The Two Reasons Why Traction and The Rockefeller Habits Won’t Help Your Business

Every few years, a new business methodology gets published that gains traction (pun intended).

And like the ice-cream flavor of the day, these leadership and management principles eventually fade with the onset of something newer and more innovative.

(I am a huge fan of Traction by Gino Wickman, btw)

What I’ve found, however, is that implementing change through a philosophy like Traction can fail and there are two main reasons for this.

The two primary pitfalls in applying any business management approach are ego and lack of alignment. These are the two nails in the coffin that will kill how successful you are, or aren’t, in how you effectuate your growth plan.

Being an agent of change inside your business is hard enough to accomplish, but ultimately won’t work unless you have the following pieces in place. (keep reading)

The positive news is this: when these pieces are in place, you’ll eventually catapult your company into something you only dreamed of.

Why business leadership and management philosophies (like Traction) won’t work

I’ve worked in multiple Fortune 1000 organizations, as well as with dozens of high-growth start-ups, and have used a myriad of business management ideologies.

I’ve had the pleasure of learning portions of Six Sigma, The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, and most recently Traction by Gino Wickman.

They’re all great, but they’re only as good as the team that works to execute them. To do this, you and your team need to be aligned on three important pieces for this to be something you celebrate. Your team has to have the right balance of people, process, and technology.

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People

The team you have in place needs to be talented, experienced, and committed to the process. They need to have access to the best technology tools in order to execute the plan.

If you have employees that are junior in skill set, or have employees who’ve never worked in other environments with you benefiting from their experience in navigating difficult times, you’ll fail.

Here’s a metaphor: a professional football team won’t make it to the Super Bowl with a bunch of inexperienced rookies and college grads. (no offense to college grads)

A Super Bowl caliber football team needs to possess the right balance of veterans and rookies who are utilized in the right roles, the right system, and under the best coaching tutelage. Your teams skill set, experience, and background should complement one another.

Growing from $5M in annual revenue to $20M in annual revenue takes different people doing different things. You’ll have to make tough choices with your people and even let go of certain team members as you grow, in order to make your company vision a reality.

I’ve found the toughest part of getting this arrangement solidified is the fact that your loyalties will be tested. You will have to let certain people go and hire new ones. The same employees, contractors, and team members that helped you grow from $5M in annual revenue to $10M in annual revenue won’t be the same ones who help you get to $20M in revenue, and beyond. It’s impossible to do the same things, with the same people, and expect a different result.

Processes

Second, if you have broken processes, and don’t address them through action, you’ll fail.

These are processes that you can identify AND actually document with the intent to address them through action. And let me stress action. Action is important because without taking action, you’re just talking about the problem without actually solving it.

Each business function needs to have an outlined and documented set of processes which are realistic to execute. Sales, marketing, operations, human resources should have their set of operating processes so every one is working from the same playbook.

Technology

Third, you need the technology tools necessary to execute your mission and vision.

Let’s take sales for instance.

  • Your sales teams needs to have the right amount of leads to sell to.
  • Your sales team needs to have a scalable sales process in order to sell your product or services.
  • Clarity wins deals and confusion loses, so your sales team needs to have a product/service that’s gone through a systematic product development process to make it easy for your buyer to buy.
  • Your sales team needs to trust the delivery of your product/service.
  • Your sales team needs sales goals and a CRM software or business management software for accountability.

Another example of having the right technology tools is marketing automation software.

If your marketing team is operating out of spreadsheets, you’ll fail. There’s nothing like a good pivot-table to get a marketer excited, but attempting to grow a company from $5M in annual revenue to $20M in annual revenue using spreadsheets means you’re doing it wrong.

Another example of having the right technology is in the function of accounting and billing. Cash flow and financial management is absolutely paramount to your business.  If you don’t have the right collections technology and financials tools, like QuickBooks, in place, you’ll fail.

People, process, technology. Get these aligned because it’s important.

One of the biggest reasons business leadership and management philosophies (like Traction) fail

Ego.

One of the biggest reasons business leadership and management philosophies stymie is because of ego.

When you have inexperienced managers, with little to no experience leading growing companies, along with an over-inflated sense of self, you’ll fail on executing Traction, The Rockefeller habits and other management philosophies.

Here’s are six examples of what ego looks like.

Ego doesn’t recognize the need to learn and change.

Many, not all, business leaders think they have every answer for every problem. Admitting they could improve by learning something new is like admitting a weakness. That’s ego. Admitting you need to learn is not a weakness. Don’t be afraid to be judged by others or what they think about you when you ask questions and accept opportunities to learn from others. Good leaders and employees seek wise counsel by asking questions of those around them. Asking questions and seeking wise counsel, keeps your head in innovation and helps you improve.

Saying ‘no’ to new opportunities and ‘yes’ to being focused.

Steve Jobs once said that focus is about saying ‘no.’ He’s right. Jobs said ‘people think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means…it means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.’ If you’re in business, and you haven’t mastered your current target audience through offering them your solution, then don’t chase another industry or audience. Focus on being the #1 or #2 market leader in your specific industry, along with achieving your profitability goals, then chase something new.

Over-estimating your abilities and the abilities of your team.

