Exceptional Personal Performance

Exceptional personal performance is something that can be learnt and with practice can change not only your work performance but your life too! It’s often more to do with unlearning and relearning, breaking down old habits and chaning yourself belief as well as giving you the tools to make it all happen.

How often do you look at other successful people who are thriving in the current climate while you continue to struggle despite all your hard work?

Yes, you can still blame the recession as businesses continue to tighten their belts and people are more careful as to how they spend their money. But if you buy into that story and wait for times to change you are missing out on a great opportunity.

Warren Buffet famously stated at the beginning of the recession that he’d been “waiting for this day for 10 years” and like many others his business interests have soared.

Is it down to luck, money, investments, business acumen or simply being in the right place at the right time? Possibly it’s a combination of all.

But I’d like to offer another suggestion. Something I did a few months ago was to make a commitment to do whatever it takes to make my business a model that only survived during the recession, but thrived too.

Now, I’m not going to say it’s been an easy ride or that everything went to plan – I wish it had! However, having made that commitment meant I had to do a few things whcih weren’t particularly easy and in many ways were very challenging. But it has meant that I’ve totally set myself up for the good times ahead!

How many of you have realigned yourself to be in a better position so you can take advantage of the up-turn?

Here are some tips to help you realign yourself and take advantage of the great opportunity that has been handed to us in current times:

Comfort zone – Break out and do something new, different and challenging. The more daring – all the better! And if you set yourself a new challenge each day you will start to love the feeling of fear and want to do it anyway.

i. Shake some feathers – get your message out there in as many ways as possible and applaud even if the feedback is negative. Atleast you’re getting noticed and gaining a response. A negative response is better than none at all.

ii. Invest – time, money and effort. T.Harv Eker says “if you do what’s easy, life will be hard, but if you do what’s hard, life will be easy”. Rise to the challenge and set yourself some targets. Easier times will follow.

iii. Experts – find someone who has the missing piece in your knowledge or expertise. Don’t waste time trying to figure it all out for your self. The cost of not doing so could be detrimental to your business.

iv. Winners story – re-write your story as a ‘winners story’ even if you’ve only been in business a short while. The positive message will seep into your unconscious mind and work wonders for you.

Article by: Wendy Howard, www.spiritofvenus.co.uk

Join me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wendyhoward and www.linkedin.com/in/spiritofvenus

This was a great model developed by a friend of mind ‘Simon Drury’ (Art of Reinvention) who’s a business psychologist and coach. I thought I’d share it with you as it’s such an interesting model.

The premise of ‘control needs theory’ is that our sense of being in control or not, is directly linked to feelings. He says that there are essentially three fundamental areas that make up our life experience. Things that we can hope or expect to control and let me firstly just qualify what we mean by control theory because very often people assign the word ‘freak’ to the word ‘control’ and all of a sudden it takes on a kind of negative undesirable persona. If you imagine that control is an axis, a line, at one end you do of course get some who are control-freaks, or what are termed as power-crazy people. And at the other end you get the exact opposite – the other extreme – very mild-mannered and wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Most people typically are in the bell curve in the middle. And we move up and down this control line depending on our circumstances and where we are at any one moment in time. And of course people can become fixated at any point along this line but it is very often circumstance-specific, so people will move up and down the line generally. So, given that, what we mean by control, is having that sense of predictability where things fit within our world.

And the three areas that we hope or expect to have control over are i. self or ourselves ii. other people iii. the environment. And the model continues by looking at, if you imagine a moment in time when, you sense that everything is as you would want it to be, everything is, if you like, in place. For instance, people are doing what you want them to do, people are saying what you want them to say, you’re feeling good about you, everything seems right, and you are on what is referred to as your ‘optimum control need line’.

This line where you are where everything is as you would want it to be is your ‘optimum control need level’. So, in fact, if you have a piece of paper and pencil, in front of you, you could draw a horizontal line in the middle of the page, and that’s the optimum control need line.

Now then, when you are on that line and everything is as you would like it to be, the feeling you have is I’m ‘OK’ or I’m better. So, you might feel ‘Yeah, everything’s OK’, you might feel happy, you might feel elated. It’s OK or better.

