Business Clarity

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Earlier this week, I discussed the importance of personal clarification on topics that help leaders have a consistent, authentic approach to their vision.  Click here to read more about the areas of life one must be clear about in or to be productive, happy, and successful. 

If the business leader is not clear on their personal items, they will ineffectively lead their teams by being inconsistent and unclear.  They will often produce mixed messages because they lack clarity on who they are or where they are going, often becoming distracted on their journey.

These mixed messages and personal unawareness make way for constant distractions all day long for your team.  A lack of clarity on the questions below means more struggles and less traction.

Points of Business Clarity:

Is your team clear on…

  • the roles within the company and who does what?
  • the “why behind” company goals and initiatives?
  • the company’s 5-year stretch goal?
  • the company’s vision for the future?
  • the company’s annual goals?
  • the company’s quarterly themes?
  • their daily/weekly activities and how it ties to annual goals and quarterly themes?
  • the company’s strategic planning process?
  • everyone’s communication and decision making styles?
  • the company’s culture?

If the team is not clear on these business categories, they will be consumed with distractions instead of opportunities.  Brandon Ames, an entrepreneur from Phoenix is fond of saying, “absent values and vision, you cannot differentiate between opportunity and distraction.”

Imagine each person on your team sitting in their own canoe on a lake, tied to each other by a rope.  They are facing in various directions and you instruct them to start paddling.  What happens?

Not much. 

Or worse – the strongest paddler eventually starts dragging the group in whatever direction pleases them.  In your business, who’s the strongest paddler? 

You are.  Which is why at times it can feel like you are dragging the team to achieve a goal.  You may be asking yourself why this is so hard, or why your team doesn’t care as much about the success of the business as you do. 

Imagine, instead, if when you told everyone to start paddling, they all instinctively turned to the same point on shore and with laser focus aggressively paddled in that direction. 

The key to business clarity and success is alignment, focus, accountability, and rhythmic communication. 

Future posts will tackle these topics.

Personal Clarity

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I often speak with entrepreneurs, realtors, business leaders, and other professionals about achieving more.  Of course, it is rare to find someone that is completely satisfied with the amount or pace of their achievements. 

And when you look at people around you or in the media, you find wide ranges of achievement.  Some people struggle to balance their checkbook, while others own and run 3+ businesses. 

Similarly, some businesses languish for years in mediocrity, barely able to keep the lights on, while others skyrocket to success.

What is the cause of this disparity?

Distractions are the primary reason people and businesses do not achieve the success they desire.  Without a question, to be distracted is the most detrimental obstacle to achieving a goal with any kind of efficiency. 

Distractions come from a lack of clarity around a number of personal and professional categories.  Here are some examples:

Points of Personal Clarity:

Are you clear on…

  • your core values and how to use them?
  • your signature strengths and how to leverage them?
  • your purpose and how to activate it?
  • the activities that bring you joy, happiness, engagement, and meaning?
  • how others’ energy affects you and vice versa?
  • your inner critic’s impact on your decisions?
  • your goals and why you want to achieve them?
  • how your sleep, nutrition, activity, stress an overall health affect your happiness and productivity?
  • what brings you the most satisfaction while you work?
  • what brings you the least satisfaction while you work?

Clarity around these ten issues will provide you with the foundation you need to be confident, happy, and successful.  When you are clear on responses to these questions, you are by default also aware of what a distraction looks like. 

A distraction will feel uncomfortable.  A distraction will feel misaligned with what you know you are supposed to do.  A distraction will be so obvious, you’ll forget how once it was so alluring.

But like anything worth having, gaining clarity takes work and practice.  How can you begin?  If you feel like you are not 100% clear on 1 or more of the above areas, take the Velocity Life Review assessment and receive a free debrief of your results.  This is the first step in gaining clarity around areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in your life. 

As always, with awareness comes choice.  Clarity is, therefore, empowering.

Thought Monitoring

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It is often said in business that what gets measured gets done, and if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.

I have found the same to be true personally.  Setting a goal for myself requires some baseline, some way to measure progress, and some target to strive for.  For example, a health related goal demands this information.  Let’s say you have a simple goal of losing 5 lbs.  You’ll first need to know what you currently weigh, you’ll want to experiment with new ways of eating or exercising, and then you’ll want to continue to weigh yourself until the 5 lbs is lost.

