A-Head for Success

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Source of Stress: Failure

Source of Stress: FailureI doubt there is a person alive who enjoys the prospect or experience of failure.  But for those who value success, failure is a necessary part of that journey.

A popular NLP concept is that ‘there is no failure, only feedback’.  And Thomas Edison really understood this principle when he viewed his many attempts to create a commercially viable lightbulb not as failure but that he had found 10,000 ways in which it did not work.

What this shows is that success is a process.  That you have to learn to get up when you fall down; learn from your mistakes; and have a relentless vision to keep you going.

Famous Failures

Any person who has failed in any endeavour will be in good company – other ‘failures’ include:

Steve Jobs who was fired from his own company;

Walt Disney who was fired for lack of imagination;

Oprah Winfrey who was demoted as a new anchor for being unfit for TV;

The Beatles who were rejected by Decca  who didn’t like their sound and thought they had no future in show business;

Einstein who couldn’t speak until he was 4 and whose teachers said he wouldn’t amount to much;

Bill Gates, a dropout from Harvard, founded Traf-o-Data.  The product had too many bugs and the company closed.  He is now the richest man in the world;

Marilyn Monroe who was told by Colombia Pictures that she wasn’t pretty or talented enough to be an actress.

So, you see, failure is not an affliction.  It doesn’t have to define you.  It is your attitude to it that defines you.  With all the people mentioned, they used it to spur them on.  They learned from their mistakes so that they could improve, and improve some more.  And improve again.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers describes the ‘10,000 hour rule’, emphasising that success is rarely by accident but rather by practice.  Somehow, in this world of ‘instant fixes’ we have lost sight of the fact that anything worth having takes effort.  And persistence.  And the ability to not take things personally but rather to use every challenge on the ladder towards success, knowing that you will slide down the odd snake as you work your way up, only so that you develop resilience, resourcefulness and insights that will serve you well.

The Three Worst Things You Can Do

If you make a mistake, the three worst things you can do are:

  1. Pretend it didn’t happen. Denial is no friend.
  2. Take it personally. Blaming and shaming get in the way of learning and growing.  Think of the difference between “I am a failure” and “It was a failure”.  One is a about identity and the other is about process and results.
  3. Give up.  When you give up, you miss opportunities.  Sometimes success us just around the corner.  You also deny yourself the sense of achievement you can only get when you have worked hard to achieve something, navigated difficult waters, climbed a mountain or five, and made it.  You don’t get that sense of achievement when everything is easy.

Show me a person who has not failed at some point in their lives and I will show you someone who has not reached their potential or who has lived within the safe but entirely unexciting and unrewarding confines of their comfort zone.

If you would like more help in overcoming a fear of failure, or learning how to grow from failure, why not book a session?  You’ll be glad you did.

 

(C) Tricia Woolfrey 2019

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How is Your Mental Health?

World Mental Health Day and Stress

It’s World Mental Health Day until the 10th  and I thought I would give you a heads up as a part of my Causes of Stress series.  Since my work revolves around performance, productivity, stress resilience and health and energy, mental health is at the centre of it all so it is a good time to reflect on it and to share with you something to help make sure that yours is optimal.

You see, we all have mental health.  The question is not whether you have it but in what condition it’s in.  Would you describe yours as Optimal?  Functional?  Variable?  Or On the Floor?  There are three main components to mental ill-health:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Of course, it isn’t as simple as that but it’s a really good start.  There will be times when you feel you can do anything, but there will be times when you do feel stressed, depressed or anxious and each day feels like you’re wading through treacle, with weights on your ankles and a monkey on your back.

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Sources of Negative Stress: Regrets

Stress, regrets and hindsightIf you are living with regrets, it can feel as though the past is ever-present, tarnishing what is good and holding you back.   Yes, regrets can be stressful.  They can certainly keep you awake at night.  They can also affect how you manage, and engage in, your daily life.

Regrets can be for something you did which you shouldn’t have or something you should have done which you didn’t.

In the moment that you do something (or decide not to), you do so with our best thinking at the time.   As someone

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5 Keys to 2017 Being Your Best Year EVER (2.5 mins to read)

2017 Best year yetMost people want each new year to be their best.  But with much less stress.   And more fun.  And bigger results.  If possible.  So, is it really possible?  If we accept that we can only control the controllable and take response-ability for our results in a focussed way, I would say a resounding ‘yes’.  But too often we give our power away to outside forces.  So, the following keys will help you take charge and make it happen:

  1. Get clarity

Become clear on what you want to achieve (your vision and goals) and why.  The why is your motivation which carries you through the tough times so it needs to be big enough to do that.  It makes all the difference between achievement and enrichment – two concepts which are not mutually exclusive unless you make them so.  Clarity enables you to say ‘no’ to those things which are not ‘on-purpose’ so it frees up more time for you to do what’s needed to fulfil your goals.

