March 29, 2012

Pushing Your Limits

Recently I tried a Crossfit and Heavy Bag class that pushed my limits physically. After completing the classes, I felt accomplished and realized how the process applies to our lives: 

Ready. Prepare your mind. When facing something uncomfortable or unknown, the easiest decision is to back out (trust me, I've done it many times). Your thoughts trigger your feelings and how you feel determines what action(s) you take. Being self-disciplined is key. What you choose to focus on usually comes to fruition.

Set. Put it in your calendar and be accountable to someone. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Don't let your feelings dictate your behavior. Mark Cuban, argues "Don't follow your passion, follow your effort." 90% of success is follow through. Will your way through it even if you don't want to. You'll be glad you did after.

Grow. The hardest part is the start. For example, if you've ever tried a spinning class, the most difficult stage is the first 15 minutes. After that it gets easier. Growth is a painful process and most people would rather avoid the discomfort than push themselves. Don't live with regret. Try and break through your personal barriers.

Doing the same thing over and expecting different results is insanity. Successful people don't fear failure, they know it's part of growing. Give yourself the best chance to overcome by setting goals, having an accountability partner and willing your way to victory. When's the last time you pushed your limits?

March 26, 2012

What's Your Platform?

Your platform consists of your various offerings. You don't need to be everything to everyone, but you do want to aim for the masses. Here are 3 ways to increase your platform:

Adapt and Change. Our world moves too fast to afford to be comfortable. Grow or die. It's not about reacting, but be ready to respond. Understand the trends and adjust accordingly. What's relevant today, may be irrelevant tomorrow. It's hard to stay at the crest of the wave, but you still should be paddling towards it. Are you rowing or drifting?

Partner up. Nothing great is accomplished alone. Your personal network is your greatest career asset, so grow and strengthen it. Introverts are not exempt. We are social beings and in these days of information overload, so put down your smartphone and practice your interpersonal skills. No matter how much technology improves, referrals will always be your best source of "business." Who are you planning to meet/talk with this week?

Grow Brand Awareness. Whether personal or business, you have a brand. Do what you can to increase exposure. The worker who puts his/her head down during work gets ignored. Give people a reason to look at you. Social media has changed the game for being creative with marketing/advertising. Not having a budget isn't an excuse. How are you extending your brand?

Open your hand and picture each of your fingers as offerings. What are your strengths? What products/services are you proposing? What solutions are you providing? Innovate with your partners and consumers and watch your platform grow.

March 16, 2012

Leaving a Legacy

In tribute to the recent trade of Derek Fisher from the Lakers, his impact went far beyond the court. Here are some lessons to learn from his example that you can apply to your career/life:

Be "Clutch." When the pressure is on, whatever is inside of you comes out. The preparation you put in helps pass the tests life gives you. Nobody keeps you accountable for what you do on your own time, but when it's time to perform you are judged. This is where your mental toughness shows. Your ability to cope and deal with stress increases through practice (similar to public speaking). Do the necessary work ahead of time so when opportunity arises, you're ready.

Be about Winning. (No, not Charlie Sheen-like) You don't have to be the most talented or smartest, but you need to know how to make your organization better. Sometimes that means stepping up. Sometimes it means doing behind the scenes work. If you're willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team, you're a winner. It's not about you, but what value you bring to the greater team. Winning is about performing, but it's also about knowing your role and working well with others.

Be About Character. People are hired for skills and experience, but fired for character flaws. It's not all about what do others say about you? Are you trustworthy? Dependable? You communicate more through your actions than your words. It's about showing over telling. Integrity goes a long way in people's eyes. Based on your actions, how do you want people to remember you?

Derek Fisher's abilities diminished over the past couple of years, but if you listen to his impact on his teammates, he has their utmost respect. His presence will be missed in team huddles, road trips and the locker room. When he spoke, people listened. When it comes to your career don't just do your job, strive to leave a legacy. In the end, that's what matters.

March 9, 2012

How Do You Work On Your Weaknesses?

Gallup states, "There are no weaknesses, just overdone strengths." Think about that statement for a second. In some areas you'll always be mediocre at best. Does that mean you just don't work on them? Here are a couple of suggestions:

Delegate. You are NOT superman/woman. Know your limits. In areas of deficiencies, ask for help (novel idea huh?) If you were great at everything, you wouldn't need to interact with anyone. You have a couple of areas you have the potential to be GREAT in. Develop those strengths and you will be successful. In other areas, you need help. What if you don't have the luxury of delegating tasks?

Study Success. If you HAVE to work in your weaknesses, find someone who thrives in that area and analyze them. Have access to them? Meet up. Don't have access to them? Research him/her. Everything includes a process, so learning "how" someone succeeds gives you a visual strategy. I'd caution you to copy, but it's an example to learn from. Success spurs inspiration. Turn it into action.

Complement Others. Find people that are the opposite of you. Different puzzle pieces fit together. For every weakness, there is a strength. That means focus on your strengths because someone else needs you to. It's easier to be around people that are similar, but leaders surround themselves with people who round out their blind spots. Put your ego aside and partner up

It can be challenging to focus on your strengths, but what you focus on usually comes to fruition. Would you rather fear failure or be inspired by success? You can't fully eliminate your weaknesses, but you can choose to shift your mindset towards personal talents. Go ahead, create your positive self-prophecy.

March 2, 2012

Career Diet

Diet's don't work. Lifestyle changes do. 

No matter what new weight loss schemes arise, there's no way around watching what you eat (nutrition) and working out (exercise). Hard work and discipline are key. There are no shortcuts. Just long term investments.

So what applications do these two areas have towards your career?

Nutrition. What you put in is what you get out. Body, mind, soul, etc. Head knowledge is good, but experience is better. You learn skills through doing them. There's no point learning something if it just stays in your head. Get out there and practice what you know. You can learn through formal teaching, reading, researching or listening to others. The key is implementation. Use those "nutrients" you've absorbed towards benefiting others.

Exercise. When it comes to working out, it's not about perfect attendance, but each day starting a new streak. Begin where you are right now. Think about your personal network. Is it where you want it to be? Can it be better? (The answer to the last question is always yes, by the way) You don't have to grow your network daily, but you should have a weekly goal. It can be quantity (size) or quality (strength of connection). Either way, get to it. Your personal network is your greatest career asset (and always will be).

Try this "reframing" exercise. As a leader you have two daily challenges

What new skills are you developing? (task-related)
How are you growing your network? (relationships)

Ask yourself that at the beginning of each day and I'm positive you will be pleased by the results. In fact do that, and leave your progress in a comment below!