How to Expand Your Leadership Conversations

How to expanding leadership conversations

Expanding Leadership Conversations

[Time to read: 6 minutes]

One of the most difficult and yet most inspiring leadership skills to develop is effective communication.

I think most people know when they have talked with a leader who communicates well: They feel inspired and perhaps more importantly – they feel listened to.

Most of my working life has been in the information technology sector where things tend move fast – including conversations!

Over many years I have witnessed conversations where leaders have demonstrated excellent communication skills and also conversations that made people cringe!

So, how do we become better communicators and improve the quality of our business conversations?

Well, I like to use strategies that are quick and easy to implement as life is complex enough already! So, in this article I’ll share three communication strategies that have been helpful for me and for my clients:

Get Curious

My partner knows when I’m not listening to her. She’ll be talking to me and occasionally in the middle of our conversation my mind may wander – she has become an expert at interrupting my wandering mind by saying “What?!” in the middle of the silence.

It gets me every-time and brings me back to the conversation!

Although she teases me about this, it raises an important point that when our mind wanders in the middle of a conversation and we stop listening to what the other person has to say – it says a LOT to them.

This behaviour communicates that what they have to say is not important to you and that you choose not to listen to them.

In coaching, the coach listens at different levels to hear what the client is saying but also (just as importantly) what they are NOT saying.

When we ‘tune out’ of a conversation we can miss important information.

Clearing your mind of those wandering thoughts through breathing can help you stayed tuned and focused on what is being said. However, one of the most effective ways to listen to other people is to be curious and remain curious about what they have to say.

When you have a curious mindset in a conversation you ask different questions, you listen more to their responses and in turn you both get more out of the conversation.

A great way to create curiosity is to say the word: “curious” in your mind as you start the conversation.

Don’t do all the thinking 

Back in my IT business I developed a habit of trying to solve problems for other people by doing the thinking for them, by telling them what to do next.

A member of staff would come to see me, describe their problem, and ask me what to do. Back then I thought that telling them what to do would provide the best solution to the problem.

However, soon after I started my coach training, I learnt that this was counter-productive for the member of staff that was asking for my advice.

Telling them what to do didn’t help them to develop their skills or problem-solving capabilities. So, once I learnt this, when a member of staff asked me what to do, I created the habit of asking: “What do you think we should do?”. Typically, the solution they came up with would have been the one I would have suggested. But many times, their solution was much better than mine!

Remember that the person in front of you is resourceful and creative – they may not demonstrate it at times, but your conversation is an excellent opportunity for them to practice that! They do have a solution to the problem, it’s just that you may need to tease it out of them!

Create and give time to others

I remember many years ago when I was an Electronic Engineer for a U.S IT company called Welch Allyn (Data Collection Division); I visited their head-office in up-state New York for annual product training. One day we had a tour of the Medical Division head-office a few miles away. It was a large state-of-the-art facility surrounded by beautiful gardens.

I was impressed.

However, I was even more impressed when the owner of the business – Bill Allyn took the time to show me and my fellow engineers around the facility.

Here was a multi-millionaire that employed 1000s of people showing a bunch of junior engineers around the factory.

That memory has remained with me for decades. It reminds me of the importance to create and make time for others in conversations, no matter what level they are in the business.

So, the next time you have a conversation with a member of your team – make time for them – don’t rush the conversation.

As a side note, I remember asking Bill: “How many people work here?”. He responded: “Hopefully all of them!”.

Conclusion

I believe the importance of effective communication in leadership cannot be understated. It can make the difference between a good leader and a great leader.

In this article we have learned three easy to use strategies that can help to bring more awareness to our business conversations. But of course, these strategies can be used in all types of conversations outside of the business as well:

  • Get curious – Bringing a curious mindset to conversations will help you to listen at a deeper level to the other person. So rather than thinking about what you want to say next, you’ll be focused on what the other person has to say. They’ll know that you’re listening to them – and they’ll remember that.
  • Don’t do all the thinking – Although you may know the solution to the problem that the person in front of you has just described, try to resist the temptation to tell them what to do. Remember, this is an opportunity for the other person to think, learn and grow. Try asking “What do you think we should do?”. Their solution may be something that you didn’t think of!
  • Create and give time to others – For me, this is one of the most inspiring traits of an excellent leader. Time is a gift that you can create and give to others. I know your schedule will be busy – the other person will know that as well. But if you schedule time for them to chat with you, you’ll be sending them an important message that they are important and that you value what they have to say.

As with all strategies it will take practice to master these skills. But the rewards for the other people that you will be talking to can be unlimited.

One day they could be in a leadership position just like you are. The chances are that they’ll remember their conversations with you and be inspired by you – just like I was from my meeting with Bill Allyn.

I hope you found this article helpful.

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Creating Courageous Leadership

How to create Courageous Leadership

Creating Courageous Leadership

[Time to read: 7 minutes]

The title: ‘Creating Courageous Leadership’ may suggest that this article is about how to be a strong and determined leader. Well in a way it is, but not in the traditional sense of strength and leadership.

There is a plethora of leadership books available that describe how to be a confident leader, how to inspire people and how to manage teams.

In this article I will introduce you to a way of ‘being’ as a leader: A way that can help you to see situations differently, think differently, run your business differently and engage your intelligence fully as a leader.

Having worked in the Technology market for over 30 years, I’ve experienced many situations where leaders have demonstrated courageous leadership and other situations where there was a clear lack of leadership.

Witnessing those situations made me curious to find out what mindset creates courageous leadership and what mindset causes the leadership to fall apart.

Neuroscience

Recent Neuroscience research has shown that humans have three centres of intelligence: the Head brain (‘Cephalic brain’), the Heart brain (‘Cardiac brain’) and the Gut brain (‘Enteric brain’).

Each of these centres of intelligence is a complex and sophisticated system of sensory neurons, motor neurons, neurotransmitters, and ganglia.

The head brain, heart and gut can process information, store it, and access it again when required.

Each can: sense, learn, remember, communicate, and change.

Here’s a quick overview of each:

Cephalic Brain (Head)

  • No. of Neurons: 86 billion
  • Functions: Language, thinking, cognition, consciousness, creativity
  • What we say when using this intelligence: “I think” “I get it” “I understand”

Cardiac Brain (Heart)

  • No. of Neurons: 40,000 (that can operate independently from the head brain)
  • Functions: Emotional processing, values, Passion, Compassion, Connection with others
  • What we say when using this intelligence: “I feel” “My heart says” “I have a heavy heart”, “I am light-hearted”

Enteric Brain (Gut)

  • No. of Neurons: 100 million
  • Functions: Sense of self, self-preservation, courage
  • What we say when using this intelligence: “This takes guts”, “My gut is telling me”

So, knowing, that we have more than just our head-brain intelligence, how do we engage our head, heart, and gut to create Courageous Leadership?

