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StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article

It’s A Dog-Eat-Dog World Out There, But Only If You Allow It

Business is often described as a dog eat dog world. But things only usually get that bad if you let them. Here is some advice from entrepreneurs who learned serious lessons through their own experience on how to avoid getting screwed over by their business partners, and the people that they work with.

Always Avoid Emotionality

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
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It’s great that passion motivates the positive aspects of your business and drives you forward to new heights. But passion in business can get you into trouble, especially when emotions turn negative. Things will go wrong in business. People will try to take advantage of you, colleagues will lie, and business partners will let you down. The key to running a successful business is to always remain cool and calculating in these situations. Losing your head can lead you to make damaging decisions that could ultimately be harmful to your business in the long run.

Meditate

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
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Meditation and entrepreneurs don’t seem like great bedfellows. After all, entrepreneurs are all about living life at 100 MPH, and people who meditate, usually Buddhist monks, are interested in the precise opposite. But when it comes to entrepreneurship, meditation is actually of critical importance. The reason is that our brains tend to make new connections and come up with original ideas when our minds are clear from other worries. Many entrepreneurs like to meditate in the shower and are sometimes referred to as “urban shower monks.” Being able to get away from the mayhem often allows you to think about how you’ll deal with a difficult situation better at work.

Set Clear Parameters With Your Stakeholders

One of the biggest problems companies face is defining relationships between their partners, vendors, stakeholders and colleagues. Often these agreements can get out of hand, and you can find yourself losing out. This is why so many companies now use contract management software to stay on top of all their relationships with their customers. It allows them to make sure that all of their contracts are in the best interest of the company and easy to find. It also helps organizations that need to scale rapidly manage their risks in real time.

Be Strategic

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
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Command and control entrepreneurs don’t usually do all that well. They think that people are working for them because they really want to and they believe in the company, but most of the time it’s just so that they can put food on the table at night. Some business leaders think that all they have to do is tell their employees what to do by force of will and they will obey. But this isn’t how people work. Instead, interacting with people is more like a game of chess. It’s strategic, and often people will do and say things that lead to their strategic advantage. For years Donald Trump ingratiated himself with the highest echelons of society. Now he’s bringing them to their knees. It’s all about long-term planning and cunning. Think carefully about what is actually motivating the people who work for you and with you.

Hank Moore

Mentoring and Lifelong Learning

Professionals who succeed the most are the products of mentoring. I heartily endorse that find a great mentor. I have had many excellent ones in my long career and have in turn mentored hundreds of others.

The mentor is a resource for business trends, societal issues and opportunities. The mentor becomes a role model, offering insights about their own life-career. The mentor is an advocate for progress and change. Such work empowers the mentee to hear, accept, believe and get results. The sharing of trust and ideas leads to developing business philosophies.

The mentor endorses the mentee, messages ways to approach issues, helps draw distinctions and paints pictures of success. The mentor opens doors for the mentee. The mentor requests pro-active changes of mentee, evaluates realism of goals and offers truths about path to success and shortcomings of mentee’s approaches. This is a bonded collaboration toward each other’s success. The mentor stands for mentees throughout their careers and celebrates their successes. This is a lifelong dedication toward mentorship… in all aspects of one’s life.

The most significant lessons that I learned in my business life from mentors, verified with experience, are shared here:

