As a performance psychologist, and someone who talks to business owners on a daily basis, some who are my clients and many more who are not, I’ve heard an incredible number of reasons why businesses are struggling or failing.
I know that 99 out of 100 times that a reason‚ really isn’t a reason at all, it’s an excuse. There’s a big difference, and I’ll tell you what it is.
A reason is an explanation for why something is the way it is, with everyone involved taking accountability for their part in a situation.
An “excuse” is an explanation for why something is the way it is, that always involves the blame being put on someone or something that isn’t involved in the conversation, and not able to share their side of the story.
Let me give you some examples of common excuses for why businesses, fail:
The market is flat
There’s a recession
Too many people doing the same thing
It’s not perfect
I don’t know what to do
There’s not enough hours in the day
This list is endless. There are as many excuses for failure as there are failed businesses. If a person were to take accountability for their decisions and their actions, those excuses could be seen as the real reasons for failure, and they would look more like this:
The market is slow, so what CAN I do to make it better
One man’s recession is another mans OPPORTUNITY to grow
How CAN I stand out above the others
I feel low so what CAN I do to feel better
NOTHING is perfect I‚’m just going to get it going
What do I need to LEARN to do this
How CAN I manage my tasks better
You probably notice a pattern forming here. For every excuse that a business owner can give for a business failing, there is a real reason that points back to something THEY did or didn’t do.
I’m sharing this information not to make anyone feel bad about their struggles or mistakes, I’m sharing it to help business owners realise that they are the only person that controls their destiny.
Nobody is going to save you. You are responsible for you, get over it and get on with it.
For every mistake someone else makes that affects your business, there is a system & process you could have put in place to increase your chances of avoiding the mistake in the first place.
Until you learn to be accountable and responsible for you and your choices, you’ll be doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, everyone does, and only those people that admit their responsibility in the mistake learn from it. These are the people that can keep trying and eventually taste success, after all, a mistake is only a mistake if you make it twice. The first time it is a beautiful lesson!
Those that want to blame someone else, themselves or circumstance for their failures are dooming themselves to a life full of them.
You can choose reasons (excuses) or you can choose results; unfortunately you can’t choose both!
I was at an ABC Network meeting recently and was doing a short presentation on systems & processes. Afterwards the question of leadership came up when one of the members said to me “I hate it when somebody points out what I already know, and they are right because I’m not doing it! I’ve put the system in place but don’t use it myself so therefore the staff don’t use it!”
He is not alone in saying one thing and doing another, especially as small business owners it’s easy to tell staff what to do and then blame them for not doing it. Now, there lays the problem…
If we are the business owner, we are the alpha male/female in that business and our staff will follow our lead, good or bad.
There are far smarter people then I who have written on the all important topic of leadership.
That said, I do want to touch on this one, what I believe to be an incredibly important leadership skill. I consider it to be rule number 1 because anyone who aspires to be a true leader, whether, in their personal life, professionally, or a combination of both, there is simply no way around not making this leadership characteristic a part of their very being.
What’s the number 1 rule of leadership you ask? …
Don’t play the blame game. If you have been entrusted with the role of leader, you need to accept whatever challenges exist, yes even the ones, that may have been present before you undertook the role you currently find yourself in.
I love what John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence.”
It’s for this very reason that grasping the lesson above is so important. Because people are influenced by those they respect — and if you are a person who doesn’t accept responsibility for creating positive change in the given area of your life where you have been entrusted with the role of leadership, you are going to have a difficult time remaining someone that others respect, and as such are willing to remain influenced by, which as you can imagine is going to limit your ability to lead.
The truly great leaders, the leaders who manage to create a legacy, the kind that lasts years after they have gone from the position of prominence they once held never point to the shortcomings of their predecessors because they know that those who put them in the position of leadership deserve better. They understand that they were entrusted with the all important title of leader because those who trusted them and put them in this position want to see results.
They reached the level the leader not to spend time discussing the challenges they faced, and how bad a shape things were left to them, no those who lifted them up as the leader deserve better, they want solutions, not excuses. And make no mistake, the leaders who leave a lasting legacy never even mention those before them — unless to give them credit and point out the good things that they may have done. Instead they choose to focus on what they are there to do, what others are trusting them to do — to lead, without blame, and excuses, and in-turn create positive change.
Great leaders accept responsibility for the current situation and focus on solutions…
Please, make no mistake, the first, and utmost important characteristic of a true leader is their willingness to own whatever challenges they come across during their tenure as leader. Deflecting and placing blame outside themselves doesn’t fix anything, and those who take this approach inevitably end up disqualifying themselves as true leaders.
Anyone can acknowledge and point out past problems, and place blame on others who may or may not have had a hand in whatever challenges exist.
True leaders are those who refuse to go down the all too common road which is paved by blame, and even goes as far as to ensure that those around them don’t attempt to shift blame either. The true leader accepts the situation as is it now, and further, accepts that he or she is fully responsible for the end result.
They relish in this challenge — they know that excuses, or shifting blame in anyway will diminish their ability to lead, because of the loss of respect they will get as a result of placing blame, and not accepting that they were put in the position they are now because others believed they could get things to where they needed to be, regardless of whatever situation they may have inherited.