A lot of business leaders think they’re smart enough to figure out everything.  Ever been there? I have. Business owners are expected to wear multiple hats, but don’t kid yourself that you need to wear every hat, every day. Having self-confidence is one thing, but as you grow your business, you need to have people on your team that are more talented than you are, at what they do. Don’t let ego fool you into believing that you’re a master at everything in your business, because you’re not. For instance, I was afraid to tackle my accounting and bookkeeping and afraid to learn about how to track and measure the numbers inside my business. Instead of trying to do it on my own, I hired a CPA and outsourced this function. Now, this person can focus on tax deductions, tax codes, and regulation related to my company. Once I learned to let go of over-estimating myself, I instantly became less stressed and can now focus on running my business.

Micromanaged.

This one is huge. Like a lot of business leaders, I’ve struggled with this. I feel like having control puts me in position to eliminate worrying about things I can’t control. Yet, the more I try and control through micromanagement, the more that gets missed. Most business leaders certainly care about the details but often focus on the wrong things by not accepting that those around them aren’t perfect. Expectations won’t be met and this needs to be perfectly acceptable because if you’re expecting perfection 100% of the time, with no margin for error, you’re going to frustrate yourself and everyone around you. Did I mention that good people leave your company when you frustrate them? Instead of being overbearing, critical and constantly wondering what your team is doing, you need to create trust and accountability among them, so everyone can communicate freely. Easier said than done, but understand that micromanagement kills innovation and productivity.

Every decision involved me.

This is another gut check moment. Just because you love your logo, your tagline, or favorite color, doesn’t mean that another logo, tagline, or color scheme isn’t the best possible option for your business. You may not like a specific color, a certain team member one of your managers is hiring, and might not agree with the decisions your employees are making, but that’s not the heart of the problem. The problem is you being involved in every decision. You can’t be involved in every decision in order to be successful at executing Traction or The Rockefeller Habits. The real problem with you being involved in every decision is the mindset that won’t allow other ideas to be suggested or considered. The ego problem I’m talking about here is the mindset that remains inflexible. Sometimes you’re simply going to have to accept that the best decision isn’t yours and you won’t have any input into the outcome. Your business isn’t about you, rather it’s about your customers and helping make their lives better. Focus on that instead of being involved in every decision.

You cannot back down and the need to ‘win.’

Ego always wants to be right. Even if this means teaching someone else a lesson because you couldn’t lose. When you get into a spirited discussion on ways to make your business grow, do you back down when listening to others thoughts and opinions or do you persevere until you’ve gotten your way? Do you waste time fighting the wrong battles by looking for ways to win, or do you set aside your pride and fight for something that will help your team embrace your vision? Great leaders know when the battle is over.

Get aligned

These principles are tough to do.

Unless you’ve started and grown a business, it’s hard to understand the struggle of starting and growing a company. The good news is you’re not alone. By embracing these business principles and learning to let go of things you once strongly embraced, you’ll grow your company, your people, and have more peace in your personal life.

Align your people, process and technology and eliminate ego inside your company.

Click here to learn more about Traction.

Check this out to learn more about how to align people, process, and technology.

Why Anger Isn’t Bad, Unless You Do This One Thing

 

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A few years ago, I had a pretty intense conversation with a very close friend.

We worked together. We prayed together. We enjoyed life together. We were close.

But during this one particular phone conversation, my colleague was angry. He was angry about life, business, and a plethora of other things.

And the entire exchange was one of the most hurtful conversations I’ve ever had with another human being.

Why it hurt

The conversation was painful because my friend chose to use his anger to wound others, namely me.

The anger in the conversation was vindictive, cutting, barbed, and poisonous.

It was also inappropriate, uncalled for, and completely unwarranted.

How do you react to others when you’re angry or offended?

I’ll never forget how I felt as he attacked me, during our conversation. I felt belittled, small, and unloved. I felt like the child of an angry parent who passes their frustrations onto their kids through a physical beating.

I became defensive as my main goal was survival. And as the discussion progressed, my emotional state and mindset was transformed into a warrior, as a byproduct of fight or flight syndrome.

Like someone who was prepared for verbal-battle, my reaction was to fight, and bear my sword and shield, while clinching my teeth with raw emotion that propelled me to strike back. The verbal conflict that ensued was mean and crude.

When the dust settled, after about an hour of dialogue, there were tears and emotional-lacerations that would need to be healed.

But being angry wasn’t the problem. Being angry isn’t a bad thing, unless in your fit of emotional indignation you intentionally attack and hurt others.

How to react

In Matthew 21, Jesus discovered some men were cynically profiting from those who came to worship in His Father’s house.

He too was angry. Jesus expelled these men and said “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”

But Jesus’ anger was far different from ours.

When we get angry because we feel offended or because we feel someone is keeping us from doing something we want to do, we get upset and lash out.

When you and I feel this way, we seek to hurt the person who is preventing us from getting what we want because our anger is centered only on ourselves and our desires.

But Jesus’ anger wasn’t like this.

Instead of a selfish anger, His is a righteous anger. He was angry because the merchants were treating the Lord’s House with contempt. He was angry because they were cheating and treating people unjustly.

And when God gets angry at sin, it’s because He knows the terrible damage it does to us, whom He loves.

