There is a system to building a winning business – just like there are systems to build winning game plans for teams and athletes. Once business owners understand this, many are open to trying the business coaching process.
The sports world is full of examples of great athletes who never reached their full potential or won a championship until they were mentored by a good coach with a great system. One good example is Michael Jordan and coach Kobe Bryant.
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The same is true in the business world – entrepreneurs might achieve far more if they are willing to learn from an experienced coach who can push them to reach their potential.
Like sports people, many SME owners need to see results very quickly in order to continue any coaching programme. For this reason, all of the ActionCOACH systems are designed to begin the process of change and to get results in a short time frame (sometimes as short as six to eight weeks).
Is Coaching for You?
As a business owner, you have to ask yourself if you’re coachable – or at least willing to be coached. That means admitting you don’t know everything.
It also means being willing to implement new and sometimes uncomfortable ideas for you and your company. Unlike a consultant, who may oversee a project and then leave, a business coach will educate you on strategy and process – and leave it to you to implement.
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A coach won’t do the work, but will expect the work to get done. If you’re willing to open yourself to advice and instruction and do the hard work to grow your business, coaching may be a good option for you.
How You Can Do Big Things
The secret to achieving impossible dreams is accretion — slowly and steadily working towards your goals.
When you realise that accretion is about the accumulation of all the things that you do and all the decisions that you make, you start to see the importance of aligning everything in your life in the direction of your goals.
In 2005, four Navy Seals were sent on a mission to extract a high value target. Unfortunately, the mission didn’t go according to plan, leaving the Seals to fight for their lives. Three of them were killed in action. The other was shot, fell off a cliff, and in the process shattered his back and legs. He also bit off half of his tongue, and endured multiple gunshot wounds.
Yet, despite the fact that he couldn’t walk, he managed to crawl 11 kms to a nearby village and to safety.
When he was asked how he did it he said that he took a stone in his hand, stretched his arm out in front of him and drew a line in the sand. All he wanted to do was get across that line.
As soon as he managed to drag his feet across the line, he drew a new one. In fact, he kept drawing lines and crossing them for 11 kms.
That is how he did the impossible. One line in the sand at a time.
Motivational speakers love telling us to take big actions; to think and act big. Although I can appreciate the sentiment, and sometimes it’s apt, I think that it often has a counterproductive effect.
It scares people. It implies that there is also the possibility for massive failure. But it’s not just about the actual failure of a project or business. It’s the internal dialogue that goes with it.
The inner voice that starts telling you that you aren’t good enough. That you shouldn’t even try. I’m sure you can relate. We all have a judger inside us that rears its head when we are trying to do meaningful things. That criticises every move and decision. The judger has a great ability to prevent us from taking any action at all. Let alone massive action.
It’s for this reason that I always encourage entrepreneurs to simply focus on the line in front of them.
Keep in mind the direction you want to move in, and the goal you would like to achieve, and then start by crossing that first small line. And when you’ve done that, cross the second.
As you continue, you pick up momentum. Your actions become bolder because you become more confident.
Soon you find yourself taking bigger and bigger decisions and actions.
But they were born from the thousands of small decisions and actions that you took before.
I talk about this principle often.Accretion is the accumulation of all of your compounding efforts, small wins, abilities, knowledge, and experiences. Over time this process accumulates and perpetuates what you feed into it.
When you realise that accretion is about the accumulation of all the things that you do and all the decisions that you make, you start to see the importance of aligning everything in your life in the direction of your goals.
The reason I am writing to you today is because of the body of work that I have accumulated through the writing of my daily email. An email that has gone out more than 580 times. Every day without missing a beat.
It’s my line in the sand that I cross every day. And the result of it has not simply been an accumulation of 580 emails. It has been a successful business, the opportunity to become a coach, to speak on stages with well-known businessmen, and write this column for Entrepreneur magazine.
Remember that consistency breeds success.
I’d much rather bet on the guy who consistently executes well than the guy who hits a home-run every now and then.
Draw a line in the sand.
Then tomorrow, do it again.
Working Hard Or Hardly Working? 5 Hacks To Get More Out Of Your 8-Hour Day
Time is a finite resource and your most valuable currency.
With the coming of a new year, most of us have once again resolved to make ourselves into better people – the people we were meant to be. Last year’s resolutions may be only a fading memory, but this year, we’re sure, will be different.
Sadly, that’s probably not true. Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the second week of February, according to an article in U.S. News & World Report by clinical psychologist Joseph J. Luciani.
If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe you’ve vowed that this year you’ll be more productive. Are you doomed to be disappointed like everyone else?
