Thursday, April 29, 2010
Psychology Today has penned a beautiful version of how we deal with change and more so how we deal with thinking about change. I have copied and footnoted two excerpts below because they capture the spirit of the article. To get the full impact, and the article is definitely worth reading in it's entirety, go to http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200611/you-20
In the excerpts below Carlin Flora outlines the two items that stop us in our tracks when we attempt to change. The first is our fear of failure and the second is how terrifying stepping out in new directions can actually be. My children as teens do not have these fears. It would be interesting to know the circumstances under which I acquired these fears although I suspect that they came about so gradually as not to be noticed.
"Overcome Your Fear of Failure
You could quit your banking job and open an antiques shop or move to Romania to live with your online love. But what if it doesn't work out? What will everyone say about you then? The fear of public humiliation can keep us safe, if not content. Simply ask, "What is the likelihood that the thing I fear will come true?" says Lubetkin. And then, "If it does come true, will it really be as bad as I think?" Our minds tend to cue the worst-case scenario, what psychologists call "awfulizing." But even shaky startups and broken hearts can be remedied.
Those who would judge you may not even notice your missteps. If they do, they would be smart to think your behaviors—and not you as a human being—are what failed. Temporary slips are crucial to eventual success, Leahy says. "When I was an undergraduate, a classmate of mine got a C on a paper in his economics course about an idea for an overnight mail service. Two years after college, he took that blueprint and started FedEx."
Embrace Risk and Novelty
Even if no one is watching you, lighting out for new, unmarked territories is terrifying. We overestimate dangers and risks, Lubetkin says, because oftentimes our parents—especially if they are overprotective—teach us that danger is to be avoided at all costs.
Pelusi sees a distal cause for skittishness in the face of change. "We impute a lot of power to the unknown, because it was life-threatening for much of human history," he says. "Putting that fear in its proper perspective can help. You are probably not going to fall down a ravine or get eaten by a lion if you move to the opposite coast."
At the same time, points out Pelusi, the human spirit wants to break out of habitual constraints. Studies confirm what many an entrepreneur or divorcee will tell you: We tend to regret the things we didn't try more than those we did—even when we fail.
Analyzing risk in the classic "Should I stay or should I go?" scenario can bring on headaches or even paralysis. Lubetkin recommends that you write down the pros and cons of each situation and then weight them numerically, according to how important they are to you. But then you must also factor in the more subjective "gut" feelings. Flip a coin in order to hypothetically decide your fate, then take note of how you react to the outcome. "
How succinct. I needed to capture that to reread in my times of discontent.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
It is interesting that as I work on the details for the business, they make me feel like I am a very small business labouring in anonymity from my kitchen island. The small actions make me feel like the business is small. I have 14 reps selling across Canada now. I have 60,000 units arriving in from China in 6 weeks. I have a sales manager who works for the company and loves what she does. Things are not small anymore.
So when I look at many larger companies, their business too, is also made up of endless small actions made by many people. Hotel chains are made up of many people at all levels doing many small actions that build to the functioning of a whole huge hotel chain. Apple Computers is a large group of people doing many small actions each day. So my small actions build to the whole and that is what I need to stay focused on. Each of those small activities in my day builds to the success of the whole. It makes every act important.
Sometimes when you feel uninspired it is rooted in one of two opposing thoughts. The first is that the things you are doing are small and insignificant to the whole big goal. The second is the intimidation of just how big the goal looks when you look at it in it's entirety and say "I'll never get there". The solution to either is just to take action. When you're feeling stuck just remind yourself to take action, any action even on the small stuff. Action begets action and pretty soon you are rolling along again. Many small tasks building to the big result.
Nobody starts out big. Everybody starts with all those seemingly insignificant actions that build momentum and help you to become what you are becoming.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I miss the dreamy time where I would invent a product in all it's glory and detail. It is, in retrospect, the easy part. The easy part is that glorious research where you dream up the product and what it looks like. In my case, it was fun to work through the different themes for the trivia lines and determine the questions that would appeal most to my future customer.
And here I am, product available, dreams in the rear view mirror. I am working through all the little details that constitute the road to having a thriving line. These are the realities and they are a stark contrast to the dream. I still have the dream intact in my mind but it requires distinctly hard work to achieve it. It is the part that any budding entrepreneur does not think about when forming the dream. It is the artist who has decided to sell their artwork. It is the consultant with a great message who has to let the world know about it. It is the professional who returns to school to train for their new dream and now has to write exams. It is the product developer who must find a channel for distributing their product.
JFK dreamed of putting a man on the moon. He had people to take care of the actual execution of the dream. He drove it but others filled in the details.
The detail part is not a bad thing. Just distinctly different than the dream phase. Practical. Perplexing. Painfully incremental. Factual. Expensive. Risky. Exhiliarating at the same time!