  1. You cannot go through life as a carbon copy of someone else.
  2. You must establish your own identity, which is a long, exacting process.
  3. As you establish a unique identity, others will criticize. Being different, you become a moving target.
  4. People criticize you because of what you represent, not who you are. It is rarely personal against you. Your success may bring out insecurities within others. You might be what they cannot or are not willing to become.
  5. If you cannot take the dirtiest job in any company and do it yourself, then you will never become “management.”
  6. Approach your career as a body of work. This requires planning, purpose and commitment. It’s a career, not just a series of jobs.
  7. The person who is only identified with one career accomplishment or by the identity of one company for whom he-she formerly worked is a one-hit wonder and, thus, has no body of work.
  8. The management that takes steps to “fix themselves” rather than always projecting problems upon other people will have a successful organization.
  9. It’s not when you learn. It’s that you learn.
  10. Many people do without the substantive insights into business because they have not really developed critical thinking skills.
  11. Analytical and reasoning skills are extensions of critical thinking skills.
  12. You perform your best work for free. How you fulfill commitments and pro-bono work speaks to the kind of professional that you are.
  13. People worry so much what others think about them. If they knew how little others thought, they wouldn’t worry so much. This too is your challenge to frame how they see you and your company.
  14. Fame is fleeting and artificial. The public is fickle and quick to jump on the newest flavor, without showing loyalty to the old ones, especially those who are truly original. Working in radio, I was taught, “They only care about you when you’re behind the microphone.”
  15. The pioneer and “one of a kind” professional has a tough lot in life. It is tough to be first or so far ahead of the curve that others cannot see it. Few will understand you. Others will attain success with portions of what you did. None will do it as well.
  16. Consumers are under-educated and don’t know the substance of a pioneer. Our society takes more to the copycats and latest fads. Only the pioneer knows and appreciates what he-she really accomplished. That reassurance will have to be enough.
  17. Life and careers include peaks and valleys. It’s how one copes during the “down times” that is the true measure of success.
  18. Long-term success must be earned. It is not automatic and is worthless if ill-gotten. The more dues one pays, the more you must continue paying.
  19. The next best achievement is the one you’re working on now, inspired by your body of knowledge to date.
  20. The person who never has aggressively pursued a dream or mounted a series of achievements cannot understand the quest of one with a deeply committed dream.
  21. A great percentage of the population does not achieve huge goals but still admires and learns from those who do persevere and succeed. The achiever thus becomes a lifelong mentor to others.
  22. Achievement is a continuum, but it must be benchmarked and enjoyed along the way.

These are my concluding pieces of leadership advice. Know where you are going. Develop, update and maintain a career growth document. Keep a diary of lessons learned but not soon forgotten. Learn the reasons for success and, more importantly, from failure.

Good bosses were good employees. They have keen understanding for both roles. Bad bosses likely were not ideal employees. They too are consistent in career history. Being your own boss is yet another lesson. People who were downsized from a corporate environment suddenly enter the entrepreneurial world and find the transition to be tough.

Poor people skills cloud any job performance and overshadow good technical skills. The worst bosses do not sustain long careers at the top. Their track record catches up with them, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.

Good workers don’t automatically become good bosses. Just because someone is technically proficient or is an exemplary producer does not mean that he-she will transition to being a boss. The best school teachers do not want to become principals, for that reason. Good job performers are better left doing what they do best. Administrators, at all levels, need to be properly trained as such, not bumped up from the field to do something for which they have no inclination.

Truth and ethics must be woven into how you conduct business. If you do not “walk the talk,” who will? Realize that very little of what happens to you in business is personal. Find common meeting grounds with colleagues. The only workable solution is a win-win.

Leadership and executive development skills are steadily learned and continually sharpened. One course or a quick-read book will not instill them. The best leaders are prepared to go the distance. Professional enrichment must be life-long. Early formal education is but a starting point. Study trends in business, in your industry and in the industries of your customers.

People skills mastery applies to every profession. There is no organization that does not have to communicate to others about what it does. The process of open company dialogs must be developed to address conflicts, facilitate win-win solutions and further organizational goals.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Questioning Questions

Decades ago I had an idea that questions could be vehicles to facilitate change in addition to eliciting answers. Convention went against me: the accepted use of questions (framing devices, biased by the Asker, that extract a defined range of answers) is built into our culture. But overlooked is their inability to extract good data or accurate answers due to the bias of the Asker; overlooked is their ability to facilitate congruent change.

What Is A Question?

Questions are biased by the expectations, assumptions, goals, unconscious beliefs and subjective experience of both the Responder and the Asker and limit responses accordingly. In other words, questions can’t extract ‘good’ data. They’re certainly not designed to lead Responders through to real change or accurate revelations. (What? Did you really say what I think I heard? offers a broad discussion of bias.) Here are the most prevalent ways we limit our Communication Partner’s responses:

Need to Know Askers pose questions to pull conscious data from the Responder because of their own ‘need to know’, data collection, or curiosity. An example (Note: all following italicized questions are posed as a mythical hairdresser seeking business) might be: Why do you wear your hair like that?

