Hope & Fear (2/5): Keep Your Job & Prosper

November 16, 2008

Life has always been potentially stressful for the busy professional — juggling a career, family, personal relationships, health, hobbies (“yeah right!”). But this uncertain economy adds a brand new wrinkle. You might be worried about job. So let’s break this down into what’s within your control and what isn’t.

The fate of the company you work for is in the hands of the decision-makers at the top executive level. They are the ones who made the choices in the past and will make the choices in the future that determine whether or not the company survives this economy. What they choose to do — whether they layoff employees or cut bonuses or scale back work hours or close the branch you work for — is not within your control. So stop focusing on what they may or may not do. Focus instead on what’s in your control.

So what IS in your control? Just two things: What you choose to do and how you choose to feel about it. Let’s take them one by one…

What You Choose to Do

There are two parts to “what you choose to do”: what you focus on doing, and how well you do it. And the name for how you measure your success at these two things is productivity. In other words, your productivity is within your control. And to maximize your productivity, you want to focus on the most important things first and then do them as efficiently as possible.

Time for a reality check: Are you as productive in your job as you could be? Be honest…

So how much more productive could you be? To answer that question, try this: Think of a specific time when you were being your most productive. Call this your “kick butt” level of productivity, and give it a number from 1 to 10.

Now think about your “average” level of productivity. Those normal days where you maybe surf the internet a little, or chat with co-workers, or get sucked into meetings that go on longer than necessary, or get distracted by less important tasks, or just simply procrastinate. Give that a number from 1 to 10.

Compare that “average” level of productivity with that “kick butt” level of productivity. How far does it fall short?

In that distance between those two levels of productivity lives your opportunity to keep your job and prosper.

Most people perform so far below their peak level of productivity that in just weeks they can double or even triple their output. How much more valuable would you be to your employer if you doubled or tripled your output? In bad economic times, the demand for productive employees becomes even higher than usual. And as demand increases, price increases. So it’s even possible to get a raise in this economy if you increase your productivity.

And if layoffs do happen, the LEAST productive employees go first, right?

How You Choose to Feel

How productive are you when you’re worried? You may be busy when you’re worried and think you’re productive, buy how much important stuff do you really get done, and what’s the quality? Not a lot and very low. How productive are you when you’re happy and peaceful? When you’re happy and peaceful, there’s something called FLOW, where productivity seems almost effortless. Some call it “being in the zone.”

Whether you’re happy or worried, stressed or peaceful, you are CHOOSING to feel that way. And you can choose to create feelings of peace and happiness, even in an economy like this one. So in good times, your productivity sky-rockets from that state of peace and flow. And in bad times, you don’t let worry or stress cloud your decision-making or decrease your productivity.

When you’re peaceful and productive, you’ll have a calming effect on your co-workers and your employer. You’ll be part of the solution, not part of the problem. You’ll be one of the most valuable, level-headed members of the team. And even if you were to get laid off from your job, you’ll make better decisions about what to do next if you are peaceful inside.

Increase Your Productivity & Peace of Mind

Productivity is a learnable skill. Peace of mind is a learnable skill. When times are good, you can get by in your job pretty well without being very skilled at either. But when times are challenging, the employees who prosper are the ones WITH those skills. The employees who get hit hardest during times of uncertainty are the ones who are less skilled at productivity and peace of mind.

To make sure that you’re as valuable as you can be to your employer, and you’re able to prosper in these uncertain times no matter what happens, sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

Focus on what you CAN control and you’ll give yourself the best chance for success and happiness. Learn more and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the second in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)
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Hope & Fear (1/5): Commit to Change

November 15, 2008

On November 4, 66 million people in the United States voted for change and hope when they elected Barack Obama as President. At the same time we are experiencing changes in our economy which leave many people afraid and uncertain.

It’s a strange mix, if you ask me. So much hope, so much fear. But whether you are hopeful or fearful (or bouncing between the two), one thing is certain: NOW is the time for action.

“This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth — that out of many, we are one.”
Barack Obama, from his victory speech

Do you want the world to be a better place? Do you want to see some positive changes? Okay, so how much are you willing to participate in that change?

“What can I do, Curtis? I’m just one person.”

To quote Gandhi, BE the change you wish to see in the world. Start with yourself. Start with your own goals. Start with your own happiness and peace of mind. What change do you want to make in YOUR life?