Clarity around how you are going to achieve it is next.  When you break things down into your priorities, the next step is easier to take.  And the one after that.  And the one after that.

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10 Traits of Successful People

10 Traits of Successful People10 Traits of Successful People

You could argue that most people want to achieve more success with less stress.  Whether you feel your efforts are yet to be rewarded with results or your success has come at too high a price, there are factors which characterise those who have a positive success formula.  Though of course it will vary from person to person, there are common themes:

  1. Clarity

The very first component for success is to have clarity of purpose, mission and goals and to keep these in sight.  When you have this kind of clarity, all your efforts are focused in the right direction – so you spend much less time readjusting, backtracking and regretting.

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A-Z of Business: Z- ZEN – Can Mindfulness be Profitable?

Mindfulness in Business

When I started out in business in 1998, success to me was the achievement of a particular goal, be it profit-related, the completion of a project or the acceptance of an idea.  And while these are true, they are concerned with the what of success, not the how

Over the years, I have studied many psychological and business-school concepts.  And what is missing for most people is the application of zen principles to business.

For the purpose of this article, the term zen can be considered as the mindful engagement with your work and operation of your business (or your job if you work for someone else).  This means being purpose-ful about what you are doing and why, from a macro perspective and a micro perspective.

So, to begin with, why do you do what you do?  What purpose does your business (or job) fulfil?  I am reminded of an old parable about a man who visited a city many hundreds of years ago.  He came across two men labouring under the noonday sun.  He asked the first what he is doing “Oh, I am just doing some labouring.  It is hard work and I will not be finished for hours.”  He asked the same question to the second man who responded “I am helping to build a cathedral”.  This story beautifully describes the purpose of their work.   One saw it is a job, a means to an end, something he had to endure each day.  The second man saw it as a vocation and put his heart and soul into each stone he laid.  Which man was likely to have been more productive?  Which man happier?  Which would have inspired others?  And which went home with a sense of achievement?

Are you clear about what your business is there to achieve in terms of a higher purpose?  If you are in business purely for money, as a lot of people are, what is the higher purpose that money is there to achieve?  For example, let’s take a cleaning company.  Not the most glamorous of businesses and fraught with day to day problems.  It would be easy to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of the issues around difficult customers and unreliable staff.  So, what is the higher purpose?  This would be personal to everybody but it may be to provide a beautiful environment for your clients to live or work.  Or it may be to provide work and career opportunities for employees who have had difficulty holding down a job in the past.  Or, if you really have no passion for the work at all, it may be to provide a good education for your children so that they can be free to make more fulfilling career and life choices for themselves.

When you have an over-riding purpose, it can carry you through the most challenging of times.  It can pull you out of the mire of the day to day and into a higher, more creative, more empowered mindset.  Which is likely to create more profit for you?

At a micro level, it is about being purpose-ful in the moment.  This means applying yourself 100% to whatever it is you are doing, fully absorbed.  The ability to multi-task is seen as a skill and even a virtue.  It is something I have been proud to call a skill.  And it is.  But it is also a weakness.  I noticed myself yesterday doing something and then stopping it to start something else and then interrupting myself doing that to do yet something else.  I realised that I have become so “skilled” at multi-tasking and responding to requests and interruptions that I now interrupt myself!  So I have to remind myself and, when I do, there is a flow to my work.  A peacefulness, a quiet productivity which is enriching and rewarding.  Of course there are times when I have to multi-task and over the years of my career I have had to do this thousands of times, shifting gear at a moment’s notice, which is why it is a difficult habit to break.  However, the effort of stopping and starting and stopping and starting again reduces productivity and increases stress.  It is important to be able to do it but not to make it a way of life.

True multi-tasking is a myth as usually you are simply stopping and starting, picking up and putting down.  I recently saw a cartoon about women being great multi-taskers.  It showed a woman flying through the air with a duster in one hand to clean the ceilings and pushing a vacuum with the other to clean the floors.  But in reality it is really very difficult to apply yourself fully to more than one task at once.  Sure you can wait on the phone for someone to pick up while you file something away but in reality, you are almost always only doing one thing at once.  Doing that one thing with a sense of purpose can bring a richness to the most mundane of tasks.  Most people hate filing but if you do your filing with an intention to create order in your environment this can transform the experience and it can even feel meditative.  In addition, thinking about the piece of work that paper represents with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation can be equally rewarding.  Certainly better than attacking the filing with a feeling of resentment and obligation.