These questions risk overlooking more relevant answers that are stored beyond the parameters of the question posed – often in the unconscious.

Pull Data Askers pose questions to pull a range of implicating data considered useful to ‘make a case’ in a ploy to obtain their desired results (i.e. sales, leadership, marcom, coaching). Don’t you think it might be time to get a haircut?

These questions run a high risk of missing the full range of, or accurate, responses. Certainly they offer no route to enabling choice, decisions, or collaboration/buy-in. They encourage resistance, partial/missed answers, and lies.

Manipulate Agreement/Response Questions that direct the Responder to find a specific set of responses to fit the needs and expectations of the Asker. Can you think of a time you’ve felt ‘cool’ when you’ve had short hair? Or Have you ever thought of having your hair look like Kanye/Ozzy/Justin? Or What would it feel like to have hair like Kanye/Ozzy/Justin? Wouldn’t you say your hairstyle makes you look X?

These questions restrict possibility, cause resistance, create distrust, and encourage lying.

Doubt Directive These questions, sometimes called ‘leading questions’ are designed to cause Responders to doubt their own effectiveness, in order to create an opening for the Asker. Do you think your hairstyle works for you?

These narrow the range of possible responses, often creating some form of resistance or defensive lies; they certainly cause defensiveness and distrust.

Questions restrict responses to the Asker’s parameters, regardless of their intent or the influencer’s level of professionalism and knowledge. Potentially important, accurate data – not to mention the real possibility of facilitating change – is left on the table and instead promote lost business, failure, distrust, bad data collection, and delayed success. Decision Scientists end up gathering incomplete data that creates implementation issues; leaders and coaches push clients toward the change they perceive is needed and often miss the real change needed and possible. The fields of sales and coaching are particularly egregious.

The cost of bias and restriction is unimaginable. Here’s an especially unfortunate example of a well-respected research company that delayed the discovery of important findings due to the biases informing their research questions. I got a call from one of the founders of Challenger Sales to discuss my Buying Facilitation® model. Their research had ‘recently’ discovered that sales are lost/delayed/hampered due to the buyer’s behind-the-scenes change issues that aren’t purchase-driven and sales doesn’t address – and yay for me for figuring this out 35 years ago.

Interesting. They figured this out now? Even David Sandler called me in 1992 before he died to tell me he appreciated how far out of the box I went to find the resolution to the sales problem (He also offered to buy me out, but that’s a different story.). The data was always there. I uncovered this in 1983. But the CEB missed it because their research surveys posed biased questions that elicited data matching their expectations. Indeed, even during our conversations, my Communication Partner never got rid of his solution-placement (sales) biases and we never were able to find a way to partner.

What Is An Answer?

Used to elicit or push data, the very formulation of conventional questions restricts answers. If I ask ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ you cannot reply ‘I went to the gym yesterday.’ Every answer is restricted by the biases within the question. I’m always disappointed when I hear sellers say “Buyers are liars” or coaches say “They didn’t really want to change.” Or therapists or managers or leaders say “They’re resisting”. Askers cause the answers they get.

  1. Because we enter conversations with an agenda, intuition, directive, etc., the answers we receive are partial at best, inaccurate at worst, and potentially cause resistance, sabotage, and disregard.
  2. There are unknown facts, feelings, historic data, goals, etc. that lie within the Responder’s unconscious that hold real answers and cannot be found using merely the curiosity of the Asker.
  3. By approaching situations with bias, Askers can only successfully connect with those whose conscious biases align with their own, leaving behind many who could change, or connect when their unconscious data is recognized. And conventional questions cannot get to the unconscious.
  4. Because influencers are unaware of how their particular bias restricts an answer, they have no concept if there are different answers possible, and often move forward with bad data.

So why does it matter if we’re biasing our questions? It matters because we are missing accurate results; it matters because our questions instill resistance; it matters because we’re missing opportunities to serve and support change.

