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3 Questions for a Brighter Future

questions You and you alone create your future. You are the only person, place or thing with that power. With that being the case, it's up to you to create the future of your dreams.

One way to do that is to look back so you can look forward. Reflecting upon the past and pulling lessons away so your future is bigger and brighter. With the New Year upon us, now is a great time to review last year so next year lives up to its promise for you.

There's a simple three-stage framework for performing this exercise. It involves asking yourself three questions:

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What?

Start with the actual events of this year. What happened? Describe major events in your life. As you record your answers, test your perceptions to make sure they reflect the reality of the situation. If it helps, pretend that you are a reporter objectively recording the facts of the event.

So what?

At this stage, you move from reporting to understanding, from logic to emotion. That's why it was so important to get the facts right in the first step. What did this experience mean to you? How did it make you feel? Why did you feel that way? What have you learned?

Now what?

The previous two questions lead to this one. How will you apply the lessons you learned? What specific actions will you take as a result of the events you've outlined?

These three simple questions serve as a great outline to review major events in your life and develop forward-thinking plans to be a bigg success.

Let’s look at a couple of examples, using events from 2008.

Example: Volatile stocks

What?
The stock market can be very volatile.

So what?
I can lose money if I don’t understand the risk and how to manage it.

Now what?
I will learn more about investing and asset allocation. I won’t invest money in stocks that I will need in the next ten years. I will pay closer attention to my quarterly reports to make sure I maintain the proper asset allocation given my age and goals.

Example: Layoffs

What?
Times are tough at work; layoffs are possible.

So what?
It makes me nervous. I think I could lose my job.

Now what?
I will look for ways to help my company save money. I will make sure my boss is aware of the projects I complete successfully. I will look for opportunities to add additional skills so I’m more competitive.

Solid goals

In our examples, the “Now what’s” are a little bit fuzzy. You really want to refine them to turn them into solid goals. For instance, looking at the second example, instead of saying “I will look for ways to help my company save money,” turn that into “I will find one way to save my company $X (you pick a relevant amount) in the next 30 days.”

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Would you like more help turning your thoughts into concrete goals? Get our FREE Goal-Setting Workbook when you subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE too!

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We really appreciate you taking the time to read our post today. Join us next time when we look at the most important people of 2008. We think you’ll be surprised at our choices! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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I Need a Day Off

puzzle CareerBuilder just released the results of their annual survey on absenteeism. They found that about one-third of all the people they surveyed had played hooky at least once in the last year.

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marylynnWhen I was a DJ working mornings, I had to be to work at 4 a.m. It’s hard to call your boss that early to tell him you won’t be in, even if you are sick!

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Here are the real reasons people played hooky, according to CareerBuilder:

#1 – they didn’t feel like it
#2 – to relax and recharge
#3 – to go to the doctor
#4 – to catch up on sleep
#5 – to run personal errands

Look at that list. Does that tell you how much pressure we feel in our day-to-day lives? Is the only way to remain psychologically healthy by playing hooky?

We also found it interesting that 10% of the time people play hooky is actually work-related. They don’t want to attend a meeting. They need some quality time to work on a past due project. They want to avoid a confrontation with a co-worker.

Companies today are trying to do more and more with less and less. That means you have fewer co-workers. Your day off may leave them in a bind. So try to plan for your time off. If you feel yourself feeling overwhelmed, talk with your boss. See if you could work a little extra for a few days to get a day off. Everyone will be much better off if you’re upfront.

As a boss, do everything you can to honor your employee’s request. If you know you can’t give him or her the requested day off, offer an alternative. Employees today prize flexibility. It’s one of the best things you can do to retain employees who give their best.

Excuses, excuses

CareerBuilder also compiled a list of some of the most unusual excuses employers heard in the last year. Here are three of our favorites:

“I hit a turkey while riding a bike.”
We wondered if this was really a way to save money on Thanksgiving dinner!

“I donated too much blood.”

We found it hard to believe that any blood bank would take too much blood. Maybe this person ran into a vampire!

“My wife burned all my clothes so I have nothing to wear to work.”
So, here’s a question – how is this person going to get out of the house to buy the clothes he needs? We hope he’s not our neighbor!

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georgeI remember one of my managers telling me about an employee who wasn’t at work. It’s my favorite excuse ever. This guy worked hourly and had already used up all of his personal days. He said he was so stressed out by his lack of money that he just couldn’t come into work! Guess what – he got more stressed out!

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What’s the worst excuse you ever heard?

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Are You Solving the Problem or Treating the Symptom?

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We the People are Taking Back Our Country

we_the_people We usually talk about money on Mondays. As we discussed possible topics for today’s post, we realized there was no bigger issue than what’s going on in Washington and Wall Street. Our apologies to our international listeners, but we’re going to be domestic today. But as we’ve seen, it obviously affects everyone worldwide.

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We usually don’t talk about politics. We won’t be partisan; there’s plenty of blame to go around. We know that we may upset everybody today; that’s not our intention.

We think it’s time to look at the facts so we can make the right decisions here in a few weeks … who are we going to hire?

