If you want something, ask for it. Pretty simple, eh? Actually, it's not. Many people run into external (and more frequently) internal obstacles.
Why do people hate networking events? Usually it's full of people who are all talking small. "How's business?" " There's a lot of people here." "How's the food?" "That's a great tie."
Shoot me now. We all hate these events - executives, vendors, and business owners alike. Unfortunately, we've been told that we have to go to them to grow our business. And they're right.
We all encounter 'bad' stuff that we have to do in our lives. Make the hard phone call, visit the recalcitrant client, tell your vendor bad news. We all have that terrible interaction we all hate to do. You might have to ask for a late payment, a raise/promotion, or tell a client that a project will be late. You might have to reach out to a prospective employer who might want to hire you.
So what do we do? We procrastinate — we put off — we do anything else except that one hard thing.
And it festers. It grows. And it takes on a life of it's own. Just like the 50's movie 'The Blob' with Steve McQueen, the longer we let it roll around, the faster it grows and starts killing people. Just kidding - but it was a scary movie when I was a kid.
Here's how I train my clients to do the hard things in life — we have to treat it like we're going to run a 10k race. What are the four things we need to do to prepare for a long race?
1. Practice — You can't just run a 10k — you have to practice and prepare incrementally to do your best. You need to practice what you're going to say and do. Develop a series of bullet talking-points to guide you. Refine them — less is more. Then practice them until they roll off your tongue. Run them by someone you trust until you have the right mix of intensity and empathy to get your point across and get the intended result.
2. Fuel — You have to eat the right foods to fuel your body. It's now time to feed the motivation part of your brain. Figure out the one thing you do to get yourself in the right state of mind with a heavy dose of mental momentum. Listen to your favorite workout song, read motivational quotes/books, call a friend who energizes you, or even workout. Do something that will instantly build your confidence and get you ready to make that connection.
3. Stretch — Right before a race, everyone stretches their muscles and joint to get them ready for the 10k. I want you to do the same thing — once you build up your confidence, I want you to center yourself and focus solely on the task at hand. Meditate, close your eyes and focus.
4. Explode — Get on the starting line, the gun goes off, and you explode forward with hundreds of other runners all vying for position. I also want you to explode — after practicing, fueling, and stretching — I want you to go right up to your phone, dial the number and make that call. Don't procrastinate and don't tell yourself you're not ready — you know you are. Just do it.
When you finally do it — everyone — and I mean everyone — says that it wasn't as hard as they thought. In fact, they say it's pretty easy. Now it's time to make that second call. And the third. And so on. Good Luck!
Let's get right into it — You need to join/start a mastermind group. Here are the facts: WHAT is a mastermind group?
Four to seven people in the trenches just like you, who work on their business/career, and who want to learn and grow. Each member offers their current resources, tactics and tools that work for them — plus they give you support when you need it.
WHY start a mastermind group?
It's a structure that will literally pull your business forward:
- You don't get sidelined when bad things happen.
- You don't get distracted, because you’re building a critical support system.
- You have a comfort zone of success you’re accustomed to and can measure your performance.
- As you break through each ceiling, you'll need partners to pull you up.
WHO should be in your mastermind group?
Optimally, you play better tennis with people who play better than you. But I feel that diversity is the real power of your mastermind — get members from many areas/industries, age groups, etc. Surprisingly, you will all have the same issues, with subtle filters personalizing them to your business/career.
WHEN should you meet?
Usually you meet on a strict, regular schedule — bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Attendance should be mandatory — your mastermind will only work if everyone is invested in its success. They run 3-8 hours, depending on the number of members, frequency of meetings, and the general 'antsyness' of each attendee.
FACILITATOR - Yes or No?
Yes — if you find your mastermind strays off course frequently and resembles a coffee klatch. The minute it becomes disorganized, unruly or off-course, you need a facilitator. I can help.
No — if you have dedicated members who recognize the power of your group, stay focused, and share in the responsibility of facilitating, developing topics to discuss, etc.
WHAT is the PAYOFF of a mastermind group?
- Exclusive Community — it involves dedication, communication, and a true willingness to succeed.
