Get Over Fear and Take the First Step

The ability to get over fear and learn to take any first step toward your goal can become a daunting task. When you learn to see that life is a journey and each new task or endeavor we take on are steps of that journey, then you understand that you can never get it all done. This is a good thing. Many times our fears are born from the sheer size of our goals or tasks. They seem so impossibly huge that they scare us right into taking no action whatsoever. How do you get past this state of mind?

There is an old Eastern proverb that says something like this,  “The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”.Snip20130830_1

The first rule of thumb is to act upon your inspiration or motivation. As so well defined in “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” by John Maxwell: DO IT NOW is the secret to getting things done and it’s the secret to getting over fear and taking any first step. Learning to take the next logical action helps to break your goal into smaller parts, and when they feel really easy you won’t be scared into doing them. This is the first thing that comes to my mind whenever I need to tackle a large project. Taking action, any action, any one step in the direction of my goal or project is the first step to getting over the fear of the sheer magnitude of the goal. Once you take that first step you are a body in motion. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Taking the first step will be the most important step you can take. In most cases, when you look back at that first step, you will think it wasn’t that hard after all.

What holds us back

The number one fear of taking any first step is actually taking some action. What you need to do to overcome your fear of taking any first step of action in the process of achieving anything, is to see that any goal or project is a process made up a series of many, many steps. Perhaps even a thousand miles of single steps. (Thus my above quote.) Seeing what you want or need to accomplish as a series of steps, tasks or processes that get you from point A to point Z is a way to shift your perception and illusion that the task you’ve given yourself is too big, too scary and too difficult to master.

When no action taken in the direction of accomplishing a task or project, this means that we feel overwhelmed by the entire process. We think it’s only a one or two step process but in reality, it can be broken down into so many more simple and singular actions.

In order to get over that fear, you’ll need to get a new perspective on the task, action or goal you are trying to achieve. What’s holding you back is your fear that it’s going to take too much of your energy and time. So you keep putting it off. If you can see what you need to do as little, tiny, miniscule steps, instead of a massive action-taking plan, you’ll move yourself out of that anxiety state and onto the road of action.

Another way to get better perspective and get over fear of taking action is to see it through your heart. For example, if cold-calling prospects sends rivets of sweat down your back, learn to get a better perspective by seeing the prospects as individuals, human beings. Instead of lumping them “all” into one basket and seeing them as dollar signs. See each person you call as just that, a person. A person like yourself who might really need your product or service. Be honest and connect with the aspects of the product or service that ring true for you. Perhaps you have just the solution that this perspective buyer needs. Changing this perspective can be the mental action needed to get over fear and make the call.

Do It Now

At some point you will be motivated to act. When motivation and inspiration set in you get over fear more quickly and taking the first step is easier. As you take more actions, more steps on your path towards accomplishment, you’ll find yourself gaining confidence and you’ll take bigger steps later on. What will really help you get over your fear of taking any action is when you do “something” everyday, over a period of time, you’ll be able to look back and see that you’ve actually made progress!

Remember that life is a process, life is a journey. It’s about taking a step here and there. You need not accomplish it all today. You need not get it all done by nightfall. Move away from this modern day illusion that you have to hurry through life. Get over fear by seeing that you can do something to move things forward today, even if it’s really small. The hardest thing is going from inaction to action. It might start with a shift in your thoughts. It might start with taking a small action or it might start with feeling good about yourself and what you can do. Whatever it is, that ‘it’ really is something, a wee bit of energy that will eventually grow and help you conquer your hesitations to get over fear and take any first action.

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Everybody Has a Gift

For many years now I have been practicing strengths-based living. The concept of strengths was first introduced to me by my friend and colleague Dr. Wendy Flint. She pointed me in the direction of Gallup’s StrengthsQuest. At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder® Profile, the product of a 25-year, multimillion-dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths. The program introduces 34 dominant “themes” with thousands of possible combinations, and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success.

I took the assessment and my results were intriguing. Some results where “Oh yeah” and others where “Aha..”. What was so exciting to me was that an interest I had always considered as a weakness showed up as my top strength. I had to know more…Of course I did – my top strength is Learner!

The next thing I know I am logging onto Amazon and purchasing the book Now Discover Your Strengths. I read it in less than a day. What I learned was that strengths and talents (gifts) are different. A talent or gift is a naturally occurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied. It is only one of the three “raw materials” that make up a strength. The other two are 1) Skill: the steps of an activity and 2) Knowledge: factual knowledge about something. While skills and knowledge can be acquired, a talent or gift exists naturally within you.

