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Being Fearless!

Once you become fearless, life becomes limitless.

~ Author Unknown.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address that, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

We all face fear. It’s just part of our world. Being fearless doesn’t imagine a world where fear doesn’t exist. No. Instead, being fearless means understanding what fear is to you, and how you can manage it so that it is not a stumbling block to your success.

Fear is only in our mind.

In the 16th century, French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

How many of your fears have ever come true?

There is a study that revealed almost 85% of what people worry about never occurred. And with the 15 percent that did come true, 79% of the people discovered they could either handle the difficulty better than they expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97% of what you worry over is simply your fearful mind punishing you with assumptions, interpretations, limiting beliefs, exaggerations, and misperceptions.

So, what can we do? Here are 6 steps you can take to decrease your fear and increase your fearlessness:

  1. Notice your triggers. Become aware of when you experience feelings of fear. We all have triggers that remind us of our fears and failures. The best thing to do is to quickly Identify them. You may not be able to avoid the triggers, but you can choose how you react in the moment. What areas in your life are triggers for your fear? Where can you make a course correction today?
  2. Be present. There is a lot of discussion around the word “mindfulness” lately. Basically it means being present so you can fully experience what is right in front of you. As soon as you begin living in the past or worrying about the future, you’ve left the present. Remember, 85% of what we fear never happens. And you can handle 97% of what does come your way. That’s pretty good odds! So, simply focus on the moment at hand. What can you do right now? As Oprah says, “What is the next right choice?”
  3. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I do this?” And then, my favorite question, “And then what?” Most people stop at the worst thing, so they become even more fearful and they retreat back to their comfort zone. Instead, write down some different ways you can deal with the worst case scenario. By asking “And then what?” you begin to think about how you can come out on the other side. You begin to see you may be capable of more than you thought.
  4. Mind Shift to Excitement. You know when you’re called on to give a speech and your heart is pumping like crazy, your palms are sweaty, and you have tunnel vision? You may call that fear, but people who are fearless see the exact same scenario as exciting. Your brain can’t tell the difference between real fear or perceived fear. It doesn’t know that your getting a promotion is a good thing, not something to be afraid of! And your body reacts the same way to good news that propels you out of your comfort zone the same as it does when you have bad news. Your body is ready for fight or flight whether you’re excited or fearful. The difference is in how you choose to interpret it. Will you react (fight or flight) or will you respond (consciously recognizing what is good and using that stumbling block as a stepping stone instead)? Reframe those triggers to look at the situation from a perspective of excitement instead of fearfulness.
  5. “No” is merely feedback. Being told “no” throws many of us into a state of fear or worry. Then our Inner Critics start up with the “I must be unworthy,” “I knew I wasn’t good enough,” and more soul-crushing thoughts. If you allow them, these thoughts can play into your fear. Instead, reframe again, and think about the “no” as feedback on how you handled the situation. Fearless people think through what they could do differently in order to find a new way to approach the situation or the other person. So ask yourself, “What could I do to make this ‘no’ a possibility?” Learn from the situations, seek feedback and input from others, determine how you might be able to get a different outcome the next time. Fearful people see “no” as a destination. Fearless people see “no” as an opportunity to learn something different.
  6. Celebrate the breakthrough and stay the course. When you are fearless in an area, a conversation, a problem you’re having – celebrate being bold. Acknowledge your fearlessness. You’ve taken a step toward a more fearless vs fearful living. That’s a beautiful step! Then stay the course. Keep up the good work. Know that you may slip back into a little fearfulness and that’s ok. Recognize the slip and determine how you want to build up the fearlessness again. When you focus on others your mind moves out of fearfulness. So volunteer somewhere, send a sick friend a funny card, see how you can help someone else and get your mind off your fear.

I have a mentor who says that we should fail every day. It’s not really about the failure at all. It’s about trying something you’re scared to do. The more you do that, the more you are building your fearlessness muscle, and the easier it is to bounce out of fearfulness when you find yourself there.

Are you ready to try being fearless? What’s one thing you’re going to do this week in which you could fail? And then what?

To our success!

 

For information on leadership, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, Strengthening your Inner Genius, Hiring the Golden Unicorns, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to http://www.apexmastery.com/

Let Freedom Ring!

