Monday, June 24, 2013

Our 'First' is Usually our 'Worst'

Many people avoid trying new things, picking up new skills, attempting new activities because they know
they won't be great at them.  Note that they usually omit an important corollary to this statement and its omission is huge.  Rather than saying 'I won't be great at that', it should read (and be said) 'I won't be great at that... at first!'  The first statement implies you will never be any good at it - ever -why bother trying at all.  The second statement acknowledges that you won't be good at it to start, but the implication here is that you will improve.

Our first attempt at anything is always going to be our worst attempt. We lack the skills and the knowledge of how to make things happen; the finesse that comes with repetition.  Know  that your first won't be your best but that it's worth the attempt. There is much to be learned about ourselves and the world around us by trying something new.  Often we have skills that have been hidden from us to-date simply because we haven't had the opportunity to give 'em a try.

We tend to avoid what we believe we aren't good at.  Then we get pushed into doing it and... guess what?  We're not good at it.  This tends then to confirm for us our belief and we don't try again.  However, developing the mindset that 'Of course I'm not that great at it (yet), it was only my first time!' opens up total new possibilities.  Instead of avoiding that activity in the future, you take your current experience, determine what you learned from it, what to try differently next time and move forward.  The second time?  Better.  The third?  Better still.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says that it takes over 10,000 hours of practice to truly master something.   No athlete got to his current level of performance by doing nothing.  They missed more than they hit or sunk or dunked or caught.  And then they did it again.  And again.  And again.

What areas in your life could stand a second try?  (I call this Taking a Mulligan... my favourite golf move!)
What things are missing in your life because you have avoided giving them a first try?

Pick something and give it a go.  You now are armed with your follow-up line should things not turn out as planned...  'Awww... it was only my first time.'  Following that...  'Awww... it was only my second time'.  And, my favourite all encompassing statement...  'I'm still new to this!'  You may not be interested in putting in your 10,000 hours to truly master a particular skill (take me and golf... 10,000 hours... soooo not happening!) but it needn't prevent you from getting out there and trying something new.  You just might find yourself enjoying the process!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Managing the Gap

Viktor Frankl was the author of Man's Search for Meaning, he was a Jewish Psychiatrist and a Holocaust
survivor (of Auschwitz and Dachau).  One of the greatest messages he brought with him through all that he experienced and suffered during his internment was that most who survived did so because of the way in which they chose to view and respond to the situation they faced.
Between stimulus and response there is a gap and within that gap lies all our freedom.                            Viktor Frankl
The stimulus they faced in the camps was deprivation, torture and uncertainty.  Their response often was to lose hope and to give up.  Those that chose this path, Frankl discovered, often just withered away and died.  Those that determined they had a reason to live, did so because they shifted their response.  It was in how people managed the gap between the stimulus and their response to it that, ultimately, determined survival.

When a stimulus is applied we have built-in responses to it, responses that we have conditioned over time, similar to Pavlov's dogs salivating at the sound of a bell.

  • someone makes a derogatory comment about how we look in our outfit and we get upset
  • a co-worker doesn't agree with an idea we brought forth and we get angry
  • someone cancels dinner with us and we get depressed
  • someone cuts us off on the highway and we feel rage
All of these may be conditioned responses, operating unconsciously, but they exist because we set them up to be our preferred response at some point.  Good news though, we can condition a new response!  Despite the fact that it feels like a direct and instantaneous route from the stimulus to our response (feelings) there is actually a gap in there, providing us with the opportunity to assess the stimuli and determine our responses.  

Most of the time we simply opt for easy and therefore siphon the response off to our conditioned default setting.  But we can break this pattern if the result is not desirable.  There are three key steps to creating the right foundation for the shift to occur.
  1. Begin by determining that the existing behaviour is undesirable.  You have to want to change it more than you want to keep it.  If you 'like' feeling depressed, angry or hurt you will not be able to let the behaviour go until you paint yourself a picture, of the new behaviour, that is more positive and serves you more.
  2. You have to believe that it is your job to change it.  Not some higher power, not your mother, not your boss, not your spouse, not the guy next door.  It's your life, your behaviour and your responsibility.  If you defer this to someone else then you will simply wait for them to 'fix' it for you, which isn't going to happen.  Only you can fix it, but you have to take responsibility for it to happen.
  3. You have to believe that you can, that it is within you to control your responses and change it.  If you believe that you are at the mercy of that conditioned response (I call this the Popeye Principle: I am what I am and that's all that I am) then... you're done.  You have to believe you have all of the requisite knowledge, skill, ability and desire to make it happen.  
Master these three steps, commit to them, identify your new response and... you can change it in an instant.  Managing the Gap is not always difficult, but it is necessary if you want to change your responses.  It doesn't even matter if you 'see' a gap or not.  Trust that it's there, believe the change is within your control and step into the new behaviour/response.  
Wrong action won't bury you, but wrong reaction will.  You cannot control your outer circumstances but you can control your inner choices.   Darren Hardy (Success Magazine)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do the Hustle

