Saturday, November 30, 2013

Coaches, Mentors and Heroes

Coaches, Mentors and Heroes
Tim Connor

As we head into a new year I would like to ask you a question – are you using the guidance, experience and wisdom of other people and resources that can aid your journey through life?
Scripture in Proverbs mentions dozens of times the need for the guidance and wisdom from others to achieve success, happiness and a lifestyle that is grounded in reality, confidence and integrity.

We are all being exposed to an increasing amount of information these days and unfortunately this trend is not helping but often hurting our life journey.

The sequence is simple – information can lead to knowledge but to be useful this knowledge must be applied.  Too much information can cause wasted time, confusion and poor decisions. When the best information is applied it can lead to experience and the value of experience is learning that helps us choose the most appropriate knowledge - which actions and decisions worked and which ones didn’t.
Ultimately this experience when blended with the best knowledge can improve and increase wisdom.

But – when during this process we fail to use the best or right information you can see how this can lead to poor decisions, actions and behavior . . .  and outcomes.

What’s the solution to our ongoing life challenges -
the use of OPN or OPE (other people’s knowledge and/or other people’s experience) i.e. coaches, mentors and heroes.

During my life I have had many of these – to mention a few –
Mark Twain, Charlie Jones, Don Hudson, Bible characters, Og Mandino, Catherine Frenzel, Ted Williams, and oh so many more.  Their value in my life has been un-measurable but I can tell you with certainty – that without them I would not be writing this article or have given over 4000 presentation in 25 countries and written over 80 books.

I can’t stress enough the value and importance of OPE and OPN when it comes to maturing with character, integrity, happiness and life and career success.

If you are not benefiting from the guidance of these three resources I will guarantee you are not achieving as much of your potential as is possible.

Yes, learning from these people can take time, energy, resolve and often resources but I will guarantee that these investments will save you time, money and mistakes that could have been avoided and can often be very costly.

Let me give you just one example when I didn’t pay attention to my resources.  Several years ago I started three internet businesses and all three of them failed and cost me a great deal of time, energy and money that never paid off but the bigger issue was the time, energy and resources they stole from my speaking and training career.

It was just another lesson where I failed to utilize the resources at my disposal out of ego, arrogance or just plain stupidity.

Never again.  Now before I take even some simple actions – like a follow-up email I run it by Mike Hourigan a friend, coach and mentor.  He has saved me some really dumb actions and decisions.

Yes, we all have experience, knowledge and a certain degree of wisdom but in the end  - none of us know it all – or everything we need to achieve success and happiness.

If you are benefiting from these three resources I congratulate you but if you are not – this year may be the time to change this approach to life.  Your choice.

“Every man is a hero to somebody, and to that person whatever he says, has an enhanced value.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

The 10% Myth

The 10% Myth
Tim Connor

For decades motivational experts and Gurus have been heard saying “We only use 10% of our brain and brain potential on a regular basis.”  Well, having studied brain function for over thirty years and reviewing recent articles and statistics by a variety of well respected brain experts this simply is not true and never has been.

Let me give you a few basics first;
-There are over 12 billion brain cells in every human brain
-Each of these has over 10,000 connections to other cells
-That’s’ over 125 trillion brain connections
-There are over three trillion chemical reactions in the brain every second of every day (that includes while you are sleeping)
- Every cell in your body has nerve connections that directly or indirectly connects to the brain.

There are many more important items I could share, but I don’t want to bore you with statistics.  What does all of this mean when it comes to brain function and individual performance?
For starters there are; attitudes, opinions, experiences, mindsets, values, beliefs and mental conditioning that you received during your early years that had a permanent impact on all of the previous items.

We were raised and nurtured in an environment we couldn’t control, so much of what has become etched in our minds (brains) during our formative lives has little or no relevance to our current life or circumstances and yet we are still influenced every day by these early messages from parents, teachers, churches etc.

The mind forgets nothing and stores everything.  Some of these memories, thoughts, experiences and words are deeply rooted in one or many of the 12 billion brain cells while others for a variety of reasons stay close to the surface ready to impact our actions, decisions and behavior in an instant.
Many people over the years have just thrown out this 10% number indicating that we don’t utilize 90% of our brain or minds.  As I said this is not true.  The mind is active every second of every day running a variety of bodily functions simultaneously.  The human body and especially the brain is a miraculous entity and works constantly for many of us for 80 and 90 years.

I’ve never been sure of what people have meant when they said we only use 10%.  Are they referring to; emotions?  Memories? Feelings? Or something else?  I know, they have been referring to potential.  But consider – how can the brain function non-stop and then just decide on its own that we will only have access to or use only 10%?  Ridiculous. Yes, many of us can’t find our keys, can’t remember names or lose control of our emotions from time to time, but this isn’t the minds fault it just reflects the messages we send it by our senses, observations and thoughts.

Everyone has creativity but many people refuse to accept or believe they have it.  We all have an imagination but very few people regularly tap into its potential.  This isn’t because we don’t have it, it’s because we have developed attitudes, beliefs, values or mindsets that reject what is true for everyone.

