A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

26 January 2009

I Approve of This Message

Without getting too bogged down in politics, I do want to reflect on the shift that is taking place with the transfer of authority from our previous President to the current one.  There are many important messages being sent and received right now, across the entire political spectrum, but the one I like best is the message of personal accountability.

I couldn't help but get the sense, over the last eight years, that our government wanted us to sit quietly and let it take care of us.  Report suspicious activity to the proper authorities.  Relinquish all sharp objects, bottles of liquid and your shoes at the airport check point.  Be afraid of the shadows, lock your doors, and await further instructions.  Duck and cover!  And to disagree or question these policies is unpatriotic at best, and treasonous at worst.

It may be too much to hope for that we'll get our penknives back at the airports during the Obama administration, but one message is ringing out loud and clear: every American must participate in rebuilding our nation's economy, health care, and global reputation.  It is the message of personal accountability.  The message that "we are the ones we've been waiting for."

It should hardly be surprising that a business coach appreciates this message.  After all, personal accountability is the cornerstone of success.  The sooner you take full, deep ownership of your own beliefs, passions, desires, goals, and actions, the sooner you will achieve the results you want.  As you set your sights on the future, ask yourself: "is this what I really want?  Why do I want this?  How will my life be better if I achieve this?  What consequences will I face if I don't?"  If you don't discover powerfully compelling answers to these questions, you may find yourself missing your target -- and when you do, you will likely be tempted to blame outside forces (the weather, the economy, your spouse/parents/kids/boss) for your failure.

Blaming something outside your control may make you feel better for the moment, but it's nothing but a candy coating on a bitter pill.  As your grade-school teachers used to say, when you cheat, you're really not cheating anyone but yourself.  Although your success or failure may be influenced by outsiders, and may influence others, ultimately it rests squarely upon your own shoulders.

The good news is, responsibility leads directly to power.  The more you take ownership of your goals, and face your challenges with courage, the more you will discover you have the power to make great things happen.  Empowerment comes from within you, and it is a choice you get to make every day. 

So own your dreams, your projects, and your goals.  Empower yourself to achieve the success you are designing for yourself and your world.  Connect to your passion and sharpen your focus.  Use more of what you have.  Get more of what you want.

09 January 2009

Resolve and Resolutions

It's already starting.  It's the end of the first full work week of the new year, and the invitations are rolling in.  While I know (and admire) a handful of go-getters who barreled through December with full-tilt productivity, many of us, myself included, may have taken a bit of a winter's nap last month, and now we're feeling inspired (or pressured, or both) to get moving.

And this is the precise moment when that resolution, goal, or strategy is at its greatest risk of becoming buried under all that motion.  Focus is critical right now, lest we let activity become a substitute for results.

It only takes a moment to step back from one of those invitations and check it for relevance.  Is that networking event, appointment, task, project, or diversion consistent with the mission you have set for yourself this year?  How, exactly, does it get you closer to your goals?  If it doesn't, how would that time be better invested?

Resolve is a noun as well as a verb.  If you have resolved (verb) to achieve a WAY-SMART goal this year (and I hope you have), then you need to gather your resolve (noun) to stay on track toward the results you want.  To borrow from another common resolution, staying on track toward a weight-loss goal means saying no to "empty calories" that don't fit your food plan.  Staying on track with your goals means saying no to the "empty activities" that don't fit your action plan.

If you've set an ambitious goal, achieving it is going to take time.  Start now, stay focused, and soon you will be ready to bask in the glow of your success!

The Heart Gallery

I'm looking forward to attending a gala event next month, for the benefit of the Heart Gallery Orlando.  I'm looking forward to it both because it is a fundraiser for a very good cause, and also because I've always thought it would be fun to go to one of those fancy black-tie affairs where VIPs practice philanthropy among the clink of champagne glasses and tuxedoed waiters carrying silver platters of canapes.

I don't know if this will be that sort of event exactly, but I hear there will be a red carpet, and that's good enough for me.

The Heart Gallery presents a unique approach to a heartbreaking situation, namely the hundreds of children in the metropolitan Orlando area who need loving adoptive families.    The Heart Gallery is a gallery-style photo exhibit with beautiful, professional photos of about 80 kids who are currently in the Florida foster care system awaiting adoption.  The photo shoot is a chance for kids who may have little or nothing of their own to feel truly special for a day.  The exhibit raises awareness of the issue in general, as well as perhaps being a connection point for a prospective parent to fall in love with one of those children.

If you'd care to put on your dancing shoes and join me at the event, it will take place on Thursday, February 12 at the Rosen Plaza Orlando, from 6 to 10 PM.  You can learn more on my friend Jennifer's pledge page, where you can buy a ticket or just make a donation of any amount to support this cause.

And by the way - this is going to be a GREAT place to network your business!

05 January 2009

Resolution vs. Strategy

It's that time of year again - when many of us make a "New Year's Resolution."  I bet you've done it at least once.  And it's hugely compelling on January 1.  This is the year!  This is the year I... (quit smoking, lose weight, go back to school, get a better job, clean out the garage, read War and Peace, join the gym and work out every single day).

And to be fair, some people succeed in fulfilling these grand dreams.  But the gym usually empties out by mid-February, and by November you can hear crickets chirping in the Weight Watchers meeting (I know. I'm a lifetime member and I've worked for Weight Watchers).  Of course, every January it's another new invasion of the resolutionary army.

So what's the difference between the ones who make it happen and the ones who don't?  Goal planning.  Not just goal setting, because it's as easy to "set a goal" as it is to say "this is the year."  If you want to achieve the goal, you need a strategy.

If you have a New Year's resolution this year, may I suggest you improve your odds by taking a few simple steps right now, while it's fresh in your mind?

Step One: apply the WAY-SMART goal test to your resolution.  Is it:
Written down?  It's amazing what power there can be in simply making the commitment in writing.
Aligned with your purpose?  How does this goal fit into your broader life aspirations?  Why is it important to you?
Yours?  As in, a goal that has meaning for you, rather than a passing fad or someone else's definition of what's right for your?
Specific?  How will you know you have achieved it?
Measurable?  Is there some quantifiable way to define the desired result?
Attainable?  Is it appropriate for you in light of the life you have now?
Realistically high?  Not too easy, but still manageable among your other commitments?
Time-based?  Have you set a date on which you will evaluate and decide if you have succeeded?

If your resolution passes this test, you're already well on your way to success. 

Step Two:  Decide on the immediate next action that will get you closer to your goal, and do it today.  A year flies by as life's adventures come at you thick and fast, and before you know it, the "last minute" will be here.  Don't wait until then -- as Stephen Covey says, "you can't cram on a farm."  Decide, each day, what action you must take today to get closer to your goal, and take that action.  If you do this every day, and the goal is clearly enough defined that you take the right steps, your success is virtually guaranteed.

Over the next couple of weeks, watch for more ideas on how to create a winning strategy for achieving your 2009 goals.

Happy New Year!