Make no mistake, true leaders make the decision to get on with the business of fixing whatever problems and challenges may appear, when they appear, holding and expressing their vision for what will create that and keep others updated with real, measurable results so that everyone can see first hand that things are in fact changing for the better.
All of us must be responsible for holding those we entrust with the role of leader accountable. When we see that they are falling short, we must be willing to point it out, and let them know we expect better.
If you are not practicing what you preach then don’t blame your staff if they follow your lead! As Gandhi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”
If you want to lift your business to the next level and change your mind-set have a look at some of my seminars.
What is it about change that we, as humans don’t like?
Is it because we see change as a risk?
The truth is, living is a risk. Happiness is a risk. If you’re not just a little bit scared sometimes, then you’re not doing it right. Don’t worry about mistakes and failures, worry about what you’re giving up when you don’t even try. Worry about the life you’re not living and the opportunities you’re missing, as you only exist in the safety of your comfort zone. Give yourself permission to be one of the people who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them and grew into your best and strongest self.
So, here are some good reasons it’s time for all of us to grab hold of change and move forward…
Everything changes, whether you like change or not. – If nothing ever changed there would be no sunrise the next morning. Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success. Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see a world we never knew was possible. And remember, however good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can rely on. So embrace it, and realise that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
There’s plenty of life left to be lived. – It’s never too late to live a day that makes you proud. If you don’t learn anything else from this post, learn that. We get one go at the present and we can make it great. Today is the day! There’s no age limit on changing your course, and to settle in and be stuck in a life that isn’t authentic is a tragic waste. Believe me, it’s never too late or too early to be who you are capable of being. There’s no perfect time – you can start and stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. You can make the best or the worst of today. It’s up to you, so make the best of it. Do things that startle you. Feel things you’ve never felt before. Spend time with people who help you grow. Live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, have the courage to change things.
You can’t grow by standing in one place. – When things aren’t adding up in your life, it’s time to start subtracting. Sometimes you must let go to grow. You cannot discover new oceans unless you build up enough courage to lose sight of the old, familiar shoreline. Be brave. Follow your values. Listen to your intuition. And remember, no venture is ever a waste of time. The ones that don’t work out teach you lessons that prepare you for the ones that do. A mistake is only a mistake if you make it twice.
The past never changes. – You can spend hours, days, weeks, months, or even years sitting alone in a dark room, over-analysing a situation from the past, trying to put the pieces together, and justifying what could have or should have happened. Or you can just leave the pieces in the dark and walk out the front door into the sunlight to get some fresh air. Why waste today thinking about yesterday, that’s just plain crazy!
Holding on to old pain is self-abuse. – Your past has given you the strength and wisdom you have today, so celebrate it. Don’t let it haunt you. Replaying a painful memory over and over in your head is a form of self-abuse. Toxic thoughts create a toxic life. Make peace with yourself and your past. When you heal your thoughts, you heal the health of your happiness. So stop focusing on old problems and things you don’t want in your future. The more you think about them, the more you attract what you fear into your everyday experiences – you become your own worst enemy.
Moving on creates positive change. – You may blame everyone else and think, “Poor me!
Why do all these shit things keep happening to me? But the only thing those scenarios all have in common is YOU. And this is good news, because it means YOU alone have the power to change things, or change the way you think about things. There is something very powerful and liberating about surrendering to change and embracing it – this is where personal growth and evolution reside.
New opportunities are out there waiting for you. – Nobody gets through life without challenges and disruptions… just as nobody gets through life without losing someone they love, something they need, or something they thought was meant to be. But it is these trials that make us stronger and eventually move us toward future opportunities. Embrace these opportunities. Enter new relationships and new situations, knowing that you are venturing into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to experience something or meet someone that just might change your life forever.
“Change isn’t part of the process; it is the process. The bad news: nothing is permanent. The good news: nothing is permanent!”
It was as I was walking up the departure ramp to board my flight home when I heard this loud laughter and a woman speaking with such passion and energy that I could not help but looking. I thought she seems to be the life and soul of that particular party; I was secretly hoping that I wouldn’t be seated next to them on the plane, after all what were the chances of that out of 380 other passengers?
When we booked in Sarah (My wife) asked as usual for a window seat only to be told that the only window seat was a single and we would have to sit separately. I was hoping for a sleep on the plane and anywhere other than a window seat would make that impossible due to my long legs. So separate seats it was.
As I handed my boarding pass to the stewardess she said “just there Sir….” Fantastic, right at the front in the exit gangway, not only a window seat but long leg room. Yahoooo.
While we waited for the last passengers to board the two seats next to me where still empty, it was then that I heard that same loud voice, surely not? You guessed it; she sat right next to me with her partner. (Bloody law of attraction) My four hour sleep disappeared into the distance just as my short break had.
You are probably asking “and so what?” Well as you know I believe “Nothing happens by chance, my friend!”
“No such thing as luck. A meaning behind every little thing, and such a meaning behind this. Part for you, part for me, may not see it all real clear right now, but we will, before long.” (Richard Bach) Everything happens for a reason.
So what could be the reason behind this meeting I wonder?
It all soon became clear… This loud confident lady turned out to be the ultimate pessimist with absolutely no confidence and in danger of attracting all of the negative things she was imagining on a daily basis.
