Just the Right Amount of Pain

Big Ass. GoalIt’s important to measure success. It’s crucial to have B.I.G. goals.

There’s a good chance you’ll fail at both.

Unless of course you learn how to embrace the right amount of pressure.

Check out the following model:

  • The Y axis is your SUCCESS line. It goes from Low to High. High is probably what you want.
  • The X axis is your PAIN line. It goes from Low to High as well.
  • Your level of PAIN has a direct correlation to the amount of SUCCESS you’ll achieve. If you notice, the SUCCESS curve is much like t that dreaded bell curve.

Here’s how to interpret:

Not enough PAIN results in apathy. You just get lazy and don’t care anymore. Consider someone at work who is “Looking to retire in 3 years, 4 months, 3 days, and 7 hours.” At that point, they probably aren’t willing to take any risks or new challenges. We might say they’re “Retired in Place” or they’ve come to “Work to Die.” Kind of a sad way to wind up a career.

Too much PAIN results in lethargy. The challenge is so great that it’s paralyzing. You’d like to try something new but you don’t have the energy anymore. You’re overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. At this point you’ll never climb that X axis. It’s a tough way to live life.

BUT, the right amount of PAIN gets us moving forward. It’s enough to motivate us do something, but not so much that we’re paralyzed. It’s like touching a hot stove. It’s going to sting but not to the point of us fearing cooked food. We simply learn to respect it, and then leverage its ability to help us prepare an amazing dish.

How do I implement enough PAIN in my life? Here are some suggestions:

  • If your B.A.G. is to complete a marathon, schedule one in another city and book non-refundable plane tickets.
  • If your B.A.G. is to start a business, pay for the LLC, spend the money on a website and business cards, and start telling your friends you’re officially open for business on a date in the near future.
  • If your B.A.G. is to get into your Speedo, then….well forget that one. There’s never a good reason to wear a Speedo.

Think of it like when you put your thumb on the end of the garden hose. With the right amount of pressure, you focus the water flow. Enough to water your plants but not enough to spray your face by accident.

All of us need some PAIN. Just be sure to give yourself the RIGHT amount. It’s the key to turning B.I.G. goals into BIG reality!

Goals You Can Put in the B.A.G.

Big Ass. GoalOn October 11, 1996, after nearly killing my idiot boss at the Naval Submarine Base in Silverdale, WA, I realized my passion in life was to develop the next great generation of managers.

That was a good start. It still left me mired in my current reality. At that stage of my life, I was the parent of an infant and working in a thankless job managing a dental clinic while on active duty in the Navy. I was half-way through a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and trying to figure out a career move. I thought it would be a selection to an officer program, but three attempts at that program proved fruitless. I was motivated, but had no clear direction.

After reflecting on my new passion however, I started to think about how to actually make that passion something tangible.   I decided that the way to make a serious dent in the world was to actually get on the world stage – television! It was then I turned my passion into a Big Associated Goal – or I put it in THE B.A.G.

  • The goal was BIG.
  • It was ASSOCIATED with my passion.
  • …and it was a GOAL

(so it’s a B.I.G. one!)

Having a TV show where I could rehab bad managers was a stretch, but I figured by dividing and conquering, I could make it happen. Between my current reality and my B.A.G. however was years of steep climbing on bad (or no) roads. I then developed the following model:

By breaking it into switchbacks, or diagonal paths, I could make progress, slowly, but always upward. My steps included making the choice to walk out of the Navy at the 15-year mark, taking several positions in HR, writing books, posting blogs, creating videos, speaking, starting a business, and more. I’m still on the mountain, getting a little higher each month. I still plan to have that TV show. The B.A.G. has been my compass.

Enough about me. What about you? Are you simply existing? Have you given up on achieving anything more than simple pain avoidance? If so, why not consider coming up with something B.I.G.?

Set a GOAL….That’s BIG….and it’s ASSOCIATED with something you’re passionate about. Do it and you’ll suddenly have a compass that will get you navigated someplace other than just to the next 3-day weekend. It’s made a big difference in my life and I know it will for you too.

 

Just the Right Amount of Pressure

It’s important to measure success. It’s crucial to have B.I.G. goals.

There’s a good chance you’ll fail at both.

Unless of course you learn how to embrace the right amount of pressure.

Check out the following model:chalk

  • The Y axis is your SUCCESS line. It goes from Low to High. High is probably what you want.
  • The X axis is your PAIN line. It goes from Low to High as well.
  • Your level of PAIN has a direct correlation to the amount of SUCCESS you’ll achieve. If you notice, the SUCCESS curve is much like t that dreaded bell curve.

