How To Create and Complete By Using Strategies

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A strategy is a plan of action.  It’s a method for creating, doing or accomplishing something.  We often hear of Marketing strategies, Business strategies, Brand strategies, etc., but the entrepreneurs and businesses owners I work with in my small business coaching practice mostly need Creation and Completion strategies.

The marketplace rewards completions.

In 10 years of business coaching I’ve developed several effective strategies so that my clients can follow through and complete what they say is important to them.

In an effort to stick to a more reliable posting schedule, look for a small business strategy every Thursday.

In previous posts, many readers commented on my challenge of telling the whole truth to yourself about yourself.  It’s an essential component of playing a bigger game.

Well-engaged strategies encourage radical honesty.

When used correctly, a strategy offers us four gifts that unplanned creation does not.  These gifts are, approach, focus, intention and game plan.

1). Approach is the access or entry point for the strategy.  More than half the battle is getting started, and certainty of approach allows us to hit the ground running.

2). Focus allows us to create an environment and a structure most conducive to successfully carrying out our strategy.  With focus we can simply drop everything that does not advance our chosen strategy.

3). Intention dictates our overriding posture while carrying out the strategy.  Lightness, flexibility, urgency and intensity are all examples of a guiding intention.

4). Game plan is the procedure, plan, process or system that’s all laid out for us in steps to follow.

GO DIRECT is this week’s strategy.

When business owners aren’t completing or creating programs and projects, I’ve found that fear is needlessly complicating their efforts.  They’ve fallen prey to distraction, procrastination, avoidance or perfectionism.  When any of these are in play, owners often fear the very action that would set them free.

The GO DIRECT strategy lasers in on only the actions that most directly help secure what we want.  But since we’ve needlessly complicated things, we have to first drill down to identify what we really want.

Step One is > Identify precisely what you want.

I’ve had clients tell me they want to “get the word out” about their small business. In coaching, I’ll ask them “what will that do?” They’ll say, “It will help us to be seen.” I’ll ask, “What will that lead to?” Their response “Well if we’re seen, we’ll be an option when prospects are looking.” “Looking for what?” Finally they say, “to hire us to (fill in the blank).”

You see where this is going? They don’t really want to get the word out, to be seen, or even to be seen when prospects are looking.  What they precisely want are clients.  So why not GO DIRECT to securing clients?  Social media, blogging and other forms of marketing can be less than direct means to get a client.  So my coaching client and I will agree to a number of very direct client acquisition actions.

Step Two is > Describe exactly what you want, in vibrant detail, so you’ll know it when you see it.

If you want clients, somewhere the client you seek is seeking you.  If you can describe that client, understand her needs and think about serving her, you are actually using strategic intent to increase the probability of being hired by her.

Step Three is > … actually Step Three is to use a different effective strategy for daily completion, which I’ll share next Thursday.  Many strategies play off one another to create the business you most want.

Do you routinely follow-through on what you say is important to you?

If you don’t follow-through, then take charge by working a strategy that works for you.  Strategies are deceptively simple.  But don’t let their simplicity keep you from using them.

Strategies can save your life and your business.

Do you use creation and completion strategies in your life or business?

Want a test drive coaching session where we tackle your biggest business challenge and agree to the most effective strategies to get what you want? All you have to do is ask.

Personal Relationships and Business Support

Solo entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey and if you have a non-supportive spouse or significant other, it can feel even lonelier. Lately I’ve seen a greater number of brand new small business owners, who feel as though they are all on their own, even though they are in relationship.  Conflict between the man and the woman

Even if you are not presently in a personal partnership you may feel the need to seek relationship support from close friends and family members. In either case you may be been surprised by what appears to be the lack of unconditional support.

When I was building an entrepreneurial business 14 years ago, I was married with two young teenagers. During the business development stage, I was working over 70 hours weekly and telling myself the classic workaholic’s lie. “I’m doing it for them.”

It might make you feel better to rationalize your non-supportive behavior, but if you are anything like I was, deep within, you understand that being an absentee spouse and parent is not doing anything for them. Furthermore, you are mostly doing it for you and it’s okay to admit that truth.

If you need relationship help now, you’ll still need it while building your business but then there will even more pressure on all fronts. Everyone is familiar with a couple that tried to solve their relationship problems by having a baby. Did it work for the couple you knew? No? Then why would birthing a new business improve your relationship?

Here’s another big lie.

It’s not personal, it’s only business.  Donald Trump

Everything is personal! When Trump and others use that line, they are only trying to justify less than human behavior.

You and the actions you take are the main reason why your business succeeds or fails. If your life sucks then your business results will suck.