Well, read on and I’ll share an easy to use strategy:

Engaging our three intelligences

Clearing your head

When our head-brain is full of questions, judgements, fear and anger it clouds our perception. This ‘mind clutter’ biases what we think about the situations that are presented to us. The head brain also tends to look for evidence that the current situation is the same as a previous situation so we may jump to a conclusion that the outcome will be the same as before. None of this helps us to see things differently.

So, the first step is to make space for new thinking by freeing our mind.

Luckily, it’s not hard to do. It starts with our physiology – specifically deep breathing.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply – in through the nose and out slowly through the mouth. Continue breathing deeply for a minute or so. You should start to feel calmer and more ‘centred’.

Opening your heart 

The heart is the source of our passion. It’s also the source of our compassion. When our heart is closed, it’s difficult to be compassionate. Bringing compassion into our mindset dramatically changes the way that we see situations that we experience. Compassion helps us to see situations through the eyes of others which gives us a different perspective. We gather more data when using our compassion because we get to experience what other people could be feeling and experiencing. This new perspective can help us to make a decision that includes compassion.

To open your heart, continue the deep breathing with your eyes closed as in the previous step but now think about someone that you love or care for deeply. Try to visualize that person in front of you, smiling. Feel their love – their connection to you. Continue for a few moments – when you open your heart fully you should feel a sensation of love or warmth.

Engaging your gut 

The gut is a huge resource for us. It provides us with our ‘gut instinct’, and it is our source of courage. It’s also a place that creates the strength for us to be vulnerable. When we integrate the wisdom of a free mind and an open, compassionate heart with our courage we create true courageous leadership. A leadership that is mindful, compassionate, and strong.

To engage courage, continue with the deep breathing from the previous step with your eyes closed. Now think of a time when you were truly courageous. Perhaps a time when you demonstrated both compassion and courage despite the challenge that you faced. Try to visualize it. Continue to breathe deeply for a few moments. You may start to feel a sense of strength or energy. Now slowly open your eyes and breath normally.

Engaging the three intelligences can take practice before it becomes a habit. However, it’s possible that after practice just deep breathing will trigger this three-step pattern for you so that you don’t even need to close your eyes. This can be incredibly beneficial if you are in a meeting as you’ll be able to engage your three intelligences easily and quickly.

Conclusion

So, perhaps courageous leadership is not just about being strong, daring, and forthright?

Perhaps courageous leadership is deeper than that?

I prefer to believe that it’s not about how much we ‘roar’, it’s about having the courage to be more present; to be our true self; it’s about showing up fully and using all of our resources by engaging all three intelligences – a free mind, a compassionate heart, and a courageous gut.

From my experience a lack of leadership and poor decision making tends to occur when leaders rely only on their head brain, where they are disconnected from the intelligence of their heart and gut.

Engaging all three intelligences helps us to:

  • Create space – where we free our mind from judgement and create space for something more powerful to appear within us.
  • Receive more – we receive information not just through our eyes and ears but also through our heart.
  • See things differently – we get a new perspective on the situations we experience.
  • Do things differently – we respond to situations differently because we are more mindful.
  • Tap into our intuition – where our three intelligences are in alignment to provide us with intuition.
  • Have different conversations – we communicate differently when we are both compassionate and courageous.
  • Make better decisions – we evaluate and make more informed decisions because we have more data and a greater insight about what’s in front of us.
  • Create different outcomes – this creates new possibilities and of course new outcomes.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and hope that this has given you new insights into creating courageous leadership.

If you have a few minutes to respond – I’d be interested to know your experience of courageous leadership.

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Slowing Down to Grow Faster in Business

Slow down to go faster in business

Slowing Down to Grow Faster in Business

[Time to read: 6 minutes]

Do you feel like your weeks just fly by? Do you wish you just had more time? Do you ever feel overwhelmed in your business?

Well, in this article we’ll learn about that precious commodity – TIME. We’ll learn how slowing down can help you to relax more, focus more and be more effective in your Business and Life. We’ll also learn how (Ironically) slowing down can  help you to grow faster in Business.

Going Too Fast

I want to share an experience that I had last year when I realized that I was going too fast:

I’m passionate about coaching – I love helping Business Leaders discover and breakthrough what’s holding them back from making a greater impact in their business and life.

Last year, as I started to develop and grow my business. I was working on a lot of projects, posting on social media daily, meeting with my clients, studying, and regularly updating my website and blog. I had a to-do list as long as my arm!

I was excited to move forward and see my business grow. However, I started to notice a feeling, almost like a ‘rushing’ sensation, like I was on a ‘runaway train’ thinking about everything that I wanted to work on.

I could also start to see that I was ‘spreading myself too thin’!

I’ve always liked reading inspirational quotes, especially at the start of each working day. I find that they give me a mindset boost that lasts all day long.

I read the following quote about time that changed everything:

“Realise deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the now the primary focus of your life.”
Eckhart Tolle

In that moment I thought “I don’t want to rush through my life. I want to fully experience it and enjoy it. How can I do that if I’m constantly rushing?”.

So, I made a conscious decision to slow down.

Since making that decision my business has improved, I feel more relaxed and I appreciate life more.

So, how did I slow down?

Well, before I share how I did that, it’s important to know when you are going too fast. So, let’s answer the following question first:

How Do You Know If You’re Going Too Fast?

From working with my coaching clients, the tell-tale signs that you’re going too fast varies from person to person. Here are a few typical signs of going too fast:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed
  • Having a to-do list that you never get through
  • Rushing conversations
  • Making simple mistakes again and again
  • Constantly working long hours

So, let’s move on and learn 5 ways to help us slow down.

Slowing Down to grow Faster in Business

Each of these activities don’t take long to do and on top of that they’re easy to implement!

Deep Breathing

We breathe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but how many of us think about how we breathe?

When we rush around and feel overwhelm our breathing rate increases, as does our heart rate. Slowing down breathing by taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, regularly each day slows down the mind. It can help us to think more clearly. We are more likely to come up with more effective solutions when we are calm, rather than making a ‘snap’ decision when rushing around.

Slowing Down Conversations

When we rush conversations, we could miss an opportunity to make a stronger connection with the other person. We increase our chances of misunderstanding what is being said as well as missing potentially important information. Rushing can also have the effect of making the other person feel de-valued.

