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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 May Have to Fire an Employee. Any Suggestions?

Bigg Challenge
Rick has been a manager now for about six months. He has an employee who is under-performing. Rick thinks he may need to fire this employee, but he’s never done that before. He says he would welcome any suggestions we can provide.

Bigg Advice
Do you remember the Cheers episode where Norm Peterson became the executive’s executioner – his job was to fire people. So he took them out for drinks and, by the time it was done, the employee who was being fired felt sorry for Norm. Because as Norm once said,

“It’s a dog eat dog world and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear.”

So there’s one option, but not one that we necessarily recommend for the real world!

Company procedures
Look to your company’s policy manual for guidance on how to proceed.  Also, discuss this with your boss so you fully understand company protocol and precedents.

No surprises

Except for the most egregious situations, you’ve done something wrong if it’s a surprise. To make sure they’re not surprised, you should follow a process. For example, issue a series of warnings with repercussions for not correcting the performance deficiencies

Round and round we go

Sit down with your employee and explain the problem. Discuss what needs to be done to correct it, tell him or her when you’ll review performance again, and outline the consequences if it’s not corrected (e.g. a 3-day suspension without pay).

At the scheduled time, repeat this process. This time the ramifications have to be greater. (e.g. termination of employment). So if you reach this review and the situation hasn’t improved significantly, the result should be obvious to your employee.

You’re giving them a chance to improve their performance and also covering your liability because you’ll document this entire process and have them sign off each step of the way.

An example

George said that in his early days in business, he was managing his field staff. They worked without direct supervision because they performed work at the customer’s home or office. George had hired a young man who just couldn’t work without ongoing oversight.

George went through the rounds outlined above with little improvement. Finally, he let the employee go. He recommended that this young man get a job in a place where someone could watch over him.

He encouraged the young man come back and reapply for employment once he got used to working in a supervised environment. That never happened because the young man found that he liked working with supervision better.

Firing someone doesn’t have to be negative. Offer any help you can provide. Make suggestions. And realize that sometimes it’s just not a good fit – it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, or that they couldn’t be helpful to any employer. It just means it’s not working out for both of you here.

Thanks, Rick, for sharing your bigg challenge. We’re sure you’ll handle it just fine.

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How to Offer Criticism Without Being Critical

Today’s blog is about an important relationship-building tool. It’s important at work and home. It’s crucial for leaders and first-time managers.

It’s about understanding when to use your “active” voice and when to use your “passive” voice. It may sound simple, but it’s amazing how many times we get it wrong.


Today, we’ll quickly review active and passive voice, and offer some tips on how to use each one effectively.

Active voice
The subject of the sentence appears before the action. Stated more simply, the noun occurs before the verb. The active voice is often more direct and easier to follow.

For example, “You performed exceptionally well on this project.

Passive voice
The action appears in the sentence before the subject, if the subject appears at all. The verb comes first, the noun comes later.

So the example above, spoken in the passive voice would be, “This project was done exceptionally well by you.”

Note that this sentence actually sounds a little strange stated in the passive voice. That’s often the case.

Use the passive voice to offer criticism.
The passive voice has its uses. For example, which of the following two statements would you rather hear?

“You performed below expectations on this project”

“Expectations weren’t met on this project.”

The first example is in the active voice. So the focus is on “you”, not the “project”. The second example does the opposite – using the passive voice, it puts the focus on the project.

The second example sounds better on this go-around, doesn’t it? Can you picture yourself getting defensive with the first sentence? Probably so, because it screams, “You screwed up!”

So when you want to discuss anything negative, use your passive voice. You’ll find that your conversation is much more productive! They won’t feel backed into a corner. They feel more like you’re on their side. You’re not fixing the blame; you’re trying to fix the problem with their help.

Use the active voice to praise people.
Going back to our original example, we’ll bet you would feel great if your boss said, “You performed exceptionally well …”

Can you imagine how your performance would improve if your boss said something like that to you in front of all your co-workers? This is an incredible tool for managers to improve the morale of their troops.

So when you want to tell someone that they did something great, use your active voice. Put them first in your sentences. You’ll feel great because you’ll make them feel great!

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Our bigg quote today comes from Abraham Lincoln:

“He has a right to criticize, who has the heart to help.”

Actively accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives with your passive voice.

Next time, we’ll discuss how to deal with a difficult co-worker. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Pages

Expand Your Mind Twenty Words at a Time

By Bigg Success Staff
08-04-08

Bigg Book Review

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Most of us use less than five percent of our brains naturally. It’s up to us to develop the other 95 percent through training and conditioning.

So says Frank Minirth, noted psychiatrist and author, in A Brilliant Mind: Proven Ways to Increase Your Brainpower. He contends that we can increase our brain power through mental conditioning, just like you can improve your cardiovascular system through regular exercise.

His choice of methods to do this – expand your vocabulary. Words are the tools we use to express our thoughts. So expanding the words in our arsenal expands our minds.

One of the techniques he recommends is to expand your vocabulary twenty words at a time. As Dr. Minirth explains, the brain can develop new cells as well as changing through new cell connections. Memorizing words increases the number of cell connections. As you add cell connections, you expand your ability to memorize more.

This book is organized so you can get meaningful information a few minutes at a time. So take it with you and read it whenever you have a little downtime. It’s a wise way to spend a few minutes that will make you wiser!

Hear today’s lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show.