By the end of the flight Ash had done what Ash does best and this lady ended her holiday with a promise to learn from the Law of Attraction, re-frame her negative thought patterns and change her life for the best forever…..
Now the lessons in this “chance‚” meeting and a reminder to us all;
Everything happens for a reason.
The Law of attraction will attract whatever you are thinking. Good or bad.
If you realised how powerful your thoughts were, you would be very careful what you thought.
The decision to change needs to be accompanied by positive action!
Now, for those of you that think the “Law of Attraction” is a load of old baloney here is the scientific explanation!
One of the most difficult to conceive parts of your brain is the small section called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This tiny portion of the human brain is the size of your little finger and it can actually have a major role and effect on your life in general.
This is how and why your RAS can change your life.
At any given time during your day, your mind is bombarded with millions of bits of sensory stimulation’s from the physical environment where you are. Sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and feelings are continually being downloaded into your system, and your mind needs a way to filter that information. That is the purpose of the RAS and why it came into being.
The Reticular Activating System sits in your brain and acts as a custom filter which adapts to different types of situation and reacts instantly. If you think of the RAS as a bouncer at the door of your mind. Your beliefs tell the RAS what is or is not important, chiefly making a list of all the information invited to the party, and your RAS then acts like the club bouncer letting whoever is on the list in and chucking the rest out on the street.
Of those millions of bits of information entering your brain, your RAS only lets in around 130 pieces of those bits of information per second into your conscious mind. That’s about all that your central nervous system can handle at one time, and the details you let in are the ones that you have deemed over the years to be important enough for yourself.
This is where the work comes in, and the awesome results follow. Over 30 days, if you think about it and imagine yourself experiencing something new, or affirming an additional, recent belief like “the world is full of amazing and incredible people,” slowly but surely you are moulding your filter so that this new statement is having access to your mind and a new mind-set is taking place. As you give access to your mind for new convictions, new thoughts are making their way in your subconscious.
We all know that no matter our beliefs, especially where they normally deal with other people, there are plenty of opinions to prove one right or wrong out there in the world. If you believe people are bad, there will be plenty of people around that can prove you right. If you believe people are great, there are just as many people out there waiting to prove that belief right too.
In the end, it is about what belief you choose to embrace and impress upon your subconscious.
For the lady in question (You know who you are!) Thank you for keeping in touch and well done for the fantastic changes you’ve made!
If you want to lift your business to the next level and change your mind-set have a look at some of my seminars.
So here we are, just 2 weeks into the New Year, your New Year resolutions, ideas and goals are starting to fall by the wayside and remain incomplete. Maybe they didn’t even get off the ground; probably because you are just too busy or just don’t have the energy.
Does this sound familiar?
You are not alone. I see it all of the time and in the past I’ve experienced some of it myself.
Why does this happen, I hear you ask?
We’re passionate about our businesses and our ideas. We believe we can manage it all. And we certainly have the drive and desire to succeed, don’t we? So with all of this going for most small business owners, why do they fall into the frustrating and disappointing habit of letting themselves down?
Working alone has many benefits, however, just as many pitfalls. Entrepreneurial-minded people typically love the magic moment when an idea is born. They also enjoy creating the strategy.
However, the implementation? Well, that’s another story altogether, isn’t it? Structure, accountability, routine; these words tend not to be your vocabulary if you are a creative, right-brained person. I’m not saying that hard-working business owners are incapable in these areas, but I do believe that implementing things from beginning to end and fine-tuning the process is often much more challenging – and yes, sometimes impossible for the entrepreneur.
And if you are a small business owner without a team to complete the details and some of the implementation, you might get very frustrated. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole when you try to engage your brain in activities that just don’t feel natural to you.
While lack of resources is often a problem, there is another obvious drawback to being a small business owner – the lack of accountability.
Successful business owners most often engage a coach/mentor and/or participate in Mastermind or results groups. There are so many benefits to these relationships that I can’t even go into them all, but one that seems to be a common denominator for many entrepreneurs is what I call the results factor. When the stumbling blocks have been worked out and a plan has been put in place, they feel more inspired to follow their tasks through to completion results group meeting.
One small success after the other leads to larger success and increased profits, the payoff really becomes obvious. This accountability seems critical to their success.
Making a commitment to yourself is a great start, the trouble is, sometimes it feels OK to let ourselves down. You might find yourself making excuses, and yes, they are excuses! (See my excuses blog here!) and we allow things to elevate in urgency and get out of control until you have so many fires to put out that the well just runs dry.
Instead of exhausting yourself like this, why not join a results driven group of fellow entrepreneurs?
A results driven Mastermind group may raise the bar for you as you challenge and support one another. Our small groups of small business owners simply commit to completing several tasks prior to the next month’s meeting. As a group of stubborn, like-minded entrepreneurs, no one is going to come to the meeting having failed at their commitments!
Think about what motivates you to do the detail work and follow through on your ideas. Blocking out just one day per month can make a huge difference if you block not only the time, but the interruptions as well. Turn off the phone, close your computer and focus on your ‘to do’ list.
Who do you know who will hold your feet to the fire? Someone who will encourage you and offer up the occasional ‘atta boy’ when you’ve stretched beyond your comfort zone? Success is a beautiful thing – even the small successes – and accountability could be the key!