For outwardly facing, tangible, materialistic goals, this approach seems fairly well accepted.  However, for the inner journey of self-discovery and growth, many people abandon this methodology and leave their development to chance.  In my experience, inner growth requires the same level of measuring, testing, and measuring again.

Why is this very simple and time-tested approach so important?  I must say this 3 times/week to clients, family, and friends:  with awareness comes choice.

When you have the ability to measure where you currently are, you now have information that gives you the opportunity to make a choice.  What’s the choice?  It’s simple:  stay the same, or change.

Going back to my weight goal, let’s think about it more broadly.  Many people want a consistent goal, not just a situational goal.  Every once in a while, you may want to strive for a new level (lose 5 lbs), but I think most of us just want to maintain our ideal weight consistently (I want to be under 185 lbs all the time).  This kind of goal requires frequent monitoring so that you have the information necessary to make adjustments if needed.  And once you have information that indicates you have exceeded that weight, you now have a choice to make:  do nothing or do something.

As I also say a lot, a bell cannot be un-rung.  What has been heard cannot be unheard.  What has been seen cannot be unseen.  You are forced to make a decision.  Taking no action is definitely a decision, by the way.

When we think about the inner goals we have such as to be happier, to have more balanced, or to have more meaning in our lives, it requires the same level of measuring as any outer goal would.

This brings me to thought monitoring.  While it always amazes me when I speak with clients (or friends) that have no awareness around their thought stream (all of the daily chatter going on in your mind), I have to remind myself that it took me 33 years to even open my eyes to the concept, and yet another 2 years of deliberate focus to get to a place of barely scratching the surface of understanding.

Try this little exercise in what is known as mindfulness meditation or mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).  Find a quiet, dimly lit, comfortable place to sit.  Sit upright, feet on the floor, hands in your lap and take 5 deep breaths, slowly, and hold the inhale for 3 seconds each time.  Take your time with this, close your eyes and then begin breathing normally.  Try to focus only on your inhale and exhale, noticing the nuance of how you breathe.  Stay with your breath for as long as possible.  When a random, stray, or otherwise invited thought enters your mind, stop. 

How long did you last?  If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t make it past 10 seconds.  Congratulations, you’re normal!

But what this tells us is that these thoughts are flashing through our mind, without awareness or intention, all day, every day, 24-7.  If we are not directing those thoughts, then we are at the whim of whatever subconscious messages our mind is fabricating. 

Why not just trust our mind and our subconscious thinking?  Well, unfortunately that part of our mind is not the logical, educated philosopher that we might be hoping for.  Instead it is akin to a 4-year old on Halloween all hopped up on sugar.  If left unchecked, our mind will run rampant and oftentimes unintentionally sabotage our dreams.  Other experts in the fields of psychology and meditation have called this our “monkey mind,” and one author went so far as to say that our mind is like a “mad, drunk, jumping monkey that has just been bit by a scorpion.”

Hopefully that visual paints a picture of the severity of the issue.  But what can you do about it?

Digital ticker-tape banner in Times Square

Digital ticker-tape banner in Times Square

Try this similar MBSR technique.  Same instructions as before but instead of focusing on the breath, I want you to focus on the thoughts running through you mind.  I do not want you to judge them, debate them, or otherwise analyze them.  I simple want you to recognize and acknowledge them.  Because your thoughts will come fast and furious at first, think of it like watching that digital ticker-tape display banner that scrolls rapidly in Times Square  (or tune into C-NBC and take a look at the bottom of the TV screen).  Say the thoughts out loud (or internally to yourself) as they come and the release them.  In fact, you’ll have to release them because the next one will be coming.  That’s the point.  Do this for as long as feels comfortable, but remember to not dwell on a thought and go down a rabbit hole with that thought.  If you find yourself entertaining a particular thought, just acknowledge that as another thought and move on.

After some patience and some practice, you may begin to notice your thoughts slowing down.  They won’t come as rapidly.  You may even get to a place where you can actually be singularly present with your breath for much more than 10 seconds. 

What’s the next step?  Replacing your unintentional thought stream with intentional thoughts that allow you to choose your own path.  This is an empowering and inspirational place to operate from.  Stay tuned for more…

 

Spirituality: Defined

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-by Matt Leedham

You will find no definition of spirituality here.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to deceive you, but I’ve come to realize that spirituality is a very personal journey. It would be impossible to simply provide you with a definition.