34strengths

34 Strengths

Talent ( A natural way of thinking feeling or behaving) X Investment (Time spent practicing, developing your skills and building your knowledge-base) = Strength ( Ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance).

Now that I understood the anatomy of a strength I was jonesing for more information. This led me to the next book  – Go Put Your  Strengths to Work. The most valuable part of this six-week, six-part process was to pick a week and capture your emotional reactions to the activities of your week, then clarify and confirm what you captured. When I reflected back on my “I Loved It” reMemo pages I could see all of the things I loved about my job and how they played into my strengths. My challenge was creating my own strong-week plan to include all or some of the things that invigorated me while planning to minimize from my week the things that drained me.

For you non-learners out there this may just sound like ton of work. But I have to tell you that the time I invested in understanding how to maximize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses has propelled me to new heights in both my career and personal life. Over the years I have shared these concepts with hundreds of friends, co-workers and students causing what I believe to be signifiant impact for them as well.

The StrengthsQuest is not the only assessment out there. Marcus Buckingham, one of the authors of the original book, has since parted ways with Gallup and has his own similar version called Standout. Both of these are available for a nominal fee. Join our conversation on Facebook to learn about a FREE Assessment Tool.

Everybody has a talent or gift. Let tomorrow be a stronger day than today.…You’ve always known what your strengths are.You’ve always known what lies within you. So, trust them, be proud of them and take your stand.

Want Success? Focus on the People

Over time I have seen far too many leaders who are focused on the wrong things in business. No matter how hard you work you cannot succeed without the support and engagement of the people you lead. How motivated are your employees? Are they fully engaged and passionate about their work?

In challengImageing economic times it is natural for most people to lose some level of enthusiasm. When we cut costs and people around us lose jobs and even their homes, our desire to take on the biggest challenges at work can falter. But in these times, the last thing we need is lost productivity and less passion. In fact, what we really need is to raise the bar and get more productivity and creativity from our people.

Can you motivate your employees to do more?

There are many differing theories on the psychology of motivation but the one area where there is agreement is that people do things for their own reasons, not yours. Motivation isn’t something you can give someone -employees have to motivate themselves.

But you can make a difference.

Here are the top 10 things you can do to create a climate that will inspire your employees to be motivated to do their best work and achieve the results you desire.

1. Know and care about the concerns of your employees. Do they feel appreciated and listened to? Take the time to talk to them and discuss their priorities and desires. Frequent informal conversations will help you know more about them as individuals and enable you to better understand what really motivates each of your employees. Remember people do things for their reasons not yours. If you can help employees get what they need to motivate themselves through their work, they will bring a higher level of passion and energy to what they do.

2. Develop and communicate a compelling organizational vision. People become motivated if they are excited about the purpose and goals of the organization and how they can contribute towards achieving them. If you communicate a clear vision with passion and enthusiasm and you will rally the troops. Each employee needs to understand how their own work contributes towards the company achieving its goals. To be motivated, they need to be confident that their work makes a difference.

3. Address ineffective teamwork. Working as part of an effective team can lead to impressive improvements in morale and motivation. Unfortunately the converse is also true. Even the most self-motivated individual cannot maintain enthusiasm if they are part of a dysfunctional team that is “not playing nice in the sand pit.”

4. Be a role model for your organization. The attitude and behavior of the leader sets the tone for the whole organization. Your employees are constantly watching you and will take your lead if you are enthusiastic. Engage the troops with your enthusiasm, be realistic about what is happening around you and remind them about where the organization is going. Talk about what is possible. At times this may mean that you need to pump yourself up, or use the services of a colleague, or coach to keep you motivated and focused.

5. Communicate with everyone respectfully. Yes, fear and intimidation can produce real motivation to take action, but this approach does not produce sustainable effort and results. Treating people with respect is at the heart of building business relationships. Respecting the right to differ is a concept motherhood and apple pie. We all agree with it but do we truly foster it? Give your people the freedom to be themselves and choose how to achieve the agreed upon results.

6. Provide employees with the opportunity to be creative. People will feel more motivated if they work in an environment where they are challenged and still have the opportunity to innovate. Give people freedom to make decisions. Encourage collaborative problem solving. Develop strong skills in delegation. Solicit their opinion and feedback on the issues and challenges you cannot delegate entirely to them.