If you want to lift your business to the next level this year and not let your New Year goals slip then join our Entrepreneurs Business Club!
I recently had to do a talk on excuses at a local network group (I didn’t get on the 5-45 from Paddington!) and I started it something like this;
Good morning my name is Ash and I’m a psychopath….. Sorry, I meant psychologist. I think that is what is called in the trade as a Freudian slip!
I was at an ABC Network meeting last year, it was 6-45am and I was standing in the venue at the refreshment stand giving a second squeeze to my teabag, as you do for the first cup of the day. This lady came up to me and said “You’re that psychologist that has written a book!” Now, it was still early and I was trying to process what she was saying and I wasn’t sure if she had asked a question or made a statement.
I was just about to answer when she continued with “I read a book that said Psychologists were one step away from being psychopaths!” And with that she marched off up the other end of the room muttering “You’re not bloody well analysing me!”
Now that throws up a couple of questions for me; firstly, who actually was the psychopath in this situation? Secondly, why would I try and analyse anyone unless they were paying me to do so?
On a serious note one of the things I do is study behaviour and language patterns, especially those of small business owners. It is these behaviour and language patterns that form their habits and it’s the habits that they perform on a daily basis that gives them the results that they get.
So when I see a particular behaviour I know whether that person is likely to have a successful business or not. I also listen to the words they use and the excuses that they make, as these also become habits.
One thing is for sure, if you want something badly enough you will find a way, if you don’t you will find an excuse!
Let me give you an example…
Imagine a lovely row of semi-detached houses in a suburban road, you look into the back gardens and you can see a beautiful green lawn being cut by the house owner. He has a shiny new lawnmower going up and down in perfectly straight lines.
Standing watching him is his neighbour and his lawn is a bit of a mess. Overgrown grass, potholes where the dog has been burying his bones and all other types of debris and he says to his neighbour with the lawn mower “Morning neighbour, can I borrow your mower please?” His neighbour replies “I’d love to lend you my mower but the 5-45 from Paddington is due in so I can’t!” His neighbour looks at him somewhat confused and says “Ok, I’m not interested in the train I just want to borrow your mower!” And the reply was just the same that the 5-45 from Paddington was due in.
By now the neighbour is frustrated and confused and says one more time “I just want to borrow your mower please?” When the guy with the mower says “Look the 5-45 from Paddington is due so I really can’t lend you my mower!”
The moral of the story is; if you don’t want do something one excuse is the same as any other!
We all make loads of excuses every day and some of them can be very damaging to our business and our lives. In particular the worse kinds of excuse are the ones we make to ourselves.
There are 2 main areas where those excuses come from;
I get lots of clients come to me and say the reason they can’t do something is because when they were young their dad did this or their mum did that or my brother said this.
I say to these people you send your Dad, Mum or Brother to see me, I’ll fix them and you will be alright then? And of course they say don’t be silly.
It is their belief of the past event that stops them taking action today and this is how it works;
Your current feelings, your personality traits and your current behaviour were shaped by the past events that you have been through?
The experiences that you have been through when you were a little child are dramatically impacting your life right now even the ones that might seem irrelevant or insignificant?
Your past is currently affecting your present and it will keep affecting your present and your future until you become aware of the connection.
Early childhood memories are the source from which children start to form their beliefs about the world. If for example a child believed that his parents are giving more attention to his little sister then he might develop the belief that his parents don’t love him the way they love his little sister.
But how can this past event affect the life of that child later on? Simply that child might always believe that someone else will be preferred over him wherever he goes!
When that child grows up and gets married he might start to believe that his wife is cheating on him whenever she smiles at other men. In such a case the old belief that was developed at the past impacted the way the man sees life!
This was just a simple example demonstrating how a single past event can affect the person’s present life greatly.
Now, how many similar past events have contributed to your current beliefs? Can you imagine the impact the hundreds of events you have been through, when you were a child, can have on your life right now?
So how can you prevent your past from impacting your present?
The first step you need to take is to become aware of any childhood experiences that affected you the most and realise that you can change it, after all it is just an excuse.
What is in the past is exactly that, it’s in the past and it can only affect your present or future if you choose to let it. You can make that excuse about your dad, mum, sister or brother telling you that you’re not good enough or you can choose to take action and become good enough!
It’s just an excuse, so the next time you are about to make and excuse, look at yourself in the mirror, look straight into your eyes and notice how you burst out laughing.
Remember, if you want it bad enough you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an EXCUSE!
My new book ‘The FlipFlopPsycho and the Ruby Earrings’ is being published in November. Here is the introduction to the story in which Ruby turns around her ailing business and makes some life changing discoveries. A story full of Leadership, wisdom and business knowledge!
If you like it, please fill in the form at the end to pre-order the book at a very special cost price and one lucky winner will receive six months personal mentoring from me!
So here it is… Enjoy
‘The FlipFlopPsycho and The Ruby Earrings!’
Finally this was the day; it was here, the day that Ruby had waited for all of her life. She was so excited that she was opening her very own jewellery shop with all of her very own designs. It had taken a while and without the inheritance from her dad she would probably still be waiting in another 38 years.
She had found this quaint little shop in a picturesque seaside town that was popular with the tourists so it should encourage lots of new faces to look at her hand made jewellery.