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
~ Colin Powell

 

My nephew, Geoff Germaine, is headed to the Army’s LDAC (Leadership Development and Assessment Course) today. And I am so proud of him!

From the time he was little he wanted to be in the military. When he was three I bought him a NASA flight suit and he wouldn’t take it off! His grandfather was in the Navy and great-grandfather was in the Army during WWII.

The Army is intentional about training up leaders in a way that instills pride, confidence, and competence. LDAC is a concentrated 29 days and it focuses on experiential learning, not simply theoretical. It got me thinking about the leadership training we provide our leaders in the corporate world.

I work primarily with leaders in technology, engineering, those “left-brained” focused industries. And what I have found is that in school and on the job they are given exponential opportunities to learn how to be technically proficient – with minimal, if any, training to be a leader.

So my job has been to come in and help these technically-proficient managers understand what it means to be a leader:

  • To move from being an individual contributor to the “go to” person for their team’s dreams and dramas.
  • To understand how to expand their emotional intelligence as that is what will help them succeed in management, much more than technical skill will.
  • To be able to communicate in a way that is clear, concise, and compelling rather than detail-laden.
  • To inspire and influence even when you don’t have the authority.
  • To know that a title does not give you power … only your team can do that for you.

And so much more!

I think there are 3 keys to early success for our next generation of leaders.

  1. Teach the importance of communication.
    We are a world of 7 billion people now. As a leader you must be able to communicate, influence, and collaborate effectively. It’s not enough merely being able to learn or know the facts and figures, but it’s understanding how to tell the stories around them that helps a leader’s success.
  2. Teach understanding of emotional intelligence.
    Once you get that first management titles, your emotional intelligence skills must immediately zoom past your technical skills. What does that look like for a leader? Being able to identify and manage your emotions in any given situation. Being able to respond in a way that encourages alignment and collaboration rather than defensive walls being built against you. Understanding your team members’ emotions and influencing them to manage the emotions in a way that is appropriate to the situation. Being able to solve problems using emotions appropriately rather than denying them or letting them take over the process. Seeking facts rather than relying on assumptions, and so much more.
  3. Create “fail forward” cultures.
    In the Army’s LDAC, each candidate is given an opportunity to lead, are then assessed on how they did, and given feedback on how they could have done it better, differently. They practice in safe situations that feel real so that when they are on the battlefield or in the boardroom they know how to lead effectively. Give our new hires an opportunity to practice their leadership in safe “fail forward” (from management guru John Maxwell) situations where they can learn before we need them to step up with confidence and competence.

Several companies I have worked at and now work with focus their leadership training just on those who are already leaders. And that is important – absolutely – to keep honing our leaders. And it is just as important to begin seeking out those who are potential leaders and giving those opportunities to lead before being given the title. We want them to succeed when they become our next wave of leaders. Let us give them the tools and skills now to prepare them for success. It helps them in the future, and it helps them now by being even stronger team members.

Good luck, Geoff. Thank you and with all the men and women in our military for stepping up and protecting our freedom.

For information on leadership, Hiring the Golden Unicorns, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, Strengthening your Inner Genius, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to http://www.apexmastery.com/

Are You Ready for Some Help? Hire a VA!

When I meet successful people I ask 100 questions as to what they attribute their success to. It is usually the same: persistence, hard work and hiring good people.

~ Kiana Tom

I’ve been swamped at work and realized I need to give up some control and get some help – STAT!

Here’s what I did: I first made a list of everything I needed to do and should do in the next three to five days. Highlighted the things I really love doing – they’re my passion. Second, highlighted (different color) those things not highlighted yet that I believed only I could do. Third, highlighted anything else I wanted to do – I’m good at it and it’s revenue-generating. Fourth, everything that’s left over, outsource.

So, I began a search for a virtual assistant (VA). I found there are more things someone remote could do for me than I thought. And, it turns out, more than one VA can do as well. Here are the six areas I found that make the most sense for an entrepreneur to think about getting the help needed. You can start with one and build from there.