When sellers ask leading questions to manipulate prospects, or coaches ask influencing questions to generate action, we’re coaxing our Communication Partner in a direction that, as we now recognize, is often biased. Imagine if we could reconfigure questions to elicit accurate data for researchers or marcom folks; or enable buyers to take quick action from ads, cold calls or large purchases; or help coaching clients change behaviors congruently and quickly; or encourage buy-in during software implementations. I’m suggesting questions can facilitate real change.

What Is Change?

Our brain stores data rather haphazardly in our unconscious, making it difficult to find what we need when we need it, and making resistance prevalent when it seems our Status Quo is being threatened. But over the last decades, I have mapped the sequence of systemic change. Following this route, I’ve designed a way to use questions as directional devices to pull relevant data in the proper sequence so we can lead Responders through their own internal, congruent, change process and avoid resistance. Not only does this broaden the range of successful results, but it enables quicker decisions and buy-in – not to mentiontruly offer a Servant Leader, win/win communication. Let’s look at what’s keeping us wedded to our Status Quo and how questions can enable change.

All of us are a ‘system’ of subjectivity collected during our lifetime: unique rules, values, habits, history, goals, experience, etc. that operates consensually to create and maintain our Status Quo; it resides in our unconscious and defines our Status Quo. Without it, we wouldn’t have criteria for any choices, or actions, or habits whatsoever. Our system is hard wired to keep us who we are (Systems Congruence).

To learn something new, to do something different or learn a new behavior, to buy something, to take vitamins or get a divorce or use new software or be willing to forgive a friend, the Status Quo must buy in to change from within – an inside job. Information pulled or pushed – regardless of the intent, or relationship, or efficacy – will be resisted.

For congruent change to occur – even a small one – appropriate elements within our Status Quo must buy into, and have prepared for, a possibly disruptive addition (idea, product, etc.). But since the process is internal, idiosyncratic, and unconscious, our biased questions cause the system to defend itself and we succeed only with those folks whose unconscious biases and beliefs mirror our own.

  1. People hear each other through their own biases. You ask biased questions, receive biased answers, and hit pay dirt only when your biases match. Everyone else will ignore, resist, misunderstand, mishear, act out, sabotage, forget, ignore, etc.
  2. Due to their biased and restricting nature, your questions will not facilitate those who are not ready, willing, or able to manage internal change congruently regardless of the wisdom of your comments or their efficacy.
  3. Without the Responder being ready, willing, and able to change, ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN CRITERIA AND SYSTEMS RULES, they cannot buy, accept, adopt, or change in any way.

To manage congruent change, align the Status Quo, and enable the steps to achieve buy-in – I’ve developed Facilitative Questions that work comfortably with conventional questions and lead Responders to:

  • find their own answers hidden within their unconscious,
  • retrieve complete, relevant, accurate answers at the right time, in the right order to
  • traverse the sequenced steps to congruent, systemic change/excellence, while
  • avoiding restriction and resistance and
  • include their own values and subjective experience.

It’s possible to help folks make internal changes and find their own brand of excellence.

Facilitative Questions

Facilitative Questions (FQs) employ a new skill set that is built upon systems thinking: listening for systems (i.e. no bias) and Servant Leadership. Even on a cold call or in content marketing, sellers can enable buyers down their route to change and buy-in; coaches can lead clients through their own unique change without resistance; leaders can get buy-in immediately; change implementations won’t get resistance; advertisers and marketers can create action.

Using specific words, in a very specific sequence, it’s possible to pose questions that are free of bias, need or manipulation and guide congruent change.

Facilitative Question Not information gathering, pull, or manipulative, FQs are guiding/directional tools, like a GPS system. Like a GPS they don’t need the details of travel – what you’re wearing, what function you’re attending – to dictate two left turns. They lead Responders congruently, without any bias, from where they’re at to Excellence. How would you know if it were time to reconsider your hairstyle?

This question is a guiding mechanism to efficiently enable a route through the Responder’s largely unconscious path to congruent change.