  • Unjustified angry outbursts put your heart at risk because of the physical damaging effects on your cardiac health.
  • Needless anger increases your risk of stroke.
  • Unnecessary anger weakens your immune system and can make anxiety worse.
  • Anger is often times linked to depression and can even shorten your life.

Unless your anger is a righteous anger, like that of Jesus’, it’s going to cause emotional issues, physical problems, and damage your quality of life.

Fools give vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm

Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm.”

Don’t excuse your anger.

Don’t let it destroy you and relationships around you, because left unchecked, it will.

The goal of being an emotionally healthy person is to learn to react to life’s frustrations with patience, instead of anger.

What to do

Have you unjustly attacked someone recently, (knowingly or unknowingly) because you let your anger get the best of you?

Have you wounded someone with how you angrily reacted when you were offended or didn’t get what you wanted, because you were focused on yourself and your desires?

I have.

If this is you, then seek restoration in your relationship. Seek forgiveness. Go to the person whom you offended and tell them you’re sorry and ask for their forgiveness.

This will build trust, show humility, and over time repair what was broken.

And when you’re angry, choose to react to life’s frustrations with patience, instead of anger.

Why Every Fargo Realtor Needs To Blog About Special Assessments [and what every Fargo home buyer needs to be aware of]

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One of the most frustrating things about my move to Fargo is special assessments.

I have about $45,000 worth of them to pay off, as a part of my newly built house.

Special assessments, also known as specials, can be confusing and frustrating.

So I wanted to write about them to help you because I figured by being helpful you’d avoid some of the stress I uncovered when learning about specials.

Not to mention very few realtors or real estate offices in the Fargo-Moorhead area are blogging about them. And they should be. They should be talking about special assessments because by educating readers, they’d fill their sales pipeline with potential clients by building trust and credibility.

If you’re a resident of Fargo or someone like me who recently moved here, you need to know about special assessments and how they impact you. Because they will.

What are special assessments?

If you live in a house, condo, or town home that is part of a planned, covenanted community, you most likely have to pay monthly Homeowners’ Association (HOA) fees and, at times, you will have to pay special assessments (referred to as specials. credit: www.answerthepublic.com)

Special assessment is the term used to designate a charge that your local government or municipality can assess against a real estate parcel for certain public projects. This charge is levied in a specific geographic area known as a special assessment district (SAD).

Pretty boring, right?

In West Fargo, specials are a method the city uses to pay for infrastructure improvements. Specials cover things like the diversion project, which protects Fargo from flooding, water main replacement, etc. The cost of these projects is divided among home owners in a geographic area.

It’s essentially a method of financing that’s legal because of the local law. Not all city projects are paid for in this way, just most of them are in West Fargo. Some infrastructure projects are funded through the city’s general fund or bonds.

What is the special assessment fund?

When you pay your specials, the money goes into a designated fund.

Think of a HUGE checking account with millions of dollars in it. These funds or accounts are set up for expenses incurred for capital projects.

But this fund is different and separate from your taxes.

Special assessments vs taxes.

Property owners, like you and me, often confuse property taxes and assessments.

They’re not the same. For instance:

  • Special assessment costs originate from a lump sum that’s divided over a period of time.
  • Taxes do not originate from a lump sum.
  • Taxes are deductible when you file your federal tax returns.
  • There is no tax benefit for specials.
  • Assessments, not taxes, are determined by local assessors.
  • Taxes are determined by school boards, town boards, city councils, county legislatures, village boards and special districts.
  • These jurisdictions are responsible for taxes, not assessments.
  • Your specials can also increase at any time, while your taxes may actually decrease (or vice versa). It’s crazy, I know.

If, like me, you feel your assessment is too high, then you need to discuss it with your assessor and work to contest your assessment amount through your locally elected officials. (a huge battle to fight, by the way)

What special assessments are tax deductible.

The short answer is none.

When you file your annual taxes, homeowners can deduct the cost of state and local real estate taxes on federal income tax returns. According to the Internal Revenue Service, property taxes are deductible only if they are imposed uniformly on all properties in a jurisdiction and based on the assessed value of a property.

Special assessments do not fit this criteria, however. There’s zero tax benefit with specials.

How are special assessments calculated.

While taxes are paid annually, through a monthly payment escrowed inside your monthly payment, specials are a lump sum divided over a period of time.

For me, my specials are in the amount of $45,000 and broken out annually over a 12 year period. $45,000 divided by 12 = $3,750.

That’s a lot of money. I pay that amount annually just for my specials. My taxes are completely separate…and similarly expensive.

My property tax cost is calculated differently and the annual cost is determined by your local school district, whereas specials are calculated by the cost of infrastructure.

Specials can make it tough when buying a home.

I’m not a millionaire.

Therefore I’m not flush with tons of cash to be able to afford anything and everything that I want to buy. Including costs associated with a new house.

When I was considering building a house, I knew that location was the most important aspect. Next, I knew that choosing a house with a great layout was key.

Then there were specials. I essentially had to tack on $45k in expenses (or whatever the specials costs were in that area) and plan accordingly.

Early on my journey to buy a home in Fargo, it sucked. I was priced out of homes in a certain price range because of special assessments.

And some of those homes that I was interested in buying are still sitting for sale, a year and a half after I moved to Fargo from Minneapolis-St. Paul. That’s sad because someone’s paying for them and somehow that cost is being passed on to you and me.

