Choose the Right Tool

My Dad subscribed to the brute force method of fine carpentry. He believed everything could be fixed with a big screwdriver and a hammer. If a door frame wasn’t quite plumb, just loosen it with the screwdriver and give it a couple of whacks.  Tools

Business can be like that. If something isn’t quite right we can often force it into place with a few good whacks of hard work and effort.  But these quick fixes in business and carpentry often come back to haunt us because we were addressing only symptoms.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.  Abraham Maslow

When challenged we tend to reach for the life or business tool that gives us immediate but temporary relief – rather than looking at core causes and selecting a tool that eliminates the problem permanently.  Your life and your business works to the degree that you apply the right tool to make it work.

But what can you do when you know you don’t have the right tool for the job? You could apprentice with someone with a bigger toolbox.

If your life or business feels like you’ve whacked it into place once too often, perhaps it’s time to hire a professional coach with more of the right tools in his box?  Coaches are paid for resourcefulness.

By focusing on what, you the client,  most want to create, it’s our job to suggest practical tools, methods, approaches, concepts and exercises that will accelerate your focused progress.  If what you need isn’t already in my toolbox, you and I will create a customized solution to resolve your issue.

Remember the story of the craftsman who saved the day by getting an essential piece of machinery running again?  He inspected the machine, took out his hammer, tapped once and fixed it.  Later his customer was surprised to get a $500 bill for a five minute fix.  The craftsman explained his bill. “That’s $5 for tapping and $495 for knowing where to tap.”

Professional business coaches not only know what tool to use but they know when to tap, where to tap and to what degree.

Here’s a tool I often use to clear the air and see where we are.  Continuing with our hammer theme, a few words from a master.

Hammer time – Break it down.  MC Hammer

Breaking things down so you can see where you are is essential to business prosperity.  From my observation, we make business far too complicated.  Lately I’ve been on a quest to ruthlessly simplify my own business.

Ruthless simplification is powerfully transformative.

The effect of uncovering and releasing foggy purpose activities is astonishing.

Business coaches are paid to guide business growth.  You don’t need to hire a coach to maintain – you hire us for movement.

Break It Down Business Tool

I’ve found that the best way to break something down is to decide where you are in this laser-like process.  Regardless of what you want from your small business, your growth opportunity will be at one of these stages.  Select the stage where you think you are and then apply your answer to the accompanying question.

Clarity – What do I need to see more clearly?

Decision – What unmade decision demands my attention?

Creation – What do I most what to create now?

Action – What can I do now?

Then work with your business coach to apply tools of clarity, decision, creation or action.   Apply the right tool, at the right time, with the right touch and you’ll produce your desired outcome.

Business like life is neither difficult nor easy.  Both are how you see them and how you make them.

Have the courage to apply ruthless simplification to your own life or business?  Join me on May 20, for this powerful, free, group coaching experience:  Making Room for What You Want.

Five Tools to Sharpen Your Authentic Edge

Your authentic edge is based on who you are, where you are in your business development and what you’ve experienced.  That edge drives your personal power.  It’s your natural positional advantage in the marketplace and you’ll struggle to the degree that you fail to exploit it.

When I first began following  small business owners on Twitter it appeared as though  everyone had a thriving online business.   A client also noticed this and asked, “Where are all the regular people?”

It matters little where anyone else is, even if they are further along in their business development.  Here’s what matters, are you exploiting your authentic edge?

An outside focus will dull your authentic edge by positioning you in the  reactionary hell of deadly comparisons.  Success comes from looking within to determine the purpose of your business and that purpose must have a whole lot of you in it.

Many contend that Walmart hurts small businesses, yet you’ll find thriving exceptions in every town.  News of a so-called global economic crisis permeates the airwaves, yet many one-woman and one-man shops are flourishing, right now.

When your eye is on the competition or the economy, it dumbs you down and dulls your true source of power. Your authentic edge is found within and keeping it sharp is essential to your business success.

