Deep Thinking And Your Chosen Path

Think of the following sexy, sexy business phrases: positive leverage, maximize gains, optimized performance, superior ROI, positive strides, minimized risk and overhead. Guaranteed returns.

Have they sparked excitement? Did they perk up your interest? Are you willing to do the real work of thinking out the best possible future reality for yourself and then do the work necessary for  these events to come true for your business?

Or have you been turned off by hitting Business Buzzword Bingo with all these arguably hackneyed corporate cliches?

Your reaction depends on  the emotions that you felt in response to these words.  If you’re interest, you stay on the page. If you’re not, you probably just close the tab. Right?

If you automatically brush things away because ‘everyone knows they’re all BS anyway‘, then maybe you’re letting old habits and patterns of thinking steer you in a direction you don’t really want to go. As  someone who runs a business, that kind of automatic brush-off can blind you to possibilities. There’s a big difference between filtering information and rejecting information right off the bat.

It all starts from the inside, so you need to go deep. Continue reading Deep Thinking And Your Chosen Path

Putting In Deep Time

When it comes to getting things done, don’t just think contemplate.

  • The essence of time-saving productivity tips generally boils down to putting in the time now to save time ahead.
  • The core of the GTD mind-set is getting the right things done in the time given — “right” varying with the criteria you use.

While no one can actually save time as if it were money in the bank, we can use time towards our own advantage — especially when we’re prepared to go up against our own selves.

Here’s the way it usually goes:

  • You block off time to think about certain important matters. In that time,  you make your assessments, assigning certain weights and priorities to certain activities.
  • You weigh, you prioritize, then you start weeding.
  • You lay out the plan over a  certain time period to make order out of these various obligations and responsibilities.
  • You clear the way to a good work-week ahead, or break down a n important project over a month so you won’t tax yourself too much.

Helpful articles: Start Early and Finish Early

Come go-time, something comes up that you just have to attend to, and other things fall off the radar — important but not urgent things.
The action seems to have lost its importance.
You can’t see the point in attending to them. Or you don’t feel like it right now.
And so on.

Helpful article:  Make It Easy on Yourself

You put in the time to do less of the non-important things, so you do the more (and most) important things first, even if it means chipping at these things a little at a time, day by day. You think ahead so you can arrange how to spend yourself  — your energy, your presence, and  your focus — on the high-value targets in your scope.

And then you get bored. You get distracted. You wander off-course.

In the aftermath of the things you did and did not do, you ask yourself. “What was I thinking?” So here’s a tip to help you away from asking that question so much.
Continue reading Putting In Deep Time

Entrepreneurs: How Many People Are You?

Entrepreneurs have often been called jacks-of-all trades, and, seeing the many roles they can enact in the pursuit of their goals, it’s a given that the ones who succeed are the ones who, pushed beyond their normal comfort zones, have grow adept at being able to move in and out of various roles easily.

Nobody plays only one role in their life. It’s just not possible not to be a multi-faceted individual–our relationships won’t really let that happen. We’re being of many hats– someone’s child, a student, maybe a burger-flipper, maybe a spouse, or a dungeon master,  a coder, a parent, a friend, as well as a business owner — and  our amazing minds are such that we can recall all the ‘hats’ we’ve ever worn.

As a plus,  being wired for imagination means we can play around with different hats at the same time. This is actually a large part of how we learn, and this is also how we gain strength and belief in our own capabilities. And the more we intentionally practice this ability, the more we can use it to our advantage, in business as well as our personal lives.

Playing around with being different characters isn’t just for kids and day-dreams. This kind of ‘play’ is actually an important component of developing deeper perspective and flexibility, things which are of incredible help for anyone.

  • Knowledge acquired from different fields of study can be used for ‘cross-pollinating’ skills. You carry them over into different areas.
  • Knowledge acquired from examining different viewpoints helps in negotiations by giving you a starting point in discussions, and create goals toward compromise. This is important in all relationships.
  • Knowledge earned from wearing different hats in an organization — say, working your way up from being a waitress to being the VP of a restaurant chain (see links below)– forms an incredible matrix of intimate, first-hand experience that can be carried over into other fields,  and just plain carried as a built-in repository of valuable skill-sets.

