I am curious
If I could, please ask…………?
Would you mind if I suggested……………………?
These statements were shared with me this week by Bernie Da Souza at a presentation that I consider was excellent.
It made me think about how we ask for information and how we expect answers regardless of how we ask. The kinder way to ask is to elicit opinion and then actually listen fully to the answer.
Never one to feel like I have all the answers myself, I continually wonder how I can improve things, and these hit home with me as being kind and respectful.
Bernie is an international speaker, author and coach. He even made the point that we all need a coach and of course he has his own.
So, please let me ask you…
I’m curious, do you use a coach. If not, why not. If so, how is that working out for you?
If I could please ask you, what would be the perfect client for you and how many of them would you like?
Would you mind if I made suggestions about how to find more perfect clients?
What this leads to is a future track to run on, and we all function better with a vision or written plan. Especially if it comes with a timeline.
The final part to any coaching is the need to track, give feedback and be accountable. The best way to do this is to give someone you trust the power to follow you up in a way that you know will keep you on track. If I suggest how to follow you up, then it may not work, but if you suggest how I should follow you up, it is more likely to succeed.
At Compass Business Coaching, we create a follow-up plan that enables you to be motivated, focused and excited about your goals. Plainly some goals have to do rather than want to do, but even just knowing that once these have to do goals are out of the way you can get excited about what follows, its better than relying on will power alone.
We all know how easy it is to be distracted off our hoped-for track. The reality is it is you who holds that key to a solution. We just show you how to make it so.
Check out Bernie Da Souza; you’ll love his stuff if you are mindful of the concept of coaching.
Sharing goals will always be more fruitful. Sharing ideas helps that too. Being accountable gives us power and energy.
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.
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 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?
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
Should I put a hammer through my TV? – The life-changing power of rituals
Ok, I admit this is a rhetorical question as my significant other would go mad if I actually did it. However, spending what I consider to be too much time watching TV has been a bad habit I have unsuccessfully tried to crack for a long time. The failure to date does, however, teach me something about building good habits and using the power of rituals to help embed them.
Therefore this post is a live example of how I intend to crack this particular nut.
I have just returned from 18 days on my honeymoon in the Greek Islands which both Heather and I love visiting. Heather and I finally got married after living together for 22 years. – Don’t ask.
As I had just got married, I thought would be a good time for a life review. I started by reviewing my life goals in all the different areas using the wheel of life system. I then wrote down habits that would help me achieve the desired outcomes.
During the time on flights and ferries between islands, I decided to set up some rituals to embed all of those excellent habits into my life. Ok, so I get many coaches would tell you to concentrate on one habit at a time which is good advice. However, I thought I would try a different approach and try and instil a whole range of habits at the same time by using the “don’t break the chain” method. This is simply recording on an app or spreadsheet whether you took action on an intended habit or not on any given day. You then review at the end of every week and month which ones were not getting done and then exploring what was stopping you.
So, for instance, I want to be fit, healthy and highly energetic and be able to ski and kitesurf well until I am at least 90. So that’s the broad goal. This type of goal is different to a SMART goal as it has no specific timeline but is ongoing for as long as I live. The question I asked myself is – What habits must I embed to achieve that goal and how do I ensure that I follow through 95% of the time. This is where the power of rituals come in.
Rituals are a set of habits which fit together and are implemented together in the same order on a daily basis. The idea is that the habits you may already have in place help you jump start into a new one you are trying to build. The power arises from the fact that as you do one habit directly followed by another in the same order and for the same length of time. The series of habits become a habit in itself.
There is a comfort in rituals, and rituals provide a framework for stability when you are trying to find answers. -Deborah Norville
Before setting any goals, the first question is to have clarity in my mind of a strong enough reason why I want to achieve the goal. If you have enough motivation, it should be easier to take the required action.
So WHY stop watching most TV habitually?
Ok, I do watch some interesting documentaries from which I learn some useful information. However, the majority of TV is not at all beneficial except as possible relaxation.
The vast majority of the time I spend doing it is not aligned with my life purpose which should be reason enough. However, it has other knock-on effects. The problem is once I settle in I don’t stop until bedtime and sometimes past my set bedtime which stops me from getting enough sleep. Worse still this longer stretch of TV time is also a trigger to eat unhealthy snacks.