Specials can make it tough when selling your Fargo home.

A quick story. There was a house for sale in a neighborhood close to where I now live. It was newer, and really nice. A rambler with a lot of details that I loved.

But…the house had over $50,000 in specials on it. For me, that’s a lot.

Then, a competing house across the street hit the market. Same price, similar specs and just as nice. Only it had $20,000 in specials, instead of $50k.

If you’re a buyer which one do you think you’ll choose? The one with the lower specials, of course.

The point is this: special assessments can make it harder, or easier, to sell your place depending on the amount of your specials that are owed.

Specials are a part of life, plain and simple. While they’re annoying and costly, it’s pretty hard to completely avoid them.

Before you buy your home, or build one like I did, be sure and ask questions. Lots of them. No one is going to educate you or tell you about these points related to specials.

You’re going to have to take responsibility and educate yourself through a lot of research.

Blog about specials.

And if you happen to be a Fargo realtor, you need to be blogging because its one of the best and most economical ways to get customers and keep them.

I’d consider blogging about all kinds of topics, specials included.

And if you happen to be moving to Fargo or recently moved here from another area and have questions about specials, email me by clicking here. I’d be happy to give you some good advice and wisdom to help navigate these murky waters know as specials.

 

How to Accept the Apology You Never Received

Note: This is a guest post from Lisa Arends of Lessons From The End Of A Marriage.
In an ideal world, everyone that causes harm to another, either intentionally or unintentionally, would immediately offer up a genuine apology: accepting responsibility, acknowledging the pain, express empathy and remorse, immediately changing behavior and, if appropriate, making amends for the damage caused. But we know that rarely happens. And it never happens as quickly as we would like.Instead, we receive a “sorry” tossed out with little thought and nothing to back it up. We hear, “I’ll do better” and better never comes. We may find that in place of an apology, we instead receive blame and misplaced anger as defensiveness leads instead of empathy. The apology may be discounted by the excuses that accompany it. We may see an utter lack of comprehension at the pain that was inflicted.

Or we may just be listening to radio silence, waiting for an apology that never comes.

An apology that maybe we don’t even need.

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Why do we want apologies?

Children are taught almost as soon as they can talk to say “please” when they want something, “thank you” when they receive something, and “I’m sorry” when they hurt someone.

At the most surface level, we view an apology as a basic ritual of societal order that preserves a sense of fairness and responsibility.

Apologizing has become almost a knee-jerk reaction for many.

How often have you bumped into somebody or inadvertently cut someone off with your grocery cart and had the word, “sorry” out of your mouth without thinking? Even in such a minor interaction without much empathy or remorse behind the word, the apology still carries importance. When it is uttered, it acknowledges the infraction and its impact on the other person. When nothing is said, the other person feels invisible and insignificant.

At its most basic, an apology says, “I see you.” And a lack of an apology is a passive rejection.

What do we expect from apologies?

Pain wants to be heard; the need for our suffering to be acknowledged drives our need for an apology.

And the greater the perceived damage, the greater the perceived need for an apology. We all have an inherent sense of fairness, a balance of how things “should” be. When someone harms us, that balance is disrupted and we presume that an apology will make strides towards correcting that imbalance and restoring a sense of fairness.

We often see an acknowledgement of the slight and remorse for the actions as the keystone in the bridge to healing. As though once that apology is received, the remainder of the recovery follows. And so we wait.

Because we want to be heard. Understood. And the pain keeps screaming until it is recognized.

What are the limitations of apologies?

Apologies can never undo what was done.

They are not a magical eraser than removes any harsh words or caustic actions. When we imbue them with these special powers, we increase our expectations to a level that can never be reached.

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No apology will ever be good enough to abolish the pain and reverse the damage. Just as you cannot control somebody else’s apology, they cannot mitigate your suffering.

You can’t outsource healing. You have to do it yourself.

Do we need apologies?

An apology or a lack thereof is a reflection of the other person’s character, not your worth.

When somebody causes harm and refuses to accept responsibility, they are telling you who they are, not who you are.

When someone is too cowardly to admit fault, they are showing you their shortcomings, not yours.

And just because somebody displays an utter lack of empathy, it does not mean your pain is not real and valid.

When you wait for an apology, you are allowing the person who harmed you to continue to harm you. You’re letting them decide if you get to be okay again.

And is that really a decision you want to place in the hands of someone who lacks empathy and courage? If this person is still involved in your life and they are unable or unwilling to authentically apologize, take a good look at your boundaries.

Is this someone that you want to remain in your life?

How can you accept the apology you never received?

The most critical component of accepting an apology you never received is to eliminate any magical thinking you have about apologies.

They are no holy grail of healing. They do not have the power to erase what has happened. Once you realize that, it becomes easier to let go of the driving need for acknowledgement and amends. An apology is only required if you give it that power.

Your well-being should not hinge on somebody else’s shortcomings.

Their inability to accept responsibility is their problem.

Not yours.

Your healing is your responsibility. Accept it.

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If you’re having trouble accepting an apology you’ve never received, this online course can help.