SUCCESS STORY:  Katrina Cole

As a business owner, you will always have the inevitable issues and problems to solve. When you practice developing flexibility and entertaining multiple perspectives, you in fact train your brain to be more adept at re-framing, and approaching challenges, and then being able to break them down into actionable bits and phases.

Entrepreneurs must execute to keep moving forward, and it is in the execution that they learn and refine their approach. When you have problems breaking down a problem or resolving a hairy issue, taking yourself out of the fix-it-NOW mindset and going into a different one can help you take the stress off, for one.  You see things in a different light, and that may help you find a better approach. And this also applies to service businesses– not for nothing is it common advice to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

When you learn to use different perspectives, this affects the mind-set you use in order to frame an idea.

Related article: Is It A Problem Or A Challenge?

Execution is part of learning as much as play, and both are important factors in succeeding at your goals. Here are the basic steps:

  • You identify the issue from a head-on approach.
  • You examine the issue from different angles to develop perspective.
  • Different angles of approach can mean different solutions, and there may even be overlap.
  • You mull things around in your head and come up with a set of solutions, judgements, or observations, which you use to take the next step.

To jump-start the process into action, you need a defined statement to describe the issue, and be able to identify the key players and processes involved. As a business owner, what do you want? As a customer, what would you want? As someone who partners with other people towards a common goal, what do you guys want? Take out the ‘hats’ involved and try to see things ‘as-if’ to help you see the system as a whole. When you understand the system, you can start modifying it and see how it improves and evolves.

“It never hurts to get a different perspective.” Another way of seeing it is that “It never hurts to get a second opinion.” Think again of the word ‘perspective ‘itself, and how that word association can play out. Perspective can cover short-sightedness and long-sightedness; you can take actions that answers issues and resolve them in the short run, and yet fail to look ahead far enough to see the ramifications  and far-reaching consequences of your actions. You can also plan so far into the future that day-to-day and short-term activities can be restricted unnecessarily because you planned too rigidly and didn’t make allowances for change to happen to meet the unexpected.

What are the benefits of ‘going over to the other side’, so to speak?
One, you get jolted out of thinking you know best — a fatal flaw in a world that changes so rapidly and where knowledge can rapidly go outdated. Two, it gives you dimensionality, a more developed vision of the situation — it looks different from the vantage points at 10, 500, 100, 5000 feet — and the higher (deeper) you go, the more links and connections you can parse and the more opportunities present themselves. Three, you learn to see the world in a deeper light.

Sometimes, we find it easier to see what we don’t like, and use that information to make things better.  Customer complaints are a rich resource for examining your business. You can use those as starting points and branch out.

It isn’t easy, of course, because we’re also hard-wired towards taking the most energy-efficient way to approaching life,  and that’s an area where procrastination, short-sighted or short-term thinking, and having problems with execution can start.  But then again, nothing worthwhile really comes easy.  Practice using multiple perspectives and you’ll find that you’re also expanding the way you view the world, and learning how to get along better with the people who live, work in, and share it with you.

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Keeping Skills Sharp: Is Online Learning for You?

You can’t ignore it. Competition is ever present in the business world, and you have to stay sharp and alert to deal with threats and to seize opportunities. To do both, you not only need information, but the understanding and discernment to use that information to check which way the wind is blowing.

One way to refine your mastery regarding your niche, your customers, and your market, is to study. Not just do research, but  using the path of deliberate, self-paced, self-directed education to promote your growth and experience inside and outside of your business,  to promote both depth and reach.

Fortunately, we have an over-abundance of choices now.  You  won’t even be strictly required to  enroll unless you think it’s the best option for you. With all the free resources available, at the most basic level, if you have stable internet access, the time, and the perseverance, you can start as soon as you want.