Now, here’s the interesting piece – when something happens unexpectedly, for example, it may put you in a sense of being ‘out of control’, whether it’s a little bit or a big bit, then you start to move away from your optimum line. So, your boss comes into your office and says “I need you to write a report for the board by 5 o’clock this afternoon” … 1) you realize that you’re not very good at writing reports, 2) you don’t like presenting and 3) you don’t have time to do it. So automatically you’re knocked off your line. And, the further away from your optimum line you go, the more profound the negative feelings are that you experience.

When this happens, to start with, you may feel a little bit of a lack of confidence, a feeling of insecurity perhaps, that could move to frustration. And then the further away you get from your optimum need level you get into the realms of fear and panic the more out of control you feel.

Now, the third part of this cycle, is what we call the ‘strategy’ part. When you are knocked off your line and you’re experiencing these negative feelings, prompted by a sense of lack of control, what happens is that you will start to employ strategies to try and get you back up to the line so that you feel OK again. So, for example, if the boss has asked you to produce this report and you don’t have all the facts to be able to do it, seeking that information, that knowledge, may be just enough for you to get back up to your line again and feel OK.

And another example is if somebody cuts you up on the motorway and you feel out of control, somebody’s done something to you unexpectedly and you feel negative and maybe your heart’s pumping, and some people have the strategy of retaliation. So they think, “Right – well, he’s done it to me, I’m going to do it to him!” and they’ll then chase the person. Other people of course will choose a strategy of calm, and I’m not going to get involved in this, and slow down perhaps, and that’s their strategy and that gets them back up to their lines so that their heartbeat starts to calm down and they feel relaxed again.

And of course we have a whole range of these strategies: some people feel that they’re not as effective as a leader, things happen in their leadership experience that knock them off their line that they go and seek to develop their leadership skills, so they get back up to the line and feel more in control.

There’s a lovely little anecdote that Simon uses to describe control needs theory and that is that people who watch football will know that if there’s a free kick or a penalty that has to be taken and the referee puts the ball down on the spot, the first thing that the kicker does, without fail, is they’ll go up to the ball and pick it up and they’ll do something with it, because, for them, that control strategy is “I want to somehow have an influence on the ball, I want it to be placed where I put it, not where the ref has put it”. And this is one of those wonderful light control move strategies which comes under the heading of ‘environment’. They need to have the last touch of the ball because they are placing it in the way they want it to be, which is a control strategy, and they feel OK about that.

If however, the ref was to say to the person kicking the ball, “do not touch the ball I placed there”, that would create a lot of tension within the person wanting to kick the ball. Other strategies can include obstinacy for instance, “I don’t want to do that”, “I’m not doing that so I’m not going to do it”. Some people find themselves choosing anger. Some people will withdraw into their comfort zone and just do things that they know they can do, the sort of no-brainer things that help them feel back in control again.

So there are many strategies that we use, and as Simon explains, the thing is they don’t always work, which is why coaching is so important after people understand and go through this model that they can start to analyse the strategies they use and to rate them as how effective they are and they can then choose to get rid of them and put something else in place.

And so it’s working with this model and that the final piece, which is the more interactive part of the model, is that, if, you know, somebody comes in and does something to you, whether it’s at work or at home and they, as a result of their behaviour, knock you off your line and you start to feel frustrated or maybe even fearful and your strategy is to retaliate, so you shout at this person or do something that the other person doesn’t like, guess what you’ve done? You’ve knocked them off their level, so they start to feel negative. They then employ one of their strategies, which may be having to shout back at you or, going off and shouting at somebody else, and so, as a result of using our strategies to get us back to our line, we very effectively knock other people off theirs.

So we are all in this process of trying to get back to our lines and one of the things that is so valuable about this model, apart from the knowledge around it, is that to develop better relationships with people, it helps to first of all understand what knocks the other person off their line, and also the strategies that they employ to get back up to the line, because that’s where they feel happy or happier.