 

About the author:

Lisa Arends is the author of the best-selling book Lessons From the End of a Marriage and a frequent blogger. Lisa inspires others through her blog, which is a space for those who have experienced the trauma that comes from the end of a significant relationship, and are seeking to move beyond grief and anger. Check out her blog. Be sure and check out Lisa’s online course, where she aspires to help those who feel victimized and stuck as the result of divorce. Learn more about her course, here. Continue reading

38 Nuggets of Wisdom Sure To Help You Better Navigate Life

I’m 38, and I love it.

I secretly love getting closer to my 40’s. I love it because I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally than I ever have before.

That said, I’d like to share some nuggets of wisdom with you that I’ve learned over 38 years of life.

I’d like to impart some bite-sized-chunks of common sense that I’ve learned through trial and error, over 38 birthdays.

Some of the stuff I’ll share is prudent and good. It’s based on facts and experience. Some of what I’ll share is more personal preference.

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38 nuggets of wisdom.

  1. You are more than the sum of your past. Meaning: don’t let your past define you. Don’t let those little voices in your head that scream with insecurity get you down. You are better than you think you are.
  2. You are worthy. If anyone ever tells you that you’re not, you have my permission to punch them.
  3. You are loved. No matter who you are, what you do, or what you’ve accomplished in life, there is someone who loves you. You are never truly alone.
  4. Have confidence, you are good at what you do. Carry yourself with your head held high. Doesn’t matter if you make a ton of money, or not, have multiple college degrees, or not, or have a brand new vehicle, or not. Have confidence in who you are and what you do.
  5. No matter how others treat you, treat them better. (and with kindness) People will undoubtedly treat you like dirt at some point in your life. Forgive them, and serve them with the utmost kindness.
  6. Be on time. This one I struggle with, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you schedule a time for a meeting, appointment, or time with a friend, be on time. One of the biggest signs of not respecting yourself, and others, is not respecting someone else’s time.
  7. Use good words. Ever watch a popular comedian that swears during his routine? It’s funny for about 5 minutes. Then it just gets old. Instead use words that encourage people, and uplift others. There’s no need to curse incessantly, and there’s no need to use words that cut others down. Use good words.
  8. Improve your strengths, not your weaknesses. Find out what your strengths are and focus on these. Do not try and be something you’re not. For example, if you’re not mechanical in nature, don’t try and rebuild your father-in-laws truck engine. You’ll fail. (he’ll write you out of his last will and testament) Instead, focus on what you’re good at.
  9. Work with a chip on your shoulder. Some of the most successful people I know, operate with a bit of an edge. They’re not jerks, but they’re not pushovers, either. They stand up to bullies, and they don’t let others push them around. They are direct. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They are great at resolving conflict in a straight forward manner, yet don’t lose their cool.
  10. Stand up for yourself. When someone says something you disagree with, tell them. If someone is pushing you around at work, then push them back. Don’t retaliate or seek vengeance, but for God’s sake, show some backbone.
  11. Exercise daily. I’m in pretty decent shape. But I wasn’t always. Take care of your body in your 20’s and 30’s, or suffer with the consequences.
  12. Drive a modest car. I once worked with a CEO of a billion dollar telecom company that drove a 1996 red Cadillac DeVille. It was a two door and in tremendous shape. He’d been driving this car to the office for over 20 years. He was the kind of CEO that would pick up an empty gum wrapper that was lying in the office parking lot. He was humble, yet hungry. The point: you don’t have to drive a 2016 Corvette to be relevant or important.
  13. You can’t learn by talking. When you’re busy talking, you’re not listening. And when you’re not listening, you’re not learning. You learn by listening. You build relationships by listening. You love by listening. This is one of the hardest skills to learn how to do, yet the most profound.
  14. Be an independent thinker. The best leaders I’ve had the privilege of learning from had the ability to think independently. Anyone can say yes and be swayed by peer-pressure, but it takes a truly independent thinker to consider all options when making decisions. Surround yourself with these types of people. Stay away from those who want you to simply say ‘yes’ to them, whenever they come calling.
  15. Be careful what you eat and drink. I don’t know of many good things to come from drinking alcohol. I’ve also don’t know of any friends, family, or colleagues to be super healthy by eating large amounts of sugar and other garbage. Before it’s too late, be careful what you eat. It’s harder when you’re older to reverse course, so set good eating habits when you’re younger to avoid this pain.
  16. Learn to communicate clearly. Most people I interact with don’t know how to communicate with clarity and consistency. This is very common, today. Most people, young and old alike, fumble with words and struggle to verbally share what’s important to them. It’s critical to learn the the art of listening then framing a response that affirms the other person, all the while effectively communicating your point. Learning to clearly communicate is just as hard as learning to be a good listener, but equally as important if you want to better navigate your life.
  17. Care about your coworkers. When you don’t care about others, it shows. People will know if you truly care about their well-being by how you talk to them and how you treat them. If, by your actions, you reveal to those around you that you’re a blatant narcissist, don’t expect others to trust you or include you in conversations. You need to care deeply about your coworkers and colleagues. After all, you’ll end up spending the majority of your life with them. Why not make this time purposeful, instead of pointless.
  18. Learn new things. Be willing to learn how to do new things. You may not be awesome at them all, but be curious. My grandfather was a curious dude. He knew lots about a lot and had many talents. He acted in community theater, he baked cookies, visited the four corner of the earth, flew in the Army Air Corp, and was a middle-school teacher. That’s a pretty broad range of things to learn. Be willing to learn new things.