Try consciously slowing down conversations. Listen like you’ve never listened before. Most people don’t listen actively – they think of what to say next whilst the other person is talking.

Be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying.

Meditation

Many studies have shown that meditation can help to calm an over stimulated mind. In fact in the article “How Meditation Calms Your Mind and Makes You Feel More Alive” by Luke Glowaki, Luke explains how meditation can help you to create inner peace, improve your concentration and feel more alive amongst other benefits.

Setting aside a few minutes daily during your working day to meditate is a wonderful way to reduce stress, calm the mind and help to think more freely and effectively.

Take Breaks

I remember when I used to work in my IT business, I rarely took lunchbreaks. However, in my final year I started to take regular lunchtime walks with my Business Partner and it really helped me to clear my mind. It was good to get some fresh air and step back from the work I had been doing in the morning so that I was refreshed and re-focused for my work in the afternoon.

Try taking regular breaks during your workday and perhaps go for a lunchtime walk. You’ll be glad you did!

Open Your Eyes

I’m interested in Astronomy and most days I learn something new about our planet, solar system, Milky Way, or the universe. The more I learn the more I realise how lucky we are to be alive. Humanity exists through an incredibly ‘lucky’ series of events during the 4.5 Billion years since it was created. There were so many opportunities for life never to exist or our planet to be destroyed since its creation.  I recommend that you watch ‘The Planets’ by Professor Brian Cox if you’d like to learn more.

It’s an incredible ‘eye-opening’ documentary series that takes you though the history of the planets in our solar system. It provides a new perspective on life and how precious and special we all are!

Conclusion

So, in conclusion we’ve learnt that there are many ways that we can slow down, and I’ve shared five of them:

  • Deep Breathing
  • Slow Down Conversations
  • Meditate
  • Take Breaks
  • Open Your Eyes

Slowing down can help to speed up personal development and can help you to be more present and more effective in your business and life.

Slowing down can also help you to:

  • Have better conversations and create stronger relationships in your business and personal life
  • Relax more
  • Look at problems and challenges in a new light
  • Appreciate people and the world around you
  • Create a ‘growth’ mindset

Ultimately, it’s a personal choice on how you want to be in your life. In my experience I’ve come to appreciate life more and grow my business faster once I started to slow down.

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11 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Manage Your Time in Your Business

Time Management Strategies

Strategies to Manage Time in Business

[Time to read: 9 minutes]

Time – it’s something that’s equal for every person on the planet.

How is it that some people seem to get more done with their time, while others never get through their to-do list, they’re stressed, and they’re constantly trying to catch-up?!

If you struggle to get through your to-do list, run around in circles, have difficulty completing tasks on time, and after a hard day’s work, still arrive home late, then you’re probably familiar with the frustration this can cause.

For many people, this frustration can lead to overwhelming stress and the problems continue to get worse.

So how can you manage your time more effectively when running your Business?

Well, in this article I’m going to share 11 surprisingly easy time-management strategies to help you manage your time more effectively in your Business.

Feel free to watch the video or continue to read below:

No 1. – Create a NOT To Do List

Many people have a to do list, but not many have a not-to-do list.

The not-to-do list is a list of activities that you should not be doing. Perhaps there are activities that you find yourself doing without realising, which do not serve you. For example, I had a habit of regularly checking my smart phone for social media updates. When I realised this, I found that I had been wasting so many hours checking social media! Hours that I could have put to better use!

Creating a Not to do list is a concept that I heard about on a webinar recently.

Your ‘Not to do list’ could also be expanded to include specific negative feelings, thoughts, or emotions that you no longer want to spend time on. Spend a few minutes thinking about last week and write down anything that you felt was a distraction or a waste of time. Once you’ve written your list, pin it up somewhere you can see it, perhaps on the fridge or mirror. It will serve as a constant reminder to help you to focus your time on the activities, tasks, thoughts and emotions most important to you.

No. 2 – What Distracts You?

Well in my case, as I just mentioned my smart phone was a distraction for me.

Smart phones and tablets can provide us with huge benefits when running a business, but they can also be huge distractions. Alerts can chime, pop-ups can appear and notifications buzz.

If you’re finding that your smart phone or tablet is distracting you, try adjusting the application settings so that you will need to launch the application for you to receive the notifications. Then you could decide on specific times during the day to check your phone or tablet. I’ll talk about this more in the next strategy.

In your case however, the distraction may not be your smart phone – it could be your environment? Perhaps you’re working from home and the TV or radio distracts you or perhaps you’re working in your office and you’re working on an important task and people talking in the office are distracting you.

If this is causing you a problem, then try to work in a different place in the home or office, at least while you are working on the important task. This will help you to create a better environment for you to focus your valuable time and energy.

No. 3 – Less Social Media

I use an iPhone and each week it sends me a report on how often I use my phone and what applications I am using. It was an eye-opener for me to realise how many hours I had been spending on social media!

Since then I’ve tried to limit my social media time. If like me, you struggle with how much time you spend on social media – Try to limit this to perhaps two or three times a day.

No. 4 – One Thing At a Time

You may like to multi-task, but your brain doesn’t. We’ve all tried it: texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, jumping from one task to another. Today, doing just one thing at a time is often seen as slow.

However, studies estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. Multi-tasking can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involves a lot of critical thinking. So, avoid multi-tasking and be more productive by working on and completing one thing at a time!

No. 5 – Avoid Perfection

I’ve struggled with this one. I’ve gone from one extreme to another, where rather than not focusing enough time on a task, I’ve spent way too much time on it.

I remember creating a report where in hindsight a ‘good enough’ level of quality would have been acceptable. However, I wasted hours trying to create a ‘perfect’ report. This strategy is about balancing your skills and resources in the time you have.

If you find yourself wasting time by trying to get a perfect result with your task, try re-evaluating the actual requirements you have been given to see if what you’ve done already is good enough. Another option would be to talk to a colleague to see if they can either give you help with the task or let you know if your work on the task so far is good enough.

No. 6 – Important vs. Urgent

Ever found yourself working on urgent tasks and you got to the end of the day and realised that you’d missed the important tasks that you should have been working on?

Focusing your time on the important things in your Business rather than just the urgent things can help you to spend your time more wisely. There are always urgent tasks to get done – but are they truly important?

It can help to evaluate if what you must do is important as well as urgent, simply ask yourself:

“Is this task important or is it just urgent?”