Not necessarily. According to some psychologists, if you experiment with small potential solutions to your problem, big changes are possible. You may need, in other words, some handy hacks.
The wise words my aunt shared with me more than a decade ago still resonate today and guide how I structure my daily routine and schedule: Time is your most valuable currency. It’s the one finite resource we work with daily where we can’t simply create more should we come up short in a given day. This can be especially true for entrepreneurs, who are consistently challenged to do more with fewer resources.
So, to get more out of your day and ensure you’re maximising your most valuable currency, here are five small changes to experiment with.
Research at Stanford University showed that people who are media multitaskers are less productive. Those who can juggle many tasks at once certainly appear to be productive. But, this study showed that that is an illusion. It was assumed that these people had some sort of ability – perhaps a better memory – that enabled them to accomplish what others could not. But, it turns out that they may just be more easily distracted.
Concentrate! (But only for 52 minutes)
It’s counterintuitive, but research has shown that people who take short breaks during the day are more productive. One study demonstrated that the most productive 10 percent of workers, worked on average for just 52 minutes before taking a break. And the perfect break was 17 minutes long. The idea that breaks can make you more productive is not new. Back in the 1920s, Henry Ford realised that his company could get just as much work done by limiting the work week to five days and the work day to eight hours.
Get an app for that
If there is a task that hinders your productivity, see if there is some technology that will help you do it better. For example, if you’ve lost business because you’ve repeatedly missed customer calls, think about forwarding your office phone to your mobile device via voice-over-IP, or VOIP. It’s technology that has been around for a while and can keep you in touch with your customers no matter where you are.
If you’re a person who believes if you want it done right, do it yourself, you could be wrong. Smart entrepreneurs know what they’re good at, and they know that delegating the rest may be more efficient than doing it themselves. It may take some time to determine which responsibilities you should hand off to others, but that time could pay off by freeing you up for more productive tasks.
Eliminate some meetings
Meetings can be an enormous waste of time, so attend only those that are absolutely necessary. Is that luncheon with the local chamber of commerce likely to generate some leads or not? If not, find a better way to drum up business. If you can’t eliminate meetings, try to make them more productive. One way is to keep them short, 30 minutes or less. Another is to create an agenda and send it out a day ahead of time.
If none of these experiments work, maybe the problem isn’t you. According to a Harvard Business Review article, some people just aren’t comfortable with techniques designed to make them more productive. They feel these techniques impose a regimentation on them that interrupts the flow of work, damages the quality of their work experience and even hampers their productivity.
So, if you’ve tried techniques to make you more productive and they haven’t worked, don’t sweat it. Just focus on other resolutions instead. Didn’t you sign up for a new gym membership?
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting
Start achieving success today with the most effective goal-setting plan you’ll ever learn.
Goal orientation is a way of thinking practiced by optimists and all successful people. In future orientation, you first develop a clear, ideal picture of what you want to accomplish sometime in the future. With goal orientation, you crystallise that image into specific, measurable, detailed goals and objectives you’ll need to accomplish to achieve that ideal future vision.
Successful people develop the habits of personal strategic planning. They sit down and make a list of exactly what they want to accomplish in the short, medium, and long term. They then use a powerful, seven-part goal-setting methodology to create blueprints and plans of action that they follow every day.
Once you develop the habit of setting goals and making plans to accomplish them, it will become as natural for you as breathing. By following a proven goal-setting process, you’ll increase the likelihood of achieving your goals by as much as ten times, by 1 000% or more. This isn’t just a theory; it has been proved and demonstrated repeatedly by almost every person who practices it.
In February 2003, USA Today reported on a study of people who had set New Year’s resolutions the year before. They found that only 4% of the people who had made New Year’s resolutions, but had not put them in writing, had followed through on them. But 46% of those people who had written down their New Year’s resolutions carried them out. This is a difference in success rates of more than 1 100%!
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The seven-step formula
Many formulas and recipes exist for goal-setting. As a rule, ‘any plan is better than no plan at all.’ Here is one of the best and most effective goal-setting plans or formulas you will ever learn.
Decide exactly what you want in a certain area, and write it down clearly, in detail. Make the goal measurable and specific.
Set a deadline for achieving the goal. If it’s a large goal, break it down into smaller parts and set sub-deadlines.
Make a list of everything you’ll have to do to achieve this goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list until it’s complete.
Organise your list of action steps into a plan. A plan is a list of activities organised on the basis of two elements: Priority and sequence.
In organising by priorities, you determine the most important things you can possibly do on your list to achieve your goal. The 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the things you do will account for 80% of your results. If you don’t set clear priorities, you’ll ‘major in minors’ and spend much of your time on small and irrelevant tasks that don’t help you achieve your goal.