So as I have decided (and it’s a proper MUST DO decision) to only watch prerecorded programs for say 1 hour a night at most – How do I implement?
So I bought a “don’t break the chain” app for my phone called Habit Bull. It’s simple and effective. I then set up all these rituals on it.
As an example – The following are my current morning rituals – “Fit body and Mind” rituals
Fit body ritual – 2 hour
- The alarm goes off at 6 am every day so get up immediately
- Plug in my phone to charge it to the max for the day
- Go to the bathroom, take out my overnight contact lenses and clean them stringently
- Put on my training clothes and have a glass of filtered water
- 5 minutes – Go outside and skip as a warm-up
- 15 mins – Go to my Home Gym and do my mobility/ flexibility routine
- 30 minutes train hard 4 days/3 days stretch instead – See My training routine
- 5 minutes stretch after training days
- 20 minutes of meditation for breath recovery
- 10 minutes Win Hof Breathing
- Make the wife a cup of tea
- Drink a glass of water with a half teaspoon of Pink Himalaya salt to wash down my supplements – on my strict real food diet I get little other salt
- A warm shower followed by 4 minutes of a fully cold shower
- Shave, brush my teeth, tidy my bedroom and get dressed for work or weekend
- 8 am ready to rock and roll my day.
Fit Mind ritual (already started with Meditation, Win Hof and Cold shower) – 1 hour +
- 10 mins Gratefullenss diary
- 15 minutes Journal
- 30 minutes blog or book writing
- 5 minutes check this month personal and professional goals
- 15 mins – plan the day on Trello
- My team start work at 9.30 – so 15 mins leeway built in.
So what all the above to do with giving up TV?
So besides just being a waste of my life, I mentioned staying up too late and or eating unhealthy snacks. They both have a negative impact as I don’t have the energy for my morning Fit Body and Mind rituals. If I don’t get up at 6 am, there is simply not enough time to get all my scheduled activities in, and it throws out my day.
I do have some afternoon rituals like writing which I try and keep to, but they get disrupted for various reasons. In my opinion, it is more effective that important habits and rituals are set to be implemented before the working day and after the working day. Like many people, my working day has to be highly flexible. I have to fit in seminars, training for myself and my team and seeing clients in and out of the office. This all serves to make my schedules for each week different making it difficult to stick to regular habits.
So my challenge is to set up and stick to an evening ritual for the evenings when I am not out on a social event. This is currently more difficult as after dinner at 7 pm I feel I have less energy than at the start of the day. However, this may also just be a limiting belief I need to work on
The following is a proposed 2-hour “Skills” ritual for the evening to substitute for watching TV. This will still leave around an hour to catch up on anything worthwhile
- 15 minutes Win Hof breathing – to generate more energy
- 30 minutes of ukulele practice
- 30 minutes of book or blog research
- 30 minutes of language learning practice
- 15 minutes meditation
Hopefully all of the above gives you an idea on how to set up and use the power of rituals as a strategy for integrating excellent habits into your life.
Enjoy the Journey
Keeping your promises
Keeping your promises can be a measure of how well you do in business. We all know what it feels like to be let down. The disappointment, the reduction of trust levels and worse the promise you made on the back of someone else’s promise. I remember seeing a slogan from a delivery company, “Delivering your promises” and concluded that we all need to rely so much on others, it’s hardly surprising that we trip up or get let down. So many of the things we need to do rely on others and in a multi-complex interlinked society, the probabilities of things going wrong are magnified.
So, what is the solution? Firstly, know that the average person struggles with this too. To be above average, outperform or get a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy, the leap is not a big one. You do need some rules though, or you will become the also-ran we are sadly all used to these days.
Rule No 1.
Do not make a promise or say yes, unless you can consider all the elements of the equation at that point. It is better to delay a yes than to promise it and need to or be forced to break it. This rule seems simple, yet there are many layers. How do you hold a diary? Is it electronic, so that all who could be involved, would see it and you cannot clash with them if you said yes and put it in the diary now? How do you think others would feel if you said yes and as the impact would change things for them, you would be treating them to a disappointment? People, resources, timelines, other elements of impact and even your energy or commitment levels are all in play here. DO NOT SAY YES UNLESS YOU ARE SURE.
