Archive | June 2016

What’s Your Story?

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The Stories of Our Lives:

Every day of our lives we are creating a story, a tale that we tell at parties or other social events; a tale that we tell in our posture, our mannerisms and our speech even. Yet even though we think about our stories often, very rarely do we sit down and craft how we tell those stories so that we portray the message that we want to with them. Most of the time our stories are off our cuff, or merely a retelling of how we remember the events. Only with time and effort can we turn those stories into something compelling, something that works to move the people that we tell them to. Today I wanted to look at the three stories that a person needs when they are speaking with a prospect. These three stories, when properly crafted, can be the difference between getting a rejection and having someone join you on your journey.

The first story is the one that set us off on this venture, whatever it may be for us. By this time, we should have sat down and thought long and hard about the Why of our journey, the reason that we are walking such a strange and difficult path. Yet we have not taken the time to craft this reason into a story that we can convey to the people that we talk to. When we take that time, we turn this story from something to works to motivate us and propel us forward during the hard times, into an emotional catalyst for the person that we are talking to. It creates emotional responses and dredges up those feelings of camaraderie and connection that all humans crave. With a finely crafted Why story, we build the emotional connection with the person that we are talking to that allows them to trust and move with their emotion instead of actively working to negate their emotions as we are commonly taught to do.  This is an amazing experience, when you are actually being authentic and real with someone instead of either of you hiding behind the ideas of logic that we use to shield ourselves from those connections to other people.

The second vital story in our process is the Results Story. This is the story of how your life has changed since you started on this journey. This story gives the person we are talking to a measuring stick on how their life might change if they join us on our journey. This is the story that needs the most crafting usually and the reason for that is that most people in our world downplay the changes in their life. Change is scary to people and having dramatic change in our lives is a source of fear for those around us. It is the reason that many people will try to tear you down as you embark on this journey, a simple fear of things changing. So what we need to do with the Results story is find those things in our lives that have changed and then take the time to really see how much change has occurred and to frame that change in an exciting and enticing way.

Finally, we need the Big Event Story. This story is one about some major event that we attended in connection to our new path that changed us, or forces us outside our comfort zone in one way or another. This story can take many forms, from the joy and excitement the event created in you, or the struggle and hardship you overcame to get to that event. The simple truth is that there are very few people in this world that can succeed without the support and comfort of those on the same path and the events are the single most inspiring connection that we can make to others already on the path. Telling the person you are talking to about how these event move and change you will be an inspiration for them to attend them as well. This gives them two valuable things. The excitement of creating their own story, and the emotional drive and boost that they will need to attend the events and to keep pushing forward along the path instead of becoming another person stuck at the side of the road.

The stories that we tell can either work to our advantage in life, or they can work to blend us into the background. It is only a matter of taking the time to craft those stories to turn them into tools for us and our growth in our journey. Crafting our stories also allows us to have an impact on other people’s lives, to infuse them with wonder, joy, and excitement rather than the normal fear that change often creates. These stories are our bridges to other people, the structures that allow us to create something amazing with those around us.

What is your story and how are you going to craft it so that it moves people rather than being a momentary, meaningless passage of time in their lives?


Be A Leader

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As we journey into our  futures, we have a vital choice to make on how we interact with other people. When we start our journey as an adult, we are taught how to be producers, people who do the rank and file work of the day to day. In time, we might aspire and achieve becoming a manager, someone who makes sure that the producers are producing what they should be. These are the people that are responsible for making sure that the pieces all fall into place. This is the point where many people stop and the point where many believe they have achieved what they are meant to achieve. This is a mistake and one that we must acknowledge and grow past, to take hold of our future and make it what we want it to be.  We need to be Leaders.

A leader is a person who sees the puzzle laid out in their mind’s eye and initiate the steps to create that puzzle in reality. This is a skill that we have to choose to learn, not something that will come naturally through time and effort as the transition from producer to manager will. That is because it requires a change in our state of mind, a change from how we see the world, learning to see the world we want to create and the path we need to create to have the world get there.

Try a metaphor to understand this. The people in our lives who swing the machete to clear a path through the jungle are the producers. They are told where to clear and how to clear by the managers who have been give instructions on how to create a road and are using the producer’s to create that road. In contrast, the leader is the person that sees that a road through this jungle will open trade between two major cities and allow both of them to flourish. It is the leader who has the vision that will change the world around them. They become the Why of an organization and create methods and practices that the managers follow to implement the journey.