Think about it – if we only used 10% of our brain function we would have a lot more to worry about than our use of our potential, memories or feelings.  Imagine how many bodily functions like; digestion, heart beats, lung function etc. would work if the brain only used 10% of its ability.
While you are reading this you don’t have to pay attention to trillions of things that are going on in your body every second.  Consider - just to take a single step requires the use of over 200 muscles at the same time.  Ever thought about these while you were walking?  I doubt it, but the mind knows what to do, when and how without your instructions.

In summary the mind is a tool – you can use it for your ultimate good or you can use it for your demise.  The mind is not a judge it will let you do either but it does take its guidance from what and who you are exposed to in your life. It takes it all in – the worry, regret, anger, disappointment, anxiety, frustration etc. or the joy, happiness, peace, contentment or satisfaction. All thoughts that are repetitive will tend to contribute to how the brain works for you so if you want to change something in your life you must first change your thoughts.  And often before you can do this you may need to change something else in your life – who you are around, what you read, what you watch and how you behave.

Decisions, choices and actions are ultimately the results of what you have fed into your brain through your senses; eyes, ears, mouth, nose and touch.  Want better outcomes – control what your senses are exposed to.

There is one other area that determines the use of our brains and bodies therefore ultimately our outcomes and this is the spirit of God (or soul) that we all have in us.  In many ways this is our inner guidance system that when we permit it to impact our actions, choices and decisions and yes, thoughts, will give us better outcomes.  But I’ll save this discussion for a future article.

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners
of their own minds.”
T. Roosevelt

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Momentum Factor

The Momentum Factor
Tim Connor

Whether you took Physics in high school or not I’m sure you are familiar with the concept – “A body in motion tends to stay in motion….”

We call this momentum - physics a quantity that expresses the motion of a body and its resistance to slowing down. It is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity. I like this definition better - the power to increase or develop at an ever-growing pace – as it is the focus of this article.
There are basically two types of momentum from my perspective – forward momentum and backward momentum.  The laws that govern both are the same but the outcomes are completely different.  Let me explain.

Momentum is movement toward or away from something.  In a career, business or relationship the law applies – you are either gradually moving in the right direction (things are improving, getting better or easier) or the wrong direction (things are getting more difficult, challenging or worse).
Let’s take a brief look at momentum as it relates to – careers, business, relationships and life in general.

Careers – Careers are not stagnant – they are either getting better or worse, in other words they are moving in the right or wrong direction day by day.  If you are not learning ever day - guess what?  If you are stuck every day – guess what? If you are doing something to get better every day – guess what?  So the question is simply – which direction are you moving every day?  Do you have positive or negative momentum.

Here’s the secret (well maybe it’s not really a secret) as you keep moving in either direction it is easier to continue to keep moving in that direction.  So, if you are daily moving in the wrong direction it becomes easier each day to continue along that path. And the opposite is also true.  But here’s a key to both – just because you are moving in the right direction doesn’t mean that something couldn’t happen out of the blue that could suddenly change that movement.  And just because you are moving in the wrong direction every day doesn’t imply that you can’t do something to change that.

Regardless of the direction your momentum is taking you - stuff happens both good and bad stuff that can suddenly change everything.  The answer is to be conscious of what you are doing each day that is contributing to your direction and thus your results or outcomes.

Want to be a better salesperson, manager, leader or employee? You have to carefully analyze the repetitive steps you are taking each day and ask yourself – where are these steps (momentum) taking me?

Business – Many factors influence the momentum of a business – creativity, competition, the economy, your business model, customer behavior, your attitudes, technology, regulations, the weather and your history.  Yes, there are many others but I’m sure you get my point.  Some of these are within your control and many are not.  So, the question remains, how can you influence or control momentum when there are many factors that influence your business that are out of your control?

Here are just a few –
-Pay attention to trends (marketing, technology, economic).
-Stay relevant.
-Keep a close eye on the competition.
-Stay in touch with your customers.
-Get your ego out of the way.
-Cultivate your creativity and imagination.

For starters if you are not doing any of these guess which way your momentum is heading?  So, don’t be surprised when one day in the future you may be in serious trouble or even just a memory in a few customers’ minds.

During my career I have worked with hundreds of organizations in a variety of industries around the world and the common trait of the ones who are continually doing well regardless of their history, market or business type are the ones who keep a close eye on their direction and momentum.  They constantly evaluate products, services, policies etc. to make sure that they keep moving in the direction they want and need to - to succeed.

Relationships  - Any relationship has challenges due to people’s varied expectations, agendas, attitudes, beliefs and values.  Relationships can work for the long term if they are grounded in respect, acceptance, compassion, understanding and trust.  Each of these factors can on a daily basis be improving or getting worse.  Momentum in relationships can depend on spontaneous actions or long term behaviors but in the long run if they are to mutually work - both or all parties must pay attention to the direction of the above factors and work to improve the ones that are stable and reverse the ones that are negative or getting worse.