Rule No 2.
Does keeping this new promise align with your goals, your needs or does it compromise them. This test rule is easy to overlook. Clog or cleanse, enhance or undermine, compromise or build? If you are asked by a client to cut corners, how does this sit with your moral compass? Does eating the pudding mean you’ll feel less fit and struggle to play the game you promised to tomorrow with your team members because you’ll feel sluggish? BE AWARE OF THE CONGRUENCY OF YOUR PROMISE.
Rule No 3.
Can you ensure follow through? When you make a promise, and you only get 80% of it completed, you’re still letting that person down. Just because your got most of it done, you are not let off the hook. Ask yourself or the person asking for the promise, what does finished or completed promise look like? How will I know I have met my promise to you?
MAKE SURE YOU CAN FINISH WHAT YOU PROMISE TO DO.
Often, we hear the phrase, under promise and over deliver and unfortunately, this is disingenuous. What truly makes a difference is keeping your promise. Keeping your promise helps build relationships, businesses faith and families. The future seems so much more possible with a promise keeper than a person who lets you down, even if they do so only now and then.
A Strategic Alliance
Forming a strategic alliance has been a tactic used on many occasions by businesses, government parties and even countries to form a common goal to get better results. Not surprisingly the conservative party talked today about forming a new government with an alliance with the DUP, due to having fewer seats than before the election and being short of the magical 326 majority seats. Would they have been prepared to form any alliance before today?
Your position as a business owner often means being on your own, but a marry with another business could be extremely beneficial. A good example of this is the M & S shops in BP garages. They are everywhere now. It lifts both brands and is symbiotic in many ways. Nothing new I hear you say. However, please consider, who could you ally with that would lift you to new heights? Financial Advisers and Accountants could be a great one for instance. You know your industry better than anyone else. If you looked at all your suppliers and customers, who could you parley with for a mutual benefit? One plus one can often make more than two. Is it blinkered thinking to not be open to this style of suggestion? Sure, there are businesses out there you would not want any strategic alliance with, yet there may be some that could enhance what you do. It is an example of synergy that benefits all.
The questions to ask yourself are;
- What businesses do I know that are like my own and have a trustworthy outlook that I can feel confident endorsing?
- What professions do I engage with that I like and are respected?
- Who do I know with a success based attitude that has a future based outlook I admire?
This will open your thinking to opportunities and ideas you may not previously have thought of and following that train of exploration could bring a eureka moment worth capturing.
Many businesses are often swallowed up by bigger companies merging or buying and this can seem a great way to grow. The trouble with this is that creative and ground-breaking experience gets merged and diluted. A good alliance will bring to the table regular, different and new formats and ideas that set us apart. Economies of scale are useful too but do not let that be your driver. An enhancement of credibility and a win-win environment is the real goal.
So, whatever happens with our new political parties and how they cooperate with each other will be interesting to watch unfold. They perhaps will both have their own selfish goals and reason for teaming up. It could be very useful. In politics, nothing surprises us these days. In the business world though, those that create healthy strategic alliances show their strength of character and a willingness to support others with a common goal. Admirable qualities to transmit to clients in a way that will draw them to you.
Consider for now what that could do for you and where you want your business to be in the next few years.
How are you playing the game of life?
Looking at life as a great game is already a well-developed idea. Like many other games it has an ongoing level of success, team members, rules and referees. Society determines the rules and has the legal system and the police to (referee) enforce those rules if breached.
You, like every human being on the day of your birth, are automatically enrolled in the great game of life, and you cannot stop playing until the moment of your death.
Do you know what winning looks like?
How much effort do you make every day to win?
Are you so wrapped up in sub games like making money that you forget the objective of the main game?
To begin with the end in mind, we need to determine what a winner looks like as there is no absolute definition and yet we mostly recognise one when we meet them. I would suggest that a person who achieves the main objective is playing in the top division and can be classified as a winner even if some of their sub-games are below par. It depends on the importance of the sub-game. Losing the health game kills you, and so all other games are off.
I would classify the objective of the game as:
Living a happy, healthy and mentally fulfilled life every day.
The problem occurs in defining happy and mentally fulfilled. Ok, you don’t need to define it, but you will know if you are living it or not.