Deposit paid, lease signed for 25 years, a few modifications inside to include her work station at the back of the shop and brand new display cabinets; now her beloved jewellery to fill them!
The opening day was good with takings in excess of £1500; brilliant, Ruby thought, with money like that coming in I’ll soon have the life I’ve always wanted and financial freedom. The first year of trading was good she had taken enough money to pay the bills, buy new materials for stock and pay herself a small wage. What she didn’t seem to have was any left over, the more money she took in the shop the more she seemed to spend.
The next two years were better on the takings but Ruby found that she had to subsidise her spending for the business with her credit card, she justified this by telling herself it would get better after the recession. The fact was that the business was losing money!
From the minute Ruby had been old enough to pick up a crayon she would draw anything and everything she saw.
Her mum and dad would encourage her to play with other toys without avail, Ruby was absolutely single minded and only wanted to draw. When she started school she was the same and had no interest in anything other than drawing.
She didn’t pay any attention to the lessons except for art classes and when her teachers tried to explain that she needed an education she really couldn’t see why as she knew best. When she got to senior school she started to concentrate on drawing jewellery and the thought came to her that she would like to design items for princesses and actresses. Her favourite design was a pair of ruby earrings, with lots of individual rubies shaped like a bunch of red grapes.
When she left school Ruby went to work for a silversmith and learnt how to make fine jewellery and soon started creating items from her own drawings. She was learning all of the necessary skills to excel at her chosen profession. One day the silversmith said to her “I think it’s time you should know something about business!” Ruby looked at him and said “why would I want to do that? I love making jewellery and that’s all I want to do!”
This had been the way of her life; she had done what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. Being interested in anyone or anything else wasn’t what she considered important. Why would she need to be good at maths or English, why would she need to be friendly to people, why would she need to understand business? It just wasn’t as important as designing and making her own jewellery. She was a loner and that’s the way she liked it.
It was a sunny Saturday morning when a very successful local businessman dropped his wife off at the busy seaside town to have a look at all of the shops while he went to see a client that lived nearby. When he came back to pick her up she said “I’ve seen some lovely ruby earrings in this little jewellers shop at the end of the high street; can we have a look?”
So they walked back along the high street passing several other jewellers with lots of people milling around outside window shopping. When they got to the shop, there was a sign in the window saying “Closed for lunch!” “That’s a strange business decision‚” said the businessman; “A busy high street with lots of potential clients and the shop is closed for lunch? Never mind we can come back tomorrow as I need to get back today for another client.”
Sunday in this typically English seaside town was the busiest day of the week with lots of people driving in from the bigger towns of Maidstone, Canterbury, Medway and even London. This made shops in the high street a premium and they seldom came on the market for sale or lease even during the recent recession.
The businessman and his wife got to the jewellery shop just after 10am only to find it was closed again. All of the other shops in the high street were open for business and were taking advantage of the sunny day and the resulting extra influx of tourists. He said to his wife “Lovely jewellery but if the shop isn’t open on the busy times, how do they earn any money?”
They checked the opening hours on a sign hanging in the side window of the shop which said open Monday to Saturday 9am till 4-30pm and closed for lunch 12-30pm till 1-30pm. So they decided to come back on a weekday in a couple of weeks and hope that the ruby earrings were still there.
Two weeks later they visited the shop again and were in luck as it was actually open. In they went and his wife started looking around for the earrings. Ruby came out from her work station at the back of the shop and said “do you need any help?” A classic poor opening question thought the businessman.
“I would like to try those ruby earrings please!” said his wife. While she was trying them on he said to Ruby “how are you finding business at the moment?” “Not very good‚” she said “We have a lot of competition with three other jewellers in the high street!” “If we can’t get more clients in we may have to close!” “That would be a shame‚” said the businessman. “How do you market your business?” he asked. Ruby said “We are in a busy high street so we shouldn’t have to do anything other than attracting walk by clients.”
Very interesting he thought, and then asked “So what about a website?” “I have one but people don’t buy from it and I don’t understand it anyway.” He asked “what about Twitter and Facebook?”
“I don’t engage with my friends on Facebook so why would I want to engage with strangers? Anyway, none of that stuff works for bespoke jewellery like mine!”
“Ah‚” said the businessman “You have some lovely jewellery in here, is this all handmade?” “Yes!” Ruby replied. He asked “Have you made everything in the shop?” “No, I wouldn’t want to bore people with all of my things; I share the shop with another person.”
With that, his wife said that she liked the ruby earrings and dropped the hint that there were also a couple of other items, a bracelet and ring that he might want to come back and buy for her as Christmas presents.
“I’m not sure I want to sell those particular earrings as they were the first piece of jewellery that I ever made from my own design.” said Ruby. This is getting crazier by the minute thought the businessman; he asked “Why would you put them on display if you didn’t want to sell them?”
With tears in her eyes Ruby said “business has been really tough, with all of the competition it’s really hard to make ends meet. It’s the last resort if I sell the ruby earrings I will have enough money to pay the rent this month!” “What will you do next month?” he asked. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope we have a good month over Christmas!” she replied.
