Burn the Ships – Eliminate the Easy Out

We all like Plan “B” options that afford us escape when things don’t work out. In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. How’s that for bold leadership? As a leader, you must decide when and how to burn your own ships.

Burn-the-boats

What Cortés did was force himself and his men to either succeed or die. A retreat was not an option. To truly achieve the level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to “burn the boats.”

 

The obvious question becomes “what are my ships”? For starters, your ship may be anything that you are afraid to let go of.

My three-year-old grandson has his favorite blanket he drags everywhere. It is his actual security blanket. We hope he abandons it by the time he’s ready for high school graduation, but maybe he won’t. I’m kidding of course, but how silly would that look? A handsome 18 year old walking the stage at graduation with this tattered, filthy, and well-worn blanket tucked under his arm.

What are they?

Ironically, plenty of people hang on to some form of security blanket or ‘ship’. Here are the big ones:

  • Your current job –  Yes, you may be hanging on to that lousy job because you need the security of it; the actual financial security. While those reasons may be logical and practical, are they holding you back from achieving something even greater?
  • Your field of employment – Does a career change make more sense? Are you drained by the thought of challenges in any other position within your industry?
  • Your comfort zone –  This is a big one. What would it look like to have to step outside of your comfort zone every day? Falling back into that zone is just like the ship you should probably burn.
  • Wrong relationships –  It’s sadly funny how many folks stay in bad relationships, business or otherwise. There’s a thought that you have time or money invested, so you hate to walk away, even though all indications are negative.

Are you willing to burn a ship? That means eliminating the escape hatch, safety valve, or parachute. As comforting as having such an escape may be, there are times when you have to get rid of the escape mechanism so that you proceed without fear, doubt, or skepticism.

Having the escape plan gives you the chance to make a half-hearted attempt to succeed, knowing all the while that at the first sign of trouble you can pull the ripcord and make the escape.

The Easy Way Out

Sadly, I’ve known too many couples who enter into marriage with a stated position that “if it doesn’t work out, we can always get a divorce”. While I am not a legalist on the topic of divorce, I do believe that making that option too easy is a sure fire way to make it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So back to Captain Cortés and your work team. If you are the leader of your team, what ships have been docked nearby that will allow your whole team to escape if things start going wrong? Have you, as their leader found ways to make it clear that the ships have been burned?

Being the leader and giving the command to burn the ships may be the toughest command you give. I’m guessing Cortés slept with one eye open for quite some time after he first gave the order and watched the ships go up in flames. You too may suffer from the fear of the team’s reaction to the command, but it may be the best thing you could ever do for them.

Question: Share some ways you have eliminated the escape hatches where you work. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Leaders: Want to Up-level Your Communication?

Managers face a constant struggle to improve communication within their work teams. Besides being able to accurately articulate any technical aspects about the work (every industry has its key phrases, terms, and buzz words), business leaders have to be ever-mindful of some very basic principles of effective communication.

communication

We usually think about communication as a two part/two person transaction. You speak, I speak, we hear and we act. This is the way most adults perceive the process of communication. When we need to talk to our teams, we usually just think about crafting a message as though it is being addressed to one person.

I submit to you that there are really four stages of communication. Being an effective communicator requires a laser focus to insure the parts are working to their maximum potential.

The four stages are:

1. What You Mean to Say –  Your communication as a manager must first be grounded in the thoughts you develop as facts and circumstances come together. When you process all of the information at hand, SOME kind of thought process should lead you to a decision. A message to the team begins with the thoughts that you will have. Sometimes the thoughts are significant and profound. At other times they are pretty simple. Your thoughts become the root of your message.

Be sure your mental checklist is functioning clearly before you start talking to the team. Be clear about what you mean to say.

2. What You Actually Say –  You have your thought, but then words must be applied to express that thought. Numbers 1 and 2 here are very closely tied together but are just different enough to cause a potential problem.

Let’s face it, most of us have had a moment where an idea pops into our head, but we cannot find the perfect words to explain the essence of that idea. Our words fail us. This phase is especially troublesome when you have to communicate ‘on the fly’, meaning impromptu communication.