Not just for President, but for government at all levels. It’s time that we, the people, take back our country, our states, and our cities.

We’re sick and tired of the blame game and passing the buck on personal responsibility. Leadership is about taking responsibility. The leaders of our biggest companies aren’t taking responsibility, but even more sad, our elected officials aren’t bearing it, or requiring it, either.

We, the taxpayers, invested $85 billion in AIG. What was AIG’s response? They threw a $440,000 “party”. Sure they called it a “planning meeting” or an “executive session”. But how can you justify spending that kind of money for a retreat when you’re using our money and you’ve been on the brink of financial collapse?

It was a complete slap in the face and our leaders should have seen it as such. But what did they do? Turn around and give AIG another $38 billion two weeks later!

How many of us could walk into a bank two weeks after we borrowed a bunch of money in desperation and get more?

How successful would we be at getting more money if we so grossly underestimated how much it would take the first time around?

“Oh, and by the way, Mr. Banker, we know you’ve heard that we wasted some of it on a spa getaway, but we need about half as much again as we borrowed the first time. Will you lend it to us?”

Can you imagine the response?

Fortunately, AIG scrapped plans for another “party” after news got out about the first one. Of course, we’ve also learned that they tinkered with the idea of spending some of our money running an advertising campaign to apologize for the first “party”.

Some insight into the mismanagement

Warren Buffett was interviewed by CNBC’s Becky Quick back in August. Part of the conversation turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’ll paraphrase …

Congress set up the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) back in 1992. The sole job of this agency was to evaluate the soundness, accounting practices, and the like of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Two companies … that’s all OFHEO had to oversee. Buffet, of course, notes that he does more than that all by himself.

It took 200 OFHEO employees and a $65 million dollar a year budget to do that.

Year after year, OFHEO reported to Congress. They stated that the accounting was sound. The directors were great. Everything was just fine. There was nothing to worry about.

Well, we all know what happened – two of the greatest accounting misstatements in the history of the stock exchange caused by management misconduct. What was OFHEO’s response?

A report to Congress blaming the management, the directors, the audit committee. Everybody but themselves.

200 people with a budget of $65 million overseeing just two companies. Yet they assumed no responsibility for this huge blunder.

The problem we have is that everybody blames anybody else every time there is a problem. It needs to end now.

How to put an end to it

The solution may surprise you. It starts and ends with us. We need to take personal responsibility. We made mistakes too. We bought in.

We saw government borrowing and living beyond its means, so many of us borrowed and lived beyond ours. From this day forward, that ends. We won’t forget this lesson. We will bailout ourselves. We will get back on our feet. We will prosper.

We also delegated too much. We voted, but we didn’t pay close enough attention to what our elected officials were doing. Well, Mr. or Ms. Politician, you have our attention now. And we’re going to keep paying attention.

What we can’t control

Here’s what paying closer attention has shown us – we see a complete vacuum of leadership. You’re not a leader if you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes. You’re not a leader if you don’t solve problems; you only assign blame to others. You’re not a leader if you can’t tell us where we’re at, why we got here, and what we’re going to do about it to make tomorrow better than today.

We can’t personally do much to change the leadership on Wall Street. We can’t do much to change who reports our news, because the media missed the boat on this one as well. We can’t choose the bureaucrats, like the ones at OFHEO, who oversee key agencies and put policy into action.

What we can control

We do get to choose who we hire to represent us. We have important decisions to make in a few weeks. Not just for President. Not just for the Senate or the House in Washington, D.C. We get to choose who will represent us at all levels of government.

So here’s how we put an end to it now. Quit thinking like a Democrat or a Republican. That’s another trap they’ve led us into and we bought in.

No, we will hire the best person for the job. We need to do our homework: What’s their record? What have they accomplished? How have they handled their fiduciary duties in the past?

The past is the best predictor we have of the future when it comes to human behavior. That’s how we would hire anybody else. Why would we hire our elected officials any differently?

We have access to the records of our current elected officials. We can know what they’ve done. We need to start paying closer attention.

Resources

Current legislation before Congress

Votes Database by The Washington Post

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Official site of the U.S. House of Representatives

Official site of the U.S. Senate

List of government agencies – federal, state and local

Find the official sites of state, county, and city governments

We the people

We’re looking for public servants, not party servants or power servants. We the people are taking our country back.

Go ahead, Mr. or Ms. Politician … take that special interest money. But you better be clear about who you serve. We the people.

Mr. or Ms. Elected Official, go ahead and listen to your party leaders. Just know that, on Election Day, we won’t vote for the person who serves the powers that be. We will vote for the person who serves us. We the people. 

Combined, we’re more powerful than Washington can ever be when we are educated and informed. We will take personal responsibility to learn who best serves our interest, and the interests of our children and grandchildren.

We the people are taking back our country.

What do you think? 

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Are You a Victim of Your Own Success?

stress You’ve made it! You’ve arrived! You’ve reached that next level of success! You’ve achieved your dream!

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But you’re swamped. Now, you have a seemingly endless list of things-to-do. And it all just keeps coming. Minute after minute, day after day, week after week. It’s sheer chaos.