7. Invest in developing employees. Demonstrate that you care about your employees’ success by providing opportunities for them to grow professionally. Take the time to provide effective feedback on a continual basis. Recommend books and articles that are useful resources. Provide an adequate training budget and encourage its use. Recommend the support of a business coach or mentor. Allow employees to spend some time on projects that they care about…even if they are outside their standard responsibilities.

8. Regularly recognize and reward effort and results. Employees need recognition and praise. Give ample feedback and recognition whenever possible. Look for opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate successes, even the small ones. Be specific in your praise so that they know what behavior has contributed to the overall success of the organization.

9. Ensure compensation and other rewards and benefits are fair. There are a number of extrinsic rewards that have a short-term impact on motivation. Salary increases, company stock options, bonuses, vacation days or upgrades to the work environment will be appreciated by your employees. However all of these basic motivational tools can become “de-motivators” if they are not used fairly. Employees will compare their compensation packages with others, and will become discouraged if they perceive inequities. Employees need to know that they will receive appropriate and fair rewards and recognition for their achievements.

10. Ensure that the right person is doing the right task and fully understands their role. This is perhaps one of the most often overlooked areas of motivation because it requires us to step back from the day to day and take a more holistic and strategic view of the business. Getting the right people in the right role and then ensuring that their responsibilities and expectations are clear is a critical foundation for success.

And finally as a bonus…

Help your employees find work/life balance. Many employees today are struggling to balance the heavy demands of life and work. By providing benefits that make it easier for employees to take care of themselves, you will ensure that they are better able to perform in all aspects of their lives. Examples of this type of benefit include flexible work schedules, membership to a health club, flexible work schedules, on-site childcare, employee assistance programs, wellness programs or family appreciation days.

I know it’s been a while since I have written in my blog. Today I am feeling very passionate about the topic of employee engagement and truly how important it should be to every leader. If your focus is elsewhere you will fail. You cannot succeed without your people supporting your vision and goals. I hope you enjoyed today’s edition. I look forward to getting back into the practice of adding to my blog at least weekly.

Have a great rest of the day!

Dana

 

The Leadership Lessons

Throughout my many years as a leader I have considered, learned and practiced many management and leadership principles. Some worked for me, others did not. In your career you will find the same. There is no magic pill to become a charismatic and respected leader. The best leaders have natural ability. They know their strengths and capitalize on them regularly. Each of the best leaders surrounds themselves with those that have strengths that complement their own.

Below are six principles that guide my ability to influence and guide others. I call them The Leadership Lessons. 

Treat People As Individuals

The best managers treat every employee as an individual. Spend time with your best people. Give constant feedback. If you can’t spend an hour every quarter talking to an employee, then you shouldn’t be a manager. People leave their immediate managers, not the companies they work for.

Focus On Strengths

Unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, guided by our parents, by our teachers, by our managers, and by psychology’s fascination with pathology, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths lie dormant and neglected. The best managers never try to fix weaknesses; instead they focus on strengths and talent. Know what can be taught, and what requires a natural talent.

Lead By Example

The best managers know they are on stage every day. They know their people are watching every move they make. Be sure that your intentions are pure and that your actions follow your words before you act.  A promise is a promise; keep yours in order to build trust. Practice finding ways to capture and follow-up on the promises you make (put them on your calendar, have your assistant keep track, etc.).

Set Clear Expectations and Follow-Through

If you make accountability your standard operating procedure you may enjoy a relationship that runs more smoothly and more efficiently, your team will be focused, and be ever more willing and able to deliver the results you expect.  At the end of the day, you will eliminate the surprises that come with bad news and missed results, and you will not find yourself shaking your head in frustration, wondering “How did that happen?”.

Be Passionate About What You Do

The easiest way to get excited about what you do is to promote it to someone else. That forces you to think about what is important about the work itself, and why it matters. Sit down and develop a compelling 1-minute pitch that highlights the benefits of your contribution and why you are so passionate about it. If you can’t get excited about your own work, neither will anyone else!

Plan For Renewal

Feeling good doesn’t just happen. Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew. It’s all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal–a new opportunity to recharge you instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.

Leadership doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Careful, Your Professional Etiquette Is Showing!

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

By Cookie Tuminello

There’s so much buzz going around these days on developing the proper ‘netiquette’ when posting on the worldwide web that I wonder if we’ve overlooked the workplace where real professional etiquette is in danger of going the way of the dinosaur.

Professional etiquette isn’t solely what type of clothing you wear to the office although I do think that it is a very important factor. A favorite saying from my friend, Debbey Ryan, the Queen of Networking is, ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.’