Here’s the big idea: using questions directed to help Others efficiently recognize their own route to Excellence, and change as appropriate vs. using questions to seek answers that benefit the Asker. This shift in focus alone creates an automatic trust.

An example is a question we designed for Wachovia to increase sales and appointments. Instead of seeking prospects for an appointment to pitch new products (i.e. using appointments as a sales tool), we designed questions to immediately facilitate discovery of need, taking into account most small businesses already have a banking relationship. After trialing a few different FQs, our opening question became: How would you know when it’s time to consider adding new banking partners, for those times your current bank can’t give you what you need? This question shifted the response to 100 prospecting calls from 10 appointments and 2 closes over 11 months, to 37 invites to meet from the prospect, and 29 closes over 3 months. Facilitative Questions helped the right prospects engage immediately.

When used with coaching clients, buyers, negotiation partners, advertisements, or even teenagers, these questions create action within the Responder, causing them to recognize internal incongruences and deficiencies, and be guided through their own options. (Because these questions aren’t natural to us, I’ve designed a tool and program to teach the ‘How’ of formulating them.).

The responses to FQs are quite different from conventional questions. So when answering How would you know if it were time to reconsider your hairstyle?, the Responder is directed by word use, word placement, and an understanding of systems, to think of time, history, people, ego, comparisons, family. Instead of pulling data, you’re directing to, guiding through, and opening the appropriate change ‘boxes’ within the Responder’s unconscious Status Quo. It’s possible Responders will ultimately get to their answers without Facilitative Questions, but using them, it’s possible to help Responders organize their change criteria very quickly accurately. Using Facilitative Questions, we must:

  1. Enter with a blank brain, as a neutral navigator, servant leader, with a goal to facilitate change.
  2. Trust our Communication Partners have their own answers.
  3. Stay away from information gathering or data sharing/gathering until they are needed at the end.
  4. Focus on helping the Other define, recognize, and understand their system so they can discover where it’s broken.
  5. Put aside ego, intuition, assumptions, and ‘need to know.’ We’ll never understand another’s subjective experience; we can later add our knowledge.
  6. Listen for systems, not content.

FQs enable congruent, systemic, change. I recognize this is not the conventional use of questions, but we have a choice: we can either facilitate a Responder’s path down their own unique route and travel with them as Change Facilitators – ready with our ideas, solutions, directions as they discover a need we can support – or use conventional, biased questions that limit possibility. For change to occur, people must go through these change steps anyway; we’re just making it more efficient for them as we connect through our desire to truly Serve. We can assist, or wait to find those who have already completed the journey. They must do it anyway: it might as well be with us.

I welcome opportunities to put Facilitative Questions into the world. Formulating them requires a new skill set that avoids any bias (Listening for Systems, for example). But they add an extra dimension to helping us all serve each other.


About the Author

Sharon Drew MorgenSharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com

DeLores Pressley

5 Ways to Regain Confidence & Courageousness When the Going Gets Tough

Achievement Against-the-Odds: How to become bold, confident and courageous enough to break through barriers and overcome obstacles to achieve any professional and personal endeavor and live ‘the best season of your life’

 
As a former plus-size model, I know all too well the pain and disappointment of rejection and judgements based solely on appearance, both professionally and personally. I have lived it time and time again. But, rather than allowing the numerous barrier-inducing critics of my plus-size define who I was, how I would live my life, and what measure of success and happiness I could achieve, I instead chose to face that “cold winter season” head on, turning what others had deemed as challenges into the very assets that would help me realize tremendous success in all aspects of my life.

Not only did I embrace my appearance and excel as a plus-sized model, I was emboldened enough to help others do the same by founding a plus-size modeling agency representing over 100 models who were placed with premier fashion retailers such as Nordstrom, Lane Bryant, Just My Size, Dillard’s, and Liz Claiborne. And I didn’t stop there. Through plus-size beauty pageants ad conventions that I founded, I created an opportunity for hundreds of other women to achieve dreams like those I, myself, had accomplished. As an international speaker, I’ve also had the honor of sharing platforms with A-Listers the likes of OPRAH, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, and Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. All told, I’ve had the “last laugh” amid the glut of naysayers who would otherwise have cut my extraordinary “larger than life” success story far short based merely on my appearance.