No. 7 – Prioritise Your Tasks

Greg McKeown tells us in his book ‘Essentialism’ that the word ‘priority’ came into the English language in the 1400s and that this word was singular – it meant one thing – THE PRIORITY (the most important thing). It stayed singular for about 500 years. Then in the 1900s, during the Industrial Revolution, it was pluralised and the concept of having multiple ‘priorities’ was born. I remember being in a customer meeting where one of the items on the agenda was to discuss the company’s 10 priorities!

So, if you’re struggling to prioritise your tasks, try ranking them in order of importance and urgency using the exercise from previous strategy and work your way down your priority list.  

This will help you to focus your time on the important tasks which are most urgent first.

No. 8 – Schedule Your Week Ahead and Block Your Calendar

Blocking time slots in your calendar for the week ahead to work on the tasks you have prioritised on your to-do list will help to ensure you have the time to focus on your tasks.

But what should you do if you get unexpected meeting requests during your working week?

Well, try reserving some free time slots in your calendar to accommodate these meeting requests.

It can be difficult when unexpected requests come your way, however setting aside some free time slots each week can provide you with some flexibility with your availability for the week ahead.

If you don’t use this free time, then you can decide which of the tasks on your priority list to focus on.

So, why not plan for the unexpected and schedule time in your calendar at the beginning of each week.

No. 9 – Say ‘No’ more often

In Business you may receive many requests to take on extra tasks. For example, you may get asked to attend a meeting that you really don’t need to attend.

We can be inclined to immediately say ‘yes’ and commit to these requests, out of politeness.

However, in these situations it’s important to remember that when we say ‘yes’ to something, our to-do list just gets longer.

If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ too often then try to evaluate the request before committing, by asking yourself: “Is this request important?”

If you’re caught ‘on the hop’, you could reply “Sounds interesting, can I get back to you on that?”.

Then you’ll have time to evaluate the request and respond accordingly.

If you need to decline the request, then of course you can do so in a polite way.

No. 10 – The Pomodoro Technique

I used to get side-tracked with some of my larger tasks until I started using this technique.

The Pomodoro technique was originally developed in the 1980s. The concept behind this technique is to break your time down into 25 minutes blocks by using a timer with an alarm. Once the alarm sounds, take a 5-minute break. Then reset the timer and start a new cycle of work.

If you find yourself ‘running out of steam’ when spending hours working on a large project or task, try breaking your time down into short blocks and then take breaks. You can of course play around with the length of the blocks and breaks to find out what works best for you.

No. 11 – Use the 4 D’s of Effective Time Management

So, this is the last strategy and it happens to be my favourite!

This has helped me so many times over the years to quickly run through my to-do list and resolve what to do with each of my tasks.

The 4 D’s of effective Time Management will help you to evaluate the importance and urgency of each of your tasks and decide what to do with each of them.

So, grab your to-do list and for each task decide to do one of the following:

  • DO IT – if the task is both important and urgent – do it.
  • DELETE IT – if it’s not important or urgent then consider declining or cancelling the task.
  • DEFER IT – if it’s important but not urgent, consider deferring the task to a later date.
  • DELEGATE IT – if you are still left with too many tasks, consider delegating the task to someone else if possible.

The decision on some of the tasks may need to be made by someone else in the business – if this is the case, ask them for assistance.

For more information on the 4 D’s CLICK HERE to read the Forbes article.

Conclusion

So, there we are, 11 strategies to help you manage your time more effectively in your Business:

  1. Create a NOT to do list
  2. What Distracts You?
  3. Less Social Media
  4. One thing at a time
  5. Avoid perfection
  6. Important vs. Urgent
  7. Prioritise your tasks
  8. Schedule your week ahead and block your calendar
  9. Say ‘No’ more often
  10. The Pomodoro Technique
  11. Use the 4 D’s of Effective Time Management

You only have so many hours in the day, so why not make full use of that time you have and decide intentionally and purposefully how to spend your time.

Many of the techniques I have shared in this article focus on helping you to ‘create’ more time by removing the obstacles that are consuming your time.

Being your own Time ‘gate-keeper’ will help you to use your time more effectively.

Perhaps, try using some of these strategies and find out which ones work best for you.

If you have other Time Management strategies that you find effective, let me know in the comments.

In the end, it’s all about balance and learning that some days will go better than others, but having a framework to help you manage your time more effectively will help you avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control.

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  • DISCOVER what you REALLY want out of your Business and Life

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The 4 Mindset Secrets of a Successful Entrepreneur

The Mindset of a Business Leader and Entrepreneur

The 4 Mindset Secrets of a Successful Entrepreneur

[Time to read: 6 minutes]

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately and a few weeks back I tried to look up details of the first company I worked for: U-Microcomputers Ltd, to see what I could find.

I was amazed to find that the founder and Managing Director of ‘U-Micro’ – Bill Unsworth had written an autobiography!

It took a bit of tracking down, but I managed to buy a copy: “My Life – Scientist & Entrepreneur”.

Bill was a pioneer of the introduction of Microcomputers (1978) and the Internet (1994) into the UK.

For those of you that remember the early 80’s this was an exciting time for Microcomputer development in the UK – you may remember the Sinclair Spectrum, BBC Micro or the Acorn Computer?

I worked for Bill from 1987-1989 as a technician.

U-Micro designed and manufactured computer systems such as the ‘U-Man Series 1000’ used in University Chemistry laboratories. They also manufactured interface cards for the Apple I and II and were an IBM reseller.

Mindset Secrets

I looked forward to reading Bill’s book. I’ve read lots of books about entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Richard Branson. I thought it would be fascinating to read about an entrepreneur ‘closer to home’ and compare their stories.

When I read books about entrepreneurs, I’m always keen to understand the challenges that they faced, their successes, their failures and most importantly to me – their mindset.

I’ve found it helpful in my businesses to see how successful business owners deal with failure and create success. 

Bill’s book did not disappoint! Without going into the details of Bill’s story, I want to share four of the ‘secrets’ that I discovered in Bill’s book that he shares with the more famous entrepreneurs that I just mentioned.

Successful Entrepreneurs

Secret #1: Learning from Mistakes

The first secret I discovered is that it is critical to learn from your mistakes. I liked the way that Bill noted ‘Life Lessons’ and ‘Business Lessons’ as he travelled through his life. When he described a mistake in his book, he referred to it as “another lesson learned”. It seems many entrepreneurs note down or make a point of remembering mistakes and failures that they’ve experienced. The key is to learn from these mistakes and not repeat them!

One way to do this is either to develop a particularly good memory, or to write it down!