It’s my strong belief that each and every person can and will make their greatest positive impact on the world by becoming:

  1. More peaceful inside yourself
  2. More passionate for what you do
  3. More productive in how you do it

By making YOUR OWN life better, you make the world better. So if you could change something about your life in the next year, something that would bring you more peace or more happiness, what would you choose? Give yourself a 30 second time limit and make a list…

If you’re curious, here are my answers (in no particular order):

  • I’d grow my business to serve 100 times as many people as I do now
  • I’d create an amazing relationship with a woman I loved
  • I’d spend more quality time with my friends and family

What’s on your list? Seriously, before you continue reading, take 30 seconds to make a list of the changes you’d like to make in your life in the next year…

Look at your list. Is there any doubt in your mind that the world would be a better place if you achieved these things? Any doubt that if you were happier and more peaceful that you could make a bigger and better contribution to the people in your life?

You’re helping no one by being stressed or fearful. You’re helping no one by being unhappy or disillusioned. On the other hand when you feel happy, peaceful, passionate, and productive, you treat people more kindly, you’re more generous, you inspire others, and you solve problems and overcome challenges much more quickly.

At this moment in time, the world needs more people like THAT.

This coming week, I’m running a free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.”

You’ll learn the art of Peaceful Productivity — how to make the most effective and productive choices peacefully, especially in times of change and uncertainty. No matter how uncertain things are, you can feel peaceful inside. No matter how many obstacles you face, you can continue to make progress in your life.

Peaceful Productivity holds the key to both. Learn more and sign up:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the first in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)

Use “Ethical Bribes” to Get What You Want

October 28, 2008

My cousin, Carleigh, is an actor. Several years ago, after an amazing performance, she told me about her acting technique. In every scene, no matter what the scene was about, she focused on what her character WANTED.

She told me that every character in every scene wants something. It may be obvious or it may be subtle. Actors who remember this fact create characters that feel real to us.

Now in real life we don’t ALWAYS want something from the people we interact with. But much of the time we do. And wanting, especially frustrated wanting, can be a big obstacle to Peaceful Productivity.

So I’m going to outline 3 steps to help you get what you want in a way that serves the highest and best good for all involved.

STEP 1: RESPECT

Understand that people are not a means to an end. They are human beings, just like you. They may or may not choose to give you what you want. And you must respect them enough to let them make that choice without judging them if you don’t like what they choose.

Respect includes listening to them, understanding what THEY want, and respecting that. As Stephen Covey puts it, seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Without respect, you are using that person. And no one likes to be used.

STEP 2: ENROLL

You might know for a fact that what you want is truly in the best interest of the other person. But if they don’t know that, if they don’t FEEL that, then they’re likely to say no.

Enrolling is giving someone an exciting vision of what’s possible. It’s in those feelings of excitement and possibility that people love to say yes.

When a person is enrolled, saying yes to you will feel natural to them. When they are not enrolled, your question will feel like pressure to them. And no one likes to feel pressured.

STEP 3: BRIBE

Bribe is a word with negative associations. What makes a bribe “ethical” are the first two steps. Without respect and without enrollment, your bribe becomes manipulative. Another way to describe the ethical bribe is “sweetening the offer.”

Even when someone knows and feels that a choice is in their best interest, even when they feel respected and excited by the possibility, they still might say no. Why? Habit.

We are so bombarded by people asking us for things, whether it’s personal favors or telemarketing calls, that we build up a resistance. We say no first, regardless of the situation.

The ethical bribe gives a person an excuse to say yes to something that’s good for them.

EXAMPLE

Let me use my Peaceful Productivity Group coaching program as an example:

Respect

First, I show respect by letting my prospects know up front that THEY get to choose if the program is right for them or not. My job is to provide as much information as I can to help them make the best choice for them.

I do this by introducing them to Peaceful Productivity in a free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind: You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” I also outline exactly what the program includes so there are no surprises. I also give them my personal phone number to call me if they have questions.

And I even offer a no-hassle guarantee so if they join and find out it was a mistake, they’re not trapped and they don’t lose a penny.

And beyond all that, I offer to help them find a DIFFERENT program or coach that fits them better, if they’re not happy with me and my program.

Enroll

I enroll people in the excitement and possibility of the Peaceful Productivity Group by giving them a powerful EXPERIENCE in the free teleseminar.

It’s not a teaser. It’s a stand-alone interactive teleseminar full of valuable and actionable advice and information.

