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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Cracked Concrete – Is Your Business Foundation Sound?

    My husband and I recently realized that we would soon have to repair or replace the circular concrete driveway in
    front of our home. We thought it would last a lot longer than this. Instead, after only 14 years, several concrete slabs are sinking; weeds are creeping up in the spaces between them; a large crack is running through one, courtesy of a heavy delivery truck; another slab is scaling; and the snow plows that are a staple of Michigan winters has left scrape marks on other parts.

    We never thought this would happen because they look so strong and thick. We could wait another year or two, but the situation will only get worse.  What we thought was a solid foundation with high structural integrity, wasn’t resilient enough to withstand a variety of above and below ground pressures. What if the quality or thickness of the concrete had been stronger? What if we had ensured that heavy vehicles didn’t pull into the driveway? What if we carefully used a walking snowplow each winter instead of hiring a heavy truck to plow it (not!). In hindsight it was hard to predict we’d be in this spot, but we now need to look at options to repair or replace all or a part of the driveway.

    Fortune 500 Foundation

    As I reflected on this disappointing situation, I happened to look at Fortune Magazine’s recently released list of the top 500 global companies. Their total revenue declined for the first time since 2010 by 11.5% to $31.2 trillion, and profits shrank by 11.2% to $1.48 trillion1. Once strong sectors (such as Oil) and other stalwart corporations have stumbled, and are struggling to find their new footing. Companies that placed in the top 100 in the prior year, have now been displaced from the list.

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    Your Dream or Your Nightmare: Keys to Successful Small Business Development

    Google Images

    Google Images

    This is supposed to be your dream come true. Finally, your business is up and running. You’re breathing life into your big idea. You no longer have to answer to the boss because you are the boss. You’re working your business plan.  You’re finding your path to financial freedom. You know your target market and you’re finding new clients. You have positive feedback on your products and services. You’re developing new technology. You’re finding additional funding. You’ve finally found the right team to work with. You have the right workspace. You can feel the exciting energy when you walk into your business each morning. Continue reading

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    Insanity Check

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This often quoted statement has been attributed to a variety of people (including Albert Einstein), but it provides a good motivation to begin your new year.

    With the beginning of 2015 many people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. What do they want to accomplish this year? What do they want to do differently? Even for those who swear off such annual declarations (many of which are only kept for a month or two), most people still take the time to pause and consider what they want to experience in the New Year.  Whether or not you advocate setting resolutions, it is important to periodically assess your activities to make sure they’re properly focused to support accomplishing your objectives.

    Insanity CheckSo take an insanity check. This is the time to evaluate your personal, professional and organizational strategies and make the necessary adjustments to ensure not only progress, but attainment of your goals. In what areas are you sticking to the same plan, but expecting different results? What isn’t working…yet? Where are you or your organization struggling? Where are you and others frustrated? Here are several keys to your insanity check.

    Build Momentum

    The change initiatives you have started may take time to build momentum until you actually see visible progress. You’re laying the groundwork for improvement, building a foundation, and driving beliefs and values that will spill over into behavioral changes. You may be personally impatient, or stakeholders may be pushing you for quick results. But make sure your plan is solid and that you’re on track in following it. Stopping or pausing will undermine your momentum and you’ll almost literally have to start over. So keep pushing, and build momentum, your goal is in sight.


    Pull The Lever

    Identify the critical lever for change and focus on it. This critical lever is at the center of the problem, and supports and reinforces what is not working. Like a house of cards, if you pull it, everything that it supports will collapse, and that may be a good thing. Pulling the lever may require repositioning your team, changing your structure, developing a different strategy, or shifting your own leadership style.

    Manage Time

    Time is one of the most valuable resources you have, so use it wisely. Rather than succumb to the many demands on your time, control how you spend it by prioritizing those activities that add value to what you’re trying to accomplish. I admit that I can get caught up reading business books and articles that are really interesting, aren’t necessarily relevant to the project that I’m working on. , so I have to refocus myself as well. Determine what activities add the most value; find the ones that are really drivers of significant change, and adjust your time accordingly.

    Decide Now

    Deeply embedded problems require tough decisions. You must be willing to let go of people, processes, or products that you previously invested in, but now are not providing sufficient return. Further delaying these decisions means that you’re expending and wasting valuable time in areas that won’t payoff. You likely know what you have to do, but you’re avoiding the unpleasantness of doing it. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive outcomes.

    Move your people to positions where they can add more value, or provide a bridge for them to transition outside the organization where they can find a better suited opportunity. If they’re not delivering, they typically know it and are feeling some level of stress related to that. Avoiding the obvious issue only makes the pain worse over time.

    Your team or customers will tell you the processes that aren’t working (if you don’t already know it). Set an aggressive and almost impossibly quick timetable by which they need to be fixed or eliminated. Others will thank you for it and be relieved that you finally addressed the problem.

    Unprofitable products or services draw resources from the rest of the organization and literally pull others down with it. Think of a rose bush that through careful pruning of dead or unfruitful branches enables the remainder of the bush to receive the necessary nutrients to bloom beautifully. Such products and services may have a legacy with the organization, or be a favorite of some leader, but culling them quickly will add value to the remainder of the organization.