In this past month alone, I have had several requests for coaching and guest speaking on this very topic. Professionals don’t have a clear cut vision of how they’re supposed to act or communicate with co-workers, clients, and team leaders. They struggle with unreal expectations and workloads. And to add to the confusion, we now have 4 generations of folks in the workplace. Most of them are suffering from severe communication breakdowns due to the fact that the majority of communication is being conducted via email and that, my friends, leaves a lot of room for misinterpretations to occur between the lines.

While I think that the internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I also think it is one of the most abused areas of professional etiquette. While it may be faster, it is not always the best. That is why it is very important to be very clear about what it is you want to say and how you want to say it before you say it.

Here are 5 simple rules that I think will calm some of the chaos and confusion in the workplace:

Rule #1: Be respectful. If your message is very important, deliver it in person, or at the least via the phone. Do NOT rely on emails or text messages to inform others of crucial pieces of information or worse yet, reprimand them about something they did or did not do, because I can guarantee you that at some point electronic messages will either become lost or be misinterpreted.

Rule #2: Set Boundaries. If you’re not getting your work done during the day then take a look at where your time is going. Yes, I know that this may go against the idea of having an ‘open door’ policy, but that phrase doesn’t mean that people should be able to waltz into your office any time they like. By setting Open Office Hours (Follow Up/Questions/Meetings) and Closed Office Hours (Email/Phone Calls/Paperwork) you will find that you will be both productive and creative.

Rule #3: Learn how to present powerful ideas and handle difficult conversations. If you’re due for a salary increase and it doesn’t happen, don’t sit and stew about it for weeks on end until you’ve worked yourself up into a towering inferno of suppressed anger. Schedule (there’s that word again!) some time to talk to your supervisor and go to the meeting with a clear-cut action plan. And stick to it! Many times we are so angry because we believe that our needs are being overlooked that we fail to maintain our objectivity when discussing our expectations with our boss. Face the issue head on and be ready to justify why you believe you are definitely due for that raise or promotion.

Rule #4: Bypass the office gossip mill. Water cooler chit chat is always going to happen, but you don’t have to be a part of it. If you have a disagreement with someone, have a conversation with that person to clean it up. Remember that the person you cut down with harsh words or make fun of today could very well become your boss tomorrow! Nothing good ever comes out of idle gossip unless your employed by the leading supermarket tabloid publication.

Rule #5: Find a mentor to inspire you. Charles Caleb Colton once said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and he was right! If you want to be a great manager or team leader, then observe how your favorite one acts, dresses, and behaves in general. I’m not suggesting that you literally stalk them at work; just take note of how they conduct themselves and try to incorporate their positive actions into your own business demeanor. Ask this person if they would consider becoming your mentor. Believe it or not, most people are flattered when asked this question and usually say yes to the request.

If you follow these 5 simple rules to effectively communicating with your team, leaders, and/or managers, I can guarantee you that you’ll have less confusion, more productivity, and see better results in your relationships and endeavors.

Cookie Tuminello is the ‘go to’ coach for CEO’s, executives, business owners, and organizational leaders who want to unleash their potential, attain big goals, and create productive, powerful, and fulfilling lives. She provides powerful tools and tactics to engage, inspire, and energize them to attain amazing sustainable results. Receive her complimentary ezine and report at www.cookietuminello.com

The Lessons Are in Your Story – Women in Leadership Learning Through Storytelling

By Consuelo Meux

Women's Leadership Conference Online

Register Today! Women's Leadership Conference Online

When I decided to study women’s leadership, I needed to interview women leaders. To do this, I had to design a way to determine what gives a woman her unique leadership ability. When I contacted women leaders and asked them about their leadership skills, many couldn’t find a way to identify exactly what it was that gave her the ability to be a leader.

So I decided to take a different approach. I decided to ask the women to tell me their stories. Having the chance to talk about leadership stories was the key to finding the lessons from women leaders.

The lessons were in the story.

One story was about how a woman had decided to lead the fight for quality education in her community. With a group of other parents, she went to the City Hall to talk to the council-person. When the group got there, everyone turned to her to be the spokesperson. That was her moment of becoming a leader.

Another professional woman related how her workplace needed some innovative ideas to market educational products to an adult population. She knew how to work with this target group because she had taught adult education for years in a past job. Her ideas resulted in a significant increase in sales for the company. This led to her being the leader of a new division in her workplace.