And then it’s for you to help them get back up to their line and so you support them in a sense. And by doing that, they’ll feel OK and they’re more likely to be amenable to what you’re suggesting or the relationship between you can grow.

And of course as a curative measure ultimately if you know the kind of things that knock somebody off their line, then you avoid those things to start with, which is preventative, which is always the better one of the three.

And of course the level of the optimum need and the control line will differ depending on the different optimum needs of the individual and the situation they’re faced with.
For example, if somebody is relaxed on a beach and on holiday and they’ve got people they care about round them and they’ve just had a lovely lunch and the sun is beautiful, then the chances are that they’re control need level, or if we look at the axis, they’re perhaps further away from the extreme end than somebody who is at work, under huge amounts of pressure, maybe there’s a threat of redundancy and the boss is being particularly horrible or they’ve just had a bereavement or something traumatic has happened in their lives, they’re going to be in a different place on that line and their control needs are going to be different at that time. And they will employ perhaps more extreme strategies to try and get them back to their line, and a lot of them won’t work. So what tends to happen is, there’s the opportunity then to choose to get support to get back up to the line. So it may be a coach, it may be a counsellor, or it may be a number of different practitioners because the individual feels that he can’t do it on their own.

Article: by Wendy Howard, www.spiritofvenus.co.uk from an interview with Simon Drury, Art of Reinvention.

Join me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wendyhoward and www.linkedin.com/in/spiritofvenus

What do you do when you motivation to make changes for yourself has gone? Perhaps you’re in a place where you just feel as if life is just too heavy and there’s no point, and nothing really going on that will change your life and your business, your career or your job is no longer fulfilling.

What can you do to become motivated and to take some action that will have a positive effect on your happiness, because after all, happiness, is key to life isn’t it?

The first thing really is to find out why you’re de-motivated in the first place is a good enough place to start. Is it that you lack motivation, which is one thing, or is it that you are actually de-motivated, which is another thing, and the two are different.

So to analyse why it is you’re in that place, is a great place to start, and, if you can’t do it for yourself, then get a coach or a mentor or a buddy to work out why. Because there is a reason for it, it’s not just a state of play as it were, there is a reason why you are feeling de-motivated and, once you’ve then started to understand why, then with that knowledge you’re better placed to be able to do something about it.

And the piece about nothing really changes in my life, that’s a belief …… and the great thing about beliefs, is that they can change. Beliefs aren’t hard wires, they’re learned and, if you have a belief like that, which we would term ‘limiting belief’, That limiting belief can be changed and that’s really exciting, because when you start to recognize that, then the motivation shifts straight away before you’ve even looked at what is causing the de-motivation. Simply changing the beliefs starts the whole re-energizing process.

A great piece of research which was done by a gentleman called Victor Frankel, during the Second World War, and he was incarcerated in Auschwitz and Dachau for a number of years, and I think he was an Austrian psychologist, and as such, he observed his fellow prisoner of wars. And what he recognized was that their behaviour fell into one of two ways. He recognized that some people believed that they were never going to be repatriated, they had no control at all, and they felt as though they could no nothing. And so they basically turned and faced the wall. They didn’t do anything, they didn’t speak to other people, they did nothing.They’d given up.

And the other attitude was, I don’t know if and when I’m going to be repatriated, but it’s not going to stop me doing what I want to do. My captors may have taken all my physical liberty away, but what they cannot take away is my attitude. I can choose my attitude, so if I choose to be defiant, or choose to feel positive, then that feels good for me, that gives me control. It’s a choice.

And so this second group of people kept socializing, they kept themselves fit and healthy, they were exercising a lot of the time, their whole demeanour was completely different, and they looked physically better and more mentally alert than the other people with the negative attitude.

So, what he went on to do was develop a theory that people need purpose in their life, they need to have a direction, they need a way of validating who they are.

So start by asking yourself what’s your purpose? In a sense, why are you here? There are a lot of exercises to help you do this but of course too long to incorporate in here. However, understanding that having a purpose is a really important thing to do, not necessarily very easy, but it can be done.

