This is important because…

June 24, 2020

Motivation is a really big deal.

If you can understand yourself and what motivates you then you can make choices that enable you to live with more energy, enthusiasm and happiness, as well as generally getting better results in whatever you put your hand to.

If you can understand others’ motivation, then you can help them do the same and that’s powerful.

One way to experience high levels of motivation is to be consciously connected to the value of what we’re doing.

This is important because…

If you can’t complete that statement above in a meaningful way for what you are currently doing – both from a ‘big picture’ perspective and in the nitty-gritty of your current tasks – you are most likely feeling demotivated.

This leads to two options – either there isn’t a good reason for doing it and you should stop. Or, and this is really common, there are mulitple good reasons for doing it and they’ve just been forgotten or drifted out of mind.

Here you should definitely stop and revisit the purpose that was there in the beginning.

Blank piece of paper. Big heading, “This is important because….”

It will make a world of difference.


The day-to-day disciplines of leadership

June 22, 2020

In this latest episode of So What About Leadership? Roisin and I discuss the less exciting but incredibly important aspects of leadership like discipline, process and systemisation. Hope you enjoy!

LMI UK & Ireland · So What About Leadership 18.6.20

 


Do what you always do, but different.

June 1, 2020

It’s the start of a new month, June 2020. We are in a period of history that none of us will ever forget. Remember February this year? How different does that seem now?

The times are changing again; the rules are flexing. Who knows what the world – your world – will look like in another four months!

So, as we start a new month, indecision and uncertainty can easily payalyse us.

Because there’s so much you don’t know, how can you possibly make plans? How can you take action when you don’t know whether they’ll be the ‘right’ actions given the changing circumstances?

All valid questions. So what should you do?

Answer: do the same as you always do, but different.

Go to your system – the one you use every month to review the previous and plan the next. The system that helps you set goals and establish priorities for the next four weeks. The system that helps you set up progress tracking towards your goals and recording your success with the habits you’re working on developing.  The system that you rely on to make sure you schedule time for your high payoff activities and reminds you of your ‘big picture’ (purpose, mission and values) so the vision of what you are living for is crystal clear.

Such a planning system is absolute gold. Most people had them in the 80s and 90s. Their large, leather-bound organisers with templates for setting goals, making plans, communicating well and remembering to spend time doing the most important things, day by day, week by week, month by month.

Then we went all technological. We moved on.

But we didn’t take our systems with us into the new media. We left them behind and with it a whole heap of healthy habits were lost.

If you’re reading this and you don’t have a brilliant system for planning June 2020, we need to do something about that. You see, when you have a system that you know inside-out, one that you’ve used time and time again, it’s much, much easier to adapt to changing times. Just follow the process but with different inputs. I can’t do X this month, but I can do Y. A and B may be uncertain, so I’ll focus extra effort on C because that’s within my control.

I’ll end simply with this: get a system. LMI have a brilliant one and I’m always happy to share that. You can design your own if you’re so inclined. Buy one – Best Self Planner is a great option – borrow one, phone a friend. By any means, get a system that works for you. Then you can do the same, month by month, every month, but different.


Success is in the system

May 12, 2020

We looked previously at how success can be defined as progess towards achieving your own meaningful goals. By that definition, everyone can be (and feel) successful. Going back to where we started looking at goals, this is the perfect antidote to the negative feelings that we can all be susceptible to if we find ourselves measuring our success by comparison with others.

Ok, so success is in our hands if, AND IT’S A BIG IF, we learn to regularly set our own goals. It sounds simple. In many ways it is extremely simple and yet so many aren’t doing it. There are two really important keys here:

  1. Learn a system for goal-setting and customise it to your own needs/style/situation/preference.
  2. Make using that system a habit.

We’ll look now at the steps for setting goals as laid out in the LMI Goal Planning System. Next time we’ll talk about how to make using it a habit.

Before we get into that though, a brief intelude. Could you take a few seconds just to imagine the impact it will have if you get seriously good at this? What if every month for the rest of your life you could identify the most important work and personal goals in your life and work effectively to achieve them?

Ok, back to the system in ten steps.

  1. Define or describe something that you’d like to be better in some way.
  2. Write a specific goal(s) that supports this intent.
  3. List the benefits gained and the potential losses avoided by achieving the goal.
  4. Write down possible obstacles and list potential solutions.
  5. Write detailed action steps and deadlines to achieve the goal.
  6. Integrate the action steps into your planning system.
  7. Determine a method of tracking your progress.
  8. Write affirmations to encourage you and keep you on track.
  9. Develop a visual representation that effectively reminds you of your goal.
  10. Celebrate the accomplishment of meaningful goals

It’s a simple and immensely powerful system where each step plays an important part in making the whole system work.