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Review: Dynamic Components of Personal Power

By Bigg Success Staff
06-05-08

Bigg Book Review 

Jim Bouchard earned a black belt in karate. Along the way, he learned that he found great joy in teaching others. As an instructor, he earned his way into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

Now, he has turned his knowledge of martial arts, along with his desire to train others, into a powerful book about personal and professional success. He realized that the same principles that he practiced with karate were the foundation of any endeavor.

He delivers all this in his powerful, practical book Dynamic Components of Personal Power. Success the Black Belt Way.  He offers a step-by-step guide to find, understand, and harness the power within you to build the life you want.

You have the power! You just need to discover it and use it. His advice is down-to-earth and actionable. You’ll come away inspired and ready to take charge of your life harnessing the tools Jim provides.

We highly recommend this book!

Jim was a guest on The Bigg Success Show. Hear him share 3 tips that have helped him succeed bigg!

More Bigg Reviews

Review: The Ripple Effect

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The Go-Giver

10 Laws of Survival and Success 

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Review: The Ripple Effect

By Bigg Success Staff
04-15-08

Bigg Book Review

book_cover

A small stone thrown into a giant lake creates a ripple. Similarly, our actions also create ripples in the lives of others. There are consequences to our actions – whether good or bad – for both people we know and people they know.

So says Steve Harper, author of the wonderful book The Ripple Effect: Maximizing the Power of Relationships for Your Life and Business. In his book, he shares a plan to harness the power of the ripple effect to positively impact the lives of others, and in so doing, to improve your own life.

He knows first-hand about the benefits of the ripple effect. He built his career on these principles. As a serial entrepreneur, he used them to build several companies from the ground-up. Now, he is a professional speaker and strategic consultant who helps his clients use these very techniques.

He says the return on selflessness is astonishing. That’s why this is a great book for entrepreneurs, executives, and sales people. However, it’s a fantastic resource for any and all of us who have any human contact. That includes most of us!

In case you’re still not convinced, here’s an outline from the Table of Contents:

Part I – Developing a Relationship Mindset
Learn about the benefits of building relationships and why understanding yourself better helps you understand others better.

Part II – Planning a Relationship Strategy
How to leverage your relationships and make the most of your opportunities.

Part III – Practicing Relationships
Learn how to take relationships to the next level as well as techniques to build relationships.

So check out The Ripple Effect  Don’t take our word for it – test drive it yourself!

Hear today’s lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show

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Review: How to be Rich

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Confessions Of A Serial Entrepreneur

*W are amazon affiliates. If you buy Steve’s book though the link we’ve provided, we will get a small portion of the sale.

Review: The Opposable Mind

By Bigg Success Staff
01-31-08

Bigg Book Review

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The conventional wisdom says that if you want to know how to be a successful leader, look at what successful leaders do and do the same thing.

That won’t work, according to Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and author of The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking

Instead, you should learn how great leaders THINK and apply that to your situation.

He wrote this fantastic book to demonstrate just that – how to think.

Integrative thinking, as he describes it, is the ability to hold two or more diametrically opposed ideas in your mind at the same time. That’s the first part.

Then, you must resist the urge to simply choose one or the other. Seek a third alternative, which is likely a synthesis of the two opposing ideas. That third idea is most likely a much better solution than either of the other two!

It’s a whole book on “win – win”, as Stephen Covey described it in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

This book also shows why it’s more dangerous than ever to surround yourself with “yes” men or women. The best solution is usually something that hasn’t yet been spoken. You need independent thinkers around you to find it.

Successful leaders integrate both mastery and originality. They learn from existing models, but believe they can find a better one. They embrace complexity, an important mindset in today’s business world.

Martin asserts that integrative thinkers move beyond trade-offs by asking probing questions and looking for causal relationships.

In a world where the only certainty is uncertainty, this book provides the framework for effective decision-making. That’s why we put it on our list of must-reads.
 

Review: Fire Them Up

By Bigg Success Staff
01-24-08

Bigg Book Review 

Fire Them Up!: 7 Simple Secrets to: InspireColleagues, Customers, and Clients; Sell Yourself, Your Vision, and Your Values; Communicate with Charisma and Confidence

Carmine Gallo, communications coach extraordinaire, award-winning journalist, and successful author, has done it again. In his latest book, Fire Them Up, he shares seven steps to inspire people to be their best.

He personally interviewed leaders from companies such as Google, Travelocity, Cranium, Gymboree, The Ritz Carlton, and Cold Stone Creamery. They share secrets you don’t learn in any business class. Secrets to developing relationships by communicating your vision and showing people you believe in them.

Here are Carmine’s 7 steps to “fire them up” along with our quick summary:

#1 – Ignite your enthusiasm
It starts with you. If you’re not fired up, how can you expect anyone else to be? Lead by example. Once you’re fired up, you can move to the next step.

#2 – Navigate the way
Spell out your clearly stated vision of the future. Your vision should be so simple and to-the-point that it can be written on a cocktail napkin.

#3 – Sell the benefit
Explain WHY your vision is important. How will it affect them? How will it affect the world?

#4 – Paint a picture
Tell stories that reinforce your vision and call your people to action.

#5 – Invite participation
Get your team involved in creating a strategy. How do we get from where we are to where we want to be?

#6 – Reinforce an optimistic outlook
Expect obstacles along the way. Keep your vision in front of your people. Persist. Keep inspiring.

#7 – Encourage their potential
Show your people that you believe in them. Offer regular feedback on their performance. Give them a pat on the back when they excel.

We think you’ll find this book extremely valuable, no matter where you’re at in your career. It’s chockfull of stories and tactics from people who have been there. This is “rubber meets the road” advice. When you understand how to apply these principles, you’re on the road to bigg success!