Gaining the Confidence to Jump

ConfidenceJumpWe all have our futures in our own hands. Jump or don't jump, the choice is yours to make. Our fates are created in the choices we make every day in the instant we make them. No matter how little or how small they all play a role in our future. it won't always seem so drastic and dramatic as jumping off a high cliff into deep dark water or jumping out a perfectly safe airplane. But sometimes it might.

So how does a sky diver or a cliff diver have the confidence to do it? How do they do it with ease? Why are they smiling? And why in the heck would they do it again?!

I can tell you in one word: Confidence

But how do you think they got that confidence? Turns out they went through the same steps we all go through. At some point they made a decision about what they wanted. You might have done the same. Maybe it was to start your own company or build a business on the side part time for a little nest egg. Or maybe you decided you wanted to advance your career or just change jobs. At some point you had decided you wanted more than the existing status quo.

Once you decide, there is no going back so it's on to the next important step; you need to come up with a plan. We can talk more about plans another time. Let's just put a pin it and know there has to be a plan that has a great deal of information with it. Before you ever jump out of a plane or free dive off of a 100 foot cliff, there are many steps and actions you're going to go through. No one in their right mind would just say “Hey I think I'll cliff jump from 100 feet right now” . So what do you think the first step in the plan would be? Research!

Research the sport and all of the variables. The styles, the techniques, the conditions to find the one that suits them the best or that they have the most interest in. All of this leads them to the next, and most critical action; finding others to learn from.

They find coaches and clubs and teams to join so they can learn the skills. The practice their developing skills in front of the advisors, get feedback, and make corrections. They do this over and over and over again until it becomes like second nature. Once they are ready they have gained the confidence they need to safely (and joyfully) take that big jump. Their experience and the feedback from others has taught them they can trust the landing. They can let go of nervousness or insecurities. They have the confidence so they can enjoy the thrill and exhilaration, the sheer joy of the sport.

Business is no different. You make a decision to take action, work up a plan, you do your research, then you find someone or a group of someone's who can help guide you. The team you build around you can make all the difference in you gaining the confidence you need to thrive in building your business.

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Your Dreams Belong to YOU!

YourDreamsYour dreams belong to you. That spark that ignites you and inspires you is unique to only you. What you are here to do and who you really are is not for anyone else, just you.

Don't expect others to fully understand them or even to support them. I know it sounds hash, but it is true. Not everyone will believe in you or what you want to achieve in your life. In fact, there may even be those who seek to sabotage your efforts. That's ok it's not their dream or vision. It belongs to you and it is for you to believe it and achieve.

I was on a recent coaching call and I was saddened that one of my clients was so distraught. Seems they found out the hard way that not everyone will support what you want to do or what your dream is. They had shared with someone who decided they would tell the person all of the logical reasons why they shouldn't do this or that and why they felt this person was not “qualified”. I can just imagine how it must have been for my client standing on wobbly legs half excited and half scared about the pending launch; just bursting to tell someone! Then turning to a trusted advisor only to be shredded to bits and be left in a pile of rubble questioning their very existence.

To take a leap of faith and venture into the unknown. To decide to take the reins of your life and build your own revenue stream takes a great deal of courage. Sure it can get pretty scary out there and we may crave the support of others. But you cannot expect others to fully support and understand. They may not mean to hurt you, but their nature is to want security and comfort and predictability for themselves and for others. Then there are those who feel it's their job to keep everyone in their place. And even worse are the ones who want to make themselves feel better by making others feel less (run away from this dynamic).

Bottom line folks, you are on your journey and no one, outside of you, has the power to take that away or divert you from your course.

Oh, what happened to my client? With a little positive support they were able to shake it off and reignite that spark. In fact, I was able to walk them through a self discovery process that helped them gain a deeper insight. They are moving forward with renewed conviction.

P.S. If you are looking for a group of digital business builders to help you on your journey, I recommend this group Digital Sprinters Mastermind It's about real people having real conversations.

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Make Success a Habit!

SuccessHabitThere are lots of people who are successful in life. In fact you may even be one of them. Since you are reading this, I would even say you are one of them. But there are those shining stars who make to the higher echelons of success. The people in the High Success category.  They are balanced mind body and spirit. They have achieved their financial goals while keeping their health and well being intact. You could say the move through with ease and a peace of mind. With grace and confidence that cannot be broken.Turns out, they all have similar habits. I wrote down the top 5 for you.

One of my best strengths is my ability to observe and understand others. I am truly interested in people, not to change who they are but to really understand them. You can learn so much just by observing and paying attention. We all develop behaviors and these behaviors produce results (whether you want them to or not). These actions become so automatic that they are habits we don't really “think” about. They become as automatic as breathing. Really this is the definition of habit, a behavior that has become so ingrained that is habitual. You cannot not do the action.