The next thing to do is to look at your goals: do you have goals? You hear about goal-setting all the time, but how many people really do have goals? And there was that fascinating piece of research some years ago by Harvard University where students were asked if they had set goals after they left university, and particularly longer term goals such as where do you want to be in five years, and ten years time. And they found that only a few people had made any goals. And only 3% had written down clear goals. And, when these people were accessed again in 10 years further down the road, it was only that 3% that really showed any kind of success level. Infact, it was shown that these people were earning over ten times more than all the other students in the group put together. That’s awesome!

So this demonstrates that we all need goals and if we write them down and get them clearly on paper – we stand a much greater chance of materialising them.

Also it must be recognised that you may be one of those persons who isn’t motivated and energised by an end product, which you would call a goal. You may be more energized by the journey to get to the goal, and that requires another type of developmental model. However, knowing where you’re going is really most important, and sometimes you may be encouraged to develop really big goals, which can feel overwhelming and so what you find is that chunking it down into bite-sized chunks is really helpful. So you have the stepping stones to reach the bigger goals.
And, if you can break a bigger goal down into these small chunks, this can become more manageable and then you will get a sense of “I can do this”. And once you’ve achieved success there, then you can look at the next step. You can choose to have a success there and then and your motivation will go up and you will start to feel happier about things.

So start today. Identify where you’re not motivated. Explore why. Check out your attitude. Challenge some of those limiting beliefs. Start setting positive and achievable goals.

Article by: Wendy Howard, www.spiritofvenus.co.uk

Join me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wendyhoward and www.linkedin.com/in/spiritofvenus

Where’s your passion and motivation?  What is it that floats your boat? We’re so engrossed in the struggle that we lose sight of the things that things that do fire us up.  Here’s a lovely little exercise to reignite your passion.

Think back throughout the last 5 years, then 10 years, then 20 years, what are the things which have really excited you?  What things have made you feel passionate?

And, then bring those images in your mind back into your life again. It may be an experience going to a live music concert or to see your child’s play. It may be when you played football or tennis with great people around you. It may be back at school or college when you had fun with the crowd you used to hang out with. It doesn’t matter what those experiences are as they are unique to you.

Think back to when was the last time you did those things?  How much did you enjoy doing these things? If you’ve rather lost touch with that, go and find a way to do similar things again because If it really excited you before, there’s a fair chance it’ll excite you again.

And a wonderful story I heard which sums up the power of this simple exercise is about a lady who was feeling very depressed with her life, as if nothing was worth living for. When she was asked how long she’d felt like that, she said “since my husband died”. And that had been a number of years. So the next question was “and what did you do when your husband was alive that made you so happy?” She said, “I used to do lots of things such as water-colour painting, gardening, visiting art galleries and having friends around for dinner”. And the next question was “why can’t you do some of those things now?” and she answered, “well, I suppose I could really.” And that’s precisely what she did. She started to invite friends round for dinner and began to go out to art galleries and places of interest. She re-started water-colour painting and gardening. And when she was asked how she felt a few weeks later she said “I feel so happy and have completely changed from that dark place I’d let myself fall into”.

What she’d done was to re-ignite her passion for the things that made her really happy. It was immensely sad that her husband had died but there was no reason why she should let go of the things that made her happy in her own life. It was a case of letting go of the guilty feelings that her husband had died and to re-motivate herself to start living again and enjoy what had always made her happy when her husband was alive. In doing so, I bet she had so many happy memories of times they shared while she did some of those things again too.

So, it’s thinking back to those things and bringing them back into your life if you possibly can. This makes a big difference to your motivational level and ultimately how happy you feel.

Article by: Wendy Howard, www.spiritofvenus.co.uk

Join me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wendyhoward and www.linkedin.com/in/spiritofvenus

When it comes down to being wealthy, healthy and happy there are four key questions you need to be able to ask yourself to determine the wealth, health and happiness you so desire.

The four questions are …

Question # 1 Who do you need to be, or who do you want to be?
This is about who are you as a person, your identity, your role, in an ideal world what role would you fulfil in your life that made you happiest? You may need to think about this for a while as it’s actually a very deep question. Sometimes your answer can be confused with the job you’re fulfilling, so really go deep on the person you really are.

