Saturday, November 29, 2014

Suffering – are you a victim or an observer

Suffering – are you a victim or an observer
Tim Connor

Suffering is a normal part of life. No one escapes its presence in life.  But the question remains – do you use it to learn or whine, get wiser or complain or get stronger or feel like life is picking on you – a victim mentality.

During my many years I have endured a great deal of suffering and pain so I am not coming at this topic from a mindset of arrogance, denial or superiority but from humility and gratitude.  How can you feel gratitude for suffering you might ask?  Great question but since sooner or later we all suffer in life in some way and in the end suffering or its cause or contributors gives us the choice as how we view the causes and pain from an attitude of acceptance, anger, helplessness or gratitude.  Let me explain.

There are many causes of suffering – the loss of a loved one before their time, the end of a relationship you didn’t see coming or didn’t choose, the loss of health weather from the passage of time and aging or poor decisions along life’s path, the loss of financial security, the loss of a career or job in no way due to your performance or skills.  I could go on but suffering is just as much a part of life as celebrating another birthday.

Suffering can destroy us and those around us or it can cause us to pause and think about what we still have in spite of our loss or pain due to it. Over the years I have met hundreds of people who have suffered in some way where they didn’t feel responsible – whether an act of nature or some stupid driver on the highway but in the end these people grew or remained stuck in a victim mentality.  Not to mention how many people chose to blame God for their trials or adversity.

I am not going to get into a spiritual discussion about whether God is responsible or not but rather how we can choose to respond to the causes of our pain or suffering.  Following are a few of the categories I have come up with that determine our reactions or responses to the cause and consequences of suffering.

Before I share these views let me define what I mean by being an observer since I am confident I don’t need to define – victim. An observer is someone who has the courage, maturity, experience or ability to observe life’s circumstances whether positive or negative from a neutral perspective.  Regardless of the situation – whether winning a million dollars in a lottery or losing a job, career or business an observer is able to stay focused on what to do and when and how and not staying stuck in the –why.  Yes, they experience the same pain due to a loss but they use their pain to grow, learn or get stronger and not waddle in the negatives for days, months or even years.  They handle it, manage it and move on. 

I am in no way suggesting that the loss of a loved one doesn’t cause tremendous pain, guilt or even regret as I have experienced these during my life and I am sensitive to what or how this loss can impact your life both now and in the future, but life is about what is ahead of us not what is behind.  Yes we feel pain, remorse, agony, grief and even anger at times but to live the time you have left letting these dominate your remaining time is to waste life – period.

The learner –

The learner uses suffering to learn about life with all its reality both the positives and negatives.  Yes they feel the sense of loss and experience the pain associated with it but once the period of mourning has passed they use their pain to grow and see life more clearly and maturely. It doesn’t matter whether they have experienced tremendous success or significant failure – they use it to learn and become wiser so that similar events in the future will be easier to navigate through.

The blamer –

The blamer refuses to take responsibility for their loss.  They point fingers at others – the economy, the government, their boss, their spouse or even their neighbors, but in the end they lack the courage and will and carry on without finding a scapegoat somewhere.  I could give you dozens of examples, stories or illustrations of blamers but here is just one – This person I know a few years ago lost their job due to their lack of professionalism, effort, commitment and maturity.  They then spent the next couple of years trying to get another position.  The problem was, whenever they were not selected for whatever reason they immediately went into – blame mode and they wonder why they were having so much trouble landing a new position.

Blame is simply the unwillingness to take responsibility.

The denier –

The denier (yes I know this isn’t a word) fails to deal in reality.  They remain stuck in excuses, rationales or even denial that something has happened or they may have contributed in some way to the situation.

In the end we will all suffer in some way and how we choose to react to its cause will ultimately contribute in some way towards our continued future pain or the ability to move on with life with attitudes of courage, patience, trust, belief, forgiveness, compassion or peace.

