Category Archives: Personal Development

4 Ways to Gamify Your Goals

4 ways leaders can gamify their goals

Gamify. It’s the new buzzword in online circles. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically adapting game design elements and principles into something that isn’t necessarily game related. Do we need to be that entertained? Even normal tasks must be gamified? ūüôā

If you’re anything like me, some goals can seem overly daunting. Others can be simply mundane. Using gamification can help break those daunting objectives into something more manageable and turn those everyday tasks into something a bit more fun.

We tend to pursue what we enjoy, right? For some, the act of setting and maintaining/pursuing goals can be fun in and of iteslef. For others, it can seem overly difficult. So, I thought I’d try to offer some ways that you could make the process more fun.

SET UP YOUR SYSTEM

  • View your goal-achieving as a game.¬†I tend to take things too seriously. Although I love to have fun, there’s some things that can really stress me out. Goals should not be one of those. They should be things we enjoy doing and achieving. Yes, they will be challenging, but we should like the ones we attempt to complete. Think about setting up your future plans as a game. Games typically have a way to accumulate points, levels when you get to certain objectives, and prizes you achieve as you win.
  • Create a point system for your goals.¬†Think about the kind and amount of points you want to assign to each goal. Short-term goals would receive fewer points. Long-term or bigger goals would receive more points. Once you hit a certain number, then you stop and celebrate (see below.)
  • Leveling up. As you achieve certain goals, you make the game harder. Each time you accumulate a set amount of points, you get to level up. When you improve and level up, the “prizes” get bigger and the levels get more challenging (more points required to Level Up.) Here’s an idea for how to establish the levels and points:
    • Level 1 (0 – 99 points) – Goal Starter
    • Level 2 (1000 – 1199 pts.) – Goal Getter
    • Level 3 (1200 – 1499 pts.) – Goal Commander
    • Level 4 (1500 – 1999 pts.) – Goal Master
    • Daily tasks = 1-2 points
    • 2-week goals = 10 points on¬†completion
    • 30 day goals = 25 points on completion
    • 90-day goals = 100 points on completion

SPECIFY THE STAKES

  • Raise the bar.¬†There’s no fun in achieving something easy or within your comfort zone. Where’s the fun in that? Make sure you set goals that are risky and outside your comfort zone.You might need to rethink how you set your goals.
  • Decide what you will risk. I’m not talking about gambling here, but how can you make your goals riskier? How will you push yourself outside of your comfort zone to achieve something that is difficult?
  • Determine what the rewards will be. The greater the risk and challenge, the greater the reward needs to be. It doesn’t have to be a monetary reward, but it can be. Reward yourself with extra time with your wife or kids, for example. Or reward yourself with a personal day to do something you enjoy. Decide what you will earn for each level. The more you Level Up, the more the reward should be.

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS

This is something that many people forget when setting goals. You need to celebrate your wins – big and small. Some people may celebrate their big successes, but the small milestones are just as important.

  • Map out WHEN you’ll celebrate. At what point of achievement will you celebrate? Again, you could set a certain level of points where you’ll celebrate once you hit it. Or, you could celebrate at the completion of each goal. Be careful that you don’t wait too long or make these celebration points too difficult to achieve. Plus, you can always adjust your system as you go if necessary.
  • Line up HOW you’ll celebrate.¬†Before you start your goals, I would determine how you will celebrate the completion of each “level” or points, whatever you’ve already decided. Then, stick to it. It’s easy to blow past your milestones and postpone the celebration. But, it’s important for your morale to take time and acknowledge what you’ve accomplished. Again, it doesn’t have to cost money, and it doesn’t have to be something grand. The importance is that you take time to recognize your¬†wins.

SELECT YOUR SUPPORT CREW

Alright, this is where it could really get fun and motivating, especially if you have a team. If not, encourage your friends to join in the fun.