  19. Listen to music. Here’s a sample of my iTunes library: Needtobreathe, Darius Rucker, Meredith Andrews, Chris Daughtry, Bon Jovi, Train, Shawn McDonald, and for King and Country. I listen to classical, country, rock, Christian contemporary, and good ole’ fashioned southern gospel. Some of it is awesome. But most of it inspires me. Music is beautiful. Music is storytelling. I love storytelling and so should you.
  20. Use technology. So many friends of mine don’t know how to use the basics of technology. From marketing automation software, to email, to iPhones, to apps. It’s all relevant. Don’t shy away from it. The world is only getting more and more reliant on technology. Embrace it. You’ll be glad you did.
  21. Make good decisions. King Solomon was the wisest King in the bible. He was also fabulously wealthy, built a majestic palaces, gardens, roads, and buildings. He accumulated thousands of horses and chariots, and became the wealthiest king of his time. He was an excellent writer, poet, and scientist. He made treaties and alliances that brought peace to his kingdom. But he was also one of the most foolish kings. He couldn’t control his lust and disobeyed God’s commandments. Instead of choosing to make poor choices, like Solomon eventually did, aspire to make good decisions. Walking the straight and narrow may be hard, but the rewards are totally worth it.
  22. Talk to people. It’s sad to me when I see couples, or people, at restaurants looking at their devices, rather than talking to one another. It shouldn’t be this way. Instead, take a break and talk to one another. Talking to people can encourage them, and help them. Listening to stories can be an incredible source of tremendous joy. Talk with people.
  23. Learn to say you’re sorry. Want to know how I learned this? By watching my father. Growing up, I saw how quick he was to take action by admitting he was sorry to others. I’m a big fan of resolving conflict through apologizing first in order to build a bridge. Instead of being divisive, bridge gaps through saying you’re sorry.
  24. Get invigorated. I work 60-70 hours per week. I love it. I love to work. I enjoy my calling. But sometimes I become burnt out and require a break. Even adults need a timeout. When you disconnect from email, text messages, and social media, something miraculous happens: you get inspired. Ideas start to swell in your mind, and your become invigorated. Don’t get me wrong, work does not equal a buzzkill of creativity. But all work, with no time to smell the roses, is truly a life wasted.
  25. Stop complaining. (especially to your boss) Pete Krainik, the founder of the CMO club, recently noted in an Instagram post that the best leaders don’t complain. Especially, don’t complain to your boss. Being labeled as negative, grumpy, or a complainer is a terrible title to carry. You don’t want that. Instead, rise above it and don’t grumble.
  26. Have empathy. perspective. Having empathy means you’re willing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It means you’re willing to expand you perspective. Be willing to understand the other side of someone’s story, and be open to at least affirming them in their worldview. You’ll grow from this exercise.
  27. Give freely, and freely give. No matter how much money you make, give some of it away. You can’t take it with you when you die.
  28. Volunteer. One of the best ways to learn, grow, and give back, is by giving away your time through volunteering. Volunteer by helping others through mentoring, or by developing a MasterMind group, or by tutoring. Doesn’t matter what it is, just get involved and volunteer.
  29. Spend less time on social media. I don’t know about you, but every time I log into Facebook or LinkedIn, 50% of my news feed feels like sponsored ads. Instead, read a book. Either on a tablet, Kindle, or a physical copy. Read instead and spend less time on social media.
  30. Travel. I live in the Midwest. It’s great. But there’s a lot more country to see for those who live in the U.S. It’s a huge place, with tons of great sights to see. Great big things, built by even bigger dreamers. Go see it.
  31. Learn to play a musical instrument. It’s a goal of mine to learn to play the guitar. I don’t know when, or who will teach me, but I will learn how. Making music and playing music is a lifelong achievement that you can take with you for the rest of your life. Don’t hesitate.
  32. Don’t be stubborn. Too many people I know let relationships completely burn to the ground because they’re too stubborn to change, too stubborn to say they’re sorry, too stubborn to reconcile and heal. You’ll be on your deathbed someday and find yourself regretting being stubborn, assuming that’s how you live your life. Don’t do it. Instead, break free of this nasty character trait so you can truly live.
  33. Stay. If you’re married then this one’s for you. When your marriage is falling apart, stay. When you want to give up on your spouse, stay. When there is nothing left in your gas tank, stay. When you’re heart is checked out, stay. When your mind tells you to give up, stay. When every fiber in your body says to quit, stay. Quitters quit, and winners don’t give up. I know marriage is not as easy as black and white, or winning versus losing, but I know from experience that staying makes you a better person.
  34. Journal. I write in a my journal almost every day. I use the Penzu app and write something that’d I’ll remember, when I look back on a particular season of life. It’s one part therapy, and one part memory building.
  35. Take pictures, but not too many. One of the great things about smartphones is how you can easily capture moments in life. But the downfall to being engrossed by taking selfies every 5 minutes with your iPhone, and uploading them to Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook is you can miss the significance of that specific event. Take pictures, but don’t forget to make memories, too.
  36. Develop a bucket list. I have one. I created this list years ago to help me manage and achieve my life-goals. There’s incredible power in writing things down. Your subconscious mind activates some crazy things when you pen your goals. So develop a list of things you want to accomplish before you’re dead.
  37. Do stuff outdoors. Because I live in America, I have the privilege of seeing many things that are outdoors. Things like state parks, camping grounds, national monuments, and the like. Enjoy the creation of this earth. You won’t be here for long.
  38. Eternity. Despite what you may think, there is a Heaven and a Hell. There is life after this one on Earth. If you were to die today, where will you spend it? You have a beautiful soul. You will eventually be called to one of the two places where you’ll spend eternity. Seek the truth and find out how you can spend eternity in Heaven. Take a look at how a friend of mine talks about Heaven by watching this short video.