  • Virtual Assistant – a VA can help with:
    • Sales – automating the processes for follow up of all those business cards you’ve collected; data mining for potential clients and speaking engagements; connecting you to prospects on social media
    • email marketing & management – maintaining lists in email marketing software (i.e., MailChimp); creating and sending out newsletters; sending clients thank you’s, birthday and anniversary greetings; email and calendar management
    • File storage & organization – organizing file storage (i.e., Dropbox, Evernote); database building (updating email/contact lists on CRM – ACT, SalesForce)
    • Online research – researching trends and topics for blog posts and newsletters; researching competitors and the industry; research for best vendors (banks, credit card processing companies)
    • Administrative tasks – travel arrangements; online shopping; transcribing (voicemails, podcasts); recruiting for new team members needed; being the liaison and trainer for new team members; event planning; listen to webinars and write summaries; send your products to online buyers
  • Audio Visual Editor – an AV Editor can create your podcasts and videos; add intro’s and outro’s; create and update YouTube account; add videos into blogs
  • Bookkeeper – they can send client invoices; payroll; reconcile bank accounts and credit card statements in accounting system (QuickBooks, Xero); accounts receivable and accounts payable; tax preparation to turn over to accountant. Be diligent in watching the information. This is your company. Don’t rely so heavily on someone that you don’t pay attention. Get annual, quarterly, monthly reports. I check at least weekly and sometimes more often. I know my numbers – do you?
  • Graphic Designer – they can design all your social media buttons, banners, and social media sites; design your logo(s), infographics, landing and opt-in pages, and eBook covers
  • SEO Web Marketer/Web Designer – typically the same person can design your website and then do the analytics on it; create plugins for your payment gateway integration; site maintenance and security protection (especially if they host your site)
  • Social Media Marketing – this person can manage all your social media accounts (HootSuite, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter); ensures consistency by scheduling posts each day, for the week or month; promotes posts; accepts requests and thanks people for connecting; comment moderator

I have all six of these people now and we’re forming a well-oiled team. I am beginning to see that my time can be spent on things that matter to me and the business from a big picture standpoint. And my wonderful team spends time on the things that must be done to ensure the daily business is done well.

How have you been successful (or unsuccessful) at utilizing VA’s and other consultants on your team? Share with us!

For information on leadership, Hiring the Golden Unicorns, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, Strengthening your Inner Genius, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to http://www.apexmastery.com/

Top 10 Ways for Setting Clear Expectations for Your Team

“Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership”.

~ Peter Drucker.

 

Too often, managers assume their teams can read their minds. Their teams think the leaders are trying to lead through mental telepathy.

Rather than setting and communicating clear expectations—the metrics against which we measure our progress—these leaders assume their employees know what to do and how to do it. What results is hesitation, indecision and uncertainty. Healthy teamwork, initiative and productivity go out the window.

Properly setting expectations for employees or team members is a vital aspect of quality workplaces, according to a huge study of managers undertaken in the 1990s by The Gallup Organization. Below are some tips on setting clear expectations that will set standards for excellence and results.

  1. Start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when the project is completed. What does “done” look like?
  2. Discuss how you define “excellent performance”. Paint a complete picture. Refer to your performance review form. Don’t assume.
  3. Keep your focus on the desired outcomes, not on describing each and every step to follow. Your goal is to guide, not control. Letting individuals find their own route toward productive outcomes encourages them to use their strengths to their fullest potential. And they may actually come up with a better way than you thought of!
  4. Tie the mission of the department to each job. People want to know that their role, whether large or small, makes a difference. They like to feel as if their work has purpose. Let them know it does and how it does.
  5. Put the expectations in writing. The vast majority of us have faulty memories and tend to remember things the way we want to remember them. Writing it down gives consistency to the expectation and can be referred to later for clarification.
  6. Stay on the sideline. You may be tempted to run in and play the game for a subordinate, but if you do, no one will learn a thing. Don’t be an enabler. Let them develop into the team members and future leaders you want them to be.
  7. Give feedback—and often! The annual performance review is too late to let staff members know how they are meeting your expectations. Schedule informal reviews weekly (up to quarterly for larger departments). Feedback given along the way sounds more like coaching, not like punishment. And remember, Millennials crave/demand it!
  8. Ask for staff members’ feedback on how they think they are doing. The more two-way communication, the greater the clarity around the expectations. It also puts them in charge of their performance so they’re self-monitoring versus you playing performance police.
  9. Give positive reinforcement (and don’t mix negative and positive). Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific and prompt.
  10. Don’t take it personally. When staff members don’t perform as you think they should have, look for solutions, not blame. See number 8. Ask them!