In our lives, we have decided to reach our goals and have laid our plans and actions to do so. We are managing our lives at this point as we move forward into the futures. Yet we need to step away from the management role on frequent basis and step into a leader position in our lives and gauge if our path is still the right one for our vision.

We need to take the time and effort to reevaluate the practices that we gave our manager selves and make sure that they are keeping us on the path. If we never step back into the leader position, there is every likelihood that we will find ourselves cutting a road through the wrong jungle.

Creating Your Own Luck!

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In our day to day lives, many people will rely on Luck to get what they want in their lives. Either they will revel in how lucky they are for the position they inhabit in life, or they will bemoan the rotten luck that they have had as an excuse for where they are at. The reality of it is that what we call Luck is just a matter of a few steps to maintain in our lives. Are you ready to create your own luck?

The first step to creating your own luck is Preparation. This is simply a matter of self-improvement and growth. The more skill that we have in life, the more ready and able we are to take advantage of the situations that we find ourselves in. Then, when that situation does arrive and we are able to take advantage of it due to our self-growth, we find that we have created our own luck in that matter. After all, if you don’t have the skills to make use of opportunities, it doesn’t matter how many life offers you in the name of luck because you will never be able to take advantage of them.  

The second step in creating luck is Attitude. This is where most people will find that they have bad luck. Attitude is simply the ability to see the events in our lives in the light that we want to see them. Is that move to a new office something to bemoan as it moved you farther from the coffee machine and water fountain, or is it a good thing because it increases your step count each and every day? The way that we see the changes in our lives defines if we view things as good or bad. Our attitude can decide if each event is good luck or bad luck.  A lunch meeting runs late.  Is it good luck because now you can enjoy a bit of the lovely weather as you wait for them or is it bad luck because you are wasting your time?

Next up we have Opportunity. Everyone will have events that occur in our lives that each of us can take advantage of. For one reason or another, most people will not take advantage of them and blame their bad luck or their lot in life as the reason that they didn’t. This is because they have a negative attitude and never did any preparation in order to take advantage of these events. Those that have a positive attitude and have prepared will see these events as Lucky.

Finally, we must take Action. Just being prepared with a good attitude when an opportunity comes around isn’t enough. We actually have to take action on the opportunity to feel that we have good luck. If we have done the other steps, then we should be in a perfect position to take advantage of the good luck we have.

I know this formula really well due to my love of gaming. For most of my life, I have seen my dice luck as terrible, to the point that it has become a joke in the groups that I game with. This belief that my dice luck was skewed to the negative actually did something really good for me. I didn’t want to give up on the games that I loved so much for something as silly as the numbers on a die, so I ended up creating my own luck, though I didn’t know at the time that was what I was doing. So I set off to change my luck by first preparing. I would spend hours learning the rules systems and reading guides on the systems so that I could have a firm and expansive understanding of how they worked. Next, I would create ideas on how to take advantage of opportunities in the game to my advantage using the vast knowledge I had prepared for myself. Finally, I would take advantage of those opportunities and excel in the games that I was playing. Even if my dice never rolled above average.

This process allowed me to be a force within those games and even competitive in tournament situations even against those people that had “good” luck. It was a joke that I had to play the game that much better than everyone else to overcome my “bad” luck. The thing that I missed all these years in the Attitude step as I would see the dice luck and attribute it being bad rather than as a sign of the luck I had created myself. Now that I have changed that outlook I find that I consider my luck to be good because I have learned to overcome the vagaries of fate and still achieve the results I want in those games.

This has been a powerful insight into my life and I realize that I can apply the same outlook to my life. I can prepare and take advantage of opportunities to create my own luck. It isn’t too hard if you just take the time and effort to be cognizant of it. I look forward to hearing how this system helps you to create your own luck.  Please share your stories with us in the comments below.

Consistency Around Projects

There are going to be many times in our journey when we want to embark on a new project of some sort. This can be a very tempting time to devote all our resources on that new project because it is new and exciting. However, this can be a very damaging event in our journey as it will disrupt the momentum that we have going in other arenas. By disrupting that momentum, we will have to get back into it once the project is complete and that will take extra time and effort to get the ball rolling again, if we ever do it get it rolling again.

