Jan 24

Mastermind

Why are Mastermind Groups Absolutely Essential for Driven Professionals?

What is it?

First things first – What is a Mastermind group or Mastermind Alliance? Is it a collection of all the smartest people in the world? It’s actually not that at all.

It is a grouping of like-minded individuals who have similar goals, experience levels, and a desire to help others succeed while they themselves learn and succeed as well. The reason why these groups are so important for driven individuals who are actively pursuing goals is that most other people simply don’t care about us. Family and friends (the good ones) typically care enough about us to hope we aren’t in accidents and that nothing horrible befalls us, but they don’t usually care enough to take active steps to support our business goals. I wrote my first book this past year.

If I tell you what percentage of my sales came from people I actually know, I would be very embarrassed and you would feel very bad for me. However, as I watch people around me, I see that I’m not unique in this situation. There is a small percentage of driven individuals who welcomes the success of others because it pushes their own excellence through competition, but this is a VERY small percentage of the population. Most people cannot summon the motivation to pursue their real goals and settle for status quo. The same apathy they apply to their own success gets applied to supporting their friends and family. People who genuinely want others to succeed exist, but they can be hard to find.

Mastermind Infrastructure

That’s where Mastermind Groups come in. Their very core is that every participant cares about the success of the others very deeply. Mastermind Groups are formed through a process of interviews where the facilitator hand-selects individuals who have demonstrated accountability and supportive characteristics. The participants are people that excel as cheerleaders for the success of others and as vehicles of accountability. They encourage success and make sure the other members are actually taking the steps they commit to take. When Mastermind Groups are done correctly, they are hugely valuable to the participants and help them achieve objectives quicker and with better focus. So, it makes sense that the participants pay a membership fee. That’s kinda the definition of “valuable” after all. However, just like with any product or service, the value gained from being a member needs to outweigh the price. This also produces a secondary effect. Most people will follow through on their promises if they are paying a fee to participate. Think about it. Would you work harder to complete a professional certification that has a due date and cost you $1,000, or a free one that has no time limit?

Why are Mastermind Groups Absolutely Essential for Driven Professionals?

The answer that I’ve discovered is simple. For the most part, people are jealous and don’t care about supporting your success. They don’t want to put in the work to succeed in their own objectives so they wish mediocrity on you as well. They tell you that you aren’t special enough or skilled enough or lucky enough to achieve your goals because either that’s what they think about themselves or they are afraid of competition. Mastermind groups have been around since Napoleon Hill first coined the term in his 1937 hit book Think and Grow Rich. Whether people call it a Mastermind Group, a group of trusted advisers, a cabinet, or what have you, every very successful person has a support system like this. For the most part, they are not more skilled, special, or lucky than anyone else, with some exceptions. Even elite athletes are competing against other elite athletes. They are all more or less equally gifted. It is the drive for success and the support system that makes the difference.

The other key to a good Mastermind Group is that the individuals should have complimentary skills and experience. Where one person lacks, one or more other people can fill in the experience gaps and vice versa. The key is that each person has something to learn and that someone else in the group has the ability to teach that subject.

Important!

People don’t care about your success, but I do.

Maybe it was my upbringing, but I enjoy helping others succeed. It feels like a personal success for me when I do it. I take joy in the simple process of helping others be happy. If I can condense everything I’ve learned over years of experimenting and failing into a quick win for someone else, I feel truly fulfilled. Honestly, it’s what life is all about. If we don’t have happiness, what else is there really? Competition can be fun, but collaboration is much more fulfilling. Putting 2 minds together to achieve something unique can be literally impossible by yourself. It’s a wonderful feeling. Think of it like putting a 20 foot long piece of wood in place to start building a house. Working alone, it would be impossible to build the house, but working with just 1 more person, amazing things are possible.

I’m not a one-eyed unicorn. More of my kind certainly do exist. They can be hard to find, but they exist if you know where to look. To see more examples of people I’ve found who actually care about the success of others, visit Corbin Links at http://corbinlinks.com/ and Erin Smith at https://thestartersclub.leadpages.net/starters-challenge/. Tons of valuable information to be had from those resources!

Don’t Have a Cow

To my family and friends who actually do support my blog, my book, and my business coaching, you know who you are and the above rants do not apply to you. I appreciate your support. It has been immeasurably helpful.

Important!

Now it’s time to share your stories. Tell me about a time when a great support system helped you achieve an incredible goal.