- Not On Your Own — the feeling of being alone goes away. You get committed business/career advisors.
- Grow Your Network — you get to connect with people you never knew existed.
- Learn — bring your skills & experience to the group. Other members will have a solution for you.
- Refer — once you are true colleagues, it's easy to refer business to one another.
- Unbelievable — masterminds infinitely impact your morale, business and career.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
We think our business/career security comes from making a lot of money, having a big title, or a checklist of major clients, but we're wrong. The greatest source of our security comes from close relationships with trusted friends.
I came upon a great quote from the Dalai Lama — "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live."
How often do we feel disappointed/guilty about yesterday and anxious/fearful about tomorrow? Probably a lot.
How do we live in 'today' increments? How do we focus on what needs to happen right now without letting the past and future hold us back?
I use a simple acronym - P M R:
P = Plan — Take 5 minutes to Plan your day. Get real, assess exactly what needs to get accomplished, and write it down. Just the stuff that needs to be done today. Add time increments to estimate how long each will take, prioritize each one, and then plug them into your day calendar.
M = Meditate — Take 5 minutes to Meditate. Clean the cobwebs! Sit back, close your eyes, and clear your thoughts. Start by taking a few deep breaths then use the exhalation to sigh and release the tension. Do it again. And again. I promise you will feel better and energized.
R = Reflect — Take 5 minutes to Reflect on all the good things in your life. Gratitude is an important part of staying in the present. We tend to focus and think of all the bad things, worry, forget, and then start the whole process again. Try to focus on the positive this time — your accomplishments, your family, etc.
Take the rest of the time and get stuff done! Don't be afraid of diving in and accomplishing your action items — in fact, you will feel invigorated. Trust me!
*Just found out there is a disease with the same acronym (there always is) - I do not have it nor am I at all using the acronym lightly.
When I start with clients who are in-transition, we meet at my office in Stamford and I cover the Five Behaviors Of Successful People. I do this to help them focus, get out of a mental 'rut', and move forward with enthusiasm, passion, and determination.
In retrospect, I actually cover these five areas with all of my clients, but I do it differently — I'm a bit more subtle:
TRACK & PLAN You need to know where you've been, where you are, and where you're going at ALL TIMES. This means tracking your time (schedule) minute by minute and accounting for all of your time and energy. You should be sticking to a plan, taking discrete steps each day, and taking it to its natural conclusion.
FAIL: If you're just winging your calendar or making large swaths of time blocks, you're not tracking effectively. If you don't have a plan (try setting up 90-day plans — they're manageable), you will fail.
BE BOLD One of the original taglines for my coaching practice was "Be Bold In Life". I still love it because it embodies the swashbuckler spirit that we all need to be successful in business. You need to take chances, uncover opportunities, and most of all, you need to be BOLD in your thinking.
FAIL: Just keep saying "I can't do that!". Or constantly ask for permission to do things instead of just doing them. Or not doing them because you know they're going to fail.
THINK & ACT This is the cornerstone of my coaching philosophy — figure out what needs to be done and DO IT. Don't second guess yourself and get caught up in analysis-paralysis. Look at your options, make a decision, and take action. Worst case, if your wrong, step back, reassess, and take action.
FAIL: Procrastinate, contemplate forever and try to come up with every permutation. Push for perfection.
CHALLENGE Life is a series of challenges you must overcome to keep moving and stay happy. Work, relationships, kids, etc. are all made up of small and large challenges that we must deal with. Here's the secret — embrace each challenge with enthusiasm and vigor or you will go through life with a glass half-empty existence.
FAIL: Moan, complain, and run away from your problems. The faster you come up with a plan and deal with your challenge, the faster you will get on with your life.
OPEN UP You can spend your life closed down and not interacting with anyone or you can open your heart to the world and make a lot of new friends. Try to make a new friend every day — an acquaintance, a connection — take an avid interest in your fellow man. Most of all — SMILE!!!
FAIL: Stay home, watch TV, cocoon, close your office door, keep your head down and let your voicemail/email take over all of your connections. Oh yes — forget to smile.