At the end of it, they can choose to take that experience and go off and never talk to me again. But when I explain that what they are feeling at that moment is something they can feel again and again each week in the Peaceful Productivity Group, my intention is that they will be so excited by that possibility, they will join.

Bribe

Finally, I sweeten the offer by including ALL of my products and services in the group membership. You can see the full list of extras here:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

And I’ve just added a few more ethical bribes:

If you complete and submit the group program application, you get a downloadable recording of my “Productive Planning” teleclass, whether or not you join the group. In this teleclass I outline a 6-step planning process that’s perfect for when you have too much to do and not enough time.

If you submit the program application within 24 hours of requesting it, you get an mp3 of a song I recently wrote and recorded called “Where I Want to Be.” Know that I have no aspirations to be a professional musician. This is just something fun that I hope you’ll enjoy. 🙂

And finally, if you join the Peaceful Productivity Group by midnight on Thursday, you get one month of one-on-one coaching from me (a $358 value). My minimum coaching term is normally 6 months, so this is something you cannot get unless you join this group.

ACTION STEPS

  • How will you put this 3-step process of Respect, Enroll, and Bribe into practice in your business or personal life?

I’d love to hear your ideas, comments, and questions.

Always remember the first two steps. Even if you’re not comfortable with the ethical bribe, the more you treat people with respect, and the more you enroll them in your vision, the more they will want to do for you.

As long as they feel empowered to choose what and when, people LOVE to give.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt


Procrastination: 3 Different Types

September 16, 2008

Listen to a short podcast on the first of 3 different types of procrastination:

[ Or, download this podcast. ]

Procrastination: 3 Different Types

Procrastination is one of the most common productivity challenges. Some people struggle with it often across all areas of their lives, others infrequently in only particular areas of their lives. But most of us have experienced it at one time or another.

The word itself does little in the way of helping us identify a solution. It simply describes a phenomenon: The act of putting off something you could do now for later.

But there are several reasons why a person might do such a thing. And different solutions depending on the reason.

I’ve created 3 categories to help my clients understand procrastination and what to do about it:

  1. Chore procrastination
  2. Dream procrastination
  3. Type 3 procrastination (descriptive name, right?)

Chore procrastination is when a person puts off a task that holds little or no intrinsic appeal, but the outcome of the task is valued.

Dream procrastination is when a person puts off a task related to a big goal or dream.

Type 3 procrastination is a catch-all category for procrastination that doesn’t involve a dream or a chore. Typically, this type requires a closer look to understand what it’s really about.

These are generalizations. Often a person’s own brand of procrastination blends the three. But before you can overcome your procrastination, identify which type or types it is.

Is what you’re procrastinating simply a chore, or is it related to some big goal or dream you’re pursuing?

If it’s neither, or you’re not sure, look closer at what the result will be if you completed the task you were procrastinating. What will that result be (describe it in as much detail as you can)? Why is that result important? Is that result related to one of your big goals or dreams?

Your answers may lead you to the conclusion that the result is not important to you. In which case you need to ask yourself why this task is on your to-do list at all. (I’ve written more about this subject in a previous post.)

If you try to overcome your procrastination before you identify what type or types it is, you’re likely to fail and frustrate yourself. Once you know the type, you can get to the business of solving it.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

Overcoming Procrastination

To learn more about identifying the 3 different types of procrastination and how exactly you can solve each, register for a powerful and fun teleclass at http://www.TurnOnToLife.com/teleclass/procrastination.html


Can Procrastination Be Good?

September 8, 2008

Listen to a short podcast on how procrastination can actually be a good thing.

[ Or, download this podcast. ]

The GOOD Kind of Procrastination

Many people come to me wanting help overcoming their procrastination. My first question to them is this:

Is it the good kind of procrastination or the bad kind?

“Curtis, what in the world is the GOOD kind of procrastination?”

I’m happy you asked. 🙂

There are different reasons for procrastination. Some are fear based, and those are the ones that I help my clients overcome.

But procrastination can also be a signpost that your actions and your values are out of sync. In other words, procrastination can reveal that you’ve committed to something that isn’t important to you.

For example, for years and years I pursued music. I put together bands, I wrote and recorded songs, I took guitar lessons. It was my “dream” to be a successful musician, and everyone around me knew it.

Yet I procrastinated 90% of the time. Why?