If you have weak personal relationships that drain your energy, then your focus will be lacking. Without a strong focus, your decision-making, personal productivity and inspired actions will all suffer.

If you don’t have strong spousal support or unconditional support in your close relationships, you first need to understand them from their perspective.

When a life partner cautiously advises you not to venture out on your own, they are not questioning your ability or resolve to succeed.

They are only speaking from the perspective of their own fears.

They could fear having less time with you. Your initiative could be forcing them to face their own fears of success, of failure or of never being authentically fulfilled in their work. And of course they could be thinking about having less money and how that affects the household budget.

Good personal relationships are essential to making good business decisions. If you are fighting battles both at home and in the marketplace, you will lose on both fronts.

My first coaching  certification was in relationship building and more and more it’s my relationship coaching skills that come into play first, with my small business clients.
If you’re considering starting a small business, first repair or end non-supportive relationships.

You might enjoy these tips for a confident career change.

Remember this brilliance in the face of relationship problems.

I’m never upset for the reasons I think I am.  Eckhart Tolle

What relationship challenges do you need to understand greater, in order to build your business with less resistance?

What adjustments need to be made in your relationship with you, so that you are more grounded and your business is more supported?

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Support Resource:

Request a free Confidently Make the Leap, strategy session to get really clear on how and when to make your move.


Speak Up – Silence Makes You Poor

We must stand tall and speak up or our silence will make us poor. Money is attracted to confidence. Attractive confidence is the direct connection between authenticity and financial prosperity. istock_000001684995xsmall1

We naturally feel more confident when we are speaking our mind in full authentic expression.  Every time we allow fear to silence our authentic expression, we poke little holes in our personal integrity and erode our confidence.

Often we are given opportunities to right a wrong, clear up a misunderstanding, enhance a relationship or express true feelings, but instead we take the easy way out, by putting up with what we could change.

I’m a big believer in accepting what is. But we can also be smart and remove ourselves from the presence of people and situations that are not good for us.

It’s essential to identify and eliminate situations that we needlessly tolerate.

Let’s define tolerations as things that bug us, sap our energy, and could be eliminated!  There’s a small payoff to carrying tolerations – you get to feel kind of noble about your burdens and your forbearance. But, believe me, it’s a very expensive source of self-esteem.

Tolerations are holes in your personal success cup; they drain away your contentment and good fortune.  They drain YOU.  They make you feel less attractive to yourself.

Tolerations often represent compromises you’ve talked yourself into.  Thomas Leonard

Leonard included physical clutter and all kinds of limbo projects in his master list of tolerations.  Most of you have felt the tremendous resurgence of energy that comes simply from cleaning a closet or an office.  My coaching clients and I have experienced even greater relief and enlivening from taking a stand and expressing it.  It’s your turn.

What unresolved situations or unmade decisions have you avoided dealing with repeatedly?

Which of your relationships is more energy draining than inspiring?

Where are you withholding being totally forthright, because you fear the consequences, even though you know that you’re out of integrity by remaining silent?

Where do you resist telling the whole truth to yourself, about yourself?

Make your list, select one, face it and fix it permanently. Then cross it off and feel the rush of authentic expression.

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For those in Pittsburgh this week, Tom is speaking on Thursday, 1-29, noon, at the Carnegie Business Library on Wood St.  The topic is: Is Self-Employment Right for You?

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.

What Makes You Exceptional?

Do you know what makes you exceptional?

If you do are you frequently and fearlessly expressing your exceptionality?

Here’s my theory of exceptionality. We increase the probability of creating a life of freedom, fulfillment and financial prosperity to the degree that we are willing to express our exceptionality.

I hope you’ll agree, that the best of both worlds, would be if we could all be paid very well, simply for being who we really are. When we take action from the core of our uniqueness then it’s an easier action leveraged by our inherent assets.

But it seems like so many have gotten so far off-track that even if offered a great reward simply for being completely authentic – they may not be able to collect. Could you? If a foundation sought you out and made an offer of $100,000 just for being 100% who you are, for one week, would you collect?

In order to collect you’d have to choose to fearlessly express your exceptionality every time it ran smack into cultural conformity.

In order to collect you’d need to express your odd behaviors, personality quirks and peculiarities without regard for societal norms.

Could you do that? Would you be willing to risk becoming a cultural outcast to collect the hundred grand? If yes, I salute you. If you would not be willing, what stops you from expressing yourself completely? Haven’t you noticed that most of us are obsessed with the uniqueness of celebrity while personally reeking of conformity?