When you have a chance to write a speech, you get more time to process your thoughts and formulate the words. Great speechwriters make careers doing this for politicians and celebrities. However, managers on the front line seldom have that luxury. As events unfold at work, you are required to respond quickly. Your words can easily become muddled.

If words fail you, it is possible you will be sending a message that is different from your original intent. Also, words that have double meanings can confuse the message. Tone and positioning of words can impact the meaning. There are numerous ways that the words you DO choose to express may send a message different from what you intend.

3. What the Listener Hears –  When we think of translating a message from one language to another, we often hear about ‘something getting lost in translation’. Unfortunately, that can happen with communication within the same language. You can take a perfectly structured thought (Item #1) that is represented well by the words you choose (Item #2) but still have trouble getting your message across.

Clearly, the responsibility to correctly hear a message falls on your listener. Any form of translation that changes the message corrupts it. The risk at this stage is that word meanings can vary from person to person. As the manager, if you make a statement “I am concerned about this _______”, some may hear the message as saying “I am mad, but just not telling you”.

4. What the Listener Now Feels –  Whether the translation being heard is correct or not, there is still one last hurdle to overcome. How does your message make the listener feel? The content of what you meant versus the listener’s conclusion after processing your words may spawn a surprising reaction.

For some, there are trigger words that spark bad feelings. For others, there are words that inspire and motivate. The listener’s initial feeling about the message will have a direct impact on the success of the communication. If the effort ends poorly, the manager must essentially start over with this entire 4 stage process.

We’ve discussed the four stages of communication. What is a manager to do?

In situations where people have solid, effective relationships, there is a history that can smooth any of the rough edges stemming from a breakdown of any of these four parts. When people have worked together for some time, they can (and should) develop a sense of understanding that helps to bridge the communication gap. Keywords and phrases take on meanings of their own and become the go-to way to express a topic.

Yet, when someone new joins the team, communication bridges are not yet available, so the manager’s message needs to stick to the basics until the history can be accumulated. The latter is also true when new topics are introduced to the team.

As the Manager, it is your responsibility to watch for breaks in all four of these stages. Better communication can be achieved by effectively using all elements. Find ways to let your team know that for their benefit you want to be a good communicator. Let them provide feedback, too. Iron out phrases and words that miss the mark or generate the wrong conclusions.

Question: In what ways have you experienced communication problems with your work team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

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Listen to the latest edition of BizTalk Radio “Price of Business” with host Kevin Price.

On this show, I talked about “the entrepreneur’s conundrum”. How to give up control so your business can grow.

Listen Now

 

Date: February 14, 2018
Appearance: BizTalk Radio – “Price of Business” 2-14-2018
Outlet: Biz Talk Radio "Price of Business Show" with Kevin Price
Location: Houston, TX
Format: Radio

Major on the Minors, Minor on the Majors

Facing life each day, we all make this mistake. We spend time on the wrong stuff. Priorities get mixed up. Big things get forgotten or set aside while little things get all our attention; both emotional and physical. We major on the minors and minor on the majors.

overwhelmed

Why do we do this? Mainly because the little things seem easier to knock out. We fool ourselves into thinking “I’ll spend a minute finishing this or that, then I’ll get to the big thing.” Pretty soon the day is gone and none of the big stuff gets accomplished.

So we push it off for tomorrow. We wake up and do it all over again. The next thing we know, a major deadline has gotten missed.

How to fix it

I’m reminded by Chuck Swindoll, longtime spiritual guide and virtual mentor of mine, there are three ways to avoid majoring on the minors. We have to review, reject, and renew. Let’s unpack the meaning.

Review

We must be able to review what we are choosing to do. A review has to happen frequently. As you set priorities, the only way to keep them in sight is to review where you are.

Our brains have an amazing capacity to do this in our subconsciousness. Have you ever been driving and suddenly realized you’ve spent the last 10 minutes and have no sense of driving at all? Why? Because we set our minds on a destination with a proven way to get there. Our brains take over and help us maneuver the vehicle without thinking about it.