Important!

Please share any ideas you have a great Mastermind Group subject matter. I’ll be starting to run one soon and would love to hear your ideas.

Dec 31

Risk Management

DSC_7234Is Risk Management Really That Important?

The 1st step in risk management is to identify the risks in the first place. We get so caught up in delivering solutions that we don’t take enough time to identify risks. Even when we do identify them, we don’t always communicate them to our own team or to the client.

Why Does this Matter?

So why does risk management even matter? Can’t we just create a recipe for delivering our product or service and just follow this recipe every time? Won’t a clearly defined process ensure our success? The answer is “no” because we are dealing with humans and their unpredictable behavior. Computers can be programmed to behave predictably (sometimes), but humans change behaviors for a variety of reasons. Risk management draws on our experience and intuition to notice when things are not going according to plan.

Aren’t we Already Doing This?

We manage risk every day in our personal lives. We judge how far away that moving car is before deciding whether to cross the street. We decide whether to peel the apple with the knife facing toward us or away from us. In my case, I assess the chances I will fall out of my juniper tree every year before I decorate it with Christmas lights. We do it in our personal lives so why wouldn’t we do it at work for the same reasons (avoiding being run over by the metaphorical car)? Take the guy in the photo to the left – a talented performer in Edinburgh, Scotland. He’s doing something obviously dangerous – asking another man to stand on a bed of nails on his chest. However dangerous this may be, the performer makes a living with these kinds of performances. He has obviously assessed the risks associated with these actions and come to the conclusion that he will likely not bleed to death and can perform again in 40 minutes.

So What Next?

Once we have identified the risk, we need to tell people about it so we can come to a consensus on what to do next. We should work together with our clients to decide on actions that work for everyone. A RAID log (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies) is a common tool used for this. Risks left unchecked become issues. A risk hasn’t happened yet and gives us a chance to avoid a problem. An issue is an actual problem. That is why we use the same RAID document to track both of these. Content management systems like SharePoint work well for tracking risks too. They have the added advantage of being a central repository that everyone can access instead of figuring out who has the latest version of an Excel file.

Now that we’ve identified the risks and communicated them, the last step is to decide on the action we will take. In the case of our careening car, the choices are to run across the street or retreat back to our point of origin. In the case of our street performer, he can use rubber tipped nails, or spend years building up his abs and callousing his skin with repeated practice stabbings.Generally speaking, there are a few actions we can take with risks. We can Accept, Mitigate, or Avoid them. Back to our street performer.

  • To Accept, he would perform even if it means bleeding to death, without having any reasonable degree of control.
  • To Mitigate, he would always select someone to stand on the board who weighs less than 140 pounds, or perhaps ensure the board has over 200 nails so the weight is spread more evenly.
  • To Avoid, he would simply not do this performance because it is too dangerous.

The idea is to figure out how risky a risk is and take the appropriate action based on this assessment.

Is Risk Management Really That Important?

Of course it is. Projects typically build things based on smaller things that have already been built. It costs more to fix something later than it does to fix it earlier. Consider an automobile. Let’s say a component in the middle of the engine is fastened with the wrong fastener. It’s cheaper to fix this while still assembling the rest of the engine than it is to fix it after the car is completely built and needs to be totally taken apart to get into the center of the engine. That’s why risk management is really that important. In a way, it’s just a fancy way of “paying attention”, and telling people what you notice. It’s really not that difficult. You can pay attention, can’t you?

Important!

Tell me your best stories about when well executed risk management saved your company tons of money or made you the hero of your project.

 

Nov 23

The Art of Deception

The Weekly Planning WorksheetHow do we Deceive our Brains into Forgetting Unhappy Things?

We do this by leveraging the art of deception, on ourselves. The idea is to trick our brain into forgetting unhappy things by adding more positive things. Full disclaimer – I am not a licensed clinical psychologist or in any way qualified to make claims or diagnoses in that realm of knowledge. These approaches are simply based on my experiences.

My Version of the Art of Deception

Here are a few techniques that have worked for me that you might try the next time someone upsets you at your day job.