Question # 2 What do you want to do?
This is about what work, or what activities and what behaviours make you feel most fulfilled? It may be that some of the things that make you feel fulfilled are not a huge part of your life right now and if this is the case, then this is an even more valuable exercise for you. When you’ve got some awareness around this then you are in a position to make some different choices.

Question # 3 What do you want to have?
What sort of environment do you prefer to be in? What sort of access to spiritual needs do you want? Once you understand a bit more about your spiritual needs, and that doesn’t necessarily mean religious as spiritual is more to do with how you feel inside and having a sense of belonging. So think through what you want to have as far as your spiritual wealth is concerned. It may be that having things such as trinkets, hi-fi systems, designer clothes are important to you.

And in terms of what do you need to have or what do you want to have, think about the rewards that you would like to give yourself if you don’t necessarily get them from other people. And look at how you celebrate that. How do you celebrate your wins? Because, when you celebrate your wins, you fire up your neurology, and it really helps you to then move onto the next thing.

Question # 4 What do you need to be with?
This is to do with the people you feel happiest being around? It could be family, friends or colleagues. It may be people you do activities with. And then go and be around them, if you possibly can. Being around the people who make you feel happy is really important but so often what happens is, we live a long way away, and our lives can diverge and we lose touch with the people who have made us happy in the past. To change this get on the phone and arrange to meet up and start to re-experience that happiness?

These four questions are really important to your happiness and well-being. Some of the choices that they produce can be challenging of course but the change that happens when you take action is incredibly exciting.

Article by: Wendy Howard, www.spiritofvenus.co.uk

Join me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wendyhoward and www.linkedin.com/in/spiritofvenus

It’s great that you’ve started your own business and in doing so you now realize the intensity and the creative energy that you never needed before in your day job. But you’ve also realised you have little time to grow your business because all your time is being taken up with mundane jobs that don’t bring income in.

How do you break from this? There really is only one way and that’s to start hiring other people and outsourcing tasks to get things done. This frees up your time to concentrate on what brings the sales and money in to your business. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

Recently a client of mine was spending time doing her own book-keeping. This had become a chore as she really didn’t enjoy the task. But she thought that she was saving herself having to pay a book keeper. However, the time spend doing this task just think what could she be doing during that time to bring sales into the business? When you multiply this time taken away from her business and the amount of money she could be bringing in if only she concentrated on sales, you can begin to understand that delegating that task will improve the income to her business.

Perhaps you do lots of business related tasks such as answering the phone, photo-copying, checking emails or problem solving. None of this is bringing income into your business and it’s actually keeping you from finding customers or creating new products.

And of course there’s also the constant tiredness of getting it all done which can leave you feeling exhausted or simply stressed out. And again, that’s not way to grow your business when you have to work late into the evening or at weekends simply to keep up with everything. Wouldn’t it make sense to balance your business and life more?

Doing everything yourself is a distraction and you need to find a team of people who can take over things that keep you distracted from the task of growing your business. You need to decide who you need to take onboard to do those mundane tasks. Every business is different so I suggest you make a list of all the tasks that need doing and then put against it those which you will do and those which you will outsource. Then make a commitment to outsource by finding those key people to do these tasks.

If you still insist on doing everything yourself then your business is going to remain small and you will remain working harder, not smarter.

When choosing people to work with base your choice on their having the right skills for the job, in hand. And also consider working with people virtually rather than someone local as many tasks can be done from anywhere in the world, as long as the job is done. It also means you can shop around on price too.

So focus on outsourcing tasks and freeing up your time, to grow your business or simply to get some time off from your work. What things will make a difference? Start thinking about this now.

Whether you love or loath referrals they are a great way of bringing warm leads into your business as well as a great advertisement for what you do. People who come to you via a referral already have it in their mind that you offer a valuable product or service. Plus … it takes the hard work of having to sell!

How do you get more referrals?