If it’s a mistake you’ve made in life, then keeping a journal and writing about your mistake will help you to commit that experience to memory. This will help you avoid repeating the mistake in the future.

If the mistake is in your business, for example – a mistake in a process, then this is where SOPs – (Standard Operating Procedures) could help. The process is documented in a step by step approach. Should you encounter mistakes in the process, you can amend the steps. This will also ensure that should other people in your business use the same process – they won’t repeat the mistakes that you experienced.

You will probably make a lot of mistakes in Business and Life. It’s just part of your journey. But the journey is smoother when you learn from your mistakes! As the saying goes: “You must live and learn!”.

Secret #2: Pick Yourself Up When You Fall

The Entrepreneurs that I’ve read about have all experienced business failures – some of them huge failures such as the business collapsing. It was clear that Bill experienced setbacks and disappointments in his personal life and business life. His ability to pick himself up after experiencing a these ‘failures’ was another thing Bill has in common with other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs like Bill self-motivate themselves to see past the failures. They ‘dust themselves off’ and carry on!

Talking from experience, this is easier said than done!

However, I share four strategies on how to do this in my recent blog: How to Deal With Failure and Disappointment in Business. 

Secret #3: Never Give Up

I didn’t know Bill’s story before reading the book. However, after reading it I was amazed how many setbacks and disappointments Bill had! I think many people would have given up. However, he describes a quiet determination to succeed. It was clear Bill’s drive to succeed was strong!

Developing determination can be difficult for some. I read an article recently, written by Lilia Manibo from AnthroDesk which provides 10 ways to help develop determination.

One of my favourites from Lilia’s article is: “Decide to be Determined”:

“A decision to be determined is where you should start. That decision gives you a direction. It leads you to where you should be moving even if there are challenges along the way. When you make a decision, this should be done with conviction, both in smooth and hard times.”

CLICK HERE to read Lilia’s full article.

Secret #4: It May Be a Long and Winding Road to Success

The final secret for me that I took away from the book was that the path to success may be a long and winding road. It was clear that Bill certainly achieved a LOT of success – but his journey was not straight forward!

On your own journey to success, you may need to take breaks along the way. You may need to change direction and your journey may take longer than you first thought!

If you can apply the knowledge of this secret and of course the previous three, this will go a long way to move you towards success in whatever endeavors you are working towards!

Reading about Entrepreneurs is a great way to experience the long and winding road to their successes. I’ve yet to read a book about an entrepreneur who was an overnight success. Sometimes it may seem that way but their ‘back story’ usually provides a long list of mistakes, failures, delays, and changes of direction well BEFORE they achieve success.

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at U-Micro. I learnt a lot and had fun! Reading that part of the book brought back some good memories for me.

The biggest takeaway from Bill’s book for me was that we are all on our own journey in life and business. You don’t have to be a famous entrepreneur to experience ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ in life and business.

However, I believe that you do have to decide how you’re going to react and respond to the ‘failures’ that you may experience, if you want to move forward to success – just like Bill.

The perceived ‘failures’ you see can actually be ‘steppingstones’ to your success, as long as you apply the four secrets Bill and the other entrepreneurs demonstrated:

  • Secret #1: Learning from Mistakes
  • Secret #2: Pick Yourself Up When You Fall
  • Secret #3: Never Give Up
  • Secret #4: It May Be a Long and Winding Road to Success

Bill bounced back many times from ‘failures’. I believe it was his mindset that ensured his success – just like the other entrepreneurs.

I think we can all learn a lot from Bill’s story!

Thanks for sharing it Bill!…Oh and thank you for giving me my first job!

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How to Keep Customers When Things go Wrong

How to Keep Customers When Things go Wrong

Customer loyalty is critical when running a business…

[Time to read: 3 minutes]

As the saying goes it costs more to find new customers than it does to look after your existing customers.

Your existing customers have invested in you and your business because they BELIEVE that you can offer them the right solution.

Being rewarded with their belief is a wonderful thing. They could have easily ordered from one of your competitors. This belief is the first step in the customer trusting you.

However, this is just the first step…

It’s so important to build more trust with your customer in order to have loyal customers.

Keeping in regular contact with your customer is an obvious step.

However, this step is sometimes overlooked – especially when things go wrong.

How to Keep Customers When Things go Wrong

If you’re supplying complex products or solutions to your customers, at some stage things may go wrong, such as:

  • Product quality issues
  • Service delivery issues
  • System failure
  • Late delivery
  • Administration errors

However, it’s at this time that you MUST look after your customer.

You must do all you can to resolve the problem.

In the past I had to deal with product supply issues to my customers where the supply chain was complex. There were occasions when I could not fix the problem immediately.

I had done all I could to investigate the problem and find ‘workarounds’ and alternative solutions. But the customer was not happy. What should I do?

In my experience updating the customer regularly and being honest is one of the best ways forward.

Phoning the customer regularly (and sometimes EVERY DAY), to update them is key – even if there is no immediate solution in sight – the fact that they KNOW you are working on the problem is important.

The customer may still be upset, and they may say something to you that hurts, but if you ‘step up’ and take control of the situation by searching for solutions; update the customer regularly and be honest – this will go a long way to build customer trust in the future.

I’ve been on the brink of losing a customer in the past – but these actions saved me. It’s not pleasant to see your customer upset, but this is your time to prove that they were right in believing you when they placed their first order.

Conclusion

Customers do remember when things go wrong – but they also remember when you turnaround these problems and look after them.

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Top 9 ways that Coaching helps Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Top 9 ways that Coaching helps Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Coaching for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

[Time to read: 8 minutes]

Coaching…Coaching…Coaching

These days the word ‘Coaching’ is used in virtually every market, and this word is sometimes overused!

So, what is coaching and how can coaching help Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs?

In this article I’m going to provide an introduction into coaching.

I’ll walk you through the top 9 ways that Coaching helps Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs.

I’ll also share some recommendations on how to select a coach.

Let’s get started!

Feel free to watch the video or read below:

What is Coaching for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs?

There are many different forms of coaching available: Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Executive Coaching, Sports Coaching, Wellbeing Coaching…and many more!

In general terms Coaching is a solution for growing and developing people.

It’s a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the coaching client to develop their personal and professional potential. It facilitates their growth.

Coaching for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs can help them to develop their own performance. It is also used to help them develop the performance of their business.

Coaching is not mentoring. A Mentor is someone with a specific set of skills or knowledge that passes this information on to their client.

Sir John Whitmore sums up coaching, succinctly:

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

Sir John Whitmore, in Coaching for Performance

It can be tough at the top!

