Courage

Your ideas and story

Your ideas and story

Your top ideas. Your client’s top ideas.

I’m curious about people’s top ideas, and when I meet new business people, I’m often curious enough to get them to spill their heart out about what they love and why they do what they do.

The stories are often surprising, and I get taken aback by the depth of the emotion, adversity and tenacity that businesspeople seem to be able to relay so easily.

What makes your clients tick is easy to uncover with just a few of the right questions and a willingness to listen, rather than comment, lecture or show off.

If you were asked, so what made you start your own business? You would find it a good experience and spout the best of stories.

So, ask your clients to unfold their ‘why’ their passionate stories, inspirations, frustrations or even their wants.

Everyone has them. We all are moulded by experience, both good and bad.

Ask your clients. Ask in a way that indulges them. Let them be selfish. Give them the stage to boast from. Give them room and time to rant. Be a cheerleader for them and their struggles overcome.

They will be so pleased you allowed them to open up. Stories sell, Facts Tell.

Once they have done so, ask them these questions.

I ‘m curious, what are your top three tips?

What do you want from me? Not what do you need, just, what do you want?

Would it be ok if we quoted your knowledge to others that are just like you?

Start with yourself, what is your story.

Steve

Anti – testimonial

Anti-testimonial

When we check Trip Advisor and think who would write such a glowing testimonial report, we know, it’s possibly the best friend of the director or owner of that business.

When we read a scathing one, we know it’s possibly the competitor’s version, of don’t go there, find us instead.

It’s the in-between reports that seem the most genuine and realistic. After reading enough 3’s and 4’s rather than just the 1’s and 5’s, we start to get a picture of what’s really going on.

So as an alternative, perhaps it’s better that when we ask our customers for feedback, and then we decide upon taking this one step further.

Imagine if you would, picking a 3 or 4 from your client feedbacks and reporting on and after the feedback event. Let me explain it this way.

One course we ran recently had a delegate say the following;

“I loved the course but felt it was too superficial. I would love to have some more detailed examples of how the process works. Especially ones that are true stories and an application of how it worked. Otherwise, the course was great, food was nice, venue ideal and the trainer was engaging” 4 out of 5.

So, when it comes to reporting a testimonial, it would be very tempting to just reprint the first and last sentences, missing out the suggestion and the critique.

This makes it slightly disingenuous.

A more powerful way would be to report the whole and then, address the critique and suggestion, and ask for second feedback.

We did just that.

The client was invited back, at our own cost, and we added the suggestion in as well as addressed a bespoke solution to a client issue he had at the time.

This is what he wrote after the second event.

“Attending the follow-up course, I was stunned to realise that my feedback had been taken so seriously. I had more than a renewed understanding of the training concept, I had a practical solution to one of my own difficult issues. I was blown away! The food was nice again. The venue was ideal, and the trainer was just as engaging. However, this time I had a fantastic experience and will be recommending this wholeheartedly. Thank you for listening but thank you more for taking action to improve my experience.” 5 out of 5.

The first and second testimonials, carry so much more weight and honesty.

Feedback is the food of champions. We know that. However, what we do with it is the key.

Are you brave enough to quote both the feedbacks and then give an explanation of why the difference or are you just going to highlight the positive bits and miss the real powerful testimonial?

It is one way to set yourself apart. It is more genuine and realistic. It also shows that you care enough about doing a good job that you will expose where you fell short and prove that you are willing to do something about it too.

That takes guts. You need to be brave to do that. You need to be openly honest enough to admit you are not perfect but are trying always to be better.

Go on. I dare you.

Steve

When is losing really winning?

When is losing really winning?

No matter how well you get on with someone, it is practically impossible to agree on everything.

For many people who are less assertive by nature and do not like confrontation of any kind, they may pretend to agree on points but actually disagree. In this event, nobody wins

For most people, if they disagree and they are free to express an honest opinion, they will do so.

However, what starts as intellectual disagreement can often engage both peoples egos and thus drop into winning and losing when both parties believe they are right and just argue to win. In this event, both parties actually lose.