Sometimes it is not easy to describe certain behaviors, such as leadership. But when you hear the stories behind the situation or event, you can find the lessons. Finding lessons in stories can provide a way to mentor others. You can share the steps you took, the insights you’ve gained, and the wisdom that you now put into action. Women are great storytellers. Have you thought about how you can use your storytelling ability to share leadership lessons with others? Think of how effective you could be when you learn how to find the lesson in the story.

The first step to take is to actually find your story. Women have a particularly difficult time talking about the things they’ve done and achieved in life. It seems like bragging to say you’ve done something good. But learning to identify those good times do several things.

1. It lets you build your confidence because you see what you’ve accomplished in life.
2. You become bolder to know that you can share what you’ve accomplished to encourage someone else.
3. It makes you want to try something else and you move to higher steps.

After speaking to one woman about their leadership story, she said that actually hearing the words come out of her mouth gave her a new perspective on her life. She felt proud in a positive way. Some pulled out of feeling like their “time had passed” and started getting involved in their community again. What happened was that after doing a great feat, many were worn out but didn’t recognize this as a natural reaction to doing something powerful. Now, by seeing how a leadership event requires a time of healing and rest, these women can empower others to know this truth too.

Take time to find the lessons in your story. Write out what you’ve accomplished or find something to talk to about it. You will find a power that you failed to recognize before when you acknowledge the lessons in your story.

Don’t miss the Women’s Leadership Conference Online.   When was the last time you attended a conference that changed your life and gave you new direction? Learn from other leaders, entrepreneurs and successful business women who have gone beyond boundaries to be successful. Register now for the Women’s Leadership Conference Online !

Consuelo Meux, PhD. owns the Confident Business Women programs for women who are determined to succeed in life and business. Women learn to embrace levels of confidence needed to maximize success and to live an authentic life on purpose. Find out about the upcoming Embracing Confidence Program or join the monthly Confident Women Cafe. Go to the website to find out how at http://www.confidentbusinesswomen.com

Email Communication Tips – Don’t Email Me in That Tone of a Voice!

By Jurek Leon

Have you noticed just how often people take offense at the tone of an email message?

Whether it’s with suppliers, customers or colleagues more problems in business seem to arise as a result of email than any other form of communication. Why is that?

Email is an informal mode of communication. It’s great advantage is immediacy. These days with remote access, iPhones, Blackberries and the like you can reach someone as they rush to a meeting, from a meeting, and as they catch up on all their messages. Emails are often sent in a rush and read in a rush and therein lies the danger.

In the old days when letters were the most frequent form of written communication, they were written on letterhead, a reminder of business protocol. They were checked for spelling, grammar, punctuation and through this, clarity of the message.

By contrast, emails often include clipped sentences, text style abbreviations, and are rarely set out in paragraphs that assist understanding. And, as I mentioned earlier, they are often read in a rush by the recipient of the email. They do this using their voice. Yes, I know they aren’t reading out loud but they are reading using their internal voice… and this voice has a certain tone.

Just think of how your voice differs on the phone when you are in a rush. Go on, think of it. Do it now. It’s not a pleasant voice, is it?

Communication specialists tell us that around about 84% of the message over the phone is based on interpretation of the vocal communication. And with emails this is the same because we are hearing our voice read the message. And if the words magnify the clipped, potentially uncaring tone the chances of us taking offence have just increased dramatically.

Over the phone, people often spend the first few seconds developing rapport and getting in synch with one another. This is far less likely to happen with emails, and if the receiver has had previous problems with the sender of the message or the organization they represent, there is a high likelihood that they will interpret the tone as being unfriendly.

So, what can you do about this?

1. Before sending any email read it to yourself first. Ensure the sentences flow and the tone is friendly. This small investment of time will help to dramatically reduce misunderstandings and miscommunication. In fact, it will prove to be a great time saver and stress reducer.
2. Check it for spelling, grammar and punctuation. 
3. If it is about a delicate issue, don’t put it in writing if there is an opportunity to talk with the person over the phone or face-to-face. 
4. If it is about a delicate issue and does need to be in writing, get a colleague to read it first, and take heed of the feedback they give you. If you can’t do this, sleep on it and reread the draft email in the morning before pressing Send.

Jurek Leon is a speaker, trainer and coach. To subscribe to Jurek’s FREE monthly email newsletter go tohttp://www.terrifictrading.com and type in your name and email address. It’s simple and easy. Alternatively, email Jurek at info@terrifictrading.com.