Success In Every Season

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Lately, I find myself looking forward to the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.  Manhattan is an odd culture - the place pretty much shuts down over the summer.  Or at least it slows way down.  Lots of people leave for months at a time to escape the crowded city craziness that you learn to both love and hate.

So summer is not what you would call a “productive” season business-wise.  People aren’t setting aggressive goals, they are harder to reach due to travel, and they don’t make many spending decisions.  

When I was in IT sales, Summer was always the lowest revenue quarter.  We would often get frustrated because the leaders setting revenue projections didn’t take into account seasonal variations, so it looked like we underperformed during the summer.  Every.  Single.  Year. 

Thankfully, over time the CEO finally saw the pattern and learned to adjust expectations accordingly.  And that right there illustrates an important key to satisfaction -  know what season you’re in, and make realistic goals that consider the unique variations.

Notice I didn’t say LOWER you expectations.  Instead, I suggest a SHIFT.  If you know that your business cycle slows down in summer, then take advantage of that time to shore up critical systems, marketing materials, and customer service processes.   If you go to a lot of industry conferences in the Spring, then combine your travel with visits to key customers.

Things get a lot easier when you learn to work with the rhythms and season of life.  Those variations are a gift.  But if you fight against them expecting consistent performance all the time, you’ll be constantly frustrated.  And I don’t want you to be frustrated.

So what about you?  Is there a certain period each year that you’ve come to dread?  Write it down. What’s unique about that season?  What is it trying to tell you?  Now ask yourself - how have your expectations been fighting against the natural rhythm?  And finally, how can you adjust your expectations and activities to leverage that season to your advantage?

Bonus tip: this works in all areas of life - not just business.

I wish you well.

True Humility

When your talent makes you stand out
   and they notice you
   and it’s awkward
   because you don’t conform to their average-ness
   and it triggers their insecurity
   and they cut you down

Do you hide your brilliance
   or at least tone it down a notch or two
   so that you appear above average (which is OK)
   but not exceptional
   because that would be prideful
   or arrogant?

Have you been so conditioned by Average
   that you automatically bully yourself
   without even thinking about it
   and tell yourself the comfortable lie
   that you’re just being Humble
   by suppressing the exceptional you?

Because if you really shine
   others may get jealous
   you’ll have critics
   your convenient friends might leave
   or you might publicly trip
   or have to face your own insecurities

Do you see how this is still all about you?
   It’s self-centered
   negative, yes, but still self-centered
   so let’s call it what it is
   an imposter
   False Humility

True Humility takes guts
   to embrace the exceptional you
   and let it shine
   and face criticism
   and ignore your internal bully
   and pick yourself

But then you’re on the hook
   to actually do something
   excuses taken away
   hard work required
   maybe that’s why it was easier to hide
   but that was before

Now you can get to work
   doing what matters
   making a difference
   being an example
   pushing yourself to higher levels
   and being truly humble

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The #1 Thing To Boost Your Career Profile

Watch this short clip first...

That’s such a watchable movie scene because: a) it’s Sandra Bullock!  And b) It pokes fun at the safe answers that contestants can give at beauty pageants.  They’re all trying to sound profound, but they just parrot each other and lose all meaning in the process.  

Unfortunately, the majority of professionals do something similar when it comes to their career positioning.

In this week's vlog I'll show you why this backfires and what you can do about it.  
(Shout out to Jim Longo for the idea)

Three Keys to Staying in Your Talent Zone

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I've used a wide range of assessment tools for my clients over the years - some with mixed results. But I like Gallup CliftonStrengths so much, that I just wrapped up my certification training to become a Strengths Champion Certified Coach.  

If you haven’t heard of the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly Clifton StrengthsFinder), it ranks 34 different talent areas from highest to lowest specifically tailored to you. 

The assessment is based on decades of research that shows investing in your talents brings a much higher return in productivity than the same effort spent trying to improve your weaknesses.  