Here’s how to interpret:

  1. Not enough PAIN results in apathy. You just get lazy and don’t care anymore. Consider someone at work who is “Looking to retire in 3 years, 4 months, 3 days, and 7 hours.” At that point, they probably aren’t willing to take any risks or new challenges. We might say they’re “Retired in Place” or they’ve come to “Work to Die.” Kind of a sad way to wind up a career.
  2. Too much PAIN results in lethargy. The challenge is so great that it’s paralyzing. You’d like to try something new but you don’t have the energy anymore. You’re overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. At this point you’ll never climb that X axis. It’s a tough way to live life.
  3. BUT, the right amount of PAIN gets us moving forward. It’s enough to motivate us do something, but not so much that we’re paralyzed. It’s like touching a hot stove. It’s going to sting but not to the point of us fearing cooked food. We simply learn to respect it, and then leverage its ability to help us prepare an amazing dish.

How do I implement enough PAIN in my life? Here are some suggestions:

  • If your B.A.G. is to complete a marathon, schedule one in another city and book non-refundable plane tickets.
  • If your B.A.G. is to start a business, pay for the LLC, spend the money on a website and business cards, and start telling your friends you’re officially open for business on a date in the near future.
  • If your B.A.G. is to get into your Speedo, then….well forget that one. There’s never a good reason to wear a Speedo.

Think of it like when you put your thumb on the end of the garden hose. With the right amount of pressure, you focus the water flow. Enough to water your plants but not enough to spray your face by accident.

All of us need some PAIN. Just be sure to give yourself the RIGHT amount. It’s the key to turning B.I.G. goals into BIG reality!

Goals You Can Put in the B.A.G.

Big Ass. GoalOn October 11, 1996, after nearly killing my idiot boss at the Naval Submarine Base in Silverdale, WA, I realized my passion in life was to develop the next great generation of managers.

That was a good start. It still left me mired in my current reality. At that stage of my life, I was the parent of an infant and working in a thankless job managing a dental clinic while on active duty in the Navy. I was half-way through a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and trying to figure out a career move. I thought it would be a selection to an officer program, but three attempts at that program proved fruitless. I was motivated, but had no clear direction.

After reflecting on my new passion however, I started to think about how to actually make that passion something tangible.   I decided that the way to make a serious dent in the world was to actually get on the world stage – television! It was then I turned my passion into a Big Associated Goal – or I put it in THE B.A.G.

The goal was BIG.

It was ASSOCIATED with my passion.

…and it was a GOAL

(so it’s a B.I.G. one!)

Having a TV show where I could rehab bad managers was a stretch, but I figured by dividing and conquering, I could make it happen. Between my current reality and my B.A.G. however was years of steep climbing on bad (or no) roads. I then developed the following model:

By breaking it into switchbacks, or diagonal paths, I could make progress, slowly, but always upward. My steps included making the choice to walk out of the Navy at the 15-year mark, taking several positions in HR, writing books, posting blogs, creating videos, speaking, starting a business, and more. I’m still on the mountain, getting a little higher each month. I still plan to have that TV show. The B.A.G. has been my compass.

Enough about me. What about you? Are you simply existing? Have you given up on achieving anything more than simple pain avoidance? If so, why not consider coming up with something B.I.G.?

Set a GOAL….That’s BIG….and it’s ASSOCIATED with something you’re passionate about. Do it and you’ll suddenly have a compass that will get you navigated someplace other than just to the next 3-day weekend. It’s made a big difference in my life and I know it will for you too.

How Do You Define Success?

business woman looking through a hand frameI’ve never met anyone who makes it a goal to fail. I meet few people who are comfortable settling for mediocrity. Most people want to be successful. The big question is:

How do you define success?

The funny thing about most people is that when you ask them for their success goal, they hem-haw around with things like:

I want to be happy.

I want to see my kids graduate college.

I want to retire someday.

While these might be feel-good goals, they really have NO tangible milestones or key metrics. If that’s the case, you’ll never really know if you’ve arrived. After all:

  • How do you define “Happy?” Is it the lack of disease, the amount of smiles per hour, or the fact that your happy days outnumber your sad days?
  • So what if your kids graduate college? Do you want them to move back in with you so they have a nice wall to hang their diploma on?
  • Everyone will retire someday. Retirement means I’m not working anymore. Do you want to leave with a pension, have fun activities to do, or volunteer?

See all of these goals are without real places to plant the flag and declare victory.

Rather than this, why not set some REAL goals so you can identify success and declare a victory:

Here are some examples:

  • I’d like to improve my health by getting my cholesterol down to 50 from it’s current level of 68. I’d also like to increase my exercise to 30 minutes per day where my heart rate stays between 80 – 150 for 20 of those minutes. Finally, I want to reduce my intake of alcohol down to two beers per week, down from 65.
  • I’d like to set my stop-work (retirement) day to June 1, 2020. My goal is to spend my first year visiting my grandkids for a week in Nevada. I’d also like to volunteer one day per week at the church. I will also devote one day per week to writing my memoirs. In year #2, I’d like to attend one continuing education course per week at the local college, etc. etc.