Although not absolutely essential to winning the overall game, the objective for most people is to play a whole number of sub-games well. With good mental training and attitude, it is possible to achieve the main game objective irrelevant of any sub-game. Indeed, I would urge you to consider (and work towards the mindset) that by total acceptance of any situation you can live a happy and mentally fulfilled life despite what is happening in your life situation.
It’s not the situation that’s usually the problem it’s the perspective you have on it.
Having said that, let’s look at the benefits of considering life as a game and what it brings to you.
The main purpose of playing games is to enjoy them and help other players enjoy them too. Are you enjoying the game day to day or do you get upset merely because the game is difficult and you suffer setbacks as a result?
Games can help you grow mentally, in that a player who takes a game seriously (but not so seriously as to cheat or be a sore loser) will work to develop their knowledge and skills of different parts of the game so as to improve their performance in the overall game. Are you constantly working on improving your skills and knowledge in the different parts of your game?
Great players take on coaches and have a support team to help them in different parts of the game where they may be weak or help them maintain strength.
Do you have mentors, coaches and a support team to help you in different parts of your game or do you really believe you can do it all yourself?
Great players apply time to train and practice intensely to improve. How much time, money and energy do you apply to train and practice to improve?
The mindset and attitude you bring to the practice and the game itself is a huge factor in determining the results you achieve. How tenacious and committed are you to improving your games? Do you constantly moan about the rules, circumstances or other players or simply do everything in your power to improve your game – despite the cards you are dealt. You can always lose the odd hand, but you only lose the game by giving up.
For all professional sports teams what happens on a rolling basis is:
- Performance is constantly monitored
- Strengths and weaknesses are identified
- Goals for improvement with deadlines are set
- Training programs are implemented to try and achieve even minor improvements in many different areas
- Feedback and performance are measured regularly and training adjusted to drive improvements.
Identify all the sub-games in your life and apply a professional teams “never ending improvement” approach:
- The wonderful spouse game
- The brilliant parent game
- The financial well-being and peace of mind game
- The excellent personal health and vitality game
- The vision and long-term planning game
- The personal organisation and self-discipline game
- The great friends and strong family relationships game
- The satisfying career or own business game
- The living life for a purpose game
- The great and varied experiences game
- The regular fun and laughter game
- The happy and mentally fulfilled game
All of these sub-games are being played every day. If you concentrate on one game (like financial well-being) and let the others slip, your chances of winning the overall game are significantly reduced. Keep the main game in mind not the sub games.
The purpose of the game is not to acquire a mountain of gold.
Just because your pot of gold takes a big hit does not put you out of the game. In fact, many of the winners of the game have no gold at all – Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi to name a few.
I have a friend who on almost every sub-game is a winner, but fails significantly in the health and vitality game. He says he is not bothered by his weight and fully understands the long-term impact on his health but I wonder if he has just given up because that particular game is too hard for him. It’s easy to say I don’t really care. It’s much harder to work on your habits and skills to improve. I wonder will winning all the other games be super-seeded if he falls into serious illness like diabetes as a result. On his death bed, the richest man in the world would give up all his wealth for one more year of healthy living
I urge you to consider life a great game, with a large number of sub-games – all of which you work hard to improve on to win and stay winning. You cannot expect to win every hand – there will be setbacks or else you are playing at too low a level. If it’s too easy, set your standards higher – a life without healthy challenges is pretty boring. Look at short term failures as feedback that you need to improve and don’t be a sore loser – you are just being tested to check your commitment to the game of life.
So, how are you playing the game of life? If you do not pay sufficient attention to any sub-game, your overall game may suffer – like having one bad player on your team. A few bad players and you end up playing in the lower leagues and never fulfil your potential.
In the end, if you leave the field of play having given everything and have really enjoyed the main game – that’s all you can hope to do.
Enjoy the journey
Beginning with the end in mind
In his best-selling book, The 7 habits of Highly Effective People (one of my favourite personal development books of all time) Stephen R. Covey, identifies begin with the end in mind as an essential habit for success and effectiveness. However, when I question many of my business owner clients at our first meeting what their plan is for extracting themselves effectively from their business they are usually struggling to answer. It is obvious that this essential issue has not been thought through and planned for in any detail.