  • Challenge each other. Gamifying your goals can be fun on your own, but what if you got a few friends involved? Your goals don’t have to be the same, and you don’t even have to have the same system. The point is to encourage each other and help each other achieve more.
  • Keep each other accountable. There’s a lot of accountability in telling someone else what you want to accomplish. Form a Facebook Group for your team to stay connected. You and others can post when goals have been achieved, and you can encourage and support each other when the going gets tough.
  • Celebrate wins together.¬†Whether you do this as an online group or in person, make sure to recognize people when they hit their goals. Sometimes it’s easier to celebrate someone else’s achievements than our own. It’s also motivating when we see others accomplishing their goals. We can get¬†an extra push of motivation.

However you decide to set goals for the new year, be sure that they are goals that you really want to achieve and line up with your vision for your life’s direction. Life is too short to pursue things that don’t really matter. Take some time before the beginning of next year and work on your goals – whether you choose to gamify them or not.

How will you make your goals more engaging and fun this next year? If you choose to gamify your goals – let me know. I’d love to see what you create.¬†

Take Time For What Really Matters

what matters most as leaders

As we come to the close of another year, there are a lot of things that compete for our attention. Shopping for presents, attending Christmas or holiday parties, preparing for family and office gatherings. The list seems to go on and on. Though we seek to spend time with family, even the busy-ness of the season (which is supposed to be fun and relaxing) can often be filled with stress and headaches.

I’m sure you have heard¬†(from me, even) that now is the perfect time to be planning for next year. It’s true, I started setting goals and thinking about what I want to accomplish next year. I also take time to reflect on the past year: where I did well and areas I’d like to improve.

Just this morning though, I wanted to pause and encourage you (and myself) to carve out time for what really matters. I can easily get wrapped up in all the planning and scheming for next year’s goals, for scheduling and thinking about holiday gatherings and kids’ activities we have to attend¬†and forget the things that really matter to me.

Just recently, I spoke with 2 business owners and their stories are very similar. They are in completely different businesses (even vastly different industries), yet one thing is the same. They both have marriages that ended and at least one has kids that now have to split time between two homes. Their businesses are probably not the only thing to blame for the failed marriages; however, one of them is a direct result of spending too much time traveling and out of the country.

My Family Inspires Me

This holiday season, whatever you believe or dream or desire, make sure you make time for what matters most. For me, it’s my family. I have a wife and 2 awesome kids that continue to inspire me.

There are times that I am away from home, but my goal is to make that time less and less. I love to travel but I also want to make that a reality for my family. There are times I must be away from them, but I also dream of traveling with them.

Community Keeps Me Grounded

We have a great network of friends where we live and continually look for ways to increase our local connections. One thing we enjoy is to invite families over and have dinner together. This seems to be a lost art form of building community.

We find that we are in the minority of people who do this. Most families (I assume) are either too busy or too tired to invite people over. There is some value in online connections, but there is far greater value in face-to-face connections.

Kids Need More of You (Not More Stuff)

If you’re a parent, let me encourage you to give the gift of your time this season to your kids. Today, the morning news mentioned¬†a phenomenon called “toy guilt.” This is what parents feel when they can’t get that new trendy toy for their kids. (Do we need to call the “wah”mbulance? ūüôā .)

I’ve been a parent for over 12 years, and I can say that our kids have never had the “latest and greatest’ when it comes to toys. (They are not suffering, I can assure you.) We don’t focus on stuff. They do get presents, but we don’t go overboard and usually wait until things are either on sale or are a couple of generations removed (especially for tech-related gifts).

Make Margin for More Life

As I look forward to the new year, my thoughts center around how I can make space for more of the above. How can I have a greater impact on my kids and family? How much room can I make for them in my life?

What kinds of ways will I foster greater connections with people around me? In my neighborhood and with our friends?

How can I set the kinds of goals that take all of those things into account and build the kind of business that not only works for me but works for those around me?