He paid the £800 for the ruby earrings for which Ruby thanked him and they left. She felt as though the world had collapsed under her, she had promised herself that she would never sell her first design, but this was really her last chance to keep the landlord happy. Oh why oh why had she signed that 25 year lease?
The Saturday before Christmas the businessman arrived at the shop at 9-00am sharp to find a sign in the shop window saying, Christmas hours Monday to Saturday 10-30am till 4-00pm. Despite being disappointed to have to wait, he did so as he had driven 30 miles to buy a particular item. He walked up the high street which was already packed. The little kerbside cafe’s were almost at capacity and people were queuing to get into other shops, he just couldn’t work out why any business owner relying on walk by customers would open an hour and half after their competition did?
At 10-30am he was waiting at the door of the small jewellery store and there was Ruby in her work station as usual. The shop looked particularly empty today and he asked if she had had a good Christmas up till now? “No‚” she said. “I haven’t been able to replace the stock as we haven’t made enough money so it looks like we will close down after Christmas.”
He asked her “what was the thinking behind the reduced opening times over the busiest time of the year?” Ruby became very defensive as she always did when people questioned her decisions and said “It’s my shop and I’ll open when I want to, I can’t see the point of being here early at Christmas!” “That’s a shame as the high street has been very busy since I’ve been here at 9-00am!”
He picked the ring and the bracelet that his wife wanted and asked how much? Ruby said that it was a thousand pounds. At that moment the businessman had a thought; he said to Ruby “I’ll make you an offer, you can take the thousand pounds now or I’ll give you a day of my time and I’ll help you save your business!” Ruby thought for a minute and said “there’s nothing you can do to save my business as I’ve done everything that I know how and it hasn’t worked. I’ll take the money please.”
That’s normal he thought for most small business owners, too busy justifying what they know to find out what they don’t know. He handed over the money and said “just before you go to bed tonight ask yourself this question.” “What would you do differently if you had the chance to do it all again?” “Then as you sleep and dream tonight maybe the answer will come to you!”
With that he thanked her gave her his business card and left. Like everything else in her life Ruby took no notice of what he had said to her and just got on with her day moaning to everyone that came in the shop about how hard it had been through the recession and that she would have been ok if it hadn’t been for the competition. That evening as she was counting the day’s takings she found the businessman’s card, she thought about what he had said to her, laughed, and then put his card where she put all other cards… Straight in the bin!
As Ruby slept that night she had the most vivid dreams, recalling all of the conversations that she had had with the businessman. The first time she met him when he had asked about marketing her business, about the website, twitter and Facebook. She dreamt about the question he told her to ask herself and realised that all of her life she had done what she thought was right and didn’t take any notice of what anyone had told her.
It was at that point she remembered what the old silversmith had said about learning about business and realised that that is what she would do different. She would have learned how to do it properly, she would have learned how to engage with people, she would have learned about marketing and sales. She would have paid attention to customer service, she would have realised that having a bespoke service she could have sold it online, if she had only found out what she didn’t know instead of justifying what she thought she did know.
She realised that she had had a strategy that was perfect to give her what she had and if she kept using the same strategy she would keep on getting the same results. She realised that she was a brilliant jeweller but a very poor businesswoman.
Early the next morning she went through the bin and hoped that the businessman might just still give her the opportunity of the swap of the jewellery for his time. Could he really save her business? She hoped he could as she now knew that if she wanted something different, she had to do something different!
And maybe, just maybe she could earn enough to buy those ruby earrings back!
Too late, the bin men had already taken the rubbish!
At one of my Millionaire Mind-set seminars recently we were discussing managing our personal states and the effect that has on our profit margin. One of the attendees asked “How do you choose a positive state if you have had a bad day?” I’m sure that lots of you also have the same question…
Here is my attempt at answering it for you, so let’s start with a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet; “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so!” It is what we think about something that either makes it good or bad, the meaning that we attach to an event.
What you may consider bad luck, I might see it as an opportunity and visa-versa, it’s all in what we think about a situation that gives it power.
One of the greatest challenges we all face is managing our own internal emotional state, especially in difficult situations. How do you deal with challenges? Do you like your friends to console you? Do you feel anger rise followed by a verbal or physical outburst or do you throw yourself head first into activity to stop you from thinking about the difficult situation?
I believe there is no such thing as an un-resourceful person, just an un-resourceful state. Being able to manage your state so that you are able to remain resourceful even in the most challenging of situations is clearly something that is of huge value wherever you work, whatever you do and whoever you are! In business especially being able to choose your state will directly affect your bottom line.
Whatever task you have to perform, whatever you want the outcome to be, ask yourself – “What state do I want to be in to make this easy?”
If you do want to or need to change your state in order to help you perform at your optimum level then there are many ways to do so using various techniques.
To get you started, here are 3 easy ways to help you manage your state:
Change the pictures you are creating for yourself – not just what you are picturing, but how you are picturing it. Change the sounds you can hear, become more aware and zone in for the best picture possible. Ever noticed what happens if you’re feeling low or a bit stressed and then you hear your favourite piece of uplifting music? Change the sounds and how you imagine your end result to be.
Change your body radically – Move, do anything that pushes different chemicals around your nervous system whether this could be doing more exercise or simply taking the stairs instead of the lift. Change your posture, stand tall, high and successful, not only will you look confident but you’ll feel more confident. Consider changing your facial expression to a smile and slow down your breathing, even the smallest changes will help you manage your state.