We talk more about this in the Foundations of Success workshop I run. If what we’ve been looking at around goals is an area you’d like to improve in, and the LMI Goal Planning tools would be helpful, you’d be really welcome to join one of these sessions.


Solve the minor issues

April 22, 2020

There are plenty of big issues to think about right now. That’s always true but happens to feel especially real at the moment.

I would love to be able to fix some of those things. Top of my list, this morning at least. is the need for a more grown-up political conversation and the ability for the UK to tackle its major issues effectively rather than degenerate into the mire of partisan point-scoring. Some (definitely not all) countries do this far better than we do. That’s a thought for another time though!

There are also many other serious business and societal issues we could be giving thought to and actively working to prepare for. These are a couple of the questions that seem to me worth spending time on:

  • In society, how might the future look different because of this crisis?
  • How might my specific sector look different?
  • How can I be part of creating that future with positive intent rather than just responding to it?

However, right here, right now there will also be a myriad of minor issues that definitely can be solved and if you spend some time each day to fix some of these, the impact upon your immdiate environment and how you feel each day can be tremendously positive. It certainly works well for me.

The power of small victories should never be underestimated. When my kids were in primary school they came home nearly every day with a sticker or a certificate for some (mostly) small thing they had achieved that day. Why? Because it was all part of recognising progress and motivating them to keep going. We may be grown up but our motivation system works in pretty much the same way.

What kind of smalls things am I talking about? Well, here’s just a couple of minor fixes that I’ve done myself or seen others do over the last couple of weeks:

  • buy a more comfortable home-office chair
  • create an alternative standing workstation for long video calls
  • invest in better quality microphone for online meetings
  • learnt how to use some new video/screen recording software
  • begun using some new integrations for my CRM

Try listing a few small issues that you face, resolve at least one of them in the next 48 hours and see how that works for you. If it helps, try another. Don’t stop working on the big things, of course, but keep in mind the benefit of achieving and celebrating regular small victories.


So What About Leadership? – new podcast

September 18, 2019

I have been having some really interesting conversations with my counterpart leading the LMI organisation in Ireland…so good in fact that we decided to record them and join the podcast revolution!

It’s called So What About Leadership? and we’ve done two episode so far:

  1. Personal Productivity
  2. Personal Leadership

You can listen to both here:

 


Review your definition of success

July 11, 2018

We easily get into ‘getting on with it’ mode. Days and weeks go by. Months pass in multiples. Suddenly we’re more than half way through the year, it’s nearly (or already for some) the summer holidays, then September and we rush headlong towards Christmas.

I’m in the ‘relaxed and positive’ rather than the ‘doom and gloom’ camp when it comes to the passing of time, with one caveat. Am I doing worthwhile things with all these hours or am I just busy with activity that, on review, will count for very little.

Success

It all comes down to whether we have clear definitions of what success is and how to measure it. Answering this question is a crucial aspect of leading yourself and leading others. Once that’s done, here’s a few questions that can help keep us on track:

  1. What progress & victories have we achieved today / this week / this month that are in line with our definitions of success?
  2. What have we done that’s contributed most to those victories that we can do more of?
  3. What new things can we try to achieve more?
  4. What have we done that’s not contributed to our success that we can do less of, or stop doing entirely?

 

All seems a little bit simplistic when we put it like that, doesn’t it? Regardless, it works incredibly well. It’s often the simple things that do.

If it’s been a while since you reviewed what success means to you, can I strongly encourage you to do so? And not just at work or in business by the way. At home, with your family and friends, your health, your contribution to society and your giving to others. Your success needs defining for all of these. I’ve got plenty of simple tools to help you do this so please do get in touch if you need a hand getting started.

 


Fight for a fit

March 8, 2018

Fit rarely comes easy.

My right foot is slightly bigger than my left, hence finding shoes that are super comfortable for both feet can be a bit tricky. I’ve had to try on lots of pairs and discover particular brands that work for me.

Similarly, I didn’t instinctively know what kinds of work would be a good fit for me. I’ve had to try things out, take assessments and profiles (I’ve just about done them all!), consciously reflect on my experiences to identify when and where I’ve felt best about my work.

Here’s a few questions that you can ask yourself, or as a manager you can ask of your team members, to help discover their best fit:

  • What parts of your work do you enjoy most?
  • What areas of your work do you feel most enthusiastic about?
  • What do you care most about achieving?
  • What do you think you do best?
  • What do you find most stressful?
  • In what tasks do you procrastinate most?