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So far I’ve coached over 60 hours with my clients using this tool, and have gotten consistently good feedback.  Here are the top three reactions I get from my clients when they see the results for the first time:

  1. “I didn’t know this was a strength - I thought was a weakness!”  These people really need to be affirmed and appreciated for their contribution, but they've probably taken a lot of criticism over the years.  This is especially true if they have one of the strong influencing or leadership talents.  The takeaway?  Have the courage to develop those talents you've been suppressing.
     
  2. “Why is this talent ranked so high on my list? It’s really not a big deal."  Then, after we explore the talent in depth, they'll start to see that it plays out over and over in their lives.  But it’s such an integral part of who they are, they just couldn’t identify it beforehand.   The key here is to realize that your talents are unique and powerful.  Then you'll be able to develop them further.

    And finally...
     
  3. Guilt relief over their weaknesses!  Years of striving to improve an area of weakness that yields little progress does a number on their self-esteem.  They find freedom when they realize they don’t need to be someone who they’re not designed to be.  That’s not an excuse to slack off.  But the better approach is to partner or manage around a weakness rather than investing in it in hopes that you'll be great someday.

WeAlign is a coaching company that has a powerful process to walk their clients through CliftonStrengths.  I like it so much that I joined the company :-)   We cover all 34 talents, not just the top 5, and I’ve seen great results using this method with my clients.  Check us out at www.wealigncoaching.com

Thanks for reading.  If you found this helpful, please like and share it.  
And feel free to contact me if you have any questions about CliftonStrengths or WeAlign.

Are your exceptional talents hiding in plain sight?

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As I was driving down the Palisades Parkway checking my side and rearview mirrors, I started think about blindspots.

We typically think about personality blindspots in a negative sense, and rightly so.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?"  It's easier to see faults in others than it is to see them in ourselves.

But what about our talents?  My clients have shown me firsthand that many of them are unaware of their exceptional talents.  Or, if they are aware, they greatly undervalue them.  And I tend to do the same thing.
Unfortunately, that can lead to bigger problems than you might think. 

Watch the video below to hear the full story.

A Surprising Barrier to Success

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Sometimes the biggest barrier to success is... success!

I know that we've all been taught that success breeds more success, that it builds momentum, and is just generally awesome.  All true.

But sometimes, a prior big win can have a powerful delusional effect, causing you to think that you have this success thing down to a formula.   Then you try to re-apply that formula to your new situations but, you don't get the same results.

And here's why - often times your personal "big win” had other factors involved that you may have conveniently overlooked.  For instance:

  • The quality of your team usually has a much bigger impact than you realized while you're working with them.  
     
  • The company's leadership made good decisions to create the right environment and give you a platform to succeed.  Without those you wouldn't have had a chance
     
  • You might have just been in the right place at the right time with the right product or service.  In other words, you got lucky.  But the success story that you tell yourself is that your own brilliance saved the day.

Truth be told, this is what happened to me.  Click the short video below to hear my story as well as some practical tips to get unstuck if you're in a similar place.  

There’s more success waiting for you down the line - maybe even your biggest win yet - and I want to make sure that you keep moving forward.

The Secret to Job Satisfaction

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Both your identity (who you are) and your performance (what you do) are important, but the way you prioritize them makes all the difference in the world.  

A good friend of mine was an engineer at a clothing manufacturing company. He was "in his zone" using his talents and skills, and got great results for the company.  

He was an outgoing, gregarious guy. So In order to “reward” him for his strong performance, the CEO promoted him to a new role in public relations so he could travel globally with the C-suite.

But having to tell half-truths and constantly “spin” bad news as the PR contact really went against my friend’s core values. And in a matter of a weeks he was in the hospital with heart palpitations due to anxiety.

The demands to perform were violating his identity.

This story has a happy ending, though.  Join me in this short video as I unpack how identity and performance play off of each other, and show how you can leverage them to your advantage.