While I don’t recommend driving this way routinely, you can apply the same truth to achieving goals. If you set your mind to them daily, your brain will tune in to a frequency that gets you there.

I am a big fan of the decision box made famous by Dwight Eisenhower  (see below). It has four quarters with a scale for urgent versus important. Put your to-do items into one of the quadrants. Then you’ll get a better picture of what you need to be doing.

Reject

Reject the clutter. Keep your head clear of unnecessary noise and distraction. Reject the temptations to do the piddly little things before more meaningful goals have been accomplished.

I love the day timer apps and books that allow you to set the right goals as priorities, then help you keep them in proper focus.

Further, if you have to, unplug for brief periods throughout the day. Turn off email, Facebook, and other electronics that have a temptation to draw you in. Intentionally set up some productivity windows for full focus on the big rocks.

Renew

Keep your mind fresh. Take breaks. Get up and walk around to clear your head and give you the power to reconnect.

Watch out though for finding something else to do. Avoid the urge to multi-task.

Find new and inspiring articles, books, and other content to consume rather than junk mail. Keep yourself stocked with fresh ideas and new ways to look at things.

Ever thought about hiring a coach to help you become a better you?

Ever thought about hiring a coach to help you become a better you?

Summary

Using these three key ways to set your sights on the right priorities will help you major on the majors. Cheers to better productivity!

Question: What are you doing to become more productive? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Management is Not for Everyone

What’s the big deal with becoming a Manager? Why do some try to do that? And why do companies promote people who end up being terrible managers and lousy bosses? More importantly, if you are one of the people being put into management, what can you do to make it a success?

management

Being in management is associated with a position, title, and certain responsibilities and compensation. People naturally strive to make those career advancements, but it’s not for everyone. Sadly, few consider becoming a real leader in the role. You can truly manage something without ever becoming a good leader.

You can press the buttons, push the paper, and make people do their work (fear, power, and oppression/intimidation) but that doesn’t inspire productivity and loyalty. When a work team is run this way, there is low morale and high turnover. Plus you get tagged “bad boss”.

Leaders inspire their team. They create trust and loyalty. They naturally motivate people, turnover is low.

I don’t advocate anything about management practice alone. I feel (and experience has proven) that someone who focuses only on management won’t be around long.

Leaders make the difference

When you take on a management role, you should begin thinking about what it takes to become a leader. If you’ve never studied leadership, here are five ways you can get a jump start on rising above the crowd.

Read –  Yes, read about successful leaders. Ask around to get references for some great books. John Maxwell is a world renown expert on leadership theory, practice, and teaching. He’s written some 25 books, sold 16 million copies, and presented leadership conferences in over 30 countries. He’d be a good start.

Find a Model –  A role model that is. Identify someone at your work or in your community who stands out as a role model for good leadership. Just ask them if they will be willing to spend some time sharing ideas and helping you build some leadership muscle.

Preferably you find a mentor who will agree to a longer term relationship; someone with whom you can explore leadership ideas.

Hire a Coach –  OK, yes, I am a coach, so I think hiring one is smart. Forget me for a minute. Think about where coaching is used elsewhere. Coaches have been around for a long time in all things sports. Why? Players need help developing their “better self” to get stronger, more flexible, more agile, and better informed about the sport.

We think of sports coaches as a natural fit. So why not career coaches or executive coaches to help build leadership muscle. More and more, professionals in all walks are turning to coaching to help build better leadership skills.

Join a Mastermind –  Iron sharpens iron. Find or create a group of like-minded managers who also want to grow. Share ideas and experiences in a highly confidential and trustworthy way. Help each other grow.

Practice –  Back to the sports connection. You won’t get better without practice. Take the information you receive and put it into practice. See what works and what doesn’t work. By using the principles you learn, you exercise that leadership muscle, helping it grow.

With practice, you will find more confidence in your ability to lead the team. Your decisions will come easier and be more reliable.