Here are my top 10 tips:

1. Word of Mouth – Make an impact with all your customers and deliver an exceptional service they’ll want to talk about. It can be as simply as sending a thank you for your business card and a follow up call to make sure everything is working well for them after you’ve delivered the goods or services.

2. Ask – Make a point of asking every one of your customers if they know anyone else who would benefit from having a similar problem solved for them.  Perhaps they can recommend two or even three people. Timing of course is essential and must be at the point of delivery.

3. Guarantee -If you offer a guarantee for all your products and services then people are more likely to want to refer others to you as they will feel additional confidence having this in place.

4. Write – Add a clause at the bottom of your letters or thank you for your payment letter which says  ‘we welcome referrals’. This is a great mind jogger for your clients.

5. Reward – Your customers for giving you a referral. Offer incentives for turning a referral into business. The reward might be a gift. If you want to offer something at no additional cost then give them a discount on future goods or services or perhaps a free sample.

6. Finders Fee – Offer a percentage of the fee (5/15% depending on your financial circumstances). Or you may offer a set fee or even a set number of high street vouchers.

7. Discounts for referrals – Offer a set discount off their next purchase for giving you a referral.

8. Swap referrals – Set up a relationship with another business whereby you exchange referrals with them. Complimentary businesses work well this way. Make sure you have something in place to track the referrals that are sent and received. Only work with those organisations that deliver an excellent service so you don’t jeapardise your reputation!

9. Bring a friend – To an event at your premises or a nearby venue. You can extend this by giving out ‘bring along friend’ to the friends that are coming along. This is great if you are doing an event or something like a tradeshow and want to display your goods and services to lots of people.

10. Affiliate– Start an affiliate programme. This is where you pay others a set fee for their referrals. This can be automated on line so everyone can track their affiliate sales.

Be creative as there are lots of exciting ways to boost your referrals!

With January up on us and 2010 a new decade, we talk a lot about goal setting and achieving our dreams. There’s a whole host of information and different approaches on how to do this.

But … what happens when you get stuck? You know, those times when you know the direction you’d like to go in, but for some reason some of the bits don’t quite fit together and you end up back where you started from.

It’s times like that when you feel like just giving up. Or you drift back to doing what you’ve always done it, because that’s what you know.

But then you find yourself in the same rut as before – not growing, not achieving your dreams, not earning the income you’d like.

Why does it happen? A very quick response can be summed up in one word and that is ‘habit’ combined of course with ’lack of knowledge’ plus ‘lack of motivation’ as all of these are combined.

We can ALL learn to do things differently and move forwards as we want to BUT we have to find out what the sticking point actually is first of all, and then take some ACTION.

Try this – Identify Your Sticking Point?

Step 1: Identify the point where you’re getting stuck. Is it lack of a proper direction for a product or service? Is it lack of sales skills? Is is lack of a proper marketing strategy? Is it something but you’re not sure what?

Ask yourself the question over and over again as there may be more than one strand to this. What is my sticking point? Write this down.

Step 2: Identify the area that your sticking point comes under. Is it lack of knowledge to do a particular task i.e technical skill? Is it lack of who to go to i.e. relationship? Is it lack of knowledge i.e. I don’t know how to?

Step 3: Identify an action to take you forward. Ask youself “what can I do about this now?” By taking an action no matter how small, you will be planting a seed that will take you in another direction to where you are.

Step 4: Identify and slay the ‘what if’s’. Okay, get these over with. I don’t have the money for this … I can’t because I’ve no time … I will do it when …  I know it’ll happen when … If only I had …

STOP! If you buy into your story nothing will change. Spend time working through all of the negative messages. Write them down and then cross them out and replace each one with … something positive.

For instance, “I don’t have time …” Replace with “I am scheduling in one hour each day at 8-9am to write an article”

Step 5: What is your commitment and motivation level? These MUST be high for you to keep this up. So, make a strong commitment and just DO IT. And reward yourself in some way to keep your motivation high.

Remember: Success has a pattern, failure has a pattern and both are predictible.

If you enjoyed this article please forward it but keep the following in place: Article by Wendy Howard, Personal & Business Direction Trainer/Coach – Visit www.grow-training.com