Instead, perhaps I can at least give you the gift of awareness, if only for a brief moment. As comfortable or uncomfortable as you are with the concept of spirituality, take a moment to stop what you are doing and reflect on what spirituality means to you.

Need help? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does spirituality have to do with your beliefs you have about your soul?
  • Or does the definition lie in who you are?
  • Does it have to do with your core values?
  • Does it have to do with your relationship with God?
  • Or your relationship with others?
  • Does it have to do with energy?
  • Is it about connection, or love, or expression?
  • Does it have to do with the universe?

Have you simply never considered it before?

Those that specialize in health and wellness have identified 4 core areas of well-being: Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, and Physical. How would you rate your satisfaction or fulfillment in these areas?

I’m full of more questions than answers today, I’m afraid.

I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please share a comment below.

The One Thousand Dollar Mustache

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-by Matt Leedham

One month ago I began a journey with an undefined destination.

The quest? To grow a mean ‘stache.

The cause? To raise awareness for men’s health and raise money for prostate cancer research.

The result? I personally raised $1,005 and my team of Mo Bros raised $2,575.

The other result? A serious ‘stache…

The effort? Not much.

The sacrifice? I looked creepy.

The lesson? You can make a HUGE impact by being you.

This reminds me of what my wife and I were able to accomplish last holiday season with a small concentrated effort.

And now I’m left thinking…what else? What more can I do?

Donating My Face

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-by Matt Leedham

Perhaps it’s the season of thanks and giving, or perhaps I was inspired by Jaime generously donating her iPad to charity, but yesterday I decided to donate my face to a good cause.

Recently, I learned that November is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Movember, the official movement, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of men growing moustaches in support of men’s health. The men that participate in Movember, known as Mo Bros, “effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November.” Movember also collaborates with the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Why Am I Participating?

Why have I chosen to sport a moustache for the month of November, which will likely get me strange looks from friends and strangers alike?

I don’t actually know any men that have suffered from prostate or testicular cancer. And moustaches have a weird reputation in America.

Think about it. Some people view them as stately or gentlemanly, especially if worn by a older man. Some view them as creepy, especially if you drive a van. Some think of certain professions, such as firemen and police detectives.

So why do it?

The answer is simple really. It’s because I can. How easy is it for me to grow a moustache? Very easy. How much time and effort does it take? Very little. What’s the impact I can have? How much money can I raise? That depends on you!

Ultimately, how much awareness can I bring to men’s health? The ROI on this investment is huge.

Frankly, I couldn’t think of a reason not to do it.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I may look a little silly. I may feel a little uncomfortable. I may feel a little insecure. But so what? If I can just get over my ego, I can make a difference. The choice was simple.

Of course, like a good husband, I asked my wife first. After considering our social commitments for November, she was on board!

How Can You Help Me?

It’s simple. First, help me spread the word about this awesome movement of moustachery. Tell the men in your life to get involved, sign up with Movember, and create a donation page. It’ easy and took me less than 3 minutes.

Second, pony up some cash to support the cause on my donation page! Again, it’s really easy. Just go to my page (http://mobro.co/mattleedham) and give a dollar, five dollars, or whatever you can afford. You can donate to me or donate to my awesome team of Mo Bros.

Donations of $50 or more will get you a copy of one of my favorite books of human triumph, Unbroken (or another book if you’ve already read this incredible true story).

Donations of $250 or more will get you three individual coaching sessions with me, or an Energy Leadership Assessment and 1-hour debrief.

Together, we can raise awareness and much needed funds for research. Your help and generosity is appreciated.

Happy Movember!

Note: the Movember website is experiencing some serious traffic for obvious reasons, so please be patient if you are having delays getting online.

The Process

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-by Matt Leedham

Examining your life and/or career can be an emotional journey, often clouded by insecurities, fear, passion, and ego. What can be challenging to remember is that growth often comes from a process. It’s not good enough to just explore your thoughts, emotions, actions, goals, values, vision, etc. You need to walk through the process of advancement…of forward movement…to make lasting, sustainable change.
So, what is the process?
Well, it’s different for everyone. You may be asking yourself, “if the process is different for everyone, how can it be a process?” Great question!
Everyone is unique and requires a different formula for growth. The ingredients often remain the same, but the recipe is slightly different. As a coach, working with someone on personal or professional growth, we would start with these ingredients:

Be Aware: We will dig deep on your values, your vision, and your purpose. You will take an Energy Leadership Index assessment and explore who you are and where you want to go.