Being a Business Leader and Entrepreneur can be exciting and incredibly rewarding. However, it can also be ‘lonely at the top’. Many leaders don’t have anyone they can turn to for support. They are expected to have all the answers and always know the next step to take with their business.

Many leaders are also under intense pressure and experience high levels of stress.

Coaching is helping the coaching client to think differently. For the purpose of this article we will assume that the coaching client is a Business Leader or an Entrepreneur.

It’s about leveraging their strengths to overcome ‘blind-spots’; helping them to create a new perspective on the situations they see in their Business or Life.

Coaching is helping the coaching client learn about their strengths and how to better apply them. It helps the client learn about their behaviours. Coaching helps them to create new insights, new perspectives, and new actions to move forward.

It’s about taking ‘high-performers’ and helping them to improve their performance.

Top 9 ways that Coaching helps Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

If you’re considering coaching, how could it help you? 

Here are 9 ways that my clients have commented that coaching has helped them:

Time to Think

It’s rare in business today to have time to think without any interruptions. In the coaching sessions there’s no phone to answer and no emails to respond to. This means you’ll have time to clear your head, see your priorities clearly and think about what you want for you and your business.

Time to Think

Manage Stress

My clients often comment that they arrive at the coaching sessions, stressed, and overwhelmed about a ‘calamity’ that’s going on with their business or in their life – but they leave the sessions with energy – feeling refreshed.

The coaching sessions give you an opportunity to step back from the ‘drama’ which means you’ll be able to look at it from a different perspective; feel less stress and leave the sessions feeling more resourceful.

Stress Management

Confidential conversations

Many of my clients don’t have anyone that they can talk to confidentially about the challenges that they face in their business or the ideas they have for the future.

Unless you’re working with an ‘Internal Coach’ employed by the business, Coaches are typically independent to your business – which can be a bonus, as the coach can help provide a different perspective on your situation.

In either case the ‘Coaching Programme’ is usually covered by a coaching agreement which includes a confidentiality clause. In my case, confidentiality underpins everything I do. I also subscribe to the International Coach Federation (ICF) Code of Ethics.

Extracting Your Ideas

One of my clients mentioned that one of the main benefits of coaching was the opportunity to extract all the ideas in his head. Which meant that he could ‘see’ them and then figure out what to do with them!

Problem Solving

The coaching sessions are often used to help resolve a business or life-related problem.

The coach will help you to explore problems that you face and look for options to resolve them. Coaching helps you to become more resourceful. This means you’ll better equipped to handle other problems that may show up in the future.

Eliminating Limiting Beliefs

Many business leaders and Entrepreneurs (at times) struggle with limiting assumptions and limiting beliefs that prevent them from making decisions; moving forward and resolving the challenges that they face. For example, some leaders develop a limiting belief pattern where they say to themselves “I always mess this up” or “I just can’t do it” or “I’ll never make it in business”.

Limiting beliefs restrict the actions that you are prepared to take, which in turn affects the results you’ll get. The limited results that you see re-enforce the limiting belief and then the cycle repeats again and again.

The coaching sessions can help you to break-free of this cycle by challenging your limiting assumptions and limiting beliefs so that you can make more informed choices and decisions and break-through what’s been holding you back in your business and life.

Developing Strategy & Direction

The coaching sessions can be used to help you to create a strategy and direction for you and your business.

With your coach you’ll be able to focus on the desired outcomes you want for your business and you’ll ‘brain-storm’ solutions to achieve them.

The coach will help you to clarify goals and actions so that you’ll be able to create and implement a strategy to take you in the direction that you want to go.

Your Sounding Board

The Coach is on your side. Being your ‘sounding board’ means that the coach will ‘test’ and challenge your ideas and any limiting beliefs that show up! The coach is like your ‘ideas’ sparring partner!

Sounding Board

Developing Leadership

This last one sums up all the previous ways that coaching can help you and brings us back to one of the key-aims of coaching that I described earlier:

“Coaching is a solution for growing and developing people.”

In the case of the Business Leader and Entrepreneur, coaching helps them develop their Leadership – not just in their Business, but Leadership in their Life as well. Which is why coaching is so important for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs.

In my coaching practice, I focus on helping Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs develop their Leadership by helping them to become more resourceful, confident, and capable leaders.

This ultimately helps them to create more success in their Business and Life.

Leadership

Should you try coaching?

Well, only you can answer that question! Hopefully this article has answered the questions you had and has given you a clearer understanding of what coaching is.

Each of my clients tends to have something unique about what brings them to coaching – a specific result that they want to achieve. However, one thing that is common with all my clients is their desire for change.

Most have hit a ‘threshold’, where they’ve ‘had enough’ about their situation or something that’s going on with their business or life.

If coaching is something you would like to try, I suggest searching for a few coaches initially, and check-out their profile, background, accreditations, testimonials and perhaps most importantly of all – ask yourself “Does this coach resonate with me?”.

Conclusion

So, in summary we have learned that one of the core-aims of coaching is to help people to grow and develop.

We’ve learnt that Coaching is different to Mentoring.

I’ve shared 9 ways that coaching can help Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs:

  • Time to Think
  • Managing Stress
  • Confidential Conversations
  • Extracting Your Ideas
  • Problem Solving
  • Eliminating Limiting Beliefs
  • Developing Strategy & Direction
  • Your Sounding Board
  • Developing Leadership

And I’ve also provided some recommendations on how to select a coach.

One thing I want to leave you with is that the coaching experience is unique for each coaching client. Some of my Clients comment on other ways in which coaching helps them.

The success of the coaching sessions is not just dependent on the coach – it is just as dependent on the client, as what the client gets out of coaching session, is really down to what they put in!

Coaching can also be an uncomfortable experience for some, as it often requires them to go out of their comfort zone for them to grow and develop.

But if the coaching client is committed to the coaching process, the rewards can be unlimited!

I hope you enjoyed reading this article if you did please comment and share!

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How to deal with failure and disappointment in business

failure and disappointment

How to Deal with Failure and Disappointment in Business

[Time to read: 6 minutes]

Why do I always screw-up? Why does it never go right for me? I’m never going to succeed!

That’s a depressing start to a blog! But I remember having these thoughts many years ago.

At times I struggled with how to deal with failure and disappointment in business.

Failure – even the mention of this word back then used to bring a ‘sinking’ feeling in my stomach as I used to remind myself of previous times I screwed-up. For many in business, experiencing failure creates negative emotions.

In this blog we’re going to explore failure and disappointment in business; what happens when we experience disappointment and what we can do to avoid the negative feelings associated with failure and disappointment that many in business struggle with.