How have you been successful (or unsuccessful) at setting clear expectations for your team? Share with us!

For information on leadership, Hiring the Golden Unicorns, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, Strengthening your Inner Genius, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to http://www.apexmastery.com/

 

Playing to Your Strengths – and Managing Your Weaknesses

We dream of having a clean house – but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning? We don’t have to dream about doing the work, because doing the work is always within our grasp; the dream, in this sense, is to attain the goal without the work.

~ Marcus Buckingham

 

How much have you spent on personal growth books, videos, training, speakers, and more to try to improve something you felt you weren’t good at in your business? Maybe it was marketing, sales, personnel management or public speaking. For most of us, trying to improve our weak areas in operating our business or managing our department is looked at as what is expected in leaders. Whatever the area, we feel as if we are required to do battle with what we don’t do well.

As it turns out, the majority of people around the world feel this way. In their groundbreaking book Now, Discover Your Strengths, authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton say that across all ages and cultures, people are more concerned about their weaknesses than their strengths. We believe that our weaknesses matter more in holding us back than our strengths matter in advancing us.

That’s nonsense, say the authors—widely held nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. In their provocative theory, they suggest that the better strategy is to play to your strengths, building upon your core talents, and work around your weaknesses. You can work to add skills and knowledge to increase your performance in any area, but unless you are building upon one of your innate talents, your efforts won’t produce exceptional results—some results, yes, but not dramatic improvement. I believe working on your weaknesses gives you incremental growth and working on your strengths gives you exponential growth.

“Unless you have the necessary talent, your improvements will be modest,” write Buckingham and Clifton. “You will be diverting most of your energy toward damage control and very little toward real development.”

The expression “damage control” is their term for trying to minimize your weaknesses—the areas where your lack of talent actually get in the way of your performance. I believe you need to work on your weaknesses to the point where they are not a detriment to your career – and not much further!

“Managing Around” a Weakness

Instead of trying to overcome your weaknesses by brute force—and at the expense of putting the same energy into growing your strengths—they offer five strategies for what they call “managing around” a weakness:

  • Get a little better at it. In some cases, your weakness is only moderately impeding your peak performance in other areas. If so, then maybe damage control is the right solution.
  • Develop a support system. This is the proverbial string tied around the finger to remind you of something. Whether it is time management systems for those with a talent for adaptability but not discipline, or a scheduled walk in the park for disciplined folks who neglect self-care, you can often blunt the effects of your weaknesses through such structured inputs.
  • Study your prospects. If your skills tend toward the analytical and away from such talents as wooing clients or dealing directly with confrontation, then you may not want to spend a lot of time in sales. But when you do need to sell something—such as one of your ideas—approach the problem analytically. Rather than agonize over your lack of salesmanship, study your prospects, dig into what makes them tick and what ideas they’ve accepted in the past, and let your enthusiasm for your ideas do the talking.
  • Find a partner. This may be the best approach for small business people and “solo” practitioners. Go into partnership discussions with a clear-eyed understanding of the strengths you bring, and the strengths you need from your partner. Don’t be shy about your strengths—the whole point of this is to create a world in which you get to do what you are really good at. And be open-minded about what a partnership looks like. For some solo practitioners, an administrative or virtual assistant, a marketing consultant, or a bookkeeper could be all the partnering you need.
  • Just (Don’t) Do It. The last option, say Buckingham and Clifton, is just don’t do the things you are weak at. In a corporate setting you might get away with this, particularly if you are a high-performer in the areas of your strengths. If you’re a small business owner and your organizational chart tends to have “me” written in most every box, not doing something may not seem like much of a choice. But keep it as a goal and continue to work toward the day when you can contribute to your business exclusively from the place of your highest strengths.

What are your strengths? How have you “outsourced” your weaknesses to the benefit of your company or team? Share with us!

For information on leadership, Hiring the Golden Unicorns, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, Strengthening your Inner Genius, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to http://www.apexmastery.com/