or force.

To give up or quit - to abandon a pursuit, desire dream or goal that you have devoted time, energy, time or resources to.

See the difference here? One is to yield to a behavior or circumstance as in – learning to control emotions, feelings or mindsets regarding some life area that ultimately will be in your best interests to pursue.  In other words - refusing to let others have the power to push your emotional buttons and cause reactions or responses that cause you inner guilt or some other negative emotional response.   This surrender is to gain ultimate emotional control over your behavior.

To give in or to give up relates to dealing with a task, activity, goal or some behavior that is either positive or negative but just abandoning and further pursuit or consistent behavior.  This can be both a good as well as a bad thing – quitting drugs, food over indulgence or some other destructive behavior or quitting a job, career, relationship or pursuit can have mixed outcomes.

Struggling with the need to let go of something?  A lost relationship? A career that is no longer relevant? A way of life that you became addicted to but is no longer possible or probable? A business product that is just  no longer selling?  An employee that refuses to get on board and the need to let them go? A financial addiction that is no longer necessary or beneficial?   This list is endless but in the end sooner or later we all need to find the courage and confidence to let go of (surrender) some emotional attachment or to physical or “stuff” need.

Why can’t people surrender or let go of something or anything?  Is it a fear of the unknown?  Is it insecurity?  Is it a lack of faith?  Is it a lack of courage?   Is it immaturity?  Is it some attachment to what is or was?  Or is it just greed, ego or the need to be in control?  The answer to each of these question is yes.  The key is to do the inner work to determine what your personal reason(s) is or are.  The other problem is that most people are unwilling or afraid to do this inner work.

Hanging on to anything can sooner or later often cause a great deal of pain, guilt, resentment or even anger.  The opposite is also true.  Learning to let go of or surrender to something in your life that no longer serves your present or future best interests can be like lifting a huge weight off your shoulder.  It can feel like a ‘freeing’ event one that allows you to move into tomorrow with greater peace, happiness and even contentment.

Surrender is a positive act that when embraced will permit you to leave the past, with all its memories, frustration and sense of accomplishment, behind.  Yesterday is history.  Yes hold on to the learning, the benefits and positive memories but when all is said and done, it’s still history and there is nothing in the world you can do to re-live it, re-do it or re-capture it.