So how do you win every disagreement?

The answer is – you don’t see it as disagreement but a chance to learn something. Ideally every time someone disagrees with your point of view you should get really curious.

  • Why are they disagreeing?
  • What do they know that I don’t know?
  • Why have they come to that conclusion?

Coming at any disagreement from the point of curiosity means you win every time.

Why?

Because no matter what happens, you learn something you didn’t know before. Either some facts you did not know or something about the person who is holding a different perspective.

Maybe you are better armed with more relevant facts than the other person, maybe your information is wrong, or maybe your world views are just different – either way, you learn something. Learning something means you win from the disagreement irrelevant of whether you end up agreeing or not.

In the end, in most cases, it’s not that important that someone agrees with you and there is no such thing as winning an argument.

So how do you get to the fundamentals of why you disagree?

It’s about exploring the other person’s beliefs. As Stephen Covey points out, this is one of the 7 habits of highly effective people “ Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”

A great question which I am trying to embed in my life is “Why do you believe that to be true?”. This open question followed by more in-depth clarifying questions can really get to the bottom of a person’s belief system and will unearth the answers to the previous 3 questions.

It’s generally good practice to summarise what the other person believes and why to firstly get an agreement that you fully understand.

Once you understand a person’s beliefs and why they believe what they do, you have a solid base from which to proceed.

It is probably best not to jump straight in with your disagreement but to firstly establish common ground on which you agree – this helps build rapport.

If the other person’s beliefs rest upon what you believe to be incomplete or incorrect information, you are now in a position to put that correct ( which could be incorrect) information on the table. They are more likely to listen as you have shown you fully understand their perspective.

At this point, I personally have to be careful. I am a person that both loves to help and is also armed with a huge amount of information ( having read on average 40 books a year on personal development and business for the last 20 years). This very knowledge means I am potentially in a position to help, but sometimes the gap is too big.  ( I need to work on my mindfulness to recognise these points more often)

What do I mean?

For instance, for me, (because I have done over 2000 hours of research into this area alone over 20 years,) it is very difficult to help someone on diet, health, longevity and losing weight if all they know are what they read in newspapers, magazines and the odd TV program.

Information and experience is generally what is used to form a person’s beliefs. A belief is like a table – the stronger the belief the more legs there are supporting that table. So to alter a belief where you discover a vast array of incomplete knowledge and a strong viewpoint, is very difficult. You basically have to knock out each supporting leg one at a time.

It’s hard to walk away when someone has incomplete facts and are doing the wrong thing, which may negatively impact their lives. However, sometimes to enhance the relationship, it’s just better to say – OK, we have a fundamentally different viewpoint. I arrived at mine by doing this, this and this which is a lot of ground to cover and today may not be the right time. So let’s just agree to smile and disagree.  However, if you are interested in why I disagree please let me know, and I will send you what I believe to be the best sources of information and then you can decide for yourself.

In the end, all disagreements are a chance to enhance relationships and learn something if you engage curiosity rather than ego – I personally have a long way to go to practice what I preach in this particular post. But I learned something from writing it

Enjoy the journey.

Do you want a new computer?

Do you want a new computer?

I had got so used to my old one that it took someone else working on mine to make me realise that I had got stuck in a rut of habit and had no idea how inefficient I was managing my computer, and anything linked to it.

Therefore, you need a coach. You can not see how you are performing. It takes others with a trained eye to help you relook at the stuff you have habituated and got comfortable with.

Unless you have more than your own perspective, you can’t possibly compare enough or load up the

a new way of working.

Our skills as social animals help us in so many ways. When you are running your own business, it is easy to think you have everything working well enough to keep growing and be competitive.

If you let a skilful observer give you feedback, you can enhance what you are good at, and this helps you grow in ways you hadn’t thought of already or were blind to. Practice being sociable about how you manage you.

Take stock, analyse and request feedback.

Let those that you trust, give you constructive criticism. Be open to suggestions, new ideas and even allow others to do things for you for a while. You’ll be amazed at how much you can quicken your processing.