So, the concept of applying yourself 100% to whatever you are doing in the moment, thinking about the purpose of that task, brings with it a higher level of clarity and productivity, a calmer demeanour and a much nicer person to take home to the family!  This brings with it greater financial profit but also an intrinsic profit which is priceless.

And last, but by no means least remember the principles of karma – that you reap what you sow.  So, be kind in your interactions and you will be richly rewarded with deeper and more trusting relationships as well as greater loyalty with your associates, your employees and your clients.

If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness can enhance your productivity and your profits, call me on 0845 130 0854.

On this note we end my A-Z of Business blogs, which I hope have been productive for you. As we enter the new year, I hope that your 2014 business plans are clear – your company goals, business values, products and USP…and that you feel personally prepared to take on the year ahead, manage your time effectively, serve your customers and motivate your staff. For any additional support, do contact me at tricia@pw-consulting.co.uk. I wish you a very happy new year and a successful 2014!
 

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: X- X-Ray Vision – Know your Business Inside Out

Business performance

Your business results don’t reflect the effort you put in. Sound familiar?

If so, you are not alone.  Indeed, some of my clients have been working so hard that they are nearing burnout.  This is often because they are focusing on the wrong thing, which they believe to be the right thing.  This is why having a forensic view of your company – x-ray vision – helps you to focus on those factors which make the biggest difference to your success.  Working smart, not working hard is the difference which makes the difference.  Productivity, not activity.

For example, if you are spending a lot of time bringing in new business but haemorrhaging customers out the back door, your efforts will be as effective as attempting to fix a burst pipe with a sticking plaster.

Or perhaps you are spending your time bringing in new business that you don’t have the infrastructure to support?  Like building a house without it’s foundations.

Maybe your customer service is poor and you are busy sending out feedback forms when really the problem is that your hiring processes and training do not enforce your company value of customer satisfaction?

Or is your business booming but your customer’s aren’t paying their invoices?  This is where success leads to ruin.

So, x-ray vision on the essentials helps you work strategically – making the right decisions about how you spend your time and your money and what will be the best strategy to take your business forward.  The first step is to get yourself some key performance indicators.  These help you to measure your performance against target on areas you consider to be important, for example:

  • Turnover
  • Profit
  • Product revenues
  • Sales growth
  • Cost of sales
  • Costs
  • Performance against budget
  • Sales conversion ratio
  • New sales by marketing method
  • ROI (see individual blog about this)
  • Revenue by customer
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee performance
  • Revenue by employee
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer complaints
  • Customer complaints resolved
  • There are also various KPIs for:
    • Social media
    • Site engine optimisation
    • Call centre performance

Lies and statistics

A lot of clients view a nice big turnover as proof of their success and they just work very hard at increasing that number.  However, a forensic examination of the statistics will let them know whether there is also a healthy profit because if the ratio of profit to turnover is low, you are working hard for little reward.  It will help you look at what is creating the biggest profit and whether you need to make a loss on something to bring in profit on something else.  This is both an art and a science.  Also, if you are producing lots of nice big invoices but not getting paid because your credit control is not effective, that turnover is meaningless.

Here are my 5 steps to help you take control of your business with x-ray vision:

  1. Consider what KPIs you want in your business (the above are just a few examples)
  2. Regularly review performance against these
  3. Look at the relationship between them
  4. Decide what is causing the positive results and do more of those
  5. Determine what is causing negative results and take remedial action.  Make sure there will not be negative consequences elsewhere.

Remember that an x-ray shows you what is wrong structurally, it is up to you to find out the cause and to take appropriate action.

If you need help with any of this – it is hard doing it for yourself – do give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  I look forward to hearing from you!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: W: Weaknesses – You are only as strong as your weakest link

Weakness

We are all made up of strengths and weaknesses, undiscovered potential and blind spots.  Your best strategy for success is to exploit your strengths, uncover hidden skills (we all have them), open your eyes to your blind spots (we all have those too) and start working on these – and your weaknesses – to make sure they do not become your derailers. 

Your biggest enemy in addressing any limitations is denial.  If you want to have success, your best friend is your willingness to be open to discovering weaknesses and to work on them.

As the title of this article suggests – you are only as strong as your weakest link.  Doing whatever it takes to mitigate against these is good insurance for the future and it will give you a sense of progress and achievement too.  It may mean working on yourself (it’s much easier with the support of a good coach) or hiring in talent to make up for any shortfall.  All the best teams, according to the principles of Belbin Team Roles require a variety of attributes to achieve success.