Change your internal dialogue or self-talk. You can change the content or the language of your mind chatter so you become your own champion. How about changing your internal critic that tells you you’re not good enough? Imagine how funny you might find it if your inner critic had the voice of Mickey Mouse or the Donkey from Shrek? Or move the location of the voices so it comes from your big toe! All states are caused by the interaction between your thinking patterns, your physiology and your neurochemicals. Changing any of these can influence your state.
The ability to change your state and choose how you feel is one of the skills for emotional freedom and a happy life. Emotional freedom does not mean never feeling negative but does mean you are more aware of negative states and can choose your response.
If you are in a bad mood (state) think of how that effects people around you. Is it endearing them to you? Probably not. Does being miserable with your customers effect your profit margin? You bet it does, so change your state to a more positive resourceful one and you will notice how it gives you better results.
We all have days here and there where we feel like stress and fear is overtaking us, and all we can see are problems, we feel like there is no escape, no light at the end of the tunnel.
On days like that, we have to interrupt the pattern, we have to change up a gear and get out of our routine.
What I recommend to my clients on days like this is what I call the Five R’s to a great day.
1. REVIEW your day. (What went well, what are you grateful for?) Always end your day on a positive note!
2. REALISE that you have done the best that you could have. (If there were things to improve on; well, now you know what they are) We all make mistakes or have things that just don’t go as planned, take a few deep breaths and move on, we cannot always control everything that comes up in our lives.
3. RECOGNISE that you are making a difference to others. (Think about the ways you help others every day, and make a difference in the world) Sometimes we need to remind ourselves the value we bring to others. Even during those stressed filled times, we can be an example to those who are watching how we handle these times.
4. RECONCILE anything that you felt was negative. (Learn from it. What could have been done better or different?) Identifying the problem, challenge, negative attitude, whatever it is, that’s half the battle. Now that we have identified the issue, we can reconcile it, adjust, problem solve and overcome.
5. RELAX – Spend time breathing, go for a walk, take a break in your day for a period of time to ease any tensions. Make sure to take time out for yourself, doing what makes you feel great. This way you can be at your best. (Relaxation= Rejuvenation and Refuelling) This helps to make you strong, reinvigorated and you actually think clearer when you take the time to step back and take a break.
I was at an ABC Networks meeting last week when a guest came marching up to the host of the event and launched into a tirade about how difficult it was to find the venue.
The host, a very experienced host and well respected lady in the local business community was humble and did everything possible to calm and placate the guest without success. The guest continued to be curt and disrespectful and finished by saying “There are not enough people in the room, so I would be wasting my time being here!”Then marched out!
Imagine the message this conveyed to the people that were in the room.
It doesn’t end there…
Later that day I received an email from person in question. They complained about how difficult the venue was to find and how rude and unhelpful the host had been. Interesting!
They clearly didn’t realise I was there and witnessed the whole episode along with all of the other attendees and my version of events was very different to theirs.
I explained to the person that the AA road signs were clearly marked in every direction from all of the major roads and the exact venue details were on the ABC website. That’s not mentioning the name of the venue in massive letters on the outside of the building and ABC banners inside the building.
I also pointed out that the ethos of the ABC network is to build long term relationships and not to sell to the room. Quality over quantity. The suggestion was that if they wanted to put a sales pitch to the room, then ABC was probably not for them.
Now this throws up some really interesting points for me regarding this person’s take on networking…
Does this attitude work?
Is this transactional or relationship based?
What return on investment are they getting on any other networking?
Had they planned the journey? (Considering they had a 7o mile round trip.)
Where else is this behaviour showing up in their business & life?
So, all things being equal, people do business with people they like and if they don’t like you, even if you are the only person with the product or service in the room, the chances are they will NOT buy from you.
Did this person enhance his chances of people liking him at that network meeting? Probably not!
Here are 5 of my top tips for networking;
It’s not about you! If you go to a network meeting with the view of what you are going to get out of it, you probably won’t be very successful. If you go with the view of how can I help someone or how can I connect someone, then they are more likely to remember you. The more you give, the more you gain! Perhaps give because you can and don’t keep score!
Networking is NOT selling! Networking is about building relationships, getting to know, like and trust others. By all means, talk about your products or services, as you are there to raise the profile of your business. Have the attitude of turning strangers into friends and friends into clients!
Never judge the room! You don’t know who is in the room and more importantly, who they know. Most people have a circle of influence of about 250 people and it’s these people that you ultimately could have access to. If you have judged the person in the room you will never get the opportunity to be introduced to their circle of influence who might just want your product or service.
Adjust your attitude! Our attitude is everything, if you turn up to the network meeting in a bad mood, miserable or aggressive, people will sense it and not want to talk to you for any longer than necessary. So be aware of your state and how you may be coming across to others. A positive attitude can lead to positive behaviour and create success. An upbeat, positive person draws other people like a magnet. After all, who would you rather be around-someone who is strong and motivated, with the confidence to keep moving forward, or someone who stays stuck in one place, thinking of reasons why things don’t seem to happen?