This season, I want to think about those things. I encourage you to consider, too, the kind of impact you want to have with those you love and what matters most to you. Then, set the kinds of goals that both you and those closest to you would be proud of.

What goals will you set this year? How do those goals match what kind of impact you want to make on others? Are the two congruent? 

Why You Need to Rethink Your Goals

rethink your goal setting

It’s crazy to believe that there are only just a few weeks left in 2016. I’m curious.

How did you do with your goals this year?

How did your team do with their goals?

As for me, I hit some goals WAY earlier than expected and am still working towards others. For this next year, I’m doubling down. I’ve already started planning for my goals for next year, with one big exception.

I’m changing the way I’m doing my goals, and I invite you to join me on this new little adventure.¬†The change is¬†based off of some things that I’ve learned from Michael Hyatt, one of the nation’s most influential bloggers and leadership experts.

Be Intentional.

For 2017, I want to be more thoughtful about the way I set and reach my goals. Goals don’t just happen. You’ve probably heard the saying that “a goal without a plan is just a dream.”

It’s true. To reach your goals, you need a plan. Like I mentioned before, I’m starting my plan early this year. I’m already beginning that thought process of what I’m going to achieve next year.

Be Specific.

Most goals are way too specific. I’ve worked with groups on goal-setting, and this is a common problem. Goals that are set are way too broad, have no deadline, and are not broken down into specific steps that are achievable.

You have to be specific to reach your goals. “Be a better leader” won’t cut it. You need to be more specific. “Read 1 leadership book each month” is a better goal.

Be Risky.

I really like to challenge myself when it comes to goal-setting. There is a fine line between risky and unattainable. However, this year I set a goal to reach 10,000 visitors to my blog by year end, and I hit that goal just a little over the half-way point in the year. I knew it was risky, but I also wanted to push my limits and see what would happen.

Be Accountable.

Find a way to set goals with others and hold each other accountable. Don’t get down on yourself or others when you slip. You are there for encouragement to keep each other going.

Who is someone you trust that will help you achieve your goals. Begin now to make a list and write some names down of people you will contact and ask them to set and achieve some goals with you.

If you struggle with setting and reaching goals or if you struggle with helping your team set their goals, then¬†there’s hope. I want to offer you a chance to get in on a new goal-setting challenge¬†that I’m offering starting next week. Best part – it’s free (at least for now)!

You will also get free PDF downloads of the planning tools that I’ve just created for my own goal-setting for this next year. (I Just ask that you don’t duplicate it and give it to someone else – feel free to print copies for your personal use, though. Better yet, direct them to my site where they can sign up for the challenge and get them for free too! Boom!)

It starts next Tuesday, so if you’re up for the challenge, watch¬†for more details soon. And be expecting¬†more ways to rethink your goals over the upcoming weeks. There will be some exciting things I’ll be sharing.

When it comes to setting goals, what is your biggest struggle? What is the hardest part for you to achieve your goals?

Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Daughter, the Junior Philanthropist

Leadership lessons I learned from my daughter

It’s a lot of fun to watch children grow up as a parent, especially when they start to come into their own as a person. I have two kids and both are pretty amazing in their own ways. My 9-year old son loves sports and works hard at each of them and is very naturally¬†gifted in the athletic arena.

My daughter continues to amaze me with both her thoughtfulness and unselfishness and her willingness to sacrifice for others. I wish I could tell you I taught her that, or it was an intentional outcome of great parenting. However, she has exhibited this characteristic since she was very young.

I remember her making cards for her friends that were sick when she was in Kindergarten and first grade. She made a sympathy card for one of her teachers when she was in the 4th grade that showed an enormous amount of compassion and empathy.

What’s impressed me most, though, is her willingness to raise money for a specific group of kids in Haiti. My wife has visited an orphanage in Haiti over the last few years – Hands Across The Sea. It is an integral part of her year, and my daughter has involved herself in a number of ways, even though she hasn’t been able to go (yet).