No opportunity you face likely comes without competition for it.  Others are out there waiting for and vying
for that same opportunity.  Often we sit back with a case of the 'not-enoughs' and fail to even put our hat into the ring, beaten before we start.  Let's face it.  When we compare ourselves to others we are going to fall short in numerous ways.  Others may have more talent than us.  They may be taller, thinner, smarter, richer, faster, or prettier but... and this is a BIG but... you can out hustle them.

Just as we may fall into the trap of believing that we aren't 'enough' in some area... tall-enough, thin-enough, smart-enough, rich-enough, fast-enough, pretty-enough... those people we are comparing ourselves against fall into a trap of their own.  They make the mistake of believing that they ARE enough, and so they stop.  They stop doing more.  The true advantage you have then is to recognise this point and... do more.  Out-hustle 'em.  Give than one percent more.

Make just that one phone call more.
Knock on one door more than anyone else.
Research that little bit extra.
Answer that unasked question.
Deliver what others are afraid to ask for.

When people fail to get what they want out of life, when they fail to achieve what they want, it is generally because they quit working for it.  They failed to do everything it takes.  They didn't hustle.

Opportunities are not lined up at the curb waiting for you to walk out your front door and pick one.  When they come along you need to be prepared to take decisive action.  This means that you don't get ready for an opportunity, you stay ready for one.  Do the work you need to now so that you are ready to take advantage of any opportunity that comes along.  It is said that 'fortune favors the bold'.  Typically the bold are simply those that are out there working long after everyone else has gone home.  They are hustling.

We may not have had all the benefits in life as someone else.  We may not have the brain power or muscle power or even the god-given talent they have, but we always have control of our effort.  We always are able to determine what we will put into the opportunity before us.  Don't quit one step before the finish line, go one step beyond it.  Leave no question about what you are willing to do, able to do, capable of doing.  One percent more than the other guy is all that is needed to have out-worked them.

Get out there and hustle.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Giving Your Creativity a Whack!

It is not unusual to find that our thinking processes get stuck in a rut.  We become too linear in our thinking, relying on the same problem-solving methodologies to provide us with new insights.  Like the popular definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting different results), it just isn't going to net us a new or different perspective.  Enter... the Creative Whack Pack.

This tool came to me by way of Tim Ferriss (author of the 4-Hour Work Week) and I have to share it with you because I love it.  I've given you links below to pick up your own pack of cards (and the creator's book too if you want 'more') because I'm not parting with mine.  I am already envisioning the ways that I am going to be using it within my own business, let alone with clients!  Don't be surprised if we're in a meeting together and I pull out my deck!

The tool was developed by Roger von Oech, founder and president of Creative Think, a creativity and innovation based organization.  He has authored both A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants.  

In the Whack Pack you will find 64 different cards, each designed to provoke and inspire your thinking.  Each is based on the idea that sometimes you need a 'whack on the side of the head' to get you thinking in a new, fresh way.  Using the deck is infinitely preferable to actually whacking my head each time I need a fresh perspective!  Each card helps you to...
  • challenge your current thinking
  • break out of your habitual thought patterns
  • look at things in a fresh way
  • discover new sources of information
  • create new idea generation approaches and techniques
  • develop new decision making skills
  • kick yourself into taking action
If you feel that your approaches are getting a little 'stale', or you are looking for something to help jolt the team out of their 'group-think' patterns you will find value from picking up a deck of these cards.  We tend to get so caught up in deciding and moving on that we begin to lack the creative-muscle needed to develop the break-through insights and solutions we need, whether in our professional or personal lives.  The Whack Pack provides an inexpensive and easy to use process to help us uncover those new insights and solutions.