Identifying and expressing ones exceptionality is an essential key to self-employment success. The market is way too crowded to hold back and expect success. We’ve got to let our exceptionality rip so that our unique voice can be heard. I call that guy my Wild Tommy. He’s the part of me who doesn’t give a hoot what others think. He just shows up and lets it all hang out.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

– Dr. Seuss

Cultural conformity is a fear-based limitation that tells us what we are supposed to do. There are no rules and there are no sacred things that we are supposed to do.

“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas A. Edison

Somewhere we lost our way and allowed appropriateness to crush our wildness. Do you think that’s why it seems like we have to work so hard to get what we want? I do. Somehow we have lost the inspirational example of our natural world and replaced it with lots of effort. Whistling while we work is natural. It’s how life gets to be when we express all of who we are. Isn’t wholeness the meaning of integrity? So what’s with all this pretending?

Perhaps we simply need to check the validity of our decisions on how alive they make us feel? Does it really need to be more complicated than that?

“Don’t ask what the world needs – ask what makes you come alive and go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

What can you do to express your exceptionality more? A good first step would be to discover it. You can discover it by answering some questions designed for that purpose.

I’m curious, what do you think? Could expressing our exceptionality more frequently be the key to creating the life we most want to live?

Answer this Question and Change Your Life

What really matters to me that I’m not doing anything about?

You might as well pause right here and answer before reading on. It’s such a significant challenge to self-truth. Just the whisper of it will come back to haunt you if you don’t acknowledge your answer right now.

So what did you come up with? Was it a dream you’ve put aside? Was it something new? Something surprising?

Each time we acknowledge that something’s important to us, and then pretend that it isn’t, we poke a little hole in our souls. How perforated do you think your soul might be? Well here’s the good news. You can make yourself whole again by answering this question and then following through with any meaningful action.

We’ve got to play in the big leagues of bare-bones self-honesty occasionally or we begin to settle for a smaller life than we could live. Be bold. Your authentic self will be there to help clear the way.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” -Johann von Goethe

The participants in an unconditional support group. I facilitated,  made real progress towards magnificently living that objective.

After selecting an objective, they’ll align their thoughts towards the accomplishment of that objective as they feel the powerful support of their fellow champions. If something calls out to you when you answer this central question – join us. Just take this survey to begin the process.

Here are many good tips on how to dream big in this blog post What Will I Be When I Grow Up? I Wonder…

Isle of Delightful WorkIn that post, we imagined that we had move to The Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work. We imagined work that made our heart sing. Take a moment now to read that post and imagine extraordinary support while you move forward on what really matters.

Here is your call to action. Answer this question: What really matters to me that I’m not doing anything about? Imagine that you are delightfully taking action. Then pick one small step and take it without delay. You will then have changed the course of your life towards larger living.
Stumble It!

Screw Going Back to School

How many times have you heard this from confused folks who have yet to find their true calling?

“I’m thinking about going back to school.”

Screw that! Why? Because the odds are excellent that more education and/or additional credentialing isn’t necessary to get to the level of success, freedom and work fulfillment that you desire.

I’m not anti-education. In many cases I’m for it. I certainly don’t want anybody that hasn’t been to medical school removing my appendix. I’m especially pro education for younger folks and for those who clearly know exactly what they want to do. College is a great place to grow up. I almost did there. But I didn’t find out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Did you? Perhaps that’s because at that tender age we’re still in the process of growing up.

But that’s not who’s going back to school. More often than not it’s the confused and uncertain folks who are returning to the classroom. If they told themselves the truth, they may have to admit this: “I’m going back to school because it’s a socially acceptable way for me to avoid making this big decision for another 2-4 years.”

They are prime suckers to fall into this trap – perpetuated by the world’s biggest lie: someone else knows better than you do, what’s really good for you.

Of course it’s safer to believe in this illusion because it’s a convenient way of escaping personal responsibility. If things don’t work out, you can always blame the school, or the government or heck, blame the economy.

We frequently fall into this trap because we are experts at belittling ourselves. We doubt ourselves, undervalue our talents and judge our performance so harshly that it seems like we’d be nuts to trust ourselves. Somebody else must know better. Bull! They really don’t.

This return to school could be nothing more than a hidden urge within you that’s looking for approval. You’ll never get the approval you need from others, so stop looking for it. Every one of us is the product of a collection of beliefs and assumptions that were laid on us by family and society. It’s time to examine those beliefs and to toss out those that no longer serve us well.