Life in general – Years ago, William Bridges said it in the first line of his bestselling book – Transitions “Life is difficult.”  No one wants more adversity, tribulation or uncertainty in their life.  We all desire peace, happiness and success regardless of how we define these.  If this is true, why do so many people struggle each day without these?  Is it because they don’t understand the relationship between momentum and outcomes or that they just want things better regardless of their actions, decisions or attitudes?

We all have good days and bad days but in the end how many of each we have is generally based on our life direction or momentum.  If you want to change an outcome or situation you must first take a serious look at your direction day by day.  All actions and decisions have outcomes or consequences so if you are getting more negative ones than positive I’ll wager that your direction/momentum is a significant factor.

“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as to what direction we are moving.”
O.W. Holmes

Life's 7 Vital P's

Life’s 7 Vital P’s
Tim Connor

This article is not intended to simplify what it takes to achieve success, but to give you a simple and straightforward approach that when consistently implemented can go a very long way to helping you accomplish your dreams, find happiness and inner peace and use your skills and experience for the benefit of others.
What are the seven?  And yes there are many more traits, attitudes and mindsets that are required but after careful consideration I’ll bet you could list all of them under one of the seven.

Purpose, Passion, Preparation, Practice, Persistence, Performance and Patience.
Let’s take a brief look at each.

Purpose – Without a defining purpose whether personal, business or career it is unlikely that anyone will consistently pursue a dream, desire or goal if they have a haphazard or wily nily approach to their activities, decisions and actions. Purpose should be the underlying philosophy or strategy if you want to have any hope of ultimate success or achievement.  Purpose helps us overcome obstacles, failure and disappointment as we pursue our objectives or mission. Clear and focused purpose needs to be well defined and integrated into each belief, mindset, action and decision.   

Purpose must be grounded in belief and commitment if any goal is to be accomplished or achieved regardless of its timeframe.

Passion – Passion can make up for a lack of education, experience and knowledge.  Yes, these can be helpful but how many people do you think embarked on a mission with all of the skills and knowledge they needed to achieve success?  My research over the years tells me that most people who have achieved greatness whether inventors, entrepreneurs or anyone who has accomplished great things didn’t have all they needed when they began, but they all had a driving passion.

Preparation – It doesn’t matter whether you are an Olympic athlete or are preparing for a vacation - preparation when done in a timely and effective way will go a long way in ensuring a successful outcome. Yes, there will always be surprises and uncertain things that can cause challenges as you make your journey but in the end preparation can serve as an excellent way to make sure that these will be minor or they won’t disrupt the major objective of your goal. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t live without a sense of adventure or spontaneity but proper planning will often contribute to a better outcome.  Planning consists of thinking through the journey in advance with all of its goals, potential problems and uncertainties and how you will handle them should they arrive or in other words having a Plan B or even a Plan C.

Practice – Without practice whether you are an actor, salesperson, athlete or business leader you are guaranteed to fail to achieve your desired results.  Over the years I have observed numerous salespeople “winging it” hoping that their casual style would end in success.  I have watched many athletes depend on “natural ability” hoping that they would achieve greatness.  Doesn’t happen.  The best of the best always practice whether on their own or with a mentor, coach or anyone interested in helping them achieve success.  Perfection is impossible but practice can ensure that you always do your best.

Persistence – I’ll keep this one short – without persistence you will never achieve your goals, dreams or plans.  Yes, sometimes our plans or goals need to be refined or abandoned but in the end if it is worthy of your talent, skill, and effort don’t expect things to always turn out according to your schedule or time table. Stick with it if it has meaning in your life and accept wherever the path leads.

Performance – Performance is simply the result of many factors – attitudes, effort, knowledge, skill, wisdom, desire and discipline.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s preparing a fancy meal, building a house or working on a project or hobby - when complete or how it looks along the way and when it is finished will be a direct result of the performance you brought to each step of the way.  This article for example is not just 800 words but my attempt to share in a coherent way some facts, truths or opinions about this topic.  Do I rewrite?  Yes.  Do I evaluate the outcome and then process each step of the way?  Yes.  Do I add stuff or delete stuff or change stuff on second and third readings?  Yes.  Is it perfect? No. Could it always be better?  Yes. Will it ever be perfect?  No. Will everyone like it?  No. Performance is a measure of the relationship to your goals, plans or objectives and their outcomes.

Patience – The number one contributor to stress is a lack of patience. When we feel we should be in control of everything in life; it’s outcomes, timing, responses etc we are just setting ourselves up for disappointment, frustration, anxiety and even anger.  Not a pretty picture when you consider that a lack of patience is directly related to our lack of trust, acceptance and the need to be in charge of life.  Not going to happen – sorry.   

Life happens every day to each of us – things we didn’t expect, things we don’t want, and people that for whatever reason disappoint us in some way. Patience is simply the ability to flow with life as it appears one minute at a time. Someone didn’t respond to your email or text as quickly as you wanted?  Someone is late for an appointment?  Traffic jam?  I could go on for pages with all of this stuff but in the end we have a choice – accept what is (and I don’t mean to imply that we should be passive bystanders but that we should learn when to act and when to wait) or do what we can do while we wait.  Too many people die early simply because they let the power of impatience destroy their health, happiness and inner peace.

“Self-trust is the first secret of success.”