You find yourself busier than ever. You’re more successful than ever. But are you happier than ever?

It seems that you’re a victim of your own success – too much to do, too many clients, too many constituents. So what can you do about it?

Congratulate yourself

Take a deep breath and a little pause. Enjoy it for a bit!

Get away from it all for a day

We know … you’re too busy. But here’s the thing – you’re too busy not to get away because, on your day away, you’re going to contemplate. What’s most important? What’s least important?

After you’ve thought about those two things:

Hire an assistant, outsource, partner, joint venture … you get the idea

Delegate – in some way, shape or form – those things that aren’t most important.

You might be asking, “Can I afford to hire someone?” But you’re asking the wrong question. The question really is, “Can I afford not to?”

Because the most important things – the people who are most important for you to spend time with, the projects that only you can and should do – will get pushed aside by the less important things if you don’t take this step.

Set the expectations for the people in your life

You need to establish boundaries for all your people. You may set certain times when you’re available to employees, vendors, and even customers. We think customers can’t be trained, but even they can. 

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georgeIn one of my early businesses, my second biggest customer was constantly calling with demands for immediate service. Finally, I presented them with an option – they could work within our time frame for the price we negotiated or I could offer them quicker turnaround for a higher price. They chose the better price!

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Finding your model

Now you’re only working on the most important things and you’ve communicated your boundaries to the most important people in your life. You’re ready to do those things you do in the most efficient way possible.

So let’s look for a model. Think about a manufacturer’s assembly line with products coming down it. What are your products?

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marylynnFor us, it is shows to produce. Articles to write. E-mails to return. People to reach out to. Products to create. Services to deliver.

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Your production cycle may flow over an hour, a day, a week, or a month. Think about all of the important things you do – that’s your product – and engineer your processes to move that product down the line in the most efficient manner possible.

Engineer your processes

What is the best way to do it? Think about it logically. Step back and look at it again. Walk yourself through the whole process, step-by-step as it exists today. Now, start looking for ways to save little bits of time.

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georgeOne of the guest speakers for my class became a billionaire by turning his little business into a Fortune 500 company. One of his secrets was finding ways to get more done with the same people. For example, they discovered a way to change how they labeled packages for shipment. It saved them 55 seconds. That’s time they could spend on something else!

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So if you find yourself a victim of your own success, start with effectiveness – make sure you’re doing the right things. Then work on efficiency – doing those things the right way.

Doing the right things the right way … before you know it, you’ll be an even bigger success without being victimized by it!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success!
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we ask, “Are you afraid of success?” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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How to Deal with a Mean Person

balance We hear a lot about violence on television, in the movies, and in video games. When violence is discussed, it’s usually physical violence. USA Today cites a recent study at Brigham Young University that shows that seeing people being mean to others affects us as well.

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Participants responded just as aggressively, no matter what type of aggression they had encountered – be it physical aggression or relational aggression, as the study defined it.

We’ll call the latter mental aggression – seeing people being mean to other people.
We all deal with mean people, or at least people who can be mean from time to time. 

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marylynn Prime example – when I was a Production Director, which means I oversaw commercial production for a group of five radio stations, I implemented a new procedure that some of the sales people didn’t like. I was back in the sales area, with all the sales people in their cubicles, and one decided to call me out. He was rude and confrontational.

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georgeI remember someone we were grooming for management. He seemed to have all the right characteristics. However, when he faced a situation where someone was angry or upset, he only made it worse. As a leader, you have to learn how to diffuse situations, not inflame them.

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How to diffuse a situation

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marylynn Back to my story of being confronted by a sales person in front of the sales staff – it caught me off guard, but I stopped and collected my thoughts. Then I said, “I’d be more than happy to talk with you about this my office. But your sales manager signed off on this procedure. So if you really have a problem with it, I’d suggest you talk to him.

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Get away

When you feel your blood start to boil, get away before you say the wrong thing. If you’re face-to-face, suggest you take up the issue again in a little bit. If you’re on the phone, excuse yourself and let the other person know you’ll need to call them back. Even with e-mail, refrain from being too quick to reply.

Talk it out

Tell a friend, a colleague, or your spouse how upset you are. Get it off your chest, as they say. Let it all out. By talking to someone, you get to say what you’d like to say. Now you can start focusing on how to say it productively.

Write it down

If no one is available to talk to, write it down so you get the cathartic release you need. Don’t do it as a “Reply” just in case you hit the wrong key and the message gets sent!

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georgeWhen I get really upset, I feel sorry for my keyboard. I’m pounding away, but it gets it out of my system rather quickly. Then I get away for awhile. When I come back to it, I’m ready to construct a response that will move things forward.

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Report what happened

Show the other person that you understand their concerns. State it back to them in the way in which they should have stated it. When they know you have heard their concerns, they’re more likely to listen to your response.

Focus on resolutions

A great leader has to meet confrontation head-on, but also must always keep the bigger purpose in mind. Find a way to respond that doesn’t make the other person defensive. Move the conversation’s focus to solutions, not problems. 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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A recent study shows that eighty percent of all employed people want to start their own business. Next time, we’ll see if we can talk you out of it.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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