What are your nuggets of wisdom to share? What in your short life have you learned that’s of value?

The Four Words That Are Holding You Back (And the Four Words to Say Instead)

Note: This is a guest post from Lisa Arends of Lessons From The End Of A Marriage.

lisa arends divorce blog
It’s ingrained in all of us.

Inevitably, when I motion for a student to quiet down, I hear the response, “It’s not my fault.” (Or its synonym, “It wasn’t me.”)

It is a knee-jerk reaction to any pronouncement of culpability.

And rather than grow out of it as we grow older, we begin to pay others to tell us that it is not our fault.

We all like to hear that it’s not our fault.

When I first starting getting into health and fitness in the early 90s, I noticed that the industry advice came in two distinct forms – one voice said that you could transform your life and your body through willpower and hard work, while the other side spoke of reassurances that the excess weight or sagging muscle was due to no fault of your own (and often this burden shift would be followed up with a “quick fix” for the low, low price of only $19.95).

And I soon figured out that the second view led to increased sales.

Even as it failed to create the desired body.

Because we all like to hear that it’s not our fault. That someone or something else is responsible for whatever is holding us back.

Yet even though we all have circumstances that make certain goals more challenging, ultimately, you are the only thing holding you back.

You are ultimately the only thing holding you back.

I encounter people that tell me that they cannot lose weight because of some pre-existing health condition, like PCOS or hypothyroidism. 

“It’s in my genes,” is offered as a reason for the Type II diabetic or person afflicted with metabolic syndrome.

I hear others defend their lack of fitness by claiming they have no time because their family or job requires all of it.

They feel a freedom by stating that it is not their fault.

Yet really they are in chains of their own making.

I work out alongside people who use wheelchairs and people with artificial limbs. I have friends who alternate days at the gym with nights at the hospital as they are treated for their autoimmune disorders. I know women with PCOS who accept that weight loss will be harder for them even as they strive to work within the limitations of their disease. I work with single parents who problem-solve creative ways to exercise while the kids are at practice or asleep.

lisa_arends_blog_wheelchairI’ve never once heard any of these people say that the situation is not their fault.

And it’s no accident that they are constantly pushing the boundaries of their situations.

The problem with, “It’s not my fault,” is that it so easily slides into “And therefore there’s nothing I can do about it.”

And the two declarations are vastly different.

It is not your fault if you have been cursed by faulty genes that cause your body to grasp onto every fat cell for dear life.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It is not your fault if you suffered at the hands of abusive or negligent parents who failed to give you the tools to excel in adulthood.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It is not your fault if you have been exposed to trauma, bruising and damaging your very core.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It’s not your fault if your brain struggles with anxiety or depression.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It’s not your fault if your spouse cheated or abandoned you.

(And what are you going to do now?)

In all of these cases (or in any limitations and struggles you have in your life), you can spend your energy on blaming the fault-carrier. Others will help you, either for pay or for free. After all, it’s easy to point fingers at others.

Because then we are absolved of any effort.

Of course, we are also guaranteed not to make any progress.

Because the last time I checked, reps of reciting “It’s my hormones,” had a dramatically lesser effect on fitness than reps on the weight machine.

And assigning liability to a screwed up family of origin is inherently dissatisfying because they’re too entrenched in their own drama to absorb yours.

And calling your cheating ex an ass won’t help you get off yours to build your new life.

So rather than focus on what happened, focus on what you can do now.

Replace “It’s not my fault” with “It is my responsibility.”

Rather than point fingers (or waste your time and money on those that help you pass blame), use those fingers to grab your own bootstraps.

lisa_arends_blogger_bootstrapsNobody else is going to do it for you.

Your future is your responsibility.

Your well-being is your responsibility.

Your happiness is your responsibility.

And if you don’t accept that responsibility, that IS your fault.

It is my responsibility to…

Shift my attention from what happened to me to what I am going to make happen.

Focus on what I can do.

See my limitations as my starting point, not as excuses to never start.

Be realistic with my goals.

Set a limit to the amount of energy I expend on placing blame. That energy can be put to better use.

Surround myself with people who believe I can.

Ask for (and accept) help when I need it.

To refuse to allow somebody else to define me.

Communicate my needs clearly and calmly.

Manage my emotions so that they do not control me.

Establish and maintain appropriate boundaries.

Speak and act with kindness. Towards others and also towards myself.

Believe in myself and act in accordance with that belief.

And what are you going to do now?

 

 

About the author:

lisa arends blogger 

Lisa Arends is the author of the best-selling book Lessons From the End of a Marriage and a frequent blogger. Lisa inspires others through her blog, which is a space for those who have experienced the trauma that comes from the end of a significant relationship, and are seeking to move beyond grief and anger. Check out her blog. Be sure and check out Lisa’s online course, where she aspires to help those who feel victimized and stuck as the result of divorce. Learn more about her course, here.