    Remember…working harder on a bad plan doesn’t make the plan good. Doing the right thing at the wrong time won’t achieve the desired results. Smart moves at the right time are key to getting what you want.

    Picture courtesy of Google Images

    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

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    Shift: Strategic Reinvention

    ShiftSteve Ballmer has a new lease on life. After more than three decades at Microsoft as employee number 30, he retired as CEO in February 2014 and is looking toward the future. He’s also number 18 on Forbes’ list of wealthiest Americans with $22.5 billion, so he discussed his plans for the future with George Anders for that magazine’s recent issue.

    First, Ballmer’s purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this year will take a large chunk of his time. This was the third time he tried to purchase an NBA team. Many believe he overpaid for the opportunity, but it aligns well with his love of the sport, and focuses him in an entirely different direction. Second, though he’s no longer involved with the company, as the largest individual Microsoft shareholder (333 million shares!), he will continue to closely monitor his investment. He’s also using his vast experience to teach MBA students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. This is part of evaluating his legacy as they analyze the successes and failures of his former company.

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    Your Thinking Spot

    Imagine yourself escaping from the daily pressure of decisions to be made, demands on your time, and disruptions to your schedule. You find a quiet oasis, where the atmosphere is suited for relaxation, reflection and rejuvenation. It is carefully designed to provide just the right amount of stimuli to enhance your productivity and creativity. You’re able to think through problems, strategize, and plan your next steps. This is your thinking spot; the environment where you’re optimally suited to work through the challenges in your life and work.

    While the thought of periodically removing oneself from the hub of activity is scary to some people, some of the most successful leaders have made a habit of frequenting a thinking spot.

    • Harry Frampton, executive chairman of East West Partners, a property developer, manager and brokerage in Avon, Colorado has a vacation home in Hawaii where he and his wife spend about 12 weeks each year.  His visits there during the 2009 recession helped him get away from overwhelming problems and think through which projects to put on hold, and which ones to move forward on.
    • Martin Puris, an advertising executive and owner of Puris and Partners has a vacation home in Long Island’s Hamptons where he and his wife spend most weekends.  There he has some of his “best creative thoughts”, and can think “uncluttered and focused”.
    • Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, a fast food restaurant chain headquartered in the Atlanta area has a “thinking schedule” that helps him to prioritize intentional thinking.  He blocks out a half a day every two weeks, a whole day each month, and two or three days each year to make sure he blocks out distractions and keeps focused on the primary things in life.
    • John Maxwell, internationally known leadership guru and author has a “thinking chair” in his office. He brings a list of issues to think through while he sits in the chair and spends the necessary time to gain clarity on them. 

    Productive Thought

    Effective leaders understand and embrace their thinking spot. They plan time to think that includes:

    • Reflecting on what did and didn’t work in the past.
    • Focusing on the present challenges.
    • Planning for the future.
    • Creating new solutions.

    Their thinking time may include different forms of solitude.  Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, describes Darwin Smith, the unassuming but successful CEO of Kimberly Clark for 20 years, as spending his vacation time on his farm in Wisconsin, digging holes and moving rocks on his backhoe.  While this may have looked totally unrelated to his leadership role, it no doubt provided the quiet thought time needed for the demands of his position.

    Steve Wozniak co-founder of Apple designed the first personal computer working alone.  He met with others periodically to discuss the technology and possibilities, but he largely toiled long hours by himself, thinking through the process necessary to reach his goal.

    Find Your Spot

    So where do you get your inspiration? Where is the spot that stimulates your thinking?  Have you carefully protected that environment to ensure that it’s conducive to your needs? How often and for how long do you frequent it?  What has it produced for you in the past?  Do you run from it or to it? In other words are you comfortable sitting in quietness or do you need high activity and stimulation around you? Does the thought of sitting still make you nervous? Are you constantly thinking of all the other things you can do instead of being there? 

    My preferred style is to spend quiet time in the early morning in meditation and prayer.  I focus on what I need to accomplish for the day, engage in positive self-talk, reflect on my priorities, and thank God for His goodness.  Ideally, if the weather and time permits, I’ll take a walk, alone with the unlimited expanse of nature.  Sometimes I get great ideas during this process, and at other times mental breakthroughs will come later in the day, but I know it’s a product of that time alone.

    The key is to understand the environment where you’re most productive, and replicate that on a regular basis.  In your gut, you know when you do your best thinking. You know the right atmosphere for you to generate ideas, work through problems, develop your action plans, and learn new information. You know where you get your energy, ideas, and motivation; your time of fruitfulness where seeds of ideas take root, are carefully formed and watered over time until they finally blossom. Make it a priority to find and frequent that thinking spot.

     

     

     Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

    Steve Wozniak reference from iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Stephen Wozniak with Gina Smith, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, NY, 2006.

    John Maxwell  reference from Success 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2008.

    Picture from IStockPhoto

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