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A productivity secret for #allthethings

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, there are many things that need to get done for your business to move forward. You can feel like you wear a million hats, and most days, it feels like there are five sitting on your head at once.

When you look at your project management tool or to do list, although you can see that you're making progress and cross something off, it seems like two or ten more items get added and you wonder how it will all get done.

As you look over your list, are there some items that you dread doing because you are not using your strengths, so you feel like you struggle to complete them? What happens to your other tasks and responsibilities when you are spending so much time and energy on a task that is draining you?

In order to lead your team or business, there will always be things that need to get done that you may not excel in doing. However, that does not mean that you must personally complete every item that your team or business needs to have done.

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How to stay on track with your goals

You’ve brainstormed and dreamed about new goals and new opportunities you want to achieve.

You’ve written them down and created a plan that you can’t wait to start.

Then slowly but surely, life starts to get in the way.

The actions you mapped out on your plan seem to be getting pushed out versus getting done. The momentum you had for making your goals happen has dwindled. Your schedule that was once one of your favorite tools has become a reminder that you are not doing everything you set out to do.

So what do you do?

It can be easy to beat ourselves up for what we haven’t gotten done or getting off track, but that won’t help. It will only add to the frustration, not make it better.

Instead, consider these seven tips to get back on track:

  1. Take some time to regroup and assess where you are
  2. Recognize what was done. Remember - you did accomplish some things, even if they weren’t all of the items you initially thought were going to happen.
  3. Identify...
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How to Look for the Positive

It’s another day at the office, and it seems like everything that can go wrong has, and you are frustrated. Maybe it seems as though each time you complete an item on your action list, three new items are added. Or perhaps you can see delays in schedule or cost over runs and no sign of improvement. Or perhaps you are short-staffed and do not have a new employee starting anytime soon to help with the workload.

I know I’ve had each of these situations happen before, and I definitely felt frustrated and overwhelmed. It can be easy to let the things that aren’t going well to be all that we see. And when we focus on those frustrations, we tend to see even more of them.

Soon enough, it feels like a continual spiral of overwhelm and frustrations that can be challenging to stop. When that happens, how do you go about changing your perspective?

The answer is easy, but it takes effort and practice.

When you look for the positive, you will start to feel a shift. Not only will...

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Valuing Your Experts

No matter if you're in the corporate world or running your own business, you're working with other people who have different skill sets from yours. The beauty in that is that's why you're working with them, or in some cases, hired them.

Or why someone hired you.

You bring a specific set of skills, talents, abilities, knowledge and gifts that only you could do. Just like each person you work with.

So when situations present themselves where you question what your expert says or does, remember why you hired them in the first place and seek to understand where they are coming from before jumping to any conclusions.

The saying about "knowing enough to be dangerous" is what's running through my mind because that can be a double edged sword. To know enough to be dangerous so that you can have a conversation and be wiling to say when you don't know and ask questions is great. Yet to know enough to be dangerous and not ask questions or assume you know more than you really do is setting...

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Playdough Inspired Thinking

This idea was inspired by a recognition approach from one of the organizations I was in back in the corporate world. We awarded baby playdough - you know the little ones you find in a party pack - to individuals who suggested creative, out of the box ideas to move our overall big picture vision forward. It didn't matter if the idea was implemented as much as it was rewarding the creativity and courage for sharing something different. We wanted to achieve something different and we knew the "same old, same old" type of thinking wouldn't help.

It's like Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

In addition to shaping and sharing new ideas and thinking out of the box, I saw the playdough with a couple of other reminders. One was to detach from the outcome and be willing to start over when needed. Sometimes we can get so attached to an idea or thing that we can't let it go in order to make room for something better. Maybe that...

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How Do You Get To 10?

I had a college professor who explained during a lecture that there wasn't just one way to get somewhere. He said there was "the" way like there were many paths you could take to reach your vision or end goal and there was "thuh" way - meaning that there was only one way that would work and all the others were subpar or would even fail to achieve the desired goal.

And as I reflected on that lecture, I realized that this could apply to many things. For instance, in math there are a few ways to get to 10. Such as 5+5, 2+8, and 1+9.

And in business, there's no right way to achieve a vision or goal.

We would all love the direct route, but what typically happens is the curvy, zig-zag path. You might have one way that you think it ought to be handled, but if you're working with a team and not fully leveraging what they are individually and collectively bringing to the table, then the vision will not be as full and impactful as it could be. By allowing your team the opportunity to offer...

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Advice on Handling Difficult Conversations

It’s another start of the work week, and you think things are going great….until… things aren’t.

You get a voice mail or face to face encounter from a customer, vendor, or co-worker that is most unpleasant. This unhappy camper is frustrated and rather than focusing on the problem or situation at hand, it feels like an attack on you.

In the moment, it can be very difficult not to take the conversation personally. It can also be challenging to turn the conversation around to something more productive, but if you are able to, it will be well worth it.

So when you are in the heat of the moment, try these three tips to help you constructively and productively move the conversation forward.

Tip 1 - View the concern as a way to improve

Tip 2 - Consider the person said something because they care

Tip 3 - Apply the Three Cs

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The ONE Activity to do Everyday

Whether you are new to your position or have been there for some time, there’s one activity you can do each day to make sure you are ready for the next opportunity.

This activity is applicable if you are an individual contributor or in some level of management.

It's one that may seem easy to do.

In fact, it may seem logical, yet it can be difficult to do on a daily, genuine, consistent basis.

Do you know what that is?

It's doing the best you can with the job you currently have.

This means putting your best foot forward to the assignment at hand or making sure you are prepared for the meetings you need to attend.

It means you aren't asking your boss every chance you get when you will move to the next level, but you are open to taking on new projects and opportunities if they present themselves.

It means you’re learning all you can for the responsibilities you currently have, so that you are able to do your job to the best of your ability.

It means you’re supporting...

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Learning and Leading

So let's talk about continual learning, and specifically when you've invested money or time or both to advance or strengthen your skills as a leader. 

Perhaps it's a small investment relatively speaking like reading or listening to a book. Maybe it's a course or seminar you attended, or training your company has sent you to for the day.  Or perhaps it's working with a coach or consultant. And even it didn't cost you money, it was your time spent there, including the time spent creating the space to go and getting caught up again (or close to it) once you returned.

When you first went through the course, the seminar, or even worked with your coach, you probably took some notes as a way to help you process what you're learning. Once the course, seminar or coaching sessions are finished, you have every intention of fully implementing what you've learned.

Then more time passes, and although you know you learned a lot, you might feel like you should have learned more or that...

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The Power of One

There is power in one.

One word may brighten someone else's day or tear it down.

One shift in attitude or perspective can completely change how a challenging situation is handled.

Focusing on the one person in front of you during a face to face or that one person on the other end of the phone for that one conversation and ignoring the distractions will communicate volumes of respect, appreciation, and engagement.

Focusing on the one step that needs to be done now versus the next 20 will minimize overwhelm and increase productivity.

There's power in one - take some time today to leverage that power to its fullest and feel the shifts that it will make in you as you lead.

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