There are plenty of others, but these are a good start.

Good fit is worth fighting for. It increases productivity, retention, motivation and morale. It reduces turnover and stress. It has a positive impact on mental and physical health.

Good fit is in everyone’s interests.


Catch both rabbits!

February 5, 2018

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

So says the ancient proverb… and there’s lot of wisdom in this. If you try to go in two directions at the same time, you’ll end up reaching neither.

Wouldn’t it be lovely then to only chase one rabbit? It would be heavenly to focus on just one thing but for most of us that seems like an unrealistic dream because we have so many different things running concurrently and we mustn’t drop the ball on any of them.

So what practical wisdom can we take from the age-old ‘Two Rabbits’ conundrum? Here’s just one thing that you may find helpful.

Manage transition between projects.

Think back to school. Maths lessons followed English followed History. Each lesson (at least the good ones) had a well-structured start and finish so you left in good shape to do whatever homework may be required and arrive back for the next lesson ready to continue. You were (again, in the good lessons!) able to give full focus to that one lesson for that one hour before moving on to the next.

Many challenges arise as we hop between projects and tasks holding many different things in our minds, not able to fully focus on any of them. Let’s take meetings as an example. People arrive at the meeting unprepared because they were doing something else, often unrelated, right up to the last moment they left to join the meeting, Then they leave the meeting and go straight to the next thing without processing what just happened. Instead they should be reviewing what just took place, scheduling any actions required on their part and swiftly following up with any further communication needed. When this doesn’t happen, next meeting we find agreed actions haven’t been done, or are part-done, little thought has been given to the implications of what was discussed last time and much inefficiency ensues!

Whether it’s a meeting with others or simply your own management of the various rabbits / balls / plates (pick your favourite metaphor!), it can really help to work on slowing down and focusing on good transitions. Doing this well can seriously boost your productivity and also reduce stress as things feel less hectic and out-of-control.

Give it a try and have a great week!


DIY Deadline Day

August 31, 2017

It’s Transfer Deadline Day in the football world, with the transfer window bolted shut at 11pm tonight. Any business that clubs don’t get done by that cast-iron cut-off point doesn’t happen….at least until the window opens again on 1st January.

Many I know, and I humbly confess to being one of them, will be refreshing the deadline day news apps on phones quite a few times between now and 11pm.

Watch

Whether you’re a fellow ‘refresher’ or have no interest at all, you can’t escape the fact that the deadline creates activity and lots gets done. The transfer window has been open all summer but it’s today that many of the deals get completed. It’s do or die, now or never, time to go and make it happen!

There’s something incredible about the deadline that generates action. We humans can’t seem to resist it’s power. Whether it’s ‘last day of early bird booking rate’, tax return submission day, job application cut-off, the big tender due date or the last day at work before holidays, the time when time is running out is so often when we are at our most productive.

Somehow our lack of self-discipline, poor self-motivation and well-honed procrastination skills all get put aside as the shadow of the pending deadline looms large!

My aim here is not to look at why this is, but rather to think about how we can use this naturally occurring phenomenon to our huge advantage.

What happens when we don’t have a big, externally-dictated deadline looming?

Here are three ways to harness some of the power of the deadline every single day:

1) Set a deadline for when you are going to finish working today

Make your plans, write your lists, set about your daily work but with a definite end-time which is 100% inflexible. I guarantee you’ll work more efficiently knowing that you can’t just keep going ‘for as long as it takes’.

2) Set the clock on a piece of work

When you have a large project or specific task that needs your focussed attention and you don’t know how long it will take, it can be really hard to get going with any sense of urgency. This is especially true if it’s one of those long-term projects that will generally improve the world but lacks any definite ‘we need it by then’ dates. Here’s where it can be really helpful to set yourself set blocks of time to make as much progress as possible. Choose a realistic period, an hour often works, to get your head down and concentrate only on that task. Set a timer and keep it visible in front of you and keep going until it beeps. Then schedule your next block of time to pick it up again.

3) Create an arbitrary deadline and make it public

Sometimes we will be more motivated by the potential for public shame than just the satisfaction of our own achievement! Where this is the case, set a date for a project, a launch, an event…anything really…and tell people. ‘Going public’ might be telling your family, your team, the whole office, your clients, all your social media followers or even the Stock Exchange. But do it and see the difference it makes!

The unavoidable truth is that deadlines work like a dream and, as is the case for many ‘refreshers’ today, can even make things a little bit more exciting!