Molly decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to help one of the students¬†pay for school. The amount she needed to raise? Two hundred seventy five dollars. That’s a decent amount for anyone to fund-raise, but for a 9-year old? I didn’t want to discourage her, but I had my doubts. Yet¬†I also knew my daughter and, once she decides to do something, she’s almost impossible to stop.

After a year of lemonade stands, selling rainbow loom bracelets, collecting change, dog-walking and more, she did it. She saved up for a whole year and not once did I see her get down or discouraged. She accomplished her goal chunk by chunk, bit by bit.

You should have seen her face when we counted the money and she was only $10 shy of reaching her goal. She was overjoyed! And, being the good dad that I am ;), I committed the final $10 to the cause.

Just this weekend, she made cake pops for her teachers for Valentine’s Day. She had help from a couple of friends, but she did the majority of the work herself. (And they’re a lot of work!) They were pretty amazing too! (Just ask our neighbor who recently ate 9 in one sitting.)

And she’s back at it for the kids in Haiti. Last night, she went to Hobby Lobby with my wife and used $25 of her own money to buy them art supplies, toys, and fun crafts to do. She loves it. And she can’t wait until the day that she can go with my wife to meet these kids in person. And they will love her!

To say I’m proud of my daughter is an understatement. But it’s not about what she does or is doing.

It’s about Who. She. Is.

She’s making a difference one life at a time. And here’s what I’ve learned and continue to learn from my baby girl.

Do What’s On Your Heart

Whether it’s big or small, act on your intuition. Help when you can and where you can. Don’t worry about the what or when or why. As you seek to do what’s on your heart, doors will open and you might be pretty amazed at the result.

Give What You Can, When You Can

Again, it doesn’t have to be a huge sum¬†of money. It might just be a little bit of your time or a smile that can make a difference in someone’s day. Write a note to or text a friend and let them know you’re thinking about them. Send a card with a handwritten note. Or cake pops. You could make some cake pops. ūüôā

Think Outside of Yourself

This is so hard sometimes. The older I get, the harder it seems. When you have work,¬†sports, music lessons, and more, life can get in the way. It’s easy to get lost in the busy-ness of life. But it’s important to remember and to think about how we can love and serve others. For Molly, it’s easy because that’s just who she is. For you and me, it might take a little more effort.

Persistence is Key

Chunk by chunk. Bit by bit. Stay on that goal until you achieve it. Does it matter if you don’t get it done by the time YOU want it accomplished? Don’t give up – keep after it – even if it takes much longer than expected. Think about how incredible it will be when you’ve achieved it.

Invite Others to Share in the Journey

My daughter is a very social creature. She loves being around friends and including them in her projects. What a great lesson to learn. Isn’t life more fun when we share the journey with others? Oftentimes, we start to wonder what people will think if we tell them about an idea or something we want to do. Ask other people to be involved – let them decide whether they want to or not (and don’t get discouraged if they say, “no”.)

Those are just a few of the lessons I learn from this crazy cool kid. I love watching her grow up and can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do with her in the future. Whatever it is, though, I know one thing. She will embody all the things I’ve listed above and more. Because that’s who she was created to be.

One more thing. Her birthday is coming up next month. Guess what she wants to do for her “party”? Go take some friends to feed the homeless at a local shelter. Yup. She’s THAT kid. And I love it.

What leadership lessons have you learned from your kids? What is one way you can implement the lessons above? Let me know in the comments below. 

Leading Others to their A-Ha Moments

leading others to aha moments

I had the opportunity recently to work with a young man who needed some leadership development coaching. His boss had strongly encouraged (read required, actually – ahem) him to go to three sessions and then any sessions after that were voluntary if he wanted to continue. We ended up meeting for seven or so sessions and during those sessions discovered a lot about who he was and the leader that he was growing into.

During the coaching process, he had several “a-ha” moments. You could see on his face when those would happen and he would say, “I never really thought about it like that before.”