Expressed Authenticity > Personal Confidence = Business Success

Greater confidence will help you to complete more often, risk more frequently, bounce back from mistakes more easily and kick more marketplace ass.

Since confidence comes from within how can we keep our edge sharp enough to act boldly?

Here are five tools to keep your edge razor sharp.  Ask yourself these questions, note the answers and feel your confidence build.

1). Passion

What do you really care about?  Are you sure?  Try this one.

If you woke up tomorrow morning and had all the time and money you could ever need, what would you still care enough about, to want to make a difference?

2). Willingness

Early in our business development we have more time to deliver exceptional one-on-one service.  Express your willingness to do so.  Those who are ahead of you in earnings or business development, just don’t have to give as much individual attention anymore.  You both can, but you have the edge because you will.

What’s the greatest value that you can offer right now, that the big guys can’t or won’t?

3). Empathy

When people know that you really get them, that understanding leads to connection.  I hope you’ve selected a business purpose that you’ve personally experienced or are experiencing.  If you’ve felt the same pain as your market then it’s easier to be real.   Molly Gordon writes about empathy as a powerful marketing strategy.

In which area do you really understand the pain of others because you’re there now or recently have been?  What’s working well for you that they may not yet know?

4). Imagination

We all unwittingly set our own limits.  We get to make all the rules in our own mini-empires.  You get to imagine a business that perfectly suits who you are.  When you hold yourself in high regard, you’ll build your business in a way that will ideally serve you.  By honoring who you are, you’ll also be in the best position to generously serve others well.

Specifically where do you need to rewrite the rules to expand opportunities?  In what area of your business objectives are you thinking way too small?

5). Practice

Is it truly authentic to practice so much that repetition creates mastery? Yes!  I like how Steve Pavlina explains Steven Covey’s habit of sharpening the saw.

Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that engaged authenticity should come easily.  It does for some and it doesn’t for others.  If you haven’t been blessed with an obvious natural talent, then you have been blessed with the necessity of honing the ones you have.   Steve Chandler thinks practice is the most powerful trick ever.

What strengths have you been afraid to express?  What natural talents scare the hell out of you?  If you practiced the same strength for one hour daily, how might that change your life?

I’m challenging you to sharpen your authentic edge beginning now. The latent advantage of authentic business building is that the owner remains eager to do the work.  When work is not a chore you’ll naturally be more productive and attractive to ideal clients.

Which tool do you need to use the most to sharpen your authentic edge?

I feel a definite bond with those of you who are building your business authentically.  I also admire those of you who want to start a small business built on a foundation of who you are.

Let’s connect on Twitter.

Pump Up Your Personal Power

I was eleven years old, watching The Three Stooges, on a fall afternoon.  I heard a loud insistent knock at the back door and, upon opening it, I saw my neighbor, Little Larry, all out of breath and crying.  A hunter mistakenly shot his dog Lobo.  Lobo was suffering and needed help.

Larry’s family didn’t own a gun and he knew that my Dad did.  But I was the only one home and I had played with Lobo.  I was torn and afraid and I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to cry like Larry was, or run from the responsibility.  The last thing I wanted to do was to feel my feelings.
istock_000004482081xsmall

Struggling small business owners often ask, “What’s wrong with me?”  It’s really easy to fall into the trap of self-judgment when things don’t turn out as planned.  It can be especially frustrating when it seems as though many others are succeeding.

But, what if there is nothing inherently wrong with you?  What if you have the capacity to succeed in business but you’re not fully using your personal power?

It’s not a question of your makeup; you have what it takes to succeed. But what if you are not giving it your all?  You might think you are, but if you’re holding back on feeling your feelings fully, then you’re operating at a fraction of your available personal power.  Decide to hold back no more – direct all of your personal power for life and business success.

In my life coaching practice, I’ve coached many men and a few women who did everything they could to avoid feeling negative emotions.  Once we do some digging, the memory of a major childhood trauma often surfaces.  Some clients have avoided feeling feelings for 30 years or more.  Some hurt so badly that they refuse to even discuss it.