Things have become very much interconnected in our world today;  Even a small event happening far away can ripple out in unexpected ways. Change comes faster, and entrepreneurs are hard-pressed to keep up and manage all the shifts, side-steps, and set-backs that come from that. Continuing education is a great help in learning to use change to our advantage — but you still have to be the one to choose.  This isn’t high school any more.  No one can choose for you, and you have to do the work or it simply won’t get done. Continue reading Keeping Skills Sharp: Is Online Learning for You?

How To Power Through Unpleasant Tasks

Being an online entrepreneur is never a walk in the park.

Entrepreneurship is a tough calling. In a world still struggling with the rapid shift brought by the internet revolution, finding your way in the new  landscape being formed isn’t always done with a map, especially with the ongoing flux within mainstream thinking, plus a business culture that was formed in the industrial age . You have to make your own choices, some of which may go against what you were taught by your family, what you learned from school,  and the cultural values you absorbed growing up.

To be a successful business-owner means you need  an unflinching self acknowledgement of your  capabilities.  You are human, you have human limits, and in spite of all the tech at your fingertips you cannot do everything or know everything. Knowing what you are good at, and knowing the true value of time versus money, you can plan to optimize your strengths and have counter-balances in place to check your weak spots.  You can then outsource lower-value activities and be freed to focus on mission-critical and mission-essential issues. Continue reading How To Power Through Unpleasant Tasks

Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

In 6 Principles Behind Superior Customer Service we shared the following points on establishing, maintaining, and keeping good relationships with customers by using the following rules:

1) Take the long view for your business and build for it.
2)”No,”  isn’t an easy thing to say, and knowing when and how to say it is a valuable  skill.
3) Keep current of market research.
4) Ask for feed-back regularly.
5) Customers stay when they get their needs met and their wants satisfied.
6) Have a solid plan to handle complaints.

It can sound sort of hokey to say, “Be someone your customers can trust and depend on to give the honest, good service and provide products that work as they should.” That should already be a given, right?

Yes, but that message shouldn’t just be said at the beginning of the relationship, but iterated through action in every successive encounter with the customer. You can’t just say something like that and have the customer believe you.  And here’s yet another ‘cliche’, “Actions speak louder than words.” Customers may want to believe you, but you have to prove it each time they initiate interaction with you, whether it’s a purchase, an inquiry, or even a complaint.

You say you have the best product, the best one for their needs.  You have to prove it with your product performing well, solidly and consistently. You say you value their presence,and embrace their patronage, you have to act in a way aligned with what you say. Continue reading Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

How To Crack The Secret To Your Personal Productivity

There are many ways to improve your personal productivity, and the most effective of them require deep self-knowledge and good feedback processes. Self-knowledge asks you to be aware of your boundaries, resources, strengths and and limitations, and good feedback processes help you protect, respect, and reflect them. In a weirdly parallel way, you can say the same about your business.

Listen to your internal rhythms.
Some people are early birds – they wake up easy and early, and are ready to go first thing in the morning.  Some people are night owls — they work best in the later hours. In between we get the bulk of humanity.

You’re busy. You’re swamped. You  are terribly, terribly aware of all the responsibilities you have on your plate, and you push yourself to process the important and the urgent the best that you can. How are you doing?

It’s a serious question, and in this article it will be dissected several ways.

One: “How are you doing?” asks about you: your internal state of mind and external state of health.

Two: “How are you doing?” asks about how you accept, prioritize and process the various action items, tasks, and check-lists of running a business. This, in turn, gives you a baseline as to how (and where) you want to improve in terms of productivity. Let’s start with the first question. Continue reading How To Crack The Secret To Your Personal Productivity

Don’t Stick To The Problem, Work On The Answer

All businesses offer value for money — whether that value comes in the form of a product or a service, that’s how businesses survive. Running a business, on the other hand, is an involved process of  brainstorming, planning, execution, testing, course-correcting, and problem-solving. Nothing ever really goes quite the way it’s plotted out on paper, and dealing with problems is part of the whole thing of having a business of your own.