Don’t get stuck or left behind

Moving into management can be a great opportunity. Just don’t get bogged down in the weeds. Get the job going, but then focus on developing as a leader. Take the simple but important steps to move forward each day. Find ways to grow your awareness of the big difference between just being a manager or becoming a leader.

The world needs leaders everywhere; at work, at home, and in the community. By growing your own capacity to lead, you can make a difference in this world, right where you are.

Question: If you are a manager, what are you doing to make a better difference? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Leaders: Having Haters Hate

The life of a manager/business leader certainly has its benefits, but there are downsides to being a leader too. Not long ago, I received an email from someone who had served on a large project with me. Their recall of my role was, let’s say, less than flattering.

haters

The project was a large one. We started with a team of 457 professionals and grew it to over 700 before the project ended. I was the overall lead executive running the show. The effort called for organizing 9 different work teams, handling 9 distinctly different focus topics and work plans. In the middle of it was a just-in-time software development project that would have been a big enough challenge all by itself.

The work was spread coast to coast in 4 large work centers. To say we had occasional personnel problems would be an understatement.

My duty to lead and manage this group was a really big challenge. Thankfully, I had a close, but small support staff with me. My deputy, second in command, became my traveling problem solver.

Back to the Email Message

The person who wrote me the email said he did recall my presence on the project, but called me one of those “stiffs” who sat in the glass offices and didn’t come out much. While some may say I fell short in a few areas during that project, getting out and around to the work teams was not one of the failings. In fact, my support crew saw me early in the morning then seldom saw me until late in the day.

Why? Because I was moving from team to team, meeting to meeting, or training to training, dealing directly with the teams and their unit managers. I was as much cheerleader for the vision of the project as I was operator and executive.

Frankly, I am proud of the project and the team we recruited. I met some amazing professionals who worked tirelessly to accomplish our goals, all under a tight time clock of deadlines and deliverables. The fact that some who were present either didn’t see it this way or have their own different opinions are just reality.

I am a Realist

If I’ve learned much of anything in my years as an executive, I’ve learned you have to be real about people’s expectations. You will never win them all. I am convinced that if you recruit three people to be on the same team, you will find one negative Ned or Nelly. Heck, this can even happen just hiring two people.

The Challenge as a Leader is Threefold

First, you must do the best you can at recruiting and selecting people for your team. For a small business, this can be the most difficult challenge an owner undertakes. It is certainly true in big business too. You will not win them all here either, but you can do things to make better selections through detailed screening, background checks, and by giving practical tests to applicants.

If you have specific skills you need to be performed, you have to test for those skills. The “soft stuff” like customer service can be a bigger challenge. After all, people have learned how to ace interviews and smile pretty. Yet, once they land, you can only wait to see whether they fit correctly into your roles and execute on the duties?

Next, you must equip them to win. As a leader, you must impart the best information you can provide to help them understand the job, the requirements, and winning factors that work for the specific need you have them fill. That is on you as the leader to provide this understanding.

As soon as an employee demonstrates an unwillingness to embrace the framework and perform against the standards, you need to begin remediation actions. Whether that is retraining, reassignment, relocation, or removal, the manager must move swiftly to eliminate the lingering impact of an underachiever.

Lastly, there will still be those who hate your leadership. Regardless how much you work to win the hearts and minds of your team, you will have some who don’t get it. No leader anywhere should expect of themselves the ability to win everyone over. There are just enough personalities in this world to occasionally find the ones who don’t mesh well.

I like to say it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different. When you identify the difference, you have to accept it for what it is.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

On occasion when you get some really negative feedback from a former employee (or current one), take it with a  grain of salt. They pay you the proverbial big bucks to have the thick skin to take it.

If there is substance in the feedback, embrace it. Use the input to improve your leadership skills. However, when you know you gave it your best shot, proven by the feedback from those who mattered at the time (your client, your boss, and the team around you) forget about the Hater. Haters will hate. That’s what they do.

Be bold. Be strong. Don’t let one loud voice drown out your ability to make a difference for everyone else.

Oh, by the way. After over 30 years managing and directing thousands and a current day social media following of over 200,000, I’ve gotten two such letters in four years.