5 Types of People To Keep at Arms Length

“People inspire you, or they drain you. Pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen.

Wise words, wouldn’t you agree?

If you take a quick inventory of all those in your life, you’ll naturally be drawn to those who inspire you. Conversely, we naturally tend to keep our distance from those who cause drama and conflict.

And then there’s the personality types that you could do without. These are people in your life where you have to set boundaries. Boundaries that are ultimately drawn to prevent getting hurt.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s there are certain types of people that need to be kept at bay. Specific individuals that need to be shown tremendous kindness and love, yet not allowed too close because their destructive tendencies will only get you emotionally burned. 

Here’s a list of those top 5 types of people that all need love, but need to stay at arms length.

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People who are hyper-critical.

Everyone knows someone like this. (at some point we’ve all most likely been this person)

The hyper-critical person is someone who criticizes everything. They’re critical of all your everyday activities from your bank, to your auto mechanic, your job, and those they work with. The hyper-critical isn’t content with what they have, and every problem that needs solving has to be solved their way or nothing at all. If someone else suggests a method for accomplishing a specific chore, the hyper-critical person considers them the enemy and gets pushed away.

And there’s nothing wrong with good ole fashioned, honest feedback. Nothing at all. That’s how we grow; by receiving feedback that helps us understand our failings. But action needs to be taken with people who engage in perpetual criticism. Perpetual criticism is different than honest feedback, as long as it’s given with care. When criticism doesn’t offer some sort of solution, and fails to be constructive, then you need to consider establishing boundaries around this person. Don’t get rid of them, but you definitely need to think about how to quickly disassociate yourself from them. Bad things come from those who are hyper-critical.

People who are impatient or easily frustrated.

Individuals who become easily frustrated at things or display signs of great impatience are dangerous because this type of personality is typically narcissistic in nature.

You can spot a narcissist a mile away, assuming you know what traits to look for. A narcissistic personality is one which people have traits that cause them to behave in upsetting ways. Their ability to function in relationships is limited, and areas of their life suffer, such as their professional life and personal life. 

Here’s how to spot someone that’s impatient, or a potential narcissist.

  • They’re conceited and always talk about the conquers of their battles.
  • They’re always talking about who they know, and what they’ve done.
  • This person is often times boastful.
  • This person often monopolizes conversations.
  • They belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior.
  • When they don’t get what they want, they stomp their feet in anger like Rumpelstiltskin.  

Those who are impatient or easily frustrated are also the folks who get themselves in trouble because of their penchant to leap before looking. These are family members who burn bridges, colleagues who make perpetual hiring errors, and friends who constantly make poor investments. Making fast decisions and failing quickly is one thing, but being impatient when your goals are being obstructed is cause for concern. Impatient people hate being held up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional or not. 

Love those who are easily frustrated and impatient, but do your best to keep space between you and them. 

People who are passive-aggressive.

You’re the sum of the five people who you interact with most.

Naturally, you should desire to interact with those who are direct, and willing to talk through conflict, rather than avoid it. Those who are passive-aggressive don’t possess this quality. I’m not one to say things like ‘get rid of people‘ but those that are passive-aggressive need to go. Don’t surround yourself with them. 

Passive aggressive types have great difficulty receiving feedback, and passive aggression is deadly in the workplace as well as in life. Vulnerability through the sharing of feedback is needed, especially in the workplace, in order for growth and progress to happen. You can’t be vulnerable with passive aggression. 

People who over promise and under deliver.

These are the people in your life that say they’ll do something, but don’t get it done.

The people that commit to one thing and most times don’t deliver. These are yes-men, the ‘A’ types in your life, the sales people, and the ones that rarely take a step back to examine a problem before diving right in. Usually those who over promise are hiding. They’re hiding behind insecurities, and are simply trying to impress everyone around them instead of being an independent thinker. 

Think about a task or a project that you recently handed off to someone. Why did you give this task to them? You trust them. You believe in them. You know they’ll deliver. These people in your life are the ones who you can count on. They’re committed. 

Surround yourself with those who have good critical thinking ability, while passing on those who are simple yes-men.

People who are bullies.

Want to know the best way to identify a bully? Watch who and what they laugh at.

Bullies are arrogant. They don’t laugh at themselves. They instead laugh at others, and they rarely self-deprecate. If somebody makes fun of others but isn’t self deprecating, they’re a taker and not a giver.

Ever hear a loud-mouthed talk show host make a self-deprecating joke? Probably not. Bullies make great television and radio personalities, for sure. I keep those at arms length who can’t laugh at themselves and have zero friends who aren’t objective about themselves and others.

There’s an entire myriad of problems that’s associated with this type of person. Bullies tend to protect others on the condition that others submit. Bullies also use force, threat, or physical manipulation to abuse and dominate others. The behavior of bullies is often repeated and habitual. If you have friends or colleagues who are bullies, I’d keep my distance if I were in your shoes. That’s an unhealthy relationship. 

Are you one of these people?

As I was writing this, I was really challenged. There were a number of times that I had to stop and do some introspection.

Do I display character flaws that need correction? Am I any of these personality types?

Are you? What do you need to change in your life in order to become better?