Belbin has nine team roles from Shaper (takes the business forward, creating strategy) to Completer Finisher (who puts the strategy into action).  One cannot exist fruitfully without the others, otherwise the team is out of balance.  Whether you are working on your own or with a team, the same principle applies.

In the 5 Pillars of Success, I look at the dimensions which help to make you successful:

1.    Clarity
Do you have a clarity of purpose, of mission and of values?  Do you have a clear strategy with clear steps to take you there?  Can you see clearly enough to prioritise well and delegate effectively to your team or brief your suppliers effectively?

2.    Skills
Do you have the skills you need to make you successful?  InfluencingTime management?  Leadership?  Delegating?  Presenting?  Emotional intelligence?  Business skills?  Conflict management?  What skill do you wish you had more of?  What skill do you overplay so that it becomes a problem?  Perfectionism?  Drive?  It’s just as important to see when a strength becomes a weakness as it is to recognise your blind spots.

3.    Mindset
Are you positive, motivated and solution oriented?  Do you possess the personality factors for success?  Have you been on my Personality for Success seminar yet?  This gives you a great self-assessment tool, or you can book yourself a psychometric profile.

4.    Stress Resilience
Are you calm and resourceful under pressure?  Do you respond thoughtfully to situations rather than react impulsively, building up more problems for yourself down the line?  Do you allow the small things to become big things?  Do you take the stresses at work home with you and the stress at home to work with you?

5.    Energy
Do you have too much work at the end of your energy?  Does your lifestyle or pace impact your health?  Do you have adrenal energy or core energy?  It is only core energy which is sustainable but few people have this.  Are you firing on all cylinders?  If you aren’t, nor is your business.

And what weaknesses are there in your business?  Do you have the skills, processes and systems in place to run the business effectively and profitably?  Do you have a good quality team, performing well and working well together?  Are you able to acquire and retain customers who pay well and are happy with your service or product?  And are you able to meet your financial targets and obligations?

Remember that no one person can know it all, do it all and be it all.  Perfection is not a human condition but it is a destination, one you can travel on your journey of self-development and business improvement.   

What one area could you improve which would have the biggest impact for you?  If you focus on one thing at a time then you will not risk dropping any of the many balls you are juggling and it is easier to integrate the change.

Why not book an assessment to see where you can best focus your efforts to create the best value?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to discuss your options.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: U – USP – Why You Need One

Unique Selling Point

Do you really need a Unique Selling Point?  What happens if you don’t have one?  Well, unless you are in an industry with no competitors then your USP is what will set you apart.  It will give your prospects a reason to go with you instead of someone else.

In a struggling economy, you need all the competitive advantage you can get.  And if you are looking for a job, you need that competitive edge too. 

So, why should someone buy your product?  It is no longer enough to say “we are the best”, you need to say how.  And it needs to be based on reality rather than an aspiration that you are working towards. 

There was a wonderful sign displayed which went like this:

“We offer three kinds of service – Good, Cheap or Fast.  You can pick any two.  Good and cheap won’t be fast.  Good and fast won’t be cheap.  Cheap and fast won’t be good.  ”

At the gym yesterday, my personal trainer said the best advice he was given is to always think of yourself as number two so that you would still strive to do better.  This reminded me of the Avis USP which is “We are number two – we try harder.”  What a great USP which succeeds in turning a negative into a massive positive.

Apple’s USP is to think differently – they are the company best known for their innovation, having broken many technological boundaries.  They can be relied upon to be innovative, fun and customer-focused.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your USP, go back to testimonials you have been given by your customers.  It is easy to forget these but hopefully you have kept a log of them.  Also, consider what your competitors are doing and what they are promising.  How are you different to them?  What are the problems you are solving for your customers?

Let’s take an example.  For an IT support company, their customers may suffer from not being terribly IT literate, having to wait a long time before an engineer can fix their problem, or their technology is stopping them from getting on with their work

Let’s look at the customers’problem, potential USPs and their corresponding straplines:

  1. Waiting a long time for an engineer
    • USP – getting their IT problems solved quickly
    • Strapline – Your IT Support within 24 hours or quicker
  2. Not very IT literate
    • USP – use jargon free communication so that the problem is easier to understand
    • Strapline – Taking the Jargon out of IT Support
  3. Technology stopping them from working
    • USP – getting you up and running quickly
    • Strapline –Helping you to work when your computer doesn’t
  4. Frustrated that every problem seems to mean a new computer
    • USP – providing the simplest, most cost effective solutions
    • Strapline – Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Whatever your USP, do make sure that you live and breathe it.  You don’t want your USP to be “tried and failed” – it should enhance your reputation, not undermine it. 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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