“Not bad. Not bad at all.” (President Whitmore –  Independence Day)

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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BUSINESS LEADERSHIP – 5 STEPS TO HELP YOU DELEGATE AND ELEVATE

Is your time getting away from you? What would it look like if you only worked the hours you want to, but got everything done? Can you effectively delegate?

delegating-at-work

One of the surest ways to break through the ceiling and get to where you want to go is to delegate and elevate yourself to your God-given unique abilities.

If you’re like most business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders, you’re probably feeling a little stuck, with way too much on your plate. There are just not enough hours in the day. You may be feeling like you could and should be accomplishing a heck of a lot more than you are. If so, these five steps will take you to the next level:

Step 1: Define your 100% – Your 100% is your maximum number of hours per week you want to work and still remain balanced. For me, it’s around 60 hours a week, but this is different for everyone. You can’t move to the next step without answering this question. All progress begins here. The answer to this question represents your 100%.

Step 2: Determine if you’re over capacity – How much time will it take to do everything you need to do well? While this calculation is not entirely easy, it is vital. If your answer exceeds your 100%, it’s time to delegate and elevate. Therefore, move to step 3.

Step 3: List everything you do every day – It may seem daunting, but it’s worth 30 minutes and will save you hundreds of hours every year going forward. Literally list each and every activity, big and small, and then move on to step 4.

Step 4: Create your two columns – Take everything from the previous list in step 3 and put them in one of two columns. Column one is where you list everything you love and/or like to do and are great and/or good at. Column two is where you list everything remaining from the step 3 list. Once everything from step 3 is in one of the two columns, move to step 5.

Step 5: Delegate and elevate – Either stop doing or delegate the excess capacity items in the second column to the people around you until you’re comfortably within your 100%. You should also consider outsourcing the tasks that don’t fit on your perfect list. Get a virtual assistant, or find solutions where new partners can handle the workload on a contract basis. Don’t work below your pay grade.

Find the Sweet Spot

As a leader in your organization, you must operate in your sweet spot. By spending most of your time on “column 1” activities, you will. You owe it to yourself and your company. This makes you more valuable, gives you more energy, and makes you happier, which then leads to you being a much better leader for your people.

This piece was contributed by a good friend and colleague, Jeff Bain of Team Traction. Jeff is an EOS Implementer. If you want to know more about the EOS principles for growing and managing your business, contact Jeff at his website.

How to Identify the Blind Spot in Your Personality

Have you ever been driving and decided to change lanes? You take a quick look around and all seems clear, then you make the move to the new lane and HONK! You’re about to cut into an oncoming car. A blind spot covered your view of the other car.

BlindspotsLeaders can have blind spots too. You can be moving along, feeling like things are going very well. Then HONK! You get surprised by a colleague or co-worker who drops a big bomb on your happy place. You had a blind spot.

What are Blind Spots?
In her book, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., identified 10 behavioral blind spots that can derail leaders.

These 10 blind spots are:

  1. Going it alone
  2. Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others
  3. Having an “I know” attitude
  4. Avoiding the difficult conversations
  5. Blaming others or circumstances
  6. Treating commitments casually
  7. Conspiring against others
  8. Withholding emotional commitment
  9. Not taking a stand
  10. Tolerating “good enough”

We each have these blind spots, with some being larger for us than others.  Just like in a car, knowing your blind spots is important as you can make some extra effort to ensure that you see what you are doing.  And just like in cars, if you don’t know your blind spots, you can get into big trouble.

The first step in avoiding these blind spots is to understand them and what they look like.  It is easy to identify these in people we work with, but it is difficult to identify them ourselves (thus they are called blind spots).  Here are some behaviors that describe each blind spot:

Going it alone: when you do things without asking others for their input.  Examples of this behavior include:

  • not asking for help
  • not accepting help
  • not talking about the stress you are under
  • not including others in decisions
  • feeling like you need to get things done on your own

Going it alone is especially problematic for start-up entrepreneurs. When you begin a business, you think you know your idea the best. You’re not ready to let go and let others help build the dream. First-time business owners also may suffer from getting too deep into this syndrome. You’re just not ready or willing to open up to others.

Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others: when you allow yourself to say or do most anything without sensitivity to the consequences or impact on others.

  • not noticing how body language impacts others
  • choosing words that can be mean or misunderstood provoking a negative response
  • not realizing how you’re devaluing others input or ideas

You rationalize these behaviors by thinking that people hurt by your words will “get over it.”

Having an “I know attitude“: when you think that you are always right and those who disagree with you are wrong.

  • not listening to others
  • always coming up with reasons others ideas won’t work
  • devaluing others ideas
  • arguing with anyone who disagrees with you
  • refusing to explore other options
  • making assumptions about others’ intent or their ideas

Avoiding difficult conversations: you avoid conflict and stressful situations – so you avoid those conversations where that happens.

  • not raising concerns or issues about others behavior
  • avoiding talking about negative information (bad sales, company layoffs, etc.)
  • softening tough messages and not talking about real concerns.

You only like to talk about surface issues.

Blaming others or circumstances: avoiding the need to take accountability or try to negate by shifting blame.

  • always having a reason
  • excuse or explanation for why something went wrong
  • “yeah, but…”
  • complaining about how it could have gone “if only”
  • leaving a project when you see it is not going to succeed.

I like to think of these as convenient excuses.

blind-spot

Treating commitments casually: when you make casual commitments that you don’t keep.

  • showing up late for meetings
  • not getting projects done on time
  • never making hard commitments in the first place
  • always having an escape hatch
  • using the “I’ll try” instead of “I will”

A leader’s ability to influence others is dependent on being able to make and keep commitments, regardless of how big or how small.

Conspiring against others: you engage in rumor mills and gossip or talk negatively behind peoples backs.

  • talking one-on-one with others about how you think a project won’t succeed
  • not talking in open project meetings
  • discrediting others ideas or accomplishments
  • displaying negative non-verbal cues such as rolling eyes or engaging in conspiracy theories

Withholding emotional commitments: you can agree intellectually, but withhold putting our heart and soul into a project.

  • just complying with a decision meeting the bare minimum requirements
  • resisting change, withholding support, going through the motions

Leadership requires genuine commitment. People around you can sense the false pretense of making the motion but not being committed.

Not taking a stand: sometimes when you know you should do something but you don’t because of how it could impact you.

  • not speaking up in a meeting when you disagree with the majority
  • failing to speak up when senior executives are around
  • getting people to work around a problem instead of addressing it head-on

Tolerating “good enough”: when you settle for getting things done just ok, but don’t push you or your teams for excellence.

  • not holding others accountable for their work
  • accepting incremental improvements
  • not willing to explore radical options
  • staying inside one’s comfort zone
  • not looking at what the future will require

The Process

Understanding the concept of having blind spots is the first step.  Identifying our own blind spot is the harder part.  To really get to the bottom of your own blind spot, you have to ask a few trusted confidants to work closely with you. They can better point out where they see your blind spots.

This is a hard exercise but one that is very beneficial. A review process called a 360 is also a useful tool. Many larger companies are using 360s on a regular basis as part of their leadership development programs.

None of us like to hear about our faults. Others don’t like to point them out.  If you are open to growing and learning, then by identifying your own weaknesses, you can start the process of improvement and become a better leader and even a better person.

Question: When was the last time you identified and worked on curing a blind spot? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Leaders: Here’s Why Multi-Tasking is a Bad Idea

The idea of multi-tasking is a widely popular idea. People brag about how much cool stuff they can do all at the same time. The advent of smartphones, tablets, and smart watches make us all feel like multi-tasking Ninjas.

Multi-tasking does not work

The truth is, it is all a smoke screen. Very rarely do any of us truly multitask. You might move from one thing to another at lightning speed, nano-second stuff, but it is never really simultaneous. It just feels that way.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.” This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. [Published Jul 15, 2015]

Here’s the Rub

To be able to string a series of activities together to do what we all thought of as multitasking, we load up on menial tasks like opening email or tweets. Then we squeeze some work on the big project in the middle. Or maybe you have a deadline for an important delivery of an assignment, so you try to chip away at that while doing other things.