“We create our fate every day, most of the ills we suffer from are directly traceable to our own behavior.” 
Henry Miller

Friday, November 28, 2014

Exit Strategies or is it Time to Pull the Trigger

Exit Strategies or is it Time to Pull the Trigger
Tim Connor

I can’t tell you how many times I have observed clients; develop new products, create new policies, acquire other companies, expand to new market areas and promote certain people when they were destined to fail either dramatically over time or shortly after the new decision was made. Or, people make a decision not feeling sure of the outcome as planned or hoped. Very little in life always turns out the way we want, need or hope or even feel we deserve and why? Well, folks it’s called – life.

Sooner or later some of our initiatives personally or in our career or business will fail.  Nothing in the future is guaranteed.  The major question is however – if we embark on this – something new – what are our chances of success or failure and how will the critical aspects involved impact the outcome?

You would be amazed at how many decisions for doing something new or different are made every day by millions of people who lack an exit strategy in the event things don’t turn out like they planned or hoped.

Before I share a few insights let me share that during my life and career I can’t tell you how many things went wrong or ended badly - whether a new enterprise, a new product, a new marketing approach, starting a new relationship (business or personal) or as simple as on a few occasions just buying a new product.  Been there?  If not I’ll bet you are either in denial or you are just sitting safely in front of your TV day after day.

What is an exit strategy?

Some people might refer to an exit strategy as a Plan B or even C but I’m not referring here to approaches that keep you involved in the same journey or direction but of letting go of the plan or strategy completely and moving on.

Yes, sometimes all that is needed to make something work is a new approach or change in some of the details but in the end consider the possibility that the plan is not working because it is a signal that it is time to let it go and move on to something else or new.

An effective exit strategy should be in place as a part of the original plan that have benchmarks in place that tell you if they are not being met you have two options – change the plan or end it.  Ending it is never easy especially if you have your ego vested in it from the beginning and this is far too common when people can’t let go when it’s obvious they should.

Please keep in mind I’m not giving you permission to quit or move on too soon without adequate effort, commitment, resources having been invested but there are times when it is time to let go.  I’m also not suggesting that you shouldn’t start something new that you are not sure will end as planned – but that there are times when throwing more money, time, resources or people at an initiative is naive or just plain stupid.  So how do you know whether or when you should keep on keeping on or pull the plug?

It depends on three factors –

Do you have the continued resources to see this through to the end no matter what?

Do you have the commitment to see it through regardless of the pain or disappointment you are experiencing or may in the future?

Do you have the confidence, courage and will to see it through regardless of the disappointments along the way?

Why do you need one?

Starting anything without an exit strategy in place before you begin just sets you up for frustration, stress, disappointment or anxiety assuming that your plans or effort will achieve their desired results.  This is just plain crazy and how do I know?  I’ll bet during your life, business or career you have ended something to late or wish you had pulled the plug or maybe not even starting it knowing what you know now.  Therein lies the problem – we can’t guarantee outcomes – we can only plan, work and hope but in the end there are always circumstances we can’t control. An exit strategy just gives you the timing, approach or reasons as to when to end something.  Without this I will guarantee you will invest too much of something trying to make it work and let’s face it – some things just don’t work.   

The question ultimately is – how much and what are you willing to lose if it doesn’t work out the way you need it to, to be ultimately a successful enterprise, decision or action?

Is the fire out?

Is the fire out?
Tim Connor

There are many factors that contribute to or determine our ultimate success but over the years after meeting thousands of successful people worldwide I believe at the top of the list is passion or what Napoleon Hill called in the classic book, Think and Grow Rich – “a white heat of desire.” 

Got it?  Lost it?  Losing it? Trying to get it back? Not sure?  Well let me share a few thoughts with you on the simple concept (and no – getting or maintaining passion is not simple) of passion – in a career, business, relationship or just life in general.

Passion - intense or overpowering emotion such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.

Mine – an inner fire that drives you toward your dreams, goals or success (however you define success) regardless of obstacles, challenges, problems or even failure.

I have never met anyone who has achieved significance in life who lacked passion.  I don’t care if it was Jesus, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Lombardi, Jordan, Billy Graham or anyone in any profession throughout history.

