When We Can We Will

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We all have things we want to do, things we want to achieve. Changing career, learning a language, clearing out the spare room. Some of them are big, some of them are small. Some are dreams, some are goals, some are just “stuff”.

We all also have reasons we don’t get round to doing some, or all, of these things. We seem to be under some sort of illusion that there is a time in the near future when we will “get round to it”, a magical time called “when we can, we will”.

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve fallen into the trap of “when I can, I will”; there are a couple of things on my goals list that seem firmly entrenched in that position. No one is perfect, right?!

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Does Selling Exist Anymore?

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I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.

I detest bad sales.

And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.

Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.

Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.

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Quick Wins

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I’ve heard the phrase “quick wins” used for many years, usually in a business setting, when people refer to the actions that can be done easily and quickly to deliver the biggest results. Is there anything wrong with that desire? I mean, why not get the results you want in the shortest possible amount of time? That’s what we all want right?

It seems we also want this in our lives outside work. We’re always on the look out for a quick win, whether it’s to enable us to lose weight, make money or learn a new skill. It seems that whatever it is we want, we want it quickly.

The problem I have with “quick wins” is that, in my experience, a true “win” is rarely achieved quickly and if it is “quick” it generally isn’t that big a win.

We all have a desire for the best results with the least amount of effort, but I fear we have become lazy in believing that the best option is to always go for the quick win first. We become so obsessed with the concept of quick wins that we never get around to the long term actions needed to achieve our work targets or our life goals. As a result we jump from one quick win to another; seeking short term solutions to long term problems.

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Who Are You Beholden To?

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Whatever it is you’re doing right now, ask yourself this question: who are you doing it for?

Who are you accountable to?
Who is your boss?
Who appraises you?
Who determines your worth?

Often, it can be easy to complain about “the boss”, but let’s face it, work has a massive impact on how you feel. And I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t like to get the occasional thanks from the boss, or feel pride when someone recognises they’ve done a good job. Even if they’re the CEO.

But it can be difficult getting the balance right; between feeling assured you’re doing the right thing and being your own judge, whilst also acting as part of a wider organisation.

Three years ago my partner made the brave decision to leave his job after 16 years and become self-employed – to ‘live the dream’, as it were. At first that sense of relief, of being out of the system, was amazing. No more appraisals, no more performance ratings, no more calibration of ‘scores’.

But the realisation soon came that all that stuff didn’t matter anyway. What really mattered – all that really matters – is the rating we give ourselves, every day when we look in the mirror, when we undertake our tasks, when we do our job. Whatever that job may be.

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The Jumping Off Point

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Consider the Olympic diver.  They spend years of their lives in training, in practice, to be ultimately assessed on what amounts to a few, tiny moments of activity. All that time and hard work invested,  and then it’s over in a matter of seconds.

It’s difficult to imagine what it must feel like, after all the time and effort has been invested, to stand at the edge of the diving board and make that jump.

But we all have ‘jumping off points’ in our lives. Those moments of action. Those moments of finally doing something. Perhaps something you’ve been waiting years to do.  Sometimes it is the seconds in our lives that can define us – not the years. Those seconds, those moments when you… jump.

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You Don’t See The Re-Writes

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I want you to think of your favourite film. Now think of your favourite scene in that film. The dialogue, the imagery, the performance. Think about how much you love it; how much it means to you. Think about how much you consider it to be perfectly brilliant.

Chances are it didn’t start out that way. That scene could have gone through numerous re-writes before it became the perfectly brilliant version you love.

But you don’t get to see the re-writes.

Our goals in life, whatever they are, have to go through ‘re-writes’. But, all too often, we want the finished product straight away. We’re impatient to see the ‘perfectly brilliant’ version. Going through many iterations, experiencing the process of creating and making our goals and dreams come to life can be very difficult.

The re-writes challenge us.

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The Ground Beneath Your Feet

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Consider the ground beneath your feet – is it supporting you, or holding you down?

When you think about it, it’s really doing both. You are supported by the ground beneath you, the Earth.  But it’s also holding you down through the force of gravity.

Jobs can be like that too. They can support you by providing you with an income and paying your bills. They can also hold you down: they can tie you to a particular role, a position, a desk.

We can easily grow accustomed to the support a job gives. Perhaps we also start to believe that they’re our only option. After all, to listen to our heart – to follow a calling – well, that’s for someone else to do. Someone who doesn’t have your life, your commitments, your excuses. We don’t want to put the house, the car and the holidays at risk. But are those things supporting you, or holding you down?

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10 + 10 = ?

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I’m sure that even those of you who profess to be terrible at maths came to a pretty quick answer to the above equation, right? I mean, 10 + 10, you can’t get much simpler than that. You have an answer.  And when we have an answer our minds stop. Answers represent endings, they represent winning, concluding, game over. No need to think about it anymore – problem solved!

It’s how we’ve all been taught; our education system teaches us to find the correct answer and move to the next question. Remember something, repeat it under test conditions and you are good to go. Well done! A gold star!

The current education system was developed over a century ago to provide industry with competent workers – people know how things work, they know right from wrong, they know what fits in the box. That was great, then, but not now.

Now, more than ever, businesses need people with creativity because change is the new norm. You never know what the competition will come up with next or what new products will emerge that offer the customer something easier, better, different. Something that doesn’t fit in the old box.

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Out Of The Fire

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Fire is an amazing resource. I find it amazing that the contradictory potential to provide necessary, life-giving heat and the capacity for raging destruction, are bound up within the same element. It can both support and destroy life.

One place you don’t want a fire is in a forest. Unless you happen to be a Giant Redwood or Giant Sequoia tree. These huge, sky-scraping trees can now only be found in a few locations across California and are the world’s largest single living organisms. If you’ve been fortunate to see one up close I’m sure you’ll agree that they are truly something to behold. I say from experience that no picture can capture the awesome and humbling experience of standing in front of one of these remarkable trees.

I find it fascinating that scientists have discovered that these majestic trees, thousands of years old, actually benefit from forest fires. Scientific tests of the bark has determined that these trees have been in many forest fires during their lifetimes. And, not only did they survive, they thrived. We’ve learned that the ash from forest fires had provided nourishment, and it was from amongst the ashes that new saplings of these giants would emerge.

It’s why forest rangers now have controlled fires around these trees. They recognise that the fire, whilst destructive in it’s ability to burn so many things, provides the Redwoods and Sequoias with important nutrients.

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Happy ‘Now’, Not Happy ‘When’

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It’s that time of year again, that ‘back to reality’ moment after the Christmas and New Year holiday break. Many people around the world are making resolutions for the new year, and a great many of them will be about getting healthier, losing weight, finding a new job…

A lot of the time we make these resolutions because we’re not happy; we’re unhappy with our weight or body shape, we’re unhappy with our job, we’re unhappy with the amount of food and drink consumed over the holidays.

Unfortunately many of these resolutions fail. There are many reasons for this, but one of the key ones is that we believe we will be happy when we achieve our resolution. We believe we will be happy when we hit our weight target, or when we get a new job, or when we’ve got through a month without drinking or eating to excess.

To give yourself the best chance of achieving your goal it is important to be happy now, not happy when.

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