What is failure?

Well, I think we all know failure, but when researching for this blog, I looked it up on Wikipedia to see what it said:

“Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective and may be viewed as the opposite of success.”

So pretty obvious, but it focuses on the original intention to succeed – and an expectation for a specific result, that doesn’t happen. 

What is disappointment?

Wikipedia states: “Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest. Similar to regret, it differs in that a person who feels regret focuses primarily on the personal choices that contributed to a poor outcome, while a person feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome itself. It is a source of psychological stress.”

It refers to a ‘feeling’ that follows the failure of expectations and it touches on disappointment being one of many causes of stress.

To make matters worse during the ‘failure’ you may have heard words about you that hurt.

What happens when we get disappointed?

Disappointment is a powerful emotion, in-fact it’s one of the tougher emotions we experience. Disappointment hurts!

People react to the emotion of disappointment in different ways – some get angry; some get sad; some beat themselves up and some blame other people.

Let’s face it – in business there are many opportunities to fail and thus many opportunities to experience disappointment. From my personal experience in business and that of my coaching clients we all have experience of failure and disappointment. 

Here are some examples of typical business ‘failures’ can create disappointment:

    • Not winning a business opportunity
    • Losing a customer
    • Losing a valued member of staff
    • Messing up a presentation or a sales pitch
    • Making a mistake…just screwing up!

In this blog we’re going to discover how to respond to the feeling of disappointment in different ways – more empowering ways.

What can we do to overcome disappointment in business?

Better Out Than In!

As we discovered earlier there could be many reasons in business why we could be feeling disappointed. If for example you’ve made a mistake – be honest and apologise for it. You’ll gain more respect with honesty than anything else.

Perhaps you’re disappointed about something that someone else screwed up, don’t hide it – talk about it – be curious to find out what happened. How could you help that person improve in the future?

If there’s no-one you can talk with, then write about your disappointment. Perhaps you need to vent about it to get it out?! If you do then write down your frustrations – by writing this on paper, you can ‘say’ everything you want to – once you’ve done that – destroy it.

Each of these are great ways to ‘extract’ the disappointment.

As the saying goes “Better out than in!”.

What Can You Learn?

So, in the previous section we discovered that talking about the failure and disappointment can help to extract the negative emotion. Be mindful of how long you focus on the ‘problem’ though. When we focus our time on a problem, it tends to get bigger in our minds.

Focusing more time and energy on what you can learn about the perceived failure will help point you in the right direction so you can move on.

As Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

With every mistake I’ve made in business (and I’ve made a few!) I’ve learned something. I moved forward trying to not repeat those mistakes. I tend to make new ones now!

…But seriously, I think Business and Life is about making mistakes, learning from them, not repeating them and to keep moving forward.

So, next time you experience a failure, try asking yourself these questions:

    • What can I learn from this situation to help me?
    • What could I do differently next time?
    • How will this situation serve me?
    • How could I use this situation to help others?

Learn from People That Fail the Most

I love reading biographies and auto-biographies about successful business leaders. Every holiday, I take a book with me to read. Last time was a book about Elon Musk.

One thing I’ve learned from reading these books is that the people that succeed in business the most, tend to have had huge failures – and lots of them.

These books are full of insights and learning opportunities for us. You get to learn about their experiences; their ‘failures’ and their successes. But I think perhaps most importantly you get you learn about their mindset – how they keep going forward despite the mistakes and failures.

My favourite reads so far have been about Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. But there are so many leaders to read about.

So, why not search for a book about a business leader who inspires you?

Create New Insights

Learning from other business leaders by reading books about them is a great way to create new insights. Another way is to read quotes. I’ve got to admit I’m a big fan of quotes – I try to read one each day. I find they create so much inspiration for me.

Here are some of my favourite quotes about failure:

"I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."

Thomas Edison

"You can't control the events of your life, but you can control what they mean to you."

Anthony Robbins

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

Theodore Roosevelt

Conclusion

So, what have we learned?

We’ve learnt more about what failure and disappointment is and how disappointment can be a source of stress.

We’ve learnt that people can react to failure and disappointment in dis-empowering ways including anger, sadness and beating themselves up.

I shared four ways to help transform the way we deal with failure and overcome disappointment:

  • Getting rid of the disappointment as quickly as possible. We discovered ways of how to do just that.
  • Learning from failure is the key to not really failing at all.
  • Learn from business leaders that succeed the most as they tend to fail the most.
  • Creating new insights for yourself by reading quotes that other people have written about failure can help to shift how you perceive failure.

In summary, realising that failure is part of business and life has been key for me. Understanding that sometimes things just don’t go our way helps.

Appreciating that you may not be able to control the events (‘failures’) that you experience, but you do have control of how you think about them; what you do about them and what they ultimately mean to you, will help you move forward.

And finally, discovering that if you look close enough at the perceived ‘failures’ you see, you’ll find the seeds of success and that is the sure way to move towards that.

So, let me ask you a question:

What’s been your biggest ‘failure’ in business?

Oh, and one more:

What can you learn from it?

So, don’t let the perceived ‘failures’ you see be your downfall.

Business ‘Failures’ are sometimes a topic for discussion during coaching sessions with my clients. If you would like to learn how coaching can help  – CLICK HERE – to read my blog article where I share the Top 9 ways Coaching helps Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you did, please comment and share.

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How to stop giving up on goals

how to stop giving up on your goals

How to stop giving up on goals

[Time to read: 3 minutes]

Did you know research suggests that 70% of people that set goals for themselves fail to achieve them? Many just give up!

In this blog we’ll explore the purpose of goals and look at how to stop giving up on goals.

What is a goal?

A goal is a target; something to aim for; a stepping-stone to help you progress forward in your business, your career or personal life.

Why do we have goals?

The purpose of a goal is to stretch your capability. To achieve something that you don’t currently have.

There are many types of goals:

  • a typical business goal could be to hit a revenue or profit target or to expand the business into a new market
  • a career goal could be to further your career perhaps by gaining a new job, promotion or qualification
  • a personal goal could be to lose weight; to improve your well-being or to spend more quality time with your family or friends

All of these goals could be really important, so why is it that sometimes we give-up on our goals?

Some of my coaching clients have commented that in the past, they just seemed to stop working on their goal. Some gave up without even noticing; some comment that other things just got in the way. Some say: “I always seem to just give up after a few weeks – it’s just something I do – I don’t know why?!”. For many giving up on their goal can be a habit.

"There is no failure except in no longer trying."

Elbert Hubbard

So, how can we stop giving up on our goals?