In organising by sequence, you determine what must be done before something else can be done. You create a checklist. There are always activities that are dependent upon other activities being completed in advance. What are they, and what is the logical order or sequence of completion?
Identify the obstacles or limitations that might hold you back from achieving your goal, both in the situation and within yourself. Ask yourself, “Why have I not achieved this goal already?”
Identify the most important constraint or limitation that’s holding you back, and then focus on removing that limiting factor. It could be a certain amount of money or a key resource. It could be an additional skill or habit you need. It could be additional information you require. It could be the assistance of one or more people. Whatever it is, identify it clearly and go to work to eliminate it.
Once you’ve determined your goal, developed your plan, and identified your major obstacle, immediately take action of some kind toward achieving your goal. Step out in faith. Do the first thing that comes to mind. But do something to start moving toward your most important goal.
Do at least one thing every day that moves you toward your most important goal. Make a habit of getting up each morning, planning your day and then doing something, anything, that moves you at least one step closer to what’s most important to you.
The habit of doing something every single day that moves you toward an important goal develops within you the power of momentum. Daily action deepens your belief that the goal is achievable and activates the law of attraction. As a result, you begin moving faster and faster toward your goal, and your goal begins moving faster and faster toward you.
Now that you have the formula, here’s how you achieve your goals.
Don’t let life and ‘busyness’ derail you
Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.
Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.
1. Stop multitasking
Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work — like checking emails — and then move on to the harder things, you should first try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with a bigger, more creative endeavour.
2. Block out your days
A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day — maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour — to spend on a given project. Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.
3. Get your blood pumping
You can’t focus if you’re stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.
4. Help your technology help you
A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold Turkey, Freedom and Self Control block out the Internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.
Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone can get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made Simple, Calm and Headspace. For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.
6. Change up what’s in your headphones
While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more. Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.
7. Streamline your communication
If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person. Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.
8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise
To be most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review. “Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”
Become a master of time
If you’re serious about achieving your goals, not only do you need to set those goals the right way, but you also have to get serious about avoiding distractions and becoming too immersed in the bad habits that you know you need to quit. Time-wasters need to fall by the wayside, and serious grit-and-bear-it hard work needs to take its place.
One of the most effective skills you can have in life is powerful and effective time management. If you’re not managing your time well, there’s no way you’re going to reach your goals at work and the life outside of it. Sure, you might make some progress. But your time management will be an uphill battle if you don’t take your time seriously. People who squander and waste the precious little time they do have, know all too well how difficult achieving even mildly difficult goals can be.
The truth is that time is the greatest equaliser in life. No matter who you are, your age, income, gender, race or religion, you have the same amount of time as the next person. Whether you’re filthy rich or dirt poor, your time is the same. It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you manage your time.
The trick? Find a good time management system and work it. There are many. It’s entirely up to you which one to choose. But if you don’t want to become part of the 92% statistic of people who fail to achieve their long-term goals, then you need to pay attention to how you use the precious little time you do have in this world.
What are the best tips for managing your time?
- Set goals the right way. There’s a right and wrong way to set goals. If you don’t set your goals the right way, then you’ll lack the proper targets, which will force you to fall off track. But when you set them the right way, the sky is the limit.
- Find a good time management system. One of the tips for managing your time is to find the right system to actually do it. The quadrant time-management system is probably the most effective. It splits your activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. Things are either urgent or important, both, or neither. Neither (quadrant 4) are the activities that you want to stay away from, but it’s the not-urgent-but-important quadrant (2) that you want to focus on.
- Audit your time for seven days straight. Spend seven days straight assessing how you spend the time you do have right now. What are you doing? Record it in a journal or on your phone. Split this up into blocks of 30 minutes or an hour. What did you get done? Was it time wasted? Was it well spent? If you use the quadrant system, circle or log the quadrant that the activity was associated with. At the end of the seven days, tally up all the numbers. Where did you spend the most time? Which quadrants? The results might shock you.
- Spend your mornings on MITs. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” His point? Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning. These are your most important tasks (MITs) of the day. Accomplishing those will give you the biggest momentum to help you sail through the rest of the day.
- Instil keystone habits into your life. Charles Duhig poignantly coined the keystone habit in his book entitled, The Power of Habit. In architecture, the keystone is the stone that holds all other stones in place. Similarly, keystone habits help to not only solicit other good habits, but also help to eliminate bad habits. Focus on keystone habits and you’ll get much better at managing your overall time by making your habit development much easier.
- Schedule email response times. Turn off your email throughout the day. When your email is pouring in, it’s easy to get distracted. Schedule time to read and respond to emails. If there’s something urgent, someone will call or text you. But when you have your email open, those distractions interrupt your thought flow and it’s harder to get back on track.