Of course these are just normal goals. If this is success for you, then go for it.

But what would happen if you set some really BIG goals for yourself? The type of goals that if you accomplished them would give you even more tangible success?

More on that in this POST.

For now, be sure to define your success clearly. If you don’t, you’ll never really know how to celebrate. And time will have passed that you can’t really learn from or account for. Don’t let it happen to you.

Why Your Boss Thinks Your Idea Sucks

70 MDA3My1GSVJTVC5qcGc=One of my favorite shows growing up (and still today) was the old Rod Serling hosted show The Twilight Zone. Now mind you I was a kid and the show was still an old show back then (circa 1950s) but some of the lessons learned and issues showed are still relevant today.

One episode featured an obnoxious office worker who flooded the company suggestion box with all sorts of ideas. Finally, he’s called into the CEO’s office. Thinking he’s at last going to be rewarded for his many ideas (some of which involve making hot dogs flat so they can be used in hamburger buns and installing inflatable rubber rafts directly into a soldier’s back pack so the don’t have to find a bridge to cross the river), he excitedly marches in. When the CEO tells him the company’s only product is women’s foundation garments, he responds by telling the CEO it’s time to expand…to think about the future. He’s summarily fired.

I’m sure all of us daydream of things we can do to make our jobs better or our lives more efficient. We measure these against our current frustrations. When they don’t get approved or accepted, we angrily give up. Then we pout and tell ourselves that we will never again try to be creative. We’ll just do what we’re told.

Pretty lame if you ask me! Your key to getting your idea considered and maybe even implemented is to communicate it through the framework of the Common Vision.

Everyone and every company has one or two MAIN THINGS they focus on. If a new idea or suggestion aligns with those, they’re consider it. If it doesn’t, it will be ignored. A company that produces women’s foundation garments isn’t considering the hotdog or hamburger bun dilemma. It’s a good idea, just not relevant to the current environment.

To get your ideas taken seriously, consider the following steps:

  1. Create the idea or suggestion.
  2. Ask yourself who will benefit from it.
  3. Identify the decision-maker.
  4. Figure out what’s important to the decision-maker.
  5. If the idea seems to align, package it using that person’s language (Logical Persuasion or Impact).
  6. Present your packaged ideas answering the questions you’ll be asked (cost, impact, scalability, sustainability, acceptance, etc.)

If your idea at least fits the common vision, you’ll get an audience. No guarantee on acceptance. If it doesn’t, you’ll be ignored. And frustrated.

Don’t let this happen to you. You were given a creative mind with creative ideas for a reason. Keep the ideas coming and just learn to sell them the right way. Who knows what big breakthrough you might be entertaining in the back of your mind right now!

Rapid Spread of Diarrhea (or How to Get People’s Attention)

NORWEY - 2013: shows Detail from The Scream by Edvard Munch (189A few years ago, my then 16-year old daughter showed me the Subject Lines of some of the daily email blasts she got from the President of the Key Club (a student volunteer organization at her high school):

Donkey Attack in East Clarksville

Rapid Spread of Diarrhea

She told me the President wasn’t getting people to open up her announcements so she resorted to clever and shocking headlines. It worked. She says that Key Club members anxiously await new emails…and they actually open them.

As a human race, we all suffer from some form of A.D.D. It’s not a medical condition as much as it’s a habit that’s reinforced from all of the many distractions we face. Multi-tasking, much as it’s warned against by brain doctors, is valued among employers. With all of the potential attractions we have in front of us, smartphones, TV, billboards, radios, and people around us, it’s no wonder we can’t get anything done. It’s also no surprise that we quit paying attention to important messages as they’re lost in the noise.

Which brings us back to the Rapid Spread of Diarrhea.

The language of Impact uses interesting, shocking, or creative ways to get people’s attention. It’s a way to break through the noise and pinpoint focus on one key message. As writers and speakers, we need to at least hold enough attention to get the audience to stay with us and get hooked on our message.

As employees, our job is to enlist the help of our boss or co-workers for support on a project or to convey a very important message to different groups. What we do to gain that attention can mean the difference between succeeding or possibly losing our job.

To use the language of Impact, consider the following:

  • State the unexpected and tie the common to that. Doing the opposite relegates our message back to the noise.
  • Use creativity to create your headline. Engage the audience or the reader. A Tax Diversification Strategies seminar won’t get the same attendance as 5 Ways to Keep Uncle Sam’s Hands Out of Your Wallet.
  • Don’t over use the language of Impact. This explains why most of us don’t fall for creative headlines in our email as much anymore. We fear losing our fortune to a Nigerian millionaire who needs our help or we’re wary of being suckered into reading someone’s conspiracy theory on how the dropping price of oil is one more tactic to make George Soros our next world dictator.