My new computer is so much faster. Slicker, smarter, and I now love it. The change suggested to me was difficult to allow because I had got used to how it all worked. I managed the time it took to do certain tasks and was pleased to consider myself as efficient. Looking back at it now, I was stuck in a poor cycle of doing things the way I knew how rather than the way I should do them.

Thankfully, I allowed my PA to bully me into changing. It now takes me much less time, be more accurate and suffer much less stress.

Let a coach into your life, your business, your gym, your relationships, your study methods, your home, your….. anything, and you get that shiny new computer feeling I had today.

It takes courage, it takes to change, and you must be open and trusting. Is it worth it? Oh yes!!!!!!

Are you setting yourself up for failure?

Are you setting yourself up for failure?

So you are a strong goal setter and high achiever?

You already know that by setting goals, well you can convert your dreams into reality.

You ensure you do all the right things.

You consistently look at your long term goals and break them down into shorter-term goals to move in the right direction.

You make sure that the goal is SMART. Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time deadlined.

You make sure that before you set it that the goal is aligned with your life purpose (You have already got that written down right?)

You make sure you have a big WHY behind the goal as to the reasons you want to achieve it

You allocate regular time in your diary if required to do the actions

You try and set up rituals

You look out for obstacles that may get in the way of the goal achievement

You promise yourself a “present” to celebrate when you achieve your goal and if you are brave a penalty if you fail

You make sure you start small, so you get positive reinforcement by making small steps in the right direction

You read relevant material or get lessons if more knowledge is required

In short, you do everything required to set yourself up correctly to achieve your goal

You start with a bang and yet a month or two later something has gone wrong – you are no longer making progress in your goal, or you have given up entirely

You start again and follow all the above steps building in what you have already learned from your failure to date, and yet one or two months later the same thing happens

  • Are you useless?
  • Do you simply have no will power or determination?
  • Is it just current circumstance?

OR

Have you set yourself up for failure?

If you recognise this process for many of the goals you set yourself – You have probably missed one of the biggest and most important steps to making sure you hit your goals (almost) every time

Whatever happens, this one additional step significantly increases your chances of hitting your goal.

What is the magic step?

In a word – Accountability!

Appointing a good accountability partner to help you achieve your goal is huge.

When you appoint an accountability partner, who reads your written SMART goal and independently checks your measurable results ( you have to set it up that way) the difference in results can be astonishing.

Sure your accountability partner does not judge you as everyone knows how difficult it is to achieve goals. They simply ask:

  • How did you feel about your progress toward your goal this week?
  • What action are you going to Start, Stop or Continue to take next week to move towards achieving your goal or Building a habit?

That’s it two questions to make all the difference in the world.

Nobody (in particular high achievers) likes to be seen as incongruent – saying one thing and doing something else. As such you will take the actions you said you would. Sure you will fall back some weeks by not doing what you said you would, but almost nobody can do that consistently.

This simple action can make a massive difference in your life. It stops you from setting yourself up for failure

I am lucky enough to own and run my own coaching company, and so I pay one of my coaches for an hour to ask me these two questions weekly.

Without a doubt the best investment I have ever made!

All my team have a 20 -30-minute weekly meeting with their Team Support Officer to help them with their goals.

Stop setting yourself up for failure

Try appointing one or more accountability partners yourself  – if you are brave enough.

At Compass this accountability is built into our training program by appointing everyone an accountability buddy. You are accountable to your Buddy, and he or she is accountable to you for moving the needle on your declared goals. It works.

Enjoy the journey

Letting go of the past

Letting go of the past and moving on

It is never easy to let go of a secure hand or foothold but to be blunt, how can you possibly climb the wall unless you do?

It takes faith in the new foothold and belief that it will take you to a better position. Until you let go, you’ll never know.

Imagine looking at a climbing wall and seeing climbers stuck in the middle. You shout and encourage them to move on, but they stubbornly say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t because I’m afraid’.

You can see the goal ahead of them, but their face is pressed against the wall, and they can’t see what you see. They will stay there until they fall off or die.