What I ultimately learned was that years earlier I’d created an identity for myself as a musician. I fell in love with the IDEA of playing music. But my heart wasn’t in it. I rarely enjoyed it, and it was always a struggle for me.

Procrastination was a warning sign that I’d made a choice that didn’t serve me. It was like a blinking red warning light that something was out of whack in my life.

When I finally stopped pursuing music, it was such a relief. I felt like I’d been released from prison–my own prison that I’d created out of an expectation I had for myself.

So before you try to “overcome” your procrastination, take a look at where it’s coming from.

Understanding Procrastination

If you find yourself procrastinating (especially if it’s ongoing procrastination), ask yourself these questions:

1. What specifically am I procrastinating?

This may seem obvious, but often it’s not. “I procrastinate my work.” Okay, so what kinds of work, exactly? Be specific.

2. Why am I procrastinating?

Don’t settle for the first answer that comes to you, especially if it doesn’t contain an insight. Keep asking yourself (lovingly, not like an interrogator) until you learn something about the source of your procrastination.

3. What choice will serve me the most?

Remember my music example? If I’d asked this question and been open to an honest answer, I would have seen much sooner how music wasn’t serving me.

Trying to overcome your procrastination without first understanding where it’s coming from can make you feel worse by adding layers of guilt on top of a choice that isn’t serving you in the first place.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

Overcoming Procrastination

I’ve identified 3 different types of procrastination. Each type has a different solution. If you try to overcome one type of procrastination with the wrong kind of solution, you’ll fail and frustrate yourself.

To find out more about this powerful teleclass, and to learn how to identify and overcome the different types of procrastination, visit http://www.TurnOnToLife.com/teleclass/procrastination.html


The REAL Reason to Plan

August 20, 2008

Listen to a short podcast on the purpose of planning:

[ Or, download this podcast. ]

The REAL Reason to Plan

There’s a saying, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. So then, why plan?

Most people think the purpose of planning is to achieve the specific results that you’re planning for. And that seems to make a lot of sense. If you want a certain result, you create a plan to get it. So that must be why you plan, right?

But hasn’t it been your experience that no matter how carefully you plan for something, your actual path to your goal is at least a little different than your plan?

If that’s true, if things rarely go exactly according to plan, then that can’t be the purpose of planning. Think of that as the motivation for planning—the result you want is what motivates you to plan, but it’s not the purpose. So what is the purpose?

The primary purpose for creating a plan is so that when the unexpected happens—when something new comes up—you can refer to that plan to help you make the best choice possible.

The real value and advantage to having a plan is that it gives you the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and unexpected events.

For example, you create a plan for the week. It includes all of your appointments and top priorities and tasks for the week. At 11 AM on Tuesday, your boss tells you to drop everything to prepare a report for her by the end of the day. Dealing with that task now becomes your new top priority.

Because you already had a plan for the week, you can make informed and intelligent choices quickly about what to postpone, what to reschedule, and what to delegate so that you can deal with your changing priorities. Your plan empowers you to deal with those changes.

Imagine you didn’t have a plan for the week and your boss gave you that task. You’d be trying to juggle all of your existing appointments and priorities and tasks in your head as you dealt with this new emergency.

At best you’d feel stressed out. That new task would create a ripple effect in your brain as you tried to mentally make all of those adjustments.

At worst, your brain would shut down, mentally dropping everything but the new task. You’d start missing appointments, missing deadlines. Where’s the power in that?

Understand that time is fixed—we all have 24 hours a day, no more and no less. Your power is not in how much time you have. Your power is in how effectively you choose to use your time. And planning enhances your power to choose by giving you the context you need to figure out what to do when things change.

So let me repeat: The primary purpose for creating a plan is so that when the unexpected happens, you have the information you need to make the best choices possible.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

Productive Planning: From Stress to Success

Learn a 6-step process that will make you an expert at completing your top priorities…no matter what else is thrown at you during your day. To find out more about this powerful teleclass, visit http://www.TurnOnToLife.com/teleclass/productive_planning.html


Goal Setting – Make SMART Goals SMARTER, Part 2

August 4, 2008

Last week I gave two examples illustrating how powerful it is to use the S.M.A.R.T. goal technique to clarify your goals and explode your productivity. [Download a free SMART Goals worksheet here.] But that technique alone does not directly address the daily pursuit of your goals — that is, how do you make sure you do what needs to be done each day to achieve your goals?

Read the rest of this entry »