Instead of wondering, “Should I go back to school?” why not ask, “What exactly do I think this education or further credentialing will bring me?” Then, “What will that bring me?” Keep asking and drilling a few rounds deeper and you’ll eventually get to what you really want. Then you can ask this beautiful question:

Is there a more direct way to get what I want?

Often, self-employment (with the talent and resources you have right now) is an easier, more direct way. But, self-employment is so bold, you say. Yeah, it is. So what?

Has being cautious paid off big for you so far? Going back to school does not put you in play in a big way. It’s benching you. It’s like putting yourself on the sidelines of life and delaying your real contribution. Then at the end of 3 or 4 more years and thousands of dollars, “they” may still tell you that you can’t get what you want. Going back to school is not a sure thing.

Neither is self-employment. But I can fail a lot faster and a lot less expensively by walking my own path and adjusting in the moment to what I’ve learned. So can you. Going into business, leading with your own strengths and expressing yourself authentically is a much better bet at success than following the herd.

Delay is much more expensive then failure.

Any delay. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hiding in school or hiding in shitty employment. If you’re putting off the active pursuit of your true calling and work life freedom, then you’re not fully in the game. And it’s costing you big time.

You Can’t Go Where You’re Going Until You Feel What You’re Feeling

You’ll hate this post unless you’re already enjoying your work or on the verge of that enjoyment. Why? Because I’m going to ask you to fully feel what you are feeling, and for most people, that can be very uncomfortable. But being willing to fully feel everything is the one process that separates the whiners from the winners in the game of work life freedom.

If you have the gumption to accept the following tips, you can do more to advance the enjoyment of your true calling than by using any other process.

Why? Because the willingness to feel is the thing most missing, not only for delightful work, but for robust living in your entire life. I’ll share some ways to begin feeling fully in Part Two of this post. For now, I want to make a case for what you’ll gain by feeling fully. As you read this, just be open to the possibility that everything in your life can come more easily by feeling fully.

  1. Feel fully for greater clarity. When we aren’t feeling, we are living in the swampy murkiness of avoidance, confusion, denial, distraction or numbness. When we feel, we can see clearly what we want and engage ourselves in joyfully creating it. Some avoid feeling by hiding behind tension-relieving substances like food, alcohol and drugs. It’s worth realizing that these artificial inspirations never quite approximate the heights that could be realized by the natural high of creating the life you want.
  2. Feel fully for greater energy. It takes a lot of work to hide from our own truth. When we aren’t feeling fully and living in the present moment, we are trying to time travel to the past or the future. That fruitless effort just tuckers us out. Do you awaken eager to engage your daily work? Does it make you feel like singing? When we eagerly anticipate joyful experiences, we add energy to our reserves. But when we dread our work, we often deplete our energy before we even arrive at our workplace.
  3. Feel fully for less fear. Feelings naturally arise in our bodies. Essentially they are vibrations that alert us to focus points of awareness. Some gut feelings are legitimate warnings for us to avoid harm; others are unproductive triggers to prior events. Often our default position is to engage the same flight or fight response that our early ancestors did. We still have this system alive within us, seldom are we truly threatened enough to need it. With the noble, if unnecessary, desire to protect us, it will create fear when none exists.For example, imagine receiving mail with a law firm’s return address on the envelope. Often our first reaction is fear. Oh no! Now what have I done?! Most vibrations do not become negative emotions like apprehension, anger, sadness or disappointment until we attach a thought to them. We don’t feel fearful until we label something as potentially bad. So, in fact, we often create the fear that we avoid feeling! Isn’t that something? If we didn’t create it, it wouldn’t even exist. We always have the choice of feeling only the vibration as it passes through our body.
  4. Feel fully for greater opportunities. Imagine an ever-flowing circle of wonderful possibilities that are just outside of your vision. Then, suddenly, simply by feeling, you can see, and sieze, them! It’s a lovely development that I want you to experience. When our minds are less cluttered with fearful possibilities, our vision just naturally improves. And then we can see the opportunities that where there all along. Instead of frustration, a natural state of gratitude appears to sharpen our intentions.
  5. Feel fully for greater readiness. Readiness is a curious and illusive animal. In contrast, it is our self-declaration of not yet being ready that stops us the most. When someone says they aren’t ready, they probably don’t feel inclined, willing and available for action. Instead, they feel weighed down with things they think they must handle first. From that perspective, it seems as though the right time to act never comes. Perhaps it would if you could only give yourself the permission to feel all of your feelings, both high and low. Try it; you’ll be amazed at how freeing it is.

Feeling fully could be the practice you’re missing the most. Emancipate yourself by feeling all the time and you’ll enjoy such wonderful benefits that you’ll never return to the life you once led.