Chances are you have several habits you aren't even aware of. You have done them so long that they are so practiced and automatic they go un-noticed by you.  These habitual actions will, with a certain level of predictability, take you in a direction. If you have a habit of sitting about eating junk food it will catch up to you in one way or another. You will end up with physical dis-ease in some form. If you practice the habits of an endurance runner, you will eventually be a successful endurance runner. It is really simple Action = Reaction.Just like Newton's third law “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” ..

So what if we looked at the habits of the High Success people? Can we learn behaviors that will change our degree of success in life? Can a new action change our direction in life? I believe we can. Especially if we accept that Action = Reaction. We are not so hard wired that we cannot evolve by  learning and adapting new behaviors. People do it all of the time. Ask anyone who quit an addictive behavior, say like smoking or drugs or drinking excessively.

It's just a matter of finding the habits that are common among High Success people and do the same in your life. Each and every day until it is as natural as breathing.

P.S. You can go pick up my Top 5 Habits list and start acting “as if” right now.

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Mastermind groups, 5 key reasons why you need to join one!

5ReasonsMastermindThe word Mastermind means to plan and direct a difficult activity. The term applied to a group was first coined by Napoleon Hill (show of hands, who hasn't read “Think and Grow Rich”?), but the practice has been around far longer. I imagine it's been around since the dawn of man. Think about what the term means really, it's about seeking guidance from a group of driven, like minded individuals wanting to improve their skills and abilities. Ultimately the decisions for your life are your own, but anyone who has been independent long enough can tell you, having a sounding board is priceless. But perhaps the most important aspect that I appreciate about a Mastermind group is the accountability.

As an independent business owner having launched two successful consumer brands, a service business, and a non-profit, I know what needs to get done, but without accountability on well defined actions, who's gonna' know if I didn't get it done right?! No one. But it will show up eventually in lost opportunities. I am the CEO but I need a board to help keep me on the path from time to time. I can tell you from real experience that not having this in the past has cost me dearly.

So here are my top 5 reasons you need to find and join a mastermind group as soon as you can:

1)  No man is an island*

No matter who you are or what you do, you have an interdependence on others around you. If you are planning on building a business and providing a good or service you need people. Even the most isolated artist (whether they intend to build a business or not) needs a muse or a consumer of their artistic expression. The challenge most of us face as solo-prenuers face is that we are often a company of one or very few. Unless you have VC funding you have no board of directors. While this really does streamline the decision making action, it can lead to a person feeling very isolated and alone. With a mastermind group, you have a board of directors to turn to. To help guide you and remind you that you are not alone.

*In case you want to know, that line is part of a set of 22 devotionals or meditations Devotions upon Emergent Occasions It's an interesting read if you never took the time before.

2)  Reduce wasted time or tragic mistakes.

I'll admit it, there have been one or two instances in my past where I bobbed when I should have weaved. If only I had a counsel I could have turned to that could have helped me correct my course before I went down the wrong path. I can see things from my perspective, but it is really hard to see it from several perspectives. You get several people looking at things from their unique perspective and it is amazing the depth of insight you can get by listening to your trusted advisors.

I like to use talent contests as an example of what I mean here. Have you ever noticed how early on in the competition, the artist seems a bit awkward or rough but the longer they stick in the better they seem to get. They may have so much raw talent that is shines through from the very beginning but if you pay attention you notice they get better and better each time they perform. There is a very real reason for that. Each time the stand in front of the panel of judges, they pitch their (song or act) and then they get candid feedback from the trusted advisors. The more times they get this exposure and take action based on the feedback, the stronger they become.

It's like that when you are an active member in a mastermind group.

3)  Diversity gives you powerful insight!

Masterminds often have a unique blend of professionals with a vast array of backgrounds and experience. The richness in the diversity gives you the most well rounded feedback and guidance. Certainly, it does not replace the value of the intimacy you can get from having a personal coach, nothing ever could. But wow what a bonanza to land in a mastermind of diverse people. Imagine the mastermind group led by Teddy Roosevelt, the Tennis Club. How about being a part of the mastermind group with C. S Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield (the Inklings). Benjamin Franklin formed a rather interesting group with a diverse group of tradesmen and artists who were known as the Leather Apron Club.  Wouldn't you have loved to be one of the Vagabonds with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, and Harvey Firestone.Okay, you get the idea. Groups like these can be tremendously powerful.

4)  Expansion!

Expect to learn and grow a lot. Once you join and participate your life will forever be changed. You will be expanding your knowledge, your experience and your sphere of influence with a network that grows exponentially. I think it should be clear by now how your knowledge grows and how your personal experience expands as you are pushed to excellence, but what may not be real obvious is the social aspect. Being a part of a mastermind group increases your social reach by each contributing members social reach. Why? Because as you grow together you network together. It's human nature to want to help the people we know like and trust.