Either way, none of us are ever really multitasking. The surveys and studies tell us how fooled we were. The human brain only multi-tasks for the key things that help us live (like breathing and keeping our hearts pumping). All the rest is a linear thread of thought and neuron firing inside our heads i.e. you can’t really multitask.

Any effort to try is more about creating performance numbing confusion. Yes, you think you got a bunch of things checked off your to-do list, but in fact, most of what you did had marginal results at best. Example: did you really absorb the message in the email or did you miss a few points causing the sender to have to re-state or clarify your misunderstanding?

I can’t tell you how many times I get feedback from people who clearly never read the original message. Their stated understanding was all wrong. Why? Because they gave the email the brief cursory review, never properly absorbing it before moving on to something else.

Heck, you may be doing that right now with this article. Odds are high that is exactly what you are doing.

Focus

Multi-tasking is the opposite of focus. You cannot be fully engaged on a matter when you are already taking in something about another message or task. It’s impossible to do. Why? Because you have not allowed yourself to focus. Therefore, content and substance whizzes by. If a few keywords get recognized, you subconsciously allow them to trigger a standard response.

The response that becomes your reaction is wrong more often than not. The confusion is avoided with a little more focus.

Don’t Work Below Your Pay Grade

I see far too many owners, executives, and managers taking on tasks that are far below their pay grade. What does that mean? It means doing work that another person should be doing.

Once there was a coaching client who could not delegate very well. Anything they tried giving to a member of the team was taken back and re-worked by the manager before being finalized. If the manager was making $85,000 and the team member was at $40,000, then the manager taking away the task and doing it himself was performing way below his pay grade, by almost half.

This scenario raises two questions.

  1. Is the manager overpaid? If not, they sure acted like it.
  2. Is the worker really not capable of completing the task? If yes, then you need coaching, mentoring, or re-training.

Entrepreneurs frequently try to cut corners by doing things all themselves. Yes, it might save some dollars, but, as Ben Franklin famously quipped “Are you being penny wise and pound foolish?” You might be saving a buck at the expense of having someone else do something, but what opportunity did you miss by not being available at that moment to handle a bigger, more significant matter?

I was guilty of this myself. At one point in my old company, I used to rush to the mail drop each day. The mail carrier came on a regular basis around 1:00. I’d be waiting because the mail meant we were getting checks from our customers. As the founder/owner, I felt the pressure of being sure there was enough cash in the bank every day. Opening the mail made cash happen.

The irony here is that if I let someone else open the mail, I could be originating more business and hence, more checks coming in. My shortsighted view of things though had me anxiously waiting for the mail. Ridiculous for sure! This choice was way below my perceived pay grade.

Outsourcing

A very successful entrepreneur I know has a mantra that has served him well for decades. He learned the value of outsourcing before it was popular. To him, outsourcing is merely allocating paid hours the right way. Again, it’s about the value and proper allocation.

In my friend’s case, he runs a large regional real estate business. His agents can be worth $400 an hour if they are producing lease agreements. But if they spend too much time at a keyboard posting sales funnel details, they are worth more like an admin at $25 an hour. Which would you rather be $400 an hour or $25 an hour? Yes, it can be that extreme.

Take a Look

Think about the things you decide to take on each day. There are 86,400 seconds in the day. That is one universal truth we all share, regardless of station in life. The way you spend those 86,400 seconds makes all the difference in the world for determining your success.

Focus on the big things you need to knock out each day. Do those first. Give them your full attention, no multi-tasking. You can add back the smaller tasks, later. Yet be sure you choose wisely whether to offload menial tasks below your pay grade.

Question: What are you doing right now that might be below your pay-grade? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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What is an Entrepreneur Anyway?

Today, we’re going to do a bit of a 101 experience. I help business owners and executives strengthen their leadership teams, but there is frequent talk about being an Entrepreneur. What is that exactly?

Entrepreneur –  A word that has been associated in many fields and is defined in a variety of ways.