Sometimes people around them are saying the same thing, and they are stuck too! They keep each other stuck by saying, be careful, don’t let go, you may fall off! It might be worse on the next foothold. So, they feel reassured that it best to stay where they are.

Occasionally, people come from below, and pass them and ask as they pass, ‘why are you staying there?’ They can’t understand why people would play it so safe they would sacrifice the rest of their lives in order not to take a risk. Some do fall off, and it scares the ones rigidly hanging on. Some of those who fell, get back on and still climb past them. Some are never heard of again. From the perspective of the hanger on it is frightening.

The coach has climbed that wall already. The coach is at the bottom or in the middle or at the top, offering advice, encouragement, and being the positive ‘, you can do it’

Some coaches are watching from a distance so that they can see the goal, the hurdles, the best strategies and the dangers. They are like your Sat Nav in life. My Sat Nav in the car sometimes says’ Your route has been altered due to the current traffic situation’.  Being stuck on the climbing wall of life is like saying to your sat nav, well I don’t care, I’m just going to carry on doing what I have always done.

It’s strange, but that is how some people live their lives. Whether that’s based on fear, laziness, apathy, contentment or even just plain stupidity, at some point, in order to move on, or climb, you need to let go. Deciding what to let go of is part of the solution. Listening to those that have been there and done it is another.

The story of the spider monkey comes to mind when I think of the amount that we give up, by just not letting go of what is holding us back.

The poor spider monkey is a beautiful creature, that is traded as a pet all over the world. They are hard to catch in the wild, without hurting them. So, us ever ingenious humans came up with a way to catch them that is based on their greed and physique.

Their hands are like clubs on the end of a very skinny arm. They love nuts as a natural part of their diet, and this is their unfortunate demise. To capture one, all you need to do is put a thin-necked sturdy bottle in a strong box and put a few nuts in it. The spider monkey can smell them and reaches in to grab some. He loves them so much, he will not let go of them, and his big hand is now too big to pull out of the bottle. He is trapped. His captor then puts a chain on him and he is no longer free. The captor breaks the bottle, because he knows the spider money will not let go.

The monkey has not only given up his freedom for the rest of his life, but it was for only a few nuts which he could have let go and still be free.

What are you holding on to? What do you need to let go of?

Who could help you identify what it is and has the wisdom to reason with you, to ally your fears?

A coach offers this and more.

The high road or the low road?

 

The high road or the low road?

As part of our coaching practice, we ask programme members the following question:
 
Why did you start your own business?
 
The answers are generally very similar.
  • I felt I could make more money doing (what I do) myself
  • I wanted to be in control of my own time
  • I did not like the way I was treated at my last company
  • I had a great idea that I wanted to put into practice.
However, nobody starts a business which they believe will fail. Most people start a business in which they have expertise in what the business does. A florist starts a florist shop. An electrician starts working for himself as an electrician. A financial adviser like myself starts a financial advice business. This trend is very well covered in the excellent book for small business owners – the E- Myth Revisited. The book also covers the reasons that most new businesses fail in the first five years. The figure is around 80% which is alarming and terrible for the people concerned.
 
The main reason is, although they know how to do what the business does, they have no skills in how to run a business.
 
This skill of understanding how to run a business well is significantly more important than knowing how the work of the business is done.
 
A highly experienced business owner could probably make a success of a florists business, even if he or she did not have the slightest idea on how to be a good florist. Essentially, this is where a good business coach can help – they know the strategies which work and the ones which are less likely to.
 
Nearly everyone believes they can make more money working for themselves. This is normally is a primary driver for taking the risk of starting their own business. This is fine as an initial driver as we all have to live and pay our bills. However, once the business is relatively stable and profitable running a business purely for the money is the low road. This low road has a high potential to end in dissatisfaction, stress and burnout.
 
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as shown below says that once our physiological and safety needs are met, we all aim to satisfy our needs for self- fulfilment.maslow hierarchy of needs
 
Setting the main goal and purpose of the business as only making a large a profit as possible causes a problem. It will make it more difficult for the directors and team to stay motivated and aligned with that purpose in the longer term.
 