What is passion? It is an inner driving force that leads, prods or even requires you to keep on keeping on and never quit, give up or let circumstances beyond your control cause you to relent or retreat.  It is in your DNA.  It touches everything you touch and it is simply a way of life.  Yes, at times in life it can fade or seem to be absent, but it is always there lying beneath the surface waiting for you to act.

No matter how discouraging situations might seem it will not let you let go of the need to move forward. It is not attached to specific outcomes or achievements but it is relentless keeping you moving one step at a time into the future no matter how difficult those steps might seem.

It overcomes despair, failure, uncertainty, hopelessness and even fear.

Why is passion necessary? Without passion yes, you can succeed but often without it our definition of success changes or is modified to maintain congruence between what we thought we wanted and what is manifested.

Everyone has creative ability to do more, do it better, do it sooner or just do it, but without passion over time people tend to settle for less when more was possible for them.
There isn’t a pill you can take to gain passion.  There is no book you can read or seminar you can attend.  Yes these can help you identify what might bring your passion alive but in the end passion is an inside-out mindset that refuses to give in to anything and I mean anything.

Why do we need it? Read the above paragraph again.

Why do we lose it? There are many reasons why people lose their passion for life, career or any other goal, objective or dream.  But, I have found the following are the most common;

The need for others approval or acceptance.
When people are surrounded by invalidators.
When they are too attached to a specific outcome or outcomes that are not realized.
When they fail to trust themselves during challenging times.
When it seems to take more time than they planned for to reach their objectives.
Yes there are more but let me ask you are you Guilty of any of the above?

How do we get it back? There are dozens of ways – the first however is to effectively deal with any of the above issues that might be in your way. After that there are many actions or steps you can take.  Here are just a few.

-Spend more time with dreamers (and not just dreamers but people who are moving toward their dreams).

-Find some mentors who have achieved what you want to achieve and spend time with them.

-Read books by inspiring authors who have overcome challenges and who have lived their dreams in spite of challenges, failure or adversity.

-Let go of the people in your life who bring you down or criticize your dreams, actions or goals.

-Spend more quiet time in solitude (even a quiet retreat somewhere – the beach, wilderness etc.) and get back in touch with what you want and why.

-Learn to trust God and your inner guidance voice that gave you the passion in the beginning.

-Take the words – never, can’t, too hard, takes too much time, I’m too old, I don’t have the skills, education, experience or resources and any other negative words or phrases – out of your vocabulary, thoughts and emotions.

The future is a blank slate and its success has nothing to do with present circumstances unless you let them dominate or even control your inner thoughts, goals or dreams.  So, what are you waiting for – get moving.

“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Stress - the number one employee performance killer

The number one employee performance killer and contributor to;
Poor morale
Bad decisions
Slow growth
Poor sales results
Lagging profits
Wasted time
Less market share
Poor and inconsistent communication
Conflict in relationships
Poor customer loyalty

Shall I go on?  How about one more –

Unmanaged stress is the major cause of illness and death!!!

Stress is caused by; change, fear, uncertainty, insecurity, ego needs not being satisfied, immaturity, low self-esteem, impatience, the rapid pace of technology and increased feelings of a lack of control.

Are your employees or members suffering from any of these?
If they are – are you willing to continue to live with these negative consequences or is it time to take some positive action?

Reducing an environment and culture of stress due to the uncertainty of the economy, poor or slow growth, employee cutbacks or simply employee’s lack of confidence in management’s ability to manage and lead with confidence and certainty will have a dramatic positive impact on your growth, profits, sustainability, customer satisfaction, relevance and market share.

The answer – teach your employees or members how to better manage the stressors in their life and career to reduce its; negative impact on your organization, their performance and their life in general. I have three custom programs to help you reduce the negative impact of stress (a one hour keynote and a half or full day seminar).

If you believe stress is having a negative impact on your organization’s productivity, growth and effectiveness – call me . . . let’s chat before this condition continues to erode your successful path into the future, Tim

704-895-1230 -