Living with passion

The word itself is of French origin which evolved into meanings that pertain to people who take the risks, founders of businesses and or someone who is accountable in case of failure or success in a business venture. Being a person who founded a new enterprise, it is also understood that entrepreneurs take the largest part when it comes to risks inherent to businesses. After all, they are normally the owners of the company or the business unit.

The common perception with entrepreneurs is that they are the founders of new entities that aim to offer innovative or existing services or products in the market. The talk of profit or non-profit issues also varies, depending on the type of business structure that is used.

Entrepreneurs are, of course, one of the main components of the capitalistic world. They take the largest loses or gains since they are the manipulators of the funds. Central to this is the belief of opportunities in a specific area that requires the filling of the demands. They are like the providers for the needs and thus, they take the gain in exchange for the provision. They are basically service- or product-oriented who device means to create the fillers for the two said demands. The main focus of their acts is towards the gain of profit.

In the United States, there are about 1,800 companies considered to be “large”. Yet there are over 32 million registered small businesses; the entrepreneurs. The segment is clearly a mainstay of the economy.

There are many types of typical entrepreneurs. And because of this evolution from the simple merchants to the more sophisticated corporate men, entrepreneurship has also matured in ways unimaginable when men first thought of selling their own produce.

The Risk Bearers

Risks are sometimes incalculable and rather undefined. They come as problems arise and they develop as more problems sprout. There are no specific ways by which risks come out. They just do and they seem to be integral parts of most business ventures. Entrepreneurs are not only risk bearers, they also take on all the disadvantages of uncertainties.

Risks can be something like insurance principles. Meaning, there are methods by which their intensity or frequency of risk can be measured. Thus, we can provide options in decreasing one’s susceptibility to risks. However, uncertainties may be considered to be more on the subjective side.

Since all risks can’t be calculated and their very nature can’t be estimated, it is easy to assume that entrepreneurs can be characterized both as decision-makers and improvisers. They provide solutions to immediate and long-term demands, which are uncertain, even when business routines are carefully structured.

Entrepreneurs certainly are great risk takers. Without this element of uncertainty, no business can create new, never before seen solutions and products. There are things that must be met with responses that are creative and productive for the business.

The Organizers

Entrepreneurs are typically the founders. It is only proper that they are equipped with facilities that make leaders lead. Founders are the leaders of the pack, they are the builders. They too are planners and the organizers of schemes for giving birth and growth to a business organization.

They are the planners for maximizing the resources. They combine specific factors like land resources, the capital from a partner, the labor of his employees or the resources that came from him to create products that would meet certain demands.

They will then create organizational tactics to come out with the earnings of the profit after everything is settled.

Being the organizers, it is understood that they are also the leader. Organizers always have the authority to set things in their proper places. They can be a leader because of position in the organization (i.e. the founder), but not necessarily a good leader.

Being a good leader is a matter of having a strong combination of values and abilities that will nurture and inspire the team. And because not all are born leaders, nor were made leaders, too few really achieve successes in business. However, leadership alone is not at the core of entrepreneurship. The founder can have a great vision that can become wildly successful, but they must have leadership surrounding them in order to accomplish the greatest achievements.

Entrepreneurship is the will; the will to start with uncertainty and keep believing that it shall, in the end, turn out well.

Next Steps

If your effort to become an entrepreneur could use a boost, I offer two options.

First, you can schedule a short and free chat to discuss your situation. If I can help in any way, we’ll figure that out quickly. LINK HERE to set that call.

Or… you can visit my Finding the Edge website. At this site, I am offering the best collection of resources, tools, tips, and hacks to help new entrepreneurs grow the business FAST! I have partnered with a very successful group of business growth experts. They have poured their 20+ years of experience into this powerful platform.

Right here you can get access to dozens of already-done-for-you ideas for marketing and business growth.

This platform requires a subscription that normally costs $197 per month. But I am offering a year-end/new year promotion that is only $97 per month as long as you stay subscribed. You are welcome to drop it at any time. You can even try it free for one month.