For a coach, those are some of the best moments. You know your client is “getting it”. They are tracking with you and are thinking differently. That’s when change can start to happen. Something clicks within your client and they begin to make progress.

For some clients, it happens very quickly. For others, like this young man I worked with, it happened towards the end of our time together. The other sessions were helpful and useful; however, we had one session where it seemed like everything was firing on all cylinders and we were having one breakthrough after another.

As I reflected on some of my best coaching sessions (and this one), I thought about the why. Why did that session go so well and others haven’t? What made that session so special?

Here are a few ideas that I came up with that hopefully will help you as you coach teams and others into their “a-ha moments”

1. Capitalize on Your Strengths

If you are going to coach someone, you need to use your strengths to their advantage. Some coaches like to coach over the phone. Some like to coach in person. I like to coach in person. I’m a very visual person, so I like to both see who I’m coaching and also write things down for both of us to see. I like whiteboards.

During this session, I used the whiteboard extensively to help my client make connections (I’ll talk about more in a minute) with his past employment and his future career goals. In writing things down, he was able to make connections that he hadn’t seen before in how his whole path was essentially leading him to where he wanted to go.

Learn to use your strengths as a coach to have even more impact with your coaching clients.

2. Create Connections

I’m a visual person (one of my strengths) and love to use whiteboards to draw and write. I’m a strong believer in writing things down (whether it’s goals or brainstorming, etc.). It’s easier to see connections when you have something written in front of you.

As I was meeting with my client, I wrote some things on a white board based on a question I had asked (about his former employment). We wrote those things down and then continued to identify different characteristics of jobs that he had held up until his present one.

As we were going through this process, you could see the light bulb turn on as we connected the dots and discovered that every job he had held had prepared him not only for the job he was currently at, but also for the career path that he was heading down.

Leading clients to discovering connections for themselves will help to create more breakthrough moments in their coaching experience. 

3. Confidently Trust Your Intuition

Whether it’s what question to ask next, what homework assignment to give, or what activity to do¬†next, coaching is a lesson in flexibility and judgment calls. Coaches need to be able to trust their intuition in order to move clients forward.

Often there’s this gut feeling that says “go this way,” “ask this question,” or “do this activity next.” There are times when it seems like the activity may not fit or the question seems a bit off; however, the times I have followed my gut have been far more effective than trying to force an activity that I had planned or trying to follow a rigid structure.

Learn to listen to that little voice when you coach others, and you will quickly become a stellar coach.

4.Cut the Crap (aka, Shut Up and Listen)

When you’re first starting off coaching, this one can be quite difficult. It was for me. At times, I still struggle with it. There’s a difference between consulting and coaching. Consultants give advice and tell people how they think certain tasks and goals should be done.

Coaches, on the other hand, lead people into solutions by asking powerful questions. The client should do most of the talking. I’ve heard that if you as a coach are talking more than half of the time, then you are talking too much. I would encourage you to talk as little as possible. (Depending on the client, this can be very challenging.)

Ask powerful questions and be quiet. Listen to what your client has to say. Don’t be afraid of silent¬†space during the coaching process.

These four strategies are not the end-all be-all to coaching, but they have helped me lead others to their a-ha moments whether as part of a team or individual coaching.

What other strategies have you used to help lead people to “a-ha moments”? Which strategy do you tend to employ the most? Let me know in the comments below.

8 Ways to Insert Adventure Into Your Day

ways to insert adventure

Most of the time, we tend to fall into our routines and stay there. If you’re like me, though, routine tends to get boring rather quickly. I try to find ways to get out of my normal schedule¬†and make my life and work more interesting. I want to be intentional about my life and, instead of letting it¬†just happen, strive¬†to have fun and create adventure in everyday situations.

Here are some ideas that you can use to input a little adventure into your life and work. Consider something¬†about the definition of adventure. It doesn’t have to be some wild, cliff-hanging excursion in order to qualify as adventure. Pushing past your comfort zone, even a little, qualifies as going on an adventure.