5)  Keep your friends and family, your friends and family!

It's great to have supporting friends and family members that you can use as sounding boards, but they might not be the best business advisors for you. Would you really want to put your friendship on the line for candid feedback. Think about the role of a mastermind member. They are there to push you and sometimes that may not feel so pleasant. A good mastermind group will hold you accountable to what you have committed to for yourself. Your friends and family offer a different kind of support.

Still think you are too busy or maybe you just think you are doing fine on your own. Perhaps you already belong to a bunch of groups and the thought of one more makes your head spin. But before you say no, review those benefits again then tell me how you can afford to not be a part of one.

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Branding yourself (Part 1)

How do you BRAND YOU?  Step 1

branding yourself in business Step 1
The importance of branding yourself in business

When we think of the word Brand in business, we think of large corporations. Monstrously large captains of industry well known with a high level of recognition. So many of them do it so well that you only need to see the swoop check mark and you know who it is and what they are about and who their customers are and why you would want to be one. But we never think of ourselves as a Brand, yet personal brands are not a new concept. If you read poetry in school, I am almost certain you could differentiate the prose of Shakespeare to Poe. If I just say the name Beyonce, you already know what that pop diva is all about and the type and quality of her music. If I were to ask you to go to a movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan, you would know is was going to keep you on the edge because that is what he is known for. You have a brand you just might not be aware of it and all you need to do is tap into it in order to define it.

So what is a brand?

I have read so many definitions but it all boils down the this one simple sentence. A Brand can be defined as : Unique ____ that identifies a ___ and differentiates it from the competitors. You can fill in the blanks with lots of things for example; copy/service, logo/product, image/company, sound/band, look/model, symbol/company, prose/author,  etc…. You get the idea. So when we say brand yourself in business, this is what we are talking about. Your unique identifiers that differentiate you from everyone else. In other words, who you are and what you stand for. I have both, a personal brand and two consumer product companies that I own and run with two unique brands. I was also the key creative and co-founder of a non-profit. I have helped others create brands from the ground up and I have helped some evolve a brand for established companies. So I think it is safe to say that I am very keen on brands and what they mean.  I have experienced firsthand the importance of having a solid grasp of your brand from the beginning of an enterprise.

Easy to brand a product

In some respects, branding a product or a service is a tad bit easier. Probably because the product or service already has some form of identity based on its role in service. For example if I said that I was starting a tea company, there is already some pre-conceptions you can make towards branding and even in defining the customer (we'll save market share for another post). How about a car company? A training company? Once you pick the product or service then it is a matter of asking more defining questions. Let's stick with the tea company. We would ask what kind of tea? Is it a diet tee, a bedtime relaxing tea, a pleasure tea, a detoxifying tea, etc… Then once that was narrowed down we would start asking a couple of other questions like is it lose leaf or convenient bag? Sold in bulk or subscription or buy when you want it? Who do I think will want this tea? With these few simple questions I can actually start to define the brand and it is all central to the product. Green Tea

So our hypothetical company is a Green Tea that is known for its detoxifying and weight loss benefits. Our tea is sold in convenient single use pouches and so that you never need to worry about running out, you can subscribe and we will deliver it to your door every month rain or shine. BOOM. I can take that and run with it. So could you. Easy to see who would buy it and why and what triggers to pull to get people to want it. Piece of cake, but people are a bit more complicated.

The Why and the What of you

You are not a bag of tea! How would you even begin to brand yourself? The process is the same but the questions you need to ask are different and require looking deep inside yourself to answer. When I work with my clients, we go deep and get real which isn't always easy. But in the end the brand matches and makes building a business so much easier. Here are a few question you can start to ask to begin the process:

Why are you? What makes you different? What makes you alike? What motivates you? Why did you choose this path? How did you get here? What is your passion? What intrigues you? What makes you smile? Frown? What gets you defensive? What causes stress? How does the world around you view you? What are you good at? What do you hate to do? What do you find yourself always doing?

When I work with my clients, I tend to go way back into their past. Why? Because so much of who we are today is the sum of where we have been from the very beginning. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has heard the we spend a lifetime getting over our past. I tend to believe our past helped shape us and there is little to get over when you keep the positive and use it as your strength. As an adult, I can honestly say that all the experiences (good and bad) have made me. Once you finish this step, you will be ready for step 2.

But what is you don't have a company

For those of you in MLM or Affiliate marketing, building your own brand separate from the product or service you are selling is paramount to your future security. You do not own the company you are selling and at any given time, the owners of that company can change policy and procedure which will affect you.

For many people who sign on to one company, they often sign on with others. It's a more solid way to leverage their future since they do not own the product or service company. So having your own brand and leading with that instead will help you secure a long and happy future. You should own the relationships you create while building your network of customers and down channels.

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