Listen to understand not respond! Once in a conversation, listen to others and show interest. Do not start looking around the room at others trying to spot someone more interesting. This will only get you a reputation of being rude and ignorant. Prepare a set of great questions and get used to adapting them to suit the person in front of you. Listen to them exactly how you would like them to listen to you. By listening and helping others, they are more likely to help you. Listen to understand what they are saying rather than respond with your take on things.
Back to the subject person… The Psychologists view!
With a negative attitude it is very unlikely that they will be getting a great return on the networking. It would appear that they are not the best planner in the world and probably very reactionary. They probably talk about building relationships; however, the relationship would be based on transactions. (If you do this for me, I’ll do something for you.)
Remember, “It’s not about you!” and “Giving begins the receiving process!”
Do It Now! DIN!
Would you like to join an accountability results group?
As someone who loves watching human behaviour patterns it fascinates me why a lot of people keep repeating the same fundamental actions and wonder why they don’t get a different result.
So here are a few actions that you may be taking, that, if you stopped, might just make a big difference to your life!
1. Criticising everyone and everything.
Life isn’t perfect. People make mistakes. Let go of unfair expectations. Stop criticising yourself and others for being human. If you feel like everyone is judging you all the time, realise that human beings often feel this way when they are too busy judging themselves.
It’s far easier to be critical than correct, just as it’s easier to see why something is lacking rather than why it is good. If you meet someone for the first time and you decide, “This is a person I don’t like,” you can basically take every one of their characteristics and find the obvious flaw. What’s hard to do is describe what you like about them, despite their incompatibility with your ideals.
Everyone is unique: not better, not worse, just unique in their own way. Appreciate the differences instead of criticising the shortcomings and you’ll see people – and yourself – in a far better light.
2. Believing that you have all the answers.
Criticising has a big brother: the know-it-all-syndrome. The older you grow, the higher you rise in your chosen field, and the more you achieve, the more likely you are to think you know it all. When you catch yourself thinking and speaking with intense finality and little tolerance for new ideas, stop yourself and take a deep breath. If you do not, you will alienate the world around you and become more and more disconnected from reality with each passing day. Few things are sadder and leave a person unhappier.
Remember, it isn’t someone who proves you wrong that hurts you; it is choosing to continue your self-deception and ignorance that eventually conquers you entirely.
The measure of your intelligence and success in life will be in direct proportion to your ability to change your mind and let it expand. If someone is able to show you that what you think or do is not right, thank them and happily adjust. Seek the truth. Never stop learning.
3. Trying to control everything.
Craving control leads to anger and unhappiness. Life is to be lived, not controlled. Powerful, positive change will occur in your life when you decide to take control of yourself instead of craving control over everyone and everything else.
Imagine that you’re driving in your car and you get stuck in rush hour traffic. The traffic situation is out of your control and simply requires your patience. However, this doesn’t stop you from switching lanes, trying to cut in front of other cars, or even leaving the road you’re on to try alternate routes – all desperate efforts to gain control. Sadly, these efforts just lead to further stress and unhappiness when they are unsuccessful – when control is again obstructed.
Quite simply, the reason you are often miserable and stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to certain things you have no control over. So let go. Release the tension and stress. Realise you haven’t lost anything; you were never in control of the uncontrollable to begin with.
4. Dwelling on what used to be.
When something negative happens, view this circumstance as a chance to learn something you didn’t know. Don’t wish it never happened. Don’t try to step back in time. Take the lessons learned and step forward. You have to tell yourself, “It’s OK. You’re doing OK!” You need to know that it’s better to cross new lines and suffer the consequences of a lesson learned from time to time, than to just stare at the lines for the rest of your life and always wonder.
The past is valuable. It provides a solid foundation for everything you’re doing now. Learn from it – the mistakes and the successes – and then let it go. This process might seem easier said than done, but it depends on your focus. The past is just training; it doesn’t define you in this moment. Think about what went wrong, but only in terms of how you will help you make things right.
The bottom line is that if nothing ever changed – if no chances were ever taken and no mistakes were ever made – there would be no sunrise the next morning. Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this change is vital to our happiness and general self-improvement. Because only when we let go of what used to be, do we grow and begin to see a world we never knew was possible.
5. Wanting everything you don’t have.
Life is NOT short if you spend every waking moment appreciating it. It’s just that by the time most of us catch up to appreciating what we have, we’ve already squandered our time and left life at least halfway behind us.
The key is being thankful for what you have NOW.
No, not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realise they do, perfectly. So thank the situations that didn’t work out for you, because they just made room for the situations that will. And thank the people who walked away from you, because they just made room for the ones who won’t.
No matter how good or bad you think you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, think about what you have that everyone else is missing. Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive in your own shoes – to breathe a fresh breath, to think another thought, to enjoy a new moment, to have options – then go out and make the day count.
6. Whinging & Whining and doing nothing about it.
Complaining does not work as a strategy. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least positive results. When you spend time fretting and complaining, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
Don’t talk about what’s wrong. Harping on your problems makes you feel worse, not better. Unless you want to complain about it forever, eventually you’ll have to DO something. If you took a fraction of the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving your problem, you’d likely be stunned by how well things can work out. Start talking about how you’ll improve things, even if the conversation is only with yourself, and then focus on the next positive step. Refocus your energy into making your situation better.