1. Watch the sunrise (or sunset)

This will take a little planning, but definitely worth it. Why would this be considered an adventure or getting outside of your comfort zone? Most leaders tend to go, go, go and not take time to be still and rest. Even for a few minutes, being quiet and still can help us gain a new perspective on life and work and what is really important.

2. Take one more step

I’ve been a part of leadership trainings, and one of them had a saying, “Go as far as you can and take one more step.” At the time, we were going up a climbing wall, but it was really a metaphor for life. How can you take one more step…

  • With a current project you’re working on?
  • In your leadership?
  • With your kids?
  • In a relationship that’s strained?
  • With the book you want to write?
  • In the conflict you need to resolve?

Even as leaders we have a tendency to stop when we bump up against resistance, especially in the form of our comfort zone. When you hit a wall, resolve to go that extra step (you will probably find it will get you past a sticking point.)

3. Connect with an old friend

It’s often humbling to pick up the phone and contact someone you haven’t visited with in months or years. It amazes me with certain friends how it feels like we can pick up where we left off and it almost seems like it hasn’t really been that long. Just imagine the adventures that you can relive with this friend, or new ones you can share!

4. Read a book

Books can take us on all kinds of adventures Рto far away places, introducing us to interesting characters, and teaching us things that we would not otherwise know or experience. Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, we can have numerous adventures and learn fascinating things by reading. If you want more of an adventure, try reading a genre that is unfamiliar to you.

5. Volunteer

Serving others is always a great adventure. Whether it’s volunteering with a homeless shelter or the local food bank, you are sure to have a wonderful adventure helping someone else. This is definitely something that you can do as a team.

How could you implement this at your work as a team building activity?

6. Take a class/workshop

Have you always wanted to learn something but haven’t found the time? Why not start a class or go to a workshop? There are so many ways to do this now.

Take an online class through Udemy.

Explore what your local community college offers.

Audit a class from a 4-year university.

Check your local paper or visit with local organizations to see what classes and workshops that are being taught that you are interested in. During the class you could also complete #8 below! ūüôā

7. Create something from scratch

The creative process will push most people past their comfort zone – some very quickly. Whether it’s a blog post, a piece of artwork, a fence, or something else, try building something from the ground floor. Maybe you’ve wanted to implement a new program or training with your team but aren’t sure where to start.

Go ahead and take the first few steps and see how far you get. You might be surprised at how much easier it is to start than you first thought.

8. Visit with a stranger

I don’t always think about talking to strangers as an adventure; however, I was on a personal retreat a number of years ago and met a homeless man named Cash (let the irony of that sink in for a moment!) I bought him a meal and we were able to visit for a few minutes. I thought I was blessing him by the food I had to offer. He blessed me more by our conversation and the challenge that he (unbeknownst to him) left to me.

Take time to day to invest in someone for just a few minutes. You might make a new friend or you may not see this person ever again. The reward is in the conversation and in stepping out. You never know how you will be challenged or blessed by a brief conversation with someone you don’t know.

 

It’s typically the simply, daily adventures that bring me the most joy and the biggest challenges. It requires me to move past my comfort zone and constantly be growing and learning as a leader. And, it is often these micro-adventures that are accompanied by the greatest blessings. They¬†cause me to pay attention to the simple and most important things in my life.

What other micro-adventure could you participate in today? Leave a comment below or Tweet it using #leadbyadventure. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Leaders and Ingenuity

I was in Austin last week attending and speaking at a conference for educators, and it has been quite the experience. In the three days that I was there, I noticed several interesting business concepts that I had no idea even existed.