Yet they can’t confidently express the personal power necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, while still holding back on their feelings.

My authentic business success did not fully happen, until I changed back into the championship feeler that I once was.  Authenticity can be your edge for business success. But it’s impossible to be fully authentic if you aren’t feeling everything.

Back to Lobo, up until that time, I wore my emotions on my sleeve.  If you hurt, me I cried.  If something scared me, I cried.  If I was embarrassed or ashamed about something, I cried.  Back then, when the emotions arose, I felt them naturally and then felt better.

But growing up in the macho fifties, that presented a big problem.  Every adult male in my life, including my Dad, told me to “quit crying, suck it up and be a man.”

This was in the country, in 1961, and people just didn’t spend money on veterinarians.  Larry knew that the merciful thing to do was to end Lobo’s suffering.  I agreed, but my Dad wasn’t home.  Then something clicked in my eleven-year-old mind.  I saw this as an opportunity to take the advice of my Dad, uncles, and male teachers.  I needed to suck it up and be a man.

Suddenly I knew what I had to do.  I got the shotgun and a shell out of the closet and walked down over the hill with Larry.  It was hard looking at Lobo and knowing that I was ending his life.  We’d played and run together many times.

But I sucked it up and I did it.  And I can remember walking back up the hill to my house as clear as it was yesterday.  A tearful feeling began deep in my chest, and just when it was at throat level and about to explode, I stopped it.

I swallowed my feelings and locked them up in some dark well.  I sucked it up.  I was a man.  I didn’t shed another tear for 38 years and I hated it.  I was stone-faced miserable and more afraid than when I freely cried.

If you’re a guy that’s buying that same bull, or if you know a guy (or gal) who is, please take this message to heart. You won’t really be a strong man or woman until you learn to feel all of your feelings, as they arise.

How?  First understand the benefits of feeling fully.  That understanding will help you to want to feel.  Then you need a process that will work for you.  There is none better than John Gray’s process in his book, How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have .

I’ve recommended it dozens of times in my life coaching practice and it almost always gets my clients feeling once again. It’s effective because it gives us a powerful way to first feel what’s there. Then after feeling it, we can choose something that feels better.

In Chapter 11, Gray shares this list of 12 negative emotional states.
1. “I am angry.”
2. “I am sad.”
3. “I am afraid.”
4.  “I am sorry.”
5. “I am frustrated.”
6. “I am disappointed.”
7. “I am worried.”
8.“I am embarrassed.”
9.“I am jealous.”
10. “I am hurt.”
11. “I am scared.”
12. “I am ashamed.”

These states are expertly listed, in a special order such that even if you don’t immediately, correctly identify which emotion you’re feeling, the process will correct your course in mid-stream.

This process uses journaling, which is a very effective method for feeling and releasing negative emotions.  I’ve personally found it to be highly effective and it’s what got me unstuck from the lingering affects of a major life wound.

Begin at the emotional state where you think you are and really feel it.

In each case, as you go down the list, you will experience a dramatic shift and release by going deeper.  Write a few minutes about any one level, and then shift to the next level down. At the end of the process, it is important to write out the positive feelings that naturally emerge after we release negative emotions. John Gray

Negative feelings begin as naturally occurring vibrations; they don’t become negative until we have attached a thought to them.

Everything in our lives, we create, promote or allow. Author Unknown

Everything! Wow, do you find that quote as inspiring as I do. That means we are at choice about everything in our lives. For everything, we make it up, advance it further or permit its presence.

“Everything” includes even the feelings we feel.  We can choose to allow or release our negative feelings.

We can also choose to pump up our personal power by creating positive feelings after we’ve released the negative.
We are all challenged from time to time, but true champions, learn to fully feel, process the emotions and return to rise again.

Are you operating a full personal power or are you still holding back?