Rather than recoiling, I learned to thrive in every proverbial “season” of my life despite the trials and tribulations that presented. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that untold millions of other women and men, alike, are suffering setbacks based on their own “limitations,” whether real or perceived.

Life is best described metaphorically as continuously transitioning through each of the four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Truly successful people are not those who try to avoid certain seasons, but rather are those who choose to embrace, overcome, and thrive as they seamlessly flow between seasons, regardless of how long or difficult each one may be. And, successful people don’t just overcome the difficult season of winter, but actually thrive during the harsh cold; they also blossom throughout the spring; reap a lush harvest during the summer; and adequately prepare for the fall and winter that inevitably follow. Such cyclical expectations and preparations are mindsets that are key to sustained and “against the odds” success.

Today I’ve dedicated myself to helping others become bold, confident and courageous—no matter what “season” they themselves are in. With this in mind, here are five tips on how to overcome obstacles and excel through every season of your own life:

  1. Fuel future successes with past achievements. It’s easy to feel like a failure after a particularly harsh setback and even the most empowered of us can, at times, doubt ourselves. However, no matter where you are in your career or life, you have undoubtedly done something that has made an impact. For instance, I had a client who was having suicidal thoughts and I talked her out of being suicidal. This had a tremendous ripple effect as everyone positively impacted by her is a result of the conversation we had to keep her alive. If I’m not proud of anything else, I can be proud of that and realize if I’ve had one success I can have others. You need to take the same mentality. Not every past achievement needs to be as profound as saving a life but find those times you made a difference in the world and know that you can do it again.
  2. Regularly invest in “The Power of You.” Do you ever get to the end of the day, week, month or even year and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything? Chances are you’ve accomplished much more than you realize but without any tangible, physical evidence it can be difficult to bring those accomplishments to mind. A great way to create a visual bank of your accomplishments is to make deposits in what I call, “The Power of You Jar.” Every time you accomplish something or do something good, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. Watching that jar fill up is empowering. Then any time you’re feeling bad or doubting yourself, just reach into the jar and get that reminder of what you’ve already accomplished.
  3. Channel your inner prize fighter. You can learn a lot from boxers. They spend three minutes fighting each round and 60 to 90 seconds resting. During that time in between rounds they are getting refueled, receiving advice, and getting encouragement. They have a whole training team that is supporting them and speaking life into them. Could you imagine how disastrous it would be if their trainer said, “You’re going to lose” or, “You should quit”? Any doubt during a fight could lead to a knock out. Yet we allow negative people in our corners all the time – people who are not encouraging and people who don’t help us. Is it any wonder we are getting knocked down? When channeling your inner prize fighter, it’s important to not only come out of your corner swinging but when you’re resting and rebuilding in between rounds, make sure the people with you are truly in your corner.
  4. Cease self-doubt with an actual “Stop” sign. If there’s one piece of self-help advice you’ve heard ad nauseam, it’s probably, “Don’t speak or think negatively.” Wonderful advice but for many, it can be next to impossible to follow. Even if you’ve attended the most incredible motivational seminar or are pumped up from a motivational book or video, the principles you’ve learned and the changes you want to make often quickly fade in following weeks or months. An effective way to keep that motivational level up and to make those changes stick is to use visual cues. For instance, if you want to stop thinking negatively, get an actual stop sign – it doesn’t have to be full sized, just big enough to be a reminder. Put it in your office, your bedroom, or wherever it needs to be visible. Then any time you are doubting yourself, you can SEE the stop sign and this will be the reminder to hit the brakes and get back on track.
  5. Don’t outsource your success. In an era where outsourcing is very popular, everything from manufacturing jobs to administrative duties are being outsourced. One thing you must not outsource is your success. If you have achieved something, surmounted an obstacle, or had any sort of triumph, take credit for it. If you find yourself saying, “It was nothing,” or “I didn’t really do much,” people will believe it. This doesn’t mean suddenly become a glory hog but it does mean take credit where credit is due. Allow yourself to be seen as successful and you will feel successful, too.