Many times, it’s not the problems that give you problems, but the getting stuck in the problem-solving that trips you up even worse than ‘the problem.’

Running a business is full of challenges. You deal with customers, deadlines, late payments, marketing, complaints, etc.  You’re responsible for managing the little things and big things while you take the wheel and drive your business to where you’re aiming to go next. And one of the biggest responsibilities is managing and resolving issues. This is where a major part of the stress that business owners face comes from.

Now, the issue hiding in plain sight is that problems have a way of taking over your thinking process— you get stuck in the problem-solving and can’t progress into the taking-action and problem-solved stages.

When it comes to entrepreneurial problem-solving, sometimes the things we learned in science and English classes can help us make the process easier. See, the science teaches us to be methodical: things are connected in ways we don’t usually learn in the course of daily living, but when  we learn these connections, we get to understand how things work. English teaches us that how we use languages can influence people and the way we think.  In the same vein, how we  state a problem  can point us in the direction of the solution, or keep us stuck. Continue reading Don’t Stick To The Problem, Work On The Answer

How To Plan Sustainable Progress Successfully

In a previous article we explained how planning helps improve performance — now we’ll discuss creating a planning  framework which would provide you the best, most sustainable processes for good outcomes.

How do you improve your skills?
It depends on what kind of learning works best with you. There are people who learn best in a structured environment, and those who prefer  real-live demonstrations instead of watching a video-course (and vice-versa.) There are people who do better studying on their own, and those who work better in a group learning session. It takes all kinds, but the key is being focused and consistent.

Systematic learning has a specific goal in mind:  getting certification, being measurably better at a particular skill, updating your knowledge, learning  more about a topic that will help add to your value, etc.  Learning can also be recreational– for fun instead of work. When you hit that sweet spot, it can feel like both: you enjoy increasing your valuable knowledge.

Now, what do kids do to learn? They explore everything . Curiosity and energy combine to make them the perfect question-asking machines. As we get older though, we learn how to channel ourselves and our energies and interests at school. Oddly enough, the problem start once we leave school behind. For many people there’s an unspoken belief that once you graduate, you have all you need to know.

Leaning how to plan can be scoffed at as being so basic even a kid can do it, but now, more than ever, the stress and overwhelm people experience just proves that that isn’t so, because if it was we’d be doing our work with a lot less anxiety and stress. Continue reading How To Plan Sustainable Progress Successfully

Getting ‘Pumped’: Productivity for Entrepreneurs

What does “priming the pump” mean to you?

A quick search would show that the idiom describes the act of putting in a little energy of your own to get the action started. You get the ball rolling, starting the momentum, by making the initial moves and investing some of your labor, by making a sincere effort to jump-start something into working, and do it well.

In an entrepreneur’s life,  priming the pump makes for good habits in the following ways: Going back to water, a suction pump– those old-fashioned types with the handle you had to pump out and down — required that you pour water down the pump to get the air out, restore the pressure, and form the vacuum necessary to start pulling up the water when you pump the handle.

In your case, it  means doing a little something before-hand to make it easy to start something bigger: whether it’s starting on a project, continuing with something you left off yesterday, or starting the work-day properly.

Priming the pump can mean many different kinds of actions, but basically boil down to you preparing the stage to take the next step in your work:

  • You clean up after you’re finished so you can start with a clean, neat work space the next day.
  • You take good, orderly notes and organize your actionables into logical batches so you’re not all over the place attending to them.
  • You devote a block of time solely for making cold calls, or research, or deep thinking about where you want to bring your business.
  • You ensure that you are not bothered by distraction, and so on.

 

How can this help you:
Priming the pump aims to serve a particular purpose. In the field of economics, the phrase “priming the pump” means to provide stimulus for the economy to function properly. And when we use it right, it works the same for  us. We do things to  push our chosen activities work properly. We become more productive at the things that matter to us, and get more value out of the work that we do. Continue reading Getting ‘Pumped’: Productivity for Entrepreneurs