The high road is to set a purpose of contributing to the world and adding the most value possible. Of course, the bottom line of working as effectively and efficiently as possible does not go away. The business must continue to make a profit to thrive.
 
Delivering on this higher purpose will generate money as customers all appreciate good value. This higher mindset will align the directors and their teams to work harder. They will also have higher levels of job satisfaction that simply more money will not bring.

Action required

Review your company goals – are they set around the high road or the low road?

Explore what your business does. Ask your customers why they use your products and services. Talk to your employees. Ask them what value the company provides.
 
Once you have collected all the information, spend some time setting a vision for the future. This vision should encompass the contribution the company intends to make and the value it provides. Clarify and write down the company purpose, mission and values.
 
Get feedback on your statements from your employees and customers before settling on a finished version. Then keep these statements under review and set your company goals and direction around them.
 
This is the higher road which leads to self-fulfilment for all people working at the company. It also helps you employee people who are aligned with what you are trying to achieve.  These more engaged employees work harder and smarter to help achieve company goals and produce higher profits.
So in deciding on your business goals remember the high road or the low road is a conscious decision which can make a big difference in your approach
Enjoy the journey

Do you know your clients?

get to know your clients

Do you know your clients? Yes, but do you really know?

We often think we know our businesses, and its true most us have a handle on the numbers and the history.  However, Sir Clive Woodward, at a recent conference talked about ‘The Data’, and the story behind the data is not often a true explanation of the facts.

Get the Facts. Truly, deep down can’t get any more data Facts.

You can look at your ROFE, yet behind that could be just a handful of great profitable customers that are masking the truth behind the vacuum of profit customer. Averages help get an overview but break them down and the character of the good bad and the ugly, start to show.

Ask your team, who is a pain to deal with, and why is that so. A client may serve you better by being referred to a nearby competitor. That client may have come from them in the first place.

I remember letting a client go once, and he was horrified. He got quite angry too. So, I explained to him that my average customer spent 20 hours a month of my time and gave me £300,000 turnover a year. I explained that my profit from my average customer was £100,000. On the other hand, he gave me 30 hours work a month and only contributed to £80,000 to my turnover.

Once I had explained the ‘Facts’ to him he calmed down and realised why I was making the decision and that had he known more, he would have looked at what I offered differently.

The result with this client was that I offered to charge him an hourly rate. He declined as he knew he could go and take advantage of a competitor, without paying the fees for his time. So, we agreed to no longer work together.

Unless I had got to the bottom of his way of dealing with us and backed it up with enough comparable facts, I may have continued to be bossed around by this client. It turns out the staff loved that I had ‘let him go’ because he was the proverbial heart sinker. A double win.

Working with clients you like is always a bonus. Ones that are profitable as well make a great business.

The sweet spot of what you offer is one number crunching exercise. Looking at clients who could be ten times more profitable than your average is another.

Which of your clients have the capacity to do so much more? Fewer clients to deal with could be a new option. The numbers will reveal them.

It could be that your top clients are not top clients. It could be that your low turnover/profit clients are capable of so much more, or, would refer you to others that can. Getting to know your clients in depth is important.

By getting ALL the numbers, the decisions are so much easier.

Yes, it felt good to remove Mr Pain. It was easier than I thought because I had got the facts. Numbers never lie if you dig deep enough.

So do you know your clients well enough?

What is your story?

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What is your story?

A compelling story enhances the best of presentations more than most things.

The elements of the story need drama and adversity as well a goal or quest against long odds and desire to put right a wrong.

The example of Moguli in the Jungle Book is a good one.

A stranger in a jungle, wronged by circumstances, finds his way back to his kind and rights the wrongs of Shere Khan, the evil tiger, hell bent on killing him.

Some tricky characters along the way, like the snake or the monkeys illustrate the challenges of life, but the quest is attained.

So, what is your story?
Did you go through tough times, setting up your business, trying to make it a worthy one.