Friday, April 23, 2010
I have in past years started several other businesses. I met with varying levels of success on each. One I sold, one I closed down (it was before the Internet and channels for publicity were expensive and tough to get to) and the third I almost sold but in the end it did not go through. No big losses.No big wins. Good tax deductions all. Most of all...lots of fun.
In all this the one thing that was missing was the ability to grow from a single operator to higher levels of success. And the secret ingredient that lets one grow is....drum roll....a sales person(s). You can have a great idea for a product. You actually prototype a great product. You find customers who would like to buy your product. But in the end, you need to be able to roll it out. And that requires a team of people dedicated to selling your product. Let this be the one thing that you plan for if you come up with a great new product idea. Investigate the sales channel in detail and if possible get committments to support your sales efforts in advance of creating the product. The best product in the world will go nowhere if nobody knows it is out there. Lesson learned. I have a great team of sales people for the new line and it seems to be working. It is amazing to have a team of people dedicated to selling your line. How quickly you can move forward. Create a plan dedicated to how you are going to get the product or service in front of the people who might buy it. Make that as important as the original idea.
Interesting that this morning I had a major set back on the business. My off shore supplier can only supply a product colour slightly off from the one I had requested. I am working towards a sales launch that is already in motion and the timing is very tight. There is no time to negotiate the improved colour match.
Being strangely positive this morning despite the setback, I outlined the options. I can proceed with my off shore supplier, taking a colour of product slightly off from my desired alternative OR I can move to US production, get the exact product, a shorter timeline but at double the cost. I looked at these two options very clinically this morning and surprised myself with how easily I moved from disaster mode to problem solving mode. It is a choice of this or that. Simple. When you remove the emotion it becomes a decision just like the ones I made when I worked for a major corporation in product development. This or that. Choose and go forward.
W. Clement Stone says "Everyone who achieves success in a great venture, solves each problem as they came to it. They helped themselves...they keep going regardless of the obstacles they met."
I was in a trade show this past weekend that was not necessarily my ideal sales channel but strangely it provided an unexpected gift. As consumers all the retailers who came through gave me outstandingly positive feedback on the product itself. The show was very well attended and the attention was 100% positive. My money's worth in unexpected ways.
I know the product is excellent; I have a sales force across the country already in motion and providing very positive early feedback. I need to solve this issue and move on. Short term I will stay with the off shore supplier but anticipate moving to the North American supplier as the product gets rolling. Cash flow is king right now and the off shore option frees up my cash flow even as it presents problems that may not exist with a North American manufacturer.
From last year when I had a set back and packed it all up and put it away, to this year as I steadily plough through the issues required to get to market. I like the personal growth that comes with these challenges.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Never been a huge fan of visualization and affirmations. They always seemed a little trite to me. Like the little engine that could repeating "I think I Can...I think I Can..." and then he does. Cute but not powerful. The question is can you convince yourself and leap past your doubts by thinking over and over that you can do it. It strikes me that there needs to be a little more to it than that. So I was skeptical.
It seems though that there is some science behind this in that our Reticular Activating System, the RAS, acts as a filter, reducing the impact of repeated stimuli such as loud noises, helping to prevent our senses from being constantly overloaded. It lets us focus on only those things that we need to keep on functioning. It makes it so that we do not need to respond to all the stimuli that come by our senses. That means that an incredible amount of stimuli that happen in our environment are simply ignored by our brain and processed briefly by the RAS. We simply do not notice them.
Those pieces of information going by could contain information that we need but we never process. Herein lies the connection to visualizations and affirmations. If our brain assumes we only need a fixed group of information, then that is what we see. When we introduce our future as if it is now through visualization, our brain passes different information to us based on what happens around us.
Have you ever bought a car and then afterwards notice that there are many of the same car on the road that until now you had not noticed. Your brain moving relevant information into your consciousness. Amazing.
So do I believe in visualization and affirmations? I believe in the RAS and how it functions so I believe that visualized experiences make us see different inputs from our environment. The RAS is also relatively active during REM sleep which is our dream state and quiet outside the REM sleep. Smart stuff. Worth a try.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sometimes when life gets really overwhelming I want to return to my safe place. The demands of a full time job and trying to get the new business off the ground along with caring for my two teenage sons. Too many lists. Too many sticky notes with reminders hanging on mirrors, on daytimers, on the car dashboard. Phone calls forgotten. Appointments missed. I want to return to the place where I used to be. I tell myself it would not be so bad to do this job until retirement. Then I realize that is my protective centre trying to lull me back to the safety of what was. That place that I know well and feel competent in what needs to be done. The paradox is that the place where I am safe fails to stimulate me.
Funny little roller coaster this is. When I go to that safe place, I seek stimulation and new frontiers. When I am on the new frontier, I seek safety and familiarity. How complicated is this push and pull between safety and adventure.