  1. Train yourself over time to understand that you have no control over how other people will treat you, but you DO have total control over how you will react. This is an idea that has been articulated my many psychology and coaching scholars, but the most recent place I heard it was from Diamond Dallas Page (A former celebrated professional wrestling champion who has now created the incredible DDP Yoga workout that I enjoy very much).
  2. Make the move. Many times, we have thoughts or plans in our minds about how things can be better but we never vocalize them because we think we will be punished or fired. Well, I’m here to tell you that some jobs just aren’t worth the stress, and not all of the stress is created from the job itself. Much of it is often created by our fear to take action which creates self loathing afterward. So, my suggestion is to make the move that you have in your mind. More often than not, people will respect you for speaking your mind. Furthermore, usually no one will fire you for simply communicating that a situation is uncomfortable for you or an unacceptable request of your time. If they do, it wasn’t the right job for you, and you will most likely find something that is a much better fit soon, whether it is another job or your own business. In short, we typically feel happier when we have taken action whether or not that action has the desired result. We respect ourselves for having courage, and that creates a feeling of fulfillment.
  3. Avoid “multitasking”. Multitasking is a myth in my opinion, and only leads to unhappiness for you and others in the end. You are left completing multiple tasks poorly instead of completing 1 task to the best of your ability, which can leave you unfulfilled. conversely, the person with whom you are speaking is left unhappy because they feel like you are not listening to him. It’s just a good idea to avoid multitasking altogether. I realize that multitasking is a popular word that many people use to prove how busy or competent they are, but “Focus” and “Prioritizing” are always better ideas. You can accomplish this by drawing a simple table with 2 columns on it like the one I pasted here that I copied from a wonderfully informative book titled “The Business Coaching Toolkit” written by Stephen Fairley and Bill Zipp. You will list your priorities, both professional and personal for the upcoming week and then list the steps of action needed to finish those priorities. It takes about 30 minutes to compose your list weekly, and maybe 5 minutes per day to tweak it as you go along.You simply won’t work on things that are not on your list, so you are left working on ONLY things that are important to you. I’ve tried this with a coaching client who has found it to be incredibly effective. “The Business coaching Toolkit” describes it in much more detail if you are interested. It’s a very well put together book
  4. Create positive fulfilling activities that require daily attention. This can be starting a business or a blog in an area that makes you happy., and it doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job if that isn’t the right move for you. For example, my job is currently very fulfilling for me so I have no reason to leave. However, I also have no reason to hesitate in pursuing my writing, coaching, and other things that make me feel fulfilled. It can be something hat you work on during the evenings or weekends. You might create blog content, create products and services to sell, complete certification courses, and attend to your new customers. This way, you are forced to work on those activities after your normal work day ends, and there is no time to linger on negative things that made you unhappy. Our brains can only focus on a limited number of things at a time. I believe the research suggests 5-7 although my brain is not nearly this adept :). We can consider those buckets of focus. If we fill all our buckets with positive things, there is simply no room for negative things.

So, How do we Deceive our Brains into Forgetting Unhappy Things?

We do it by creating a go-to treasure trove of positive things that need our attention. That way, when things make us sad, we can force ourselves to work on one of the many positive things we have lined up until we forget about the sadness. After doing this for long enough, it becomes second nature and we aren’t forcing ourselves anymore. Our brains simply choose all the good stuff without being deceived. Before I started writing and coaching, my escape was basketball. I’d go to the park and shoot around until I wasn’t sad anymore. This worked because basketball brings my so much joy that I can focus on being good at it. I still do on this occasion.

 

Important!

I’d love to hear your stories about how you’ve used these techniques. What is your “Go-To”  positive activity?

 

Nov 18

FREE eBook – What Happened to my *** New *** Products Section?

cover_pencilWhat Happened to my *** New *** Products Section?

I’ve decided to start a promotion for my new book, “Onboarding – the Right Way“, using the “KDP Select” service that Amazon.com offers for eBooks.

The bad news is that Amazon KDP Select requires exclusivity, so I had to remove the ability to purchase my eBook from my blog for the next 90 days.

Important!

But the GREAT news is that I’m offering my eBook for FREE on Amazon ONLY UNTIL November 22, 2014. You can click the image of my book cover to the left to get to my Amazon page, even after this FREE promotion
.

Those of you without a Kindle device can rest easy.

  • Amazon offers a Kindle reader for Windows, so it should be no problem to read my book on your computer after grabbing your copy from Amazon. The reader can be downloaded by clicking this link. 

  • You also have the option of a Free Kindle Reading App for mobile devices. Just click the image of my book to the left and then look for the “Free Kindle Reading App” section on my Amazon page.

                                                                                         As always, I appreciate your continued support. Happy reading!

 

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