Earlier on I mentioned the word ‘important’. This is a critical part of goal setting. The more important your goal is to you – the higher the chances are that you will work towards achieving it and not give up if the going gets tough.

How can you make your goal more important?

By asking yourself ‘WHY’ you want to achieve the goal in the first place. What will achieving the goal give you? I don’t mean just the actual result – for example: hitting the revenue target; getting the promotion at work or losing the weight.

I mean – how will you feel?

What is the emotion that you’ll experience achieving the goal?

What will achieving the goal enable you to do next?

What will you be able to do for other people when you achieve the goal?

To experience the ‘feeling’ of achieving your goal right now – why not try the following exercise?

  1. Stand-up, back straight
  2. Shake your arms and legs for a few moments
  3. Take a few deep breaths (breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth)
  4. Put your hands on your hips (I know this sounds nuts but do it anyway!)
  5. Close your eyes (assuming you’re in a safe place to do so!)
  6. Now think about your goal
  7. Think of the future – imagine or visualize your future-self achieving the goal:
    • Visualise your face – are you smiling? – what else are you doing?
    • Where are you?
    • What are you saying to yourself having achieved the goal?
    • What are other people saying to you?
    • What have you learnt achieving the goal?
    • What emotion/s do you feel?

Now open your eyes; grab a pen and paper and write down what you just experienced and also write down the answers to the questions that you just asked yourself.

This simple exercise can help you to experience the achievement of completing your goal. Which can help to give you a bigger why for your goal. The bigger the ‘WHY’ the more important the goal will be to you. The more deep-level importance you attach to the outcome of your goal – the more motivation you’ll have to achieve it.

Now of course when we commit to a goal – life can show up for us and things can get in our way of achieving the goal!

The action you take towards achieving your goal may not work as expected. If this happens – don’t despair! Tap into the ‘energy’ of your ‘why’ by repeating the exercise we just did and think of a new action that you can try – something different.

If that action doesn’t work-out – repeat the exercise above and try again. This is the magic formula to not giving up on your goals.

Working towards your goals is as important as achieving the goal because when you work on your actions you’re learning and growing. You expand your comfort zone and increase your resourcefulness – especially when the action doesn’t work as expected – just keep going!

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you did, please comment and share.

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  • EXPOSE possible futures for you and your Business

  • EXPERIENCE coaching

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The power of asking yourself questions

The power of asking yourself questions

The Power of Asking Yourself Questions

[Time to read: 5 minutes]

“What if…?” – Just two words but the answer to this question could change your world!

Questions form a daily part of life and business. We ask other people questions frequently.

We ask questions to collect information: to understand, to learn, and to help solve problems.

Being mindful of the questions you ask other people can make a huge difference to your life, business and career.

Many years ago, back in my IT sales role I noticed that I often asked clients ‘closed’ questions – these are questions that invite a “yes” or “no” answer.

For example, “Are you ready to start the project?”. The answer to this question provided me with limited information – typically just a “yes” or “no”. A more helpful question would have been “When will you start the project?” or “What needs to be in place before you start the project?”.

These questions are examples of ‘open’ questions which do not invite a “yes” or “no” answer. ‘Open’ questions tend to be higher quality questions because they provide more useful information. From that point I increased my use of them!

Asking Yourself Questions

We don’t go through life just asking other people questions, we also ask ourselves questions.

We do this when we think. Thinking includes asking ourselves questions. These questions help us to evaluate, compare and measure.

For example – we may evaluate our situation, compare ourselves to others and so on. Many of these thoughts can be on ‘autopilot’- they can be habitual thoughts – and research suggests on average we have 60,000 thoughts every day!

When we ask ourselves (think) a poor-quality question, we get a poor-quality answer. This contributes to lowering our mood and if we get into a habit of asking (thinking) poor quality questions – this can create a negative mindset.

Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, "What else could this mean?”

Shannon L. Alder

For example, the typical response to asking: “Why do I always mess up?” is “Because you’re an idiot!”.

When you ask yourself a question, you are giving a command to your brain to come up with an answer.

Your brain will search for the most likely response, which typically is linked to the type of question you ask. This question is actually stating: “…I always mess up”.

The answer you receive: “Because you’re an idiot” is often a habitual response – and you’ll probably receive the response almost immediately because you are on ‘autopilot’.

Imagine how many of your 60,000 daily thoughts could be both habitual and unhelpful?

Using Powerful Questions

Higher quality questions that really make you think are also called ‘Powerful Questions’. Powerful questions are an important component of Coaching.

When a Coach asks their client a powerful question (at the right time) – this can provide the client with new insights into their situation.

This is because they have to think differently to answer the powerful question – this can break habitual negative thinking.

Powerful questions can help the client to:

  • look at their situation from a different perspective
  • challenge their limiting belief
  • find a new solution to a problem
  • find a way forward

You don’t have to be in a coaching session to experience Powerful Questions. You just need to know how to ask yourself them. Here are a few tips:

  • Say it – rather than just thinking the question – ask it aloud.
  • Be mindful of using “Why?” questions – e.g. “Why do I have to do this?” as the answers aren’t typically helpful.
  • Be mindful of when you ask ‘closed’ questions. These tend to start with “Is…” or “Do…” or “Have…”. e.g. “Do I have to do this?”
  • Ask ‘open’ questions – start your questions with “What…”, “How…”, “When…” or “Who…” e.g. “How could I do this differently?” as this will give you a more helpful answer – something you can actually work with.
  • When you ask yourself the question, pause, perhaps close your eyes and try to visualize or ‘feel’ the answer. Note – it helps to be patient as sometimes the answer may not come to you until later in the day or later in the week.

Making it a Habit

How can you get into the habit of asking yourself powerful questions?

…by using morning questions.

Asking yourself just one powerful question first thing in the morning can help contribute to a great day, as your brain will search for a high-quality response to the high-quality question that you ask.

The answer you receive can help to get your day off to a great start!

Here are some example powerful morning questions:

  • What can I do today to have a great day?
  • How will my life be better today?
  • What can I do today to make a difference to someone else’s life?
  • What can I do now to stop worrying about X [insert your problem/challenge here]?
  • What can I do today to resolve X [insert your problem/challenge here] that I’ve not thought of before?
  • How can I make a positive contribution to the meeting today?
  • How will I do things differently today?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What if I did things differently today?
  • What if I stopped worrying about this right now?
  • What else could this mean?

Of course, you can create your own powerful questions as well.

Why not ask yourself one question each morning for the next 30 days and see what happens?

You might just change your life!

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you did, please comment and share.

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