Tax offices and banks along the way can crumble your dreams and the customers who took advantage of you, reduce your resolve. Yet, you still persevered.

Do your favourite clients know your story? Could you communicate it with them, and, do they have one?

The two most important things in life are relationships and health. Everything else fits in around them. Get those two things wrong and the rest feels pointless.

I do not mean health challenges, but health care of yourself.

I do not mean relationships you ought not keep, but I do mean the ones you should keep or are important to you.

Nurture your health and your relationships and life is easier and happier.

Neglect them and it gets tougher. It can be filled with regret.

If you have a story, let those that you care about know about it. The story of those you care about should be known to you.

Eek it out. Embellish and develop it to bring it to life as much as you can.

My story? I grew up on a council estate that was so large, the police would not go there. My education was minimal, and to see beyond the boundaries that were there, was difficult. Friends of mine were collecting criminal records and poor health habits at an alarming rate.

I decided, it was not for me. I went on a quest to read any self improvement book I could get my hands on. I promised myself I would seek out people of the same mind set. I travelled to get away from the less than fertile ground.
My travels took me around the world and I met some inspiring people along the way.
I saved, invested, gambled on better outcomes, had setbacks and thieves nearly take it all yet I carried on.

One more day, one more day, one more day and then as the tide started to turn, my dreams became more of a reality.
The strength I had relied upon became my staff and I gathered around me people that would want the same things, relationships and integrity.

A legacy in the making, still vulnerable of course, yet solid too, with hindsight, was better than I imagined.

I now run a business with my wife, have two daughters who are blossoming, and I have more dreams for the future than ever before.

I have reasonable health and keep it maintained. I have countless relationships, that I love and I have a lifestyle some would envy.

Am I still going to grow? Yes. Am I wanting to share how I did it? Yes.

At 56, I feel like I am just getting into my full stride.

Share your story.

Understanding Ourselves – What’s It Like To Be Me?

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Understanding Ourselves – What’s it like to be me?

Many times we hear the comment about walking in another person’s shoes to really understand what it is they are thinking. In reality we cannot do this, but maybe one day we will. Google glass was an attempt at helping us see other peoples’ world through their eyes; with recordings of a diary commentary and a Google search track record that is enlightening to what a person is thinking.

It could be that in time to come we will be able to think a thought and it happen on our computer. The Star Trek version from the 1960’s show had everything voice activated. We are quite a way down that line but a long way off being able to get rid of a keyboard.

So it still falls on us to communicate how we feel, with honesty and integrity, to get our view across. Interactions are a great way to enhance our knowledge and widen our experiences.

Coaching makes use of this medium.

By interacting, paraphrasing, repeating back and agreeing, we communicate in ways that you can never do with a computer. Perspective is always important. Travelling back from London the other day when England’s football team beat Wales in the European tournament, the euphoria of relief was evident on the faces of the fans in the streets, in the pub and on the train. I understood that.

Some of the tourists however, were quite scared. You could see their concern and misunderstanding and I could see their perspective was very different to mine. I was enjoying the celebrations and the ‘survivors’ relief that is often imposed on fans of the England football team.

So coaching helps you see through another’s eyes, ears and fears and hopes. It is the essence of our ability to achieve so much more by understanding ourselves. That share and enhance attitude that many people who use coaching, know all about.

This is no exclusive club. This is open to all. It isn’t a select few that can tap into this beautiful resource, it is a voluntary style of running your business in a way that will help us all Win-Win.

It’s good to talk, as BT used to say it better than most.

Going forward, you know that those sharing similar challenges and constraints they wish to break from are also wanting to hear solutions and practical ways of resoling issues. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Which leads me to asking you this.

What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you do if you knew you had the energy time and commitment to do it and see it through. We make promises to ourselves and to others, but more often than not keep them to others but not ourselves.

Seeing ourselves through others eye is important. What we think of ourselves and our promises and achievements is a higher measure.

So to conclude, although understanding others is important for coaching, so is understanding ourselves. It will make us more relatable and accountable.

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