Truthfully if given the chance to go back, I would choose to go forward. I am now so far into the project that there is no going back. It is feasible that this point of no return committment will be exactly what I needed to stop me from packing it in and going home, so to speak. This is just anxiety about the new frontier that makes me look back at where I was and deem it to be a desireable place.
I feel brave and competent about the new project. Things are actually going very well. Some of the challenges ahead look scary but often challenges get smaller as you approach them. Usually because you are smarter than when you viewed them from far away. I will just look one step ahead at a time so as not to intimidate myself with the size of my goal.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Success can be defined as persisting until you reach your goals. It may come to us in a different format than we thought it would. The best quote on this is from T. Harvey Eker and he says to "just get into the corridor". Get out there and try things and your success will come in ways you could never imagine when you were hidden away in your room dreaming! I use that thought all the time. I get into the corridor...it encourages me to try a solution when I am not sure what the next step could be.
Failure is to stop working on your goals as soon as you meet up with a challenge. This statement gives us amazing control over our success and failure. If we keep moving toward our goal in new ways we will eventually arrive at the goal. That is success! If we quit moving towards our goals then that is failure! Simple and Powerful! Step by step. That did not work? Okay what else can I try. Over and over until you eventually get to the goal. And you will reach that goal if you do this. Guaranteed!
Sometimes having a powerful goal beyond the initial goal can give you the gift of persistence that lets you continue to move towards your powerful goal. So here is an example of a goal beyond a goal. I would like to work for myself and be free to spend my time according to my preferences. That is my main goal. I need to have some income to pursue that goal. So I created a product and put it out to the market. That is my active goal. To make the product successful. So this is my goal within the goal. I am motivated to achieve my product goal because it is my pass to achieve my bigger goal. My lifestyle goal.
I am no different than those who have achieved these goals for themselves. Financial goals, goals about freedom, authenticity. People are making their way to these goals every day. I am not any different than these people except that they have done the hard work of getting there.
We are all born risk takers. It is how we learn. A baby learns to walk by falling and getting up and trying again. He navigates tall stairs by turning around and going down backwards without being able to always see where he is going. Let us do what babies do and challenge our world. Let us use baby tactics to accomplish our goals. Like a baby, be fearless and focused to accomplish the task you desire.
Friday, April 16, 2010
This is a blog post from Millionaire Moms and it really spoke to me today. So here it is! Thanks to Joyce at Millionaire Moms!
"I had an experience the other day that felt like a metaphor for my life. I was driving down a road I often get confused on. There are twists and turns that make it a challenge to remember which way to go. I started feeling like I had made a wrong turn. I thought, “I’ll just go a little further and see.” Which I did. Ultimately though I doubted myself & turned around in favor of the “safe way” I was familiar with.
The safe way meant I added extra time, travel & aggravation to my day. The funny thing is I realized the very spot I turned around at was a mere 100 yards away from landmarks I would have recognized as having been the right way to go. If I had only gone just a little bit longer…
This felt like a metaphor for my business. I had been feeling discouraged that day. I was driving thinking about all the work that needed doing. Overwhelm set in & I started questioning if I was making the right decisions purusing this dream? I have made tremendous strides over the year but it didn’t feel like enough. I have been working really hard. I was tired and felt very alone in my journey.
These thoughts came to an abrupt halt once I figured out I had been so close to successfully nagivating the road I was traveling. I had quit moments before I experienced the breakthrough. We have all heard the saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” I decided right there & then I wouldn’t quit my business no matter how tired or hopeless I felt. I would soldier on. Victory goes to the decided heart! I would work smarter not harder.
A few days later I was presented with an opportunity that could really take my business to the next level. What if I had quit that day? I would never have known. I want to encourage you in your business journey to have a decided heart. You never know when you are just around the corner of success!"
Friday, April 2, 2010
I rode my bicycle 75 km today. I didn't plan to ride 75 km or to take 5 hours but the destination I chose took 5 hours instead of the planned 3 hours. At the 3 hour point I spoke to another cyclist stopped at a store and he asked me if I was alright. My response...yes I am fine...I am a my limit but fine. I went back to my map to figure out how much longer my route would take. I concluded that I had another hour or so. I could push through that. I was feeling tapped out. No energy to spare. I got back on my bike, determined to make my goal. Then I hit the big hills on the route. Nice timing. It was here that my mind took over. I had nothing left physically but was determined to make the destination. I hit my limits and kept on going. It turned out the route was two more hours so I really had to push.
So here's the conumdrum. My limits existed well beyond what I had assumed they were. I made the whole distance that I had planned, going well beyond what I had originally thought. I set limits that were seemingly difficult but when pushed I was able to achieve far more than I had originally thought.
I need to take this lesson learned and apply it to how I live my life. Am I setting goals that don't stretch my limits? Without stretching we do not grow and learn. With moderate goals we achieve moderate results. Need to stretch a little more and create some '5 hour' goals for my life. Neat learning.