One interesting concept was for bikes that you could rent from one place (self-service) and drop off at a number of different locations. For just a few dollars a day, you could take unlimited brief rides (30 minutes or less) on these bikes.

creative bicycle business

The other business was called Car2Go. It’s basically a self-service car rental company (much like the bikes above) where you rent the car for one ride or all day, depending on what you need. In the downtown area, I noticed quite a number of these cars.

creative car rental business

I began to think about the creativity of entrepreneurs and leaders. On many levels, both groups have to exhibit some level of creativity.

While I think those that start businesses get a lot of credit for being creative, great leaders also must be creative in many areas. What areas are those?

  • Leadership style
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Team recognition
  • Developing other leaders
  • Training

Leaders must be creative in the way they lead. Why? Because no two people are alike and everyone must be led just a bit differently. Some leaders do this on a certain level, but most need to lead people according to their personality style more effectively.

Knowing where your staff falls under personality assessments is just the beginning. Leaders must also know how to lead the different personality styles. And, team leaders must remember that it is a daily process, not a “one and done” training.

Problem-solving is another area where leaders must be creative.¬†There are a number of brainstorming techniques that can be used to propel a team forward out of a rut, or when there’s a difficult issue that needs to be resolved in a more creative way than has been done in the past.

Recently, I read an article in Outdoor Magazine that described the top companies to work for in 2014. I was amazed how so many companies are getting creative with what benefits are offered.

Several companies offered unlimited vacation days (that exhibits a lot of trust, right?). Others offered fitness incentives or gyms and healthy food options in their place of work. Still others offered other benefits like powder days (take a day off and go skiing – just don’t leave your team high and dry) or free fitness classes.

There are lots of businesses and numerous people who claim to be leaders. To combine ingenuity with leadership is a way for a business or a leader to make sure he stands out from the crowd and gets noticed.

How are you using creativity in your business? How do you seek to stand out from the crowd? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Go Jump Off a Bridge!

Go Jump Off a Bridge

I was standing on a rail looking down into the water. It looked very, very far away. Fear of heights, my old friend, was trying to pull me back off the ledge. My heart was racing, palms sweating, not from the warmth of a summer day in Northern Wisconsin, but from the anxiety gripping me.

“One.”

Gulp. Am I seriously going to do this?

“Two.”

Have you ever had that experience where what seems like a million thoughts rush through your head in a split second?

“This is NOT a good idea.”

“Mom would be so freaking out right now.”

“Dad would never allow this.”

“I wonder if this is going to hurt.”

“People do this all the time. They survived.”

It’s funny how similar thoughts come to you when you’re about to make a big decision that regards life, work, or leadership.

“What if this doesn’t work?”

“What if this DOES work, and I really have to deliver what I’m promising?”

“How am I going to explain what I do to others? Family, friends, my spouse?”

For me, right now, in starting a new business, every day seems like jumping off a ledge into the unknown. Blog posts, emails, newsletters, affiliate programs, internet marketing, WordPress. Most of these are quite new experiences, and each requires a bit of a learning curve.

I’ve been going through an online business course, Internet Business Mastery Academy, and I seriously don’t know what to tell people at times. Not because they wouldn’t be supportive, but I just don’t know if they would understand what I’m trying to do.

Maybe it’s my fear speaking again, but until I get this going, I’m not sure I want to deal with the hassle of questions or looks of bewilderment.

It’s true of any new adventure, though, isn’t it? The doubts. The fears. The oncoming questions coming at you. People are mostly curious and want to be supportive with the best intentions. Only, it doesn’t always come across that way.

“Three!”

For a moment, you feel like you’re just hanging in the air. Then, the water comes screaming up at you like a madman.

Splash!

“Yeeeeaaaaaaaaah!”

“Way to go, Will!”

I must have surfaced with a huge grin on my face. My friends were smiling and yelling. I did it. It was my first time to jump off a bridge, and it was quite the rush. It definitely wouldn’t be the last time, either. As quickly as I could, I swam to shore, ran up the road, back to the bridge and jumped again.¬†

I find myself on the rail once again looking down into the water which seems so far below.