Some “winter seasons” in your life will be more challenging than others. The best way to get through those inevitable cold, harsh days is to take stock and give yourself credit for what you’ve already accomplished, surround yourself with people who support you, stop negative thinking at its onset, and allow yourself to acknowledge and enjoy present, in-the-moment pleasures. Doing so will give you the motivation and fire you need to be confident and courageous to work through any difficult season.


About the Author

DeLores PressleyInternational Keynote Motivational Speaker, Executive Life Coach and Author DeLores Pressley is dedicated to helping people take action to launch bold, confident and courageous lives. She is the CEO of DeLores Pressley Worldwide and Founder of the Global Up Woman™ Network—a movement to empower and elevate women in business. She may be reached online at www.DeLoresPressley.com. Those interested in her Speaker Success Summits specifically may reach her at www.LaunchpadSpeaker.com.

Scott Cochrane | StrategyDriven Expert Contributor

The attack of the Yabuts!

Nothing sucks the blood out of a great idea faster than the dreaded “Yabut…” In fact, the “Yabut” may be the No. 1 killer of collaboration, cooperation, great ideas and innovation in organizations.

You know what “Yabuts” are, don’t you? They are those prickly little creatures that make noises like; “Yabut, the banks will never back us on this one… Yabut, the market is totally unpredictable… Yabut, we’ve never done that before…

Let’s take Stephen, for example. Stephen is a recently promoted Director in the Business Development division of a large financial services company. During a strategic planning meeting, he suggested that they should explore how to be more effective in how they manage certain new initiative assignments. Although several of his colleagues looked at him with faces of interest, the Committee Leader quickly replied, “Yabut, we really don’t have time to be playing around with our management process at this point, even if we all do feel a little pressure” And that was that.

Stephen had made several suggestions about new ideas and opportunities since his appointment to the Strategic Planning Committee, and it seemed that every one of them was answered with some form of the same species of “Yabut…” It was not just Stephen of course; in fact, his colleagues had received that same sort of response with such frequency that the meetings had slowly become a routine of simply answering the questions and listening for your new task. Any meaningful conversation and debate had really just died.

So how do we kill the “Yabuts” before they suck the blood out of our potential growth and prosperity? Replace them forever with a whole new species of “Yesands…”! A much nicer animal in fact, not prickly at all, it makes nurturing noises like: “Yes, and with a more promising corporate strategy, we could negotiate with our banks for better overall conditions… Yes, and we can leverage the market study to include a long needed loyalty review of our most profitable accounts… Yes, and we could learn more about that idea’s potentially positive impact on our current business lines…

A particularly articulate form of the animal has been heard in creativity dialogues using the phrase structure: “Yes, what I like about what you are saying is [identify anything positive inside the person’s comment that you can, even if you do not agree with the entire thought]… And, [build on top of the point with a positive idea of your own]…” Used consecutively during the dialogue, team members build on top of each other’s thinking, and the results are quite amazing! People feel more confident, become more cooperative, open up and think, put more ideas on the table, nourish those ideas, and as a result, creativity and innovation soar!

I encourage you to do a little self-listening. How frequently do you encounter “Yabuts” in your own yard? Make sure you are not breeding them without even realizing it. Kill them off quickly and replace them with a good healthy herd of “Yesands”. In fact, you can take it a step further and replace nearly every use of the word “but” with “and”, and the results are guaranteed to surprise you, delight your audience, and foster a remarkable outcome.

Every time you hear yourself say, “but,” change it to “and.” In that moment, you’re breaking the habit of closed thinking. The more you do it, the more open you’re thinking will become, and the more open your counterpart’s thinking will become. As with any habit, it takes time to break. And it’s worth it.


About the Author

Scott CochraneScott Cochrane is the author of Your Creative Mind: How to Disrupt Your Thinking, Abandon Your Comfort Zone, and Develop Bold New Strategies (Career Press, 2016). Scott’s The Bold Mind Group helps clients grow to higher levels of success through implementing revolutionary thinking.