A good starting point is to consider this question; If I were to be looking to buy a company like my own, or like one I am about to set up, what would it need to look like for me to consider it seriously and with the hope to purchase, because it is so attractive? Let’s face it, we can get caught up in the idea of either creating a business that is making use of what we do well, or it can be a new idea that we are blindly enthusiastic about to the point of making emotional decisions, naively throwing resources at the idea with a hope it’ll work. We need a checklist and sounding board as well as trusted opinions. ‘Beginning with the end In Mind’ is a solution. These are important questions to ask yourself before you even begin:
Do you want to replace your job with a business that gives you the same income?
Do you want to make a big pile of money, sell it and escape?
Do you want to create a legacy?
Describe the ideal scenario. Speak to those you know and trust who have relevant knowledge and experience. Make a list of the skills you will need to be able to make it work. You may be a good painter and decorator, but are you a good business person? You may need to study accounting, social media, marketing or dealing with finances, in a way you have not done before. The focus of the consideration of beginning with the end in mind is always going to help steer your decisions.
What would the long-term effect of this change of direction be?
Who would need to be involved?
What time line are you happiest to commit to?
By reviewing that target regularly you can check your progress, adjust and even plan for a bigger result. The type of things that keep us struggling are the lack of facts and vision. Decide to be sure about what you are aiming to achieve and how you are going to measure your progress BEFORE you even start. This will help you make better decisions in the now. It will reassure you when things get tough. It will motivate you when you start to realise your progress. It is a necessity.
Know your goal, know your exit plan and if you still want to go ahead then find a why. A big why. A well-defined and thought through why.
In today’s market it is easy to consider running your own business, doing most of the work, making the majority of the decisions and checking everything as you go.
There is little wrong with that on the surface and many small businesses work that way. If you consider trying to double your income and halve your time in your business, it becomes harder to do all that and make strong steady progress.
The question is, do you want to progress?
Many business people are very happy, working hard, having a good standard of income, being in control of all that they are involved in and knowing most if not all of their customers. It is admirable, and in many ways, a dream come true. It’s why you got into business in the first place. To steer your own ship and your outcomes are your own. The rewards are yours and time off is designed by you.
Often called a lifestyle business, it suits many and is the envy of a start-up business person. You may also be the envy of the employee who works hard but gets small rewards, as well as only building someone else’s dreams. A well run business is also the envy of a struggling business that has lost the ability to keep all the plates spinning.
I am sorry to tell you, but, you get older each year. It’s a shock, I know. You think you are ten-foot-tall and bullet proof as well as immortal.
So herein lies the choice. Stay with your business and maintain its levels and enjoy the fruits OR stagnate and let it all slip away OR grow it, make it give you a better lifestyle with extra and more dependable income and extra free time.
At what point does this become a choice? Never, eventually or now? It’s your ship. You are the captain. You blow your whistle and your staff obey and all is good in ‘Lifestyle Business’ land.
So let me ask you a deeper question. One that has been asked me many times over the years.
If, in 5 years from now, you still ran your business the way you do now, with no great increase in time off or more income – would you be ok with that?
If so, that’s great -Don’t Panic! Carry On!
If you have an inkling to improve your income, increase your free time, relieve some stress factors. If you would rather spend time doing something other than work, like enjoying your hobbies, sharing time with those you want to the most, helping those less able, then that begins with a journey.
If you wish to take a step in a purposeful direction that supports that ideal, add a brighter motivation and hope to your life than the average person, then you may need some guidance.
Guidance from a coach who has done that. A coach who is still proving that to be possible. A coach who has a purpose that supports the part of you that makes you glad to be alive, is out there. FIND THAT HELP.
If you are truly content as opposed to given up- Do not look.
Your choice. Just please be happy with the choice.
- The 7 year itch
- Directions on the path
- I am curious
- Your ideas and story
- Anti – testimonial
- Key people in your company and life.
- When is losing really winning?
- Holidays vs Time out
- Eight biggest mistakes of business owners
- What is bothering you?
- Do you want a new computer?
- Are you setting yourself up for failure?
- A Coach for all.
- What businesses are going to be the best in the future?
- Begin with the end in mind
- Letting go of the past
- Promise Keepers Rule Ok!
- The high road or the low road?
- Should I put a hammer through my TV? – The power of rituals
- Muhammad Ali – Inspirational thoughts