Be Balanced: We will examine how your roles in life are impacted by each other. We will then learn how to apply what we’ve uncovered from your values and vision to achieve more balance in your life.
Go Conquer: With a solid foundation in awareness and balance, we will build targeted action plans to conquer your vision and reach your full potential.
Then there are those that already have a huge goal or project they want to accomplish. Similarly, there is a process for advancement. Again, every process is different, but here are the ingredients:
Sparking: This is the passion you bring to your life, your goals, or a project. Creating and using fire is what separates us from all other sentient beings, and passion, or “spark,” is what separates achievers from non-achievers. In a group context, spark is also creating buy-in, so everyone is passionate about the goal/project.
Revving: Once you have a flame going, you have to keep fanning the flame to increase your energy around the spark. Revving your engines is part of the Energy Leadership Index. You need to maximize your perspective and attitude to opportunities and challenges.
Orbiting: Orbiting is building the track for your goal. If you are not in orbit, you will have difficulty reaching your goal. Orbits (aka, values) keep you focused. Also, orbits have a strong gravitational pull, conserving your power. The more you are out of orbit, the more power you will burn to get to your goal, and the harder success will be.


Forecasting: See the future. Plan with the end in sight. Your forecast (aka, vision) should be as specific as possible, involve all your senses, and be reviewed daily.

Atomic Planning: Atomic Planning has two components. First, you will identify the big, audacious goal. Atomic energy is the most powerful energy in our universe, so GO BIG! Second, you will plan the smallest possible steps. Atomic planning means that you have a huge goal with lots of tiny steps. The more steps, the easier it is to rack up wins. The more wins you rack up, the more likely you are to continue.

Viral Solving: Viruses adapt, adapt, adapt. When you take on a challenge like a virus, you know that there are millions of ways of overcoming the obstacle. Use your resources and networks, uncover assumptions and limited beliefs, and stay creative. A virus wins because a virus is always evolving to beat the odds.

Fireworking: When you’ve achieved your goal, you have to celebrate. Transition rituals are empowering (think bachelorette party, sweet 16, wedding) and provide closure (funerals, retirement parties, going away parties). When you take time to celebrate, you also rev your engines, providing the SPARK for the next big goal.

Following the process and using these steps as you encounter challenges and new opportunities will guide you down the right path for you. Each path is different, as is each process, but in the end, these ingredients yield success!

Flip the Switch

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-by Matt Leedham

As Jaime mentioned yesterday, we just returned from a very intensive training and certification program in the Boston metro area and our heads are spinning. As we learn valuable skills for coaching others, we also benefit tremendously from personal development.

My awareness of blocks that can hold others back from reaching their full potential also brings with it an acute awareness of what’s holding me back. It’s unavoidable. During these training conferences, we become guinea pigs for other coaches as they develop their coaching skills. The only way to be a good “peer client” for a coach in training is to use real examples in your own life. So, by default, you are both being coached and coaching others for hours on end in an effort to master the trade.

Last night, on a peer coaching call, I was the client. In an effort to bring more purpose and meaning to this brief story, let me share with you the real issue we were addressing.

My Block:
I am beginning to question why the heck I am always trying to achieve more, do more, and impress “others.” I don’t even know who the “others” are – all I know is that I am seeking validation from “others” for someone else’s vision of what success should be. I also don’t know who “someone else” is either, nor do I even have a clear understanding of what “success” is. Huh? I know! Crazy, right?

Having discussed my new found awareness of long-standing issues holding me back from being my true self, my astute coach said, “It sounds like you just flipped the switch on in a dark room.”

That caught my attention! And my immediate response was, “Yeah, and the roaches scattered.” (sorry if you don’t like bugs)

Both of our points were dead on. By being more conscious, aware, present, and open, I am exposing my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical blocks to the light. And when the light goes on in a dark room, the ugly things seem to run for their lives. Interesting…

But he wasn’t done. His next point was brilliant. He asked, “And what had to happen for the light to come on in the dark room?”

Unsure of myself, I responded, “I don’t know. I had to flip the switch, I guess.”

BINGO!

The choice is mine. I can take action…or not. I can flip the switch…or live in darkness. And frankly, there is no right answer. There is only choice. And it belongs to me.

Now, THAT’S empowering, my friends.