The real key is to temper our excitement for a new project with the need to maintain the steps that we take every day to continue our journey. This is going to take a couple of extra steps. First off, we need to analyze our current lives and find where we are going to get the time and energy to add into the new project while still maintaining your current investment into your journey. This is likely going to cause us to forgo something that we either enjoy doing, a pastime of some sort, or to reassess the things that we think that we “need” to do each day. There are places that we can find that time and energy if we are really motivated to start that new project. It is also possible that the sacrifices that we need to make to do the project seem to be too extreme. This means that the time is not right to start that new project.  So keep the project in mind, add it to a journal or list of things you are interested in exploring later and come back to it every so often, see if the time is right to start into it. Just because we have a great idea for a new project, doesn’t mean that we need to dive into it right now in our lives. Our overarching goals are the important thing to keep in mind.

Take me for example; I have a book that I wrote years ago that has been ready for a final edit. I have decided that I really want to get this edited and to self-publish it. It has become time for me to move forward in that endeavor. Now the issue I find myself in is a lack of time to get everything I want to get done. So I have to prioritize things. I had first thought to stop writing these posts for the month and rely on the backlog of posts that I do have and use that time to edit and get the book ready, but that would be killing the momentum that I have built and would result in even more work down the line. Thanks to my wife,xiaoyi, pointing that out to me, that option was off the table as these posts are a very imporant part of our journey. Now I face the challenge of finding the time and energy to get that book done as well. I am in the middle of evaluating what I can do in that regard and hope to have the book ready to go by the end of summer. Keep an eye out for that announcement.

So what projects are burning for your attention and how are you going to get them done while still maintaining the momentum of your journey?

Action or Reaction?

Always Act, Never React:

With everything that has been going on in the world recently, it has me thinking about a lesson I learned many years ago and how it has improved my life in countless ways. Today will be a little different than most of my posts as I won’t be focusing on the marketing or sales, or even on the journey towards a goal. Instead I wanted to share a life lesson that I learned that has made dealing with the hardest points in my life far easier than I see other people deal with similar issues. Today I want to talk about the power of taking purposeful action in a situation rather than reacting to the stimuli of that situation.

When we encounter something that pushes our buttons like the recent events in Orlando, actions that cause pain and heartache, actions that fueled by anger and rage; we have an instantaneous reply to those events. We have gut reactions that the vast majority of the world acts on. People don’t think or weight their actions, they don’t decide the results that they want and form a plan on how they can achieve those goals, they simply react to the negative stimuli and let the results fall where they may. In almost every situation that I have witnessed both in our larger culture and in my own life, this reaction is always to the detriment of everyone involved in the situation. Reactions are a system in our instincts meant to keep us alive in an immediate situation, they are nothing but a survival instinct and that instinct doesn’t care what happens an hour or a week down the line. It only cares that we survive the immediate situation in whatever way that we can. That isn’t a bad thing when we are truly involved in a life or death situation, but our lives are diluted in immediate danger to the point where we take that instinct and use it on situations that have offer no immediate damage to us. We use those gut instincts to dictate our actions on a larger scale and that is a practice that is certain to cause more pain and damage both to others and to our own goals and lives than is needed.

After living through the pain and suffering of these reactions made by myself and those around me, I managed to step back and with the help of some friends and some good books was able to see them as the vectors for pain that they really cause. This allowed me to learn a new skill and that was to learn to Act rather than to React. When we take the time to look at a situation, form goals on how we want to see the outcome of the situation pan out and, in a broader sense, how that results of the situation will fit into the life we want to live, we have the power to act in ways contrary to our instincts in an effort to create the desired outcome. It doesn’t always work, but it gives us a chance to have positive outcomes occur in situations that are seemed destined for negative outcomes.

This is a skill that we can all learn, though it is very hard. It means drowning out the instinctual voice and taking a step back from the drive to do something to give ourselves time to think and formulate a plan. This is something that we need to learn to become better people and to teach those around us to create a better community and world in which to live in. It means taking the responsibility on ourselves to act in a thoughtful and active manner rather than thoughtlessly and damaging and can be a terribly difficult thing to learn. Yet it has improved my life in countless ways from removing the damage from situations that I find myself in, to learning how to perceive myself and how I interact with the world. There are few skills in my life that I would say come anywhere close to this one in helping to create the life I want and that influences the most positive change in the world around me.

Take some time as you read the news or follow social media in the next months of life and when you feel that roiling turmoil in your gut or your soul, take a break from it and think about the situation as an outside observer might. What are your instincts telling you to do and what would be the results of following the reactions in an immediate sense and in a long term sense? What actions can you take instead, that will not only make the situation itself better, but be better for you and the world around you? That is the power of acting instead of reacting and I would encourage you to learn to harness that power in your own life.