This week, evaluate your messages. See if an occasional use of the Impact language might improve your success.

And steer clear of East Clarksville. I hear donkey attacks can be quite frightening.

How to Learn a New Language

Stress conceptVery few Americans are bilingual. This is way different than other countries. I’ve delivered workshops in Puerto Rico, Montreal, Poland, China, and Germany. In each of these places, I’ve been able to teach in English to an audience that knows English as a second (or third…or fourth…or fifth language). That’s not a knock on the USA nor is an excessive compliment to Germans, Puerto Ricans, French Canadians, Poles, or Chinese. It simply is. I must say it’s impressive though.

It’s the language of the person who you desperately need to influence. It’s the language that they are most comfortable speaking and making decisions in. Let me give you an example.

Dave is the CEO of a tech firm. He’s come up through the ranks and is a geek first and leader second. Now that he’s the Top Dog, his subordinates have the challenge of influencing him to do certain things and make certain decisions. Let’s say that his HR VP Fred wants to institute a work/life balance initiative that involves flexible scheduling as well as an on-site daycare facility. Dave’s going to push back on this because as he says, “people are here to work and I’m here to make a profit. They need to work while at work and play when they’re home.”

Does Fred have a chance?

Yes, provided he makes his case while speaking Dave’s language.

Fred needs to position his ideas so that they show a clear, profitable, value-add. Rather than push the fact that people will be happier, he needs to stress that even though the daycare facility will cost X amount, it will save three times that amount in recovered absenteeism from daycare issues. The flex schedule might not have an immediate dollar value, but Fred needs to show how this will cut back on turnover, a figure he needs to identify before he even proposes it.

In other words, Fred needs to speak the language of logical persuasion. It’s Dave’s native tongue.   Sure it would be nice if Dave would simply look through Fred’s lens, but it’s probably not going to happen.

Can you learn to speak a new language? Absolutely. Here’s how:

  1. Identify the person you need to influence.
  2. Study them. Ask people who know them how the person makes decisions.
  3. Identify their language.
  4. Find people in your inner circle who are similarly “wired.”
  5. Work with them to hone your skills.
  6. Finally, bring your proposal, complete with the new language, to the person you have to influence.

This isn’t manipulation. It’s simply using your ability to relate to your own advantage. After all, don’t you appreciate it when people frame things the way you’re comfortable seeing them?

Your challenge this week is to learn at least one new language. Fluency is a major key to your success.

 

How to Develop Your Proxy Power

man pushingThe bravest dog I’ve ever known is a fearless beast appropriately named Rambo. He’s not afraid of anyone and has been known to attack dogs much bigger than him. I actually had to ban Rambo from the dog park when we lived in MD as he had a bad habit of finding the largest dog in the park and chasing it. Actually, most every dog on the planet is bigger than him as he’s a miniature toy poodle.

Rambo is strong and powerful, not because of his size, but because his big adopted brother, a large Rottweiler/Lab mix Sonny steps in when Rambo gets in over his head. His connection to Sonny gives him the power and confidence to be the baddest dog in the park, even though secretly Sonny is the real force.

Proxy power is the type of power you get when you build good relationships with others who have more power, or different power, than you do. It’s not always possible to have all of the available powers by yourself, but if you are deliberate and are willing to go out and establish good relationships by using your personal power, you might be able to tap into others’ power.

How does it work?

You have a proposal you want to get into the CEO’s hands. You have no connection or relationship to the CEO. Because you’re a good networker though, you have managed to build a good relationship with the Finance director who happens to be a golfing buddy of the CEO. You ask your friend to bring up your proposal with the CEO and sure enough, the CEO reads it. You wouldn’t have been able to get this far alone, you simply used your proxy power.

How do I build proxy power?

  1. Get to know as many people as you can in the organization.
  2. Through those connections, build relationships with others in the organization by demonstrating professionalism and a strong work ethic. Let your actions and performance give you the credibility to build those connections.
  3. Take the time to enhance all of your relationships by connecting them to others and by doing what you can to add value to them.
  4. Strategically map out any proposal or initiative by identifying the key decision-makers and then seeing how you’re in proxy power to them or to those who can influence them.

This may seem like playing politics, but honestly politics is simply using power and influence to get what you and your team needs to be successful. You owe it to yourself AND your team.

This week, do an evaluation of your relationships and an inventory of your power. What you lack, work to build whether it’s by yourself or through your relationships.

Nobody ever messed with Rambo at the dog park. Why should you allow anyone to mess with you?