- Eliminate bad habits. One of the biggest time-wasters we have are our bad habits. Whether it’s Netflix binge-watching, excessively surfing social media, playing games, going out frequently to drink with friends, or so on, those bad habits take away the precious little time that we do have. Use your time wisely by eliminating your bad habits if you’re serious about achieving big goals in life.
- Take frequent breaks when working. One study suggests that you should work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You might not have the luxury to do that. But you should take frequent breaks. If you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself, this is crucial. It’s easy to run on fumes and not even know it. Keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels by breaking frequently.
- Make to-do lists in the evening for the next day. Every single evening before bed, make a list for the next day. Look at your goals and see what you can do to help move you closer. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. But by making to-do lists, you’re effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards the longer and bigger goals. But that happens by creating to-do lists.
- Declutter and organise. Studies have determined that clutter in our environment causes us to lose focus. When we lose focus, we lose time. If you want to avoid that, declutter and organise. Don’t do it all at once. Start small. One drawer today. A shelf tomorrow. Maybe a closet the next day. Just one per day. You build momentum and eventually find yourself turning into an organising warrior.
Keep up your momentum
(AKA Learn to see the bigger picture to keep your eye on the prize)
We all have goals. How to achieve those goals is not as complex as you might think. Sometimes it’s just about taking a step back to see the bigger picture.
Here are three important lessons to learn about achieving your goals as you take on the day (each and every day).
1. Focus on what you need instead of what you want
You might think you want that big house and three cars, but do you really need it? This is such a simple way to set authentic priorities, yet so few people get it.
A simple ‘want’ is nothing but a fantasy. You need to be passionate to achieve what you want to achieve or it’s never going to happen. It must almost be tinged with desperation.
2. Learn the lessons from all of it, positive and negative
Life is never all good or all bad, so we have to learn from both. When you find yourself basking in all that is positive in your life, think about how you managed to succeed. How can you replicate that same success? On the other hand, you need to be able to grow on the negative. Think about why you failed and how you can avoid doing that again.
Set aside some time every week to reflect on your successes and failures. It’s the only way you’re going to grow to a point where you can achieve your goals. Don’t over-think every project afterwards but if you can take one lesson from each experience you know you’ve done it right.
3. Stay focused on the prize
It’s easy to lose focus when you’re taking on multiple ventures at the same time. To make sure you stay focused on the prize always have a plan for the short-term, medium-term and the long-term.
Question everything you’re doing. Ask yourself: “Is what I am doing right now contributing towards my short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals?” Making sure that you’re studying hard is key here.
If the answer is no then you know you need to rethink what you’re doing. Staying focused on the prize is what will prevent you from wasting your time on the tasks that don’t matter.
The main lesson is to think before and after
Think about what you’re about to do and whether it takes you closer to your goals. Think about what you have done and determine whether you could have done it better or whether things turned out the way you wanted them to.
It can be hard to stop when you’re in the middle of something, but this is the most important part of all. Once you manage to do this you’ll get more results for every action.
Your goal-setting (and achieving) checklist
Here’s the simple reality of achieving success. Unless you have goals, you have no way of knowing whether or not you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your life. But all this tends to be a bit easier to suss out if you have those goals in hand. Setting goals is easy — we all do it. Sticking to them is harder.
Here’s how you can stay on track.
Write goals that align with your values
There isn’t a huge difference between corporate goals and life goals. If your career goals aren’t supporting your life goals, you are bound to have a miserable existence.
Set goals that you can control
Too often, we set goals that depend on other people. Unless every aspect of the goal you set is under your control, you have very little likelihood of ever achieving it.
Set goals that you don’t think you can achieve and work your tail off to get there. Anyone can follow the advice of lesser men and set clearly achievable goals, but that’s for under-achievers and slackers. There is nothing wrong with setting your sights higher than most might believe practicable.
Give yourself time
If you begin with the end in mind, that is to say, if you start by visualising where you want to end up in life, the things you need to get there are pretty easy to plot out.
Plan for success
Don’t worry that your dreams aren’t realistic or that you might not achieve them. Don’t ask ‘What if I fail?’ Instead, ask, ‘What if I succeed?’ Worrying about failure is pointless and destructive; the surest way to be a failure is to spend time worrying about it. Your goals won’t just accomplish themselves; you will have to have a plan, and you’ll have to work that plan.
Manage your risks
You will never achieve goals you didn’t set, but then again there are precious few guarantees in this life. While most of the things you will do on your journey to success will carry some measure of risk, that’s okay. Just be sure that you consider that risk and weigh it against the reward.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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