“One.”

I’m writing an eBook, and I don’t want to release it.

“Two.”

Here comes a million thoughts and questions again.

I’m developing a new course, and I’m afraid to put it on my site. What if no one subscribes?

I don’t think this guest post is good enough to send. What if I get rejected (again)?

What if I advertise for a workshop and no one shows up?

The flood of doubts and fears comes rushing back. Will I let my old friend fear pull me back down off the railing? Back to safety and security?

Or will I leap off the rail, hang in the air for the briefest of moments, and plunge into the cool water below, feeling the rush of adrenaline surge through me?

When I’m standing on the ledge, and I’m looking at the water below, I ask myself some questions:

What’s the worst that could happen? No one ever died from a rejected blog post!

If I advertise for a workshop and no one shows up, I will have learned how NOT to market it.

If I publish that eBook, and no one buys it, I can give it away on my site. It’s not a wasted effort.

No one succeeds without some form of failure. The confidence you gain from failing and pushing through will be worth it in the end. And, that rush of adrenaline, or the feeling of satisfaction is quite contagious. It might just keep you going back to that rail over and over again.

The first newsletter subscriber (besides your mom).

100 and then 1000 likes on your Facebook page.

Your first money made online.

The sale of your very first eBook. 

The income you’ve made that just replaced your day job.

Ok, I’ve made up my mind. Will you join me?

“Three!”

Leading from the Lower Ranks

learn to lead from lower ranks

There’s several situations where you might find yourself in what some¬†would consider lower or mid- levels of influence.

  • You’ve recently entered the world of work
  • You’ve changed jobs and had to settle for a downward move
  • You’re starting a new career and essentially starting over

Whatever the situation, you might be wondering how you can lead from what would be considered a “lower level”. ¬†Regardless of position, you can have influence in your new situation. ¬†There are several ways to increase your amount of influence.

Speak Your Mind

Let others know what you think Рyour coworkers, your boss, .  I used to avoid letting people know what I thought unless they asked.  You really owe it to yourself and others around you to engage in the discussions at work.  If you are invited to a meeting, that in itself is an invitation to speak your mind.  You have been given permission by the invitation, so speak up and make your presence known.

You obviously want to use wisdom and provide relevant ideas and constructive critiques; however, do not just remain silent.  Even if your ideas are not heeded, you can begin to have influence on those around you.

This is especially important when others are being negative or divisive. ¬†I used to work for a leader who would say that when people act like this, your silence can very well be interpreted as acquiescence (at least) or agreement (at worst). ¬†Therefore, I’ve made it a goal to redirect conversations that could be viewed in a contentious or dissident, or challenge the person who is steering a discussion in a negative direction.

Serve Others

As you seek to influence others, one of the best ways is to serve them.  Everyone usually has much to do and is overwhelmed by their workload and all that they have to accomplish.  Take a few minutes a week and check in with your team mates.  How can you help them?  What can you do to support them from your position?

This builds a huge amount of trust with those you work with and those you work for will take notice.  Most people serve one person Рthemselves.  You will stand out by being different and willing to serve.  Influencers are people who serve others.

Seek Connections

Wherever I go and wherever I find myself, I seek to make connections with people and build rapport. ¬†It doesn’t take long. ¬†Show an interest in them and in who they are (not just what they have to offer at their job). ¬†Ask questions about them – their personal life (family), interests, what they like to do when not at work. ¬†Again, it’s easy to do, but most people are so consumed with their own world, that they rarely take time to establish connections with others.

Connections help establish influence and a right to speak into someone else’s life. ¬†Without the connection (especially from a co-worker) you may appear to be bossy or intrusive. ¬†Having that connection allows you to increase your influence in those around you, so that you may give helpful wisdom when the time arises.

How do lead from the lower ranks?  How do you gain influence among your coworkers?  Let me know in the comments below!

Photo courtesy Bigstockphoto.com/46662517

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